God's Provision – Part 1
Lysa TerKeurst

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God who richly provides us with everything ..." 1 Timothy 6:17 (NIV)

It seems you can hardly turn anywhere today without seeing reminders of economic hardships. A couple weeks ago the news reported we are experiencing the highest unemployment rate our country has seen in 60 years. Friends and family members are suffering due to the loss of jobs, investments gone bad, and cutbacks that seem to be everywhere.

I have a friend who has owned a thriving car dealership for over 30 years. This man and his family have been pillars in their community who are known for their generosity and kind Christian spirits.

This week he declared bankruptcy and has literally lost everything - including their cars. If that isn't cruel irony, I don't know what is.

So, I've had to have some discussions with God about the absolute heartbreak of this situation. I know God is the great provider, so why isn't He providing for my friend? God is a miracle worker, so why isn't He working a miracle for my friend?

These are fair questions about what seems like a terribly unfair situation.

Whenever I face situations I am having a hard time understanding, I have to park my mind with what I know to be true. Keeping my mind saturated with truth keeps Satan from being able to whisper dangerous assumptions, false accusations, and faith-eroding perspectives.

So, what is true in this situation? What is true no matter what situation we are facing?

God is a good provider.

This is true. This is where I must park my mind. This is the reality that must saturate my thoughts. This truth rises above our troubling circumstances and calls us to see life from a perspective outside our screaming realities.

God richly provides us with everything we need. Therefore I must trust that God is providing for my friend. What is in front of my friend is God's provision. God hasn't stopped providing just because my friend is in financial turmoil. This situation hasn't caught God off guard. God hasn't somehow run out of resources to help my friend.

Part of God's perfect provision for my friend is to walk through this. I may not like it. I may not understand it. But, because my friend knows and loves God, I have peace that he will make it through this.

The Bible tells us in Philippians 4:8-9 that if we think on what is true, the peace of God will be with us. And ultimately, isn't peace what we want? That's what I really want for my friend. I want this precious man and his family to have peace more than I want their dealership to be saved, their finances restored, and their old life to suddenly come back and settle into place.
Praise God, His peace is but an utterance of truth away. So, sweet sister, park your mind with His truth today. And watch God's perfect provision of peace flood whatever dry and lacking ache you are experiencing right now.

Dear Lord, thank You for being my provider each day. Help me not to fear these times of hardship. Rather, help me to trust in You and Your ways more each day. My desire is to focus on what is true and believe that You will make the rough places smooth. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

For a list of encouraging verses about God’s provision, visit Lysa’s blog

Application Steps:
Every time a discouraging thought comes into your mind today:

▪Replace it with a verse from God's Word.

▪Replace it with the truth that God is a good provider and that His unfailing love for you will not be shaken.

▪Replace it by seeking Him and calling on Him for He is always near.

How can God's peace restore your faith today?

How can God's provision restore your situation today?

Power Verses:
Psalm 84:1-2, "How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God." (NIV)

Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." (NIV)

© 2009 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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Slow It Down
T. Suzanne Eller

"God called the light day and the darkness he called night. And there was evening and there was morning." Genesis 1:5 (NIV)

I was reading my Bible one day and noticed a huge mistake in Scripture. Everyone knows that morning comes first, and then evening follows. Right? But there it was in black and white. Genesis 1:5 reads, "and there was evening, and there was morning."

Of course, it was no mistake. Somehow, God started with evening – a time of rest – and a day's productivity came out of that.

We live in a culture where rest is often viewed in a negative light. When we work, we work hard. When we play, we play hard. We know how to fill our time with e-mail, activities, carpooling, cleaning, aerobics, and our to-do list. Our focus is work all da, and then eventually rest.

Seventeen years ago, at the ripe age of 32, I found out I had cancer. I mentioned to the doctor that I didn't have time for cancer, but cancer didn't consult my schedule. My life changed as I put aside a lot of things I once thought were absolutely vital while going through chemo, surgery, and radiation. Funny, but one thing that came out of that difficult time was a new list of priorities. The first? To balance my life.

I learned how to climb between the sheets and put aside my worries. To rest my body and my mind. To slow down when life becomes crazy and weigh what is important, and what is not. I began to see evening as the first part of my day. From rest, sprang morning.

It's a concept that changed my life. Not just physically, but also spiritually. Recently I had two speaking events sandwiched together. As the date approached, my time with my Heavenly Father became "evening." Of course I prepared, but spiritual time came first all week. Once I arrived in the city where I was to speak, I closed the door of my hotel room and listened to the heart of my Father instead of going over my notes. And out of that rest, sprang fruitful ministry. I was refreshed and filled by His presence, instead of my efforts.

How often do we run out of steam because we are out of balance? I wish that I could say that I became forever balanced. But I'm not. There are times that I have to slow it down and reconsider my priorities all over again. And if physical rest or spiritual rest has been pushed to last place, I have to put it all on the table and let God help me sort through it so I can put "evening" back where it belongs.

Dear Jesus, when I push You to last place, I miss out on hearing Your voice. When I keep going until I drop, I get all tangled up in my to-do list. I know that life is busy, but help me to discern between what is important, and what is not. Reorganize my life, and reveal true rest that only comes from You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
10 Minutes a Day with Jesus: Growing in Your Love for the Savior by Jim Reapsome

For more in-depth articles, check out our monthly P31 Woman Magazine

Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity byKerri Wyatt Kent

Visit Suzie’s blog where she shares tips from author, Kerri Wyatt Kent on creating a Sabbath rest for your family

Application Steps:
Write down all the to-do's that consume your time. Are there any that aren't absolutely necessary?

Pray for direction. Do you need to say "no" to one or two so that you can say "yes" to a more restful family and a more rested you?

As women, we often take care of the needs of our children, our community, our church, our spouses, our jobs, our homes, and we leave ourselves out of the nurturing process. What is one thing you can do today to nurture yourself physically or spiritually?

Power Verses:
Mark 6:30-31, "The followers of Jesus came back to Him. They told Jesus all they had done and taught. He said to them, 'Come away from the people. Be by yourselves and rest.' There were many people coming and going. They had had no time even to eat." (NLB)

© 2009 by T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.

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Divine Prayers
Susanne Scheppmann

"So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11 (NIV)

I lifted myself from my knees and wiped the tears of frustration from my eyes. Once again, I felt like my prayers had bounced off the ceiling and rolled into a dusty corner, unheard by God.

Since my children were babies, I have prayed for them. The prayers continued through their elementary school years. All during those years, I felt peace and confidence flow throughout my soul—God would be with my children. Of course, I "helped" Him with my wise mothering and daily prayers.

However, adolescence struck my family. Three teenagers infiltrated the serenity of motherhood. Suddenly, my children didn't listen to my wisdom. I couldn't protect them from outside influences any longer. All I could do was watch them spread their wings of independence and fly out of the cocoon of our home. Their eyes rolled at my advice. Their mouths wagged words at me. Their faith fluctuated.

I responded with fear and a feeling of failure that haunted my prayers. My words were cumbersome. My own faith faltered as I watched each of my children struggle with different issues in their lives. I asked myself, "What can I say to God to make a difference during these tumultuous years?" Discouragement dogged my prayer life.

However, God didn't want me to give up. He brought a friend who had been through a similar experience in her prayer life and had learned to pray Scripture for her children. She taught me how to choose a verse from the Bible that would fit my troubled teen's situation and apply it in prayer. My friend practiced with me praying the verse aloud and inserting my child's name to personalize it.

Within days, I felt my prayers begin to soar again. I no longer felt defeated, but knew I was praying divine prayers. Divine prayers that arose to the throne of God because of the promise, "So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11, NIV). As a mother, I no longer held the ability to control everything in my children's lives, but I could pray with God's power.

Thankfully, those turbulent teen years eventually passed. My children are now adults and I still pray for them using Bible verses, because His Word is purposeful and achieves its purpose. God's Word makes divine prayers.

Dear Lord, as I pray for my child, remind me to pray Your Word. Give me verses that will apply to my child and our situation. Increase my faith in believing that Your Word will achieve the purpose for which it is sent. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Divine Prayers for Despairing Parents: Words to Pray When You Don't Know What to Say by Susanne Scheppmann

For Parents Only: Getting inside the Head of Your Kid by Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa A. Rice

Join us for more Everyday Life encouragement

Visit Susanne’s blog for more encouragement!

Application Steps:
Search through your Bible concordance to find Scriptures that apply to your child and your situation. Find them in your Bible and highlight each one. Write them on index cards. Begin to pray these verses inserting your child's name. For example, "For God so loved your child's name that he gave his one and only Son" (John 3:16, NIV).

Have I given up praying for my child?

Why will praying Scripture increase my faith?

Do I believe in the divine power of God's Word?

Power Verses:
Psalms 119:89, "Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens." (NIV)

Psalms 119:105, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." (NIV)

Psalms 119:140, "Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them." (NIV)

© 2009 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

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God's Masterpiece...Who Me?
Melissa Taylor

"For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

You've got to be kidding me? If I didn't see it for myself in God's Word, I wouldn't believe it. Ephesians 2:10 says "…we are God's masterpiece."

Wait a minute, this cannot be right. I don't feel like a masterpiece. I certainly don't look like a masterpiece. But God's Word says that I am a masterpiece. And not just anyone's masterpiece; I am God's masterpiece.

According to Merriam-Webster's online thesaurus, synonyms of masterpiece are: showpiece, blockbuster, success, gem, jewel, prize, treasure, and piece of the master. Insert any of these words into today's verse in place of masterpiece.

Doesn't it just take your breath away to know that there is Someone that feels this way about you?

God loves what He created, so shouldn't we too? I struggle not to get down on myself. Often I focus on what I do wrong more than what I do right. I look in the mirror, compare myself to someone else and I just feel blah. That's right, blah. I wonder, "What's special about me?"
It is very hard for me to believe that I am God's masterpiece. Do you have thoughts like these? If so, stop right there! Don't let those lies penetrate any deeper. That's not what our Creator thinks.

When I listen to the Truth, which is His Word, not my thoughts, then I hear Him saying things like, "Oh Melissa, you don't always get it right, that's true, but I love you so much. Look in My mirror and see what I see, My beautiful creation, My treasure, My masterpiece.
The sooner you see yourself for who you really are, the sooner you can take your reign as My priceless princess with a purpose - My masterpiece. You were created in My image and you are indeed a piece of the Master."

Dear Lord, thank You for creating me in Your image and calling me Your masterpiece. Please help me to live like the one You created me to be. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Listen to Today’s Radio Show for more on the Father’s love

The Wonder of His Love: A Journey into the Heart of God by Nancy Stafford

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

Visit Melissa's blog

Application Steps:
Take note of the way you think about yourself today. If you notice a lot of negative thoughts occupying your mind, intentionally choose to think about what God says about you. Remind yourself that you are a masterpiece of our almighty God.

Do I believe that I am God's masterpiece?

How do I view true beauty?

What can I do to remind others and myself that we are true treasures of God?

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 1:21-22, "Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." (NIV)

Ephesians 1:4, "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight." (NIV)

© 2009 by Melissa Taylor. All rights reserved.

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What We Can't See
Marybeth Whalen

"'Don't be afraid,' the prophet answered. 'Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' And Elisha prayed, 'O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.'" II Kings 6:16-17a (NIV)

Have you ever asked God to help you see what He's up to in the spiritual realm?

In II Kings 6:15-17, the prophet Elisha prays for his servant to be able to see beyond his circumstances. They are surrounded by a great army and the odds look to be overwhelmingly against them. He asks God to show the servant what is taking place beyond what the eye can see. The servant's eyes are opened to a supernatural realm and he is able to see the Lord's armies gathered to fight on their behalf. Elisha knew his servant was feeling hopeless and simply needed a different perspective.

We need eyes to see just like that servant did. Make no mistake, we are fighting a war. As Christians, we must suit up every day and face another battle. We have an enemy who wants to defeat us. And some days it seems like he gets the victory. We look around at the failing economy, the fractured families, and the fast pace of our lives and feel that the odds are overwhelmingly against us. We grow weary and feel like giving up.

In those moments we need to stop worrying and pray for a new vision. We need to ask God to change our perspective so that we can look past what we can see to what He is taking care of in the unseen. We need to remember to trust Him and to ask Him to help us see His activity—no matter how overwhelmed and unworthy we may feel. God sees us and He will send help when we need it.

The odds are never stacked against us because God is waging a battle we can't see. I love that He is always fighting on our behalf, even when we don't see it—and especially when we need it the most.

Dear Lord, please help me to remember that You are fighting even when I don't see it. Help me to have a vision for what You do daily on my behalf and not grow discouraged by the battles I face. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know The One Who Fights for You?

Walk with Me Today, Lord: Inspiring Devotions for Women by Emilie Barnes

For monthly encouragement, get our P31 Woman Magazine

Visit Marybeth’s blog

Application Steps:
The next time you face something and feel overwhelmed, unworthy or discouraged about it, remember Elisha's servant and what he saw when God opened his eyes. Ask God to open your eyes when you need encouragement.

How would living life aware that God is fighting on your behalf change your outlook?

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

I John 4:4, "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (NIV)

© 2009 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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This is Love
Renee Swope

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1 John 4:10 (NIV)

I was driving my son to school one morning when out of the blue I started wondering what makes him feel loved. I assumed it was when I buy him something, or when I make his favorite food, or when I let him have a friend over. Basically, I figured he feels most loved when I give him what He wants.

I decided to ask him. "Andrew, what makes you feel loved?"

He sat there quietly, thinking. Then he blurted out a surprising answer.


"This?" I asked.

"Yeah, Mom. This. You being with me. You driving me to school and talking to me about my day. You telling me you'll be there when I get home. That makes me feel loved. Thanks, Mom. I love you, bye!" And he hopped out of the car.

This is love?

You mean I don't have to run out and buy something? Me being there for him is love? Even after I was harsh with my words yesterday prompting him to ask if I was mad about something. Still, this is love?

As I drove away, I wondered if God were to ask me what makes me feel loved, what would I say? Immediately my heart whispered, "Lord, this is love. You asking and caring. You being there. You keeping Your promises like You said You would."

This is love.

• A promise that is kept.
• A place that is certain.
• Someone who asks.
• Someone who listens.
• Someone who is present again and again.

We are loved. We don't have to wait for God to show it. He already has! He sent His Son so that we could know Him in an intimate relationship. Then promised He'd always be there for us, and He is. He is present and listening. Asking and caring. No matter what we are going through today, we can live in His love. And we can love from the overflow of being loved. We can know and rely on God's promises and presence, and be made complete in Him.

This is love.

Dear Lord, thank You that You first loved us. Remind us and embrace us and pour out on us Your perfect, completing and unfailing love today. As we think of those we love, and the ways we want to be loved, remind us that we are Yours and we are loved! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
A Love Worth Giving by Max Lucado

Click here to find out how you can share your story and win an all-expense paid trip to the The D6 Conference.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Visit Renee’s Blog today to find out how you can experience God’s love in a powerful way, and then give His love to others.

Application Steps:
Ask your child, or someone you are close to, "What makes you feel loved?" Then look for simple ways to love them in that way.

Visit Renee’s blog for a powerful way to experience God's love and show God's love to others in a way they'll never forget.

What makes you feel loved by others?

What makes you feel loved by God?

It's easy to believe God's love when He gives us what we want, but God showed His love by giving us what we need, Jesus. If you've doubted God's love, tell Him today and then take time to thank Him for His immeasurable love! And, if you'd like to know more about how God demonstrated His love through Christ, click here.

Power Verses:
1 John 4:9, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. (NIV)

1 John 4:16, "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." (NIV)

1 John 4:17-19, "God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we're free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ's. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first." (MSG)

© 2009 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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In God's Hands
Tracie Miles

"When I am afraid, I will trust in you." Psalm 56:3 (NIV)

As I aroused from sleep, my first thought was, "Uggg. It is going to be cold outside." But to be honest, my anxiety wasn't so much about the cold mountain weather, but about my teenage daughter's safety that day.

We had been planning the trip for weeks and the girls were so excited that their snowboarding day had finally arrived. The wind was cold and the snow was slippery, but the sun was shining, the mountains were beautiful, and the enthusiasm of three teenage girls outweighed their shivers. We had arranged for them to take a one-hour snowboarding lesson that morning, as this was their first time on the slopes. Once we got them bundled up in their coats, scarves and protective gear, we parted ways as they walked off with the rest of the group to begin their lesson.

Suddenly, I felt this little rush of panic come over me. It was a familiar feeling, because for the past 15 years I have mastered the art of worrying about the safety of my children. When there is even the most remote possibility one of them could be hurt, my mind floods with irrational thoughts about what could happen in the worst of circumstances.

What if she has trouble getting onto the ski lift properly, and slips and hits her head? What if she can't get off the lift quick enough at the top of the mountain, and falls off and gets hurt? What if she falls off the lift seat while hoisted five stories up in the air? What if she gets too close to the edge of the slope and falls off the side of the mountain? What if she gets separated from her friends and panics all alone? What if she breaks her arm/leg/neck? What if ...

As I said, irrational thoughts. Unwarranted panic.

Since I could not run up the ski slope after her, looking like a crazed, over-protective mother, I headed back to the lodge. There I found myself praying a simple prayer something like this: Oh, Lord, I cannot be with her today. I cannot protect her. I cannot watch after her. She will be out of my sight, at the top of a mountain, far from my reach. Only You can see her. Only You can protect her now. Please keep her safe. Instantly I felt God's reassurance, and heard Him quietly speak to my heart, "Put her in My arms Tracie. Entrust her to Me."

Although I secretly preferred to hold her in my own arms and keep her safe, just like when she was a little girl, I knew I had to entrust her fully to God – just not on the ski slope, but every day of her life. I am a mere human, but God is a sovereign and powerful God. Any physical protection I could offer her pales in comparison to the spiritual protection given from our Savior.

As each of my children grow and live, I know they will face new dangers. Peer pressure will be heavy, temptations will prowl, people will hurt their feelings, dangers may cross their path and life may be hard. Our modern culture will cause them to face challenges and decisions that I did not have to deal with as a child. My comfort must come from believing that they will be in God's hands, and that He will always be with them, no matter where they go. Not just on the top of a mountain, but every minute of every day in every circumstance.

Do you know that the word "children" appears over 450 times in the Bible? Our children matter to God, and He loves them, even more than we love them. Being a parent allows us a window to see God's amazing perspective of that love.

Dear Lord, forgive me for forgetting how much You love my children and that You are always with them. Thank You for surrounding us with Your angels. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Authentic Parenting In a Post Modern Culture by Mary E. DeMuth

Join us for more Everyday Life Encouragement

Visit Tracie’s blog

Application Steps:
Choose to entrust your family to Christ today.

Do I allow doubts and fears for my children's safety to take precedence over my belief in God's protection of them?

Am I worrying about things that I have no control over, or trusting God to protect my children in the way that He knows is best?

Power Verses:
Psalm 91:11, "For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go." (NLT)

© 2009 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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Don't Dance Around a Cactus
Glynnis Whitwer

"You have heard that our ancestors were told, 'You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.' But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment!" Matthew 5:21-22b (NLT)

We were all straining to see over the heads of other cheering bystanders at the start of the race. My husband and middle son were among those waiting to start the half-marathon, and the rest of the family sought a glimpse as they took their first steps across the starting line. Being tall, I managed to find a place where I could see, and tucked a child in front of me. My youngest daughter found a landscaping rock just a few steps back and planted herself on top of that.

As I took turns looking at her and then back at the starting line, I realized she had turned the rock into a dancing stage. Completely oblivious to the race, she now took little jumps and turns on the rock. I wasn't worried about her falling off, because the rock was only six inches high. But I was worried about the Saguaro cactus next to the rock. In fact, she had noticed it too, and stopped dancing long enough to try and touch the cactus. I called her name and told her not to touch the cactus. She began to watch the race.

By that time, the starting gun had sounded and hundreds of racers crossed in front of me. My attention was focused on finding my husband and son, and I caught a glimpse of them as they passed by. Before I could turn around, I felt a tug on my sleeve and looked down to find my daughter holding out a hand with a few cactus spines sticking out of it.

Thankfully, I removed them easily. But instead of letting the matter go, I just had to ask what happened. I said, "Why did you touch the cactus after I told you not to?"

"I didn't touch the cactus," she answered. "I was just dancing." Her answer made me think about the times I had danced around something dangerous, confident in my safety because I wasn't "touching" it. In reality, there is injury that can happen even when I'm not taking the wrong action. I've caught my mind wandering to a wrong place many times, and sometimes even settling on those wrong thoughts. Even though I may not commit the deed, in Jesus' words, I've done wrong.

Matthew 5 contains what I think is some of the hardest teaching in the Bible. Jesus is calling His disciples to a higher level of obedience, one that holds us accountable for our thoughts. In verse 22, when Jesus says we face judgment for being angry, I'm convicted. I know Jesus is talking about anger that wishes another harm. Based on His teaching in Matthew 5, He's saying I'm just as guilty as if I had committed murder when I have those thoughts. I can apply that lesson to other areas of my life too.

The reality for me is I can't "dance" around sinful deeds, thinking I'm safe because I haven't acted on them. Jesus is calling me to stay far away from sin … in my actions and in my thoughts. If I dance around a cactus long enough, I will eventually get stuck. And if I dance with sin long enough in my mind, I'll get stuck too. And while forgiveness and healing is available through Christ, that kind of stuck leaves scars I don't want.

Dear Lord, thank You for giving us warnings about sin. I sometimes think I have no control over my mind. But I know that's not true. You have offered me help to take thoughts captive. Please reveal those areas in my thought life that need to change. I want to bring honor and glory to You in all areas of my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Women’s Devotional Bible (NIV)

What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

Consider joining or forming a Gather & Grow Group for accountability

Visit Glynnis’s blog

Application Steps:
Is there an area of your life where you have been dancing around sin? Identify one area that might be a danger point and confess it in prayer. Then commit to tell someone about it for ongoing accountability.

What are some practices you can implement into your life to keep your thought life pure?

Read 2 Corinthians 10:1-5. What hope and help do we have against the pull of the world?

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 10:5, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (NIV)

Matthew 12:25, "Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, 'Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.'" (NIV)

© 2009 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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God Sees You
T. Suzanne Eller

"And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows." Matthew 10:30-31 (NIV)

Recently Darrin came up to me in the hallway at church. "Ten years!" he said, grabbing me and crushing me in a bear hug.

Wow. Ten years. It doesn't seem possible. You see, ten years ago Darrin was 21 when he tried to take his life. Someone found him and called for help. The doctors said he's fortunate he didn't die, but for a long time after the attempt Darrin felt anything but lucky. It was hard for me to understand his perspective, but the fact that his suicide attempt didn't work was one more "failure" in this broken young man's mind.

Darrin left the hospital and came to live with our family for the next two years. We had a front row seat as we watched God perform a miracle. It wasn't easy, but Darrin began a journey to wholeness. He started to understand what it meant to be a child of God. He discovered who he was, separate from his past, separate from what people thought or spoke about him.

Today Darrin is a licensed pastor. He is married to a beautiful woman named Sarah. He is a father to three young children, and he loves and delights in each of them. His oldest daughter is named Abi, after Abba – Heavenly Father – a reminder that she is one of many gifts from God.

Darrin is healed in every way, but he has not forgotten where he once was and that's why he allows me to share his story today. It's also why he shares it one-on-one with others who find themselves in a similar place. This type of anniversary might be one that some would want to forget, but Darrin sees it as a day to celebrate life and second chances. His story offers a powerful message: that when others have given up on you, or maybe you've even given up on yourself, there is still hope.

For some, like Darrin, depression wraps around life choices. You may experience a chemical imbalance. Or, feelings of hopelessness might result from emotional or physical exhaustion. While it can take time to pinpoint the root cause, it's vital that you know from this moment on that God sees you. He loves you and He cares. He's a God of hope and healing. So today I pray that you will feel His arms reaching for you, just like he did my friend Darrin.

Dear Lord, I believe that today a woman is reading this who believes she has been forgotten. I thank you that You will wrap Your love around her and remind her that You are with her. May she know You see her, and that she is precious and valuable in Your sight. Give her hope, wisdom, peace and renewed joy, beginning today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Listen to our Radio Show for more encouragement about the Father’s love

Hope in the Midst of Depression: How to Embrace Life Again by Mary Southerland

Defeating Depression: Real Hope for Life-Changing Wholeness by Leslie Vernick

Go to Suzie’s blog to read an interview with Darrin

Application Steps:
We need to differentiate between a bad day or a series of bad days and depression. Dr. Leslie Vernick has created a test you can take called How Do I Know If I’m Depressed? to help discern the difference. Please seek professional help if you have three or more symptoms of depression.

When someone we care about is depressed, it is hard to know what to say. Sometimes we try to talk them out of it by saying things like:

• "Just trust God."
• "Just get over it."
• "If you would just do ..."
• "You have lots going for you. You shouldn't feel so bad."

These statements are not helpful because they make the person feel ashamed of being depressed. They want to get well, but it is usually not that simple. Instead, we can encourage them by first, listening. And also by:

• Giving a hug – touch is powerful.
• Letting them know you'll do whatever it takes to help, then do it. (Drive them to a counselor's appointment, pray for them daily, etc.)
• Let them talk, or cry.
• Ask them how you can pray for them, and write down their answer.
• Let them know though you may not fully understand what they feel, you care about what they are going through.

Do I believe that God cares about me?

Do I know the God of hope and healing?

Am I willing to take steps toward wholeness?

Power Verses:
Psalm 42:11, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God." (KJV)

Psalm 71:5, "For thou art my hope, O Lord God: Thou art my trust from my youth." (KJV)

© 2009 by T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.

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Better in the Boat
Amy Carroll

"By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry. Then God said to Noah, 'Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives.'" Genesis 8:14-16 (NIV)

The same thought came to me over and over again. "Call Jennifer," the thought repeated insistently. I really couldn't imagine why I would need to call her. Jennifer had been in the youth group that Barry and I briefly led years before. Although I had been very close to her at the time, I hadn't thought about Jennifer for years, so I ignored my thoughts and didn't call.

Months later, I ran into Jennifer's mother at the mall. At the exact time that I had felt such a need to call her, Jennifer had been lying in bed in the hospital close to death. She had complications with the delivery of her baby and had almost died. Suddenly, I knew that it wasn't just my own thoughts that had prompted me to get in touch. God, who knows all things, had been urging me to connect with Jennifer again during a period of great need in her life. To this day I grieve that I ignored God's direction and wonder how I might have been of help to my friend. If only I had listened and obeyed.

In the account of the flood in Genesis 7 and 8, God speaks to Noah very specifically each step of the way. First, God gives Noah stunningly specific directions on how to build the ark. After the rains, flood and drying out period (a total of 371 days), Noah again waits for God's voice to come out of the ark.

I find that amazing. I imagine myself in a boat surrounded completely and utterly by water with my family and innumerable animals for 371 days. I'm afraid that I would be scrambling out onto land for a little "me time" as soon as it looked dry enough! For two verses (Gen. 8:13-14), it is clear that although the land was dry, Noah was waiting for God to speak. He was not going to move until he heard God's voice with the next set of directions.

In a beautiful scene in CS Lewis' book The Horse and His Boy, Hwin, a wise horse in the story, faces a fierce lion. The lion, Aslan, is the perfect picture of the Lord in all His glory. The story continues like this: "Then Hwin, though shaking all over, gave a strange little neigh and trotted across to the Lion. 'Please,' she said, 'you're so beautiful. You may eat me if you like. I'd sooner be eaten by you than fed by anyone else.'"

Noah seems to have come to the same place as this wise creature. In Noah's case it's as if he is saying to God, "I would rather spend the rest of my days in this boat (and he lived to be 950!) than to take one step toward land without You." Noah trusted God and believed that God would speak to him to give him the best direction. He is a model of righteousness that is lived out in complete obedience to God's voice.

One of my greatest struggles is self-sufficiency. I long to be changed, though, into a woman who lives straining to hear God's voice in every circumstance. God is looking for men and women today who will commit to the life-style that Noah embraced. He longs for children who will "rest in the boat" until He moves them forward.

Lord, so often I run ahead of You. Please help me to walk with You, listening for Your voice with each step. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

He Speaks to Me by Priscilla Shirer

The Bare Bones Bible Handbook: 10 Minutes to Understanding Each Book of the Bible by Jim George

Visit Amy’s blog

Application Steps:
Include a time of silence in your prayer time. He wants to speak to you!

Pay attention to those "strong feelings" as you go about your day. Ask God if they are from Him. For those who have entrusted our lives to Him, we are filled with His Holy Spirit and can trust His leadings.

Have I ever missed an opportunity by ignoring God's voice?

How can I make sure that I don't miss future opportunities?

Power Verses:
Isaiah 30:21, "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" (NIV)

Proverbs 8:34, "Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway." (NIV)

© 2009 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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A Surprising Answer
Susanne Scheppmann

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

I hate you!" she said as the door slammed behind her.

For ten long years I had been praying for the Lord to bring my stepdaughter a Christian friend to speak truth and life to her. Since she was living in another state, my husband and I had little direct contact or influence on her. We longed to raise her in our home.

Now, however, she was sixteen and attending high school. I doubted we would ever have the opportunity for her to live with us. So what could I do? I prayed for a Christian friend to move into her life to introduce her to Jesus Christ.

I prayed. I wrote in my prayer journal of the desires and concerns regarding my stepdaughter. Yet, I saw few positive results. Although familiar with Psalm 139:4, "Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord" (NIV), I began to question if God heard my prayers.

Through some unusual events, my stepdaughter came to live with our family! Only she arrived angry and full of rebellion. Little did I know I had just begun one of the most difficult seasons of my adult life. As a blended family adjusting to a new member, we felt we were being pureed in a family-dysfunctional blender. We fought, we cried, and we prayed. I did not believe we would survive. My faith ran low in believing any change could occur. Although my faith faltered, my prayers prevailed.

One night I curled up in bed discouraged and exhausted. Again, the question surfaced, "Lord, do you hear me at all?" I picked up my prayer journal from the nightstand, and thumbed through the pages of the past year. The written record of my prayers pleaded, "Lord, bring her a Christian friend!"

Suddenly, I saw the answer to my prayers. God could use me to be the friend who would point her to God. From that moment on, I worked diligently to win her confidence and trust. Was it easy? No. Did we still struggle with life issues and rebellion? Absolutely! Do I still pray for her? Yes, indeed! I know God hears and answers my prayers, but not always in ways I expect.

The Lord affirms our key verse in my life time and again, "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'" He surprises and challenges me with His answers.

What surprise answers lay within your prayers?

Dear Lord, remind me how You always hear my prayers. Open my eyes to the answers You give in response to my requests. Help me to understand when You answer my prayers in completely different ways than how I expect. Let me accept that Your thoughts and ways are higher than mine. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Listen to Today’s Radio Show for more about prayers that move the heart of God

Divine Prayers for Despairing Parents by Susanne Scheppmann

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

Visit Susanne’s blog

Application Steps:
If you record your prayers in a journal, take 15 minutes to review past prayer requests. Ask yourself, Has God answered any of these prayers, and have I overlooked His obvious answer?

Or begin today to record your prayer requests in a notebook or prayer journal such as Intimacy with God: Prayer Journal. Jot down the date and the request and allow room for notes on how God answers your prayers in the future.

Reflections: Do I believe God hears my prayers?

Do I dictate to God how He should answer my prayers?

How has God surprised me with an answer different than the one I expected?

Do I acknowledge that His ways are higher than my ways when I pray?

Power Verses: Psalm 91:15, "He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him." (NIV)

Isaiah 58:9a, "Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I." (NIV)

Psalm 34:17, "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles." (NIV)

Excerpted from God's Purpose for Every Woman

© 2009 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

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Afraid to Fail
Rachel Olsen

"To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance." Matthew 25:29a (NLT)

In Matthew 25 Jesus tells a story of a master who divided his money (unequally) into the care of three servants while he went on a trip. "The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master's money" (Matthew 25:16-18, NLT). When the master returned, he praised and rewarded the two servants who had multiplied his money. Jesus continues the story:

"Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, 'Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn't plant and gathering crops you didn't cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.' "But the master replied, 'You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn't plant and gathered crops I didn't cultivate, why didn't you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.' "Then he ordered, 'Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away." (vs. 24-30)

I was surprised when I first read this parable that the master called that servant "wicked and lazy." After all, it doesn't say he was an axe murderer or a freeloader, right? It seems he just played it extra safe with his portion of money. Does that really make him "wicked and lazy?"

Maybe I could understand the "lazy" label because he just buried it and left it there. That doesn't take much effort compared to opening a savings account or investing in stocks, mutual funds or real estate. Plus, if you invest it, you need to manage it to minimize your losses should there be a stock market crash, or mortgage loan crisis. Yes, it is easier to stash money under a mattress than try to navigate the financial world of investments.

However, what really threw me was the label "wicked" applied to him. I don't know much about investing, and I've made some financial mistakes before, but does that make me wicked in God's eyes? Since I trust whatever Jesus says is true, I asked Him to show me why this man was deemed wicked.

I realized the overall topic of this parable is personal responsibility for use of our assets. By "assets," I refer to the things God has entrusted to us like our money, time, talents, mind, body, family, etc. The clear message is that God wants us to manage these things with excellence, and if we do, we will be rewarded. If we fail to, we may be penalized.

The master, who represents God in this parable, was chastising this servant because his "asset management style" required little effort, and even less faith. What made him "wicked" was believing the whispers of the Wicked One telling him that his master was too fickle to please and would surely punish him if he tries and fails.

What displeased the master was the servant's failure to bother to try when given the assignment.

Taking responsibility for, and seeking to be productive with our assets feels risky – much like navigating the world of finance can – but that should not cause us to bury our heads in the sand. I now see that this servant let Satan back him into a corner, with fear of failure and skewed notions of God, and immobilized what could've been used to glorify God and increase His Kingdom.

So today, I purpose to use my all in service of God when He gives me an assignment, no matter how risky it feels. Otherwise, I am denying the amazing grace of God available to me, and rendering useless the gifts my Master has given me. So let's learn from this servant by refusing to remain immobilized when we're afraid to fail.

Dear Lord, help me manage my time, talent, money, body and relationships in ways that please You, and grow Your Kingdom. Deliver me from fearing of failure. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
31 Days of Prayer by Ruth Myers

Visit Rachel at her blog and tell her what task you plan to target with more effort and faith

For sound financial guidance, check out Dave Ramsey’s site

Do You Know Him?

Application Steps:
Make a list of answers to the questions below. Choose an area to target this month with prayer and effort.

In what areas am I just lazy and need to put forth effort?

In what areas am I purposely not trying because I'm afraid to fail?

Power Verses:
Mark 14:37b, "Stay alert, be in prayer, so you don't enter the danger zone without even knowing it. Don't be naive. Part of you is eager, ready for anything in God; but another part is as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire." (MSG)

© 2009 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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Camping Too Close to Sin
Wendy Pope

"Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom." Genesis 13:12 (ESV)

"You play with fire you are going to get burned" is something I heard all the time growing up. It was my parents' way of warning me of potential danger when hanging around with the wrong crowd, or going places I should not go. Of course I thought my parent's advice was outdated and out of touch with my generation. I had no idea how wrong I could be.

I don't believe Lot intended to fall into the immoral activity and evil practices taking place in Sodom when he chose to set up his tent in the valley. The valley near the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah was lush and beautiful. Lot chose to live in the area because it was a wonderful place to raise livestock.

Sodom and Gomorrah became so infiltrated and consumed with evil, war broke out. Lot and his family were captured and taken prisoner. When rescued by his Uncle Abraham, the Bible tell us that Lot went right back to the "edge of sin." Although the Bible does not give specific evidence of any immoral activity by Lot, I wonder if something about the area, other than the lush green beauty, fascinated him. Why would he return there after coming so close to losing his life?

Unfortunately, I can understand Lot and his decision to stay near the "edge of sin," and to return to the "edge of sin." I have camped on the edge too often in my life and find myself going back to the same campsite over and over again. Why? Sin feels good, if it didn't, we would not keep going near it.

This is how the enemy traps us. If you play with fire, you are going to get burned. Sometimes you only get singed, or you may only come away smelling a little smoky, but you are tainted nonetheless.

God loves us so much; He doesn't want us anywhere close to sin. He will bring destruction – sooner or later – to the means of the sin in our lives. He did this for Lot. God set out to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham begged God to save Lot and his family. Because of God's love for Abraham, and I believe for His love for Lot too, He sent angels to rescue Lot and his family. As they were leaving, God sent destruction to Sodom and Gomorrah.

As I read Lot's story, I no longer judge him like I once did. Now I choose to learn from him. When you are too close to sin:

• You are bound to get seduced. Sometimes we like to live right on the edge of sin and flirt with it. The enemy entices us while on the edge, hoping we will cross over and stay a while.
• God will give you an opportunity to be rescued. The rescue might not look like a "typical" rescue but nevertheless He will provide a way out.
• It is hard to reach out and accept the rescue because the grip of the stronghold of sin becomes tighter and tighter with each passing day on the edge.
• Once you are rescued, don't look back. The first time Lot was rescued, he went back to the "edge of sin." In the second rescue, his wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. Don't look back, but look toward your freedom.

What about you? Have you chosen to set your tent in an area that seems lush and green? Perhaps it is at the water cooler where workday conversations are not appropriate. Or maybe you are looking in the wrong place for "Mr. Right." Has the mommy-and-me playgroup become too gossipy? Are you "too close" to the edge of sin? Do you need to be rescued? Cry out to be rescued and when you leave, don't look back.

Dear Lord, I want to ask You to forgive me for staying too close to sin. I admit that I need Your help to leave. Will You come and rescue me? Thank for You for always being there when I need You. I bless Your name. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know your Rescuer?

Confessions of an Adulterous Chrisian Woman: Lies that got me there, Truths that brought me back by Lyndell Hetrick Holtz

Visit Wendy’s blog for more encouragement

Application Steps:
Read the story of Lot's rescue: Genesis 18:16-19:29.

What is my "edge of sin?"

What keeps me there?

Am I willing to be rescued?

Power Verses:
Psalm 34:17, "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles." (NIV)

© 2009 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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Believe What You Know, Not What You Hear
Tracie Miles

"Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming." Ephesians 4:14 (NIV).

I was thrilled to hear the good news. I had a bad case of winter blues, and the television weatherman had forecasted unusually warm spring-like days for the entire week. However, as I was driving to church that evening, I heard quite a different forecast on the radio. The announcer predicted cold days ahead; highs in the forties, and rain.

What happened to the amazing forecast that the TV weatherman had predicted? I felt my spirit drop as I thought about yet another cold week to endure. Immediately I shared my disappointment with my husband and friends, even convincing them that the weather forecast had obviously changed.

But as I watched TV later that evening, the weatherman was predicting sunny weather once again. Beautiful days, mid-seventies, with the possibility of breaking a record high.

What?! I was so confused. I finally determined that the radio must have been playing the wrong forecast by accident. Somehow, I think the wrong buttons had been pushed, and the wrong information was sent out over the air for thousands of people to hear…if they had heard the television forecast too, they were surely as perplexed as I was.

I had heard information that contradicted what I knew to be true, but since it seemed to be from a trustworthy source, I readily believed it. I even shared that information with friends and family, only later to realize that I had been misled and misinformed.

In the same way, today's culture does an excellent job of sending us wrong information, misleading us about right and wrong, and convincing us that their opinion is accurate.

Take tolerance, for example. The term "tolerance" seems to imply, by today's standards, that anything and everything is morally equivalent. Society tries to convince people that the truth is relative, open for interpretation, and apt to be changed if anyone wants it to be different.
With this in mind, and due to the fact that there is a smorgasbord of beliefs to choose from, it is imperative that Christians stay keenly aware of whether or not we are believing what we know, versus believing what we hear.

The Bible clearly states that God set moral laws for His people, and the outline of what is right and wrong is written with great clarity. Knowing that, do we allow ourselves to be swayed by information that does not line up with God's Word? Do we follow the crowd, even when it is operating on inaccurate information? Do we act on questionable truths, just because it seems that everyone else believes it to be true?

As believers, we have the incredible responsibility of being sure that we place what the Bible says over what well-intentioned (even trustworthy or respected) people may say. If we doubt that the Bible is the one absolute truth, what other source of truth are we looking to?

1 Thessalonian 5:21 says, "Don't suppress the Spirit, and don't stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don't be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what's good. Throw out anything tainted with evil" (MSG). The thing that is good, is what is written in The Bible – the inspired Word of God.

If you ever question whether or not something you hear is true, and before you share it with others who could be influenced by your statements, check it out against God's Word. The truth will be confirmed in the scriptures, and that is a source you can believe in.

Dear Lord, help me to be strong in knowledge of Your Word. Give me the inner strength to stand up for what is right in Your eyes, even if it goes against the consensus opinion of what is right and tolerated in the eyes of man. Make me a person who influences others with Your truth. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

i am not but i know I AM by Louie Giglio

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

Visit Tracie’s blog

Application Steps:
Watch what you say and do – you never know who you may be influencing.
Stand up for what is right in God's eyes.

Have I allowed someone to cause me to doubt God or the truth of His Word?
Is it possible that I sometimes send the wrong message to others, and a distorted view of who God is, through my own compromised words or actions?

Power Verses:
Acts 17:11, "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." (NIV)

© 2009 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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Draw Me Nearer Lord
"My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death..." Mark 14:34 (NLT)

How God moved my heart as I sat with His Word yesterday morning! I opened to Mark Chapter 14 and read these words:

"He [Jesus] took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He became deeply troubled and distressed. He told them, 'My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.'"

In this scene, Mark describes Jesus' intense anguish as He contemplates the next step in His earthly journey...death on a cross. Jesus' emotions, deeply distressed and troubled, come from the Greek word "ekthambeo" which means, "to throw into terror; to alarm thoroughly." Scholars believe that in this moment the devil visibly prowled around Jesus. He was desperate to stop Jesus, to drive Him to despair, to steal His hope and belief in the goodness and faithfulness of His Father. Satan needed victory. If he failed, and Jesus walked in obedience to the Father's will, Satan would be vanquished forever! What a powerful moment in Scripture. When God's Word tells us Satan prowls around like a roaring lion, our Lord and Savior knows first hand!!

Jesus' words, My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death, reveal that He fully knew He was about to endure the sin of all mankind. The King James version says, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful," which is from the Greek word "perilupos" which means "deeply grieved." Jesus, who knew no sin was made sin for us. His Father, our God, is perfect in every way. Jesus knew that when He took upon the sin of the world, His Father would have to turn His back on Him. He could not look upon His own Son. The weight of that sin crushed our Lord.

Sweet friends, as I read these words anew, I sat on my bed amazed at what my Savior did for me. Not very often do I deeply ponder the agony Christ suffered before He went to the cross. I asked myself, do I feel this agony for my own sin? Am I exceedingly sorrowful for my own sin? I think not. Shamefully, I realize that I rotely confess my sin, but I do not know if I ever appreciated as much as I did yesterday morning the absolute gravity of my sin and the incredible gift given me that day at Calvary.

I invite you to sit with these verses today. Drink them in. Sear them into your heart. May we never forget the sacrifice made by our precious Savior.

Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. I praise You and thank You for the gift You have given me through Your Son, Jesus. Jesus, thank You for struggling that day in Gethsemane. Thank You for standing strong against the evil one, for loving me, for loving us, so much that You would endure such anguish and sorrow. I am so sorry for not living a life worthy of what You did for me that day. Keep my heart tender and ever aware of Your immense sacrifice. Keep me close to Your heart, show me my sin. Give me a repentant heart when I see my sin. Wash me with Your love, fill me with Your Truth, and draw me ever closer to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner: The Transforming Power of God’s Story by Wendy Blight

i am not but i know I AM by Louie Giglio

He Speaks to Me by Priscilla Shirer

If God’s Word spoke to you today, visit Wendy’s blog to share your thoughts

Application Steps:
As you finish reading today, don't just close the window and move on. Sit a few minutes with the Lord. Press into Him. Ask Him to show you the places in your heart that grieve Him. Surrender those places to Him at the foot of the cross. Claim the incredible gift of forgiveness given you at Calvary. Receive the freedom of that forgiveness and walk in the joy of that freedom!

God's Word is living and active, meant to speak to you today. Read the Easter story with fresh eyes. Invite the Lord to "open the eyes of your heart" that you may see wonderful new Truths this Easter. Write a prayer thanking Him for the new Truths He reveals to you.

Power Verses:
Isaiah 53:3b-6, "We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down...But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins! He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep have strayed away. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all." (NLT)

Ephesians 1:18-21, "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come." (NLT)

© 2009 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

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The Satisfaction of the Cross
Rachel Olsen

"When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied." Isaiah 53:11 (NLT)

Approximately 600 years before Jesus was condemned to the cross, the prophet Isaiah foretold of the event. Open up and invite those words to penetrate your soul today:

"See, my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted. Many were amazed when they saw him beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know he was a person. And he will again startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not previously been told about; they will understand what they had not heard about.

Who has believed our message? To whom will the Lord reveal his saving power? My servant grew up in the Lord's presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected - a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care.

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the guilt and sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins that he was suffering their punishment? He had done no wrong, and he never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man's grave.

But it was the Lord's good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord's plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of one who is mighty and great, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among those who were sinners. He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners." Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12 (NLT)

Approximately 2,000 years after Jesus hung on the cross, the passion of our Christ is still the power of God unto salvation. His suffering accomplished righteousness for us, and through it, both He and we are satisfied.

Dear Lord, may I realize afresh today what Your death and resurrection mean for me. Forgiveness … Freedom … and the ability to walk with You through this fallen world into eternity. May I always find my satisfaction in You and Your willingness to offer Yourself to me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know The Christ?

Rachel has been writing about Easter this week, visit her blog and join her in celebrating the passion of Jesus

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

Application Steps:
Take satisfaction in the love and power of God today – it is given for, and directed at, you!

What sins do I need to confess and release under the power of the cross?

Am I walking in the freedom Christ accomplished for me?

Power Verses:
Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (ESV)

2 Corinthians 5:17, "Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence." (GWT)

© 2009 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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What I Hate, I Do
Marybeth Whalen

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15 (NIV)

He came home from work, feeling tired I am sure. But instead of complaining, he rolled his sleeves up and jumped right in making french toast and frying bacon for our dinner. As he worked, he told me about the rough day he had—more than 100 people had been laid off at his company. While he had not been laid off, he felt sorry for those who had been, and wondered if he would be on the next list of names.

After dinner, he tackled bath times with the younger kids. After they were safely tucked into bed, he took one son with him to the store. He returned home happy, reeling off the things on the list he had gotten for me.

"You didn't get the vitamins," I told him. "That was the whole reason you went!" His smile disappeared. Bewildered, he offered to go back out and get the vitamins if we really needed them. "Well, of course we do or I wouldn't have asked for them," I said. He left again. It was late. He was tired.

He returned home for the second time, happy again, brandishing an off brand bottle of the vitamins I had asked for. "These were buy one, get one free!" he said, waving two boxes, one in each hand. I took one look at those boxes and sneered.

"There are some things you don't bargain shop for," I chided. He slunk off to the kitchen to stow the vitamins in the cabinet, out of sight. Later, he fell asleep on the couch, the book he had attempted to read rising and falling on his chest as he slept.

This is an actual scene from life at my house. This morning as I was in prayer, God brought that scene to mind, allowing me to see my ugliness. Here we see this really great guy trying to serve and love and give - and here we see his snippy, unappreciative wife totally dropping the ball on loving and serving him in return. Instead we see how she wants her own way and pouts like a two year-old when she doesn't get it. We see that, once again, her need to say little unnecessary comments surfaces. We see her focusing on the negative and missing so much positive in the process.

Today I was reminded again of what I have - and what I stand to lose. My words wound or, at the very least, fall far short of what they could bring to my husband's life. I choose to nitpick instead of nurture. I choose to litigate instead of love. I hate these choices I make, and yet, again and again I go back to this same driving need to plead my case, assert my rights, get my way, and be first. When God asks me to be willing to be last (Mark 9:35). In life. And in marriage.

I want to do better, to speak kinder, to look for the many good things instead of seizing on the bad. I want to be a wife who brings him good and not harm all the days of her life (Proverbs 31:12). I am working on it, but some days I fall right back into flesh patterns that are so evil and ugly I recoil at my own image when it's played out for me. I know better - I should do better.Tomorrow, I will try again. And, Honey? Thanks for hanging in there on days when I don’t.
Dear Lord, help me to honor my husband with my words, my deeds and my thoughts. Help me to realize that my words matter. I can choose to build him up or tear him down. Help me to choose to build him up and give me the strength to do so. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Becoming a Woman of Influence (CD) by Marybeth Whalen

The Love Dare

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

Visit Marybeth’s blog

Application Steps:
The next time you are tempted to speak unkind words to your husband, pray first, recognizing that God can give you victory over your flesh through His Spirit.

A question I ask myself often is: Is it more important for you to be right or in relationship?

Power Verses:
Romans 8:6, “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (NIV)

Galatians 5:17, “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” (NIV)

© 2009 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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Following My Father's Directions
Karen Ehman

"The Lord said, 'It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law.'" Jeremiah 9:13 (NIV)

The car was packed; the gas tank full; a cooler stood chock-full of sandwiches for the long ride. This was it! My three kids and I were excitedly off on a summertime adventure. In the midst of a stressful and busy move and while waiting for the kids' bedrooms in the basement to be finished, we threw caution to the wind and took my friend Marybeth up on an invitation to join her at an ocean beachfront home she was being allowed to use for free.

Now this was no small undertaking. It was going to be a 17-hour trip with three kids in the car. Besides the necessities we needed to pack, most of all we needed directions. We had to see on paper just how to get from our little home in the middle of Michigan to sunny Ocean Isle, North Carolina, without getting lost!

Should be a piece of cake in this era of online sites that spit out detailed directions, right? Of course! So I printed them off, tucked them in a folder and revved up the car's engine. Before I left, however, my father called me. He winters near Ocean Isle and he wanted to give me verbal directions since he has traveled that course twice a year for the past 18 years and is very familiar with how to get there.

I reluctantly wrote down his instructions, complete with highways to avoid and exit names, etc. Then, I tossed the directions into the glove compartment. I thanked him for the gesture but assured him I probably wouldn't need it since I had the newest, slick Internet directions already. But "Father knows best!' he assured me. I smiled and headed off.

About half-way to our destination, I noticed that the exit number and name on the Internet's directions didn't match up. I began to panic. Should I take the exit number it gave or the exit name it listed? I chose the exit number. Soon after that, we became completely lost. None of the directions made sense any more. We got off the exit, headed back to where we'd made the turn and tried again.

But this way didn't work either! We were soon heading north instead of south and there wasn't an exit in sight for miles! When we finally got off, I popped into a gas station and asked for help. The attendant smiled and handed me a piece of paper with corrected directions already written on it. It seems that the Internet site does not completely have the directions. In fact, the station gets dozens of lost souls wandering into their establishment everyday longing just to get back on the right track. They were ready with printed directions to give out to such weary travelers.

Worried that the rest of my Internet directions might be wrong as well, I quickly fumbled through the glove compartment to find my father's handwritten instructions. I ran them by the gas station attendant. "Perfect!" he commented. My father knew the way without any wrong turns. "Just stick to your father's instructions and you won't be lost" I was told.

Like so much of life, we hear of new fangled shortcuts, ways to find happiness or even new paths for getting to heaven. Celebrities say they have found new spiritual dimensions or perfect peace in a New Age practice. We must resist the desire to trust these so called 'new ways' completely and instead follow our Father's original instructions: the Holy Bible. His ancient words ring true. He is the way, the ONLY way, and following His instructions will never result in our souls being lost.

Perhaps it is time we did away with the new and went back to the old. God's instructions are never wrong. They lead to peace and contentment and a home with Him in heaven forever. Why, that is even better than a week at the beach!

Dear Lord, help me to get and stay forever grounded in Your ancient instructions, the Bible. May I follow only Your holy ways. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

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

For more on following God, visit Karen’s blog

A Life that Says Welcome by Karen Ehman

Application Steps:
What new ways does the world present for finding happiness or achieving eternal life?

How do these ways measure up to what the Bible says?

What are some actions I can take that will keep me grounded in God's Word? How can a friend help me in this endeavor?

Power Verses:
Psalm 16:11, "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." (NIV)

© 2009 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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I Know How I Designed It
Van Walton

"…we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus…" Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

My amazing husband can do anything. He's a fix-it man. There isn't anything he can't repair or create. He rebuilds damaged computers for family and friends, repairs weed eaters and garage door openers for neighbors, and rescues broken furniture from trash heaps. Recently he brought a chair home from a dinner party. It wasn't a gift and we didn't steal it. Someone sat in it and broke it!

After two days of taking the chair apart - performing what looked like orthopedic surgery to me, you know when pins and screws are inserted to keep bones and joints from further damage – followed by a little gluing, sanding, and staining, the chair looked brand new.

"Wow!" I said, impressed.

"Sit in it and rock back," he encouraged.

"Rock back? I don't think so! What if I break it?"

"Oh, believe me. You won't."

"How do you know?" I asked, not convinced.

"I know how I designed it. I know the pressure points and how much stress it can take" he responded with a smile of confidence. "Go on. Sit in it and rock back."

I sat down and rocked back.

The chair was solid. I don't care who sits in it, or how they land in it now, it will not break.

I think about the times we don't believe we can handle any more stress. The pressure seems overwhelming and we cry, "Time out! I can't take any more!"

God responds, "Trust me. You will not be destroyed. I know your pressure points. I know how much stress you can take. I know how I designed you."

I cannot describe the peace I felt when I related the work of my husband's hands to the work of God's hand.

Of course He knows how much I can take. After all He is my Creator, the one who bent down by the river and fashioned me with His hands. He's the one who knit me together in the depths of my mother's womb, the one who is called the Potter.

He knows the exact temperature needed in the kiln to create the perfect clay vessel. He knows how hot the fire must be to separate the dross from the silver and gold. He knows how much pressure a diamond or emerald must withstand in order for it to come forth solid and brilliant. He knows how long the irritant must sit in an oyster before it becomes a pearl.

My Father knows exactly how much I can take. He knows because He designed me. With that realization I am able to trust Him and smile at the future, no matter how hard life is today.

Lord Jesus, You are the Carpenter. You know exactly how to build a piece that will withstand pressure and stress, a work of art that will not easily crumble. You created me the same way.
Rather than tremble in the face of despair, help me trust in Your design. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
From the Pound to the Palace by Van Walton

Beyond the Shadow of Doubt (DVD) by Renee Swope

Visit Van’s blog

Application Steps:
Memorize this phrase and repeat it whenever you feel you "can take no more" pressure or stress: "God knows my stress and pressure points. He will not allow me to be crushed. He knows because He has designed me."

What brings me to the edge of despair?

Can I trust God that I may have to undergo stress and feel some pressure before I reach His final design for me?

Power Verses:
Malachi 3:3, "He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver…" (NLT)

2 Corinthians 4:7-9, "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed…" (KJV)

© 2009 by Van Walton. All rights reserved.

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