Calling the Great Physician
Tracie Miles

"On hearing this, Jesus said to them, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'" Mark 2:17 (NIV)

Recently I came down with an infection. After ten days of misery, I finally went to see a doctor and was diagnosed with bronchitis. Feeling much better after a few days of antibiotics, I wished I had sought out a physician's help sooner, preventing all those days of unnecessary suffering!
As I considered my stubbornness in deciding to call on a doctor, I thought about how our walk with Christ is often just like that.

For example, we have problems in our lives, but we think we are qualified to handle them ourselves. We have burdens, but we assume we can carry the weight on our own. We have questions, but don't really trust God to supply the answers. We need help, but stubbornly refuse to ask.

Some people call God the "The Great Physician." Although we think of this in terms of physical healing, Jesus walked the earth to provide something more: spiritual healing.

In Mark 2:13-17, the Pharisees asked Jesus why He was eating with sinners and tax collectors. Jesus explained that He came so we would know Him, and be healed from the inside out. You see, if the world were a righteous place, there would have been no need for a Savior. But God knew just how much we needed a Great Physician. Out of compassion for us, He sent His Son to fill that role. In order to tap into His healing power, we simply have to seek Him. And the sooner, the better.

In another recent situation, I quickly and desperately sought God's intervention. A few days later, I happened to notice I felt a peace I could not explain. In fact, I was confused as to why I was so calm. I thought to myself, "Why am I not obsessing about that problem every second? Why am I not more distraught and worried?"

Then God quickened my heart and reminded me that I had turned that problem over to Him. He had taken the weight off of my shoulders. He had given me spiritual healing in the form of peace.

I had sought a cure from the Great Physician, and He had provided it. Not a cure for the problem, but a cure for my heart as I dealt with the problem under His care.

If you need a physician who knows your suffering, understands how you are feeling, and has the cure, make an appointment to spend time with God today.

Dear Lord, forgive me for sometimes coming to You for help only after I have exhausted all efforts to handle the problem on my own. Please fill me with a peace that surpasses all understanding in the situations I am facing. Grant me spiritual healing, and help me see You working in and through me. Thank You for always being available and on call. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Confessions of a Good Christian Girl: The Secrets Women Keep and the Grace that Saves Them by Tammy Maltby

Visit Tracie’s blog – Seeking Peace in God’s Will

Application Steps:
Put God on your virtual speed dial - make a commitment to call Him every morning.

Is my heart and spirit in need of some spiritual healing?

What specific sins in my life desperately require God's intervention? Have I asked Him recently to intervene?

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 12:9, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." (NIV)

Philippians 4:7, "Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." (NLT)

Jeremiah 17:14, "Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise." (NIV)

© 2009 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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If Only I Had …
Lysa TerKeurst

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32 (NIV)

There's a simple little script many of us play in our mind—simple, yet incredibly dangerous. Dare I say it's one of the biggest things that hold us back from feeling fulfilled in our relationship with God. It's a script tangled in a lie that typically goes something like this: I could really be happy and fulfilled if only I had …
… a skinnier body.
… a husband.
… a husband who was more tender and romantic.
… more money.
… a more successful career.
… a better personality.
… a baby.
… smarter kids.

I don't know what your "if only I had" statements are, but I do know that none of them will bring fulfillment. They might bring temporary moments of happiness… but not true fulfillment.

In the book I just wrote, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl, I expose the "if only I had" lie with this truth: Apart from a thriving relationship with God, even if we got everything on our list, there would still be a hollow gap in our soul.

Instead of saying, "If only I had" and filling in the blank with some person, possession, or position, make a choice to replace that statement with God's truth. Here are some examples that have helped me battle the temptation to let people, possessions, or positions take God's place in my life.


I no longer say, "If only I had a daddy who loved me.…" Instead, I say, "Psalm 68:5 promises God will be a father to the fatherless."

Maybe your gap isn't left by an absent father but by a friend who hurt you. Or perhaps a husband who left you. Or the children you've longed to have and still don't. Whatever that gap is, God is the perfect fit for your emptiness. Pray this paraphrase of Luke 1:78–79: "Because of the tender mercy of my God by which the rising sun will come to me from heaven—to shine on my darkness and in what feels like the shadow of death to me—I will find peace."


I no longer say, "If only I had more possessions …." Instead, I recite Matthew 6:19–21: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Any possession I ever long for, no matter how good it may seem, will only be good for a limited time. In light of eternity, every possession is in the process of breaking down, becoming devalued, and will eventually be taken from us. If I set my heart solely on acquiring more things, I'll feel more vulnerable with the possibility of loss.

Possessions are meant to be appreciated and used to bless others. They were never meant to be identity markers. It's not wrong to enjoy the possessions we have as long as we don't depend on them for our heart's security.


I no longer say, "If only I had a better position .…" Instead, I say the words of Psalm 119:105: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." I don't need a better position to get where I should go. I don't have to figure out my path and jockey to get ahead. I need God's Word to guide me. As I follow Him and honor Him step-by-step, I can be assured that I'm right where He wants me to be doing what He wants me to do.

Whatever "if only I had" statement you are struggling with, you can replace it with solid truths from Scripture that will never leave you empty. It's a bold assertion to make but it's true. When God's Word gets inside of us, it becomes the new way we process life. It rearranges our thoughts, our motives, our needs, and our desires. Our soul was tailor-made to be filled with God and His truth, therefore, it seeps into every part of us and fills us completely.

Dear Lord, I acknowledge only You can fill those empty places in my heart. Help me to stop the "if only I had" cycle and instead be set free with Your truth. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa’s blog to read a chapter from her new book, “Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.”

Click here to order Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst

What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
What "if only I had" statements do you struggle with?
What are some verses you could use to replace your "if only I had" lies?

Why do we struggle with trying to get our needs met by people, possessions and positions?

What are some dangerous outcomes of this pattern?

Power Verses:
Luke 1:78–79: "Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace." (NIV)

Psalm 119: 30–32, "I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. I hold fast to your statutes, O LORD; do not let me be put to shame. I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." (NIV)

© 2009 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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The Lord Is Their Refuge
Marybeth Whalen

"You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge." Psalm 14:6 (NIV)

When I read today's key verse, I thought about the people who contributed to the financial mess within our country this past year. These people lined their own pockets without concern for the ramifications of their choices. They knowingly deceived those who trusted them. They covered themselves, while leaving others exposed in the process. They were like the evildoers who frustrated the plans of the poor. Sadly, lot of us were left feeling poor - financially and spiritually - as our plans were frustrated.

Thankfully, this is not where the verse ends. Yes, bad things happen. Yes, we have all seen our private finances affected by this public crisis. But this verse reminds us that the Lord is our refuge. I started thinking about what the word refuge means, and found this definition in Webster's 1828 Dictionary: "That which shelters or protects from danger, distress or calamity; a stronghold which protects by its strength, or a sanctuary which secures safety by its sacredness; any place inaccessible to an enemy."

Then I cross-referenced the word "refuge" in the Bible. I found many other scriptures that remind us that God is our refuge. Second Samuel 22:2-4 and Psalm 18:2-3 are the same verses repeated by King David while facing troubled times:

"The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior - from violent men you save me. I call to the Lord, who is worthy of my praise, and I am saved from my enemies."

I love how both the definition and the verse talk about a refuge being a place where your enemies can't get to you! Do you need that reminder today? I know sometimes I need to remember that He offers me that safe place I can run to … a place where my enemies can't touch me!

We can claim the promise that is found in Psalm 17:14: "O Lord, by your hand save me from such men, from men of this world, whose reward is in this life. You still the hunger of those you cherish; their sons have plenty, and they store up wealth for their children."

People who make money their god receive their reward in this life. But they will spend eternity in longing. That doesn't sound like a good trade to me!

God promises those who place their trust in Him He will keep from going hungry. He will make sure our children have plenty, and He will give us wealth to store up for our children. That doesn't mean wealth like our world defines it. Jesus said that He doesn't give as the world gives. In God's economy, wealth exists in hope, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control. Unlike money, these are the things that last, and bring about eternal blessings.

Do you need to take refuge in God instead of letting bad news rule your heart and mind? Do you need to spend time today searching His Word for promises and assurances that will comfort your hurting heart and settle your anxious mind? Maybe you need to journal your feelings, pouring out your heart to God and seeking His answers. Maybe you need to pray without ceasing, allowing His presence to give you rest from worry. Whatever troubles you, seek refuge in God.

He is right there waiting for you to find shelter and safety in Him.

Dear Lord, I need You to be my refuge. Thank You that Your Word promises You will be a refuge for me in times of trouble. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Listen to Lysa TerKeurst share on our radio show about the peace of Jesus.

Learning to Live Financially Free by Marybeth and Curt Whalen (for more resources by Marybeth, click here)

When Life and Beliefs Collide: How Knowing God Makes a Difference by Carolyn Custis James

Visit Marybeth’s blog – Cheaper by the Half Dozen

Application Steps:
Spend time journaling today what the word "refuge" means to you. Pour out your heart to God and tell Him you need Him to be your refuge. Write down some verses that bring you assurance and meditate on those verses when you feel anxious.

If you are going through a crisis, financial or otherwise, have you sought God as your refuge?
What false shelters do you find yourself seeking refuge in?

Power Verses:
Psalm 46:1, "God is our refuge and strength. An ever-present help in trouble." (NIV)

Isaiah 25:4a, "You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat." (NIV)

© 2009 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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Abba Father
Ariel Allison, She Reads Featured Author

"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry Abba, Father. The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." Romans 8:15-16 (NIV)

We welcome Ariel Allison as our guest writer today. Ariel is the author of eye of the god, one of P31's She Reads fall selections. Ariel is the mom of four boys under the age of 7 and wrote a suspenseful novel in her "spare" time.

The cross that marks my father's grave is nothing but a broken tree branch lashed together with twine. Knee high weeds grow above the sunken ground where the rustic casket lies. The last time I visited his grave was late at night as I stared at the makeshift cross with the help of flickering headlights. The sharp chill of a Tennessee autumn surrounded me and once again I felt the longing.

What I longed for, as I stood on that frigid hilltop, was not the physical presence of my father. It was what I had never really gotten from him—the feeling or assurance of his love.

A year earlier I sat beside a dying man and choked on my sorrow as I asked, "Daddy, do you love me?" I got my answer hours before he slipped into eternity.

He looked at me with startling blue eyes. My resolve to hold it together began to crumble. I feared his answer. What if he said no? How would I live with that knowledge? But even worse was the thought of standing over a grave and never knowing his answer.

His blue eyes clouded with tears. "I'm sorry," he said, his tongue swollen and dry. "I'm sorry I haven't said it. I do love you."

For the first time in my life, my father and I wept tears of joy together. It was a holy moment, a gift from the God who loves me more than my earthly father ever could. Before he passed on, I got but a taste of what our relationship should have been. It was a drop of water on the tongue of a thirsty woman.

Jesus taught us to refer to God as "Abba" or "Daddy." Jesus knew it would be difficult for some of us to approach God as our Father. However, only God can fill the empty places in our hearts that long for a father's love. He offers a living water, a living love, that quenches our thirst. We simply need to admit that we are empty and thirsting for our Father – our heavenly Father.

I've longed to be the delight of my father. Not for a moment on his deathbed, but for the entirety of my life. This longing has caused my heart to hunger deeply for my heavenly Father. My Abba. He says that I am His child, and assures me that He loves me. In those words my heart finds the father I've been looking for my entire life.

The rustic cross above my dad's grave represents the truth that I have a Father who loves me. I have a Father who will never leave me nor forsake me.

And so do you.

Father God, help me to know You as my Father, the One who will never leave me nor forsake me. Heal my broken places and teach me what it means to be loved. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

eye of the god - Christian suspense novel by Ariel Allison

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

Talk with Ariel and join the She Reads blog discussion where this week we’ll be talking about the father-daughter relationship and it’s affect on lives and literature.

Application Steps:
It is hard to know the love of Father God if you've never known the love of your earthly father. If you feel distant from your heavenly Father, ask Him to come closer, and invite His Spirit to dwell within you.

If your earthly father has been a source of pain in your life, pray that God will give you the courage to forgive.

Do you need to allow yourself the freedom to grieve the loss of a father's love, and seek the love of your Father God? Be honest with yourself, and God about this.

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 6:18, "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." (NIV)

Psalm 10:14, "But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless." (NIV)

Psalm 68:5, "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling." (NIV)

© 2009 by Ariel Allison. All rights reserved.

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Forgotten No More
Rachel Olsen

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…" Hebrews 6:19 (NIV)

My mind was suddenly four thousand miles from the quaint outdoor café I sat in. I laid the book on the table and visualized the garbage-strewn streets of Quito, where the poorest of the poor struggle to survive. The title of the devotional entry in Daily Prayers from the NIV was "Ecuador's Forgotten Ones" and it painted this picture of a place I'd been two years earlier:

You see them on the well-worn, two-foot wide median that divides the city's busiest street. Vehicles zip past at alarming speeds while preschoolers play tag, oblivious to the danger. But when the traffic halts, these little ones press their dirty faces against closed car windows, begging for pennies. At night older children join them and spit gasoline into the air, lit by matches into flaming, dragon-like plumes, hoping for a coin from a passing motorist. These are Ecuador's forgotten ones: slum-dwelling children with no hope for a future.
Tears filled my eyes. I couldn't shake the thought of the damage that gasoline was doing to their young bodies and minds. Yet I knew their feeling of hopelessness was even more damaging. These kids must feel as if they have no help, no anchor, and no future. I silently pleaded with God to send help and hope to these fire-breathing forgotten ones. For I know God has not forgotten them. He sees them.

My mind drifted to the reason this entry caught my eye: Mauricio. My husband and I sponsor him through Compassion International. A few years ago, I traveled with the Compassion organization to Ecuador to see the children impacted by poverty, and meet Mauricio. Another team from P31 Ministries leaves for Ecuador today with Compassion International.

Ecuador's economic structure suffers. Several years ago their government abruptly switched the money system to the US dollar. Overnight everyone's bank accounts were frozen. Many people were unable to access their money for months … others never got their money at all as many banks folded. Even those too poor to have bank accounts suffered due to inflation near 300%.

Multiple government leaders have taken office, made drastic or selfish changes, and then defected the country – leaving the Ecuadorian people forgotten. But God has not forgotten them, and He doesn't want us to forget them either. Someone has to pray for them, someone has to help them, and someone has to hand them the anchor of hope. Someone has to declare to them the words of the author of Hebrews: "We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation" (6:9, NLT).

Just as God has not forgotten the Ecuadorian people, He has not forgotten you. Are you in need of an eternal anchor today? Are you suffering financial hardship? Is your soul adrift in the traffic of life? If so, click here to meet your Hope.

Are you able to be God's hands of hope to Ecuador's forgotten ones? If your heart is quickened to help a child from Ecuador or elsewhere, don't ignore that impulse and forget it. Do something about it today. Hebrews 6:10 assures us, "God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them" (NIV).

You can demonstrate to one child that he is forgotten no more.

Dear Lord, my heart aches for Your people facing poverty, injustice, and infirmity in this world. Help them, Lord. Be their anchor and hope. And help me as Your servant to know how to help them. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Sponsor a child through Compassion International

Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most by Dr. Wess Stafford

Visit Rachel’s blog - My Life in Chapter and Verse

P31 Ministries’ Compassion blog – For the Least of These

Application Steps:
Pray for the children of Ecuador today. Pray for their salvation, their health, their economy, and their leaders.

Pray for God to send workers to support and help children in poverty – and pray for the P31 Ministries' team leaving today to love on the underprivileged children in Ecuador.

Consider how you can get involved.

Imagine what daily life feels like for one of these children.

Read Matthew 25:34-40 below and reflect.

Power Verses:
Matthew 25:34-40, "Then the King will say to those on the right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.' Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?' And the King will say, 'I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'" (NLT)

© 2009 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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A Praying Momma
T. Suzanne Eller

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

Mickey's son was raised in church. He once served as a leader in his youth group. When he first started drinking, she and her husband weren't sure what to do. Then he was arrested. Then they discovered that he was using drugs. For the first time in her life, Mickey felt helpless as a mom.

Their home was a safe place where faith was lived out. And yet her son continued to spiral downward, no matter what they did. The night he broke into their small business and emptied the cash register was the bleakest night of all.

Mickey looked around the church and realized there were other moms with similar struggles. She started a Prodigal Prayer Group that met on Tuesday nights. They prayed one year, two years, and then three. Mickey saw others' children come back to their faith, but her prayers for her own son seemed to be going nowhere. Nonetheless, she continued to show up, joining in strength and support with other praying mommas.

I wish my sweet friend had a video camera recording her son through those dark days. I wish she could have seen Austin rediscover his faith, overcome his addictions, and see Austin grow into the godly man he is today.

But the reality is that Mickey didn't have a video camera. All she had was her faith. And that faith was tested over and over. She was aware of the realities of her son's choices, but she continued to pray. She continued to believe. She had to make hard choices like setting boundaries. She had to listen to other moms whose children were not straying and who did not understand her struggle.

Mickey says that during that time she began to see her son through the eyes of faith. She knew that it wasn't in her power to change her son, but that God could be her source of strength as she stayed the course.

We often say we would do anything for our children. If someone had told Mickey that it would take years of praying and believing like she did without seeing any sign of change, I wondered would she still do it? Mickey says yes, she would.

Maybe you identify with my friend. You raised your son or daughter with love. You provided a safe place. You showed them Jesus, and yet somehow they lost their way. Today I want to encourage you. The Father loves you and your child. In Jesus' story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32, NIV) we see a son who has hit rock bottom. He finally decides to go home and this is the reaction of his father:

So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.' But his father said to the servants, 'Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger, and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening in the pen. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found. (verses 20-24)
Jesus told this story to illustrate the love of the Heavenly Father. The beauty of a praying momma is not lost in the chaos of your child's choices. You are not alone as you pray, because He's waiting, just as you are, to welcome your child in His embrace.

Dear Father, thank You that You love my child even more than I. I am not alone. You are with me. Walk with me today. Give me Your strength. Give me renewed hope and eyes of faith. In Your powerful, precious name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Real Issues, Real Teens: What Every Parent Needs to Know by T. Suzanne Eller. For more resources from Suzie, click here.

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

Visit Suzie’s blog where Mickey talks about her journey, and how praying with others helped.

Application Steps:
Invite others who may be interested in joining you in prayer for prodigals. Choose a time to meet.

Begin by reading the story of the prodigal son.

How does the Father feel about your child?

"Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays." Soren Kierkegaard

Power Verses:
1 Thessalonians 5:11, "So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you'll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you're already doing this; just keep on doing it." (MSG)
© 2009 by T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.

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The Most Important Time of My Day
Lysa TerKeurst

"'… Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Matthew 4:4 (NIV)

Is it really that important to have a quiet time with the Lord everyday? I mean the Lord knows how busy my life is, so if I just toss up a few prayers and listen to a Christian song on the radio while rushing into my day, that should suffice. Right?

It's easy to let the busyness of life crowd out time for prayer, Bible reading, and sitting with the Lord. There are a million things on all of our to-do lists, time is tight, and quiet moments seem few and far between. But I've learned that if I make the choice to be with the Lord first thing in the morning, my outlook on life that day and my ability to handle things seems to go so much smoother.

Also, I've had to change my mindset on having a quiet time. Spending time with the Lord in the morning doesn't end when I say "amen" and put my Bible back on the shelf. I've just invited the King of kings to participate in my day. So, I get up from spending time with the Lord in the morning and start eagerly looking for His hand of activity in my life.

I think about the Bible verses I read that morning and look for ways to apply them to my life that very day. I watch the circumstances that come my way hour by hour and ask the Lord to constantly give me wisdom to process life in the way that would be most honoring to Him. My mindset is healthier, my attitude more positive, and my ability to extend grace to those who rub me the wrong way is increased just by setting aside some time to be with the Lord.

If you are struggling with having quiet time with the Lord each day, try these helpful ideas:

1. Be honest with God and admit your struggle. Ask God to give you the desire to set aside time to be with Him.

2. Start with just a small amount of time. Even if it is just 5 minutes at first, give this 5 minutes solely to the Lord without any other distractions. Over the next weeks and months, your desire for more time with Him will increase.

3. Use a version of the Bible that lends itself to study. I use the NIV Life Application Study Bible and I love it. It helps me understand the context each book was written in and gives me commentaries to understand specific verses.

4. Ask God for understanding as you read the Bible. When I first started reading the Bible I had a hard time. So, I started praying that God would open my spiritual eyes to see the truths in a life changing way for me.

5. Write some of the verses that seem most applicable to your life on 3x5 cards and use them in your prayers. For example, Matthew 6:19-20 says, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth… but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven." So, I could use this verse in my prayer time by praying, "God, help me to know how to store up treasures in Heaven. Help me to relinquish my tight hold on my earthly possessions so I can use them to build Your kingdom now. Show me how to best use that which You have blessed me with. Give me Your mindset for the money I have."

6. Get involved in a Bible Study with friends. This will help hold you accountable to getting your study time done and will open up great discussions to deepen everyone's understanding of applying God's truths to everyday life.

I've found a daily quiet time with the Lord is very important and very doable as well.

Dear Lord, I want a more vibrant relationship with You and I know having a daily quiet time is an important part of that. Help me make this my most important priority each day, no matter how busy life is. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Lysa wrote her new book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl, specifically to help women learn to more effectively understand the Bible and apply truth to their life. If you are tired of going through the Christian motions, this is the book you’ve been looking for. Click here to order.

Visit Lysa’s blog today for some more suggestions on having great quiet times with God

What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
If you don't know which book of the Bible to start with, I'd suggest either Matthew or Philippians. These are two of my favorite books that are rich with life application opportunities. You may also want to read a chapter from the book of Proverbs. There are 31 chapters, one for each day of the month.

The fall months seem to be a time where schedules pick up, time gets tight, and some things have to fall by the wayside. But, we have to be careful to never take a break from having time with the Lord. How can we safeguard this time and make it a priority each day?

Power Verses:
Matthew 6:11, "Give us today our daily bread." (NIV)

Matthew 6:33, "But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (NIV)

© 2009 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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Whatever It Takes
Marybeth Whalen

"For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance." Psalm 66:10-12 (NIV)

This school year, my husband and I made some big changes in our house. We took the kids' computer out of the bonus room and gave them use of our two laptop computers in our presence only. We took the extra TV out of the bonus room. We got rid of all the extra channels on our satellite service, leaving the basic few. And we began requiring that our two children who have cell phones turn them in for the night at 8pm.

Why did we implement these seemingly harsh decisions? Because last school year our children made some bad choices… and their grades reflected it. They chose to watch TV in the bonus room instead of going to bed at a decent hour. They chose to play on the computer when they were supposed to be working on assignments. They chose to text their friends instead of focus on their schoolwork.

After repeated lectures and warnings, they still made the same mistakes. This pattern of behavior left us no choice but to come in and remove the things that were a stumbling block. The kids didn't like our decision and to them it seemed unfair. But we stood firm. We knew that we were doing the right thing for our children. We could see a future they could not, and we had to protect that future for them—even if they didn't understand our method for doing so. As their parents, we have to do whatever it takes.

Sometimes God has to do the same for us. At the time His plan may seem harsh and unnecessary. We may not realize that He can see a future we cannot. We are His children, and He will remove all stumbling blocks that keep us from being all that we can be. Even if it hurts. Even when we cry and beg Him not to. Even when we pout and tell Him it's not fair.

It's because I love you, He tells us, that I do this. I am creating something beautiful in you if you will just stop fighting me. I have a place I am trying to get you to. You can't see it, my precious child, but I can.

Is there something God is doing in your life that feels unjust? That has you pouting or crying or wondering why? Maybe you identify with the verses from today. You feel imprisoned, burdened, trampled, burned. Do you trust Him to bring you out of the place where you are to a place of abundance? The most beautiful prayer we can pray is: I trust You, I trust You, I trust You. He is a loving Father who only wants the best for us and He will do whatever it takes to get us there. Instead of fighting Him, let's rest in that Truth.

Dear Lord, I trust You. I trust You. I trust You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Everyday Life encouragement is just a click away!

Becoming A Woman of Influence, CD message by Marybeth Whalen

For the Write Reason General Editor Marybeth Whalen

When Life and Beliefs Collide: How Knowing God Makes a Difference by Carolyn Custis James

Visit Marybeth’s blog – Cheaper by the Half Dozen

Application Steps:
Is there a time that God did whatever it took and you later realized it was good for you? Spend time journaling about that today.

How is God doing whatever it takes in your life right now? Are you recognizing it or rebelling against it?

Power Verses:
Psalm 143:7-8, "Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul." (NIV)

Psalm 18:19, "He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me." (NIV)

© 2009 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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The Ram is on its Way
Glynnis Whitwer

"So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, 'On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.'" Genesis 22:14 (NIV)

Have you ever been in a situation so desperate that it looked hopeless?

Have you ever sat at the kitchen table wondering how you were going to pay the electric bill? Have you ever stood at a door that's been slammed in your face by an angry teenager and despaired at ever having a relationship with him again? Have you ever had your heart broken so deeply that you wondered if you would ever feel whole again?

Sadly, we live in a broken world where desperate situations happen every day. I know someone reading this devotion is wondering how she will make it through the day because her situation looks hopeless. If that is you, I encourage you to keep reading. I believe God has a message of hope for you today.

That message is found in the Bible, in the story of a man who was dealing with his own desperate situation. His name was Abraham and he faced the greatest testing of his life. After longing for a son for many years, God finally gave Abraham a boy, whom he named Isaac. Abraham never imagined God would test his faith by asking him to sacrifice his son. But it happened.

It had to have been the darkest day of Abraham's life as he trudged up the mountain, with firewood strapped to his son's back. Every step took Abraham closer to what he believed to be the sad ending of a hopeless situation – the death of his son. Yet in spite of his sorrow, Abraham trusted God. His heart wasn't soaring with joy. He wasn't dancing up the mountain. But he put one foot in front of the other. Walking through the darkness of the situation; obeying His God's commands.

Unbeknownst to Abraham, something else was walking up that mountain. Quietly. Out of sight. On the other side of the mountain. Something else was putting one foot in front of the other. Only Abraham couldn't see it.

For every step Abraham took, a ram on the other side of the mountain took a step.

All Abraham saw that day was his solitary journey of pain. As he got closer to the top of the mountain, his dread must have increased. I wonder if he asked himself any questions. I would have. I would have wondered why hadn't God intervened? Why hadn't God stopped this testing? Couldn't God see that Abraham was a man of faith? Why test him in this way?

But there was no answer. There was no voice from heaven. And so Abraham kept obeying his God's command. He put Isaac on an altar and prepared to sacrifice his one and only son.

And just at that very moment, at the very last second, when it looked like the end had come, God spoke, stopping the sacrifice. Abraham looked up and there caught in the thicket was a ram. Abraham took his son off the altar, replaced him with the ram, and offered the sacrifice to God.

Abraham named that place "Yahweh-Yireh" or "The Lord Will Provide." And the story was written down for generations of God-followers to read. It was written so that you and I today would read it as we face our own hopeless situations. It was captured in print so that you and I would know that God is already planning for our provision. We don't see it. We don't hear it. But we can trust that our God is at work. On your behalf, and on mine.

I choose to trust God today. A ram is on the way.

Dear Lord, You know how desperate I am today. You know that my faith has wavered. Although I want to trust You, I'm having trouble doing so. I ask for Your intervention in my situation, and for an increase of my faith while I wait. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Can we pray for you?

Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner by Wendy Blight

An Untroubled Heart by Micca Campbell

Talk with Glynnis at her blog – Welcome Home: Where Your Heart Longs to Be!

For more resources from Glynnis, click here.

Application Steps:
Read Psalm 91. List the promises God has for those who love Him.

God's timing is not our timing. What are some reasons God might wait to answer our prayers?
Read the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22. What are some of the things Abraham did right that you can apply to your situation?

Power Verses:
Psalm 91:14, "'Because he loves me,' says the LORD, 'I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.'" (NIV)

Psalm 22:5, "They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed." (NIV)

© 2009 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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The Day I Sat in God's Lap
Tracie Miles

"Come near to God and he will come near to you." James 4:8a (NIV)

A couple months ago, I found myself in despair. I had been hurt and felt betrayed by a friend. How was I going to fix the issues I was suddenly facing? My heart and mind were overwhelmed with the storm that had unexpectedly raged into my life.

One Sunday afternoon, I was feeling especially sad and worried about it. To hide my tears from my family, I wandered quietly into the solace of my bedroom. It was a rainy day and the room was dim, so I clicked on the lamp beside my bed. As the warm glow of light bathed the room, my eyes fell upon the little glass box a sweet friend had given me a few weeks earlier.

This beautiful engraved box, wrapped in a soft yellow bow, was filled with little slips of carefully folded papers, and on each slip of paper was an encouraging Bible verse. This would have been a wonderful gift in itself, but to make it even more special, my friend had inserted my name into each of the verses. When I read them, I felt as if God was speaking directly to me, as if He was calling out to Tracie, by name.

As I sat quietly alone in my bedroom unfolding each little slip of paper, tears streamed down my face. I read every verse silently, asking God to hear my prayers, comfort me, take away my hurt, and show me the way.

After a few minutes of intense prayer and focus, I became aware of God's presence in the room.

I felt Him wrap His holy comforting arms around me and pull me into His presence. Suddenly, an idea popped into my mind. Instead of putting the papers back in the glass box after reading them, I spread them out all around me. Most were in front of me so I could read and focus on them over and over. But I placed several to my right, several to my left, and even put a few behind my back.

As I sat on my bed, fully surrounded on every side by holy words, God impressed upon my heart that I was virtually nestled into His lap; the lap of my heavenly Father. The thought nearly took my breath away.

What an awesome privilege to be positioned right smack in the middle of God's Word. To be sitting in the lap of the One who created me. To be entirely physically surrounded by His truths. To see His written promises speaking specifically to me.

I realized I wasn't merely surrounded by slips of paper. I was surrounded by countless reassurances that He heard my prayers. What a gentle reminder that I needed to put my trust in Him, and I really could find rest in Him.

I thanked God for reminding me that when I seek Him, I will find Him, and for helping me see just how alive His Word really is.

Dear Lord, thank You for who You are. For the privilege of getting to spend time with You and sit quietly with You. Thank You for engaging in conversation with me, a broken and needy soul. Help me have the strength through You to overcome the obstacles that Satan would love for me to trip over. Give me the passion and commitment to continue seeking You with all my heart, even when life gets tough or people disappoint me. Thank You for always being there when I need You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

His Princess: Love Letters from Your Prince by Sherri Rose Shepherd

The Friends We Keep: A Woman's Quest for the Soul of Friendship by Sarah Zacharias Davis

To hear the rest of the story, visit Tracie’s blog – Seeking Peace in God’s Will

Application Steps:
If you are struggling with a problem in any area of your life, ask God to lead you to verses that can reassure you of His truths.

Write or type these verses out, inserting your name into each one, and spend some time sitting in God's lap this week.

Am I carrying a burden in my heart that I have not talked to God about yet?

Do I really trust that God hears my prayers and desires to work in my situation?

Have I sought God with all my heart, and listened intently for the truths that He wants me to know?

Power Verses:
Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (NIV)

© 2009 by Tracie MIles . All rights reserved.

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When God Comes Near
Micca Monda Campbell

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

Even in the darkest and most trying hour of our lives, God is near.

Not long ago, tragedy struck Pastor Walters' home. Both his wife and daughter were ill and in the hospital at the same time. The husband in him longed to sit with his wife, while the daddy in him ached to care for his daughter. As he stood in the hallway between their two rooms, Pastor Walter knew he couldn't physically be in two places at once. So he knelt down on his knees and entered the throne room of grace. As he drew near to God, God drew near to him and made provision for his needs. Family and friends poured into the hospital as representatives of God's hands and feet. They ministered comfort, support, and love to him, his wife and daughter.

Sadly, Walter lost his wife. Though things didn't turn out as he had hoped, he didn't fret or fear. He understood that while his wife was with God in heaven, God's Spirit was also with him on earth sustaining him with strength, hope, and faith.

Though his heart was crushed, Pastor Walter stood before the church family and spoke of the reality of God's Word, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me … Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life" (Psalm 23:4,6a, NIV). It was clear that God had come near in his darkest hour with the comfort and strength he needed to endure.

Regardless of the road you travel—Lonely Lane, Brokenhearted Boulevard, or Poverty Parkway—there's no place you can go that God can't follow. No heartbreak, no betrayal, no rejection, no failure, no disappointment, and no evil can stop Him from coming near. God will always come for His people. He cannot fail you. He will never quit you, never forget you, and never leave you. "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18, NIV).

Dear Lord, my heart is breaking. I hurt deeply. Come and save me. Comfort my spirit and strengthen me so that I may endure. Be my shelter until my storm has passed. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

An Untroubled Heart by Micca Campbell

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

Visit Micca’s blog – Reflections. More of her resources can be found here.

Application Steps:
Often times we miss God's activity in our lives. Ask God to help you to seethe evidence of His care. It may come in a card, a hug from a friend, a comforting conversation, etc. However your support comes, recognize it as God's provision.

Do you often feel like you're going it alone or do you look for God's presence?

Do you find it difficult to ask for or receive help from others? Why or why not?

How has God encouraged your heart lately?

Power Verses:
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word." (NIV) I

saiah 49:13b, "Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones." (NIV)

© 2009 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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Raising Children with Moral Courage
Glynnis Whitwer

"Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?" 1 Samuel 17:26b (NIV)

I grew up loving the story of David and Goliath. I read about it in little Golden Books, and Sunday school teachers retold the drama using flannel boards. I can almost picture the shepherd boy David standing his ground in front of the giant Goliath with only a slingshot, while the entire Israelite army quaked in fear. Woosh, woosh, woosh, around his head the slingshot swung. With a strong arm, David let the stone fly and bam! The giant fell, and David was victorious.

What a great story! But is it a story to be left in the history books, or are we to learn anything from David's example? As I read the passage in 1 Samuel, chapter 17, a few things jumped out at me. First, David wasn't planning to get in a fight that day. He was just an errand boy sent to deliver food to his brothers. So truly, he was just a bystander to the fight. But as David neared the front lines, he quickly realized what was happening. He heard the taunts of Goliath, and got drawn into the situation. Something within David's heart started to stir. David tried to get someone to answer his questions about this bully. He wanted to know what was going to be done.

David finally asked in exasperation: "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?" David's anger wasn't for the threat given to himself, nor his brothers. His anger burned because someone dared to threaten and defy those chosen by his God.

When the trained professionals wouldn't step forward, David – confident of his God's power and protection – put five stones in his shepherd's bag and approached the bully. Calmly, David said to Goliath, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied" (1 Samuel 17:45).

We could write off the courage of David as a legend to be enjoyed, but not applied to our lives today. Except for two biblical truths: 1) David was a man after God's heart (Acts 13:22) and 2) God doesn't change (Malachi 3:6).

Although Jesus calls us to a life of forgiveness and compassion, even He didn't tolerate those who dishonored God's holy temple. With righteous indignation, Jesus turned over tables, and drove out money changers and those who were selling doves within the walls of the temple, accusing them of turning His father's house into "a den of robbers" (Mark 11:17). The Bible records many stories of men and women with moral courage. These individuals knew what was right, and were willing to take a stand in spite of their own fear. They weren't perfect, but the heroes of our faith saw injustice as more than a personal offense, they saw it as an offense against God.

As it becomes easier to settle into a life of ambiguity, our children are finding it harder to summon moral outrage. Today a challenge is set before us as parents to raise, and to be, men and women who will stand for what is right. We live in a world that needs the touch of God through the hand of His people. We can't be bystanders and make a difference.

As parents we can instill moral courage into our children by stepping out in faith to help someone else, in spite of inherent risks. You see, we can't learn moral courage from a book. We can only learn it by being brave once. Then doing it again

Dear Lord, there's a part of my heart that stirs when I read of the brave heroes in the Bible. I know there is so much to do in the world. But You know my fear. Help me to trust You more, so that I can stand up for what is right in spite of the danger. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
When Your Child is Hurting by Glynnis Whitwer (for more from Glynnis, click here)

Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex and Brett Harris

Visit Glynnis’ blog – Welcome Home for tips on raising kids with moral courage.

Support Proverbs 31 Ministries as we encourage women in bold faith.

Application Steps:
Identify one thing outside of your comfort zone that you can do to help someone else in the next six months.

What should a Christian's response be to injustice? What are some ways to increase courage?

Power Verses:
1 Corinthians 16:13, "Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong." (NLT)

Psalm 9:8-10, "He will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness. The LORD is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for you." (NLT)

© 2009 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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Facing Our Frenemy
Karen Ehman

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy." Proverbs 27:6 (ESV)

I am a sap for words and reading. I adore books—their look, the feel of their pages and even their smell. Not content to sit still in a waiting room, I'll pick up anything within reach and read it. Why, I still even read cereal boxes at breakfast!

I especially love to learn new words, thereby increasing my vocabulary. And I am intrigued by the new words that are added to our language as the years go by. Ask any of my forty-something friends. In high school we'd never heard the words Internet, blog or download.

Every so often, dictionaries must be updated with new words or with new meanings to old words. In fact, Merriam-Webster has added more than 100 entries to the latest edition of its Collegiate Dictionary. One of the new words listed in this latest round literally leapt off the page at me. It is the word "Frenemy " Yes, frenemy. It is defined as: One who pretends to be a friend but is actually an enemy.

Sadly, I have had my share of frenemies in my life. Even more discouraging is that sometimes, I have been one.

In middle school there were the girls who I thought liked me and wanted to include me in the popular group. However, they were just pumping me for info on a few of the latest boy-girl crushes. Once they'd garnered their data, they dumped me.

Then there were the athletic boys in high school who seemed to really like me, and wanted to hang around me. As sports editor of the newspaper, I should have known they were just hoping to get a mention in the latest issue of the school publication.

And there were the people I sometimes befriended, but not because I liked them. I didn't. It was because they could get me somewhere or something that I wanted.

Fast forward to today. This era of social networking sites has only given rise to the number of frenemies who come out of the woodwork. I've heard school-aged girls talk about "accepting" someone as a friend on Facebook, not because they like her and really want to be her friend, but to "spy' on her and keep up on what is happening in her life. You know, who she likes, where she goes, who she hangs with.

Even grown women befriend someone on these sites just to nose around, when in all actuality they can't stand the person they are "friends" with. So the backbiting and tongue-wagging continues, all while our posted profile faces smile at each other. False, fake … frenemies.

The worst frenemy, however, is the greatest deceiver of all. He, in his worldly way, promises happiness, but delivers sorrow. He tricks and traps and leaves us regretful of our choices. His ways sparkle and glitter and entice. But in the end, they are dark. Like a lion in sheep's clothing, He comes to steal, kill and destroy. Beware! "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" I Peter 5:8 (ESV). Flirting with the devil in a friendly way NEVER has a happy ending!

Let's take our new vocabulary word today, and vow to be on our toes about frenemies. Let's avoid them and certainly not be a frenemy ourselves. And let's watch out for the biggest one of all—Satan. Our friendships should be pure and honest and true. We should seek to be authentic and real and to bring out the best in our friends. As for our enemies, Jesus told us exactly what to do about them, "But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you" Luke 6:27-28 (ESV).

May God give us that kind of others-centered love, as only He can give.

Dear Lord, keep me watchful for those who do not have my family's best interest or mine at heart. Send me true friends, Make me an authentic friend. Keep me from the snares of the greatest frenemy of all. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit our Everyday Life encouragement page

A Life that Says Welcome by Karen Ehman (check out Karen’s other resources here)

I'll Bring the Chocolate: Satisfying a Woman's Craving for Friendship and Faith by Karen Porter

For more on the friendships of women, visit Karen’s blog –Helping Women Simplify Life and Glorify God

Do I recall a time in my life when I had a frenemy? Once the truth was revealed, how did I feel?

How does society blatantly or subtly encourage women to be frenemies?

Application Steps:
How can I guard myself from being, or having, a false friendship?

When in the past has Satan appeared to be my friend, but in reality had nothing but evil planned for me?

Power Verses:
Psalm 109:3-4, "With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause. In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer." (ESV)

Proverbs 17:17, "A friend loves at all times." (ESV)

© 2009 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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My Savior, a Worm?
Whitney Capps

"But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people." Psalms 22:6 (NIV)

One of my favorite books is Roy Hession's Calvary Road. In the last few days, one of my most oft-read passages from this book has come to mind. Probably because of the current state of my heart.

Here's the context: I'm struggling right now. My emotions are raw. My responses are harsh. My patience is tested. I am tired. Relationships that should bring comfort bring conflict and criticism. My flesh wants to plead my innocence and maintain my right to be annoyed. My will protests the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I will not bend "the proud, stiff-necked I," as Hession would say.

In Calvary Road, he writes a lot about brokenness. In my regularly-visited passage I'm asked to consider Christ:

"For this reason we are not likely to be broken except at the cross of
Jesus. The willingness of Jesus to be broken for us is the all-compelling motive
in our being broken too. We see Him willing to have not rights of His own,
willing to let men revile Him and not revile again, willing to let men tread on
Him and not retaliate or defend Himself. Above all, we see Him broken as He
meekly goes to Calvary to become men's scapegoat by bearing their sins in His
own body on the Tree. In a pathetic passage in a prophetic psalm, He says, 'I am
a worm, and no man' (Psalm 22:6).

Those who have been in tropical lands tell us that there is a big
difference between a snake and a worm, when you attempt to strike at them. The
snake rears itself up and hisses and tries to strike back—a true picture of
self. But a worm offers no resistance, it allows you to do what you like with
it, kick it or squash it under your heel—a picture of true brokenness. And Jesus
was willing to become just that for us—a worm and no man."

I am not fond of this passage. I prefer to think of Jesus as valiant, mighty and strong, even in death. In my struggle with picturing my crowned King as a worm, I argued with God about the accuracy of such a portrayal of Jesus. I protested. Surely Hession had overstepped and not balanced the greater message of the Word that ascribes Jesus the glory, honor and power due His Name.

In the midst of defending my Savior, the Risen One interrupted my thoughts and asked my heart: Do you defend My character or your arrogance? My darling daughter you rail against the idea of Me as a selfless worm while resting on My provision as a spotless lamb. Is it because you hate the idea that I ask you to be just as selfless, just as broken?

It was true. I don't hate the idea that Jesus is likened to a worm; I hate the conviction that I must submit like one as well. This dialogue with the Lord occurred nearly nine years ago during my first reading of Calvary Road. The Spirit brought it to my mind again today. So if you'll excuse me I've got to go dig out my copy and walk the path of brokenness. It's time to bend that "proud, stiff-necked I."

Father, forgive me for pleading my rights and innocence. I don't have rights, and I am certainly not innocent. Show me how to silence my mouth and soften my heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Find peace in everyday life here!

All I Need is Jesus & a Good Pair of Jeans by Susanna Foth Aughtmon

A Perfect Mess: Why You Don't Have to Worry About Being God Enough for God by Lisa Harper

Visit Whitney’s blog – Speak When Spoken Through

Think about one person in your life who would benefit by seeing you not strike back. Make a plan to minister to that individual today.

Application Steps:
Think about the difficult relationships in your life. Is your pride making these relationships more strained?

What would a worm-like reaction be to those who frustrate you?

Power Verses:
James 4:6-7, "But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, 'God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.' Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (ESV)

© 2009 by Whitney Capps. All rights reserved.

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Cartwheels in Heaven
Tracie Miles

"But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love." Psalm 33:18 (NIV)

Something was missing. I tried to write, but no words came. I tried to focus, but my attention wandered. I tried to pray, but words were few.

I finally realized what was missing: hope.

My sweet sister has been fighting a battle with Multiple Sclerosis for twelve years. Each day brings new difficulties, new hurts, new medicines, and new reasons to lose hope. As I watched her struggle day after day, my heartbreak became overwhelming, and I had lost sight of any reason to be hopeful.

One day recently as I chatted with my sister, she told me about a dream she had the night before. In this dream, she was running, doing cartwheels, and playing rambunctiously with her children. She said the dream seemed to last for hours, and she vividly remembered laughing and feeling happy.

Then she woke up. To reality. A reality where she can barely walk, much less run. A reality where carefree romping and playing is nothing more than a memory. A reality filled with pain, disappointment and a lack of hope. She awoke and cried.

I've prayed for her healing so many times that I've wondered if God is tired of hearing it. I've pleaded with Him to give her comfort and peace. I've pressured Him for discernment and a glimpse of His plan so I can understand her plight.

I've found myself wondering if hope is realistic when a situation appears hopeless? Is physical healing possible, when all odds seem against it? Is comfort and freedom from pain attainable, when every cell inside a body is raging a war against itself? Is peace actually available for those who find no end to the hurting?

In my quest to find an answer, I looked up the definition of hope: The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best; to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence; to feel that something desired may happen. And the last definition said this, to continue to hope, although the outlook does not warrant it.

As I pondered that, my spirit leapt. This was the meaning God wanted me to understand today.
Thinking back on the prior week, I could see how God had filled my days with gentle, subtle reminders of hope through verses, emails, and devotions. He had heard the cries of my heart. I felt His Spirit leading me to a place of truly believing in the hope that only He can offer, even when the earthly outlook does not warrant it.

He had been sweetly nudging me to seek hope in Him. To allow His reassurance to saturate my heart, and fill that empty, dry space. I was reminded that hope is as essential for survival as food and water. Hope is life-giving.

My sister's 10 year-old daughter responded to her dream that morning. She told mommy not to be sad, because one day they could do cartwheels in heaven together. Upon hearing this, I felt hot tears and caught a glimpse of unfailing, eternal hope—right out of the mouths of babes.
Whether any of us do cartwheels on earth, or in heaven, is God's decision. But hope begins in believing that He was, is, and will forever be the source of our hope.

Sweet Jesus, forgive me for losing sight of where true hope is found. Infuse my heart and mind with the hope that can only be found in You. Please quench my thirst for understanding with reassurance of Your faithfulness. I ask that You guard my heart from the temptation to focus on the problem, instead of the One who holds everything in His hands. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Receive fresh encouragement each month with the P31 Woman magazine

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

Visit Tracie’s blog – Seeking Peace in God’s Will

Application Steps:
Believe that all things are possible with God.

Have I lost hope?

Power Verses:
Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (KJV)

Psalm 62:5, "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him." (NIV)

© 2009 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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Forgiveness is Like Spinach
Zoe Elmore

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13 (NIV)

I've heard it said, "Forgiveness is like spinach. You might not like the taste, but it's good for you." I recently had the opportunity to "chew on" this spiritual wisdom, when someone close to me hurt my feelings.

We'd been friends for ten years, so her comment stunned me. Her words cut the silence of the room, "You and your personality are just too much for me today, I want you to leave my home immediately!" I thought she was joking but the look on her face and tension in her voice were clear, she wanted me to leave without delay.

I quickly gathered my things, said good-bye to the others in the room and left her home. I was hurt and embarrassed at what had just transpired. How could she have been so mean to me? What had I done to cause such hurtful words?

Over the next few days my hurt feelings turned to anger. Again and again her words rang in my ears. Soon unforgiveness crept in, spoiling my attitude. Knowing it would be easy to slip from an unforgiving attitude to sinful actions, I began searching God's Word for wisdom on this subject.
In Matthew 18:21-35 Jesus tells of a servant forgiven a huge debt by his king. When the same servant has an opportunity to forgive someone a minor debt, he chooses to inflict punishment instead. The king finds out and is outraged:

"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." (Matthew 18:32-35, NIV)

These words pierced my heart as I thought of my bitter attitude toward my friend. As I meditated on these verses, I was reminded of times I had said or done hurtful things to others. At those times the forgiveness of God was extended to me. I could no longer allow myself to withhold forgiveness.

I invited my friend for coffee to ask her forgiveness for whatever I had done to cause her displeasure with me. Sadly, she was unwilling to explain or acknowledge her actions and we parted without any resolution to the situation.

It's been months since that meeting and there are times I have to remind myself to "eat my spinach" as I continue to forgive the one who hurt me. As I have struggled with this issue, God has shown me biblical steps to take as I forgive someone who has hurt me:

1. Recognize and confess my sins.
Psalm 41:4, "I said, 'O LORD, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you.'" (NIV)

2. Rejoice in God's forgiveness for my sins.
Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (NIV)

3. Remember that forgiveness is a continual process.
Matthew 18:21-22a, "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times but seventy-seven times." (NIV)

Has someone hurt your feelings or been unkind to you? Try God's steps for a forgiving spirit. I believe you'll experience Psalm 34:8 for yourself: "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him."

Dear Lord, I acknowledge the unforgiving spirit I have had toward my friend. Help me forgive her as You forgive me. Put a guard on my mouth in order that my words would be pleasing to others and to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Hear Lysa TerKeurst’s thoughts about “stabbing words” on our radio program today.

The Friends We Keep: A Woman's Quest for the Soul of Friendship by Sara Zacharias

How to Get Along with Difficult People by Florence Littauer

Visit Zoe’s blog - Called by a New Name

Application Steps:
Begin a forgiveness page in your journal and write out verses dealing with this subject.

Read the entire passage in Matthew 18:21-35.

Ask the Lord to show you who you need to forgive.

Am I a peace-maker or a grudge-holder?

Am I willing to go to those I may have hurt or offended and ask for forgiveness?

Am I willing to forgive those who have hurt me?

Power Verses:
Psalm 103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." (NIV)

Colossians 1:13-14, "For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (NIV)

© 2009 by Zoe Elmore. All rights reserved.

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How Can I Make My Prayer Life Come Alive?
Lysa TerKeurst

"And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words." Matthew 6:7 (NIV)

I was tired of my prayer life seeming a bit stale. I used words that sounded official but my heart wasn't connecting. Too many times I found myself praying because I felt obligated - it was just something good Christians did. But I didn't want my prayer time to be like an awkward conversation with someone I barely knew. I wanted more. As I examined the way I had been praying for years, I started to realize most of my prayers seemed to be centered around me and the ways I wanted God to bless me:

God, bless my kids and keep them safe.

God, bless me and my family with good health and strong, capable bodies.

God, bless my husband's business.

God, bless this food that you so richly provide.

God, bless our day today. Now, it's not wrong to pray these prayers.

They are honest prayers. These are heart-felt prayers. These are the prayers of many women who are rising to the daunting task of taking care of their families. But, they set my expectations of God to be what I want, without taking into consideration the possibility of God's bigger plan. Praying only these types of prayers was stunting my growth with a focus on convenience and comfort, rather than growing me into a woman of character, perseverance and maturity.

Nancy Guthrie wrote an article a couple of years ago for the magazine, Today's Christian Woman, entitled, "Prayers That Move the Heart of God." In this fascinating article she says, "There's so much to want—healed bodies, restored relationships, changed circumstances. But asking, seeking and knocking aren't secret formulas for getting what we want from God; they're ways to get more of God. As I listen to God speak to me through His Word, He gives me more of Himself in fuller, newer ways. Then, if healing doesn't come, if the relationship remains broken, or if the pressures increase, I have the opportunity to discover for myself He is enough. His presence is enough. His purpose is enough."

Nancy goes on to share in the article that through changing her prayers to be more about getting to know God rather than getting what she wants from Him, she is changing from just knowing about God to experiencing Him in deeper ways than ever before.

I still present my requests to God but I don't make this the focus of my prayer. My focus when I pray is to better align my heart with God's heart. Instead of filling up my prayer time with my requests and my words, I spend more time listening to whatever He might have to say. Power enters our prayers not by our words sounding powerful, but rather by listening for even the slightest whisper from the One who is All-Powerful.

And that's when our prayer life really comes alive.

Dear Lord, forgive me for always praying, God bless me. Give me the courage to sometimes pray, God inconvenience me... so that I might constantly be reminded to draw near to You. Interrupt me, Lord. Shake things up in me, Lord. Reveal what's in me that's not of You, Lord. Oh Lord, more than anything, I want more of You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa’s blog to learn more about “The Most Powerful Two-Word Prayer” and a chance to win her new CD message on this topic.

This devotion is taken in part from Lysa’s new book Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Take some time to just sit and listen for the Lord to speak to your heart. I remember this being a frustrating exercise at first, but as I kept asking the Lord - sometimes begging Him - to reveal something to me, eventually He did. Sometimes the most powerful way I hear His voice is through reading and thinking about His words in the Bible. Let listening to Him help make your prayer life richer and more meaningful.

What do you think about the prayer written out above? I'll be talking more about this on my blog today … I'd love for you to join in the discussion by clicking here.

Have you ever felt your prayers were a bit canned and stale?

How might you change to make your prayers more God focused?

Power Verses:
James 5:16, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (NIV)

Jeremiah 42:3, "Pray that the LORD your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do." (NIV)

© 2009 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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Younger, Cuter, Skinnier
Melanie Chitwood

"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)

While I waited in the carpool line to pick up my 10-year-old son Tyler, I watched the other moms coming and going with their kids. When Tyler got in the car, we talked about his day.

Abruptly changing subjects, I asked, "Tyler, do I look 46?"

He quickly answered, "No, mom, you look … 37."

I smiled, wondering how he came up with that number, but liking that it was much lower than my actual age.

I said, "Good answer!"

"Except for those wrinkles," he added as he studied my face.


"And …"

"Okay, we are finished with this conversation!"

As we drove back home, I wondered what prompted me to blurt out that question. Instantly, I knew the answer. While watching the other moms, I had started comparing myself. My comparison led me to think that the other moms were younger, cuter and skinnier.

Can you relate to these thoughts? We can fall into the comparison trap in an instant. For example, we flip through the pages of a magazine and compare our bodies to the images of skinny models. We go to a new Bible study and hesitate to speak up because we're sure the other women know more than we do.

Comparison usually leads us down a dangerous path of feeling insecure and "not enough," or else prideful and "better than." Neither path of thinking is one God wants us to take. God's Word tells us exactly what to do with faulty comparison thinking in 2 Corinthians 10:5, "We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (NIV).

What does this mean in practice? First, we have to become aware of our thoughts. Next, we clarify if our thoughts are God's truth or the enemy's lies. We can be sure that any condemning or prideful thoughts are not from God. Finally, when we recognize a thought which is a lie, we need to replace the lie with God's truth. The verse I memorized to combat the lies resulting from comparison is a personalized version of today's key verse in Ephesians 2:10: "For I am God's beautiful masterpiece. He has created me anew in Christ Jesus, so I can do the good things He planned for me long ago."

Take time today to ask God to reveal to you any lies you believe about yourself. Confess pride or insecurity, and ask God to fill you with His truthful perspective.

And don't ask your child how old you look!

Dear Lord, keep my mind centered on the truth of who You say I am. Don't let my thoughts be tossed all over the place by the lies of the enemy. I know I am not defined by my circumstances, what I see in the mirror, or even what other people say about me. Let me rest in Your confidence as I acknowledge who You say I am, a masterpiece, fearfully and wonderfully made.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Read similar encouragement at Everyday Life!

A Woman Who Fears the Lord (Proverbs 31:30) T-Shirt

What a Husband Needs from His Wife by Melanie Chitwood

Beautiful in God’s Eyes by Elizabeth George

Chat more with Melanie on her blog – What Matters Most

Application Steps:
Memorize a verse, such as Ephesians 2:10, to fill your mind with God's truth.

Have an honest discussion with a close friend about any tendencies you have to compare yourself to others. How can you encourage one another and hold each other accountable to "whatever is true" (Philippians 4:8)?

In what areas of my life – appearance, weight, work, motherhood, marriage – do I feel inadequate?

In what areas of my life am I prideful?

Consider the answers to these questions, and ask for God's true perspective on these areas of your life.

Power Verses:
Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (NIV)

Isaiah 26:3, "The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You." (NASB)

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)

© 2009 by Melanie Chitwood. All rights reserved.

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