My Grand-Pumpkin
Susanne Scheppmann

“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)

Have you ever considered if your life matters? . . . Or wondered what legacy you will leave behind? Those questions flit through my thoughts on occasion. However, when I baby-sit my “Grand Pumpkin,” I realize I have the potential to leave him a legacy of faith.

I nicknamed my grandson “Grand Pumpkin” because he’s my sweet pumpkin and just grand! However, I want him to live up to his given name - Michael. Not Mikey, or Mike, but Michael. I want him to grow into a mighty warrior for God. The biblical Michael is an archangel who fights for the Lord. So I ask myself, “As a grandmother, what can I do to increase my grandson’s faith?"

Fortunately, the Bible gives specific instructions about leaving a legacy for my children and my grandchildren. Deuteronomy 4:9 says, “But watch out! Be very careful never to forget what you have seen the Lord do for you. Do not let these things escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren” (NLT). This verse cautions me not to forget the wonders the Lord has done in my life. In addition, I must share them with my children and grandchildren.

So, I intend to influence Michael’s faith by sharing the miracles of God every chance I am provided. The Lord has done a mighty work in our family. I will never run out of stories concerning the goodness of the Lord. There are enough to last a lifetime and beyond.

Will you join me in this endeavor to leave a legacy for our future generations? Let’s live out the truth of Psalm 145:3-4 (NIV).

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.

Dear Lord, You have instructed me to share with my children and grandchildren the wonders You have done in my life. Give me words that will glorify You and will allow my grandchildren to witness Your miracles in their own lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
The Pocket Guide for Parents Raising Godly Kids

The Grandmother's Bible (NIV)

Birds in My Mustard Tree: For Those Who Struggle with Faith by Susanne Scheppmann

Application Steps:
Buy a journal and begin to write down your memories of what the Lord has done in your life and family. It doesn’t have to be chronological, just jot them down as He brings them to mind.

Pray for God to give you opportunities to share your memories with children in your life.

Do I hesitate when I speak about my faith with my children or grandchildren?

What type of legacy do I want to leave?

How can I make a difference in my family’s faith?

Power Verses:
Deuteronomy 12:28, “Be careful to obey all these regulations I am giving you, so that it may always go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord your God.” (NIV)

Deuteronomy 29:29, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” (NIV)

Proverbs 17:6, “Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parents are the pride of their children.” (NLT)

© 2008 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Don’t be Enticed
Melissa Taylor

“For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error.” 2 Peter 2:18 (NIV)

“I Kissed a Girl” is the title of a song that was recently number one on popular radio stations for many weeks. It’s been performed live on the Fox Network TV show, “So You Think You Can Dance.” It was also the number one iTunes download this past summer. “I Kissed a Girl - and I Liked It,” as the lyrics go, has become a trendy saying, even printed on t-shirts for teen girls and women. However, it is not just a trendy saying - it’s a deceptive enticement.

As a mother of four children ages 7, 11, 13, and 15, I want to be aware of the things they are being told by the world. As much as I wish I could guard their eyes and ears so they are not exposed to the deceptive influences that can creep in, I know I can’t be with them all the time. Therefore, I want to be informed so I can help them deal with what comes their way. I need to know what they are exposed to when they leave the walls of our home.

The cries for acceptance and love are loud today. Can you hear them? Just look at what some women and young girls will do to feel noticed, loved and accepted. Maybe you know someone like this. Maybe you are someone like this.

The truth is – we are loved, completed, noticed, and accepted. Maybe not by everyone in this world, but by Someone much greater and much more important than anyone we know – our Creator.

We were created in the image of God, but we are not God. We are human and have human feelings. Too often, we use this as an excuse to sin. If God created me to feel this way, then how could it be wrong? Ever since the fall of man we have struggled with sin. That is our human nature, but we have the ability to make choices.

The Bible says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2, NIV). I know what it is like to live the world’s way. I’ve been there. The pleasures of this world are enticing but only temporary. We need to guard our hearts and the hearts of those we love by not being persuaded by or giving into the “in thing.” We are worth far more than that. As daughters of the King, we are deserving of royal treatment. We do not need to “conform to the pattern of this world,” or do inappropriate things for recognition.

The song, “I Kissed a Girl” is written and sung by singer/songwriter Katy Perry, who is a wealthy woman today because of it. She’s gaining a lot of attention, popularity, and fame. It may interest you to know that in 2001, she released a Christian album titled “Faith Won’t Fail” under the name Katy Hudson.

Not one of us is immune to the influences of the world, and neither are our children. We need to remain intentional, and strongly aware that each of us can be deceived. We can give in to enticing temptations if we are not careful. So let’s prayerfully guard ourselves and our children from going along with worthless boasts and appeals to fleshly desires, often found in popular songs of today. Instead, let’s look to God to fill our mouths with edifying words, and fill our hearts with a strong sense of acceptance that is grounded in Him.

Dear Lord, Give me the strength to remain on Your path. Help my eyes to remain focused on what is right. Do not let me be deceived by sexual sin or enticed to believe the world’s lies. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Teen Virtue Confidential: Your Questions Answered About God, Guys, and Getting Older by Vicki Courtney

Visit Melissa’s Blog, I Am Beautiful for more encouragement about how God sees you!

Living with Purpose: A Radical Revolution - a website for teen girls.

Application Steps:
Fill your CD player, MP3 player or car radio with Christian music today and worship Him.

If you do not know how God sees you through His Son Jesus Christ, click here to find out how you can know Him.

Do I care too much what others think of me? Enough to be enticed away from God’s truth?

Am I making godly choices, or worldly choices?

Power Verses:
1 John 2:16, “For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.” (NIV)

Colossians 3:5, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Melissa Taylor. All rights reserved.

Keeping Our Joy
Micca Monda Campbell

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 (NIV)

She waited until I had spoken to every woman in line. Once the room was empty, the woman timidly made her way toward me. Before she spoke a word, I could see and sense her grief. Her face was marked with depression and her shoulders hung low from the burden that she carried. With quivering lips and tear-filled eyes, she spoke words no mother wants to hear coming from her own lips.

“Please pray for my fifteen-year-old daughter. She’s pregnant.”

This godly woman has loved and served God in her home, church, and community for years. Now, she does nothing. Ashamed, she blames herself for her child’s choices, and because of them, considers herself unworthy to serve. Not only has this woman allowed her situation to steal her peace and joy, but her service too.

Many Christians fall into this same trap. They allow the enemy to rob them of their peace, steal their joy, and kill their witness over situations beyond their control.

It’s true. Satan has always been a tempter, but where he catches us off guard is by thinking he tempts us to do bad things. Our flesh mostly takes care of that job. The fact is Satan tempts us in order to lose what God has given us.

If Satan can rob our joy and steal our witness, then he makes us useless in the kingdom of God. Just like this mother, we become unproductive when our faith is stripped by unexpected heartbreak. Nevertheless, you and I must not let Satan use our circumstances to steal our joy.

That sounds good, but how do we find true joy in midst of heartache? We find it by depending on the Lord. David reminds us, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song” (Ps 28:7).

First, David believed God heard his cries. Second, he relied on God’s provision and strength. Third, David trusted in God’s help with all of his heart. This kept him from growing weak, losing heart, and giving up. Finally, because David believed God was for him, in him, with him, and behind him one hundred percent, David was able to give thanks with a joyful heart.

Like David and this mother I spoke with, we will experience situations that can steal our joy and leave us feeling unworthy to serve. To think this way is to see ourselves outside of God’s grace. You and I don’t serve God because we are good enough. We serve God because He’s good enough. It’s His perfection working through our imperfections.

By the same token, our joy is not defined by our circumstances. It’s based on our relationship with God who, in due time, will bring us out of our present situation.

Exercising faith in God - not circumstances - aids the discouraged heart so that Satan cannot steal our joy or our purpose.

Dear Lord, Today I refuse to let Satan steal my joy. I long for the fullness of life that You have given me. As I trust You in my present situation, I also trust You to restore my peace and joy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner by Wendy Blight, pre-order yours today!

Hope in the Midst of Depression by Mary Southerland

Visit Micca Campbell’s blog

Application Steps:
Using David as an example, follow his steps found in Psalm 28:7…
1. Cry out to God.
2. Rely on His provision and strength.
3. Believe in and wait on His help.
4. Praise Him with a joyful heart.

Has Satan stolen your joy?

How has this affected your witness; your life; and your service to the kingdom?

Power Verses:
Nehemiah 8:10b, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength" (NIV)

Ps 27:6, “Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord” (NIV)

© 2008 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

A View Through Sarah Palin’s Eyeglasses
Kelli Regan, She Speaks! Graduate

“Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.’” Luke 18:42 (NIV)

In the midst of the media storm surrounding the upcoming elections, there’s one news item you may have missed. An economic crisis is upon us—and Sarah Palin is at the center of it. What’s the cause of this crisis I’m talking about? Her glasses.

In less than one month’s time Sarah has become a household name. Everyone has an opinion about her. But whether you’re Republican, Democrat or Independent, there’s one issue regarding the vice presidential nominee on which the majority agrees. We love her glasses! I suppose not since Ben Franklin invented bifocals have spectacles captured our fancies so.

Women (and even men) are flocking to their opticians in search of Governor Palin’s Kawasaki 704 series designer specs. In less than two weeks, the Japanese company that manufactures the $375 frames received 9,000 global orders. That’s more than they normally produce in a year! I’m no economic analyst but there’s no way supply can meet that demand.

According to Governor Palin’s optician, she selected her now-famous frames from hundreds of choices. I’ve worn glasses almost my entire life and know what a difficult decision this is! After much searching she selected just the right pair for her—and the rest, as they say, is history.

I imagine many of those buying frames like Mrs. Palin’s will later regret their purchase. Something about their new glasses will look “off.” Maybe the frames won’t flatter their face shape, match their personality, or complement their coloring or hairstyle. Why? Because eyeglasses simply aren’t an off-the-shelf purchase. One size does not fit all.

Sometimes we do this with our faith. We see movers and shakers in our church, in our favorite ministry, or in our Bible study who appear to have it all going on. They glow under the spotlight, and we think they must know or have something we don’t because…well…just look at them. So we not only admire their godly ways, we try to emulate them as well—we try to “wear” their faith. We might try to copy how they pray, or worship, or talk, or sing, or have devotions, and so on. But when we do, something doesn’t fit quite right.

That’s because nothing is more one-of-a-kind than our walk with the Lord. While we can learn from our Christian brothers and sisters, we can’t order up elements of their walk to accessorize our own. To do so is to lose sight of what God wants from us more than anything: our individual devotion focused on Him. He wants us to love Him with a sincere faith that’s custom-made with our own unique personality, passion, experiences and gifts.

Have you been borrowing someone else’s faith? Do you want to be custom-fit with a prescription of your own? Go to Jesus, the One who gives sight to the blind. And when He asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” respond, “Lord, I want to see.” (Luke 18:41)

As popular as they are today, Sarah Palin’s glasses will become yesterday’s news. While much of our attention is fixed on who will lead our country come January, we must remember politicians come and go. But there is one leader who has, does and will stand the test of time: Jesus. As we set our sights on the future, let’s never forget on whom we need to fix our gaze. And let’s offer Him our one-of-a-kind devotion.

Dear Lord, I give you my heart. Open my eyes so I may see and help me stay focused on You as the ruler of my life and the hope of my eternal future. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

At the Feet of Ordinary Women by Angie Conrad, et al

The Air I Breathe: Worship as a Way of Life by Louie Giglio

Application Steps:
During the remaining days leading up to the presidential election, become an educated voter, but maintain an eternal perspective.

Have you been striving to mimic aspects of someone else’s walk instead of developing your very own?

Are you caught up in the popularity of your faith more than the sincerity of it?

Power Verses:
Ephesians 2:18-19, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” (NIV)

The Power of Encouraging Words
Renee Swope

“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)

I hate open heights. I can’t stand balconies and when driving across a bridge, you’ll find me hugging the rail along the inside lane.

Some friends tried to help me conquer my fear of heights by inviting our family to an indoor rock-climbing center. My heart stopped as we entered the doors and I scanned the highest peak at 25 feet! The instructors assured me that a web of ropes and harnesses would hold me tight. Before I could say “no thank you,” I was strapped in and signing an injury waiver.

Towards the end of the day, our friends John and Laura encouraged their eight-year-old son Steven to climb to the highest peak – promising tokens and ice cream if he did it. Steven was afraid of heights, too, but he loved a dare. The promise of reward, mixed with the challenge and faith of his father evoked courage in him.

I watched with admiration as Steven started the climb with confidence. He made it to 10 feet, then 15, then 20. But as he inched past the next face of the wall, he saw how far he still had to go. In fear, he looked down with tears and claimed he couldn’t do it. Then he cried out for his daddy’s help.

By this time, Steven’s dad was holding their very tired 3-year-old and his mom was feeding their hungry baby girl. I don’t know where my brave husband was, but I quickly realized I was the only one standing there who could do something.

Suddenly courage and strength surged through my body and I called out, “Don’t give up buddy. You can do it. I’ll help you!”

In record time, I reached the 20-foot marker, crossed over the peak and up beside Steven to encourage him, reminding him of how far he’d come. I told him he could do it with God’s strength and that it would be worth it if he’d persevere. With my words and my confidence in him, I helped Steven turn his thoughts towards a higher goal, an inner peak, a reward much greater than ice cream and game tokens – the reward of getting to a place he had stopped believing he could reach.

Funny how I stopped thinking about my fears when I was focused on helping someone else overcome theirs. I realized that the same promises I had claimed for Steven were true for me, too. I could do it with God’s strength and I did!

Each day we have the same opportunity. Like God did with Joshua in today’s key verse and like He does with us, we can come alongside each other in some of life’s hardest challenges and highest peaks and say, “Don’t give up, you can do it. I’ll be with you and help you.”

When we take our eyes off our fears, our doubts, our struggles and focus on someone else's needs, we somehow forget our own, for a little while. In believing the power of God’s promises for others, our confidence in His promises for us seems to grow as well. And that my friend is the power of encouraging words!

Lord, Thank you for the power of Your Words that give me courage to become who You’ve created me to be – to go to places You’re calling me to go and climb spiritual heights that are out of my reach without Your help. Give me Your encouragement today, and help me encourage someone, too. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Mining for Gold in the Heart of Your Child CD, a message for parents about the power of encouraging words for our kids, by Renee Swope

Visit Renee’s Blog to get and give encouragement from women around the world today. (And to be part of a great give-away!!!)

The Power of a Woman’s Words by Sharon Jaynes

Application Steps:
Ask God to encourage your heart today with a promise from His Word that offers hope and power in the midst of your circumstances.

Write a note, leave a message or send an email with a promise and a prayer to someone who needs encouragement.

How has someone’s encouraging words impacted my life in the past? How has God’s words of encouragement helped me do things I never thought I could?

Power Verses:
Psalm 69:32, “The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged.’” (NLT)

Deuteronomy 3:28, “But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see." (NIV)

Psalm 10:17, “You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, (NIV)

© 2008 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

Walking Wisely
Amy Carroll

“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20 (NIV)

Do you have an important decision to make today? Rehoboam’s story in I Kings 12:1-19 has a lesson for each of us in the midst of making hard choices. Rehoboam had a dilemma. He had an important decision to make, and he didn’t know what to do.

Following Solomon’s death, the people of Israel gathered to make Rehoboam king. About that time, Jeroboam (I know these names are doozies, but hang in there!) came to speak to Rehoboam on behalf of the people. He said, “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.” The people were worn out. Solomon had been a great king, but he had worked the people into exhaustion with all of his building projects. They were pleading for rest during Rehoboam’s reign in exchange for their undying loyalty, but Rehoboam wasn’t sure of the kingly response. He asked for three days to come to a decision. Great idea, right? He started well with a request for time to seek counsel.

The first group that he asked for advice was a group of elders who had served under his father. These were men of experience both from years lived and from the places where they had served. They advised Rehoboam to answer the people affirmatively. The elders encouraged him that the people would follow him faithfully if only Rehoboam would humble himself to be a servant leader.

Rehoboam didn’t like their answer, so he sought out a different group to ask. This time he decided to ask “the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him.” Are warning bells going off for you, too? Not only were these men young and inexperienced, they also were on Rehoboam’s payroll and stood to lose or gain by their answer. Here was their advice: “Tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions’” (I Kings 12:10b-11 NIV). Rehoboam foolishly listened to his friends.

If we want to make wise decisions, we need to seek wise counsel. Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” (NAS) How can we make sure that we pick the right people to seek advice from?

Choose a godly person. Proverbs 2:6 tells us, “For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (NIV). When I choose to seek advice from someone who knows scripture and seeks God in personal quiet time, I can be assured their advice is based on a foundation of truth.

Choose a person with experience. It’s always been helpful to me to learn from other women who have walked before me. I’ve sought out other teachers, wives, and mothers who are purposeful about building godly relationships and behaving righteously to give me counsel as I live life. It’s the principal of the older believers teaching the younger believers that’s found in Titus 2.

Choose someone who will tell the truth in love. Ecclesiastes 7:5 explains, “It is better to heed a wise man’s rebuke than to listen to the song of fools” (NIV). So many around me would rather “sing me a song” than tell me what I need to hear. I have several friends that I trust to tell me the unvarnished truth when I ask for advice. They love me, but they fear God!

Rehoboam’s decision changed history. He reaped a rebellion that ripped the country in two. He lost his following, his potential for enormous power, and the favor of God. We don’t have to make those mistakes. We can head the warning taught by Rehoboam’s story and follow God by seeking wise counsel.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Finding a Mentor, Being a Mentor by Donna Otto

At the Feet of Ordinary Women by Angie Conrad, et al

Visit Amy Carroll’s blog

Application Steps:
Read the full story of Rehoboam and Jeroboam in I Kings 11:26-12:24.

List the people that you most often turn to for advice. Do they meet the three suggested criteria above?

Do I usually seek counsel when I am making a decision?

Who in my life will tell me the truth in love rather than saying what I want to hear?

Has there been a time when I’ve reaped the consequences of following unwise counsel?

Power Verses:
Job 12:13, “To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.” (NIV)

Proverbs 20:18, “Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

No Small Affair
Lysa TerKeurst

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” 1 Corinthians 13:6 (NIV)

A few years ago, I sat with a beautiful young woman and watched the tears stream down her face. Six months before our meeting, her world was filled with so much – a loving husband, a healthy toddler, and fun friends.

Life was full.

But some part of her heart still felt restless, unsettled, and a little empty.

She started to feel detached from her husband and disappointed in their relationship. Why couldn't he make her feel loved? Wasn’t he supposed to right her wrongs, fill up her insecurities, and give her a lasting feeling of love?

Then one day she met a man who said things she'd longed to hear her husband say. He made her feel pretty and witty. Soon, she rationalized that she'd never really loved her husband in the first place. A web of lies was spun. She fell into the arms of the other man.

She had not wanted to come to the women's retreat. She knew it might make her feel guilty and she was past having any guilty feelings. She was just waiting for the right time to leave her husband and start over with the new love of her life. But her friends had started to grow suspicious of her pulling back from so many church activities. So, to appease them, she went.

Over the course of the weekend, the walls she'd so carefully constructed to keep everyone at a distance and her secret safe started to crumble. By Saturday night, she sat down with me and confessed her affair. She desperately wanted to know how I felt so full of God's love. She was now convinced it wasn't the love of another man her heart craved; it was the love of God.

Chasing love outside the will of God invites the exact opposite of love into our lives. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 is picture of God's perfect love. It is patient. It is kind. It does not envy... it is not self-seeking... it does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth... it always protects... it always perseveres. Love never fails. The things we chase in this world are opposite from God's love. False attempts at love will make us impatient, unkind, envious, self-seeking, resistant to the truth, reckless and temporary.

1 Corinthians 13 is not a description of what is inherently ours when we fall in love with another person. It is a description of God's love. This kind of love can be ours as we become more Christ-like. It is never focused inwardly. It is never about what I'm going to get from another person. It is deciding that this is the kind of love I will give away.

I am challenged by this. Because our souls were designed for God's fulfilling love, if we aren't staying closely connected to Him everyday, our hearts will start to feel empty. Restless. Unfulfilled.

Let us never get to the place where we think we are strong enough to not be tempted in this way. If we are all completely honest, we are only a few bad decisions away from the same kind of mess my sweet friend is now trying to untangle herself from. While I have complete hope in God's ability to restore her, the consequences of her chase for love will be severe on many levels.

The kind of love our souls crave will never be found in the things of this world. Lasting and perfectly satisfying love will only be found when we stop chasing the wrong kind of love and start living out the truths of God.

Dear Lord, help me rest in the security of Your love. Make me wise in how I guard my heart. May I never get lured into any kind of worldly, fake love. But if I ever start to get drawn away, God surround me with people who are bold enough to speak truth into my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa TerKeurst’s blog

Who Holds the Key To Your Heart by Lysa TerKeurst

Do You Know Him?

Application Steps:
Oh sweet friends, can we make a commitment together today? If something or somebody in this world seems appealing enough to draw our hearts away from the truth of God, let’s commit to being women who will readily admit it to another godly woman and ask for help.

Who are my friends that help hold me accountable? Who are my friends that I can foster this kind of mutual openness with?

Power Verses:
Deuteronomy 7:9, “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” (NIV)

Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

Cooked Through
Gina Parcells, She Speaks! Graduate

"Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b (NIV)

Despite the fact that I cook every night, my spiritual gift is definitely not in the kitchen.

Last night, I was running behind as I cooked burgers on the grill. I needed the meat to cook more quickly so, novice cook that I am, I figured that turning up the heat was a pretty good option. I cooked, I flipped, and I added cheese. I garnished each masterpiece with lettuce, tomato, and onion, and I waited for the compliments to rush in from my beloved family.

“Mom, why is my bun soaked?”
“Whoa, look at how gushy and red this meat is.”
My youngest tried to come to my rescue, “Well, from the outside, this burger looks amazing!”

The outside…I thought that if it looked good on the outside then surely the inside must look just as good.

As women, we can be so focused on our outward appearances that we neglect the meat of what God sees.

Each morning, we spend time applying our makeup and fixing our hair, but do we have the same resolve to prepare ourselves inwardly to face the day, every day? Maybe the shine from the lip gloss is imperative for the world, but what about the shine that God wants to develop from within?

We take time to dress in our stylish clothing and accessorize with our fashionista jewelry, but even with these condiments, we become like that burger—cooked on the outside but not yet ready on the inside. The pathetic truth is that quite often the necessity for personal grooming to look good to the world pushes aside the quiet times of grooming that would make me look better to God.

I have to wonder whether God looks at me some mornings and says, “Are you going out looking like that? Baby, you’re not ready. Why don’t you let Me help you?”

What I really need to realize is that it’s only man who looks at my outward appearance. The Lord is looking right at my heart. All the makeovers in the world will do nothing for my beauty compared with the daily heart makeovers that He wants to perform.

Next time I’m grilling burgers, I’ll be certain to leave enough time to cook them completely. And tomorrow morning, beyond the primping time, I’ll be certain to leave plenty of room for God to work as the Master Chef ensuring that I, too, am “cooked through.”

Dear Lord, show me what it means to have a heart that is wholly devoted to You, and help me to desire the inner beauty that only You can provide. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Women’s Devotional Bible

Do You Know Him?

Family Enrichment Toolkit by Michelle Weber

Application Steps:
Designate a time to intentionally meet with God each day, and commit this time to Him even if it’s only for five minutes.

As you prepare dinner for those you love, pray for your resolve to be “cooked though” for the One who loves you.

If God were to describe the condition of my heart, what might He say?

Specifically, how do I need to adjust my schedule to ensure that I have time to let God help me get ready for each day?

Power Verses:
Psalm 16:8a, “I have set the LORD always before me.” (NIV)

Psalm 143:6, “I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.” (NIV)

1 Peter 3:3-4a, “Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart.” (NASB)

Rejected Again?
Glynnis Whitwer

"This is the same Moses whom they had rejected with the words, 'Who made you ruler and judge?' He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush.” Acts 7:35 (NIV)

Rejection is never fun. Most of us avoid situations where we know we’ll be rejected, and sometimes we give up too soon. Parents, worn down by the defiance of children, give in rather than discipline in love. Friends avoid giving biblical advice when it’s rebuffed repeatedly. Many of us just stop sharing the good news of the Gospel when someone seems uninterested. We may know God asked us to do something, but trying repeatedly is just too hard when we’ve been rejected before.

There is wisdom in knowing when to press on and when to back up. Only the Holy Spirit can give us direction on what to do when we meet resistance. But many times, I wonder if fear, insecurity or exhaustion drives our decision to stop obeying God’s requests. Unless God specifically tells us to stop, we should consider our past marching orders as standing orders and face that possible rejection again.

Moses is an example of someone God called to help people who had already rejected him. In Acts, chapter 7, we read Stephen’s final sermon. It included the story of Moses, an Israelite, who was raised in the Egyptian Pharaoh’s house, full of wealth and privilege. At the age of 40, Moses visited his fellow Israelites who were enslaved by the Egyptians, and in his anger he killed one of them. When other Israelites discovered the murder, Moses fled to the wilderness for 40 years. That was when God asked Moses to return to Egypt to free His people.

Moses was an unwilling servant in the beginning, full of excuses. In Exodus, chapter 3, Moses begins the list of reasons why he shouldn’t go back to Egypt: That he was nobody, that he wouldn’t know the name of Who sent him, the Israelites wouldn’t believe him anyway, and that he wasn’t eloquent. Quite an inventory of excuses, wasn’t it? Stephen, over 1,500 years later, cuts to the heart of the matter when he said Moses was sent to the people who had rejected him.

Moses was just like you and me. I think he loved God, but he didn’t want to open himself up to criticism and rejection. And so he quickly identified the list of reasons why he couldn’t do what God had asked. But God had important plans for Moses. Moses was the one God chose to bring freedom to the Israelites. God saw value and worth in Moses, and God sees that same worth in you.

With God’s help and power, Moses returned to the Israelites and led them to freedom. Obedience wasn’t easy, but the end result brought God glory, and freedom from slavery to a million people. Sometimes God may send us back to speak truth and freedom to someone who has rejected us before. When that happens, we can trust that God sees our potential and that pressing through rejection will be worth it in the end.

Dear Lord, thank You for including stories in the Bible of people who faced rejection. Obeying Your will isn’t always easy. Thank You for being with me always, for being my courage and for working miracles every day around me. Help me not to give up too soon. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

Move Me Aside CD by Lindsay Kane

Visit Glynnis Whitwer’s blog

Application Steps:
Make a list of people who have rejected your attempts to invite them to church or talk with them about your faith. Pray over this list. Then try again with one or two of them.

Why is rejection so painful?

What are some common behavior patterns we adopt when we are afraid of rejection?

What truths can you hold on to from God’s Word that will help you deal with rejection?

Power Verses:
Galatians 1:10, “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” (NLT)

Luke 10:16, “He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me." (NIV)
Psalm 66:20, “Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!” (NIV)

© 2008 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Give Them a Chance
Lynn Cowell, She Speaks! Graduate

“For if they fall, one will lift up his companion, but woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:10 (NKJV)

Recently, I read an interview of a seventeen-year old girl that absolutely blew me away. In the interview, she talked about how badly she wanted her parents to know what was going on in her life: who she was dating, how far they had gone, how he treated her and the mean things he had said to her. She didn’t tell them, though. She was afraid; afraid of how they would react.

As a parent, this scenario crushed my heart. I want my kids to be able to tell me the hard things in life that they are struggling with. I want to be that safe place for them and for them to know that they are not alone. I want to be able to pray for my daughter, love her and hold her when she needs to cry. None of that is possible though if my child does not feel that she can be honest with me.

Honesty. That is a tough one. We expect our kids to be honest with us, yet how do we respond when they are?

The Lord has made us, as parents, to be His hands and feet to our children. Yes, we need to discipline them. We also need to be the ones to show them the Father’s love and forgiveness. We need to be the ones who love our kids when they find it hard to love themselves.

Give your kids – or any kids in your life – a chance. Let your child know that you are aware of what is going on in her culture (make sure you do!). Through non-confrontational conversation, open the doors for honesty and let them know beyond a shadow of a doubt that no matter what happens, you will be there for them.

And when they come to you, lovingly point them towards the guidance and grace offered by our Heavenly Father.

Dear Lord, Show me today how to open the doors of conversation with the children in my life so that I can be a safe place where they are heard and cared for deeply. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Related Resources:
Growing Godly Women: A Christian Woman's Guide to Mentoring Teenage Girls by Donna Greene

Pull a chair up next to your daughter to read together Living With Purpose: A Radical Revolution devotions, written just for tween and teen girls. Today’s RadRevolution devotion provides a teen’s perspective on “Give Them a Chance,” challenging daughters to give their parents a chance!

Lies Young Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Dannah Gresh

Wisdom on Getting Along with Parents by Mark Matlock

Application Steps:
Plan a time when you can get one-on-one with your child. Try a walk at the park or dinner out. See it as an investment in them. Begin to share some of your own struggles growing up and let them know you understand how hard it is in today’s culture.

Pray and ask the Lord to help you build a trusting relationship with your child where you trust them and they trust you. Ask Him to show you when is a good time to start conversations with your child … such as on the way to school, while decompressing after school, or while out for a walk.

Make yourself available to a child who does not have a parent who is attentive in her life. Ask the Lord if He would have you to start a mentoring relationship with that child.

How do I respond when my child tells me something about her culture or life that I am not comfortable with?Do I take steps to understand the current culture so that when my child shares with me I am not shocked by it? Do I pray for my child and ask the Lord for wisdom to give to her for the things she faces each day?

Power Verses:
Ecclesiastes 4:9, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.” (NKJV)

Ecclesiastes 4:12 “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (NKJV)

Psalm 51:6 “Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.” (NKJV)

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)

Your Roots are Showing
Zoe Elmore

“He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." Jeremiah 17:8 (NIV)

Okay, I admit it, I color my hair. Like millions of women, I color my dull, dingy, drab, lifeless, gray hair. Ordinarily I wouldn’t think of mentioning this, after all a southern woman never admits two things: her age, or that she colors her hair. However it’s more than obvious that my roots are showing. My appointments are always scheduled months in advance because of the overwhelming demand for my hairdresser’s time and talents; but circumstances dictated that I miss my last appointment.

While you may be thinking this is a simple, vain complaint there is a spiritual application here. As believers we each have spiritual roots and those roots feed and nourish our spiritual lives. For instance, if our spiritual roots are planted deep in God, strong and well nourished, the roots may not be seen but our lives will show forth the fruit of the spirit found in Galatians 5.22: “… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.” However, the opposite is also true. If our roots are shallow or showing, they will be too weak and frail to nourish the growth of spiritual fruit. Our lives and our witness for Christ will be dull, dingy, drab, gray and lifeless just like my hair.

Although a professional hairdresser uses her skilled hands to color my hair, her work is only temporary and I must return on a regular basis to maintain the desired results. The same thing can be said for maintaining deep roots in Christ and a fruitful life.

The benefits and power we receive from spending time with Christ can only be maintained as we commit to a regular routine of spending time with our sweet Jesus. Sadly, too often we allow circumstances to dictate our lives and we miss our daily Jesus appointment. It is in those times of neglect that our weakened roots begin to show. If you’re anything like me, living with my roots showing is not a good thing. My attitude and actions soon become unpleasant and unattractive. My focus turns to selfish desires and my witness for Christ soon turns from positive to positively ugly!

Our Jesus is in constant demand but unlike my hairdresser, we are assured He has time for us in every day. He is always available to listen and to provide exactly what we need to maintain the desired results of a spiritually fruitful life.

If we are to be strong witnesses for Christ, maintaining a life that produces the fruit of the Spirit even in difficult and stressful times, we must spend time with our “root specialist” Jesus on a regular and routine basis.

Dear Lord, thank You for always being available to me, and for the power I receive through Your Holy Spirit to live a fruitful life. Restore my desire to begin my day in quiet time with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Come Thirsty by Max Lucado

The Busy Mom's Guide to Bible Study: A 15 Minute Daily Plan by Lisa Whelchel

Visit Zoe Elmore’s blog

Application Steps:
If you are concerned about your attitude and actions, and you long to produce mature spiritual fruit, commit to returning to Jesus on a regular and routine basis.

How can you restructure your daily routine to ensure strong and fruitful spiritual roots?

Power Verses:
Hosea 14:5, “I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots.” (NIV)

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)

© 2008 by Zoe Elmore. All rights reserved.

While You Are Sleeping
Renee Swope

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

The silence startled me! I shot up in bed so I could see the neon red lights that told me it was three in the morning, time to feed the baby. Andrew hadn’t made a sound. Was something wrong? Or, could he be sleeping through the night? I wavered between panic and joy as I felt my way down the hall to the nursery and leaned over Andrew’s crib. I listened for the sweet sound of his breathing and carefully rested my hand on his tiny chest to feel the gentle rhythm of its rising and falling.

Moonlight slipped through the blinds helping me to see that he was perfectly fine. Most sane mothers would have gone back to bed. But not me, I stood there for a while watching my child sleep. The love and joy that I felt at that moment was almost overwhelming. How could I love someone so much? My heart longed just to be near this little guy who set my days in motion with his cries and smiles.

Andrew developed a routine of sleeping through the night soon after, yet I would listen for his cries hoping I would have a good excuse to check on him. While he was sleeping, I’d sneak into his room just because I wanted to be with him. Then I’d tiptoe into my older son Joshua’s room, and watch him slumber. As I looked at their faces, I’d dream of the little guys God was shaping them into. I’d whisper prayers for them to know Jesus in a personal way. I’d ask God to calm their fears, to fulfill their dreams, and to establish their steps to walk in His ways and not in the paths the world would pave for them.

There are still many nights that I sneak in to watch my children while they are sleeping, simply because I want to be with them. They aren’t doing anything to make me feel proud or happy. They may have even driven me to my wits’ end that day, but I enjoy them because they are mine. God feels the same way about you and me. He wants to be with us, even while we are sleeping!

God delights greatly in you my friend, and He is always there to quiet your heart with His love. He dances and sings over you and I bet He dreams of the woman He’s designed you to be while gently leading your heart to know Him more.

What a great reminder for days when nothing’s going right – when we feel like the whole world is against us and nobody understands what we’re going through. I hope the next time you have one of those days, you’ll imagine the love of a parent watching their child sleep and remember there’s a God who loves you even more than that!

Dear Lord, thank You for the reminder that You are always with me and that You love to watch over me, every minute of every day – even while I am sleeping! Help me to completely believe the truth about Your love towards me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
His Princess: Love Letters from Your King by Sheri Rose Shepherd

Visit Renee’s Blog for a list of Bible promises and prayers to remind you of God’s love today.

31 Days of Praise: Enjoying God in New Ways by Ruth Myers

Do You Know Jesus?

Application Steps:
Be still and believe that God is watching over you at this moment. No matter what you have done or what has been done to you, God’s love reaches down to hold you in His embrace. Bow your head and tilt your heart to listen to Him whisper, “You are precious in my sight and I love you.” Now breathe in and breathe out the reality that He hears your cries, He knows your needs, and He’s constantly by your side.

Do you ever imagine that God is watching over you, smiling and delighting in the fact that you are HIS child?

Would you like to begin a love relationship with Jesus today, accepting your secure position as God’s child? Click here to find out how you can know Him.

If you could use more daily reminders of how much God loves you, read today’s power verses, write them on an index card and carry them with you all day! Also, visit Renee’s Blog for a list of Bible promises and prayers to remind you of God’s love again and again.

Power Verses:
Psalm 34:15, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry.” (NIV)

Psalm 139:1-3, “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.” (NIV)

Psalm 33:18, “But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

Puddle Dancing
Marybeth Whalen

“But our fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.” Acts 7:39 (NIV)

We’d not had rain in many, many days. I don’t know how large of an area this drought has affected in the US, but I know it has been much larger than my immediate area. I’ve heard on the radio that the drought was the worst we had seen in 100 years. So, that gives you an idea of how serious it had been.

As day after day of record heat combined with no rain waged on last summer, I caught myself scanning the skies for a stray cloud or any sign that rain was coming. I heard that Atlanta, GA was about 60 days from being out of water. Even closer to my home, Monroe, NC was about 110 days from being out of water. We don't think about it often, but can you imagine life without water? In short, things were getting desperate.

I was happy when the rain finally came. I rejoiced in it. I thanked God for it. I even prayed that it would keep on raining. I had hope that this rain would begin to replenish our 14 inches of water-level deficit. Come on, rain, I thought. As I loaded children and bags of groceries in the car, I tried not to be grumpy about the rain. I tried to smile even as my hair was getting wet; even as my son was splashing in puddles, soaking his shoes. Every time I felt myself getting grumpy and wishing it would stop raining, I focused instead on how much we needed the rain – and how this rain was an answer to prayer. And yet, I must confess that after it went on for a while, I was anxious for the rain to go away and dry weather to return. Even though I knew that God was giving us what we needed most, I started looking backwards.

And then God gave me a vision of how much I was like the Israelites as they wandered in the desert. The scripture tells us that oppressive Egypt was starting to look good to them again. They had prayed for deliverance from slavery and God had provided it. He had answered their prayers and given them what they needed. Yet as day after day of walking and wandering began to take its toll, they started to forget God's goodness and concentrate on their circumstances instead. Oh, to be back in Egypt, they thought.

How often do we do this? We ask for deliverance from something, we are thankful for the deliverance, but then as we walk through the hard parts of actually being delivered, the flesh begins to cry out in opposition. We start drifting backwards in our spirits to that place that was familiar, instead of walking obediently towards where God wants to take us.

I know this has been true with our family’s finances. We prayed for deliverance from debt and God began to show us a way out. Yet as we have walked through what it has taken to be debt-free, I have often caught myself looking back at when I used to charge things freely, with no thought as to how we would pay for it. Oh, how nice that was to just be able to go buy something without having to scrounge and save, I find myself thinking.

I don't want to look backwards or give into the comforts my flesh craves. I want to push forward, straining for the prize God has for me. I want to seek Him with all my heart – no matter where that takes me. I want to live in that sometimes uncomfortable place of walking in total obedience. When the rain comes pouring down, I want to choose to dance in the puddles instead of longing for the shelter of past sunny days.

Dear Lord, I want to focus on Your plan and not my comfort level when things get hard. I want to live a life that seeks You instead of a life spent looking backwards. Help me to thank You in all circumstances and to trust completely in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society by Eugene Peterson

A Thankful Heart: How Gratitude Brings Hope and Healing to our Lives by Carole Lewis

Visit Marybeth’s blog for more encouragement to dance in the rain!

Application Steps:
Spend some time today praying for God to show you where your attitudes and actions have been more “backward thinking” than “forward thinking.” Write down anything God shows you as a result, and any verses of scripture you might need to cling to as you walk forward with Him.

Have you been looking backwards lately?

Is there somewhere God is taking you right now that feels uncomfortable, yet necessary?

Power Verses:
Philippians 3:13-14, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

Luke 9:62, “Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” (NIV)

Numbers 11:18-20, “Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, ‘If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!’ Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and you have wailed before him, saying, ‘Why did we ever leave Egypt?’’” (NIV)

© 2008 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

Until the Whistle Blows
Glynnis Whitwer

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Luke 18:1 (NIV)

My oldest son Josh played offensive line on his football team when he was younger. Solid and strong, Josh’s job on the line was to hold the opponents’ defensive line back long enough for the quarterback to do his job. The offensive line isn’t the most glamorous job on the field, but when they don’t do their job well, everyone is quick to see the results. Normally, these steadfast players hold firm, protecting their guy.

Sitting at the practices night after night, I noticed a common issue among the novice players on the field. They often stopped blocking too soon. Shouts of, “Block ‘til the whistle blows!” filled the sweaty September nights, and time and again the tired players lined back up and tried again.

The boys knew what they were supposed to do, but they often gave up when they thought the play was over. Sometimes they gave up because holding back a powerful defensive player was tiring. Unfortunately, the play wasn’t over until the coach or referee blew the whistle. Until that whistle blew, anything could happen.

The parallel to our prayer lives is astounding. Too often, I have given up praying about a concern, believing the play to be over. Perhaps I think God answered “no” when I don’t see an answer in my timeline. Sometimes I see things with human eyes, and give up too soon. I wonder how many times we’ve stopped praying just shy of experiencing healing, freedom from addiction, or the salvation of someone we love. I’m thankful my family and I never stopped praying about my dad’s salvation. He came to Christ two weeks before he died.

Just as my son learned to block until the whistle blows, may we be encouraged to pray until the trumpet blows, revealing that Jesus has returned to earth. In other words – never give up!

Heavenly Father, I praise You for Your power and majesty. There is nothing in the universe that is too big for You to handle. Help me to remember that You want to hear my prayers, and You delight in answering them when it brings glory to Your name. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Glynnis Whitwer’s blog to read the touching story of her father coming to know Christ.

Intimacy with God: Your Daily Guide to Prayer by Tara Furman

31 Days of Prayer: Moving God's Mighty Hand by Ruth Myers

Do You Know Him?

Application Steps:
Identify one situation in your life that seems hopeless. Commit to praying for this concern for the next 30 days.

Is there any situation you consistently neglect to pray about?

In some respects, a person who prays for another is like the offensive lineman protecting his quarterback. Is there someone you should be praying for right now? Identify that person and pray.

Do you think your relationship with God affects how He answers your prayers? Explain.

Power Verses:
1 Thessalonians 4:16, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” (NIV)

Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (NIV)

John 14:12, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

A Harvest of Fruit
Susanne Scheppmann

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law,” Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

Autumn harvests laden our table with fresh fruits and vegetables. We decorate our homes with a hollow, horn-shaped wicker basket called a cornucopia, or the “Horn of Plenty.” Apples, oranges, bright gourds, and multi-colored Indian corn spill from the basket as reminders of the abundance of God’s blessings in our lives.

The apostle Paul speaks of another kind of fruit – the fruit of the Spirit. He writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).” We do not need to worry about over indulging this type of fruit. God desires us to be so full that we absolutely overflow with His Spirit.

However, in order to harvest the fruit of Spirit we must sow it in our lives. Galatians 5:25 gives us a tip on how to begin to reap this crop, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” As a farmer labors to produce his crop, so we must work hard, too. When we allow the Holy Spirit to fill our lives, we choose to react in a godly manner when people annoy us and circumstances move beyond our control. We must determine to keep in step with and surrender to the Holy Spirit rather than allow our human nature to overtake us. Think about the following circumstances in which we could allow the Spirit to take control of our attitudes and emotions:

· A fight with our husband
· Parenting teens
· Neighbors who annoy us
· An unappreciative boss
· A fender-bender in a parking lot
· The dishwasher overflowing
· An uncaring doctor

What would you add to the list? Whatever creates irritability, impatience, or discontent could be added. Of course, the key to any type of adversity is to remember the words of Jesus, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7, NASB).” The Helper is the Holy Spirit. He will help us produce the fruit of the Spirit if we allow it. With the Spirit’s help, we can obtain an overflowing abundance of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and of course, self-control.

Will you join me in a harvesting the fruit of the Spirit this autumn?

Dear Lord, teach me to walk in Your Spirit. I want to harvest all the aspects of Your Spirit. Infuse me with Your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When I find myself in adverse circumstances, remind me to keep in step with Your Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Birds in My Mustard Tree: For Those Who Struggle with Faith by Susanne Scheppmann

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

Visit Susanne’s blog for more encouragement.

Application Steps:
Place a cornucopia on your kitchen table during this harvest season as a reminder to yourself to pursue the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Allow yourself to overflow with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and, self-control. Make a mental note to keep in step with the Spirit throughout your day.

Which traits of the fruit of the Spirit do I need the most?

Am I willing to pay the cost to obtain a harvest of righteousness?

In what circumstances do I need to call on the Holy Spirit as my Helper?

Power Verses:
Galatians 5:25, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (NIV)

John 16:7, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” (NASB)

Ephesians 5:8-10, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.” (NIV)

Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Setback or Cutback?
by Micca Monda Campbell

“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that is will be even more fruitful.” John 15:2 (NIV)

My eldest son is a born leader. That’s a nice way of saying he’s strong-willed. I’ve often heard Dr. James Dobson, President of Focus on the Family, describe determined, strong-willed children this way: “They come into the world smoking a cigar and asking to speak to the administrator of the hospital to complain about the temperature of their room.”

That’s a good definition of my son. For example, in Jr. High, Mitch struggled in his relationship with his basketball coach. Why? Because he didn’t think he was a good coach. While Mitch never said so, his attitude reflected this mind-set, which in turn affected his game. The coach ultimately benched him, and his attitude. Devastated, Mitch couldn’t understand why the coach would bench one of his starting players.

We’ve all been there. You and I have experienced “setbacks” in our jobs, relationships, and even in ministry. These setbacks cause us to wonder, “What’s going on? Why is this happening?” If we’re like my son, you and I may not always see what God is doing behind the scenes. That’s where our key verse comes in.

God is more interested in our character than our comfort. He desires that we produce more spiritual fruit. Therefore, He’s always at work pruning the areas of our lives that don’t match His plans. So, when God allows our world to be turned upside down, we are not experiencing a “setback” but rather a “cutback.” In God’s economy, a cutback can be a good thing because it makes room for more good stuff to come.

However, sometimes the pruning process can feel like it’s going to kill us. I remember one fall when I was pruning my rose bush. My daughter, who loves flowers, was distraught when she saw what I had done to the bush.

“Why did you kill it?” she asked with horror in her voice. I reassured her that I didn’t kill the bush. I only cut it back so that next year it would produce larger and more beautiful roses.

Though it may feel like it at times, I assure you that God is not trying to kill us either. The Lord cuts us back in order to produce more—more Christ-like fruit in our words, attitudes, and deeds.

Eventually, Mitch apologized to his coach for his attitude and for not performing up to his potential. Ah, a new bud of humility was beginning to sprout! That’s the positive effect of pruning. It stimulates the growth of good fruit. So take a look at your life and see where God may be pruning. Then get ready to produce some fresh fruit.

Dear Lord, at times, Your pruning may be painful, but I will trust You. Help me to see from Your perspective that it’s not a setback, but a cutback that can help me grow in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Micca Campbell’s blog for more encouragement.

God is Not Through with Me Yet: Holding on to the One Who Holds You Close by Thelma Wells

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

Application Steps:
If you’re experiencing a cutback, ask God what He is trying to produce in you? Is it the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22)? Allow God to work, and watch how fruitful you become.

What do you think God is trying to produce through your cutback?

Have you experienced pruning in this area of your life before? If so, why do you think God is pruning you again?

Power Verses:
Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” (NIV)

Matthew 7:20, “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

The View from the Top
Whitney Capps

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)

I'm no thrill seeker. It's rare that my heart rate rises above the normal level. The last time I felt the white-knuckled exhilaration of terror, I was harnessed to the top of a 40-foot pole being steadied by our group's guide for a team-building activity. I had shimmied up this pole, hoisting my weight from step to step, until only one step remained between me and success.
What is success in this scenario? I'm glad you asked. We were challenged to climb the pole, reach the top and in our final step, pull both feet to the top of this pole and stand there swaying in the breeze, taking in the view.

At this point in my climb, I was in a precarious position. My final push would be to stand up on the leg positioned at the top of the pole, and shift my weight to that leg, thereby standing erect on a one foot platform 40 feet in the air. No problem, right?

Here's the inner dialogue I was having: "I don't really have to go all the way. I’m exhausted and cramping. This is good enough for me. So you stand at the top of the pole. Is twelve more inches of height really going to change my perspective?"

A voice interrupted my thoughts. My husband Chad who had successfully completed this exercise was yelling to me, "You can do this. I want you to go all the way. I've been there. Don't look down, and don't give up. He's got you if you fall. It's totally worth it."

So, with every ounce of energy left in me I pushed up and ... fell. I didn't stand atop that pole, but I gave it my all.

The exercise that day was a picture of my relationship with God. Somewhere near the top of my journey, just shy of full-on devotion, I stopped. I had little spiritual stamina. I realized that the emotion that helped me start my journey would never be enough to finish the exercise. It would take a level of devotion I wasn't sure I had.

Then I heard a voice saying, "You can do this. I want you to do this. He's got you if you fall. I've been there. Don't look down, and don't give up. It's totally worth it." It was the voice of my Savior.

Friend, Jesus is calling out to you with the same message of encouragement. No matter where you are on the pole or why you want to quit, don't give up. Keep taking the next step. Jesus reminds us that God is more than able to catch us when we fall. He alone can attest that the view from a position of total devotion "is totally worth it."

I'm not disappointed that I fell in the last second. I'm glad that I didn't believe the lie that "close was close enough." The difference between emotion and devotion may only be a few inches, but the view is dramatically different. Emotion can get you near the top, but that’s about it. Only devotion lets you experience a view so grand it takes your breath away. I caught a glimpse of it before I fell. It was well worth the effort.

Dear Lord, help me remember that in my moments of desperation and fear, You are in control. Help me fight the temptation to worry or doubt Your provision. Grant me the peace to accept Your will, and to believe Your promises to protect and provide for me and my family. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

The Confident Woman: Knowing Who You are in Christ by Anabel Gilham

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

Visit Whitney Capps’s blog

Application Steps:
Begin yourself, as well as helping your children, to act not just on emotions or feelings, but with a will that desires to do what is right even if it doesn’t feel good at the moment.

Do you find that you make decisions, pray for needs, or deal with relationships, based on emotion or on a clear direction from the Word of God?

Have you faced trials or opportunities for maturity with perseverance, or did you settle for less than God’s perfect plan?

Power Verses:
Hebrews 12:1, “Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Whitney Capps. All rights reserved.

Gut-Honest Prayers
by Rachel Olsen

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

Have you ever grown frustrated with God over situations in your life? Have you gone to Him and poured out those feelings in prayer?

If so, you’ll be able to relate to the prophet Habakkuk, who lived roughly 600 years before Christ. His book of the Bible begins with this complaint: “How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save me. Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong?” (Hab.1:2-3, NIV).

God answered Habakkuk by telling him to be patient and to watch, that He will do amazing things and usher in justice – but only in His timing.

Passionate, honest, gut-level prayers have been recorded through out the Bible. Habakkuk wasn’t the only one to complain. Moses, Gideon, and Elijah all questioned God. Job even cursed the day God made him and said, “I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.” (Job 10:1, NIV).

In his anguish, Job accused God of afflicting people for no reason (Job 9:17), overwhelming them with misery (Job 9:18), and not caring about injustice (Job 9:22, 24). Job even wondered if maybe God was laughing at the pain of the innocent (Job 9:22). None of these accusations are accurate – far from it – but we can sometimes feel that way in times of severe suffering or testing. God knows our deepest thoughts and feelings, so it’s futile to think we can hide them from Him. Better to come clean with how we really feel, get it off our chest in prayer, and hopefully clear the way to hear and receive God’s reply or comfort.

I’ve complained to God in the past for allowing my loved ones to die or fall deep into sin, for allowing valuable things to be stolen from me, for allowing my reputation to be unfairly tarnished, for allowing physical suffering in my body, or for not allowing what I felt I deserved. My goal is to be a woman of faith who can take such things in stride with Him. But when I’m losing that stride, I’ve found the best thing I can do is honestly take these feelings to God where they can be traded for His perspective and His comforting assurance.

Though God does not always change my circumstances the way I want Him to, He can and does change my perspective on those circumstances – enabling me to endure them.

God listens when we complain about injustice. He understands when we feel shortchanged or opposed. Read through the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and you’ll be reminded of just how much Jesus can relate to undeserved opposition!

Be honest before God in prayer today. While maintaining a holy respect for Him and thanksgiving for His saving grace, pour out the good, the bad and the ugly of your feelings. As Habakkuk, Job and others discovered, God can handle our intense emotions and questions. He may not explains Himself fully to us – perhaps because we can’t fully understand – but He will flood us with His love when we come humbly and honestly before Him and pour out our heart.

Dear Lord, it is often hard for me to deal graciously with the difficult situations in my life. Help me to see them through Your eyes. Help me to endure, with grace, all that You allow into my life. Fill me with Your peace and love today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
The Character of God: Understanding His Heart for Us by Glynnis Whitwer

Do You Know Him?

Visit Rachel Olsen’s blog today and feel free to share your prayer request there.

Application Steps:
Read through one of the New Testament gospel books that records Jesus’ life, noticing all the times and ways that He was opposed, or let down by those around Him. Notice also how He responded.

Are you angry with God over what He’s allowed to happen to you, or a loved one?

Have you taken those feelings to Him honestly in prayer and asked for His perspective and comfort?

Are you willing to settle for the comfort of God in your situation, or are you only interested in having God change your situation to suit you?

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (NIV)

Psalm 86:6, “Listen closely to my prayer, O LORD; hear my urgent cry.” (NLT)

© 2008 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

Is Jesus Enough?
by Lysa TerKeurst

“That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12 (NIV)

I stopped in my tracks the other day as I was mindlessly singing a beautiful praise song. I say mindlessly not because I wasn't focusing on God. I was definitely lifting up my heart to Him. But the mindlessly part came when I realized I had no clue of the weight of the words in this song. Did I really mean what I was singing? The song said this to Jesus: "You're all I want. You're all I ever needed."

Really? Did I really mean those words? Is my Jesus enough? Ultimately the question should be: Is my relationship with Jesus in such a place that if He was truly all I had today, would I still stand and sing those powerful song lyrics?

The economy is shaky, funds are tight, prices at the gas pumps and grocery store keep rising. Am I going to let my heart be drawn into a place of worry and fear over all this instability? Or will I quiet my soul and calmly proclaim, “Jesus is my Provider and He is enough.”

Today my son Jackson, who just got his driver's license, will be driving to a friend's house to watch the football game. His friend lives less than five miles from our house. But statistics show that most car accidents happen on the roads we are most familiar with, those closest to our homes. Will I be able to smile, tell him to be careful and let him drive down our driveway with full confidence that no matter what, Jesus is enough?

I don't know what kinds of twists and turns might come during my life journey. But, I know the only way to travel with a joyful peace is to settle in my heart the answer to this question once and for all. So, today, I declare Jesus is enough. Before I even know in what way this declaration will be tested, I've made the decision to say it, believe it and settle it.

Jesus is enough.

I think this is why Proverbs 31 is my favorite portrait of a godly woman. Proverbs 31:25 reminds us, "she can laugh at the days to come.”

She was filled with such incredible joy not because life was perfect but simply because she had decided to make laughter, peace, and truth the hallmarks of her life. Proverbs 31:30 goes on to say this was a woman to be praised because she so reverenced God in the shrine of her heart. She knew without a doubt, He was - and still is - enough.

Dear Lord, Thank You that in this world we don’t have to live consumed with fear of the unknown. For You know all things. Nothing will happen to us that does not first pass through Your hands. May I find peace in Your love, which is so consuming for us that You only have our best interests in mind. Help us to believe and trust in that truth no matter what. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa’s Blog today for a list of reassuring Scriptures about God’s love.

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Do You Know Him?

Application Steps:
The next time you start to fret over the “what if” questions, verbalize that Jesus is enough no matter what. Write down the power verses below and keep them in your purse until you’ve memorized them. Being able to have access to God’s truth will guard your heart and your mind.

Have you ever thought about whether or not Jesus is enough in your life?

What are some ways to put this devotional thought into practice in your life today?

How would your relationships improve if you had this kind of peace?

Power Verses:
Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…” (NIV)

Isaiah 54:10, “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” (NIV)

2 Timothy 1:12, “That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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