Unfailing Love
Luann Prater

"What a man desires is unfailing love." Proverbs 19:22a (NIV)

"I LOVE this dress!" she exclaimed, "I simply throw it in the washer and it comes out looking new!" My friend was trying to convey to us just how necessary this garment had become in her closet. She "loved" it.

We use the word "love" so indiscriminately that often the true meaning of love gets lost. Or worn out from overuse. Today's key verse tells us that everyone desires love and not just any love, but unfailing love. One of the lessons I learned when I became an adult was the realization that things wear out and need to be replaced. At my first wedding (yes, I said first), I remember receiving several sets of towels. One wise older woman told me to tuck a set away to save for later. She was so right. After many washings and years of use they became my favorite rags. I needed to pull out another set because these failed to provide that warm-fuzzy you need when stepping out of the shower.

Is love like that? Does it just wear out or fall apart? I wondered.

For years, many things in my life fell apart. Moving every year when I was young caused loving friendships to fall apart. Loving family relationships were also fractured. And the very first sexual abuse I can remember was in second grade, then fourth grade, then by a church leader when I was 13. "Love" became a numb, meaningless word to me.

So my question became, "Where could unfailing love be found?" Does lasting love exist when everyone around me is falling in and out of what they call love? In 1 John 4:7 I found my answer, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God." The Greek word for "beloved" is agapetos, which means "dearly loved." The very first thing this verse tells us is that we are dearly loved by God. The second piece tells us we can love one another because of God's love.

The only way we can fill that gaping hole that needs unfailing love is to fall into the arms of our Everlasting Father. When the Bible tells us, "God is love," it is saying that without Him, we can only create temporary, fragile and indiscriminate love.

Our abilities are limited, but oh sweet sisters, we are daughters of the very God who IS love! He is the only one to turn to for unconditional, uncompromising, unfailing love. When we accept His love for us, then and only then, can we pour out true love onto others.

Dear Lord, how can we comprehend the love You have for us? There is nothing on earth that even comes close to it! Teach me to accept Your love and then shower others with the grace and love You have given me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know this Great Love?

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

Broken into Beautiful: How God Restores the Wounded Heart by Gwen Smith

Visit with Luann on her blog and find out more about her new radio program “Encouragement Cafe with Luann & Friends.” Beginning Saturday May 30th from 2-3pm(EST) you can listen, laugh, learn and call in to share a cup of thoughts around a cozy table of friends. Listen online or find a station near you at www.wtru.com.

Application Steps:
Make a list of all the things that fall into the category, "I love…"

Have you tried to fill your need for unfailing love with anything on that list?

Write a prayer to God asking Him to replace your worn out list with His unfailing love.

What fills my love list?

How can I accept God's love for me?

Who around me needs His love to flow through me and to them?

Power Verses:
Romans 8:37-38, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (NIV)

1 Corinthians 13:8a, "Love never fails." (NIV)

© 2009 by Luann Prater. All rights reserved.

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A Lifetime Heart Warranty
Renee Swope

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)

We've had workers in our house hammering, banging, scraping, and fixing things for the past two days. It's been so noisy! I've really missed having my home office to myself and being able to leave when I need to.

In the midst of the clamoring and interruptions, I've been telling myself to be thankful. After all, this work is being done for free as part of our one-year home warranty. The process was optional. We could have let our home warranty expire and waited until things were so broken that we had to do something. But why would anyone pass up having things repaired at no cost?

So, we opted for inconvenience and lots of noise with the promise of our "broken-ness" being fixed.

This morning while I was running, I asked God to help me have a good attitude about all the interruptions. I knew it would help if I had a grateful heart, so I decided to thank God for our home warranty and each item on the repair list.

I thanked Him for helping us notice the leaking toilet upstairs, the gap behind our counter tops, the hardwood floors that started popping, the loose carpet, and creaking stairs. I was especially grateful that He helped me see the hairline fractures in our bathroom, kitchen and laundry room tile, which I almost missed.

My prayers transitioned from my house to my heart as I asked God to show me areas of my life that needed repair. He reminded me of hurt feelings from a difficult conversation, disappointment and broken trust from my son's disobedience, grief for a friend whose husband committed adultery and deep concern for another friend with cancer. I hadn't realized all that was bothering me.

Walking through each room in my heart, God showed me that I had my own brokenness to address. But He also reminded me that like my home-warranty, Christ has promised me a lifetime heart-warranty with unlimited repairs.

As I let that truth sink into my broken places, His comfort came. His Spirit ministered to mine as I exposed my hurts to Him. I remembered Jesus' promise to bind up the brokenhearted as I held up my heart and all that is in need of repair. I finished my run and headed back to the house soon to be filled with repairmen. Just before I got home, I smiled towards Heaven and thanked God for setting His seal of ownership on me, His lifetime heart-warranty, guaranteeing what is to come.

Each day, Jesus invites us to come to His throne of grace with confidence and ask Him to repair whatever is broken in our lives. We don't have to wait for a scheduled walk-through. We don't have to make a list and coordinate any appointments, or even be at home for Him to do the work. We can come to Him with full assurance knowing that He's available right now. Right where we are. With mercy and grace to help us in our time of need.

Dear Lord, thank You for always being there for me, and for promising to make me new, even when I sometimes feel so broken. I pray that You would help me see the ways you are working in my life, fulfilling Your promises to me as I put my hope in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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

The Wonder of His Love by Nancy Stafford

Visit Renee’s blog for more thoughts on how God can restore our brokenness and make it into something beautiful.

Application Steps:
Take time to thank God for His promise to make all things new. Then tell Him about the areas of your life that feel broken and in need of repair. Ask Him for mercy and grace in your time of need.

Click here for a chance to win a copy of Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst, and find out how God can take your brokenness and do something beautiful in your life.

What are some areas where I have seen God repair my brokenness in the past?

How can I remember His faithfulness so that I have confidence that He can and will be there to help me again and again?

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 1:21-23, "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)

Revelation 21:5, "And He who sits on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.' And He said, 'Write, for these words are faithful and true.'" (NAS)

Lamentations 3:21-25, "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him." (NIV)

© 2009 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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Do the Next Thing
Marybeth Whalen

"Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Give careful thought to your ways.'" Haggai 1:5 (NIV)

When I was a new mom, I often felt overwhelmed by my circumstances. The crying, the whining, the mess. I would look around at it all and just want to sit down and have a good cry. At some point during that time, I heard Elisabeth Elliot speak on the concept of "do the next thing." She talked about how, after her husband Jim died, she would have been overcome if not for this simple concept. When her emotions would start to run away with her, she would simply ask herself what the next thing she needed to do was. And then she would do it. And then she would do the next thing, and the next, and the next. And all those little "next things" made up her days.

I adopted this principle and began to whisper to myself, "Just do the next thing." Sometimes the next thing was to change a diaper, or start dinner, or return a phone call. Even now I move through my day doing the next thing. Sometimes my next thing is to homeschool my children. Sometimes it's to tidy the house. Sometimes it's to sit down and hammer out an article I have due. Whatever it is, I focus on that one task until it's done. And then I ask myself what's to be done next.

I always knew I learned this concept from a godly woman, but I never thought about this concept being from God. My reading in Oswald Chamber's timeless devotional, My Utmost For His Highest has helped me see that it is indeed a spiritual truth that God wants us to learn. Consider these two quotes:

"We look for visions from heaven, for earthquakes and thunders of God's power... and we never dream that all the time God is in the commonplace things and people around us. If we will do the duty that lies nearest, we shall see Him."

"When the Spirit of God comes, He does not give us visions, He tells us to do the most ordinary things conceivable... whenever God comes, the inspiration is to do the most natural, simple things—the things we would never have imagined God was in, and as we do them we find He is there."

Chambers referenced the scene in I Kings where Elijah is running from King Ahab. He is hungry and tired and very depressed. (Ever been there?) In that scene God sends an angel to him who says simply, "Arise and eat" (I Kings 19:5). What was Elijah's "next thing" he needed to do? Get up and eat something! Sometimes just moving forward in the most basic way is all God needs from us. With our obedience comes the solution we are seeking.

I hope this thought will help you or someone else who is feeling overwhelmed and even depressed. What "next thing" is God asking you to do? Get up, do whatever it is, and find Him there.

Dear Lord, help me to do the next thing when I feel overwhelmed. Help me to remember that You are right there waiting in that next thing. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

30 Days to Taming Your Stress by Deborah Smith Pegues

Secrets to Getting More Done in Less Time by Donna Otto

For more encouragement tune into our Radio Show

Visit Marybeth’s blog

Application Steps:
Make a list of things you need to accomplish today. Now, instead of getting overwhelmed by your list, pray over it and ask God, What is the next thing I need to do? It might just be to cross some of those things off your list!

What is a "next thing" you can do right now?

Power Verses:
Jeremiah 10:23, "I know, O Lord, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps." (NIV)

Proverbs 20:24, "A man's steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?" (NIV)

© 2009 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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Ancient Words
Tracie Miles

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1 (NIV)

It caught me off guard. While standing and singing praise and worship songs during our Sunday morning worship service, the choir began singing a song that I was not familiar with. It was called Ancient Words, written by Lynn DeShazo in 1999. As we came to the chorus of the song, each member of the choir held their Bibles up in the air, and within moments, scores of people in our congregation began lifting their Bibles to the heavens as they sang. The sight of all of those Bibles lifted high in the air, resting on the melodies of praise that were being sung to our God, literally took my breath away.

I began to consider the importance that we put on ancient things. Antique furniture, our grandmother's fine china, estate jewelry, old pictures, and precious family heirlooms all come to mind. I began to wonder why these things are so important to us. Is it just because they are old and from another point in time? Is it because they belonged to people we love? Or is it our desire to simply have a piece of something that came into existence before we were born?

I believe that we not only long for antiques, or ancient things, but we often long for how things were in the ancient days. The days when morals were the driving force for how to live one's life. The days when God was an integral part of our education system, our workplace, and our communities. The days when we could speak of our faith without worrying about offending someone. The days when we could raise our children based on biblical principles without feeling like the minority. And the days when our country was founded on Jesus Christ, and proud of that foundational belief.

As time passes, things change, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. But our hope lies in knowing that there is one thing never changes…God's Word and the truths that are found in His Word.

In ancient days, and today, the Bible invites us to discover the covenant relationship that the Lord desires to have with each of us. Through the words of those holy pages, we are taught how to live a life that pleases Him, and how to embrace His commandments for living. Through God's Word we learn how to deal with adversity and stand strong in the face of opposition and suffering. We find hope, grace, forgiveness, peace and purpose.

Those ancient Holy words give us the courage, freedom and strength to live in a world that may not value the most precious antique of all.

God's ancient words will never change, and our hearts do not have to change either if we hold tight to our faith. God's Word is timeless.

Just as the passing of time makes an antique even more valuable, the same goes for God's Word. Its value increases with each passing day, encourages every generation, and holds true to the end of time. It is our choice whether or not we will treasure God's Word in our hearts.

Dear Lord, build in me a hunger for Your Word that can only be met by spending time with You. Help me treasure the Bibles in my household more than any other items I own. Help me to pass down a passion for Your Word to my family and friends so that I can pass down the most valuable of all antiques. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
The One Year Chronological Bible

Pierced by the Word by John Piper

Visit Tracie’s blog

Application Steps:
Commit to spending time in God's Word every day.

The lyrics of the song "Ancient Words":
Holy words long preserved for our walk in this world
They resound with God's own heart; O let the ancient words impart
Words of life, words of hope; Give us strength, help us cope
In this world where'er we roam, ancient words will guide us home
Holy words of our faith, handed down to this age
Came to us through sacrifice; O heed the faithful words of Christ!
Martyrs' blood stains each page, they have died for this faith
Hear them cry through the years, "Heed these words and hold them dear!"

Ancient words, ever true
Changing me and changing you
We have come with open hearts
O let the ancient words impart

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

John 17:16-17, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." (NIV)

Psalm 119:50, "This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me." (NASB)

© 2009 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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Rescue the Abandoned
Amy Carroll

"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us." I Thessalonians 2:8 (NIV)

The thought of callously abandoning an infant without nourishment or protection seems incomprehensible. Unfortunately, it happens every day. Often it happens in the church.

Sometimes I've been the one who abandons. Many times newborn Christians are sent out into their fresh spiritual life with little more than a "God bless you" and pat on the back. These excited new followers of Jesus set off on an unfamiliar path brimming with zeal and hope. But they often begin to stumble and fall quickly without mature Christians to answer their questions, clear up confusion and encourage them through the inevitable rough spots. Although no one can snatch them from their Father's hand, many new Christians fall prey to discouragement and walk paths that are less than the ones for which they were created.

There are many reasons that baby Christians are abandoned and left to walk alone without nourishment or protection. I think that one of the main reasons is the busyness of our culture. Our time is demanded by our families, jobs, friendships, computer, tv…. Nurturing a baby Christian takes time. It takes patience. It takes commitment; but most of all it takes true love. Robert Coleman, author of The Master Plan of Evangelism, says, "There is a lot of talk in the church about evangelism and Christian nurture, but little concern for personal association when it becomes evident that such work involves the sacrifice of personal indulgence."

Ouch! I really wish he would move along and get out of my personal space! He continues, "Unless new Christians, if indeed they are saved, have parents or friends who will fill the gap in a real way, they are left entirely on their own to find the solutions to innumerable practical problems confronting their lives, any one of which could mean disaster to their new faith."

God has recently delivered a precious new soul into the lives of our family. One of my son's friends, Lindsey, had begun asking some very big questions. He had the chance to talk with her about Jesus, and at a church youth retreat, Lindsey gave her heart to the Lord. It's a thrill to watch her as she falls in love with her Savior and begins a brand new life. She still has lots of questions though, and it is very obvious that many are being called to come alongside. Lindsey's Christian friends surround her with support at their high school and are committed to bring her to church. Adult friends visit her home and are building relationships with her family. I am leading a small group to help teach some of the basic foundations of the faith and practices that lead to growth.

Lindsey is an example of one of the sweetest of babies, but what about the others? Not all newborns are rosy-cheeked and smell like powder! Many Christian babies are entering their new life dragging lots of baggage. Financial crisis, promiscuity, addiction and bitterness are just a few of the very real problems new Christians may tow.

Will we commit to feeding, cleaning, nurturing and loving these babies? It may seem easier just to pack them off and walk away, but the toll is too high for the Kingdom. Trusting in the transforming power of Christ and asking Him to make us an instrument of His grace, let's commit to being workers in the "infant nursery" of our church as we care for these precious new believers.

Dear Lord, You are a kind, loving and nurturing Father. Help me to follow in Your footsteps as I nurture your newest children. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Finding a Mentor, Being a Mentor by Donno Otto

Apples of Gold: A Six-Week Nurturing Program for Women by Betty Huizenga

Visit Amy’s blog

Application Steps:
Feed—Ask a young Christian to attend a Bible study with you. Go out to coffee to discuss it afterward.

Bathe—Call a new Christian to share something that helps you to grow. Ask for requests and pray with her.

Protect—Do you see a new Christian struggling with a sin with which you've found victory? Be transparent and share your story!

Who do I know that may need to be nurtured in the faith?

How might I reach out in support?

Power Verse:
I Peter 2:2, "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good." (NIV)

© 2009 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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God's Messengers
Sharon Glasgow

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." I Peter 4:10 (NIV)

God uses His people as messengers of hope to those in need. Every dark storm I have been through is chronicled by someone God sent to help me through it.

This past year our family experienced extreme hardships: our daughter and her husband's baby died at birth; six weeks later she was in the hospital hemorrhaging from complications of the birth. We experienced financial stress. A dear friend of ours lost her job, found out she had cancer and needed a place to live, so she moved in with us. We had a fire on our property that burned down barns, fences and animals. We had a flood in our house…and this was not all! I cried out to God for help. He heard my cry and sent helpers.

I can imagine God sounding the alarm in heaven when we pray for His help: the angels standing to attention ready for their ministering orders, and the Holy Spirit quickly nudging people in the path of the needy saint with urgency and direction. The ones who have become accustomed to obeying the Holy Spirit's leading quickly follow and run to help.

When we were going through our hardships, our help came in various forms through different people. Some sent money, others prepared meals, some helped with the funeral. One friend came and cleaned our bathrooms; others sent notes and cards of encouragement with verses that spoke God's promises of hope. Friends came and helped remove rubble from the fire, while others sent gift cards to help us get through, and some even helped anonymously. Every act of grace was needed and got us through our darkest of days.

In the Bible, there are many examples of people who helped serve others faithfully. In Acts 6, we read that Stephen, a man who was martyred, was chosen to serve tables! In Acts 9, Dorcas was full of good and charitable deeds. In Exodus 17, Hur held Moses' arm up and the battle was won. These are just a few of the servants mentioned in the Word who helped others.

God watches the servants' hearts that follow the call and sacrifice for the needs of others, and He is well pleased. I believe all of Heaven watches and applauds the one who carries out God's assignments. God commands everyone to serve others, but not everyone moves to action when nudged by Him.

Everyone has different abilities to help with - never underestimate what your ability is. God created you to use your ability for His glory for His people. Many people are going through hardships today. There are people in need living next door to you, working with you, going to church with you. Strangers that you meet and even your own family may be those who need help.

God's words tell us to be constantly alert for what God wants us to do. It is required that we show love in action - not just in our words, but in deeds and in truth. When we wake in the morning, let's ask the Lord to help us hear His voice more clearly, to have spiritual eyes to see, and to give us His ability to carry out the mission He has for us this day.

I will be forever grateful for all the grace given to our family this year. After this year, I see the urgency to keep my eyes open to God's call to helping daily. Can you imagine what the world would look like if we all obeyed the call to serve others daily?

Dear Lord, I want to be faithful when You call me to help someone. Help my spiritual eyes and ears to become more acutely in tune with Your leading. Help me not to be so controlled by my own plans that I miss Your assignments. Thank You Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Sharing Grace: A Collection of Recipes-Family Traditions-Gift Ideas by LeAnn Rice

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself by Mary Lance Sisk

Form or join a Gather and Grow Group to love and support those around you.

Application Steps:
Ask the Lord daily to show you who He wants you to help.

What are your abilities? If you cook, you may need to prepare a meal.

If you have money, you may be asked to give a financial gift.

If you are a caretaker, you may need to take care of an elderly person, handicapped person or small child.

Are you a doer? You may need to accomplish a "to do" list for a hurting person.

Does God give you His Word to give others? Send cards or letters with verses that He gives for them.

There is a "Grace Epidemic" starting. People are being challenged to purposely show acts of grace. There is a website to track how far-reaching a single act of kindness can be. To be a part, visit Grace Epidemic.

How have I been helped? How can I do the same for others?

Am I prepared to help a stranger God brings to me today, wherever I am, even at the gas station or grocery store?

Power Verses:
John 13:35 "By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (NKJV)

© 2009 by Sharon Glasgow. All rights reserved.

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Embracing Who I Am
Lysa TerKeurst

"But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.'" Luke 1:30 (NIV)

Ten years ago I sat in a seminar listening to a very organized mom talking about how she parented her kids. She was an amazing woman; a super mom in my eyes.

I held up my feeble efforts with my three toddlers and determined I stunk as a mother. I thought that maybe if I went home and imitated her, I could enter into the world of super moms.
I mentally listed out what I discerned must be her secret to success and set about to be just like her. But it didn't take me long to become absolutely miserable. I mentally beat myself up for not having what it obviously took to be a great mom. What was wrong with me?

I begged God to make me just like her - that really good mom. And then one day in Bible study I read the story of Mary, the teenage mother of Jesus. My heart beat fast as I realized she didn't meet the standard of super mom I'd set for myself.

Somehow, just as she was, God chose her to be Jesus' mother. And the only qualification that she seemed to have was her willingness.

I made the choice to try and let go of all those expectations I had for myself as a mom. I let go of the comparisons to other moms. I laid down the measuring stick of perfection. And I simply bowed my head and gave God my willingness.

Slowly, I started to see my own unique qualities as a mom instead of always focusing on the places I felt I fell so short.

I may not be the most organized mom, but I'm a fun mom willing to drop my to-do list in the name of spontaneity.

I may not do sit-down devotions with my kids every morning, but I'm good at helping my kids see God working in situations all throughout our days.

I may not sew a lick, but I know where to find an alterationist that is the bomb.

I may not always keep my cool in the everyday aggravations of life, but throw something big at me and somehow I'll be the calmest person in the room.

Sure, I have a lot of room for growth in my mothering. God and I work on things daily. But over the past ten years I've learned how to embrace who I am and the beauty of living fully as me.

And while I still fall short at times, I'm finally learning that being fully me is so much better than an imitation version of someone else.

I have the exact qualities God knew my kids would need in a mother. So, each day I hold up my willingness and ask God to make me the best version of me I can be.

Dear Lord, I admit that I am dependant on You in every area of my life, as a mother, a wife, a co-worker, a daughter, and a friend. Help me to understand the depth of Your love for me. Thank You for being familiar with me in all my ways. Thank You for laying your hand upon me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
If you are in the Dallas metro area, you're invited to be in the studio audience for the appearance of Lysa TerKeurst on the LIFE Today show with James & Betty Robison, Tuesday, May 26 at 7 p.m. Tickets are free, but you must reserve your seat. Call 817-354-3655 or email audience@loi.org. The studios are located at 1801 West Euless Boulevard, Euless, Texas 76040. Lysa would love to see you there.

Visit Lysa’s blog

The Bathtub is Overflowing but I Feel Drained by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Have you ever struggled with this?

How can you keep yourself from falling into the comparison trap?

How will you begin to embrace the person God created you to be?

Whether it's in the arena of motherhood, or your workplace, or one of the many places we unfairly compare ourselves to others -
- realize your great qualities and be fully you
- realize how much God loves you
- realize He created your inmost being
- realize He has laid His hand upon you
- realize His right hand will hold you fast
- realize His promises never fail

Power Verses:
Joshua 21:43-35, "So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord handed all their enemies over to them. Not one of all the Lord's good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled. " (NIV)

© 2009 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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Father, Comforter, Disciplinarian
Melissa Taylor

"…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)

Have you ever opened a book and read a passage and been amazed because it was exactly what you needed to hear? And you felt like it was written and sent just to you on that day at that moment? Some may call it a coincidence, but I call it a gift from God!

Last night I did not sleep. I recently had surgery on my left foot. Yesterday the doctor gave me the green light to put full weight on that foot again. For the first time in three weeks, I walked using that foot. I was so happy not to use crutches or limp around that I got a little carried away. Last night I awoke in such great pain, I cried. Finally I took some pain medication, but I never could go back to sleep.

This morning I am absolutely exhausted! I'm tired physically, mentally, and emotionally. I'm tired from no sleep. I'm tired of trying so hard to function. I'm ready to run and I can't. I'm frustrated. I'm weak. I'm what Isaiah calls "weary."

This morning I opened my devotion book for a healthy dose of God's Word. I was overjoyed when I read the words from Isaiah. It was exactly what I needed to hear: "My strength will be renewed because I have hope in the Lord."

I have hope in the Lord because He is my Father. I can trust Him and count on Him to keep His Word. My heavenly Father is always with me, something my earthly parents can't be.

I have hope in the Lord because He is my Comforter. My foot may hurt and my emotions are unbalanced. I don't feel very comfortable at the moment, but I am comforted. My Comforter supplies me with the love, peace, and hope I need to know I'm going to be okay.

I have hope in the Lord because He is my Disciplinarian. I have to admit, this isn't my favorite characteristic of Him. But I know without it, I'd be out of control! I need a strong hand to guide me and keep me in line. I actually feel safe and secure because my Father disciplines me. I know it is through that discipline that I am strengthened. I also know He disciplines me because He loves me.

I may be weak today, but what a great place to be. It draws me closer to the One I need most. My Father, my Comforter, my Disciplinarian.

Dear Lord, I have found my hope in You! Thank You for being there to provide for me as my Father, Comforter, and Disciplinarian. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
The Woman I am Becoming by T. Suzanne Eller

Self Talk Soul Talk by Jennifer Rothschild

Visit Melissa's blog

Application Steps:
If you are exhausted, drained, and ready to quit, read Isaiah 40:28-31. Rest in knowing that the Lord will renew your strength.

Where do I go for hope and comfort?

Maybe I need to have more time with God today.

Power Verses:
Isaiah 40:28-31, "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary; and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like an eagle; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk, and not faint." (NIV)

© 2009 by Melissa Taylor. All rights reserved.

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Trusting God During Difficult Times
Susanne Scheppmann

"For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." Psalm 100:5 (NIV)

Horrified, I placed the phone back in its charger. My mind reeled. What could I say to one of my dearest friends after this new tragedy had struck? First, she experienced the loss of a fourteen-year-old son to brain cancer. Now her eldest son, only eighteen, had been discovered mugged and murdered. Incomprehensible.

She asked, "Why?" I had no answer other than, "I don't know, but I cling to the factual knowledge that God is good, regardless. Tragedies in this life are beyond our understanding this side of heaven."

I believe Jesus is good, and that knowledge sings from the depths of my soul. This nugget of truth is more precious than life itself to me. We have been taught and recognize that faith is not something we can necessarily see, hear, feel, taste, or touch. It is stepping out of our comfort zones and trusting God—regardless of how we feel emotionally. The Bible explains, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1, NIV).

The true story of Horatio G. Spafford demonstrates this type of faith in God's goodness. Spafford wrote the familiar hymn, "It is Well with My Soul" in 1872 after his four daughters drowned, soon after his own financial bankruptcy. He, somehow, held onto the fact that despite the outward circumstances, God was good. He wrote, "And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight." He knew that his faith was not in vain, and that someday he would see the meaning and purpose of all the tragedy surrounding his life at that moment.

For myself I think my greatest lesson of faith has been in the acknowledgement that God is good—all the time. Oswald Chambers wrote, "Faith by its very nature must be tested and tried. And the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God's character must be proven trustworthy in our own minds."

There will always be moments of uncertainty. I find comfort in the words written by David Jeremiah in My Heart's Desire:
You may sometimes feel awkward and uncomfortable, and find yourself saying, "Is this really true? I don't see anything in it. I don't hear God's voice. I don't feel His presence." There are days like that for all of us. The pursuit of God has no shortcuts. You simply must keep walking, keep seeking, and keep yearning. Keep at it, and you won't be disappointed.
God is good, even as I mourn with my friend. I have witnessed her grief, anger, and doubt. But throughout the passing months, I have watched her cling to Jesus with hands wet with tears. My friend believes God is good all the time even when she can't feel it with her emotions. Her faith rests in the fact, "The Lord is good and his love endures forever."

Dear Lord, grant me the faith to know that You are good all the time, even during the most difficult circumstances of this life. When I am weak, lift me up. Enable me to accept the love and comfort from others who love me, but let me rely on Your everlasting love for me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Birds in My Mustard Tree by Susanne Scheppmann

Trials for Today, Treasures for Tomorrow: Overcoming Adversities in Life by Janet Eckles

Visit Susanne’s blog

If you are in the Dallas metro area, you're invited to be in the studio audience for the appearance of P31’s own Lysa TerKeurst on the LIFE Today show with James & Betty Robison, one week from today on May 26 at 7 p.m. Tickets are free, but you must reserve your seat. Call 817-354-3655 or email audience@loi.org. The studios are located at 1801 West Euless Boulevard, Euless, Texas 76040.

Application Steps:
Memorize one of the Power Verses below to repeat and remind yourself of God's goodness during difficult times in your life.

What situations in my life do I feel are out of my faith-comfort zone? Do I believe that God is good all the time?

Power Verses:
Psalms 91:2, "I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."(NIV)

Deuteronomy 31:8, "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." (NIV)

Psalms 27:5, "For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock." (NIV)

© 2009 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

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Greener Pastures
Micca Monda Campbell

"He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters, he restores my soul." Psalm 23:2-3 (NIV)

What kind of pressured situations do you face? Is it the constant stress of trying to make ends meet? Perhaps discontentment is the villain that adds pressure to your life? For me, it varies. I feel most stressed in being a wife and mother. There are days where it seems that everybody needs me all at once! Do you ever feel like the whole world is gathered at your door demanding your time and attention?

The most stressful hour of the day for me is shortly after the kids arrive home from school. It's when the chaos begins. There is homework to do, dinner to prepare, and baseball and dance practice to attend. When the pressure is more than I can handle, I panic. I panic because I don't have enough of me to go around! Suddenly, it's as if horns pop out of my head knocking my heavenly halo to the ground. This is what's called, "blowing your top." It happens when you and I are under pressure.

Something else happens when we feel the demands of life pressing in as well. We become annoyed by the very people we love most. I don't want to live this way, and neither do you.

The truth is the pressure and responsibility of caring for so many can drain me. I get tired and worn out. David got tired too. His job was just as stressful as ours as he protected, guided, and tended to his sheep. How did David manage? He looked to his Good Shepherd for rest and the Lord provided. "He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters, he restores my soul" (Psalm 23:2-3).

It's important for us to rest, but do we? Can we? Perhaps you find it difficult to sleep at night because of the stress that plagues you. Sometimes, I lie awake making out my to-do list in my mind. In the morning, I wake up as tired as when I went to bed. The real problem is I didn't get enough sleep. The average person needs seven to eight sound hours of sleep a night, but most people only get five, six or seven hours of restless sleep. When we have insomnia we may turn to faulty methods for rest such as nightcaps. Sometimes exhaustion takes over in the form of a cold or flu and we're forced to rest.

God has a better plan to relieve our stress. The Lord leads us to "lie down in green pastures" in order to revive and refresh us emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

Whenever I think of green pastures, I think of warm summer days when my dad and I would lie down on the soft green grass in the yard. We didn't have a care in the world. We simply rested and discussed the floating clouds hanging in the sky. Perhaps your green pasture is a quiet moment in your favorite chair, a walk on the beach, or curling up in bed with a good book.

The truth is, God never put us in charge of everything, just certain assignments. While the stress and pressures of our duties can deplete us, God has not left us empty. He desires to refill all of our dry places so we have supply for tomorrow. The secret is stealing away with God to places of unending rest.

Dear Lord, I often feel guilty taking time for myself. Today, I understand that this is Your plan for me. Help me to rest. Guard my time and help me manage my responsibilities so that I can renew myself emotionally, spiritually, and physically each day. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Piecing It All Together CD by Micca Campbell

An Untroubled Heart by Micca Campbell

Visit Micca’s blog

Application Steps:
Where do you find relaxation—in a bubble bath; by taking a walk; gardening; visiting a spa or taking a nap? Plan to rest each day even if it's only 10-15 minutes. It will do wonders for your stress and recharge your batteries.

Are you getting enough downtime to recharge? If not, how can you change that?

Do you sometimes feel guilty when you do rest? Could this be a sign that you're doing too much?

Power Verses:
Palms 62:1, "My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him." (NIV)

Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (NIV)

© 2009 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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Pick Me!
Tracie Miles

"…so in Christ, we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us." Romans 12:5-6a (NIV)

So I said to God, "Absolutely not. Is there a plan B?"

That was my answer to God many years ago, when I heard Him impress upon my heart, quite loudly I might add, that He was calling me to speak and write. Until that divine moment, I had never desired to serve in those capacities. Although I served in other areas within my church, I wasn't ready to serve in such a way that would cause me to take risks, make sacrifices, and put my heart on the line for all to see.

Do you remember as a child, when the teacher asked "Who wants to clean the board," or, "Who wants to be the line leader?" All the kids would jump up and raise their hands, while yelling out in unison, "Me! Me! Pick me! Pick me!" Then the teacher would carefully choose someone, and the chosen child would beam with pride as they quickly assumed and carried out their role with great enthusiasm.

I imagine that God wishes we would be a little more like school children at times. As a child, when given a possible opportunity to lead in any capacity, we didn't stop to think how long the act of service would last. We didn't care so much what would be required of us … would it cost us anything, or if there might be something else that we would rather do.

As adults, we tend to over-analyze everything and as a result, we find ourselves procrastinating, which causes our desire to serve to wane. When God called me to be a speaker and writer, I wasted several years trying to pretend that I did not really understand God correctly, or hoping that He would have sympathy for my fears and hesitations and give me an easier task. Oh, how He would have been so pleased if instead I had responded with, "Pick me Lord! Yes, pick me!"

When God calls us into service, often the timeliness of our response is a measure of our faith. Procrastination is a sign that we are not trusting that God will lead the way and guide our paths. Procrastination leads to confusion and indecision, giving the enemy an opportunity to work at convincing us that we are unworthy, unqualified and incapable of carrying out God's will. As a result, we become paralyzed with fear, doubts and insecurities.

Stepping out in faith requires us to fully rely on God, and not on our own assessments of our abilities. Philippians 4:13 reads "I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
Do you believe it? Is God is calling you to a task that is beyond what you think you are capable of; one that may require you to make sacrifices and choose God's plans over your own? Are you willing to say, "Pick me!" and then depend on His strength and sovereignty to carry out His will?

Dear Lord, give me ears to hear Your voice and to know when You are calling me to serve. Help me to put my faith in You, and not in my own abilities. Fill me with a desire to serve in whatever way You have ordained for my life, and bless me with the opportunity to use the spiritual gifts that You have equipped me with. Help me to have confidence to move forward in faith because of who You are, not because of who I am. Pick me Lord! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

For more encouragement about determining God’s will for your life, visit Tracie’s blog

Check out our She Speaks Conference

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

Has God been calling me to a task that I am running from?
What can I do to take that first step towards obedience?

Power Verses:
Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." (NIV)

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

© 2009 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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Am I Messing Up My Kids?
Lysa TerKeurst

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." John 9:3 (NIV)

Okay, moms, let's get gut honest today. Have you ever had these thoughts tug at the corners of your mind: What have I done wrong? Am I messing up my kids?

I've had two in-depth conversations this week with friends and the same theme wove throughout both conversations. Our kids sometimes struggle and when they do, often our first thought is What have I done wrong as a mother? So many of us moms worry that we are somehow messing up our kids.

Certainly good can come from a healthy assessment of how we're doing in our crucial role as moms. However, when the question comes in the form of a personal assault rather than a call to action over a specific area of improvement - it's not healthy.

It's paralyzing. It's draining. It's defeating.

It's evidence of a hole in the spiritual filter of our mind.

My friend, Holly, and I have been doing something since the beginning of the year that has become an absolute delight to my day. I've been determined to fill my mind with the truth. I figure the more truth I have crowded into that tiny little space I call my mind, the more untruths will get crowded out.

So, we've been taking a book of the Bible and going through it slowly - reading one chapter a day. Then we discuss what spoke to us the most.

The other day, before my conversation with one of my friends, I read John 9. One verse jumped out at me and seemed to swirl in my thoughts constantly. John 9:3, "'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.'" The way this verse kept bumping into my conscious thoughts let me know it was crucial that I think on it - pray through it - and let it seep into some deep places needing this truth.

Later I was talking with my friend and heard little hints of that question - "What have I done wrong as a mother?"

What a delight it was to have that verse right on the top of my mind. Like a healing balm, I soothed my friend with the truth that what her son is going through right now has nothing to do with her mistakes or even his for that matter. God is helping her son work through some fears that will eventually be a mighty display of spiritual depth in his life.

Sweet sister, have you caught yourself asking lately "What have I done wrong as a mother?" Maybe, some adjustments need to be made.

Or maybe, this line of thinking should be redirected with a different question - "How might God work in this situation so that His work can be displayed in my child's life or in my life?" Either way, remember this truth - you are loved by God and so is your child!

Dear Lord, help me process my motherhood journey using the filter of Your truth and nothing else. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa’s blog to take the “Motherhood guilt quiz” and learn practical ways to overcome this.

The Bathtub is Overflowing but I Feel Drained by Lysa TerKeurst

Real Moms, Real Jesus by Jill Savage

If you are in the Dallas metro area, you're invited to be in the studio audience for the appearance of Lysa Terkeurst on the LIFE Today show with James & Betty Robison, Tuesday, May 26 at 7 p.m. Tickets are free, but you must reserve your seat. Call 817-354-3655 or email audience@loi.org. The studios are located at 1801 West Euless Boulevard, Euless, Texas 76040. Lysa would love to see you there.

Application Steps:
Find a godly friend who can help you process your struggles with your child without condemnation. Ask this friend to spend some time praying with you and for you. Then offer to do the same with her. You'll know you've found the right friend to do this with when she's not afraid to admit she has some of the same struggles as you.

If you're having a hard time finding a friend who will be honest and vulnerable, ask God to bring this type of friend into your life. In the meantime, check out my blog. I think some of my motherhood stories will make you feel right at home. I'm in the trenches with you sister and I'd love to encourage you in your motherhood journey.

Is there something your child has struggled with lately that made you feel like you've done something wrong as his mother?

Prayerfully ask God if there is any thing you can do better as a mom. Also, ask Him to help you see all that you've done right as a mom and how to accept that some of your child's struggles have nothing to do with your actions at all.

Then, spend some time in prayer asking God how He is working in this situation.

Power Verses:
John 3:17, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (NIV)

2 Timothy 1:13-14, "What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us." (NIV)

© 2009 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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Failing Forward
Renee Swope

"The steps of a [woman] are established by the Lord, and He delights in [her] way. When [she] falls, [she] will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds [her] hand." Psalm 37:23-24 (NASB)

I admire, maybe even envy, people who aren't afraid to fail. You know, those people who see personal setbacks as another goal to conquer. People who don't even consider defeat when they blow it.

I wish I were that kind of person. But honestly, I am not always so courageous in the face of failure.

Failure is painful. It's embarrassing. And sometimes it makes me want to give up, mainly on myself.

God is teaching me a lot about failing. In fact, He is giving me a little push these days, to fail forward.

This week He's been challenging me to determine in my heart and mind that I am a work in progress and move forward even when I have a setback. He is reminding me that I am a woman who is becoming all He created her to be.

A woman who is growing.

A woman who is getting better and better each day.

A woman who is not perfect - but who tries to surrender to God's perfect love and perfect power at work in her.

Failing forward...after I shoot harsh words across the room to "shoosh" my child when he announces that the yogurt in our near empty refrigerator has expired and there is nothing to eat! That is, after I'd just opened the large container of perfectly good yogurt, eaten some myself and served it to his brother for a snack.

Failing forward...after I criticize my husband and realize I failed to honor my man, again. Instead I've added to an already stressful day for the husband and father who just brought home groceries.

Failing forward...after I let myself be "too busy" to take the time to encourage, sit with, talk to, and listen to my always-giving-and-forgiving-mom who stopped by unexpectedly this afternoon.

Failing forward...after I tell God that a certain ministry assignment is too stinkin' hard so I can't do it because surely I don't have what it takes.

Every time I fail to be the woman God calls me to be, or the woman I expect myself to be, God reminds me of the progress we've made. Because, even though I may not be who I want to be, I am not who I used to be!

And I get that much closer to who I am meant to be every time I fail forward.

Dear Lord, I am so thankful that with Your help, I can fail forward!! I don't have to see my setbacks as a step back. In fact they can lead me forward if I let them. Today, I will take Your hand and trust Your heart as You pull me back up again and use my failures to help me become the woman You created me to be. In Jesus' Name, amen.

Related Resources:
Shaped with Purpose Workbook and CD by Renee Swope

Youniquely Woman: Becoming Who God Designed You To Be by Kay Arthur, Emilie Barnes, and Donna Otto

Beyond the Shadow of Doubt: Learning to Live Confidently in Christ, Message on DVD by Renee Swope

Visit Renee’s Blog for practical ways we can fail forward with God’s help in the areas where we most often feel defeated.

Application Steps:
List one or two areas of your life where you have felt like you were failing. Then ask God to show you how you can take one step forward with His help. And also ask Him to show you the progress you've made and how you are becoming the woman He created you to be.

Let Renee know how she can pray for you today by clicking here.

Do I allow failure to discourage me and make me feel like I'll never move forward or make progress?

Am I willing to believe God's promise in today's key verse: That the LORD establishes my steps, and delights in my ways. And even when I fall, I don't have to be hurled headlong, because the LORD is willing to hold my hand?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 24:16a, "...though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again." (NIV)

Psalm 73:26, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (NIV)

© 2009 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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What's Your Story?
T. Suzanne Eller

"Here is another story Jesus told: 'The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field.'" Matthew 13:24 (NLT)

I perched on the top of my car. Water rolled the vehicle down the swollen creek. How in the world did I get in such a mess? I had spoken in Tulsa. As I drove home, rain pelted my car. I listened to the scratchy radio blaring wicked weather warnings.

Maybe you should stop. I ignored the still, small voice.

It's only an hour, I reasoned. Surely I'll be fine.

I was only five miles from home when I rounded a corner and heard a whoosh. The engine cut out. I opened the car door and water poured in. I slammed it shut. I tried to start the car, but it would not start. I tried again. And again. I heard a terrible clunk. I turned the key to battery power position and managed to get the window half-way down. I looked into the inky darkness and what I saw took my breath away. The creek that bordered the road had taken over and my car was in the middle of it. Water poured in around the bottom of the car door, covering my feet, my ankles, then my knees. I grabbed my purse and my Bible. I pulled off my heels and wrangled through the window. Finally, I sat on the top of the car and it started to float.

God, I prayed. Help me.

Bright lights flashed at the edge of the water, about 50 feet away. A long Buick, made sometime in the '70's, plunged into the water and chugged toward me. It looked like Heaven to me. That is, until the guy rolled down his window.

"Jump in!" he said. "Hurry!" He and his buddy wore T-shirts with cut-out sleeves. He had a pack of cigarettes rolled in a bandana around his tattooed arm.

I looked at the water. I looked at the Buick … I jumped.

I love telling this story. I can tell it and hear the audience roar with laughter. Humor is such a gift. I can tell the story and share how important it is to listen to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit. I can use it to illustrate how God can use the most unlikely angels to rescue you.

You see, we all have life-baskets filled to the brim with stories. I picture Jesus sitting with the disciples sharing the parables. I think about my own mother telling me what it felt like when she finally grasped God's grace. I hear Lysa TerKeurst sharing her story of adopting her two precious sons from Africa.

The question is, have you told your story lately? Maybe your life-basket contains stories about hard times, or moments when you felt alone, or perhaps good times like when God became so real that it transformed you. Somewhere there is someone who will identify with that story, and perhaps find encouragement, or hope, or maybe just a good belly laugh.

Dear Jesus, I am a witness. A story unfolded and written by Your hand. Give me courage to tell it to someone who needs to hear it. Thank You for being the Author of every chapter of my life. In Jesus' Name, amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Listen to Today’s P31 Radio Show to hear more about God’s unexpected treasures lying within you!

The Woman I Am Becoming: Embrace the Chase for Identity, Faith, and Destiny by T. Suzanne Eller

Visit Suzie’s blog where she offers a giveaway and tips on communicating your story

Application Steps:
Look at your life basket. What stories do you find?

What was impossible to see when you were in the midst of that story?

What do you see now clearly?

Ask God to show you someone who needs to hear that story.

Stop comparing your story to any one else's story. You are unique. Give God the pen and let Him write the next chapter.

Power Verses:
John 1:6-8, "There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light."

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

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What if Jesus Walked in Your Church?
Glynnis Whitwer

"For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst." Matthew 18:20 (NAS)

Singing in the worship band gives me a unique viewpoint of our church on Sundays. On my assigned weeks, I stand on stage waiting for the service to begin. People are still filing in as the pre-recorded music stops and the worship leader steps up to the microphone to welcome the congregation. The lights dim as the tap of the drumsticks signal the band to begin.

Soon the swell of the music and a chorus of voices – young and old – fill the room. By the second song, the house lights are completely off and the only lights shining in the room are on us. Except for the back door. And that's where I face.

Each time the door opens to let in latecomers, outside light shines brightly for a brief moment. From where I stand, it's like a spot light. It's so bright, and so far away, that I can't see the faces of those who come in late. But every once in awhile I dream … sort of one of those awakening dreams. But this one feels real. I dream that Jesus walks in.

In my mind, I see Him walking up the aisle. No one notices Him because their eyes are focused on the words on the screen, or they are closed in worship. He slowly looks left then right. He keeps on walking toward the front. Finally, He reaches the steps below me and slowly ascends them. When He gets to the top of the stage, He turns to receive the worship that is being offered Him.

I wonder what Jesus feels as He looks out over the flock of people. Is He pleased? Is He frustrated that so many minds are on today's lunch? Does He want to reach out and grab the hands that are raised in worship?

Sometimes I long to see Jesus walk in my church so desperately, I can feel my heart pound. Can you imagine what would happen? Can you imagine how people would grab their friends with diseases and go running toward Him? Can you imagine parents carrying their hurting children to Him? The press of people would be intense. Those with addictions, emotional hurts and illnesses would stretch out their hands just to touch Him. People would drop to their knees in adoration.

Before I "awake" and realize it is only a dream, I remember the words of Jesus: "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them" (Matthew 18:20). And I realize that Jesus has come to my church. He is there to receive my worship. He is there to touch the hands of the broken hearted. He longs to heal those who are hurting.

Unfortunately, many times I'm simply hoping that God will "show up." As if He might be too busy to stop by my church that day. Yet by Jesus' very own words, He is already there. My waking dream is a reality. Maybe Jesus doesn't stand next to me, but He's in the room. I need that truth to soak into my heart every time I gather with other believers.

The same Jesus who healed the blind man and raised the dead, has come to our church this week.

Dear Lord, thank You for the amazing reality of Jesus. Thank You that I can count on Your Word to be true, and for You to be present whenever two or more believers are gathered. Help me to really understand what this means, and to have this truth revitalize my worship and prayers. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Submit a Prayer Request

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

Visit Glynnis’ Blog

Application Steps:
Take a few moments and close your eyes. In your mind, picture your church sanctuary and Jesus walking in and sitting down next to you before the service starts. Imagine Him saying, "Hello" and wrapping His arms around you. Just enjoy that feeling for a moment.

How would our church services, or small group meetings, change if Jesus were physically present in the room?

If Jesus was coming to your church this Sunday, who would you bring? What would you ask Him to heal?

Power Verses:
Matthew 14:14, "When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick." (NIV)

Mark 2:2, "So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them." (NIV)

© 2009 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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Cast and Present
Melissa Taylor

"Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall." Psalm 55:22 (NIV)

We were driving home from my mom's house when it happened again. I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw my son Hayden. His eyes were fluttering and his face was pale. I could tell he would be out in a matter of seconds.

My husband stopped the car and I crawled quickly to the back, shouting Hayden's name. His body went limp. Although he was only out for about twenty seconds, it seemed like an hour. This was the third time Hayden had passed out in the last two weeks. I was so scared about his condition. He had some tests scheduled, which hopefully would tell us and the doctors what was going on.

What was causing him to pass out? Would the doctors be able to help him?

The next morning I opened my Bible study book, eager for some time with God. I could not believe my eyes. The title of the lesson was The Great Physician. Immediately I felt a sense of comfort and peace over me. I know the Great Physician well. And I trust Him. At that moment I was no longer worried about Hayden. I knew he was in very capable hands, the mighty hands of the Great Physician. Regardless of what happened, I know the Great Physician had great plans for Hayden, no matter his condition.

The Great Physician is here for all of us. He wants us to come to Him for healing. How stubborn we can be sometimes. I remember once when I was sick. I needed to go to the doctor but didn't feel like making an appointment, passing hours in a waiting room, and spending money on a prescription. I figured I would feel better eventually. I put it off each day until I was so sick I could hardly get out of bed. Finally I went to the doctor. He diagnosed me with strep throat, administered a very painful shot, and I was better within twenty four hours! If only I had gone sooner I would have saved myself a lot of trouble!

The same is true with the Great Physician. How many times do I worry for days or try to solve a problem on my own? When I finally release it to Him, I think, Why didn't I turn it over to Him a long time ago?

God's Word tells us to "cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall" (Psalm 55:22). It also reads, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Philippians 4:6).

We aren't supposed to fix ourselves. We aren't supposed to worry and fret. We are supposed to "cast" and "present." Cast our cares and burdens to God, and present our requests to Him. When we do what His Word tells us to do, we can then experience peace and comfort (Philippians 4:7).

I'm happy to report that Hayden is fine. I can hear him in the next room right now talking and laughing with his little sister. I'm so thankful for the laughter. I'm so thankful for the Great Physician who has given me a peace so that I can enjoy the laughter.

Dear Lord, in our lives there will be times of trial and fear. Remind us to cast our cares and present our requests to You, and leave them there. Thank You for the peace only You can give. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know the Great Physician?

Little Blessings from a Big God: Finding More of God through the Lives of Your Children by Michelle Medlock Adams

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

Visit Melissa's blog

Application Steps:
The next time you find yourself carrying more than you can handle, cast and present.

When was the last time I asked the Great Physician for help?

Is there a burden I am carrying that I need to give up?

Power Verses:
Philippians 4:6-7, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

Matthew 6:34, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it's own." (NIV)

© 2009 by Melissa Taylor. All rights reserved.

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Finding Our Place
Rachel Olsen

"If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." Mark 9:35 (NLT)

Ever noticed how upset people get when someone cuts in line? In elementary school, it was one of the greatest offenses a classmate could commit. Watch a driver's reaction when someone cuts them off in traffic, and you'll realize things haven't changed much. We don't like people getting ahead of us. We want to be at the front of the line … the head of the class ... in the preeminent position.

Jesus knew this about us. And in his last few days with the disciples before His crucifixion, He talked to them about it.

In Mark chapter 8, Jesus predicts His death for the first time. Then He called His disciples to His side and told them: "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it" (vs. 34-35, NLT).

Soon after, as they walked down the road to Capernaum, Jesus again told his disciples of his coming death, but they still didn't understand. The disciples began talking among themselves as they followed along behind Jesus. They were arguing about which of them would be at the front of the line in God's kingdom. Once they arrived, Jesus asked them, "'What were you arguing about on the road?' But they kept quiet because they had argued about who was the greatest. Then Jesus sat down and called the Twelve to Him and said, 'If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all'" (Mark 9:33-35, NLT).

After leaving Capernaum, the group met a wealthy young man – a man of status – on the road. He came over and asked Jesus what he could do to gain eternal life. After a short discussion, Jesus told him to sell his possessions and follow Him. However, the man did not wish to give up his elite life of comfort and power … even if it would lead to eternal life. As he left his encounter with Jesus, he went away with a sorrowful heart.

The disciples, while not nearly as wealthy to start with, had done what Jesus told this rich man to do. They had left everything to follow Christ. When Peter mentioned this fact to Jesus, He replied, "And I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then" (Mark 10:29-31).

A while later, on the road to Jerusalem, Jesus predicted His death a third time. Then James and John told Jesus, "When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left." Jesus told them they didn't understand what they were asking for and, He added, "I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen" (Mark 10:40).

"When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. So Jesus called them together and said, 'You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many'" (Mark 10:41-45, NLT).

Jesus was teaching them the essence of true greatness – helping others with a God-centered heart. He was letting them – and us – know that greatness in His kingdom is not determined by status but by service.

So, I suppose the quickest way to the front of God's line today, is to let someone else in front of you.

Dear Lord, help me be more sensitive to notice and meet the needs of those in my family, in my neighborhood, in my church, and in my place of work today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Visit Rachel at her blog today

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

Application Steps:
Find a way to serve today – put someone else ahead of yourself.

How much do I serve, and how much do I jockey for a better position?

Power Verses:
John 13:3-5, "Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples' feet, drying them with the towel he had around him." (NIV)

© 2009 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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Yellow Ribbon Round Your Tree
Lynn Cowell

"…Throughout the generations to come you must make tassels for the hems of your clothing and attach them with a blue cord. When you see the tassels, you will remember and obey all the commands of the Lord..." Numbers 15: 38b & 39a (NLT)

Have you seen yellow ribbons around your community serving as reminders of our men and women serving in the military? I love to see them. It is so important to remember and pray for those who serve to protect our country each day.

Reading Numbers 15 today, I discovered the Lord used a similar means to help His people remember. Numbers 15:37-41 reads: "The Lord said to Moses, 'Give the following instructions to the people of Israel: Throughout the generations to come you must make tassels for the hems of your clothing and attach them with a blue cord. When you see the tassels, you will remember and obey all the commands of the Lord instead of following your own desires and defiling yourselves, as you are prone to do. The tassels will help you remember that you must obey all my commands and be holy to your God. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt that I might be your God. I am the Lord your God!'" (NLT). Put a tassel on your clothing to remember.

Recently, my daughter Mariah and I set aside some time to watch a chick-flick together. We were in the last few minutes of the movie, wrapping up the plot, when I looked up at the clock and thought, "I need to go and pray for my husband Greg. He needs me to pray for him right now." Then the other part of my mind said, "You can't, the movie is almost over. What would Mariah think if you got up and didn't finish the movie with her?"

I sat and struggled for about 15 minutes, going back and forth between wanting to obey what I believed the Lord was asking me to do, and wanting to finish the movie. I had already invested two hours building up to the finale and I wanted to see how the movie ended!

I was struggling with my own desires, just like the Lord talked about. Finally, I got up and went to pray for Greg. I only hoped that while I sat and struggled over obeying, I hadn't missed something important the Lord had in mind. (In Numbers 14:40 the people obeyed too late and missed out on the blessing of the Lord!)

Following my own desires and obeying the Lord is something I struggle with everyday. So, like the Israelites, what "tassels" can I put in my life that will serve as reminders to obey in all areas, whether big or small in my own eyes?

Sometimes I write out verses on index cards, carrying them with me as reminders of what the Lord is currently trying to teach me. I have a friend who writes verses on her bathroom mirror with dry-erase markers. Another friend has his Blackberry alarm go off at 10:30 a.m. each morning to remind him to take a few minutes to pray. Like the Israelites, we need something to draw our minds back to the Lord in the middle of our busy days. Maybe it's time to make tassels the new style!

Dear Lord, today help me to set aside my own desires in order to follow You. You know that I am prone to follow my own way, so cause me to be reminded to obey You, and obey on time! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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

What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

God the Builder: Surrendering to God's Building Power in Your Life by Wendy Pope

Visit Lynn’s blog

Application Steps:
What can you do to bring to mind during the day the areas that you need to obey in, or things that the Father is teaching you?

Ask your friends for ideas of how they remember the Lord during their day. Ask a friend to hold you accountable for following Him in an area of your life and not follow after your own desires.

In what area in your life are you following your own desires? The way you spend your time? The way you spend your money? The way you relate to your family?

When you feel the Lord prompting you to do something, do you follow through in His time table or your own?

Power Verses:
1 Peter 2:11, "Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul." (NIV)

© 2009 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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Little i
Marybeth Whalen

"He must become greater; I must become less." John 3:30 (NIV)

The other night my husband and i were at an event where the words to the worship music were placed on a screen for all to see. But this night i noticed something: every time they used the word "I" on the screen, it wasn't capitalized. My editor's eye was drawn to this glaring error, and i spent much of the time that i was supposed to be singing trying to discern why they had done this. Oversight? Trying to be cute? It bugged me.

Then i felt God's whisper to my heart, causing me to go a bit deeper. "Why are you stressing about capitalizing the i?" He asked me. "Why does it need to be capitalized? Who decided that? Maybe these folks recognize that "i" am not important -- but I AM is."

While i am not proposing a little i revolution -- shaking up tradition and causing a crisis in the grammar world -- i am wondering, what does a little i life look like?

Sacrifice? Surrender? Slaying self? Setting apart? Seeking Him? Serving others instead of doing what i want?

This little i thing could catch on. It should catch on, because it's the life Jesus called us to. We don't need to be capitalized. We need to be small, insignificant -- just a jot and a tittle, the littlest marks in the alphabet. Instead of a capital letter that announces our importance. At least, that's what i am learning these days -- and trying to live out.

Sacrifice, surrender and servanthood are hard. But i know that's what God calls us to do; laying down our wants, needs and desires and straining towards His.

Dear Lord, I want to make Your name famous and mine unimportant. Help me to be mindful of my tendency to make things about me. And help me Lord to keep the focus on You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
i am not but i know I AM by Louie Giglio

Share with your children the joys of focusing on the Lord with The Tale of Three Trees retold by Angela Elwell Hunt

God desires all areas of our lives to be set apart, even our finances. Read Marybeth’s story of surrendering to God in this area in Learning To Live Financially Free by Marybeth and Curt Whalen

Visit Marybeth’s blog

Application Steps:
While not capitalizing your "i's" might not be proper or practical, journal some ways that you can consciously choose to make Jesus become greater in your daily life as you become less.

Do you struggle with taking the focus off God and putting it on yourself? Are there certain times or situations when this happens for you? What can you do to change your response when this happens?

Power Verses:
John 3:31, "The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all." (NIV)

© 2009 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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