Van Walton

“And you shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you rise up.” Deuteronomy 11:19(AMP)

Recently I made a strong statement. My friend responded, “Wow, you certainly are passionate!”
“Don’t you feel passionate about certain topics?” I asked.

Our conversation instantly took another course as we began to discuss our passions.

Five years ago, I experienced a pay off for having practiced my passion. Not only did I realize a benefit from pursuing my zeal, but also I encountered a blessing in the midst of the worst of storms.

I have a deep passion for children, especially their salvation. I grew up in a developing country surrounded by third-world waifs. Living in the third world also afforded me the luxury of constant contact with missionaries. A combination of godly ambassadors, plus the financial and spiritual poverty around me reminded me daily of humanity’s need for Jesus.

You see, those who were poor truthfully had nothing. Yet those who were poor and had Christ had everything. I encountered God’s power in the simplest places and saw His overwhelming peace take control in the most desperate circumstances.

I am certain that the missionaries who encouraged me to visit their remote communities in South American jungles never realized their impact on the life of a little American girl. Without a doubt, God used them to plant the seed of Christianity in my life and call me to sow the seed of Good News into the hearts of others.

With the birth of my sons, I committed them to God. I told God, “I’m not sure I can be a good mother. I don’t like to cook and I am not much of a housewife. But I love You and I know my children will be eternally lost without You. Help me prepare them for the day they come before Your throne and account for their lives. My greatest desire for them is that they spend eternity with You.”

Years later tragedy struck. I received the phone call every parent dreads. Aaron, a junior in college had been admitted to the ER. I moved into the hospital and became his roommate, not a dream-come-true for a university student. During our first week as roomies, he had one of many brushes with death. He was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism. The grave information stunned me. He could die any moment! What’s a mother to do?

Aaron admitted to having struggled with God at times but eventually realizing, “Why wouldn’t I want to go to a better place? After all, heaven is where God lives.” He told me not to worry about him - he would go to heaven if he were to die.

Those words flowed over me with a comfort that only comes from God’s perfect peace. Death had its grip on my son, but my Father’s arms opened wide, ready to accept His suffering child. Never was the gospel I had taught my children more real to me, or Aaron.

Nothing we teach our children matters if it does not point them to Jesus’ saving grace. As it turns out, God did not call Aaron home during his illness. I agree with John who wrote, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4 NASB). That, I am passionate about.

Father, every child deserves to hear about Your love. I pray for children everywhere to have a godly adult who would take the time to introduce them to You. Thanks for sending Jesus to earth to show us the way to You. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Little Halos by Van Walton

Be the Parent, Seven Great Choices You Can Make to Raise Great Kids by Kendra Smiley

Application Steps:
Make a commitment to spend time each day guiding your child to Christ.

Consider adding an age-appropriate children’s Bible to your book collection.

When I read to my child, do I include Bible stories with the secular stories?

Do I point out God’s creation when I take my children to the park and outdoors to play?

Do I use God’s commandments and laws to teach my child obedience and kindness?

Power Verses:
John 14:6, “Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (NIV)

Romans 1:19-20, “But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can't see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse.” (MSG)

Revelation 21:1, 5, 7, 27, “Then I saw a new heaven… the one sitting on the throne said, ‘I will be their God, and they will be my children.’ Nothing evil will be allowed to enter… but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” (NLV)

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When the Bubbles Pop
Joanne Sampl, She Speaks Conference graduate

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:35 NIV)

It’s a childish thing to do, but I still love to blow bubbles. I keep a bottle or two of that sticky, soapy, messy stuff with the plastic wand in the kitchen pantry near the back door. I even have a bottle in my minivan for those unplanned stops at the park.

Just like the bubbles drift away as I blow them, my mind drifts away watching them. I study them closely. Each one is a different size but they each reflect the colors of the rainbow. Some pop quickly while others linger and dance in the breeze. Some bubbles leave the wand with several bubble friends, while others start alone and end alone. Depending on how slow or forceful I breathe, I can try to create more or less bubbles at a time. However, I am constantly aware that even though my breath is important to starting a bubble, I have no idea where it will end up or how long it will last. I can only watch and see what happens.

Recently, I received devastating news. The shock and stages of grief are still wafting over me. Instinctively, I pulled out my bottle of bubbles and headed to the park. I was eager for my mind to drift away from my circumstances. The first bubbles were the hardest to blow that day. I barely had breath to exhale through my tears. “Keep trying. Keep blowing,” my mind coached me that day. Or, was it God’s voice coaching me?

The principles of blowing bubbles seem to apply to so many circumstances in life. “Keep trying. Keep blowing.” These words are another way to express the principles of 1 Timothy 4:15-16: “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (NIV)

I am still trying to see the colors of the rainbow in my situation. God keeps His promises (Gen 9:16) because He loves us with an everlasting love. I realize that no matter how long things last, I get to appreciate them. I get to notice the uniqueness of each person I meet, each friend I have, and each child I raised. I have no idea where any of them will end up, but I am grateful to be part of their “dance in the breeze.”

And, when the bubbles of life pop, I get to take another breath and start again.

Dear Lord, you breathed life into me first and now I pray every breath I have gives you glory and honor. You are the Creator, and all things start and end with You. Give me your eyes to appreciate those around me, your strength to keep going through my circumstances, and your breath of hope to share with others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Join us for more Everyday Life encouragement

Breathe by Keri Wyatt Kent

Come Thirsty: No Heart Too Dry for His Touch by Max Lucado

Application Steps:
Simplify your life so you can have time to meet with God through studying the Bible and prayer. Then talk to God about the areas in your life where you are struggling to have hope and confidence in Him to work things out as He sees fit.

What circumstances in your life does God want you to keep your eyes on what He is doing around you?

What makes you dance in the breeze?

Power Verses:
Psalm 31:24, “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.” (NIV)

Psalm 71:14-15, “But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure.” (NIV)

2 Corinthians 5:17-18, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (NIV)

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A Mom Who Keeps Her Promises
Glynnis Whitwer

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NIV)

One day, just before the start of school, my middle son sat cross-legged on the ground, playing at the foot of my desk while I worked on the computer. Since he’d been out-thinking me from the time he was two, I shouldn’t have been surprised at the conversation that ensued.

“Mom,” he started simply. “When you were little, did Grandma ever tell you she’d get you a pony and then didn’t?”

“No, she didn’t,” I answered, fully engaged and wondering where this line of thought would go.

“Well, you told us you’d take us to Toys "R" Us this summer and you didn’t. That’s a true lie,” Dylan solidly proclaimed.

I was shocked that he remembered a promise from three months back, but more stunned by his reasoning. In the midst of being impressed by how his mind worked, I was convicted. He was right! Every time we drove past the toy store, my three little boys asked to stop and I’d put them off. It wasn’t that we didn’t have the time, but taking three boys into a toy store was pure torture. Either I should have taken them or I shouldn’t have promised we would do it.

I stopped my work, joined him on the floor, and sincerely apologized for not following through on my commitment. That little 6-year-old taught me a lesson I’m still learning: I need to keep my promises to my children!

It’s tempting to think the kids will understand when my schedule changes and it becomes inconvenient to keep a commitment. After all, they are “just” kids. Right? Wrong! I’ve discovered that after God and my husband, my children are the most important people to whom I should honor a promise.

The truth is while children may say they understand when we don’t keep a promise, depending on their ages, it’s really hard for them to fully grasp our complicated lives. All they know is they are eating a cafeteria lunch alone when mom said she’d bring a Happy Meal. Or they are in front of a TV when mom promised to take them to the park.

We all know life happens and interrupts even the best-laid plans. That’s part of what we need to teach children – to be flexible. The problem arises when it becomes a habit. A mom who consistently backs out of promises will teach her children to do the same, and will leave them insecure and possibly resentful.

To become mothers who keep their promises, we need to guard our words and follow some daily practices. Don’t make a promise simply to stop a child’s repeated requests. Carefully consider your schedule and commitments before offering to do something. Start with small promises and build up to larger ones. If the promise has to do with an outing as a family, work together as a family to get everything done before going. Look beyond a child’s words to her heart. Does her request have more to do with spending time with you than going to the park? If so, offer an alternative before you commit to something you probably can’t do.

A mother has the high calling of modeling the faithfulness of God to her children. More than words, children watch actions. Will they find a mother who keeps her promises? If so, it will lead them to a God who keeps His promises.

Heavenly Father, I praise You for Your unchanging nature. I praise You for Your faithfulness in keeping Your promises throughout the generations. Please forgive me for the times I haven’t kept my promises to the people I Iove. Help me become a person who keeps her word, even in the hard times. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Join us for more Everyday Life encouragement on parenting

The Bathtub is Overflowing but I Feel Drained by Lysa TerKeurst

Out of the Mouth of Babes by Wendy Pope

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

Application Steps:
Think of one promise you can make to your child(ren), or someone you love, this week. Make that promise and keep it.

When someone keeps a promise they have made to you, how does it make you feel about yourself?

What are some areas in your life where you have trouble keeping promises?

Identify some daily practices that will help you keep your promises.

Power Verses:
2 Peter 3: 8-9, “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. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (NIV)

Psalm 9:10, “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” (NIV)

1 Timothy 1:15, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” (NIV)

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Making Prayer a Priority
Marybeth Whalen

“The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.” Psalm 6:9 (NIV)

As Christians, it is one thing to know we need to pray, but it is another thing entirely to make prayer a priority in the course of our busy day. So today we’ll look at some practical ways to strengthen our prayer life—no matter how busy we are. These are just tips and tricks I have picked up along the way through my own experience or from people I respect. I hope you will take a few of them and immediately apply them to your life. When our prayer life is strong, our walk with God and our time with Him is magnified a hundredfold.

Commit to spending the first moments of your day in prayer before you even get out of the bed. Get in the habit of devoting just a few minutes before you put your feet on the floor just claiming the day for Him and offering up all you will do for His glory and the good of His kingdom. Starting the day this way will help your perspective with whatever you have facing you—be it whiny kids or a demanding boss. Doing this daily will eventually become a habit.

When you feel yourself start to worry, use those thoughts as an immediate trigger to begin silently praying, no matter where you are or what you are doing.

Make your mealtimes a time for significant prayer. Whether this is something your whole family does, or just something you observe on your own, praying before you eat can become more than a quick, “Thank You for this food.”

Instead of spending your prayer time begging God for a list of needs, designate a time each day to do nothing but reflect on God’s goodness towards you and your family. Meditating on God’s blessings is a great way to strengthen your faith. As you reflect on what He has done, you will have confidence in what He will do.

Post index cards or post-it notes around your house to remind you of things to pray for. This can include prayer requests and praises. Every time you see the notes, pray immediately.

Before you dive right into your prayers, spend some time being silent before God. Ask Him to speak to you in the silence. If you can, journal what He is telling you—whether it’s a word or phrase He brings to mind, a passage of Scripture He directs you to, or a word-picture He gives you—get it down on paper so you can reflect on it further later.

Keep a prayer journal of requests, and periodically go back and fill in answers to those requests.

Change your prayer position ever now and then. If you usually sit in one spot, move to another one. Kneel, walk, or fall down on the floor with your face to the ground. Try lighting candles or playing soft praise music to set the tone for prayer.

If you find yourself lying awake at night, use that time to pray. Talk to God instead of counting sheep!

My friend Lorrie Flem shared this idea: Pray for certain people when you do certain daily tasks. Lorrie prays for her brother every time she brushes her teeth. This habit can invigorate the most mundane of tasks and make them purposeful. You might find you look forward to vacuuming when you know you will be spending time praying for your spouse while you do it!

Finally, remember that prayer is nothing more than a conversation with your Best Friend. He knows you intimately and loves you anyway. He wants to hear from you and doesn’t need a lot of pomp and circumstance to do so. If all else fails, keep it simple and just talk to Him all day long!

Dear Lord, I want my prayer life to be stronger. I want to spend more time talking to You and drawing closer to You. I pray that You would help me to be mindful of what I can do to make prayer a priority. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Submit a prayer request or praise report

31 Days of Prayer by Ruth Myers

God’s Purpose for Every Woman, Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olsen, General Editors

Application Steps:
Write down three things you will do this week to make prayer a priority. Consider asking a friend to hold you accountable to doing this.

Do you believe prayer is important?

What stigma or limitations are present in your prayer life that shouldn’t be?

How can you more effectively spend time with God, just talking to Him?

Power Verses:
I Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray continually.” (NIV)

Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words can not express.” (NIV)

Ephesians 6:18, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (NIV)

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The Best Bargain
Rachel Olsen

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” Matthew 6:24 (NIV)

If you are anything like me – and millions of other women – you find it hard to disengage yourself from the lifestyle of consumerism all around us. Material things - mere inanimate objects – seem to have so much power over people.The frustrating thing about money and things is you can never quite get enough. Styles and fashions change with the seasons. Fancier homes are being built around the corner. Technology improves so rapidly. Great bargains await us down every aisle. There are always newer and nicer things to be had, and there are always people around us having them. There is a subtle but unrelenting pressure to have it all.

So what happens when we give in to the pressure? We discover the tyranny of material things. Soon we find ourselves in spiritual bondage, and financial debt. A few years ago I read an eye-opening statistic - seventy percent of all Americans said they are carrying so much debt that it is making their lives unhappy. Are you feeling the pressure of financial debt? Is it worth it to have a home full of nice things, where tensions run high, creditors call, and you can hardly sleep?

At the time I read that statistic I was beginning to feel the pressure of my own mounting debt. I remember quite well the stress, fear, and feelings of failure. Thankfully, it drove me to my knees where I cried out to the only One who could truly help me change. Through tears I asked God’s forgiveness for how poorly I’d handled the money He had provided me, and asked Him to help me gain some control and make wiser choices. I humbly confessed to others the situation and asked for prayer. Next I prayed frequently and reverently for God to increase our family income so we could pay down the debt. I increased my giving to God. And, very importantly, I put a strict moratorium on myself buying anything but groceries. No more new sweaters, cute kids’ toys, or anti-wrinkle creams – no matter how great the sale – until I’d gained some self control when it came to money.

I am glad to report that God has been faithful to hear and answer those prayers. I’m also confident in saying He can do the same for you.

The Bible clearly states that God will not reign in our lives as long as we have material things enthroned in our hearts (Matthew 6:24). So join me in renouncing money, luxury, and possessions as the main goals in life. Today let’s choose better goals – to know God intimately and to bless others out of the abundance of our hearts. The lifestyle of consumerism is all around us. The temptation to try to satisfy our own needs and desires with material things is strong. Ultimately, however, the best bargain in town is still that we can trade our filthy rags for robes of righteousness in the dressing room of our very own hearts.

Dear Lord, forgive me for seeking material things more than You. Forgive me for being stingy or selfish with the money I have. I need Your help to change, and to pay off my debts – both spiritual and financial. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Visit Dave Ramsey on the web for some financial guidance

Dollars & Sense by Cynthia Sumner

Join us for more Everyday Life encouragement

Application Steps:
Get a clear picture of your debt situation. Pray as I did above for forgiveness and help. Give to God and his work through your church and ministries such as this one. Drastically curb unnecessary spending.

Follow the Dave Ramsey link in the resources section for excellent, professional financial advice from a Christian perspective.

Is shopping a problem habit for you?

Do you know how much debt you have?

Are you giving to God?

Who or what is truly on the throne in your heart?

Power Verses:
Psalm 36:5, “Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.” (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 7:12, "Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor." (NIV)

Proverbs 3:9-10, “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the first fruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” (NKJ)

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A Yeah Day
Wendy Pope

“If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging….” Romans 12:8 (NLB)

I was having a day, a day when I found myself slipping back into the pit of destructive thinking patterns. I knew what was happening and I almost enjoyed the anticipation of a pity party. It sounds crazy I know, but if we are honest with ourselves, there are times when the pit is a comfortable place to be. We are familiar with the surroundings. We know what to expect. We know what not to expect. And frankly speaking, it is easier to invite support in the pit than it is to get out. Can anyone agree?

After trying, unsuccessfully, to get someone to join my pity party, I decided to check my email. I read and responded to many emails. In one email, I shared some good news with a friend about a situation I had been praying about. Her response came back as I was sitting at the computer. The response was simply, "YEAH!!" In email world, a word typed in all caps followed by exclamation marks, indicates that the sender is shouting or at very least talking loud. The word popped out at me. I thought wow, I needed that. I responded with a thank you. Her return response said, "That's what friends are for."

Isn't it wonderful that Jesus reveals His love for us through others? He invites us to be a part of His plan to encourage and help His children. I call people who do this, "Jesus with skin."

In our world today it has become far too easy to become self-absorbed. Our lives move so fast that we can't see the needs others have, much less take the time to lend a word of encouragement. Encouraging others does not have a monetary cost. My friend did not have to spend a dime to make me feel encouraged. What she did took very little time out of her busy day. God took her words to help me change my focus and redirect my thoughts.

Today or perhaps tomorrow someone might need some encouragement. It will only take a few minutes of your time. God will invite you to help Him encourage one of His own. From one who received a gift of encouragement, accept His invitation.

Dear Lord, You are at work all the time. Help me to see You at work. Invite me to participate. I want to say yes to You and make a difference in someone's life today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

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

i am not but i know I AM by Louie Giglio

Application Steps:
In your prayer time ask God to show you someone who needs encouragement. Tell Him you will say “Yes!” Share your experience of saying yes to God with someone.

Do I hear and understand what God is saying to me?

Do I spend time trying to learn how to understand and hear God?

What keeps me so busy that I can't take time to encourage others with a note or call?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 12:25, "An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up." (NIV)

1 Thessalonians 5:11, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." (NIV)

Galatians 5:22, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness." (NIV)

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A Legend of Faith
Susanne Scheppmann

“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.” Psalm 71:18 (NIV)

Susanna Wesley’s life changed history. How? She gave a legacy of faith to her children. Born in 1669 to a Christian minister and his wife, she grew up in a culture of devout Christian faith. Susanna imparted her understanding of Christ to her own children, instructing them in biblical knowledge and praying diligently for them an hour each day. At least once a week she took them aside individually to discuss spiritual matters.

Her legacy to this world is John and Charles Wesley. Both of these men became leaders in the spiritual revival known as “The Great Awakening.” John Wesley founded the Methodist denomination and other Wesleyan denominations, as well as theological beliefs and traditions that are named after him. Charles Wesley not only preached but also wrote many of our traditional hymns.

Susanna’s maternal influence bore rich fruit in these men’s lives. The power of their Christian faith came about as a direct result of their godly mother. She actively lived out her faith in their home. Her accomplishments as a mother resulted in sons who continued to pass down her inheritance of faith.

Throughout Scripture, examples are given of women who influenced their children in a godly way. The mother of Moses hid him for three months and then placed Moses in a water resistant basket to save him from death. Moses led the children of Israel out of slavery. Hannah dedicated her three-year-old son, Samuel, to the Lord. He became a mighty prophet. The apostle Paul wrote about a mother and grandmother who influenced a young disciple named Timothy. “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5 NIV).

What word described their faith? Sincere faith. Timothy’s grandmother Lois, and his mother Eunice, held a positive sway in the life of Timothy because of their sincere faith. I do not want my children to see my faith as a mediocre belief system. I want to leave them a legend of living and active faith.

Proverbs 17:6 states, “Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children” (NIV). Although I am certainly not Susanna Wesley, I hope my children take pride in me as their mother. (I am certainly glorying in my grandchildren!) I wait with great anticipation to see what Christian heritage will pass from me, to my children, and to my grandchildren.

So what will be our legend of faith? Shall we begin today to live out a dynamic faith that our children can watch, understand, and imitate?

Dear Lord, I desire to leave a legacy of faith to my children. Inspire me to pray for them daily. Instruct me on how I may leave an inheritance of godliness to my children, my grandchildren, and to others who look to me as an example. Lord, let my faith shine brightly even after I leave this earth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

That's My Son, How Moms can Influence Boys to Become Men of Character by Rick Johnson

The Pocket Guide for Parents, Raising Godly Kids

Join us for more Everyday Life encouragement

Application Steps:
Make a list of things to share with your children about your relationship with Jesus. Determine to discuss things of faith daily with each child.

What will my children recall after I die?

Do I make a concentrated effort to teach my children about Jesus?

Do I pray for my children on a regular basis?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 31:28-30, “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (NIV)

Proverbs 17:6, “Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.” (NIV)

2 Timothy 1:5, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (NIV)

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Completely Indescribable
Amy Carroll

“Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy.” I Peter 1:8 (NRSV)

I am rarely speechless, but sometimes when I really contemplate God and His ways, I can find myself tongue tied. Paul was much more eloquent than I. In Romans 11:33-36 he writes, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! ’Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” (NIV)

God is truly BIG, and I am learning to magnify Him. That’s a word that we use in church sometimes, but what does it really mean? One summer at camp, a counselor taught us how to make a circle with our hand and inspect a small space on the ground through it. Even though the size of the ants and the blades of grass didn’t change, they seemed larger when you studied them in their context. The same thing happens when we study God’s Word, the Bible, and fill our thoughts with what we learn about His character. His true greatness doesn’t change; my concept of His greatness just grows! So many times, I’ve done the opposite. I’ve looked at God through my own understanding, and it has the same effect as looking at Him through the wrong end of binoculars. He is diminished and small in my sight.

As I study God’s Word, I am increasingly amazed by His never-changing character. I’m in awe of His judgment and council that is always right. I find it inconceivable that He created this complex universe. I am humbled by my infinitesimal smallness in comparison to His immeasurable bigness. God Himself says that my estimation of things is correct. In Isaiah 55:8-9, God tells us, “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts‘” (NIV). As I look through a circle made by my hand, I am only able to see glimpses of the greatness of God, and in my humanness I’m completely unable to magnify Him to His real size. Our God truly is an awesome God. I want you to stop reading for a moment and meditate on these thoughts.

Have you magnified the Lord in your heart and mind? Now get this—He created you for a personal relationship with Him. He is the God who reaches down to take hold of you. He loves you and wants to rescue you from sin. He wants to set your feet on the firm rock of His Son, Jesus. He stoops down to make you great - read Psalm 18. David, who was awed by this same thought, writes in Psalm 8: 3-4, 9, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (NIV). As big as God is, he is interested in you. He loves you. How will you respond to Him today?

Dear Lord, You are indescribable. In all our humanness, we cannot grasp You in all Your perfection, but You are different than all other gods that are exalted in our world. You aren’t far away. You reach out to us through the Bible and through the life, death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus. Help me to accept Your love today and may my faith grow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

i am not but i know I AM
by Louie Giglio

His Princess: Prayers to My King by Sherri Rose Shepherd

Application Steps:
In your journal, write out scriptures that inspire you to see the “bigness” of God.

Begin to intently watch for God’s work in your life. He cares for you and is at work!

What parts of my life or activities have the effect of diminishing God and His power in my thoughts?

Have I allowed myself to receive God’s love for me personally or have I kept God at an “arms length”?

Power Verses:
Habakkuk 3:2a, “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known…” (NIV)

Psalm 66:5, “Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man’s behalf!” (NIV)

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Leaning into Jesus
Glynnis Whitwer

“One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, ‘Ask him which one he means.’ Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’" John 13:23-25 (NIV)

For eight years my husband Tod and I led the senior high group at church. As a young married couple, we poured our hearts and lives into those teenagers and were rewarded beyond measure.

Throughout the school year we followed a similar pattern that always started the same way: building community. In the fall we welcomed a new group of kids into the group, and we knew how difficult it would be for them to make friends. At that age, kids have already begun the process of segregating into like groups. Our goal was to create one group, not five or six.

So we planned a variety of games and outings to help the kids have fun together, get to know each other and eventually to trust each other enough to be honest. That trust was part of the foundation for the coming months when we would get into deeper issues of faith and life. Would they open up in front of their new friends? Or would they clam up when the tough subjects got raised?

One “game” we played to create community was the “trust fall.” It’s a common youth group activity that involves standing with your back to someone and then allowing yourself to fall backwards into their arms. It’s very scary to lean into someone else and trust they won’t step back, letting you fall to the ground, or be physically unable to catch you. We knew from years of experience that even the smallest kids can do this, and it was a good exercise for the “faller” and the “catcher.”

In the book of John there’s a passage that demonstrates when one of the disciples had this type of faith in Jesus. It was in the Upper Room, and Jesus had just washed His disciples’ feet. They returned to the table and Jesus was predicting that someone would betray Him. It must have been a distressing moment to hear that announcement and John (the disciple whom Jesus loved) does what seems to come naturally: he leans into Jesus.

John was already physically close to Jesus, but the passage says he got even closer: “One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, ‘Ask him which one he means.’ Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’" (John 13:23-25 NIV)

John believed Jesus wouldn’t push him away or scoot over. John knew he wouldn’t be embarrassed by Jesus rejecting him. John trusted Jesus enough to lean back against Him.
It’s scary to trust. Betrayal, theft and dishonesty abound. People whom we think will “catch” us, let us fall. When we try to get close to some, they back away, leaving us ashamed and wondering what’s wrong with us.

The only One who won’t back away, won’t let us fall, and will wrap His arms around us when we lean into Him is Jesus. What an amazing gift we have in a Savior who welcomes our presence, our questions, our concerns and our love.

Dear Lord, thank You for always being there for me. I’m sorry for those times I’ve turned to people instead of to You. Help me to trust You more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst

The Confident Woman by Anabel Gillham

Do you know Him?

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Think of a time when someone you trusted let you down. Take that hurt to Jesus in prayer and ask for His comfort and healing.

What are some common areas in life where people let us down?

List some ways that Jesus has been faithful to you.

What does it mean to lean in to Jesus? Think of some practical ways you can lean into Jesus this week.

Power Verses:
Psalm 20:7, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” (NIV)

Psalm 9:10, “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” (NIV)

Psalm 25:2, “In you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.” (NIV)

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The Waiting
Zoë Elmore

“Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh King of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh's presence and traveled throughout Egypt.” Genesis 41:46 (NIV)

Our oldest son graduated from college and now lives and works in another state. As parents we are grateful and proud for our son; not to mention relieved by the financial ease of having one less child on our “payroll.” While the benefits of his job are above and beyond what any new college grad could hope for, our son believes God is calling him to a place of service and ministry. When he asked for our opinion we tried hard to balance the love we have for him with the common sense of a parent that says you must be crazy to think about leaving this job. Of course we’d love to see our son serve the Lord in a ministry, but without clear direction and opportunity we have cautioned our son about the dangers of running ahead of God’s perfect timing.

God has gifted our son with the ability to connect with and influence people with his passion for life. While passion is a good thing, left unchecked it will burn out quickly. I’m reminded of David and Joseph from the Old Testament. Just like our son, they too had a passion to love and serve God. We learn from Scripture that God called these men into a place of service for His eternal kingdom; but only after a time of waiting while they experienced God’s refining fire of trial and temptation were they ready to assume the duties and responsibilities these positions would require.

Joseph was 17 years old when his brothers sold him into slavery, and it wasn’t until he was 30 years old that he was promoted into Pharaoh’s service. At 16, David was told of his future as king, yet it took another sixteen years before that became a reality. Both men endured rejection, loneness, and deprivation along the pathway that led to their position of service. It’s interesting to note that there is no record of either man whining or complaining during his years of waiting. I can find no evidence that either man shook his fist in God’s face and demanded his reward. Instead I find men of integrity who learned patience and obedience while totally relying on God to work every circumstance for their good and His glory on their way to assuming the next position God had for them.

If you’re seeking God’s direction in your life, take a page from the life of Joseph and David. Commit your heart and your life to patiently waiting on God. Be obedient to what He has called you to do right now, and do it with excellence. Learn to be content while waiting on God to change your present circumstances. Ask God to show you the lessons He wants to teach you in order to be ready to assume the next position He is preparing you for. Do not run ahead of the Lord. Hurry is the death of trust.

Dear Lord, I long to know Your will for my life. Help me to be content right where You have placed me and teach me the lessons I must learn before receiving the next position You are preparing for me, In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Living Life on Purpose by Lysa TerKeurst

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Ask the Lord to reveal your spiritual gifts and talents and record them in your journal.

Develop those gifts and ask God to reveal how He wants you to practice your gifts for His service.

Are you doing your job with excellence everyday as you wait on the Lord to show you His plans for your life?

Check your attitude. Are you waiting on God with patience and obedience?

Power Verses:
Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (NIV)

Psalm 40:1-5, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.” (NIV)

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Hidden Things
Wendy Pope

“He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him." Daniel 2:22 (NIV)

Recently, and quite unexpectedly, a dear member of our church passed away. It started out as a normal day. He was to celebrate his 73rd birthday with his wife of 50 years that evening. After a workout at the local gym, he died. His death, though sudden to us, was no surprise to the Lord. The Lord was ready to give this precious man his final inheritance.

God never wastes an opportunity to teach us something, if we will listen. I had just finished reading the account of Moses' final charge to the Israelites before crossing the Jordan into the long awaited Promised Land. The descendents of those enslaved by the Egyptians were ready to claim their land after living in the desert for 40 years. All the descendents expect Reuben, that is.

Reuben approached Moses and asked if his tribe could claim the land on the east side of the Jordan. He explained to Moses that his people could build a fortified city there. The land was fertile and right for harvesting. He agreed to fight the battles with the others, to ensure the conquering of Canaan but when the battles were over he wanted to return to the land east of the Jordan.

This puzzled me. Why would Reuben, after surviving all those years, turn down the promise the LORD was ready to fulfill? I could not understand it. Then I traced Reuben's history and discovered the reason. Many years before this time, Reuben, who was the first born son to Jacob, defiled his father's marriage bed by sleeping with his father's concubine. This sin was not revealed until Jacob was on his death bed. At this time, Jacob took away the "double-portion" birthright that was due to Reuben as the firstborn. The sin was revealed and the blessing was removed. Now, it all made sense to me.

Reuben knew that when he crossed over the Jordan he would not get the finest property. He would have to watch someone else get his blessing. Therefore, he made his own arrangement. His own plan to get what he thought would be the best. Little did he know, years later the land he chose as the best would be the first taken into captivity by the Assyrians.

What we think is hidden from God is not. We gladly exchange the potential pain and consequence that comes from confessing our sin for the "greener pastures" the enemy offers. We don't realize when we do make this exchange; we also forfeit immediate forgiveness and redemption into a right relationship with Jesus. We needlessly spend life separated from God. We aren't fooling God, we are only fooling ourselves. He knows all things that are hidden in the darkness.

Don't wait until you are on your death bed to find out you've missed your birthright. Your birthright is described clearly in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." As a child of the Most High King, you stand to inherit an abundant and full life now, today. If you want to know how to do this, how to collect your inheritance click: Do you know Him? Allow God to bring into the light that which is dark and restore your brokenness.

Dear Lord, I acknowledge that I am a sinner. I want Your forgiveness for the all times I have attempted to hide things from You. You are Truth and only You can set me free. Today, I want to live in Your freedom. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst

Traveling Light: Releasing the Burdens You Were Never Intended to Bear by Max Lucado

Listen to Today’s Radio Show for further encouragement

Application Steps:
In your prayer time ask God to help you reveal your "hidden things." Trust Him to be faithful and just to forgive you and love you. Make the decision not to turn back, but to move forward in your inheritance no matter what the cost.

Am I child of God?

What have I exchanged for my inheritance?

What can I do to make a difference in my walk with the Lord?

Power Verses:
John 8:36, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (NIV)

Romans 10:10, "For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." (NIV)

1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (NIV)

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Trusting God Despite Fear
Lisa Whittle, She Speaks Conference graduate

“But when I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3 (NLT)

The beach is one of my favorite places. I love the water. I love to hear its mighty roar as it crashes onto shore. And I love to watch my children play in it, laughing and splashing while they try to “outrun” the waves.

Several years ago, my husband and I took Graham, our only child at the time, to the beach for a few days. He was excited to get there and play, and I was anxious to rest my eight-months-pregnant feet on the soft sand while my husband and child got some daddy-son time. I had only watched them for a few minutes before drifting off to sleep in my brightly-colored beach chair. I didn’t see the events of the next few minutes, but my husband remembers them quite vividly.

This beach was right on an intracoastal water way. Enormous cargo boats would pass by at a certain point everyday. For a two-year-old child, the “great big boat” was possibly the neatest thing he had ever seen in his young life. Graham was ecstatic. “Look , Daddy,” he said. “See the big boat?” “Yes, buddy. I see it.” My husband was thrilled to share the moment with his awestruck son.

Pretty soon, my husband noticed the undertow was starting to pull them out farther than he felt comfortable going. The power of the big boat had made quite an impact on the ocean water. While Graham continued to splash, my husband became afraid.

“Let’s go back in, closer to Mommy, okay?” His anxiety was intensifying as the subtle tug of water got stronger. As a young naïve child, Graham was oblivious to these concerns. Soon Daddy’s words became more commanding. “Come on, big guy. It’s time to go in now. Hold on to me, and I’ll carry you back to the shore.” He scooped up our son. With his little arms wrapped around daddy’s neck, Graham was holding on to his dad, and his daddy was holding on to him.

Life is unpredictable and dangers loom closer than we sometimes think. Undertows can sweep our feet from under us without warning at any time. But our God is ready, willing, and able to scoop us up into His mighty arms and carry us to a place of shelter, safety and ultimate security. He is our source, the only one we need, to rid us of all our deep anxieties and concerns. We must rely on him, and him alone, to save us.

I learned a verse when I was a young child: “But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.” It started out as one of the weekly verses my mother made me memorize to get a star on my “good behavior chart.” But over the years, Psalm 56:3 came to mean so much more.

As a child, I would recall this verse when I felt scared of the dark or if I’d had a bad dream. I said it when I thought I heard a noise or if I imagined a “bad guy” in my room. It helped me go back to sleep feeling less afraid. With years of life now under my belt and young children of my own, I am still quoting this verse. Gone are the days of the boogeyman but I still get scared. I get scared about my health, my children, and what tomorrow holds. When I do, I recite those ten precious and inspired words that seem as though they were written just for me. They help me to be less afraid when the darkness comes.

When you are facing your fear, whatever it is, God is asking you to hold on to Him. He in turn will hold on to you, and nothing will ever come between you.

Dear Lord, help me know You are near during those times I am afraid. I pray I will trust You when life sweeps me up in its undertow and threatens to harm me. May I learn to place my life in Your capable and strong hands. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

The 7 Hardest Things God Asks a Woman To Do by Kathie Reimer and Lisa Whittle

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

Application Steps:
Submit yourself to the scrutiny of the Lord and ask Him to show you the areas of your life that are controlled by fear. Write them down and pray over each one, claiming the victory in your life by the power of God over each and every area.

Do I believe that God can be trusted with my life?

Do I believe He can help me overcome my fears?

Am I willing to relinquish control over the areas that concern me?

Power Verses:
Isaiah 12:2, “See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid.” (NLT)

1 John 4:18, “But perfect love expels all fear...” (NLT)

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And the Winner is . . .
Melissa Taylor

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be.” Philippians 3:12 (NLT)

In 1992, I was in the second year of my teaching career. I loved teaching and had a heart for children. I worked hard and was rewarded for it. My school selected me as “Teacher of the Year.” When my second child was born three years later, my husband and I decided I would fully devote my time to our home and raising our children.

Until I became a stay-at-home mom, I never realized how much my identity was about being a teacher. I felt like I had lost who I was and began calling myself just a mom. “There has to be more to my life than this, “I proclaimed. I bought into the common worldview that I needed more in my life to be valuable.

Within a few months, I volunteered for various committees at church. I attended meetings, began teaching Sunday School, and worked hard to fill my days with worthy causes. I felt important again. A few years and another child later, the strain of trying to keep up this Miss Perfect-Worthy-and-Valuable front, was taking its toll on my family and me.

One Sunday in church, a prestigious award was given to a woman who devoted her life to God and serving her church. The presenter began, “This year’s recipient is younger than our winners in the past, but no less qualified. In her short time here, she has served on the wedding committee, children’s council, women’s council, Weekday School committee, taught Sunday School and Wednesday night programs, and put flowers on the altar during the month of February.” Then she said, “She’s also a mother of three and a wife.” It hit me then that it was I, and all of a sudden, I wanted to die. My husband was beaming and friends were silently cheering and telling me, “It’s you Melissa. You are the winner!” So why did I feel like sliding down under the church pew and hiding? Because God spoke louder than the presenter did that day. I heard Him.

While these accomplishments and titles were all nice, they were not who I was or wanted to be. Where was the part in the presentation that said, “Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her,” like Proverbs 31:28 says? Where were the words that mentioned that I was a devoted wife who stayed home to care for her family? What about that I was a woman after God’s heart, who takes on life from His perspective and with His priorities in mind? They weren’t mentioned because that wasn’t the case. My husband had been a victim of abandonment while I was “doing for others.” My children were not being cared for by me, but by the nursery workers at church. As for being a woman after God’s own heart? Please! I was doing God’s work, but I was not asking Him to be a part of it. This prestigious award came home with me, but even better than that, a new woman came home that day.

The next week I cleared my plate of anything and everything that was out of balance. I was a little nervous about letting people down, but I had to discover my identity as a child of God, and to believe that was enough.

Have you ever felt like you needed a fancy title, numerous achievements, or worldly rewards to feel important? If so, I challenge you today to discover the truth. Ask God to reveal His plan and purpose for your life. I promise that having the title “daughter of the King” bears greater reward than anything you could do on this earth. Get your life priorities balanced God’s way and hear Him say, and the winner is . . . you!

Dear Lord, show me my value as Your child, not in things of this world. Help restore my faith and believe that You are enough for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

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

Living Life on Purpose by Lysa TerKeurst

Join us for more Everyday Life encouragement

Application Steps:
Look at your calendar or your daily planner. Organize your activities so that God’s priorities are reflected in your tasks.

Do I feel important because of what I do or because of what God does in me?

Do I feel like a winner?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 3:6, “Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.” (NLT)

Proverbs 16:3, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” (NIV)

Philippians 3:3b, “We put no confidence in human effort. Instead, we boast about what Christ Jesus has done for us.” (NLT)

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History Makers
Sharon Glasgow

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’” Mark 16:15 (NKJV)

Many of our greatest history-makers followed the Holy Spirit’s leading.

In 1492 Christopher Columbus risked his life as he followed the Holy Spirit’s leading to an uncharted New World. He knew that he would be risking his life, but he had no real choice. The Lord put the idea in his mind, and he had to follow Him. He said that the gospel must be preached to every land to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah, and Columbus felt time was of the essence.

King James, the King of England who gave us the first modern translation of the Bible, proclaimed in 1606 the authority for the three ships to set sail on charter by way of the Virginia Company. He wrote in the 1st Virginia Charter, “We, greatly commending and graciously accepting of their desires to the furtherance of...Christian religion to such a people as yet live in darkness…”

John Smith, Reverend Hunt and Capt. Newport were among the group of weary travelers aboard those three ships who dropped anchor at Cape Henry in Virginia Beach in April of 1607. They felt God’s leading all through their journey. Upon landing, they suffered an attack from the Indians. Immediately Hunt led them into three days of prayer and fasting for repentance of sins and in preparation of dedication of the land to God.

They erected a cross on the land and prayed a prayer of dedication to the God who led them to it. After Hunt prayed and asked for God’s blessings, he read Acts 26: 17-18. While reading the scriptures he was overwhelmed by God’s Spirit to the point he was gripped with emotion. He raised his trembling hands and eyes to heaven and prayed, “From these shores the Gospel shall go forth to not only this New World, but also to the entire world.”

On this day in 1607 the first permanent British settlement in North America, Jamestown, Virginia, was established. God’s hand was upon this crew who followed the Holy Spirit’s leading to America.

As we celebrate our country’s founding principles today we should look at the sacrifices made by our ancestors for the freedom of our nation. Columbus, King James, and John Smith are just a few of those who’ve sacrificed for us. What are we doing to carry on their work? Let’s never take for granted the sacrifices made by so many for our country.

The Holy Spirit leads, guides and directs every Christian. It is up to us to follow His leading.

Teach your children about the heritage of this great country, and that when they follow the Holy Spirit’s leading, they to can become History Makers. Our future depends on it.

Dear Lord, Help me to follow Your leading and not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for I know it is the power that America and all countries need. Help me to be a leader for You. I don’t have the ability on my own, but through You I can do all things. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Listen to Today’s Radio Show

Do you know Him?

Living Life on Purpose by Lysa TerKeurst

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

Application Steps:
Be ready to share biblical truths of God in your home, community, school and church anytime the Holy Spirit nudges you to.

Be diligent and determined to read your Bible. You will know God’s heart the more you read it, and the Holy Spirit will reveal what you need to do as you read.

Get on your knees and ask God to take full possession of your life, so that you can be at His disposal.

Are you faithful to follow the Holy Spirit in the small things? He may test you to see if you really mean business.

Following the Holy Spirit is not a matter of feeling, but faith. We don’t follow feelings but God’s promises. Your faith grips Gods heart into action and when He sees you living in faith battles are won and history is made

Power Verses:
I Corinthians 2: 9-10, “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” (NKJV)

Acts 1:8, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, an in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. “(NKJV)

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The Pineapple Principle
Lysa TerKeurst

With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God. Mark 10:27 (NIV)

Let’s face it; a pineapple is only sweet to eat if you know how to get inside it! For years I didn’t have a clue about how to cut up a pineapple. I would walk by the produce aisle looking at the fresh pineapples with such longing. I wanted what was inside it; I just didn’t know how to get beneath its tough outer skin. I had visions of me slicing and dicing, dripping with sticky juice and so completely mangling the fruit that not even the dog would be tempted to partake.

But one day I watched a friend accomplish what I thought impossible. She didn’t miss a beat as she sliced and diced a pineapple with ease. First she cut off the top and then the bottom. Next, she sliced the cylinder into four equal pieces. She then slid the knife along the back edge to cut off the skin and along the pointed center to cut off the hard core. Laying the long wedges down on the cutting board, she chopped them into bite size pieces and viola! Fresh cut pineapple was served. Watching her gave me courage to try it on my own. And, finally, I was able to help myself to the yummy fruit.

This might sound strange but learning to cut a pineapple became a real life lesson for me. More than just the skill of wielding the knife around a tropical fruit, I learned that I had bought into the notion that there were just some things I couldn’t do. I was challenged by the thought that I might be missing out on a lot in life simply because I had talked myself into thinking it was impossible.

Mark 10:27 reminds us that with God all things are possible. When we ask for God’s help, we dedicate our endeavor to Him. We admit that in our strength this would not be possible but we proclaim that God can accomplish anything through someone who is willing. We put God’s courage into our heart with His truth. We retrain our minds by taking the words “I can’t” out of our vocabulary.

What is blocking your path to a victorious life with God? Do you sometimes struggle with being a good steward of the time and money God has entrusted to you? Do you struggle making healthy choices with diet and exercise? Maybe your struggle is your temper? Whatever it is, the first major lesson can be found inside this pineapple principle…no more “I can’ts”! Everything about our lives should proclaim, “With God all things are possible!”

Oh, and the next time you see a fresh pineapple, buy it! Cut it open and let its fruit inspire you that there is sweet victory on the other side of every conquered challenge.

Dear Lord, to say I can’t about something is to deny your power that surely resides in me. I am a child of God which means, I am a conqueror. Help me to walk in that truth. Show me where, how, and from whom I am to get educated on this challenge in my life. Give me the courage to face it honestly and bravely. I want to taste sweet victory, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

P31 Woman Magazine

Application Steps:
Write down one of the “I can’ts” in your life. Beside it write: “With God all things are possible.” Now pray and ask God to show you what your first step toward victory should be.

Faith plays a significant part in achieving victory over struggles and temptations. If you’re struggling to master victory over sin in a particular area of your life, examine where you faith is at. Are you relying on yourself or on the Lord? With faith you can move those mountains!

Power Verses:
Psalm 44:3, “It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you have loved them.”

Matthew 17:20, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Luke 1:44-46, “Blessed is she who has believed what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.”

Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

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A Rock that Is Higher Than I
Van Walton

“From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2 (NASB)

Do you ever allow others’ dispositions to dictate your mood? I do. If my son is struggling, I struggle. When his brother is burdened, I take on the burden. When my husband is under stress, I stress out.

I recall my dad’s long illness. Life literally came to a halt for me. How could I go about my daily routine when Daddy was suffering so? The details of his failing health overwhelmed me. Eventually my preoccupation with Daddy’s deterioration paralyzed me. I lost all ability to function.

God commands us to bear each others’ burdens. (Galatians 6:2) The problem with me is that I don’t stop at “bear.” I carry my concerns to extremes. I feel like a traitor if I ignore difficult issues being faced by the ones I love. I feel I need to be in mourning, wearing black, dragging myself and everyone around me into my grieving experience.

However, God’s Word commands us to rejoice in all things! Where’s the balance?

Recently I became concerned when my husband became extraordinarily quiet. I tried to justify his silence - “He has been coughing. Maybe he’s getting sick.” Yet he assured me all was well. On the way to church I wondered, “Is it something I have done? Maybe he isn’t telling me because it is more serious than I can handle.” Quickly I sent up a prayer. But when we parked the car, I parked my thoughts on worry. In church he leaned forward and placed his head in his hands. My upward climb toward a meaningful worship experience came to a halt.

With a momentous note the piano brought the congregation to life. As we collectively filled the room with a song of praise, I looked up to my husband, seeking assurance that all was well. Before my eyes found his face, God interrupted my contemplations by reminding me of a childhood experience.

The children in my neighborhood filled our Saturdays with hikes up into the surrounding hills. We spent the week discussing next Saturday’s adventures. While making plans to explore mountain tops and peaks, we challenged ourselves to higher goals and longer hikes. Each Saturday morning we pointed out a spot far in the distance and made that our destination. Inevitably, when we arrived at our spot, we agreed to move higher. There was always a place ahead, higher still.

God showed me that Sunday morning as I looked up at my tall husband for strength, assurance, and comfort, that I had not focused on a high enough place.

My husband is tall, powerful, confident, and secure. He is my rock, like a solid mountain. When he exhibits signs of instability, I lose my footing! I know this is not my heavenly Father’s plan.

With sounds of worship all around me, God grabbed my attention. I heard Him say, “Don’t stop here. There is a place that is higher…” With a deep sense of comfort, I joined the congregation with songs of praise for the One who is higher than I or my husband. He is God, the Almighty who sits on His throne. He is my goal, the direction I need to take. His is the face I need to seek in all circumstances.

Dear Lord, Forgive me for settling for less than You offer. I am guilty of allowing the things of earth, my family, preoccupations, challenges, and struggles to get in the way of my climb to the ultimate high. You are the place I want to go. Keep me moving until I reach You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Submit a praise report

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

A Love Worth Giving: Living in the Overflow of God's Love by Max Lucado

The Air I Breathe by Louie Giglio

Application Steps:
If you do not own a hymnal, consider purchasing one. The words to the old songs are rich! Listen to and read the hymn “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus."

Do I have an unhealthy dependence on someone or something that takes my focus off God?

Do I allow the things of the world to keep me from reaching the heights God has planned for my day?

What steps can I take to keep myself focused on Jesus?

Power Verses:
Psalm 3:4, “I was crying to the LORD with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain.” (NASB)

Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (NIV)

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The Happy File
Luann Prater

“Be joyful always.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16 (NIV)

It wasn’t what some would call a perfect day, but to her it was special. We had spent the day together just hanging out around the house. Simple things like lunch on the deck, soaking in the sunshine, and giggling over funny memories traced the outlines of our shared moments. That’s when she whispered a few words as if she were telling herself a secret, “This day is going in my Happy File.”

She explained that her Happy File was a record kept of God’s simple blessings, those moments in time that beam with a little extra spark. You know the ones. When no one else would get it, but whenever you recall it… you smile. Her collection was spilling over the top.

Often we choose to hang onto the bad memories. We relive the abuse. We replay piercing words. We carry the guilt and hold on to the shame. We forget the promise of Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (NIV). No condemnation. Period, nada, zip, none!

She found the Happy File very helpful when darkness came creeping into her life. Satan loves to fill our minds with negative thoughts and trip us up with stumbling blocks. A stash of happiness works like a flashlight in the middle of the night. The evil one can cloud our world with gloom, but when we open the file that holds God’s blessings, the shadows are shattered.

So what are you choosing to keep on file? Here is the deal. Start a collection of Happy Files! God’s fingerprints are all over each day. Look for them! Record them! Recall them!

Next, pull out those old musty files that have collected guilty dust and shameful mildew. One by one as they come to your mind plunge them into God’s thought-shredder. Second Corinthians 10:5 instructs, “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (NIV). When you say this verse out loud, something amazing happens! The thoughts go away! God longs to give you freedom from guilt, shame, worry, and anything else that hinders your ability to be joyful.

When you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can begin daily to rid your mind of the garbage Satan has dumped on you and replace it with Happy Files. Then you truly can BE JOYFUL ALWAYS.

Dear Father, thank You for forgiving us for every sin we have ever committed and promising never to condemn us for them! Help us each day to choose to live in the freedom of that promise and to be joyful always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Submit a prayer request

31 Days of Praise by Ruth Myers

Traveling Light: Releasing the Burdens You Were Never Intended to Bear by Max Lucado

Application Steps:
Get a package of index cards that are spiral bound. Begin to record “God moments” on them. Keep this Happy File where you can easily grab it in case of unexpected darkness.

What gloom am I allowing to hang over me?

How can I walk in the light of God’s promise every day?

Why am I resistant to let go of the past?

Power Verses:
Psalm 68:3, “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.” (NIV)

Isaiah 55:12, “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace.” (NIV)

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

Romans 4:20-21, “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” (NIV)

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Fellowship of Sufferings
Wendy Pope

"My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death." Philippians 3:10 (HCSB)

I remember it well. Last, year my pastor was preaching from today's key verse. In the days to follow, I began asking God to help me identify with Him in His suffering. I wanted to know what this verse meant. Well, let me warn you, be careful what you pray for because God answers prayers.

I don't know what I expected when I prayed. Maybe I thought God would write the answer in the sky or send me an email, letting me know my prayer had been answered. Maybe I would hear the bells ringing and choirs singing in heaven. I wanted, after a brief period of suffering (I am not big on pain), to hear from Him that I had achieved His fellowship of suffering. It did not happen like that at all.

The prayers I prayed concerning the fellowship of suffering were over a year ago. The prayer was answered on a hard carpeted bench in a skating rink, lit only by strobe lights and a disco ball reflecting on the skate floor. The fellowship I shared was with a heart-broken six-year old boy with a tear stained face. The boy was my son.

Several days of poor choices, bad behavior, and unacceptable grades led my husband and me to make some tough decisions concerning our son. After much prayer and discussion, we decided the best plan of action was to remove the blessing of a free elementary skate night if his behavior did not improve. He was given notice and had one week to show us he deserved the blessing. Oh, how my heart broke when my caller id displayed the school's name and I realized Griffin would not be allowed to participate in the free skate night.

Part of the punishment for Griffin was to go to the skating rink, sit with me and watch the other boys and girls, many of them his friends, skate. He begged to stay at home. Then he begged to sit in the car. My heart continued to ache as I watched his head bow low while I helped his sister put on her skates.

Through the Holy Spirit's prompting, I did not sit with the other mothers. Nor did I converse with teachers. I took my son's hand and walked with him to the opposite side of the rink and sat down. Tears begin to flow from his eyes and roll down his cheeks. I swallowed hard and struggled to hold back my tears as he crawled in my lap for comfort. In a brief moment as I held my heart-broken son and watched my joyfully elated daughter skate, a presence came over me, a knowing…a knowing of the fellowship of suffering.

God sees us, all His children. He holds us close when we have gone astray, made bad choices, or have a heart full of poor motives. He sits with us through His gentle discipline while watching His other children enjoy the benefits and blessings of living an obedient life. The experience I shared with my Heavenly Father is one I will never forget. It was a brief moment because I know He loves me too much to allow that knowing to stay with me for too long, the pain was so intense.

He is with you to share the benefits and blessings of living an obedient life. He is there with you, as a loving Father, to hold you through the discipline of disobedience and bad choices. He only disciplines those He loves. What a blessing to be loved that much!

Dear Heavenly Father, let me crawl in Your lap today and allow Your loving discipline to fall on me as confess my sins. Thank You for loving me enough to help me to live an obedient life. Keep me close to You, feeling Your warmth as we walk through the discipline together. Be my stronghold and strong tower today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Out of the Mouth of Babes by Wendy Pope

Mining for Gold in the Heart of Your Child (CD and Character Chart) by Renee Swope

The Mommy Manual by Barbara Curtis

Application Steps:
Thank God for loving you enough to discipline you. Forgive yourself for disobeying God. Record lessons you have learned through God's discipline. Share the lessons with someone who is struggling.

Can I recognize God's discipline in my life?

What are areas of weakness in my life?

What are areas of strength in my life?

How could I use my experiences to help another person?

Power Verses:
Jeremiah 29:11,"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."(NIV)

Psalm 18:2, "The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." (NIV)

Psalm 119:50, "My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life." (NIV)

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