Me First!
Karen Ehman

“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4 (NIV)

We stopped at the wayside rest area to get a little something to eat, refill our water bottles, and stretch our legs a bit. It was a long trip from our home in the center of Michigan to my Aunt Patty and Uncle Lee’s place in beautiful northern Wisconsin. This particular wayside had an interesting gift shop stocked with many items found in nature. There were fascinating snarled pieces of driftwood, multicolored Native American artifacts, dazzling copper bracelets and classic turquoise jewelry. There were also over a hundred varieties of seashells. Our three kids made their way down the aisles, studying the wonderful treasures before their eyes.

At the end of one aisle sat a turnstile display sporting whimsical kitchen mugs, personalized with first names on each of them. One of the boys spied it and alerted his siblings to this amusing find. Soon all three kids were giving the rack a spin and looking for something. What was it?

You guessed it! Each of the kids was looking for his or her own name. They didn’t really care if the name of a sibling, cousin or friend was printed on the side of any of those coffee cups. They longingly looked for their own personal string of letters in a row, the one that would spell out “me.”

We’ve all done the same thing in different ways. When we get our family reunion pictures, high school class yearbook, or church pictorial directory, something within us drives us to pick up those items and determine, “Where am I in this?”

Sadly, we often live our lives in a way that also says, “Me first!” Whether it is the plans for the coming weekend or the control of the television remote, what we really want to know, whether we verbalize it or not, is: “What’s in this for me?” Because we have been born and raised in a society that seeks to promote self and self-interests, we find it rather easy and comfortably familiar to put ourselves and our wishes ahead of others; to elevate our opinions, to cater to our own wants and to generally whine as if, “It’s all about me.”

Living the true Christian life is just the opposite. Our actions as followers of Christ should portray to our families and to the general public an inversion of what they see in the world. The world out there says to look out for “number one,” climb over anyone you need to in order to reach the top, and pamper yourself on a regular basis. We who claim Christ should instead be the ones who go the extra mile, give the benefit of the doubt, and put other’s desires ahead of our own. We should be in the business of being others-centered rather than self-centered.

Now don’t misread today’s verse and surmise that we are never to think about what we might need in life. It says we should look not only to our own interests, but to the interests of others. Taking care of yourself and your needs is okay. Just don’t stop there. Take into account the other guy or gal, too. Be friendly when you drive, gladly give up that close parking space, let someone else choose the restaurant, or allow that mom with screaming children to cut in front of you at the supermarket even though your order is smaller than hers. Let her go first and pray for her as you wait.

Let’s look for little ways to daily lay down our lives for others. It will make us less of a self-absorbed person and more like Christ.

Dear Lord, May You gently nudge me today as I go through life, pointing out to me tangible ways to put others first. Shape my heart to look more like Yours. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Homespun Gifts from the Heart
by Karen Ehman

A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman

Listen to Today’s Radio Show

Application Steps:
Be on the look out for situations that call for you to make a choice between yourself and another person. Make the right choice in order to portray a demeanor that says, “No really, after you!”

Do something anonymously today that will bless a friend or stranger. Leave a note, send a flower, or set out a special treat to grant them a bright spot in their day

When in the past has someone else put your wishes unselfishly ahead of their own? What was the result?

Is there an area where you struggle with selfishness in on a consistent basis? What changes do you know in your heart you should make? Make them!! Do it quietly and see if others notice a change in your behavior.

Power Verses:
Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (NIV)

Proverbs 18:1, “An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all sound judgment.” (NIV)

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Hot Doughnuts Now!
Bonita Lillie, She Speaks Conference Graduate

“One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.’”
Genesis 39:11-12 (NIV)

We all have our weak spots and areas of temptation. For some it’s a choice morsel of gossip, for others a steamy romance novel, and still for others it might be overcome by a one-day sale at the mall. For me, the thing that really jolts my flesh is a bright red neon sign that reads, “Hot Doughnuts Now!”

I can innocently drive past the doughnut shop and that red sign will reach out and grab me. Whatever I was focusing on is a total loss. The doughnuts yell, “Come eat us! You love us! You can’t resist! Just do it!” The sign’s tentacles reach out and take over the steering wheel, sucking the car into the parking lot. I’m in a trance as I walk in and say, “Two glazed doughnuts, please.” That’s a good day. Sometimes that evil sign controls my mind and I order a dozen instead.

Yet, I’ve found one small trick that can save me from the clutches of this ferocious temptation. If I grip the steering wheel hard, fix my eyes directly in front of me, and push the accelerator a little harder, I’m able to drive right past that menacing place. In a few moments, I’ve actually forgotten that I ever saw the sign and my mind reverts to its original focus.

It’s funny how that works. When we face our juiciest temptation, if we will take a split second to start moving away from it, the grip loosens and we are soon free. What was once flaming hot, rapidly cools down and suddenly we realize that we didn’t really need a doughnut after all.

Joseph, a young man in the Bible understood this principle. He was sold as a slave into the household of Pharaoh’s captain of the guard, Potiphar. It didn’t take long for Mrs. Potiphar to notice his handsome physique. Day after day, she threw herself at him, but Joseph refused her advances. Next came the biggest test of all. They were alone in the house one day. No one would know, but Joseph didn’t give in. He was a man of integrity publicly and privately. Long before that moment, he had decided in his heart that he wouldn’t be thrown off course by a hot mama or any other temptation. He fled the scene. Joseph understood some basic rules that will help all of us overcome temptation.

Make up your mind ahead of time. We can’t wait until temptation is upon us to decide not to give in. It’s too late then.

Don’t entertain the thought of sin. Had Joseph been daydreaming about Mrs. Potiphar, he would have followed through with action rather than escaping her clutches. Thoughts precede actions.

Take action. We must be bold in the face of temptation and quick to act. We can’t sit around hoping it will go away. Run in the other direction. Run to God.

When it comes to temptation, we must be proactive. That means that we need to start preparing now for the temptations that will come our way in the future. Each of us has at least one “sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1). Satan will look for an opportune time when we’re weak or unprepared to put that very enticing sin in front of us. The trick is to stay prepared all the time.
One thing is certain, whether we are prepared or not, temptation will come just as surely as the doughnut shop will cook another round of “Hot Doughnuts Now!”

Lord, You know my weaknesses and how hard it can be to walk away from enticements. Help me to recognize temptation when it comes my way and give me the strength and the will to flee immediately from it. Remind me that nothing I desire on the earth can ever compare with You. Thank you, Father. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue by Deborah Smith Pegues

Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer

Application Steps:
Are you flirting with temptation? Is there an area of your life where you’re walking a fine line between living for God and indulging yourself? Take a moment to submit these issues to God in prayer.

Reflection Points:
What would you have done in Joseph’s situation?

What things tempt you on a day-to-day basis?

How can you avoid the temptations?

Power Verses:
James 4:7, “Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (NIV)

I Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it.” (NIV)

Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (NIV)

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The Yes, No and Maybe of a Balanced Life” - Part 2
Wendy Pope

"If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it." Mark 8:35 (NLB)

Yesterday, in part one of this topic, we focused on the decision to say “YES” to the important first step of bringing balance to our lives: spending the first few minutes of each day with God. Through scripture we were reminded that the God we serve is a God of order and His purpose is for us to live a life of order and peace. That can happen best when we order our day with Him.

To proceed with our exit off the “cul-de-sac of nowhere,” we must move forward with steps two and three toward a balanced life.

Saying NO
In Paul's description of Jesus in his letter to the Philippians in chapter 2 says that Jesus, though He was God, did not cling to His rights as God. When this verse became real to me, it was like someone had hit me in the stomach with a two by four.

I lived my life looking out for "my rights." My favorite phrase was, "I deserve …” You fill in the blank with anything from a new outfit, to a night out with my friends, to a hot bath. It was all about me. I served so I could get.

I did not realize that because I was a sinner, if I got what I deserved, I would be dead. The wages of sin is death. I really had to pray and ask God to change my thinking. I wanted my motives to be pure and honorable with no intent of selfish gain. I needed to learn to say “no” to my selfishness.

God answered that prayer, often using my children to help me realize that life was not about me. Being at home with two small children - well being around anyone else really – there are countless opportunities each day to say “no” to self and bless others instead. There are times I say “no” to self by handing the last Oreo cookie to my son. I grit my teeth while doing so, but I do it, and I grow because of it. Challenge yourself to give away the "last Oreo" and watch God work. Ask God to help you see where you need to say “no” in order to grow.

Saying MAYBE
Saying “no” is difficult for women. By our very nature we are caring individuals. We desire to serve and we have great compassion for those who are hurting, so we seek ways to help. I love these things about being a woman. God designed us this way, but all too often we say “yes” too quickly.

We become caught in the captivity of activity. When there is a need, we fill it! When someone needs a meal, we cook it. When a class is without a teacher, we teach it. We serve and serve until we are completely worn out. We need to exercise holy restraint and truly pray about each opportunity we have for serving. It is our responsibility to ourselves, God, and those we love to examine our current commitments before saying “yes” to another.

The philosophy I recommend for saying no or maybe is found in Matthew 6:10 where Jesus teaches us how to pray. There we learn to do only those things which are in alignment with His will for our life. How do we know when to say “yes” to an opportunity? Take time to ask Him. He has the answer!

Dear Lord, You are the God of Peace. Peace and order is what I desire. Do all things necessary to bring me in alignment with Your will for my life. Show me when to say yes, when to say no, and when to say maybe. I eagerly await the answer to my prayer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
When You're Running on Empty, Hope and Help for the Over-Scheduled Woman by Cindi McMenamin

Balance that Works When Life Doesn't by Susie Larson

The Air I Breathe by Louie Giglio

Listen to Today’s Radio Show

Application Steps:
Examine your current list of responsibilities. During your morning prayer time with God, ask Him what your role should be in each one. Follow through with obedience in what He tells you. Trust Him to fill the vacancy saying no might create. Record the results.

Reflection Points:
Am I currently a captive of activity?

How often do I say no to self?

Power Verses:
Ecclesiastes 5:3, “Too much activity gives you restless dreams; too many words make you a fool.” (NLT)

Matthew 6:10, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (NIV)

Mark 10:45, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (NLT)

Hebrews 11:6, "And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him." (NLT)

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Yes, No and Maybe - Part 1

Wendy Pope

"For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people." 1 Corinthians 14:33 (NLB)

A life of balance; a life of peace; a life of order; do those phrases stir a longing deep inside you? Have you gotten to the point that your to-do lists have lists? Then to make matters even more frustrating you can't find your list. I heard it put this way by one of my favorite pastors, do you feel like you are stuck in a cul-de-sac and can't get out?

Oh yes, I have been there…stuck in the cul-de-sac going nowhere. I became so tired of going in circles and getting nowhere that I was desperate enough to ask God for help. Today's verse reminds us that disorder or confusion is not of God. Our God is a God of peace and order. As I began to seek God's help in taking a hard right out of the cul-de-sac of nowhere, I realized that I can enjoy the peace and balance God intends for me to have by choosing His plans for me over the world’s demands of me. The world’s demands of me include:

· Well-mannered and clean children
· A clean house
· A well manicured yard
· An updated and stylish wardrobe topped off with perfect nails and teeth
· Perfect church attendance... committee attendance... game attendance
· The absence of any turmoil or distraction
· A booming career

This, I discovered, is not God’s definition of balance. Prayerfully, through today's devotion, you can glean from my experience and with God's help, take the first sharp right turn to escape from the cul-de-sac to nowhere.

Saying YES
The first step in getting out of the cul-de-sac to nowhere is not a very popular one among busy women. It requires you to get out of bed and give up well-deserved and much-needed sleep! It is: Say “yes” to a daily prayer time each morning before you meet your family or leave for work.

Throughout the Psalms are references of meeting the Lord in the morning. Those verses will be listed at the end of the devotion, just in case you need proof. (I did.) Sacrificing sleep was not at all what I wanted to do. It wasn’t that I didn't want to meet with the Lord each day. I just really loved to sleep. However, this has been the best thing for me and provides the most effective tool I have in bringing balance to my life.

To put my mind at ease with the sacrifice He was calling me to make, God let the truth of Psalm 127:2 settle in my heart: "He gives sleep to those He loves." Let it settle in your heart and life too. Rest assured that He loves you. Remember He sent His Son to die so you would have eternal life. With that same love He will bless you with sleep even when you give it up for Him. Try it! He will amaze you!

Join me for tomorrow's devotion where we will learn when to say “No and Maybe.”

Dear Lord, You are the Creator God. You created the world in perfect order and so is Your design for my life. I have gotten off track. My desire is to align my life with Your principles and yes to You today. Help me get up each day to spend time with You. I trust You to return back to me that which I give up: sleep. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

Do you know Him?

Pierced By the Word: 31 Meditations for Your Soul by John Piper

31 Days of Prayer by Ruth Myers

A Woman's Secret to a Balanced Life by Lysa TerKeurst and Sharon Jaynes

Application Steps:
Choose a place in your home where you can meet with the Lord. Put a Bible there. Bookmark the Bible to Psalms 1. Set your alarm clock 15 minutes early. When the alarm rings each morning get out of bed, go to your chosen place, and read Psalm 1 then pray. Follow the same steps each day reading the next Psalm.

What "false god" do you put before God? (i.e. sleep)

What makes spending time with God so difficult?

Power Verses:
Psalm 5:3, “In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” (NIV)

Psalm 65:8, "Those living far away fear your wonders; where morning dawns and evening fades you call forth songs of joy.”

Psalm 88:13, "But I cry to you for help, O LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you."

Psalm 90:14, "Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days."


Trusting the Method or the Master
Marybeth Whalen

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

It used to be that whenever I talked to women who were feeling overwhelmed by life, I asked them some key questions. I shared with them how God taught me through several key people and resources to live a more intentional, more organized life. Sometimes I would share some of the more specific methods I used personally. I would challenge them to determine what methods would work specifically for their personality and situation. For a long time, I was satisfied that leading women to the right methods was sufficient for getting them organized and helping them to stay that way. Then recently God got my attention. I realized that although my intentions were good and noble enough, I was missing the mark. I had inadvertently put my trust in the methods and not the Master Himself.

One day as I was crying out to God in the shower (my prayer closet), He whispered to my heart that I was stressed and dissatisfied because I was looking for the answers within the systems I had in place in my life. I was playing the “if only game.” You know the one: If only I had more space in my house, I could be more organized. If only I had more time, I could get more done. If only I had older kids, younger kids, fewer kids, no kids, a kid… Whatever your “if only game” sounds like, I am sure you can admit to having played it before. That day I was lamenting the failure of my methods by looking for a way out—instead of looking for God’s face in the midst of my crazy life.

Now don’t get me wrong. God is not a God of disorder, but of peace. (I Corinthians 14:33) He tells us “to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). He wants us to have orderly, sane lives and to live productively so that we can bring honor to Him. If we are meeting ourselves coming and going and live in a state of perennial slovenliness, that hardly brings honor and glory to His name. So I am not advocating letting the chips fall where they may. On the contrary, as in everything in life, I am sharing what God taught me—and that is to not put too much stock in being “on top of our game.” When this happens, our ego gets bigger. I heard a preacher recently say that EGO stands for “Edging God Out.” We edge Him out when we think we have it all figured out! I foolishly thought my methods would enable me to figure it all out.

Whether you are in a place of needing God to help you find methods that work for you, or in a place where you need to surrender the methods so you can seek the Master first, I challenge you to press in close to God. Listen for the sound of His voice amidst all the noise of life. Ask Him to show you just where you need to make changes and bring balance. Methods are good, but a close relationship with the Master is infinitely better. Let God take care of all the needs in your life and put your trust where it belongs.

Dear Lord, Please show me where I need to make changes in my life so that I can trust fully in You. I want to listen for your voice and not try to answer all the questions of life on my own. Please help me find the balance I need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes

31 Days of Prayer by Ruth Myers

Application Steps:
Spend some time today evaluating your methods for dealing with life. Where can you make changes to either: 1) lead a more orderly life that enables you to give glory to God or 2) surrender some control to give Him more room to work in your life.

Do you have methods/systems in place in your life that edge God out and make Him less necessary for you?

How can you allow God to take a more active role in ordering your steps each day?

Power Verses:
James 3:16, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” (NIV)

Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.” (NIV)

Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose

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You Will Not Be Forgotten
Glynnis Whitwer

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” 2 Peter 3:8 (NIV)

When my third child was born, my oldest was three. And they were all active boys!

My husband and I were outnumbered and my life was completely up-ended. For the next three years I couldn’t even go shopping at Target by myself with the kids. While one raced down the aisle, the toddler climbed out of the cart. Meanwhile, the baby, who disliked being confined from the moment of his birth, screamed! I was a mess! I felt like climbing over the cart and racing down the aisle screaming myself.

In those difficult three years I kept trying to regain my old life. An organizer and leader by nature, I’d volunteer to oversee something at church and then make my kids and me miserable trying to get it done. My heart is heavy when I remember the times I dragged my three little boys to one event or another, only to leave angry and in tears because they couldn’t sit still.

Instead of accepting my life as it was, I plowed ahead, wanting to serve God and feeling certain He was pleased with my sacrifices. The problem was that my innocent children made the real sacrifice by enduring my non-stop lifestyle. I wish with all my heart that someone had taken me out to coffee and helped me get some perspective. I was too blind to see.

What I know now is that sometimes God calls us to a new mission field that on the surface looks like we’ve been called out of the “game.” But nothing could be further from the truth! Those three years I was afraid to stop pursuing my goals in case an opportunity might pass me by. Instead I missed the opportunity to minister more deeply to my children passed me by.

Second Peter 3:8 says, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (NIV). Although this verse is speaking about the Lord’s return, I believe it can be applied to any time of “waiting.” God doesn’t see time as we do. Three years seems like an eternity, when it’s really just a breath in time. The first part of verse 9 offers hope to those who think opportunities are passing them by and God has forgotten them: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.”

I wish someone had told me that God would not forget me, that I was right where He wanted me, and that I should relax and see the opportunities He had placed in front of me. Even though my days felt like years, they really were just a blink. At least, that’s what I know now …

Heavenly Father, I praise You for Your faithfulness. No matter what my circumstances look like to me, I know You have not forgotten me. Help me to see Your hand in every moment of my day, and to look for ways to serve You and those around me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
The Bathtub is Overflowing but I Feel Drained
by Lysa TerKeurst

The Character of God: Understanding His Heart for Us by Brian T. Anderson and Glynnis Whitwer

His Princess, Love Letters from Your King by Sherri Rose Shepherd

Application Steps:
Identify an area of your life that seems to be put on hold. Instead of rebelling against, ask God what He wants you to learn from it.

What are some of the lies women believe when it looks like God has put their dreams on hold?

If you are in a “holding pattern,” list three reasons to be thankful in the midst of your current situation.

Then, list three ways you can grow spiritually in that same situation.

Power Verses:
Psalm 40:1, “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.” (NIV)

Luke 12:6, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.” (NIV)

Genesis 9:16, “Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." (NIV)

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Brain Blips, Mishaps, and Feelings of Failure
Lysa TerKeurst

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV)

Do you know what amazes me about these Scriptures? Both the person doing right and the person doing wrong experienced hard times. In both cases, the rains came, the streams rose, and the wind blew and beat against the house.

Just because we’re Christians living out God’s principles for life, does not mean we won’t face difficult circumstances. The difference being a Christian makes is how the difficulties affect us. If we are hearing and heeding God through our prayer time and reading His Word, then we will be able to stand strong in the storms of life. Our faith will not be shaken and our identity will not be rattled.

I once heard my pastor lament to my husband that sometimes he only feels as good as his last sermon. I can so closely identify with his comment because as a friend, wife, and mother, sometimes I only feel as good as my last interaction with someone close to me. A friend tells me I hurt her feelings and suddenly I feel like a bad friend. I forget to take the cookies I signed up to bring to the church nursery. Suddenly I feel unreliable and disorganized. My husband asks me where his passport is and when I can’t find the file, suddenly I feel like a wife that can’t be trusted.

The passport thing is still very fresh on my mind because it just happened yesterday. My normal reaction would have been to get frustrated, short-tempered, and beat myself up while tearing the house apart looking for it. But God’s Spirit knocked on the door to my heart and said, “Let me invade your natural flesh reaction. Call your husband and pray about the passports instead of getting angry.” So, Art and I prayed. I went from defining myself as a failure of a wife to being a godly wife who faces hardships in a godly way. The frustration was diffused and we determined to look at this from God’s perspective. If we find the passports, we’ll praise God! If we don’t find them, we’ll see this as God’s protection not to go on a planned trip later this month and we’ll still praise God.

When hard times come and beat against our stability, we must be determined to hear God’s words and put them into practice. Then nothing can topple our peace, security, or true identity.

Dear Lord, thank you that my identity does not have to be determined by the circumstances of my life. Help me to hear Your Words, put them into practice, and stand firm on Your truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

The Confident Woman by Anabel Gillham

Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes

He Speaks to Me by Priscilla Shirer

Application Steps:
Write down something you’ve been mentally beating yourself up over. Find three Scripture verses that deal with this issue and commit to praying these Scriptures into your situation. Stand firm on God’s solid truth that you are a godly woman who will face this circumstance in a godly way.

Reflection Points:
Romans 8:35 says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or sword?”

How do you feel knowing that there is nothing you could ever do to make God stop loving you? Even if you’ve hurt others, once you have sought their forgiveness, you can turn to God for it as well and trust that your slate is wiped clean.

Power Verses:
Job 1:21, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (NIV)

Proverbs 10:25, “When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.” (NIV)

Romans 8:17, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (NIV)

Ephesians 6:14 “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.” (NIV)

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Spring, Everyday!
Van Walton

“Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! …tell of his salvation from day to day.” Psalm 96:1-2 (ESV)

It does not matter what part of the country I am living in during winter. Whether the temperatures have just dipped below freezing or I have endured a deep freeze for months, I always eagerly anticipate spring! I try very hard to be upbeat all winter, keeping my grumbling to myself. Staying positive during dreary days is difficult for me. Gray skies, cold air, wind, and short days depress me.

On the other hand, when sunshine peaks through the clouds and warm breezes penetrate my skin, my mood changes immediately. The truth is that I have a hard time persevering through winter months. I wish it were spring all year long.

Why do I like spring? I like new life. I can’t help but open my eyes with a smile when birds’ songs announce a new day. The smell of fresh wet dirt just after a good rain causes me to breathe life back into my wilting soul. Maybe it is the call of the wild or a basic instinct to start tilling, I am not sure. I just know that I thrive on all things in the spring.

When I first notice the flowers pushing through the dark dirt, I cannot contain myself. I become a fan cheering for the team of flowers that has fought the miraculous fight – popping out of a hard seed in a deep and dark place, forcing their way up though the cold soil, eventually tasting the bright rays of sunshine, and finally blooming in all their glorious color. Clapping and jumping, I announce to my neighbors and friends, “Another spring is here. The flowers are blooming again. Look at them. They are more glorious than ever!”

Guess what? I have great news! In God’s economy every day is spring! Listen to what He says:

2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” (NASB)

Colossians 3:10, “… put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge, according to the image of the One who created him.” (NASB)

2 Corinthians 5:18-20: “The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him … God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We're Christ's representatives.” (MSG)

How can I make everyday like spring?

Celebrate my salvation. Praise God everyday with new songs that tell of His love and new life.

Be intentional every day to be renewed. Make it a priority to become deeply acquainted with God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Learn something new about Him every day!

Be an ambassador. Share the good news daily, either through good deeds or saving words. Ask for God’s guidance.

Winter’s time is drawing to a close for now. It will return all too soon. Yet it doesn’t matter if you are prepared to celebrate new life every day of the year. Maybe you don’t feel like spring, but instead you are stuck in winter. Even though winter’s soil is hard and frozen, allow your heart to be tilled by God’s Word. Then go forth and cast the seeds that are able to come to life even in the darkest of times.

Dear Lord, thank you that every day You shower Your new mercies down on those You love. Help me to always see the new thing You are doing in my life. Give me wisdom and strength to respond in a way that would please and glorify You. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Pierced By the Word: 31 Meditations for Your Soul by John Piper

From the Pound to the Palace by Van Walton

Application Steps:
In your Bible concordance, find the words ‘new’, ‘life’, ‘resurrection’ and look up their verses. What do you learn about God?

Am I willing to allow God to work something new in my life?

Am I willing to allow God to use my life to share the Good News with others, bringing new life to those around me?

Power Verses:
Isaiah 43:19, “Behold, I will do something new; now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” (NASB)

Colossians 2:12, “For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.” (NLT)

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Satan’s Bag of Tricks, Part 2
Tracie Miles

“The man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’” Genesis 3:8-10 (NIV)

Adam and Eve had a beautiful relationship living in paradise. Then Satan stepped in and pulled some tricks out of his bag. He disguised himself as a creature and tempted them with something that appeared to be good. Yesterday’s devotion discussed how Satan can use our own busyness to divide our marriages, but he has an even stronger trick up his sleeve – selfishness.

The second that Adam and Eve sinned, they immediately realized they were naked. They also became immediately consumed with themselves. The moment they sinned, a division was created in their marriage. Genesis 3:11-12 says, “And he said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?’ The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’ (NIV) Adam instantly blamed Eve, and then told God he didn’t even ask for this woman.

Then in verse 13, we are told, “Then the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’ Eve instantly blamed the serpent. I imagine she wanted to point the finger at Adam as well, saying “he did it too!” As soon as they sinned, they both turned inward – they both began protecting themselves. The tragic result was an instant division in their relationship. They were transformed from a beautiful couple, completely surrendered to each other, to two selfish people out to protect their own personal interests.

Selfishness tears many marriages apart and is a powerful act of trickery from Satan. No matter how willing we are to happily meet our husbands’ every need in the beginning of a marriage, it doesn’t take long before we begin thinking, “But what about my needs?”

Most of us would not admit to being self-centered, but due to Satan’s Garden of Eden trick which brought sin into the world, we are, by nature, selfish people. Society further conditions this thought-process by brainwashing us into thinking, “we are number one” and all that matters is “what’s in it for me.” This type of attitude in marriage is a death sentence. Satan uses our selfish desire to be served to destroy our desire to serve. He slowly tricks us into thinking things like: “my husband is not romantic enough;” “he never helps out at home;” “he works too much;” “he doesn’t spend enough time with the children;” “someone else could meet my needs better.” When Satan hears these words, he is jumping for joy once again.

A primary key to locking up Satan’s bag of tricks is to put aside selfishness by praying for God to remove selfish thoughts from your mind. Ask God to help you see your husband through His eyes, and to remind you of the reasons you fell in love with your man to begin with. Keep in mind that the definition of submissiveness is not “doormat.” The biblical definition is “a willing and positive response; a conscious and friendly yielding of his or her own will.” Before sin was introduced into the relationship, Eve was perfectly happy being a loving and submissive wife. It was only after Satan tricked her that her motives turned selfish. God desires for us to love our husbands unconditionally and to give them the privilege of being the men of our lives.

Dear Lord, Give me the strength to put aside my own selfish desires and make my husband a priority in my life. Open my eyes to new ways that I can show love to him. Give me the desire to lovingly submit to him as my one true love, just as You instructed in Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Capture His Heart by Lysa TerKeurst

Capture Her Heart by Lysa TerKeurst

Talk Easy, Listen Hard by Nancy Sebastian Meyer

Application Steps:
Jot down ways you can show your husband special attention over the next week.

Do I put my own busyness and selfish needs before the needs of my husband?

Do I need to give my husband the gift of being the man of the household?

Power Verses:
Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.” (The Message)

Colossians 3:18, “Wives, understand and support your husbands by submitting to them in ways that honor the Master.” (The Message)

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Satan’s Bag of Tricks, Part 1
Tracie Miles

“… God, not you, made marriage. His spirit inhabits even the smallest details of marriage. And what does he want from marriage? Children of God, that’s what. So guard the spirit of marriage within you” Malachi 2:15 (The Message)

Is your marriage thriving, or just surviving? Do you feel that you and your husband are passing ships in the night, hardly speaking, living as two instead of one? Unfortunately many marriages can be described in that way. After the vows are spoken, Satan starts pulling tricks out of his bag. Jobs, mortgages, cars, children, daycare, in-laws, and a myriad of other life challenges and temptations can quickly take their toll on a loving relationship. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, their actions not only brought the fall of man, but also introduced sin into the marriage relationship.

Satan can be disguised in many ways, and it is sometimes difficult to recognize his intervention in our marriages. Consider verse 6 in Genesis 3: “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” Eve was deceived into thinking that the fruit was good, healthy food for her body, pleasing, desirable, and giving wisdom. These descriptions of the fruit all sounded great, so the enemy was able to trick her into thinking sin was good. In actuality, Adam and Eve purposely sinned by consuming the fruit, thinking it was good, but did not purposely bring sin into the world. The devil used something good to deceive them and ultimately bring their demise.

Many times our marriages fall prey to this same trickery of Satan. Dishonesty, infidelity, and pornography are usually the first things that come to mind when we think of sin in a marriage. Satan, however, has many less obvious tricks up his sleeve. Satan can deceitfully and gradually introduce into our lives new things that seem innocent and good at first, just like a little piece of fruit, but they end up bringing us harm and despair instead.

One of Satan’s most powerful tricks is busyness. Often women get caught up in the captivity of activity, and feel they need to be busy in order to be productive. Sometimes this busyness may cause us to lose focus on our marriages. Satan rejoices when we push our husbands’ needs aside to put our children’s or our own needs first. He jumps for joy when we are too tired at night to be intimate with our husbands, causing friction in the relationship. Children, careers, families, and even ministry work are all great things. However, if we aren’t careful, Satan can use what is meant for good to damage our marriage relationships by making our husbands feel like they have taken the back seat in our lives. God desires that we balance the good things with the right things.

Inadvertent neglect of a spouse is the key that opens the door for Satan to pounce into our lives. Our husbands need our respect, and yes, even submission, but they also need our time and devotion. Are you willing to put aside your own agenda and give your husband some special time today? Give him a massage, fix him breakfast in bed, or send him a love note to work. Random acts of kindness and love can have a magnificent impact on your relationship with your husband. And if your man feels like number one in your life, your relationship will surely thrive!

Dear Lord, Help me recognize when Satan is using his tricks to affect my relationship with my husband. Forgive me for not making my husband a priority in my marriage and treasuring our sacred covenant together. Please bless my marriage and wrap Your arms around my husband and I, and create in us a desire for a godly marriage. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Women Who do too Much by Patricia Sprinkle

What a Husband Needs from His Wife by Melanie Chitwood

Praying Through the Deeper Issues of Marriage: Protecting Your Relationship So It will Last a Lifetime by Stormie Omartian

Application Steps:
Be honest with yourself about whether or not you have been making your husband a priority.
Write down some simple things you could do for your husband to show him how much you love him.

Do I inadvertently put the needs of my children over the needs of my husband?

Have I done anything recently to make my husband feel like he’s a top priority in my life?

Power Verses:
1 Corinthians 11:11, “In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.” (NIV)

Ephesians 5:33, “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” (NIV)

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Seeing God in All Things
Melissa Taylor

"You both precede and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.” Psalm 139:5(NLT)

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I was driving home after speaking all day at a women’s conference. The conference had been such a blessing and I was praising God for His faithfulness in showing up in a mighty way. I had the honor of witnessing first hand how God was impacting the lives of women and their families. Needless to say, I was on a God-high and loving every minute of it. God was so present and it was easy to see Him on this day.

During this time of spiritual bliss, I noticed something rather large darting on to the road ahead of me. It was a deer and she was headed for my lane. The traffic was heavy and my car had nowhere to go but to continue straight. I slammed on the brakes trying desperately to stop, but it was useless. At the moment just before impact, I looked into that animal’s big brown eyes. Why, oh why, did she run out into the road like that? My car hit that beautiful creature full force. She was tossed into the air and landed, lifeless, in the lane next to mine. I cried, “Oh No! I killed a deer!”

Many stopped to see if they could help, but there was nothing anyone could do. Miraculously, my car was not damaged and no one was injured - except the poor deer.

Anytime something bad happens, I try to see God in it all. I had clearly seen Him at the women’s conference that day. Where was He now? Why did this have to happen and ruin my God-filled day?

When I got home, I ran inside to get my husband. I was crying so hard he could hardly understand me. My four children were also home and quickly became concerned for their hysterical mother. I told them the story. First question from my kids: “Is the deer dead?” First question from my husband: “Is the car okay?” They surrounded me with love and reassured me everything would be fine.

Hours later, I was still shaken. My ultra sensitive and loving son, Dylan, noticed this and offered me a Godly perspective on my situation. He said, “Mom, there are many reasons this could’ve happened and none of them are your fault. God has a plan and a purpose for everything, even that deer’s life. Maybe that deer was very sick and God used you to put it out of misery. Or maybe God was protecting the man behind you, so He used your car as a shield. Or maybe God knew that there are many deer, but only one you. He needed you to be my mom today. Mom, whatever God’s reason, it’s not your fault, but you have to trust Him. He was with you the whole time. He never took His eyes off of you or His hand off of your head.”

Oh, will someone pass the tissue please? How is it that a nine year old boy who suffers with anxiety and communication disorders can put this situation in the proper perspective and show me that it’s not about me but about God? I’ll tell you how.

Dylan was looking for God in this sad accident. I wasn’t. It was easy for me to see God in the events at the conference because I was alert, aware, and looking for Him. When tragedy struck, I took my eyes off of Him. Just like Peter trying to walk on water I, took my eyes off of Jesus, and sank.

Do you look for God in all things? Do you see God in all things? I threw my arms around my precious son and thanked him for being the light in my life that day. Then I turned to the Lord and thanked Him, too—for the conference, for my family, for Dylan’s words of wisdom, and for the deer.

Dear Lord, sometimes it’s hard to feel or see Your presence in every aspect of my life, yet I know You are there. Help me to look for You, even when times get tough. Help me to trust You and believe that You are with me every moment of my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

His Princess, Love Letters from Your King by Sherri Rose Shepherd

Out of the Mouth of Babes
by Wendy Pope

Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes

Application Steps:
The next time you find yourself in an undesirable situation, instead of asking “why me”, thank God for being there with you.

Do believe God is working in your life only when things are good?

Do you thank God for everything that happens to you, good or bad?

Power Verses:
Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV)

Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid of them! The Lord your God will go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor forsake you.” (NLT)

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The Backup Singer
Glynnis Whitwer

“They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.’” John 8:27-28 (NIV)

I’m a backup singer in my church’s worship band. Most singers don’t dream about doing backup vocals. Neither did I.

As a child, I was the one pretending a hairbrush was a microphone, singing with my favorite band playing on the record album, and imaging the day they would call me on stage and introduce me as their new lead singer. That was my dream. Not doing backup harmonies.

It’s amazing how God redirected my life. Now, I wouldn’t trade my place in the shadows of the stage for the promise of a record contract. Why? It’s in the role of a backup singer that I’ve learned spiritual lessons that have impacted my life far beyond a 20-minute worship segment on Sunday morning.

A good backup singer is always listening to the leader, and then hitting the right note to create harmony. Where the leader’s voice goes, mine follows. On the rare occasion when the leader ad-libs at the last minute and deviates from the melody, my job is to stop singing until I can find the right harmony. If I insisted on singing the notes I believe I “should” be singing, I’d create a disharmony that would distract the congregation from their worship.

As a backup singer, I am not to draw attention to myself. It’s not the time to try out a fancy new vocal move, or add some dramatic vibrato. Harmony is not the lead, it’s the soft support that should enhance the leader’s voice, and allow those singing to follow the leader, not me.

Learning to sing backup is a little like being a Christian. Just as I follow the vocal leader, we are called to follow God. If others are watching me, they may be too distracted to following God’s leading. This life is not about me. It’s all about God.

Jesus modeled a lifestyle of watching what His Heavenly Father was doing and listening to what His Father was saying. Jesus openly admitted that God was His leader and that He did nothing on His own (John 8:28). With that attitude, Jesus brought glory to God by knowing the Scriptures, praying regularly, and withholding His speech until He spoke just the right words. He modeled humility that attracted listeners and watchers to their Heavenly Father.

I’ve learned a lot from being a backup singer. Being alert to what God is doing in and around me, then choosing to bring harmony rather than discord is a valuable lesson.

Heavenly Father, there have been many times I have chosen to sing my own tune, rather than follow Your lead. Please forgive me for not listening and obeying. I want to follow You. Help me to listen and obey. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Worship: Nearing the Heart of God by Brian T. Anderson and Glynnis Whitwer

P31 Woman Magazine

Application Steps:
Identify one area of your life that is out of tune with God’s will. Determine to make one change to bring your life into greater harmony with God’s will.

What are some ways that choosing our own will instead of God’s will creates discord?

Harmony is pleasing and attractive to those listening. When we obey God, how does that attract others to Him?

How can you be more aware of what God is trying to teach you?

Power Verses:
John 6:38, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” (NIV)

Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (NIV)

1 Peter 1:14-15, “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do …” (NIV)

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A Touch of God’s Hand
Tracie Miles

“Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.” Matthew 20:34 (NIV)

One Sunday my young son had somehow convinced me with his puppy dog eyes to allow him to sit with me during the worship service instead of going to his wee-care class. Keeping in mind that my four-year-old is incapable of sitting still for more than fifteen minutes, much less being quiet at the same time, you may wonder if I had lost my mind. Thank goodness he did very well in his first “big church” experience. The Pastor’s sermon that day was about the seven ways that God demonstrates His love for us, based on Hosea, Chapter 11. God shows His love for us because:

He chose us,
He seeks us,
He instructs us and teaches us with patience,
He demonstrates His love in ways we can understand,
He hurts for us,
He forgives us,
and He saves us.

This sermon reminded me that God loves me regardless of my sin - even when I make the same mistakes over and over again. He sent His Son so that I could have life. There is no greater love than that! As the pastor led us in prayer, he was pleading with God to fill our hearts with love and for us to feel God’s loving touch. At that precise moment as my eyes were closed and my head bowed, my sweet four-year-old little boy who had been quietly laying his head in my lap, reached up and gently touched my cheek. He began tracing the features of my face with his tiny fingers. I was instantly filled with the love of God and my heart leaped with a rush of joy.

I was suddenly and acutely aware of how much God loves me, and reminded of the love that I hold for Him. I knew my young son’s touch was God’s way of blessing me with the physical touch of His love, demonstrating His real and powerful love to me in a way I understood.

At that particular moment in prayer, my heart was wide open and awaiting God’s touch, but I was still amazed when I felt physical touch on my cheek. I wonder if during other moments when I’m running errands, busy cleaning the house, or working, if God could touch me again. Would I then feel His touch? Maybe I have missed out on other occasions when God reached out to touch me in some way, but I was not focused on Him enough to feel it. It is startling to think that the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth might be touching me without my noticing. I pray that we all plead to God to keep our hearts open to feel His touch, in any way, shape or form He chooses to use. Our hearts should be as open to His touch during our busy days and hectic schedules as it is on Sunday morning.

Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to notice Your touch. Guide me through my daily activities. I pray that through Your strength within me I will remain focused on Your Word and live a life which shows the touch of Christ’s love to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst

Good To Me by LaTonya Mason

Listen to Today’s Radio Show

Application Steps:
Recall of some the ways that God has spoken to you, or touched your life in the past. Keep your eyes and ears ready for Him to use that method again.

Pray that you will be keenly aware of God’s intervention in your life.

Have you ever gotten so busy that you have missed an opportunity to praise God’s intervention in a particular circumstance?

Has God been reaching out to you, but you have been too busy to listen?

Have you been putting God first in your life and making it a priority to listen for His voice?

Power Verses:
1 Samuel 10:26, “Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, accompanied by valiant men whose hearts God had touched.” (NIV)

Deuteronomy 30:20, “…and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” (NIV)

John 10:3, “The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (NIV)

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“You No My Friend!”- Part 2
Susanne Scheppmann

“A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Proverbs 12:26 (NIV)

Yesterday I told about the freckled-nose little girl who thought the worst insult she could hurl toward someone was, “You no my friend!” Unfortunately, there are times we might need to end a friendship with someone we care about. I would be remiss if I did not recognize that not all our pals are beneficial friends. I have had many friendships that turned into destructive relationships.

Friends hold great influence over us. They can entice us into activities that we know in our hearts we should not participate in. Our key verse today states, “A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Some friends may damage us emotionally and, even worse, lead us astray from a godly life. They become an unhealthy influence.

I feel sure we all have felt betrayed by a “friend” at some time in life. I don’t believe you can make it through middle school or high school and not experience duplicity by a girlfriend or a boyfriend. Betrayal seems to hide in the lockers, cafeterias, and gyms just waiting to spring upon us in those vulnerable teen years.

Can you recall a time of feeling betrayed by someone close to your heart? Do you still feel the sting of hurt?

Not only do these hurtful friends betray us, but they can also hurt us by leading us astray. In my early years, I was asked to mentor a young woman about my age. As it turned out, instead of being uplifting and God-fearing, our friendship turned into a disastrous road of sin. We were not wise in our decisions together. I watched with envy her ability to vomit up her food after she ate to keep her svelte shape. I attempted to become bulimic through her instruction.

Even more devastating, the primary topic of our conversations became criticizing our husbands. We encouraged each other to live our lives to the fullest, with or without our husbands. We prodded one another into deeper and deeper sin. Eventually, we recognized our propensity for double-trouble when we were together. The friendship ended, but not before we caused tremendous damage to our families and ourselves.

Sometimes people disguise themselves as good friends. I have encountered a few friendships that turned sour. They each left a pungent bitter taste when the relationship evaporated out of my life. In hindsight, these type of women never fully displayed true friendship, and it is quite possible that I didn’t show true friendship to them either.

Sadly there have been times when I needed to say, “You no my friend.” I still valued them as individuals, but we were not good for each other. I have tried to end these relationships gently. The Bible directs us, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18 NIV). If there is a friendship that you need to extinguish, seek God’s guidance and wisdom. Allow the Holy Spirit to direct you in your actions and words as you seek a way to say, “You no my friend.”

Dear Lord, reveal to me any destructive friendships in my life. Give me the courage, wisdom, and knowledge on how to handle these relationships. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Sandpaper People: Dealing with the Ones Who Rub You the Wrong Way by Mary Southerland

Personality Plus by Florence Littauer

The Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in All Your Relationships by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas

Application Steps:
Study the relationship that Jesus held with His betrayer Judas Iscariot. Read the following Scriptures: Luke 22:47-48 and Matthew 26:48-50. How can Proverbs 12:20 and Romans 12:18 apply to the relationship between Jesus and Judas?

Do I have a friend who is harmful to me emotionally and spiritually?

What influence do I have on my friends?

Are there any relationships in my life that I feel God is directing me to end?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 22:24, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered.” (NIV)

Proverbs 21:10, “The wicked man craves evil; his neighbor gets no mercy from him.” (NIV)

Proverbs 2:12-15, “Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.” (NIV)

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The Perfume of Friendship - Part 1
Susanne Scheppmann

“The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.” Proverbs 27:9 (NLT)

Friends. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some have big hearts. A few deliver the sunshine of laughter. One may offer a slender shoulder for you to cry on. One ally might listen while you whine, while another may speak the truth even when it hurts. One girlfriend may bring a casserole when you are sick, still another offers a prayer for healing. Pals will compliment you, hug you, watch your kids, and send you a birthday card. Or they might call once a year just to catch up on life. Whatever type of friends filter through your life, true healthy friendships are a gift from God.

We learn the importance of friendship at a very early age. I remember my friend’s three- year-old daughter throwing out the worst insult she could conceive. Her little freckled face in a scowl, she would growl, “You no my friend!”

Throughout our lives, we long for friendship. This fact is supported by the television shows viewers loyally tune into throughout the decades. We hum lyrics from the Cheers theme song “Sometimes you want to go, where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” We watch Friends with hopes we too might develop friends through the ups and downs of life.

Today’s verse, “The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense,” reminds us of the importance of friendship in our lives, Friendships enrich our lives. They help us through the valleys of despair and rejoice with us on the mountaintops of joy. Friends do life with us. Which of your friends has been with you through thick and thin?

Friends help hold us accountable in what we do. My friend, Sally, holds me accountable to exercise with her. If it weren’t for her, I would stay in my pajamas, instead of putting on my walking shoes. Scriptures tells us, “You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17 MSG). Sally keeps me dedicated to our agreement to improve our health and fitness. Another friend encourages me in my walk with God. I admire her dedication to God. Her passion sharpens my desire for a closer walk with the Lord Do you have a friend that inspires you in some way?

Of course, in order to have good friends, you must be a good friend to others. Certain qualities promote deep and lasting friendships. For example, honesty and loyalty set the foundation for friendship that can last a lifetime. My best friends are people I can trust and I want them to know they can trust me too. In addition, patience, kindness and a sense of humor are essential in developing and maintaining enduring friendship. Recently, I forgot a lunch date with a girlfriend. Hours later I was horrified when I remembered. I called only to discover she had completely forgotten it too. Relieved, we laughed together at our forgetfulness. A good chuckle at our human foibles helps us to keep in mind that even the best friendships will have imperfections. Do you show kindness, patience, humor and grace in your friendships?

Friendship! It’s one of the true riches we can have in this life. Will you thank God today for your personal friends?

Dear Lord, Thank You for giving me a variety of friendships to help me walk the road of life. I am especially grateful for the friends who inspire me. Lord Jesus, teach me how to be a better friend. In Your Name, I pray. Amen.

Related Resources:
Traveling Together: Thoughts on Women, Friendship and the Journey of Faith by Karla Worley

Perplexing Proverbs by Susanne Scheppmann

I'll Bring the Chocolate: Satisfying a Woman's Craving for Friendship and Faith by Karen Porter

Application Steps:
Say a prayer of thanksgiving for a specific friend in your life. Take a moment to send a card or an email to a friend with whom you haven’t spoken for awhile.

What character traits do I value in a friendship?

What type of friend am I?

Do I treasure the friendships in my life?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 25:13, “Reliable friends who do what they say are like cool drinks in sweltering heat—refreshing!” (MSG)

Proverbs 18:24, “Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.” (MSG)

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Being a Watcher
Marybeth Whalen

“It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night.” Luke 12:37 (NIV)

What does it mean to be a watcher in today’s times? As the culture seems to be spinning out of control with a climate predominate in consumerism and focused on celebrities, how can we as Christ’s bride be prepared to meet Him at the moment of His return? These are questions I have been pondering lately.

As I studied what the Bible had to say about being a watcher, I discovered three main qualities that I wanted to share with you.

First, a watcher is watchful. Colossians 4:2 says it plainly, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (NIV) This verse is speaking of an ongoing, constant state of prayer and thanksgiving—ever focusing on the return of our Savior. When He returns, this is the state He wants to find us in. How can we be watchful and thankful, devoted to prayer? What does that look like in real time? God has given us the opportunity to communicate with Him anytime, anywhere through prayer. As we focus on drawing closer to Him in this manner, we find ourselves longing for His return and our real home—Heaven. An attitude of gratitude for His provision combined with a running dialogue of prayer works to keep us focused heavenward. That makes for a watchful state.

Second, watchers have watchwords that are constantly on their lips and in their hearts. These watchwords are the hope and encouragement that the Lord has given us through His word. In turn, we must hold fast to these words and meditate on them when we are tempted to take our focus off Christ. I think of Jeremiah 15:16 when the prophet says, “When your words came, I ate them” (NIV). I picture a starving man, so hungry for Truth that he devours it as soon as he finds it. These words, then, become a part of him—something he can rely on and carry around with him. What are your watchwords? Do you have verses you carry in your heart that are literally a part of who you are?

Finally, a watcher must watch in hope. Micah 7:7 says, “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me” (NIV). As Christians, I think it is easy to look around at the culture and feel discouraged. Where are You, God? When will You come and why are You waiting? I watch for You, but I don’t see You! Yet, Romans 15:13 assures us that we serve the God of hope. When hope runs low and discouragement sets in, we must remember that God will supply us the hope we need. And this hope comes with a promise! John 3:2-3 says, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure” (NIV). As we watch in hope, we are becoming more like Jesus! How exciting!

Ultimately as watchers, we can rest in the fact that God—who sees all and knows all—is watching over His watchers. Psalm 145:20 says, “The Lord watches over all who love him, and all the wicked he will destroy” (NIV). I take great comfort in knowing that God loves us enough to watch over us and to come alongside us as we watch for Him.

Dear Lord, Help me to be ever mindful of Your imminent return and to live accordingly. I want to be a watcher for You and not have my head turned by what the world is screaming at me. Thank you that I can rest in Your loving care as I watch and wait. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Listen to Today’s Radio Show

Do you know Him?

31 Days of Praise by Ruth Myers

Move Me Aside by Linsdey Kane

Application Steps:
Write down the three qualities of a watcher. Write down one action step you can take for each quality. Pray that God would keep your mind focused on watching for Him.

What one quality of a watcher do you need to focus on today?

Are you a watcher? Do you desire to be?

How can you shift your perspective to focus more on Christ’s return and less on the world around you?

Power Verses:
Isaiah 52:8, “Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes.” (NIV)

Proverbs 8:34-36, “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For whoever finds me, finds life and receives favor from the Lord. But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death.” (NIV)

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Broken and Poured Out
Katherine Cottle, She Speaks Conference graduate

“Drink from it all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:27-28 (NIV)

“Kati, it is broken, surely you don’t want that one,” said my bewildered husband, while we were out one Good Friday evening a few years ago.

We had been walking around downtown after dinner to do some window shopping. Wandering into a little shop called “Barouke,” I spotted this hand- carved wooden cup. I had been on the hunt for a special cup that our family could use just for communion.

“It’s perfect, John. Jesus was broken and poured out for us today thousands of years ago”, I replied.

It was a fairly simple design made from Lignum Vitae, which according to its little tag, happens to be the hardest and most dense wood in the world. I thought it would be a very fitting cup for my wonderful, stubborn family. It has also been called “the Wood of Life” for its pharmaceutical values. What better communion cup could you ask for than one made from the Wood of Life that was found “broken” on Good Friday?

I look at it today and it serves as a constant and visible reminder of Jesus’ great love and sacrifice for me and you. Yes, you! “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV).

When He broke the bread and gave it to the disciples during the last supper, He told them that it was His body; and He took the wine and said it was His blood poured out for many. (Mark 14: 22-24) He was broken and poured out on a cross so that we might have the opportunity for forgiveness and the choice to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. Like my communion cup we don’t have to be perfect to be forgiven, we come just as we are, even broken.

The song “In Remembrance of Me,” written and sung by Cheri Keaggy, says it very well. The words are true and beautiful:

This is My body
Given for you
This is the cup that holds the blood
Of a new covenant
This is forgiveness,
Simple and True
This is the way
That I have made for you

Before you eat
Before you drink
Take a long look inside
And tell Me what you see

Do this in remembrance of me.

Will you remember what He did for you today? Will you slow down long enough to thank Him? Will you accept His forgiveness? I will.

Dear Lord, thank you so much for your sacrifice on the cross for me. Thank you for your love. Help me to never take it for granted, but to always be mindful and grateful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

i am not but i know I AM by Louie Giglio

Pierced By the Word: 31 Meditations for Your Soul by John Piper

Application Steps:
Take the time to read the Easter story today from the Bible, any gospel – Matthew, Mark, Luke or John - that you choose.

Create a special “communion” cup to use with your family.

How often do you stop to think about what the Lord has gone through to make sure that you are with Him in Heaven?

Will you set aside a certain time of the day, week or month just to remember and thank Him?

Power Verses:
Ephesians 1:7, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins…” (NIV)

Hebrews 9:28, “So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people, and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (NIV)

1 Peter 1 18-19, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (NIV)

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Even the Donkey Knew
Micca Monda Campbell

“Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me.” Matthew 21:2 (NIV)

For thousands of years people have been asking the question, “Who is Jesus?” Skeptics first began inquiring about Jesus’ identity during His earthly ministry. As He traveled from town to town performing miracles and fulfilling prophecy, many would ask, “Is He a prophet or a teacher?” Even though Christ clearly stated He was the Son of God, some still questioned His identity and still do today.

The celebration of the Passover in Jerusalem was one of many times our Lord’s identity was questioned. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, the citizens cried out, “Who is this?” Everyone noticed His arrival. Some were moved with joy by His presence and laid palm branches on the ground in His honor. Others watched in wonder. The Pharisees were most likely filled with envy and indignation. However, Scripture tells us that although He was the King of Glory, Jerusalem knew Him not (Acts 13:27, KJV).

Earlier that Sunday morning, as Jesus and His disciples neared the city, He said to two of His disciples, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me.” (Matthew 21:2, NIV)

Most Bible teachers claim that Jesus rode the donkey through town in order to fulfill the prophecy found in Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (NIV)

Not only was prophecy fulfilled, but we also see an example of Christ’s all-encompassing knowledge when He revealed where the donkey could be found. More so, we also catch a glimpse of Christ’s ability to make Himself and His authority known to all living things as the untamed donkey yields to his destiny.

Donkeys, as well as their colts, were known as mean, stubborn creatures, and yet, having never been ridden before, amazingly this wild donkey submits to the authority of Christ. In doing so, the donkey testifies that Jesus is Lord. In this truth lies a very important insight. Within the heart of every living soul, whether man or beast, is the knowledge of God. He placed that knowledge there Himself.

The evidence of God is not only written on every heart and displayed in nature, but it’s found throughout Scripture as well. One recorded fact that proves Christ’s authenticity is found in the donkey’s humble obedience to submit to Jesus’ command. I believe that Jesus is sending us a message through an animal less intelligent than we, “Open your eyes - even the donkey knew Me.”

It’s true, if an untamed donkey can recognize the glory of the Lord, so can we even though we can’t visibly see Him. If we could see God, He’d just be another object like the sun and the moon. That would make Him a small God. He’s much bigger than that. The Bible tells us that God is a spirit. He is not anything you can see or touch. But that doesn't mean He isn't real! In fact, He is more "real" than the things you see around you that will eventually die or disappear—but God never will.

The greatest evidence that God is real occurred over 2000 years ago when this invisible God became a visible person, Jesus Christ, who claimed, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). God not only desired to reveal Himself then, but He wants to show Himself real to you everyday through a loving relationship with you.

Deep within you know, just as the donkey knew, that Jesus longs to enter your heart and take His rightful place as Lord of your life. Don’t let a donkey out smart you. This Easter season is the perfect time to get to know God in a real way. You’ll be glad you did.

Dear Lord, I confess that You are God. Forgive me for my sins and come into my heart and be my King. Thank you for forgiving me and saving my soul, In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Pierced By the Word: 31 Meditations for Your Soul by John Piper

My Prince will Come: Getting Ready for My Lord's Return by Sherri Rose Shepherd

Application Steps:
Read the Book of John in the Bible and get to know Jesus and His ways.

Have you ever questioned the identity of Christ?

Have you ever wondered if God was real?

How do you know God is real and Christ is the Savior of the world?

What evidence is there in your life that proves you believe this?

Power Verses:
Romans 1:9, “But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is!” (MSG)

Psalms 14:1, “The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” (NIV)

Acts 14:17, "Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy." (NIV)

Psalms 90:2, “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (NIV)

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