Where Does Your Help Come From?
By Wendy Pope

"I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come?” Psalm 121:1 (NASB)

Where does your help come from? When crisis strikes, adversity hits, or sorrow shadows you, where do you go for help? How we answer this question truly reflects the depth of our belief that God is watching and waiting to come to our aid. I will be the first to admit that there are times when I struggle to look to the right source for my help.

Recently I have been studying the Psalms. Before I took an in-depth look at Psalm 121, I did not understand what the writer was seeing as he wrote this plea for help. The terrain surrounding him was mountainous. I’ve learned it was common for those walking by to look up in this mountainous landscape and see pagan worshippers worshiping their false gods on the mountaintops. When people had fears or needed a spell to ward off an evil spirit, they went to the mountaintops seeking help from the false gods, and pagan priests or priestesses.

After learning of these practices, I listened to the Psalmist’s cry with a different ear. He knew what help was held in the mountains surrounding him. He looked up and saw many receiving false help from false gods, and he cried out," I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come?" Can you hear his plea?

Where does your help come from? What false help awaits you on the mountaintop of your horizon? In our day, there may not be a Baal, a sun priest, or a moon priestess on our mountains, but we turn to other sources of false help. Women all over the globe accept false hope from powerful media influences. Whether it is from a magazine purchased in the grocery checkout line, a book from the self-help aisle, or a popular channel on the television, we can see false help.

The next verse from the Psalmist’s pen is a declaration that I challenge us both to make. As women of faith, let's turn off the false help of powerful media influences and declare with the Psalmist, "My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” This declaration will no doubt make the enemy of our world angry. He wants to keep our attention focused on the false help we have grown accustomed to receiving. He wants to keep us from the real, authentic, and loving help that comes from trusting the Maker of heaven and earth.

Will you accept the challenge? Instead of choosing a familiar channel on the remote control, take the time you would normally spend watching television and find a quiet place to talk the One who offers real help for the problems you may be facing. Refuse to purchase a new women’s magazine to read while in line or on your lunch hour, or chose a more wholesome one instead like the P31 Woman. Pick up your Bible and read about God's perfect plan for your life, a plan to give you a hope and a future. Real help from a real God awaits you.

Dear Lord, forgive me for seeking false help from this world. I wait to seek You, my true source of help but I am afraid. Help me to overcome the fear and celebrate the future you want for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

P31 Woman magazine

Living Free: Experiencing Life as it was Meant to Be - Audio CD by Wendy Pope

Visit Wendy Pope’s blog for more about this topic.

Out of the Mouths of Babes by Wendy Pope

Application Steps:
Sit quietly with God. Allow Him to examine your heart for any false help that waits in your mountaintop. Turn away from media influences and spend more time in God's Word.

Do I believe that God is willing, waiting, and able to help me with my problems?

In what ways do I allow the media to influence me?

Who is the most powerful media influence in my life?

Power Verses:

Psalm 40:13, "Be pleased, O LORD, to save me; O LORD, come quickly to help me." (NIV)

Psalm 54:4, "Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me." (NIV)

Psalm 146:5, "Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God." (NIV)

Love Covers
By Melanie Chitwood

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers…” 1 Peter 4:8 (NAS)

I’ve been thinking lately about how easy it is to judge others or to think I have the answers for others. For example, when I see a mother frustrated by her unruly kids, I might think, "She just needs to put those kids in a long time-out.” Another time I observe a couple having trouble in their marriage and I question their commitment to God’s ways.

In a nutshell, I can be self-righteous, just like the Pharisees. God has been making me aware lately of some of the unspoken yardsticks by which I measure others, such as: A good mom doesn't let her kids watch too much TV and doesn’t scream at her kids, or a godly woman has a quiet time every day and doesn't fight with her husband.

But then there's Jesus who turns these notions upside down when He says,” the greatest of these is love." What if instead of self-righteousness, we rained down love? It would sound like this: "Being a mom can be exhausting. Do you want to come over and hang out for a while?" or “I’ve had struggles in my marriage too. Do you want to talk about it?”

God’s Word reminds me that “love covers.” God is challenging me to examine my spoken and unspoken judgments of others. He wants us to come alongside others and help carry their burdens, rather than add to them with our criticism. Where the Phrarisees heap coals of judgment, Jesus calls us to be vessels of His love and encouragement.

Love covers. I'm praying that I will be like my Father who, instead of offering the yardstick of religious rules, offers the healing touch of mercy and love.

Dear Lord, Thank You that Your love has covered me and continues to cover me. Let me be more like You by offering the people in my life Your love, encouragement and help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

What a Husband Needs from His Wife by Melanie Chitwood

What Every Wife Should Know, DVD with Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
In your journal write about the different ways God has covered you with love, rather than burdened you with judgment.

Call someone today to offer your prayers, encouragement, and practical help.

Think about some of the key people in your life – friends, husband, children, pastor, boss, coworkers, neighbors, mother, sister-in-law, etc. Ask God to show you who you tend to judge rather than love. Ask God to change your heart to be more like His.

Power Verses:
1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (NIV)

Matthew 7:4, 5, “How can you think of saying to your friend,’ Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (NLT)

What Can I Bring?
By Amy Carroll

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16 (NIV)

All good southern girls know that when you get an invitation to dinner at someone’s house, your affirmative response should be followed by, “And what can I bring?” (said in your kindest southern drawl). Even though your hostess might be graciously providing all of the fare, it’s just polite to ask.

So many times that’s not our approach to church attendance. Instead of contemplating what we can bring to the gathering, we are mostly focused on what we will get from the service. We arrive empty-handed, and often leave feeling disappointed if the music didn’t suit our tastes or the sermon didn’t move our souls.

Scripture tells us that we’ve got it all wrong. I truly believe that by coming to church with our hands full of gifts for others, we will leave more filled up than ever before. Let’s take a look at how we can contribute according to Colossians 3:16.

Teaching—Teaching requires you to be very well-versed in your subject. What a challenge for us! To come to church with something to teach, I have to study God’s Word all week. When I’ve learned personal lessons from His Word, then I have something to share.

Admonishing—The definition I believe most closely fits this usage is “to give friendly earnest advice or encouragement.” How can we prepare to admonish? I think prayer is key here. Often as I pray for someone, God gives me ways to encourage them or places to direct them in His Word. When we spend time listening and conversing with God during the week, He prepares us to give the gift of admonishment at church.

Singing—Some of you may be thinking that your singing wouldn’t be considered a gift to the church. If so, look at the phrase at the end of this verse, “with gratitude in your heart to God.” Gratitude and thanksgiving are definitely a gift in the body of Christ. If we come in with a heart that has been counting our blessings all week, we are ready to sing to Jesus. Plus, for all of us “joyful noise” folks, robust congregational singing really is a heart-lifter.

I’m challenging myself this week to get over my “what have you done for me lately?” view of the church. Instead, I’m going to treat Sunday morning as a spiritual potluck, and I’m working on taking something tasty to share!

Lord, help me to take something to share to church this week. Help me to focus on what I can do for others instead of what I can get for myself. I trust You to fill me up! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Today’s P31 Radio Show

Welcome to Community, by Brian T. Anderson & Glynnis Whitwer

Visit Amy Carroll’s blog

Application Steps:
Spend time reading scripture and praying this week. Ask God to fill you.

Ask God in your prayer time for opportunities to teach, admonish or show gratitude.

What can I offer those in my church?

Have I been too preoccupied with what I receive to focus on giving?

Power Verses:
Luke 6:38, “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (NIV)

2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (NIV)

One List
By Tracie Miles

“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” Revelation 3:5 (KJV)

A crowd of girls were frantically searching the list, squealing with happiness when they found their name on the new team roster. It was a happy scene, but one which abruptly ended. One girl was left standing, peering through the names on the list over and over, but her name could not be found. No matter how badly she wanted to be on the team, and despite all her hard work, her name was not on the list. The scene quickly turned to one of sorrow, as sympathetic hugs and tears were offered from the same girls who were jumping with joy just minutes before. One list… many names… one name missing.

Seeing the hurt and pain of this young girl brought tears to my eyes. I wanted to say something to comfort her, but no words seemed sufficient. I remembered how painful it was to want something so desperately, but know that I had no power to change the outcome. God spoke to my heart in the midst of that scene, and I began thinking about all the people whose lives had come to an end, who had stood face to face before the Almighty God as he flipped through the book of life, only to realize that their name was not on the list. They may have tried to remind the Father of all the hard work they had done, all the good deeds they had performed, all the people they had helped. They desperately yearned to walk through the pearly gates, but no longer had the power to change the outcome. Their window of opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as the One and only Savior had passed. One list… many names… one name missing.

Revelation 20:15 says, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” This verse is not meant to scare people into accepting Jesus, but instead to share two very important facts: First, we must recognize our need for Jesus today. Life is full of joy and happiness; hurt and pain; disappointments and fear. We need a heavenly Father to hold our hand, guide us down the right paths, and comfort us when we are hurting. Second, knowing that life is short and unpredictable, God wants us to understand that Jesus is the only way into heaven. Once our earthly life is over, we will each be faced with the consequences of our earthly decisions, and at that time, we will have no power to change the outcome.

But today, you still have the power to decide where your soul will spend eternity. Today is your window of opportunity to accept Jesus into your heart, and praise Him for who He is. Today could be the day that the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within you, and your heart is forever changed. Today could be the day that you not only gain eternal life with Jesus, but a joyful and fulfilling life on earth through the grace and love of Christ. Today could be the day that your name is forever written into the holy pages of the book of life. One list… many names… and when your time comes, you could be assured that the Father would see your name.

If you know Jesus as your Savior today, your name is already recorded in the book of life. But is your friend’s name there? Your co-worker? Boss? Mother-in-law? Sister? Mother? Husband? Enemy? Would God find their names in the book of life if they were to come face to face with Him today? Jesus can provide the courage you need to reach out to them. Will it be easy? No. Will it be worth it? Absolutely! You could be the one God wants to work through to lead them into the arms of Jesus. You could be the one to rejoice with them as their names are written in the book of life by the holy Hand that gives life. One list … many names … is one name missing?

Dear Lord, I praise you for who You are, and for the sacrifice you made so that my name could be on the list for eternal life with You. Open my eyes to recognize the people in my life who need to find You, and how I can point them to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Learn more about knowing Jesus personally and sharing Him with others.

Reinventing Your Rainbow by Tracie Miles

God Calling by A.J.Russell

Application Steps:
If you have not accepted Christ as your Savior, visit Do You Know Him?

Do I recognize my on-going need for Jesus?

Am I sharing Jesus with others in my life?

Power Verses:
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV)

By Micca Monda Campbell

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

I have a talent for embarrassing myself. A few years ago, at one of our Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conferences, I was in the elevator on my way to a meeting, when I noticed that my panty hose were sagging. I had been running non-stop since the conference began, so naturally I needed to freshen up. I figured since I was the only one in the elevator, it was safe to lift up my skirt, bend over, and pull up my hose. I’m sure you have done something similar.

When I entered the elevator at the bottom floor, it had a back wall. As I rode the elevator from one floor to the next, bent over tugging at my hose, I noticed something had changed. The back wall had transformed into a glass wall! This hotel was built in a circle. This design meant that all of the glass elevators overlooked the center of hotel as they moved up and down. What was in the center of the hotel? It was the open hotel dinning area. What time of day was it? You guessed it. It was dinnertime. Just my luck, the room was packed with people who had a prime view of me with my skirt up, arranging my hose. Little did they know they were going to get both dinner and a show that evening!

I was horrified! Aren’t we all when a side of us is exposed that we’d rather keep covered? I think sin is like that. We try to hide it, but at some point it reveals itself - leaving us embarrassed, sorrowful, and ashamed.

Other times we manage to keep our sin concealed from people, but that only gives us the false illusion that no one can see it. While others may not, we forget that God can see all. And He doesn’t need a glass wall to see what is hidden either.

What does our sin do the heart of God? The Bible says that our sin grieves the Holy Spirit within us (Ephesians 4:30, NIV; paraphrased). I don’t know about you, but knowing that I can grieve the heart of God grieves my own heart. Not only am I ashamed, but I feel separated from God. The good news is when we are in Christ, God doesn’t remember our record of sins. What He remembers is when we believe Him.

The Apostle Paul tells us, “Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness" (Galatians 3:6, NIV). Therefore, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). That’s a promise. There is no need to hide our sin or defend our wrong actions when we can simply confess it and receive God’s forgiveness.

You and I need to understand that Jesus doesn’t expose our sin to embarrass us or condemn us. God didn’t send Christ into the world to condemn but to save. When you and I sin, God is simply waiting for us to confess it so He can deal with it in us and for us. In the instant we confess, Christ is ready and willing to make all things new. That newness is something for all to see!

Dear Lord, I confess to you my sin of _________. I’m sorry that my sin grieves your heart. Cleanse me and restore my relationship with You. Fill me once more with your peace and presence, In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Micca Campbell’s Testimony DVD

Visit Micca’s blog

God’s Purpose for Every Woman: A P31 Devotional Gen Eds. Lysa TerKeurst & Rachel Olsen

Application Steps:
When you know that you have sinned against God, confess it immediately. Don’t wait.

Do you often try to hide your sin, or are you quick to confess it?

In what ways are you like Judas?

How are you betraying yourself by not confessing your sin?

Power Verses:
Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (NIV)

Romans 10:9, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (NIV)

Ephesians 1:7, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sin, in accordance with the riches of God's grace.” (NIV)

Longing Wrapped in a Wait
By Amy Carroll

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14 (NIV)

In college, a group that I spent the summer with nicknamed me “Action Amy”. I earned the nickname, but I have to admit that I wouldn’t have chosen it. One of my pastors has said that there are “do-ers” and there are “be-ers”. I fall definitively into the “do-er” group. I’m wired with an impulse and drive to be at work. I’m a list maker (one of those sick ones who puts things on the list that are already done just to put a check beside them), and I feel good about myself when I’m productive. I often drive myself and the people around me crazy! Besides the lack of pause, prayer and compassion for the tired, God has shown me that there’s another huge problem with my approach: My significance is to be found in Him alone.

God, in His great Love and mercy, has used times of waiting to realign my values with His. He has taken me through several times when I felt that my life had been forgotten. I still had dreams and visions, but I didn’t feel needed or useful. These were times of forced stillness and quiet.

In my junior year in high school, I began attending a Bible study that changed my life forever. I had given my heart to Jesus as a little girl, but this study challenged me to know Him more personally and to begin studying His Word. God used that year to begin to peel me down to my core. I went from a very opinionated, very worldly-minded girl to a girl humbled before God. My life ahead suddenly looked like a new beginning. God used that difficult time of waiting for a new beginning to start, to ground my thoughts and beliefs in His own Word.

When my children were born, I again went through a time of waiting. It was such a struggle for me, because I had always wanted to have children and be able to stay at home with them. I didn’t realize, though, how much of my identity had become entwined with my career. When all of the work outside of my home stopped for a time, I felt that I was again waiting for work that “counted.” God reminded my restless heart that my love and care for my family was valued.

I also remember the struggle with waiting that I had when we moved to a new town. Nobody here knew me or knew my vision. To my lonely heart, it even seemed like no one cared. It took over a year to establish friendships, a job, and a church that felt like home. Waiting was hard, but God used it to foster my need for relationship with Him.

God has always used those quiet times to whisper, “Amy you are not loved or valued for the things that you do for me. You are loved and valued because I made you. You are mine. Find sufficiency in Me.” God has faithfully used waiting to minister to my heart. He has also used it to ruthlessly cut out that love for works that can so easily become idolatrous in my life. I can’t truthfully say that I’ve learned to love waiting, but I have learned to look forward to deep times with God during those waits. He sees the longings of each of our hearts, but He loves us enough to use waiting to root our longings in Him.

Dear Lord, help me to know that You use times of waiting for my good. I want to learn the lessons that I need to learn as I wait. Please make me committed to spending time with You and to listening for Your direction each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Boundaries, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Come Thirsty, by Max Lucado

Visit Amy Carroll’s blog

Application Steps:
Think through the stages of your life and consider creating a personal time-line. Color the times that you can see how God used your work in red. Color times of waiting blue.

If you are currently in a time of waiting, journal some of the things that you can see God doing in your life. Write things you are thankful for during your wait. Then list the longings of your heart. Really pour them out—God hears you!

What has God done in my life in times of waiting?

Do I respond in obedience or bitterness as I wait?

Power Verses:

Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.” (NIV)

Psalm 119:81-82, “My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word. My eyes fail, looking for your promise; I say, ‘When will you comfort me?’" (NIV)

A Beautiful Balance
By Zoe Elmore

“I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” Galatians 2:20a (NIV)

One morning I was looking in the mirror in order to “put on my face” before leaving for work and I heard the Lord whisper to my heart, “Baby girl, why do you spend more time ‘putting on your face’ than you spend on your face before me each morning?” Oh my goodness; what a powerful question! My heart sank as I put the cosmetics away. The Lord was right; I was spending more time gazing in the mirror instead of gazing into His word and at His face. Once again I was living like the old person I was before receiving Christ and not the new person I had been transformed into. Once again, I had allowed myself to consider outer beauty more important that inner beauty.

Now don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting that it become necessary to put away my cosmetics forever and go through life looking less than presentable. Honey, that is not going to happen! I haven’t left the house without a little lip gloss and mascara since I was fourteen. What I am suggesting is returning to the delicate balance of spending time “on my face” before the Lord each morning before spending time “putting on my face.” It’s remembering that as a believer, Christ has moved in and taken up residence within my heart and within my life.

As I allow this relationship to grow, my life will demonstrate His presence and others will see past my carefully applied make-up to the make up of my heart. Proverbs 31:30 is the perfect reminder of this fact, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting: but the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (NIV)

I want to encourage you who share my struggle with balancing inner and outer beauty. While the temptation to consider outer beauty more important than inner beauty is present; that temptation has no more power over those who believe in Christ. Because Christ lives in every believer there is hope and power available to live life in proper balance. When our desire for outer beauty is balanced with our desire for inner beauty, our lives demonstrate Paul’s words in Galatians 2:20a, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (NIV)

If we will spend more time “on our face” instead of “putting on our face,” God will change us from the inside out and we will experience beautiful balance!

Dear Lord, forgive me for putting more importance on my outer beauty. Thank you for calling me into your presence and reminding me that while outer beauty fades, Your presence never fades. Empower my life to demonstrate Galatians 2:20. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Dear Jesus by Sarah Young

Because, Worship CD by Gwen Smith

God’s Purpose for Every Woman: A P31 Devotional Gen Eds. Lysa TerKeurst & Rachel Olsen

Visit Zoe Elmore’s blog

Application Steps:
Begin each day “on your face” before the Lord. Allow Him to guide your thoughts and actions and you will experience a life of balance.

When you fail, quickly confess it and surrender again. Soon others will see past your make-up to the make up of your heart.


What can you do to ensure a beautiful balance in your life?

Are there other areas of your life that need balance?

Power Verses:
I Corinthians 15:57, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NIV)

Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world; but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the acceptable and perfect will of God.” (NKJ)

By Susanne Scheppmann

"But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24b (NIV)

Do you know what BFF means? Neither did I. However, I discovered that BFF is something that we all long for and need in our lives. Here’s how I learned the meaning for the acronym BFF.

Recently, I spoke at a conference in California where a beautiful young woman worked the soundboard. I was desperate to have all the sessions recorded, so I could produce a good quality promotional CD. Although I try to record myself on a small digital recorder, it seems something always happens. The battery goes dead. The microphone doesn’t work. Or more than likely, I forget to turn on the recorder. So as I said, I was desperate.

But this sweet servant of the Lord smiled at me, crossed her fingers tightly in front of my face, and said, “I will be your BFF this weekend.” A blank looked must have crossed, because she grinned and translated: “best friend forever.”

Do you remember in grade school when your BFF was whoever you happened to be playing with in the sandbox on that day? Do you remember in high school when your BFF was the girl who could be trusted to know about your crush on a certain, cute boy? Do you remember at your wedding when your BFF stood beside you in a bride’s maid dress? Do you know where all those women are today that you once deemed your “best friend forever?” Me neither.

As I pondered the phrase, “best friend forever,” I realized whom it most appropriately applies to: Jesus. We can always know where He is – He is right by our side daily! The Bible describes Jesus as a friend who sticks closer to us than a brother does. He wants us to believe Him and to walk beside Him. Just as with any friendship, time must be spent to build an intimate relationship. We make time to go to lunch, coffee, or shopping with our girlfriends. Do we make time for Jesus in our day-to-day life? Do we deem Him our BFF? Or is He just a friend on Sunday mornings when we attend church?

Let’s decide today to concentrate on our relationship with Jesus. Let’s make time to spend with Him on a one-to-one basis. Grab a cup of coffee and have your devotional in a quiet place. Make time to develop your relationship with Jesus. He’s the best Friend you will ever find!

Dear Lord, I want You to be my Best Friend Forever. Remind me each day to spend time with You and to develop my friendship with You. I thank You and praise You, for You are a friend that is closer than a brother. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Traveling Together, by Karla Worley

Visit Susanne Scheppmann’s blog

Perplexing Proverbs for Women Bible study by Susanne Scheppman

Do You Know Jesus?

Application Steps:
Read John 15. Pray and listen for what Jesus would say to you throughout the verses. Determine to memorize one verse that will aid you in developing a deeper friendship with the Lord Jesus.

How am I developing my friendship with Jesus?

Do I consider Jesus as my best friend? Why or why not?

Power Verses:
John 15:13-15, “And here is how to measure it—the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends. You are my friends if you obey me. I no longer call you servants, because a master doesn't confide in his servants. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” (NLT)

Mark 6:31, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (NIV)

Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (NIV)

Plumb Fearless
By Luann Prater

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

James Cash Penney, the founder of the famed department store had a saying that was posted in every store, “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” That was never truer than the day my water pipes needed to be fixed. To a normal person this might not seem like that big of deal, but to me it was monumental. Allow me to paint the picture.

I was a single mom who had purchased an apartment house and was remodeling the two bottom units into my salon. With the help of friends, I demolished and built walls, pulled out nasty carpet, laid flooring and installed shampoo sinks. Now it was time to get everything hooked up. When the plumber came he looked at the 18” square in the floor that led to the crawl space, peeked down and discovered the dirt narrowed from about 18” to 12” of clearance. He told me he only had one guy small enough to get down there and if he would even go, the charge would be double.

My entire life I was paralyzed with claustrophobia, from being stuck in an elevator alone at age 9. I hated feeling closed in or even tight places. And now I was face to face with my greatest fear. My friends, who were willing to do it, wouldn’t fit. So I stared at this hole and resolved, if it is to be, it’s up to me.

I rigged up some cardboard to lay on with tools located on the side for easy reach. A rope was tied around me and the extension cord tested to reach the furthest point. I made several attempts to start the job and each time my sweat glands went into overdrive and I would jump back out of the hole.

My dad stood by watching his determined daughter racked with fear so he suggested, “Why don’t you take the cordless phone with you with the intercom? If at any time you feel trapped, or think you can’t stand it, I will cut a hole in the floor and pull you out wherever you are.” That was just the reassurance I needed; dad willing to rescue me.

I scooted across 35’ on my back with the floor joists getting closer and closer to my face. At moments when I felt like panicking, dad would beep me on the intercom to see how I was doing. I could hear his footsteps right above me as I worked. That day marked a turning point in my fear. Now, every time I face tight spots I remember conquering that task, and victory overwhelms the dread.

What fear is gripping you? We have a heavenly Father that has promised to be with us wherever we go! There is nothing we face that he cannot help us conquer. So is your lifeline in tact? Communication with God is so much more efficient than a cordless phone! It is simply our prayers to Him and His Word to us.

Dear Lord, thank you for giving us freedom from dread and worry. Teach us to trust that you have our lives in your hand. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Moving from Fear to Freedom by Grace Fox

God’s Purpose for Every Woman: A P31 Devotional Gen Eds. Lysa TerKeurst & Rachel Olsen

Do You Know Jesus?

Visit Luann’s Blog

Application Steps:
We all have a fear of something. Ask God to help you overcome it. Trust our heavenly Father to go before you and then be courageous and face it, head on.

What paralyzes me and keeps me from moving forward?

How do I handle fear when it grips me?

Why do I resist asking God for courage?

Power Verses:
1 Corinthians 1:27-31, “God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong…so that no one may boast before Him.” (NIV)

Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (NIV)

1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be on your guard; stand firm in your faith; be men of courage; be strong." (NIV)

Trust is the Word of the Day
By Lysa TerKeurst

“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 path straight.” Proverbs 3: 5-6 (NIV)

I have been up most of the night with a sick child. The fever, coughing, aching, can't sleep a wink kind of yuck has hopped on my Ashley. The same Ashley that is supposed to be competing in our state gymnastics meet this weekend. She has been healthy and feeling great all week... but yesterday things just sort of fell apart.

The state meet is the pinnacle of the gymnastic season. It determines which girls will go on to the regional competition. I know in the grand scheme of life, this pales in comparison to many more serious matters. But, in her little world this is a really big deal.

To a mom watching her little girl in tears over this, it is certainly a recipe for getting all worked into a tizzy, as we say in the south. But I am making a conscious choice to refuse Tizzy's invitation and instead embrace whatever it is God is wanting to teach us in this situation.

Trust is the word of the day.

But sometimes trust is an awfully big pill to swallow - especially when it means taking a completely different route than what you were expecting. That's why we must choose to trust despite our feelings.

I am choosing to trust God and stand on His promises even when my feelings beg me to feel confused and uncertain. Proverbs 3:5-6 remind us, "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 path straight."

I have walked with the Lord through enough disappointments to know His path is the best path. When we ask Him to take a certain turn that we think looks so good and He says no, it is for our good.

His "no" could be for our PROTECTION... protecting us from something we can't see. Maybe this sickness is the very thing God is using to protect Ashley from attending today's practice and getting severely hurt. Maybe she won't even be able to compete at all this weekend. And maybe that is His protection as well.

His "no" could be for our PROVISION... providing something so much better than what we thought was the best thing. In our minds the best thing would be for Ashley to compete feeling her best. But she had her best meet of this entire year, with a sinus infection and ear ache. Who knows? Only God...so whether she competes or not, we are certain of His provision.

His "no" could simply be part of the PROCESS of growing Ashley closer to Himself... when we are weak, only then can we truly understand how He can be our strength. Whether that is strength to compete, or strength to let this dream die, I pray she embraces this part of the process of growing closer to God.

Dear Lord, I trust you Lord. I trust your plan. I trust your goodness. I trust what you can see and I can't. I trust you with it all Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Today’s P31 Radio Show

Visit Lysa’s blog to read the rest of this story If this situation speaks to your heart, though your circumstances might be different, I'd love for you to tell me by posting a comment on my blog. I’ll have a prayer team praying over the comments today.

Application Steps:

Verbalize your trust in God for a specific situation right now. Think of a situation that has been troubling you lately. Then tell God, “I trust you God. I trust you to handle ________________. I trust you when I see good things coming from my trust. And I trust you when I don’t understand at all. Give me the courage to trust you long enough to walk to a place of peace with _______________________.

What stops me from trusting in God?

Is there any way that I can truly control this situation?

Isn’t it more comforting to leave what I can not control in the hands of God who is completely capable?

Power Verses:
John 16: 33, “I have told you these things, so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)

Isaiah 55:9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (NIV)

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

Accepting Acceptance
By Tracie Miles

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

If you are anything like me, you may have doubted at times whether or not God truly accepts you. Although scripture clearly tells us that God forgives our sins, sometimes we feel our sin is too big for God to forgive. We question God’s acceptance of us and allow ourselves to to feel defeated by guilt and shame. Why is it that we continue to walk this way?

In 1 Timothy 1:15, Paul states that he is the worst of all sinners. I believe the terrible sin that Paul is referring to was that he tried to destroy the Church before He became a believer. Before he accepted Christ, he was one of the primary ones to throw the stones that killed innocent Christians. But what Paul truly wanted us to know from this passage is that he recognized he was a sinner, but that he also had a Savior. Paul continues on in this passage of 1 Timothy, “But for that very reason, I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who could believe on him and receive eternal life” (1:16-17). Even though Paul had sins in his past that he obviously deeply regretted, he wholeheartedly accepted the fact that Christ accepted him.

I spent many years being held captive by the guilt and shame of sins in my past. I would repeatedly ask God for forgiveness, but still feel ashamed after saying “Amen”. I failed to realize that by not accepting God’s forgiveness, I was dishonoring Him. By doubting His ability to accept me, I was doubting God’s capability to completely forgive. As a result, I gave the enemy a stronghold on my heart and was convinced that I didn’t deserve God’s forgiveness, nor His acceptance.

During a powerful worship service one day, I finally heard God speak to my heart, and He showed me that I was the one keeping record of my sins, not Him. I was the one condemning myself, not Him. After years of being an emotional prisoner of guilt, I was freed, instantaneously, by simply wholeheartedly accepting the fact that God forgave me, loved me, and accepted me.

Jesus came to save sinners like you and me. Despite the severity of our sin, Jesus died to pay the penalty for that sin. Let today be the day that you truly accept the truth that God forgives you. Let today be the day that you stop condemning yourself for sins and honor Him by accepting His merciful acceptance of you.

Dear Lord, please heal my heart and help me to release the guilt and shame of my past sins into Your hands. Please give me the strength to stop condemning myself, and instead bask in the glory of Your forgiveness and mercy. With you, I can be a new creature. Thank you for sending Your son to pay the penalty for me, so that I can spend eternity with you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

Reinventing Your Rainbow, by Tracie Miles

No More Shame, Message on CD by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Allow Christ to cleanse your heart of any guilt and shame by accepting His forgiveness.
Forgive yourself.

Are you dishonoring God by not accepting His forgiveness?

Are you continually asking God for forgiveness for the same sin, therefore keeping your own records?

Do you truly believe with all your heart that God loves and accepts you?

Power Verses:
Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NIV)

1 John 2:2, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (NIV)

Reckless Words
By Susanne Scheppmann

“A soothing tongue is a tree of life, But perversion in it crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:4 (NASB)

“My daughter-in-law is a heathen dog!” stated the woman. She went on for fifteen minutes, berating her son’s wife.

I was standing in the church foyer with a group of women listening to her tirade. This woman had been a Christian for decades. We had all been in Bible study with her over the years. We had watched her sing in the choir. Now we watched in shock as harsh condemnation spilled from her lips against her own family.

She seethed with anger and accusations. Her tongue slashed the reputation of her daughter-in-law. The group stood in silence—we didn’t know the girl. The girl had never come to our church. Perhaps, if this woman had allowed her tongue to follow the advice of Proverbs 12:18, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing,” this girl might be attending church with her. Instead, she came by herself each week.

With sadness, I stepped away from the circle of women. This brief encounter affected me for the rest of the day. I hurt for the unknown daughter-in-law. I ached for the woman so full of venom that it spewed out uncontrolled.

However, it reminded me to keep watch on my own attitudes and words. I desire for my tongue to be a soothing tree of life. I am going to challenge myself to keep a tight rein on my wayward words. Would you like to join the challenge with me?

Dear Lord, forgive the reckless, hurting words I speak. Teach me the words to encourage others. Allow my speech, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be a healing balm to those who have been hurt. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Susanne Schepmann’s blog

Perplexing Proverbs for Women Bible study by Susanne Scheppman

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue by Deborah Smith Pegues

Application Steps:
In today’s conversations, make it a point to speak kindly about people. In addition, determine to compliment three people whose paths you cross.

Do I think before I speak?

When do I usually speak in a negative manner?

How can my words bring healing to others?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 15:2, “The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.” (NIV)

Proverbs 17:28, “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” (NIV)

James 1:26, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (NIV)

Marriage Storms
By Melanie Chitwood

“O taste and see that the Lord is good!” Psalm 34:8 (NAS).

During my husband Scott’s early piloting days, he rented a Cessna and flew me to Memphis to visit my sister. I was excited to fly in such a small plane and to have my very own husband as the pilot! While we were there, the weather took a turn for the worse and a winter storm was unexpectedly on its way. Scott was a novice pilot, and I could tell that the prospects of ice or snow were making him pretty scared. He called his flight instructor several times for advice—which made me quite nervous! That night neither of us slept well, as we worried about flight conditions the next day.

We woke up at 4 a.m. to go the airport. As Scott readied the plane, I noticed how worried he seemed, so I tried not to aggravate him with unnecessary questions, such as, Are we going to crash and die? I remember thinking that if something did happen in this winter storm, at least I’d be where I wanted to be—right next to my husband.

That’s the way I want to feel during the “storms” in our marriage as well. I’ve witnessed time and time again that God can use the storms in our marriage to draw my husband and I closer together. At times, the most rewarding closeness between us has followed a relational “storm.” God uses the trials in my marriage to bring my husband and I closer together and also closer to Him, both individually and as a couple.

I entered into marriage with my own ideas of how living happily-ever-after would go, and it didn’t include storms. But I’ve found that sometimes happily-ever-after exists on the other side of some hardships. Times of brokenness in our marriage can be the very experiences that shape us and lead us to enjoy sweet fellowship with the Lord and with each other.

Dear Lord, We know that in our marriage we will face storms. Lord, I pray that the storms will draw us together, not divide us. I pray that in during any hardships, challenges, or stress that we face individually or as a couple, that we will come out the other side closer to one another and closer to You. Help us not to be anxious or fearful during a storm. Instead, let us stand firmly on Our Rock, with You, Lord, as our firm foundation. Let us have peace that passes human understanding, as we draw on Your supernatural strength. We know that You can bring good out of horrible situation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
What a Husband Needs from His Wife by Melanie Chitwood

Appreciating Your Differences, Online Article by Paula Friedrichsen

The Man You Always Wanted is the One You Already Have by Paula Friedrichsen

Do You Know Jesus?

Application Steps:
Make a list of specific actions you can take to “taste” the goodness of God during a marriage storm. Be sure to apply one to today’s storm or to remember them for future storms.

Seek out a Christian counselor or a Christian couple to help you during the storm you’re facing.

During stressful times, do you and your husband stand strongly together, or do you tend to turn against one another?

In one of the power verses, we’re told to be thankful in all circumstances. How does this differ from being thankful for all circumstances?

Power Verses:
Matthew 19:26, “…Jesus said to them, ‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” (NAS)

1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (NLT)

Spring Cleaning
By Karen Ehman

“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Colossians 3:8-10 (NIV)

My mom was a fanatic about spring cleaning. Each year in April or May, when the first string of 60 degree days made its appearance in chilly Michigan, my brother and I grabbed our brushes and buckets and helped mom “spring clean” the house. She would open the windows, letting in the crisp spring air. We washed walls and windows; cleaned carpets and closets. We took down, washed and re-hung curtains. We beat rugs and straightened shelves, threw away broken toys and donated too small clothing. We even had to de-junk and organize the garage—the most dreaded task. Even though my mom didn’t particularly enjoy this yearly routine, in our family, it was not an option. She taught us that if you were consistent in keeping up on these nasty chores, they could be tackled before they reached the point of no return. It was hard enough to wash down those walls with a year of accumulated residue from our oil burning furnace on their surface. Just imagine how difficult the job would be after two or three years!

l will be honest and say it that even though I dreaded those few days each year in the 70’s and 80’s, I also loved the feeling that I got when spring cleaning week was over. The house’s surfaces seemed to sparkle. The air smelled lemony fresh. The shelves and closets and drawers looked neat and tidy. And, as an added bonus, this spring cleaning excursion often unearthed some prized possession I thought had been long lost. Once it was a favorite Skipper doll. Another year, my bright red Etch-a-Sketch. Later a cherished issue of Tiger Beat magazine. If I hadn’t participated in this annual ritual, I’d never have rediscovered these important items!

Our homes are not the only things in need of a good spring-cleaning. Often it is our hearts that really require some purging. We must be in the habit of looking deep into ourselves to rid our hearts of any feelings, habits or emotions that are making them dingy and dull; envy, strife, jealousy, hatred, discontentment, impatience, unkindness, revenge. Though these reside in our hearts, they often manifest themselves in our tongues.

When we make the effort to bring our hearts to God asking Him to do what only He can do, He will forgive our sinful attitudes and resulting actions and make our hearts new again. Then maybe we’ll be able to unearth some cherished treasures we thought were long lost; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control.

What do you say? Is it time you gave your heart a good spring-cleaning?

Dear Lord, Forgive me for sometimes paying more attention to cleaning my house than to cleaning my heart. Please rid my heart of anything that is displeasing to You. I give You the bucket and brushes. Make my heart fit for service to the King. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized, by Karen Ehman

Dear Jesus: Seeking His Light in Your Life, by Sarah Young

Visit Karen’s blog for more encouragement.

Application Steps:
What counterproductive or sinful emotions of the heart do you most struggle with? What attitudes can you ask God to replace them with? If it is envy you often feel, ask for contentment; if it is impatience—calm acceptance; if you wrestle with revenge, ask God to teach you true forgiveness. For every offensive attitude and action God has a solution for you. Ask Him to replace the old with the new!

What attitudes of the new Christian life do you miss the most? Did you have a good dose of patience or kindness or joy when you first became a believer? Ask God to restore these to you as you seek to return to your first love.

Grab a concordance—whether paper or cyber—and locate some scripture verses that speak to your particular situation. Commit to memory a few of these verses. Whenever you face a time of testing, turn to your arsenal of scripture to combat the blows the enemy seeks to throw your way.

Power Verses:
Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. ” (NIV)

Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (NIV)

Loving the Bride
By Amy Carroll

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” Revelation 19:7 (NIV)

Years ago during the midst of a really trying time in our church, I cried out to the Lord in frustration one morning. I had a bargain that I thought sounded like a great idea. “Lord,” I said, “I would really like to have You without the church. I mean, wouldn’t that be OK? I’m not giving up my faith in You. I just don’t want to have anything to do with the church anymore.” I was worn out from strife, bickering, and factions. I was confused about the purpose of church and why God would want me to be part of something that was causing so much stress and sleeplessness.

The next thought that I had clearly was not my own, because it was definitely not the answer for which I was longing. “Amy, if someone wanted to be your friend and love you without loving Barry (my husband), how would you feel about that?”

Even though I was starting to have an idea about where this was going, I answered honestly. “Lord, you know that I couldn’t have a close relationship with anyone who didn’t love my husband, too. Barry is too much a part of me. Anyone who loves me gets Barry as part of the package.”

That still, small voice continued, “Amy, the church is my bride. You cannot have me without my bride.”

I was stunned. I had never before thought of my relationship with the church in that way. Not only was I to love the church because of God’s love for it, but I am also to be part of the church which God calls as His bride.

Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” It’s not always easy being a member of a church. There are people there, you know? I joke that if I found the perfect church, it wouldn’t be perfect anymore the minute I joined! Yes, often church involves the messiness of humanity as much as than the encouragement of divinity.

As I mature, I’m seeing some of that messiness as God’s way of growing me up. It forces me to choose between offense or grace, between bitterness or forgiveness and between selfishness or service. When I make the right choices, I become a little more like Him and help to create a more radiant bride. That makes being part of a church worth it.

Lord, will you help me to find a church in which I can grow and encourage others? Because I love You, I want to be part of the church that you call to be your radiant bride. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
6 Habits of Highly Effective Christians, by Brian T. Anderson & Glynnis Whitwer

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

Visit Amy Carroll’s blog

Do You Know Jesus?

Application Steps:
If you haven’t been part of a church in a while, begin to visit one. I know that it’s sometimes hard, but God has a church for you to participate in.

If you already belong to a church, begin to pray for others who you can invite to be part of your church family. Someone who is hurting would love for you to reach out to them!

Have I let hurt from churches in the past impede my spiritual growth and walk with Jesus in the present?

Am I part of the problem or solution at my church?

Power Verses:
Acts 2:42-47, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (NIV)

My Words
By Shari Braendel

“The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.” Proverbs 15:2 (NIV)

My eyes filled with tears when I heard the news. I found out I offended someone. I mean, really offended her. My words hurt her so deeply, she cried all night. A few weeks earlier, I had met this woman and in our brief conversation, I said something she could not forget or get over. I thought it was innocent conversation – I never meant to hurt her – but she was upset.

For several days, I thought about what I had said and how I had spoken to this woman. I wrestled with what I should have or could have done differently. I replayed the conversation over and over. I couldn’t undo what I had said or how I said it. I couldn’t explain it away or give a dozen excuses. I couldn’t cover it over with my own tears, guilt or shame. It was “out there” and there wasn’t much I could do to take it back. After a time of prayer and reflection, I was able to locate the woman’s address. I wrote her a note of apology and mailed it.

I wonder how many times my words offend? How many times during a day do my words hurt someone? I am called to edify others, lift others up, and encourage others in all things. I try to encourage my husband, my children and my friends. I try to encourage women in their daily walk with Him. And then an “oops.” A big “oops” happens that rocks my world and someone else’s. A misspoken phrase or an inappropriate tone, and in an instant, someone feels struck down by my words.

I felt truly awful about hurting this person and I knew I needed to go to God. I shared all my thoughts, feelings, inadequacies, words, and regrets with the Lord. I gave it all to Him. I prayed for the woman and her pain. I prayed for forgiveness. I prayed for guidance and healing in this situation. I let God know I wanted my words to be wise and full of knowledge, rather than gush folly as today’s verse says.

God heard my prayers, forgave me, and even encouraged me a few days later as I stood in the foyer of my church. Someone I didn’t know approached me and asked me my name. She said, “I’ve been wanting to find you because a few months ago I contacted the church prayer team and requested a prayer for my husband’s job. You wrote me the most beautiful e-mail and included a prayer. It meant so much to me. I copied it word for word into my journal. I just wanted to thank you. Your prayer for me and my husband really touched me.” After she had gone, I whispered, “Thank you, God.” How awesome He is to remind me that my words have been messages of His hope and love, and not all folly.

What are your words saying to others?

Dear Lord, thank You for bringing us sweet reminders about Your care for us in every detail of our lives. I pray my words today will encourage others and spur them on in their quest to know You. Please help me to think before I speak. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
30 Days to Taming Your Tongue by Deborah Smith Pegues

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue Workbook by Deborah Smith Pegues

Visit Shari Braendel’s blog

Application Steps:
How have you been speaking to others? Are you lifting others up by encouraging them? Pay attention to your words today and the response of others. Ask God to help you think before you speak.

Recall a time when you were wounded with words. Have you asked God to heal it for you?

Have you wounded someone recently with your words, or your tone of voice? Write them a note of apology today and ask their forgiveness.

Power Verses:
Psalm 19:14, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (NIV)

2 Samuel 19:7, “Now go out and encourage your men.” (NIV)

April Showers
By, Susanne Scheppmann

When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs, where pools of blessing collect after the rains!” Psalm 84:6 (NLT)

I gaped at the water pouring down through the vents in the ceiling. A surreal feeling overtook me. I momentarily couldn’t move. However, after a moment, I began to wade through the icy water, crying out in dismay, “Oh, no! Oh, no!”

Apparently, a pipe had frozen and split during a recent cold snap. Then, when the warm weather brought a springtime thaw, I received April-like showers inside my home. As I walked upstairs in a panic to call a restoration service, I spotted my plaque that reads, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” I took it as a challenge. Would I choose to “dance” in my “rain”?

Many of my friends would trade my “rains” for their Valley of Weeping. Their lives hold divorce, illness, death---myriads of places of sorrows. God doesn’t promise us a trouble- free life, but He does say that Valleys of Weeping will eventually become pools of blessing. We choose our attitudes. We can decide to trust Him during the difficult seasons or we can bury ourselves in bitter self-pity.

Although the pain of life may linger, the Lord will lead us out of the Valley of Weeping. Let’s take to heart Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (NIV).

I recall the lines from a childhood poem, “April showers bring May flowers.” Hopefully, after everything in my basement is cleaned up and restored, I won’t discover any flowers growing in the carpet. But, I will look for those pools of blessing that the Lord will provide through this mishap.

Dear Lord, life is hard sometimes. Walk me through the Valley of Weeping. Keep my heart focused on You and the blessings You provide. Open my eyes to the pools of blessing that You supply. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

P31 Woman magazine

Susanne Schepmann’s blog

Perplexing Proverbs for Women Bible study by Susanne Scheppman

Application Steps:
Read Psalm 84. Journal your thoughts on each verse and how it applies to your life. Memorize Psalm 84:12, “O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.” (NIV)

Do I dance with God through the storms of life?

How can I encourage someone who is going through a Valley of Weeping?

What “pools of blessing” have I discovered after going through a difficult time?

Power Verses:
Psalm 135:7, “He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.” (NIV)

Isaiah 55:12, “You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!” (NLT)

Matthew 5:45b, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (NIV)

Hermana – My Sister
By Glynnis Whitwer

“Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” 1 Timothy 5:1b-2 (NIV)

We were ushered into a two-room hut; our feet shuffled on the hard-packed dirt floor. A tin roof, electrical wires hanging from the ceiling, and no running water clearly testified to the financial hardships this family faced. The Americans in the group smiled awkwardly, unsure of whether to look around the room, at the home owners, or at our Ecuadorian guide, Omar.

“Hermano y hermana” our guide and translator spoke in gentle tones, as he extended a hand of greeting. “Brother and sister” Omar said in Spanish, “thank you for welcoming us into your home.” The ice broken, we all relaxed and enjoyed a brief time of getting to know this hard-working family whose daughter was part of the Compassion International project in Quito.

That trip in to the poverty-stricken section of Quito was eye-opening in many ways. But the memory of the love and dignity our guides (there were others besides Omar) showed to the families of the “proyecto” – the poorest of poor - dominates all others for me.

Each visit we made to the project families began with the same greeting: “Brother” or “Sister.” A single word leveled all differences between the giver and recipient of help, between nationalities and between broad economic and educational divides. A single word reminded us we were family, with all the privileges and responsibilities inherent. One heavenly Father – many brothers and sisters.

As I go about my busy life, I can easily forget to treat others as family. It’s quicker to sneak in and out of church without stopping to offer a hug of greeting or a word of encouragement to those around me. It’s even easier during the week to neglect to show familial love to my sisters and brothers in Christ. My blinders slip on and I view life with tunnel vision.

However, through our adoption as daughters and sons of God, we have been ushered into a huge family called the church. The church is not a building – the church is my family. Every person sitting in my church service is related to me through the blood of Jesus. He may be a man brought on a bus from a rehab center, but he is also my brother. She may be a single mom barely hanging on, but she is also my sister. The lonely widower, the brokenhearted professional, the grief-stricken father, the tattooed teenager … brother, sister, brother, sister.

I have a high calling to treat my fellow Christians as if we were related, because we are. Perhaps we might cultivate more love and compassion among us if we adopted the language of my Ecuadorian friend. No, not Spanish. The language of family. How does that sound “mi hermana”?

Dear Lord, thank You for giving me such a big and wonderful family of brothers and sisters. Help me to see fellow believers in a new light. Help me respond to my friends as a sister would. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Support a child through Compassion International

Welcome to Community: Experiencing Life the Way God Intended by Brian Anderson and Glynnis Whitwer

A Life that Says Welcome by Karen Ehman

Visit Glynnis’ blog

Application Steps:
Identify one friend who has a birthday coming up soon. Purchase a birthday card addressed to “Sister,” and send it to her. Write a note inside the card explaining your commitment to her as a sister in Christ.

Although members of some churches greet each other as family, most do not. Why do you think this is?

What are some of the best traits of brothers and sisters? If you don’t have siblings, think on some of the best examples you have seen.

What would you do differently if you saw fellow Christians as your sisters and brothers?

Power Verses:
Mark 3:35, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (NIV)

Psalm 133:1, “It is good and pleasant when God's people live together in peace!” (NCV)

Hebrews 13:1, “Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.” (NLT)

Still a Pretty Good Day
By Lysa TerKeurst

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” Colossians 3:15 (NIV)

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter Ashley had a gymnastics meet that didn’t go so well. She fell on almost every event. She scored well below her expectations and I thought there would be lots of tears at the awards ceremony. But, much to my surprise, she bounced up to me and exclaimed, “Mom, did you see I landed my vault on my feet. That’s a good thing about today.”

She then flitted off with her teammates to get ice cream. One of the other moms grabbed my arm and complimented Ashley’s good attitude. Though I did feel sad for Ashley - after all she had worked so hard to prepare for this meet, my heart still swelled with joy. That compliment meant more than seeing my daughter with a neck full of gold medals. Do I want Ashley to win? Yes, of course. But seeing a good attitude displayed in the face of adversity - well that’s simply priceless.

Ashley’s outlook challenged me. How many times do I have something bad happen in my day and it just seems to turn my whole attitude south? Instead of just resigning myself to being emotional or sensitive, I’ve decided to see this as a call to action. I’ve started making the choice to say a simple statement that often diverts a bad attitude. And the statement is this, “If this is the worst thing that happens to me today, it’s still a pretty good day.”

Boy does this statement put things into perspective. I guess it’s an everyday way to do a little heart check up. The Bible tells us that we should intentionally make our minds think of things that are good, true, excellent, and praiseworthy. The more I think about things like these, the more my perspective seems to stay in check. In Colossians 3:15 we are instructed to, “Let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts… and be thankful.” Verse 16 goes on to say that we should also, “Let the word of God dwell in us richly…” Finally, verse 17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus…”

Letting the peace of Christ rule in our hearts and letting the word of God dwell in us richly doesn’t just happen naturally. We have to intentionally make those choices. And we have to challenge ourselves to deal with the bad while focusing on all the good that is there as well.

So, what aggravation or disappointment are you facing today? If that’s the worst thing that happens - I bet you could say it’s still a pretty good day too.

Dear Lord, help me to put daily aggravations into proper perspective. Give me the wisdom to choose to let the peace of Christ rule in my heart. And give me a hunger to get into Your word and let Your word get into me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

P31 Woman magazine

Do You Know Him?

Application Steps:
Click over to Lysa’s Blog to post a comment about how you will choose to see the good rather than focus on the bad in your day today. Each time something aggravates you, make the choice to say, “If this is the worst thing that happens to me today, it’s still a pretty good day.”

Are there some areas that are consistently tripping up your attitude? Find some verses that you can memorize to help redirect your outlook when negativity starts to creep into your heart. Intentionally recall things you are thankful for and focus on praising God for those circumstances.

Power Verses:
Philippians 4: 4-5, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all…” (NIV)

Proverbs 3:5-6, “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)

Colossians 3: 15-17, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (NIV)

The Splinter
Van Walton

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves…” 1 John 1:8 (NASB)

I had been typing on the keyboard for a couple of hours when a dull pain near my fingernail distracted me. Studying my finger, I noticed a small splinter deeply imbedded in my skin. Too engrossed in my writing, I tried to ignore the discomfort.

The day’s activities consumed me, the tiny sliver forgotten, until I slowed down. “How have I survived the day with this ache in my finger?” Looking at my hand, I realized the splinter had not moved. I poked at it and mashed it to no avail. The more I thought about it, the more noticeable it became. It had to go because I could no longer ignore the throbbing pain.

I would have to dig it out, so finding a needle or a straight pin became my goal. From time to time I stopped to rub it and squeeze it. I only made matters worse.

Finally I found a straight pin and started poking around. Ouch!

Sin is like that splinter. Be it a tiny white lie or a big blatant transgression, if we are part of God’s family, it makes its presence known. Most of us choose to ignore it. Few of us deal with it. I don’t know about you, but too often I nurse my shortcomings, justifying my wrongdoings. It pains me to get rid of my indulgences and it might be time consuming. I don’t want to go digging around for fear that it’s too big or deep. Better to simply hope it will go away.

The splinter will not go away on its own. Neither will sin. Actually it is a good thing that they must be confronted. A splinter left alone might cause infection. Sin, avoided, has the power to destroy.

Consider the hold sin had on these biblical characters:

Jonah’s sin of disobedience took him straight into the belly of a fish.

David’s sin of lust drove him to plot murder.

Judas’ sin of betrayal caused him to take his own life.

One day a group of Pharisees brought an adulterous woman to Jesus. Having been caught in the act, her sin had been exposed. Jesus’ words gave clear instruction about sin. “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). He didn’t say, “Study it.” He didn’t help her analyze her psyche, to understand her sin. He made his point, “Go and sin no more.”

The only way to deal with sin is to accept that sin exists: spot it, name it, and find an instrument to remove it. Use prayer, the Bible, a trusted friend, fasting, worship and praise. Pain may remain for a while, but a clear conscience quickly heals the surgical wound left behind by the once-harbored sin.

Father God, You desire that my life glorify You. That cannot happen as long as I continue to ignore my sin. Help me to keep a short account of my transgressions. I know the freedom and peace I experience when my sin is cast out, liberating me and bringing joy. Give me the courage to remove whatever lurks deep within my life, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Van Walton’s blog

From the Pound to the Palace Children’s Story on DVD by Van Walton

The 7 Hardest Things God Asks a Woman to Do by Kathie Reimer & Lisa Whittle

Do You Know Him?

Application Steps:
The priests of the Old Testament always washed before they came before the Lord. Each day as you pray, ask God to reveal your sins and wash them away as He forgives each one.

What sin am I reluctant to remove from my life?

Am I holding on to hatred, jealousy, idols, or sexual sin?

Is my ‘splinter’ a lack of forgiveness, unbelief, a grip on my past, or a hidden habit?

Power Verses:
Romans 7:24-25, “I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” (MSG)

Psalm 103:8-12, “The Lord is compassionate and merciful …He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve … He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. (NLT)

The Fundamentals of Faith
By Micca Campbell

“Keep a firm grip on your faith and on yourself. After all, this is a fight we’re in.” 1Timothy 1:19 (MSG)

Sometimes God picks the most unusual places to teach me a new truth, or remind me of one that needs a bit of my attention. This time it was in the fourth quarter of my son’s basketball game. The score was tied, causing tension to heighten. I expected a new play from our side that would catch the other team off guard, but that’s not what happened. They simply kept to the fundamentals of the game. The coach had a philosophy: “When stress enters the court, the team who keeps to the fundamentals succeeds.” And so they did.

The same is true in our walk with Christ. When the pressures and stresses of life began to press in, we need to keep to the fundamentals of our faith.

I’ve learned that one of the fundamentals to keeping my faith fresh and alive is keeping my relationship with the Lord in first place. The Bible encourages us: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). I want to put the Lord first place in my life because I know I can’t live on yesterday’s bread. Do you remember how God fed the Israelites daily manna from heaven as they traveled through the desert on their way to the Promised Land? God instructed them not to gather more than a day’s worth of bread or it would rot. God did this because He wanted the Israelites to know that He was their daily provision. The same is true for you and me. We can’t live today on yesterday’s blessings and provisions from God. We need to seek Him for “new bread” everyday.

The second fundamental is to never lose the wonder. It’s easy to let the wonder of God become commonplace amidst the drudgery of everyday life. However, by keeping my eyes on the wonder and awe of God, I’ll never lose hope. In fact, once you and I are awe struck by His greatness, we can’t help but share it with others. “For he said to God, “I will declare the wonder of your name to my brothers and sisters. I will praise you among all your people” (Hebrew 2:12). To keep on track, I ask myself often, “I’m I just going through the motions or am I seeking the great things of God and sharing it with others?”

Finally, I think it’s fundamental to rely on the supernatural Spirit of God. Ephesians 5:18 commands: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” When a person is filled with wine, what’s controlling them? Alcohol. When a person is filled with the Spirit, what’s controlling them? The Lord! Aren’t we always trying to control our own lives, and don’t we usually fail? And yet, God has provided a better way. He has given us a helper, the Holy Spirit. In Him, we have all the power, confidence, and strength we need for whatever comes our way.

You and I were never meant to go it alone. Therefore, before each day begins, I ask God to fill me with His Holy Spirit. Then, by faith, I thank Him that He is with me. Allowing God to guide our lives daily is the only way to lead a successful and thriving life of faith. So the next time pressures enter your life, return to the fundamentals of your faith and win the day!

Dear Lord, I desire to seek You each and every day. I don’t want to just go through the motions. I want to see your wonder. I want to experience great things in my life and family. I want to live by Your power. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and live through me today, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Micca’s Blog, “Reflections

6 Habits of Highly Effective Christians, by Brian T. Anderson and Glynnis Whitwer

Do You Know Him?

Today’s P31 Radio Show

Application Steps:
Start your day by practicing the “fundamentals of faith.”

Do I have a vital; growing intimate, love relationship with Jesus?

Do I have a genuine passion for Christ or have I lost the wonder of my relationship with Christ?

When is the last time you asked God to do something great in your life, your heart, your family, your job, your church, or our world?

How does my life evidence a dependence on the power of the Holly spirit?

Am I allowing God to stretch me, to push me out the comfort zone of what I can handle?

Power Verses:
Romans 1:17, “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith" (NIV).

Genesis 6:9, “This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God” (NIV).

2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (NIV).

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