Multi-tasking Mayhem
Karen Ehman

"But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me." Psalm 31:14-15 (NIV)

"Mom, quick…look at that lady!" My fourteen-year-old-in-driver's-education-child shouted at me as we were headed down Michigan's US-27 interstate on an errand-running Thursday afternoon. "She should not be doing that," he added for emphasis.

I glanced over at the car next to us, expecting to see someone without her hands gripped properly at the ten and two o'clock positions like my by-the-rulebook-boy does when he is behind the wheel. Instead, I nearly ran off the road while gawking at what my resident Driver's Ed patrolman had spotted.

Next to us was a woman who was doing all of the following: talking on a cell phone by cradling it on her right shoulder, holding an open fast-food salad container in her left hand, ripping open a salad dressing packet with her teeth and her right hand…all while steering her car with her knees! What in the world!? My boys and I thought surely, if she kept up this multi-tasking method of driving, she was going to cause a crash.

"I would NEVER attempt to do all of that when I drive", I smugly thought to myself. "Entirely too dangerous and probably against the law." Yep, when it comes to being a safe-driving etiquette expert, the apple doesn't fall far from the "Honey-you-didn't-use-your-blinker-back-there" maternal tree.

It wasn't until later that night that it hit me. Yes, I may not try to dangerously multi-task when it comes to driving my car, thereby putting myself and others at risk of a collision. But in my day-to-day life? In my schedule? In my "sure-I-can-take-on-one-more-responsibility-so-everyone-will-like-me" way? Well, I sometimes dangerously multi-task to the point where I too am headed for a crash.

God nudged my heart a few years back, after dealing with some stress-related medical conditions that would not go away, that I needed to do a major plate scraping in my life. Taking on too many responsibilities, no matter how "good" they may be, can often render women ineffective for service to God. He knows our limits. He understands are capacities. He is willing, if we will ask Him, to help us navigate the waters of busyness and activity that often drown many a woman.

On one of my so-busy-I-couldn't-breathe days, I read today's verse. While I'm sure that the author David was talking about actual physical enemies -- men who could chase you, catch you and ultimately hurt you – I thought that day of busyness as the enemy. Too many activities and responsibilities outside of my four walls were about to do me in. They chased me, they cornered me and worst of all, they were about to go in for the kill.

Thankfully, God rescued me from the barren life of busyness. And He can do the same for you. He's longing for us to hold our too-full plates up to Him, scrape off all the activities and responsibilities, and then, place back on our plates only the items HE longs for us to possess.
Then, we can create white space in our calendar and places of sweet respite in our days where we can connect with the God of the universe who is just waiting for us to slow down and sit still; to listen and learn from the very Creator of time itself.

So, how about it friend? Rubber spatula ready? Keep reading below and let's start scraping before we crash and burn!

Dear Lord, Forgive me for allowing busyness to overtake my life, crowding out others and worst of all You. Help me as I purpose to place only those items on my plate that You long for me to have. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
To discover more on this topic and enter to win an organizational giveaway centered around Karen’s book on time and home management, visit Karen’s blog

The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized by Karen Ehman

A Life that Says Welcome by Karen Ehman

Do You Know Him?

Application Steps:
List on paper all the commitments you have said yes to outside of your job or home responsibilities. Catalog approximately how much time you devote to them each week. Pray about what you discover.

What activities and responsibilities have I said "Yes" to that I know in my heart I shouldn't have?

How can I thin out my optional tasks and duties, freeing up more time for the places where God wants me to focus my efforts?

Power Verses:
Matthew 6:33-34, "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (ESV)

Genesis 2:2, "And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done." (ESV)

© 2010 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Lord, this is a Mess
Lysa TerKeurst

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness..." Romans 8:26 (NIV)

Have you ever been in a situation that seemed like such a mess you simply couldn't make sense of it? Like trying to straighten out a tangled necklace, you wonder how in heavens' name did all these knots get kinked and twisted and pulled so tight. And in the midst of trying to untangle a knot on one side you inadvertently form another on the other end.

It's frustrating when this happens with a piece of jewelry. And it's even more frustrating when it happens in relationships.

The other day I sat down to pray about a messy relationship and the knots were so consuming I couldn't even begin to make sense of it all. I didn't even know what to pray. I kept trying to think of wise words to offer up to the Lord that would surely unlock pieces and parts of this mess. But I was completely without a drop of insight. All I could see was a mess.

So, that's all I prayed, "Lord, this is a mess."

And then I just sat quietly and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

All that waiting time makes a doing girl like me feel like my nerves are going to bust out of my skin and start yanking my limbs into action. So, with all my might, I made myself sit and say nothing at all except, "Lord, this is a mess." And you know what? It was really hard to sit there with no answers. No wise words to pray. My usually very verbal self couldn't express anything but, "Lord, this is a mess."

I believe it's situations like this for which Romans 8:26-28 was written:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. 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).

In our weakness we can't objectively search our mind and spirit. And often in our weakness we can't untangle our knots according to God's will. We are too intertwined in emotion and assumption. That's why sometimes it's best if we just simply sit quietly and let the Spirit do some groaning, untangling and working on our behalf.

Like verse 28 says, there is good to come out of this. God is working and will work good out of this mess. Sometimes I think the only thing standing between our mess and His good work from it is our need to sit quietly. In the quiet beautiful things happen:

• We calm down.
• We create some white space between our harsh reaction and the way we'd want to react if we really thought things through first.
• We can ask God to intervene with real wisdom instead of our assumptions.
• God can show us where we need to change. We can't control the other person and parking our efforts toward trying will exhaust us. But we can let God help us change, which will create positive progress. (For more great things that can happen in the quiet, visit Lysa's blog linked below.)

I can't help but notice that the first four letters of Messiah spell mess. We need Him. Only the Messiah can take our mess and turn it into a untangled message of hope, forgiveness, and ultimately love.

Dear Lord, this is a mess. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa’s blog for a list of 10 great things that can happen in the quiet

Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst

Am I Messing Up My Kids?...and Other Questions Every Mom Asks - a new book by Lysa TerKeurst. This is an expanded, updated version of her previous title, “The Bathtub is Overflowing But I Feel Drained.”

Application Steps:
The next time I'm in the midst of a mess, where is a quiet place I can sit with the Lord? How can I plan now to not react in the moment?

What are some personal benefits that would happen if I heeded this advice and stopped rushing in to fix things, but rather gave God time to speak to my heart?

What relationship do I have in my life that seems to get tangled up and messy most often?

What are some ways I might need to change?

Power Verses:
Psalm 46:10a, "Be still, and know that I am God." (NIV)

Romans 8:26b, "We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." (NIV)

© 2010 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Little Decisions Make a Big Difference
Glynnis Whitwer

"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise …." Ephesians 5:15 (NIV)

Do you ever get tired of making decisions? I do. Every day, decisions line up for my attention. I decide what I'm going to do, how I'll spend my money, and what I'm going to say. Conversely, I make decisions about what I am NOT going to do, spend or say.

One of the biggest challenges I face right now has to do with what I eat. You see, I'm on Weight Watchers. For the past 18 years, I've battled to be at a healthy weight. Coincidentally, my oldest child is 18. I'm certainly not blaming him…but, I'm just saying…

The first week on the program I recorded a respectable loss of 1.5 pounds. The second week on the program, I lost nothing. I was shocked. It seemed I had exercised and sacrificed more that week than ever. But the scale told the truth.

The kind lady at the reception desk tried to help me think it through. "Maybe you aren't eating enough," she said. No, that wasn't the problem. "Are you drinking enough water?" she asked. Yes; that wasn't the problem either.

Then it hit me. The problem wasn't what I was eating when I sat down for a meal, it was all the bites that led up to that meal. It was the French fry before dinner, and the bite of casserole as I put away the leftovers after dinner. It was the nibble of my son's double cheeseburger, and the extra scoop of dip with my carrots. No, it wasn't the big decisions that hurt my weight loss; it was all the little decisions.

Unfortunately, I had minimized in my mind the potential damage of all those little bites. Yet they added up to derail me from my goal of losing weight that week. The next week I took control of those BLTs (bites, licks, tastes and sips) and had a nice loss.

As I've pondered this reality, I've applied it to other areas of my life. I easily minimize the damage of daily unwise decisions. They aren't sin issues, so I can dismiss them as unimportant. However, when added up, they have a big impact on achieving some of my personal goals. For example, when I make a decision to not read my Bible for one day, there's no noticeable impact. But when I neglect this important part of my spiritual growth repeatedly, I find myself lacking in godly wisdom and discernment.

If you find yourself on a plateau in a certain area of your life, perhaps this truth can apply to you as well. You may be making all the right big decisions, but the little ones are having a cumulative negative impact on you.

Not only that, but I believe God desires to do amazing things through us, and is continually testing us to see if we can handle bigger responsibilities. It's in the arena of little responsibilities that our true dependability is revealed. The truth is those little decisions that seem minor, and inconsequential, really do matter. They matter to me as I pursue personal goals, and they matter to God.

My challenge today is to make every decision count. I ask myself, "Is this decision going to get me closer to my goal, or further away from it?" "Is this decision going to show God I can be trusted with the little things?"

Sometimes I ask this question every hour. Which is why I ate steamed vegetables for dinner, and my family had overstuffed burritos. (Not that it's Thursday night and I'm weighing in Friday morning or anything.)

Dear Lord, thank You for caring about every detail of my life. I know You have placed goals and dreams in my heart that will take diligence to carry out. Help me to look to You when faced with a decision, and I pray for Your wisdom as I make the right choice. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
P31 Woman magazine

Visit Glynnis’ blog where she shares her top 10 list of important little decisions to make.

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

Dear Bathroom Scale, an excerpt from the P31 Woman magazine

Application Steps:
Identify one big goal you have for your life. Name one helpful "little" decision you can make that will help you achieve that goal.

What are some examples of little decisions we make every day that can impact us positively over time?

Have you ever made a series of innocent choices that led you down the wrong path? What did you learn from that experience?

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

Colossians 1:10-11, "And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience…" (NIV)

© 2010 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Words of Life or Death
Melanie Chitwood

"The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences." Proverbs 18:21 (NLT)

I often hear my husband Scott say something to my sons that brings a smile to my face. "Have you told your mom you love her today? Don't ever forget you have the best mom in the world." When I hear him praise me to our sons, I feel encouraged and appreciated. From my husband's example, I've learned to be careful about the words I say not only to my husband but also about my husband.

Today's verse tells us our words can bring "death or life." In our marriages, this means our words can either tear down our spouses or build them up. I've been noticing lately if I'm more likely to say words such as, "I'm married to the greatest man." Or do my words tend to be critical, such as, "I told you so," or "You don't even try to understand me"? What about you and your words to your husband? When you speak to your husband, do you fill him up with praise or make him feel like he's not measuring up?

Now let's consider the words we say about our husbands to others. What kind of things do you say about your husband to your children, best friend, sister, or mother? I tend to be a venter when I am angry or frustrated with my husband. Sometimes I turn to others because I'm seeking validation for my angry feelings. Often I vent when I haven't taken the time first to deal with the situation with God. I'm learning that if I go to the Lord first in prayer, pouring out my heart to Him, He changes my heart and brings me to a place of repentance and calmness. Then I'm able to let go of my anger and move on or talk to my husband in a loving manner.

Scripture gives plenty of evidence that God's words have the power of life. In Genesis we're told God created every inch of the world with His spoken words. John 1:1 tells us that Jesus is the Word. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus heals countless people with the power of His words. In a similar manner, God wants our words to bring life to our marriages. We can choose what we will sow—words of life or words of death—and we will reap the consequences many times over.

So will you take some time today to consider the words you use to and about your spouse? Use today's application steps to fill up your husband with words of life.

Dear Lord, let my words to my spouse and about my spouse draw us closer to one another. Teach me to communicate in ways that build my husband up. Help me hold my tongue when I'm about to say something that will tear him down. If pride, stubbornness, selfishness, or any other sin is preventing me from speaking words of life in our marriage, Lord, I confess that right now. Make me aware of any words of death I've spoken in our marriage, and as the Holy Spirit brings those to my mind, help me confess and turn from them, especially any words of divorce. Break any curse on our marriage from hurtful, angry, or destructive words. Guided by Your wisdom and love, may our words to and about one another build a protective wall around our marriage. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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

Today’s devotion is adapted from Melanie’s new book What a Wife Needs from Her Husband

For more marriage encouragement visit Melanie’s blog – What Matters Most

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue and accompanying Workbook by Deborah Smith Pegues

Application Steps:
Considering the list below, which words do you speak most frequently to your husband, "words of life" or "words of death"? Plan on blessing your husband with at least one phrase from the "words of life" suggestions.

Words of Life
I appreciate how hard you work.
You are an incredible husband.
You have great insight.
I'm really looking forward to going out with you.
I'm sorry.
I was wrong.
Will you forgive me?
Thank you.
I understand.

Words of Death
You never listen to me.
You just don't get it.
I told you so.
You should have…
I wish you could just try to understand me for once.
How could you think that?
Why did I ever marry you?
We'd be better off divorced.

What situations tend to cause you to speak "words of death" to your husband? What's a different way to handle these situations?

Are there certain words you need to make off-limits in your marriage?

In what other relationships do you need to practice speaking "words of life"?

Power Verses:
Ephesians 4:29, "Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift." (MSG)

Psalm 19:14, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer." (NLT)

© 2010 by Melanie Chitwood. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

When Your Mess Becomes Your Message
Micca Monda Campbell

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

My brother is a recovered addict. For twenty years, he was absent from our family due to addiction issues. Countless times we thought he was dead, and according to statics, he should have been.

However, God happens to be in the restoration business. He is willing to restore and heal all who come to Him. It doesn't matter who you are, what you've done, or what has been done to you. God is willing and able to turn any tragedy into triumph. My brother is living proof.

After entering many programs with hopes of success and end results of failure, my brother finally found the answer: Jesus. It wasn't until my brother met the Lord that healing and true change occurred. Suddenly, all things became new.

What's most exciting is anyone can experience this kind of freedom!

The truth is, we don't have the strength, will power, or ability to free ourselves from bondage no matter what the bondage is—drugs, lust, gluttony, pride, anger, or fear. Until we renounce our sickness and surrender to Christ, we will never experience freedom. On the other hand, when we are willing to give King Jesus our mess, He turns it into our message.

Not a day goes by that my brother doesn't look for opportunities to brag on God and share His message of hope.

Take this past summer for example. He and his family came home for a visit. One evening, our families gathered for dinner at Red Lobster. His treat! Twenty-six year old Tiffany was our server. Right away, we noticed two things about Tiffany. She was a natural with people, and she was very pregnant. While we enjoyed her kind service, we had no idea that God would turn the tables and call us to serve her in a unique way.

It started when my sister refused to allow my brother to buy her dinner. While my sister loves to give to others, she's not so good on the receiving end. I, on the other hand, understood that it gave my brother great pleasure to pick up the check. The Lord knows I didn't want to deny him his blessing!

Poor Tiffany found herself caught in the middle of the argument. Eager to win, my brother said to our server, "You see, I was a drug addict for years. During that time, my sisters did a lot for me. Now, I just want to bless them as they have blessed me."

Tiffany's eyes widen. "You were a drug addict?" she inquired. "I would have never guessed."
"Yes. I was," my brother replied. "But Jesus changed all that." From there he told Tiffany his life-changing story.

"I went from being lost to being found; from being homeless to being a home owner; from being an employee to owning my own business; from being bound by drugs to being set free in Christ."
Tears filled Tiffany's eyes as we shared God's love with her. That's not all. Later that week, we confirmed God's love to her by presenting her with a baby gift.

Oh, friends, when you and I—like my brother—allow God to turn our mess into our message, He not only changes our lives, but He changes the lives of others too.

Dear Lord, Your mercy astounds me. Your goodness overwhelms me as I cry out "heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me and I will be saved." God, give me opportunities to speak of Your hope so that others may know Your goodness and salvation. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

An Untroubled Heart: Finding Faith that is Stronger than All Your Fears by Micca Campbell

Be sure to visit Micca’s blog today where she will be interviewing her brother.

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

The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert E. Coleman

Application Steps:
Are you longing for freedom? Renounce your sin and ask Jesus to save you and heal you.

Then, tell people of His wonders this week!

What is keeping you from completely surrendering your struggles to God?

Do you look for ways to brag on God by sharing your story? Why or why not?

Power Verses:
Luke 19:10, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (NIV)

Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (NAS)

© 2010 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Van Walton

"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God." 1 Thessalonians 4:16a (NLT)

When it comes to fireworks displays I want to sit front and center. I don't want to miss even one "Pop!" or "Boom!" And I want to take in every sparkle and colorful explosion. With my eyes wide open and my heart wildly beating, I exclaim, "Bring it on!"

Not everyone shares my enthusiasm though. I've seen children bury their frightened faces in parents' protective arms, and observed their little hands fly to cover shocked ears.

I feel sorry for those not prepared to enjoy the brilliant show in the sky. I remember my first pyrotechnic display. Yes, the noise shocked me. Yes, the incredible brilliance blinded my eyes. But I had been prepared and forewarned about the sound and light show - I was ready and wanted to watch!

When I scan the crowds at fireworks displays and see the fearful eyes of those caught off-guard, I am reminded of another heavenly display that will cause great fear for those who aren't prepared.

Today's key verse describes the moment Jesus returns to earth. His split-second return bursts forth from the pages of 1 Thessalonians 5 and the book of Revelation with out-of-this-world imagery.

Jesus' return will

• Be loud.
• Be displayed in the sky.
• Involve terrified bystanders.
• Intrigue adoring crowds who are waiting for His return.

Revelation 6:15-16 describes those who are not ready for the heavenly manifestation. They will not bury their faces or cover their ears, but will run to caves and beg rocks to fall on them. Why do they plead to die? Because they are not prepared for the great and glorious return of the Lord.

There are many ways to prepare ourselves for the Lord's second coming. The first and foremost is to believe in Him as Lord of All. Romans 14:10-12 tells us that eventually, "We will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written: 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God'" (NIV).

Why not choose this day to call on the name of the Lord and be saved? Jesus promises, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10, ESV). That life doesn't end when we die. It carries on into eternity.

I have no idea how or when I will see Jesus face-to-face for the first time. I would be filled with excitement if I knew I'd see Him coming in the clouds. It is likely though that I will see Him the day I die and He ushers me into eternal life. My real concern though is not when I see Jesus, but how.

I want to be ready. I don't want to have an unhealthy fear of God's judgment or any desire to be covered by rocks! I want to be prepared to look into His face without shame.

Are you prepared for that day? If not, what better time for a new start than right now at the beginning of this New Year?

First John 5:12a, 13 promises, "He who has the Son has the life...These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life" (NAS).

God longs for everyone to be in relationship with Him. No one is excluded from the promise of eternal life, but "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:13, NIV). He has invited each one of us to follow Him. Won't you accept His invitation and say "yes" to God?

Jesus, I don't know when I will see You face-to-face, but I ask that You prepare me for that day. Forgive me of my sins. Wash me clean. Take away my shame and fear; I don't want to miss one detail of Your beauty. Come, Lord Jesus, come. I pray in Your Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

My Prince will Come: Getting Ready for My Lord's Return by Sheri Rose Shepherd

From the Pound to the Palace by Van Walton. A great book and DVD to help you prepare your child’s heart to meet Jesus.

Visit Van’s blog for more encouragement.

Application Steps:
Reflect on the moment when you will first see Jesus face-to-face.

Am I ready to meet Jesus?

Power Verses:
Revelation 1:7, "Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him…" (NASB)

Revelation 21:10, 23, "…the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it…" (NASB)

Romans 10:9-11, "Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart a person believes…and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation. The Scripture says, No man who believes in Him…will [ever] be put to shame or be disappointed." (AMP)

© 2010 by Van Walton. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Supernatural Strength
Micca Monda Campbell

"That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power by His Spirit in the inner man." Ephesians 3:16 (NAS)

Last fall I began battling severe fatigue. Normal life activities became a real struggle for me. On top of it all, I had a heavy speaking schedule. Knowing I would need an extra measure of strength, grace and inspiration to keep going, I cried out to God for help.

On my way home to Nashville from Houston, God arranged an unexpected encounter with someone He would use to strengthen and inspire me beyond my wildest dreams.

Waiting for my flight at the Houston airport, I saw a recognizable face sitting directly in front of me. Quickly, I pulled out my cell phone and called my husband. "Guess who is sitting across from me at the airport - Beth Moore!"

"No way!" he replied.


"You should say 'hello,'" he encouraged. Heeding his advice, I made my way over to Beth and introduced myself. It was a great opportunity for me to thank her for her faithful service. She was her usual precious and humble self. After our short conversation, I returned to my seat, looking up occasionally to watch others meet and greet her as well.

A few minutes later, it was time board the plane. I got up, gathered my belongings, and headed for the gate. To my surprise, Beth was boarding the same plane. While standing in line together, she invited me to chat. I knew our conversation would be sweet but short because I had seat 1-A on the plane.

Upon entering the aircraft, I discovered yet another surprise. A frail, old man was sitting in my seat. The flight attendant explained that the man needed special attention and politely asked if I would mind exchanging seats with him.

I have to be honest. Even though I am short, I wanted the extra leg room that came with seat 1-A, but Beth was standing right behind me. Therefore, I put on my "spiritual" hat and replied, "Of course, I'll take his seat."

The flight attendant thanked me for switching seats and gave me my new seat assignment. "You'll be in seat 5-C," she directed. In response to my new seat, Beth added, "Why, Micca, that seat is right next to me."

I could hardly believe it. For over two hours, I had the privilege of visiting with Beth Moore. We talked, mostly about big hair and raising kids. Then, somewhere during our conversation, I heard God whisper, How'd I do? You said you needed some inspiration, didn't you?

How'd You do? I responded from my heart. You did more than I deserve—more than I would have ever thought to ask.

Sometimes what seems like a bad deal, like having to give up your seat, is actually God inviting us to experience Him in some way. God answer my prayer for inspiration and strength. Had I not submitted to the situation, I may have missed it.

I never imagined that asking for some extra inspiration and strength would come in such a wonderful package as Beth—but that's our God! He doesn't respond to our times of weakness by telling us to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps. No! He provides real help. God gives us supernatural strength that comes from the Spirit. Moreover, He can deliver it any way He chooses.

Sometimes God works in small quiet ways. Other times His actions are up there with the parting of the Red Sea. Whatever way God decides to work, experiencing Him always fills us with inner peace and strength for our journey.

Dear Lord, You are my strength for today, tomorrow, and for always. Sometimes You work in ways that leave me no room to doubt Your love and provision. Thank You for those sweet moments and help me to remember them when You require me to walk by faith. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
An Untroubled Heart: Finding Faith that is Stronger than All Your Fears by Micca Campbell

Join Proverbs 31 Ministries on Facebook for more daily encouragement

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

Visit Micca’s blog – Reflections

Application Steps:
When you ask God for something in prayer, take notice of what happens next. It just might be His answer.

Do You Know Him?

How have you experienced God lately? If you haven't experienced Him, do you know why?

Power Verses:
Psalm 119:28, "My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!" (ESV)

Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (NAS)

© 2010 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , ,

Learning to Fear Not
Zoe Elmore

"For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)

Healthy fear warns us of danger and prepares us to react appropriately. However, the type of fear referred to in this verse is an unhealthy fear. It gets in the way of what our heavenly Father has already given us: His power, His love and His self-control.

Unhealthy fear overwhelms us with doubt and insecurity; it drains our spiritual life and physical strength. It steals God's peace from our hearts, and robs us of joy in our daily lives. It causes us to become stagnant; unable to move ahead with the things God has planned for us. It's important to remember that unhealthy, paralyzing, controlling fear is not from God. It is one weapon our enemy Satan uses to interrupt, discourage and destroy our relationship with our heavenly Father.

Are you struggling with unhealthy fear? In 1 Samuel 17:32, "David said to Saul, 'Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him'" (NIV).

David could have cowered in the corner with an unhealthy, paralyzing fear at the thought of facing such insurmountable odds. Yet his confidence in God was so strong he actually volunteered to face the giant Philistine.

David saw his giant problem from God's perspective and knew he already possessed everything necessary to face his enemy head on (literally!). This confidence allowed him to rest in God's power and inexhaustible strength in order to defeat his enemy. Because David's reliance was not on himself, but on the One who supplies everything needed, the giant was defeated.

As we follow David's example and look at our giant problems from God's perspective, we have the same assurance that God's very presence will sustain us as we use the tools He has already provided.

For years, I battled unhealthy fear; I allowed it to interrupt my relationship with God and others. It stole peace from my heart and joy from my daily life. I now lean on the truths in Psalm 91:14-15, "'Because he loves me,' says the LORD, 'I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation'" (NIV). These verses have taught me the value of replacing fear with hope.

Friend, are you living with unhealthy fear? Are you ready to replace it with the courageous and confident hope that's found in trusting God alone? By placing our hope in God and not in our circumstances, we're able to alleviate unhealthy fear. With God, we can face any giant in our path with confidence.

Dear Lord, I praise You as my deliverer, my refuge and shield. When unhealthy fear arises, remind me of Your ever-present help that hides me in the shadow of Your mighty wings. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Moving from Fear to Freedom by Grace Fox

Visit Zoe’s blog

Fear-less” message on (CD) by Lysa TerKeurst

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

For extra encouragement, read No Need to Fear

Application Steps:
What present circumstances need your courageous attention?

How can you rest in God's power as you face them?

Use BibleGateway to search for "fear not," "do not be afraid," and "have no fear" verses. Read and meditate on one verse every day this month.

Will you choose to replace your unhealthy fear with hope in Christ as you face your present circumstances?

When faced with problems, do you rely on your own strength, or the One who provides what you need to conquer your enemy?

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 12:9a, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'" (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)

John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (NIV)

© 2010 by Zoe Elmore. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Richer or Poorer?
Shari Braendel

"One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth." Proverbs 13:7 (NIV)

I watched Maria as she put her arm around her young son and drew him to her side. He responded by leaning in. They were a family of little means and just walking around her house would make even the most hardened heart cry. The shack had a roof made of sharp tin with tree branches mingled in between the layers. It certainly could not keep the elements out and as I peered up and saw light peeking in I wondered how they kept dry when it rained.

The floors were made of cement in some places, dirt in others. Bricks surrounded the little house and as Eric proudly showed me the bedroom that he shared with his mother and two brothers, I smiled. I was then led into the meager kitchen that was stocked with some old pans, a bag of potatoes, some carrots and a sink that refused to release water from its spout.

There was not a bathroom or laundry area except for the ragged line that hung outside with a few items of clothing on it. For all of this bareness, the children were genuinely joyful. As the boys hugged their mom, there was that sense of sweetness that happens between a child and his mother that no amount of money or material goods can replace. This family had each other and they had Jesus.

Ecuador is extremely impoverished in regards to material blessings. I've decided, however, that many in the U.S., though they have an abundance of possessions, are much poorer in other aspects. Families in Ecuador don't seem to know they are poor. Ironically, so many people living around me don't know they're poor either – spiritually in need.

I arrived home from Ecuador with a new vision of blessing. You see, the families I encountered in the homes I visited may not be blessed with material things but they consider it a privilege and gift to know Jesus. When people place highest value in Jesus, not possessions, they gain a life of hope. Hope without end. I can collect everything money can buy, but if I have no hope, I have nothing of value.

Dear God, thank You for the richness and fullness that I have in my life because You sent Your Son. Help me to keep my eyes on Jesus instead of wanting more things that will never fulfill me the way You do. I know that it is only through Christ that I can be truly wealthy. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Sponsor a child from Ecuador thru Compassion International

Too Small to Ignore by Dr. Wess Stafford

Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others by Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock

Visit Shari’s blog to hear more about her trip to Ecuador

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

Are you feeling hopeless today? Proverbs 11:25 says "He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed" (NIV). Refresh someone today with the hope of Jesus—you will in turn be refreshed with His hope.

My visit with Maria and Eric in Ecuador was through the child sponsorship program of Compassion International. No matter who we are or where we are, we can bring Jesus' hope to the nations through the simple act of sponsoring a child. Compassion International makes certain each sponsored child hears about Jesus and is given the chance to accept true hope. Check out Compassion International today to learn more.

What in my home is excess?

Who can I give it to that needs it more than I?

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 8:9, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich." (NIV)

2 Corinthians 6:10, "Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything." (NIV)

© 2010 by Shari Braendel. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

The Desires of His Heart
Jennifer Erin Valent, She Reads Featured Author

"Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4 (NIV)

When I was young, my girlfriends and I used to play a game where we would choose different ideals we had for our lives, from whom we wanted to marry, to what car we wanted to drive. Life seemed so simple then! In just one short game, I could plan my life out from start to finish. Funny thing is, I never did marry Johnny Depp, I don't live in a mansion, and I don't drive a Porsche.

Well, I was young, and it's certainly a blessing that I didn't end up having to live out the life I planned for myself then. But what about now? As an adult, I've had plenty of dreams for my life. I think I'm pretty intuitive about myself, and I've got a good idea how I think things should go. And since Scripture says the Lord will give us the desires of our hearts, shouldn't these things be coming to pass?

Maybe not. The Lord knows a whole lot more than we give Him credit for, and maybe what He has planned for our lives doesn't match up with what we have planned.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'" (NIV).

What a promise! In just a few words, this verse tells us how much God loves us and how much He wants to bless our lives. He wants our short walk on this earth to be worth so much! But then, what about those desires of our hearts? Where do they fit in?

The Hebrew definition of the word delight in Psalm 37:4 is interesting; it involves the idea of being soft and pliable. Makes me think of clay. I've used small blocks of clay before, and in order to be able to work with one, I need to hold in it my hands and get it warm and soft, ready to be formed into the shape I intend for it to be. Sound familiar? "Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand" (Isaiah 64:8, NIV).

As the Potter forms us, we begin to know Him more. His thoughts become our thoughts. That's when God does more than grant us the desires of our hearts; He actually provides us with those very desires. We no longer want what we want, we want what He wants. And it is most certain that whatever the Lord wishes to bring to pass in our lives, He also desires to freely give us.

We're so often caught up in our own ideas that we forget to listen to His. What a difference it would make if we had God's best intentions at heart. If we could just step out in faith that our Father wants our very best, and that of all things on this earth, we could never have better than what He gives. What peace that would bring to us all. What delight that would bring to our Lord.

And what gifts that would place at our feet when He both provides and fulfills the desires of our hearts!

Dear Lord, help me to see how much You love me and how much You want for me. Take my heart in Your hand and fashion it after Your own heart so that I will know the beauty of what You desire for my life. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Fireflies in December a novel by Jennifer Erin Valent. This book is a current She Reads selection – visit the site to learn more about the novel and its author.

Follow this link to P31’s She Reads and enter today’s giveaway:

One grand prize winner will receive the first two novels in this series by Jennifer Erin Valent – Fireflies in December and Cottonwood Whispers—as well as two beautiful hard-cover devotional books: The Daily God Book: Words of Wisdom, and The Daily God Book: A Year of Listening to God.

Plus, a second runner up will win both of Jennifer’s novels, and a third runner up will win Fireflies in December, the first book in the series.

Shaped with Purpose CD and companion Workbook by Renee Swope

What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Make a point of counting your blessings daily. When we focus on God's many blessings, we see more and more how much He loves us and how many good things He gives us.

Scripture is full of God's promises to us. Search for them and remember them! God's unchanging nature and unfailing love are the cornerstones of faith. If He said it, He meant it, and those promises are a reassuring haven when life seems out of control.

Which of God's promises will remind me during today's particular challenges that I can trust the Lord with my future?

In what ways has the Lord blessed me already today?

Power Verses:
Ephesians 1:3, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." (NIV)

Luke 12:6-7, "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." (NIV)

© 2010 by Jennifer Erin Valent. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Is Ignorance Bliss?
Leslie Nease, She Speaks! Graduate

"Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship Him as God or even give Him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused." Romans 1:21-22 (NLT)

A wave of regret swept over me as I looked up the nutrition information on the pumpkin muffin I’d just consumed. It had a whopping 530 calories, 20 fat grams and 80 carbohydrates! Stunned, I wondered why I would ever want to know this information? Why did I look this up? Now I wouldn’t be able to eat my pumpkin muffin in good conscience!

Ignorance is bliss. Or is it?

If I didn't know this nutritional information I would eat the muffin thinking that because it contains vegetable, it must be good for me! I mean, honestly - have you tasted one of these? But the truth is, eating a pumpkin muffin every day for the rest of my life might lead to some serious consequences. Heart disease, obesity, lack of energy and diabetes could be in my future. Now that I’m in the know, I can’t deny the potential negative affects this could have. I have a responsibility and a decision to make, whether I like it or not.

Similarly, it used to be easier for me to pretend God wasn't real--hell was made up and evil was something I could elude. But when faced with the reality that there is a God who I am accountable to, there is a hell, and evil is present; I knew I had some decisions to make. Instead of living in denial, I accepted that ignorance is not bliss and it was not doing me any favors. So I started to search for truth about God in the pages of His Word.

Scripture is the one place where we can be sure we will find all we need to know about God. However, many folks try to figure out God without the Bible; they want a god on their terms. This reminds me of diets that promise extreme weight loss while eating whatever you want without exercising. We would be in denial if we believed those promises. To lose weight, you have to know the nutritional value of food, work out regularly, and not eat pumpkin muffins every day! It’s a conscious decision to daily invest in our health and there are no short cuts.

Denying God’s existence is not going to change the fact that He is there either. Ignorance is not bliss - it is ignorance.

God makes Himself known to us through His Word. He says, "I Am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5, NIV). We must make a conscious decision daily to invest in our spiritual health through learning about God through time in the Bible. We must connect and remain with Him. With God’s Word lighting our path, we are armed with truth, so we can make informed decisions that will help us grow, not lead us into deception.

Dear Lord, I pray our minds and hearts will be opened and softened to the truth of Your Word. Help us embrace it and learn, grow and walk in the freedom of knowing that You are real and You desire a relationship with us. I pray we will take Your hand as we walk through this life. Instead of living in ignorance, may we walk forward, realizing that Your Truth is what sets us free. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Pierced By the Word by John Piper

Perplexing Proverbs by Susanne Scheppmann

For more encouragement check out Hold It Up to the Light

Application Steps:
It’s important that we surround ourselves with people who will be truthful with us. Having godly, honest friends can ensure we have the accountability and tools to grow in our faith.

Spend some time in prayer and in God’s Word, asking Him to reveal any areas of your life you may be living in denial or deception. Be ready to respond to what He may reveal with humility and a desire to grow.

Is there a scripture that you find difficult to believe? Have you prayed and asked God to reveal the context and the reason He included this scripture in His Word? Spend time digging into different Bible Commentaries found on various websites to help understand God’s Word.
Can you think of a time in your life when you believed ignorance was bliss?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 4:13, "Take hold of my instructions, don’t let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life." (NLT)

Psalm 119:105, "Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path." (NLT)

© 2010 Leslie Nease. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

I'll Start Again on Monday
Lysa TerKeurst

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." Romans 8:37 (NIV)

New Year's Resolutions… some of us like them. Most of us loathe them. But the reality is, a lot of us make them.

And usually right up at the top of most resolutions lists is some version of the promise we'll eat better and exercise more. There is a honeymoon phase the first couple of days of starting a new healthy eating plan. But then you're invited to a party. Your friends are quick to say, "Oh come on, just one won't hurt. This is a special day."

That cheesecake does look good. The Mexican chips and dip are irresistible. It is a special night. I can start again on Monday.

It is so tempting to give in. Set things in reverse. Pretend it won't matter. But it does matter and not just for the physical or mental set back. It's the denial of a fundamental spiritual truth that will make our healthy eating plan fall apart time and time again. What is this truth? We were made for more than this. More than this failure, more than this cycle, more than being ruled by taste buds - we were made for victory. Sometimes we just have to find our way to that truth.

When I was a senior in high school I was invited to a college party. I had a friend who'd graduated the year before me and became my favorite person in the world the day she invited me to her sorority party. By the end of the night we were giggling over the attention given to us by two good looking college boys. As the party died down, they invited us over to their place.

Part of me was so flattered, I wanted to go. A much bigger part of me didn't. But plans got made and before I knew it we were getting into their car and driving away. I was not a strong Christian at this point in my life. Not even close. And I certainly can't say I'd ever heard God speak to me, but in the midst of this situation, I did.

"This isn't you, Lysa. You were made for more than this."

Truth. A gift of truth. Planted deep within me when God personally knit me together – untied and presented at just the right time.

I wound up making an excuse for a quick exit and walking back to my car alone that night. I mentally beat myself up for acting like a young, immature high schooler who couldn't handle being a college party girl. But looking back, I want to stand up on a chair and clap, clap, clap for my little high schooler self!

There were other seasons of my growing up years where I heard this truth loud and clear repeated within the confines of my soul but, sadly, I refused to listen. These were the darkest years of my life. I wasn't made to live a life that dishonors the Lord.

None of us are.

"You were made for more Lysa - you were made for more." I remembered it especially in those early weeks of my new healthy eating adventure when I was tempted by one million assaults on my sugar-deprived taste buds. I just kept mentally repeating ... made for more. Made for more!

And though my healthy eating quest pales in comparison to the importance of a high schooler trying to keep her purity - hunger is hunger. Temptation is temptation. Desire is desire. So, maybe they aren't so different after all.

We were made for more.

What a great truth to use while rewriting the "go to" script that plays in our head every time we're tempted. Rewriting the go-to scripts is one of the most crucial steps toward permanent progress. Remember the script that I mentioned earlier in this article? The excuses? The rationalizations? The "I'll do better on Monday" escape clauses?

We have to rewrite those by getting into the habit of saying other things. And the first of these is, "I was made for more."

Listen to these words from Proverbs 3:5-8, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones."

Trust in the Lord-you were made for more. In all your ways acknowledge Him-you were made for more. Don't try to be wise and do your new diet in your own strength, hold tight to the Lord and flee from temptations-you were made for more. This will bring health and nourishment to you and help you find victory in this struggle-you were made for more!

Dear Lord, I was made for more than getting stuck in a vicious cycle of defeat. I trust You and want to acknowledge You in ALL my ways. Help me to remember I was made for more with each choice I make. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa’s blog for a list of other “Go To Scripts.”

Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst

P31 Woman magazine - this devotion was featured as an article in this month’s magazine. If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy a one-year subscription to our monthly magazine.

Application Steps:
If food is an issue for you, visit Lysa’s blog for more "Go To Scripts" that will help you overcome tempting situations.

If food is not an issue for you, how does today's devotion apply to your area of struggle?

Who are some friends that can walk through this journey of learning to make healthier choices with me?

Is pursuing healthier eating a vain pursuit or could it have deep spiritual applications in my life as well?

Power Verses:
Psalm 78:18, "They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved." (NIV)

Proverbs 3:5, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him…" (NIV)

© 2010 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Colors of Emotion
Susanne Scheppmann

"This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything." 1 John 3:19-20 (NIV)

My feelings scoot across the emotion spectrum. Some days are happy days. Other mornings I don't want to crawl out of bed—I just want to wallow in misery and depression. I sigh and say to my husband, "I have the blues today."

I guess you could say I am a "colorful" person. Maybe you are too. Have you ever found yourself saying something like …

• I am feeling blue today.
• I am so angry; I'm seeing red.
• I am green with envy.
• I am in black despair.

Often our emotions are not based on reality, but on a temporary perception of reality. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9, NIV). I don't always understand why I feel the way I do. My moods could result from weariness, hormones, or an unexpected surprise.

Fortunately, although our hearts are deceitful and trick us into colorful emotions, God is bigger and stronger than our weak hearts. Our key verse states, "This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything (1 John 3:19-20, NIV; emphasis added). This makes me shout aloud, "Hallelujah!"

We still hold some responsibility, however, for our thoughts and emotions. Proverbs 4:23 instructs, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" (NIV)." How do we do this? We should take care about the books, movies and television that we allow to influence our thoughts. Listening to gossip, rumors and discontent from friends can certainly stir up negative feelings as well.

Instead of infusing ourselves with emotional junk food, we need to nourish our minds with godly influences. For example, read the Bible, chat with godly friends, or listen to praise music. The more joyful and contentment-filled influences we filter our thoughts through each day, the more we'll experience a positive emotional state—in fact, we'll be tickled pink!

Dear Lord, grant me the ability to recognize my emotions are not always truth. I thank You that You are bigger and stronger than my deceitful heart. Teach me how to be most effective in guarding my heart from fickle emotions. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Susanne’s blog

Divine Prayers for Despairing Parents by Susanne Scheppmann

The S.O.S for PMS: Practical Help and Relief for Moms by Mary M. Byers

30 Days to Taming Your Stress by Deborah Smith Pegues

Here are a few tips for A New Year, A Better You

Application Steps:
Memorize the following passages to help you gain control over colorful emotions:
Jeremiah 17:9, The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (NIV)

1 John 3:20, For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (NIV)

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

Do I rely on my emotions to determine the outcome of my day?

What circumstances influence my emotions?

Power Verses:
Romans 12:2, "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." (NLT)

Philippians 4:8, "Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse." (MSG)

Galatians 5:22-24, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (NIV)

© 2010 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

At a Crossroads
T. Suzanne Eller

"'Who are you, lord?' Saul asked. And the voice replied, 'I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.'" Acts 9:5-6 (NLT)

Lysa TerKeurst was on the stage sharing a message titled "Pursuing Excellence," but the Holy Spirit was center stage in my heart. That night at the annual She Speaks Conference was a crossroads moment, one of a handful in my life where I knew that God was speaking to me and asking me to turn either right or left.

Lysa challenged the audience to put aside anything that might stand between them and God's best. That night the gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit showed me something that could possibly hold me back from excellence. No big sin. No hidden motives. And yet it mattered to God.
Did it matter to me? And what would I do about it? I spent time in the prayer room that night and I left with an understanding of what steps to take.

When I returned home, I quickly realized that the battle was bigger than I thought. God had shown me that I had allowed something "harmless" to claim my time and attention, to distract me from what He was calling me to do – write more books, develop new messages, and just hang out with Jesus more.

It wasn't about trying to be a super Christian, but a discovery process. What did God have for me as His girl?

In Acts 9, Saul was on his own mission, bustling towards Damascus to arrest followers of Christ. A voice and a Light stopped him in his tracks. He fell to the ground and asked, "Who are you, lord?"

This was Saul's personal crossroad. Would he stay on the same old path, or would he stop and allow God to take control? It wasn't easy, but Saul gave over the reins of his life to God and the rest is history. Where would Saul have ended up if he had ignored the voice of God?

He was a prominent man, a Roman citizen. A man feared by many. He could have stayed on that road and enjoyed the power and prestige. Instead Saul emerged with brand new direction that led him toward his destiny. He uncovered new paths. He discovered exactly who and what God knew he could be all along.

Perhaps you've felt that holy discontent lately. Maybe you are at your own crossroads.

What helped me the most was to ask the same question Saul did: "Who are you, lord?"

I looked at my time. I looked at my dreams. I looked at my relationship with the God who loves and knows me best. What had become lord in my life?

When I answered that question, I found renewed direction. I'm so grateful for a God that will stop me right where I am and show me the way.

Dear Father, thank You for loving us enough to stop us right where we are. I am grateful that You know us. You know what we can do, and You know our weaknesses. Thank You for leading us to an abundant and full existence through You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Making It Real: Whose Faith Is It Anyway by T. Suzanne Eller

What Happens When Woman Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

Visit Suzie’s blog where she offers a giveaway of Making It Real: Whose Faith Is It Anyway and shares a devotion you can download to help you at the crossroads.

Application Steps:
If you feel the same nudge from God's Spirit Suzie did, stop and:
Ask: Ask for clarity.

Anticipate: When God speaks to us it is not to condemn, but to motivate. What does God see that you do not?

Act: Turn in the direction God is leading you.

According to Miriam Webster, a crossroads is a crucial point, especially where a decision must be made.

"Let a man set his heart only on doing the will of God and he is instantly free. No one can hinder him." - A.W. Tozer

"The beautiful thing about this adventure called faith is that we can count on Him never to lead us astray." - Charles Swindoll

Power Verses:
Acts 9:19b-21, "Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, 'He is indeed the Son of God!' All who heard him were amazed." (NLT)

© 2010 T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Hoarding What You Have
Wendy Pope

"I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back." Matthew 25:25 (NLT)

Reality shows are the craze today. You can watch children with problems set on the straight and narrow by The World's Strictest Parents. If you are not happy with your spouse, you can Wife Swap for another spouse while millions watch. The world is also even now invited into the private moments of drug and alcohol interventions.

One of the newest reality shows to hit the airwaves is called Hoarders. People on this show have made a lifestyle out of holding on to what they have. In Hoarders, individuals come face to face with the reality of their problem through intervention and encouragement to clear out their stuff.

Our key verse comes from a story of three servants who were entrusted by their master with his money while he was away. The first two servants pleased their master by multiplying or showing growth of what they had been given. The third servant disappointed his master. He had hidden the money, keeping it safe but also keeping it from earning interest. In other words, he hoarded what his master had given him. Why did he hoard what he had been given?

Scripture gives us the answer. The servant was afraid. He was so consumed by his fear that he did nothing. He was afraid of messing up. He was paralyzed by the thought of doing something wrong or reflecting poorly on his master. In fear, he hid the money and then gave it back.

As I pondered the events of this story my mind drew a picture, a picture I did not like. In the picture I was bowing before my holy Lord, giving back exactly what He entrusted to me, nothing more. I questioned, Am I responding to my Master as this servant responded to his master? Have I fully used or am I fully using, even developing, the gifts and talents He has entrusted to me? Am I hiding what He gave me in fear of messing up?

What about you? How would you answer these questions? It is easy to think we are not good enough or that we are undeserving of God's gifts. Our negative thoughts take us captive, leading us to believe we would reflect poorly upon our Lord if we dared to multiply and grow what He has given us. Today's devotion is our intervention. Now is the time to clear out what we've been hoarding or hiding. Praise God our intervention is not dramatized in front of millions of people. We stand before an audience of One - the only One who matters.

Dear Lord, I apologize for hiding and hoarding anything tat You have given me. Help me be a good steward of everything You entrust to me. I want to be used to grow Your Kingdom. Supply the confidence I need to clean out my hiding places. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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

Living Free In Christ CD by Wendy Pope

Visit Wendy’s blog – Experiencing the Real Meaning of Free

The Gift Giver offers more encouragement on God’s good gifts!

Application Steps:
In a quiet place, read Matthew 25:14-28.

How will I respond to my intervention?

Am I responding to my Master as this servant responded to his master?

Am I fully using, even developing, the gifts and talents God has entrusted to me?

Am I hiding what He gave me out of fear of messing up?

Power Verses:
Romans 12:6a, "We have different gifts, according to the grace given us." (NIV)

Colossians 3:23, "Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the Lord and not for men…" (Amplified)

© 2010 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

A Patient Parent
Glynnis Whitwer

"Don't be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant." Galatians 6:7 (NLT)

One of the most damaging choices a person can make is to give up too soon when faced with a failure. I see this in children all the time. A child doesn't make the sports team in junior high, and gives up before his body has a chance to develop. Another stops singing because she doesn't get a solo in the school play, and her voice hasn't reach maturity. Children face "failure" in many ways, and discouragement can hinder their spiritual growth and potential. How can a parent help?

There's a biblical principle parents can apply when helping a child overcome failure and explore their potential. Galatians 6:7-8 says, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life" (NIV).

Paul used the analogy of planting to explain the principle of spiritual growth. He encouraged his readers to sow into the things of God, with the promise they would reap the things of God. In the life of a Christian we sow into God by how we think, speak, our actions, where we spend our money, and our time. These are investments in a God-honoring life, which reaps a harvest of blessing – but not in the same season. There is always a delay between sowing and reaping.

What if we considered our children's hearts and lives as a garden? The principles of sowing and reaping apply as well. Every day we sow into those "gardens" through our words, behavior, and the disciplines we teach them. However, just like a vegetable garden, if we plant carrot seeds, we will reap carrots – not corn. Consequently, if we sow negative seeds of discouragement, we will reap despair. If we sow seeds of impatience, we will reap frustration. If we sow seeds of laziness, we will reap stress.

Conversely, if we sow healthy seeds of good choices, we will reap self-discipline. If we sow seeds of patience, we will reap peace. If we sow seeds of perseverance, we will reap success. Our children's hearts are rich soil prepared by God to receive good seed. As conscientious gardeners, we need to plant those that will reap a harvest in our children's lives and prepare them for service in the kingdom of God.

What if you don't see results right away? That's normal. After a few days, the farmer doesn't get frustrated with slow growth and rip the seeds out of the ground. No. The farmer continues to water the soil, shoo the birds away, and pull the weeds. The farmer protects the seed until it has a chance to grow in its own time.

God designed our children to grow and flourish with love and care. However, failure can be the weeds in our children's lives. Weeds don't destroy the good seed, they just leech the nutrients out of the soil limiting the growth of the plant. Failure doesn't destroy our children's potential; it just removes the enthusiasm from their hearts.

In order to overcome the pain and heartache of failure, children need a parent who will step in with fresh water and bright sunlight, while replacing the weeds with healthy seed. With this tender care, perseverance and self-discipline will grow and develop. Then in time, our children will produce a harvest of confidence. May we be gardeners who don't give up until the harvest.

Dear Lord, I praise You for Your almighty power and wisdom. Thank You for making me with potential to grow and change. Help me to see that same potential in those I love and to become a gardener of healthy seed in their lives. Help me to see failure as something to overcome, not stop me for a live of obedience. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
When Your Child is Hurting by Glynnis Whitwer

Visit Glynnis’s blog

Mining for Gold in the Heart of Your Child Character Chart by Renee Swope

Application Steps:
Identify one character virtue you would like to sow into your life, or your child's life. What do you need to sow in order to reap a harvest of that virtue?

Why is perseverance such an important Christian virtue? When you have failed in the past, what have people done or said that was most helpful?

Power Verses:
Isaiah 40:31, "… 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." (NIV)

Philippians 1:6, "… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (NIV)

© 2010 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

The Secret of Contentment
Micca Monda Campbell

"…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances" Philippians 4:11b (NIV)

Have you ever noticed how overextending yourself tends to bring unwanted pressure into your life? I think we tend to busy ourselves in order to gain more, find acceptance among peers, land a better position, and gain riches of all kinds. Perhaps we live under the illusion that having such riches is what makes a person complete, content, and deliriously happy. Yet, when we discover that's not the case, we're left feeling empty and discontent.

Contentment and security are not found in career titles or in the kind of car we own. The logo on our car only tells others what kind of car we drive — not who we are. True satisfaction, in its purest form, is found in the wealth of who God is and the riches He graciously lavishes upon us.

Recently God's been showing me that when I constantly want more than He has given me, it reflects a heart that is discontent. What I'm saying to God is, "I'm not satisfied with what You have provided for me. I want more." In wanting more, I place undo pressure on myself in an attempt to get what God hasn't provided. Naturally, anxiety is the result when I focus on things other than God and His will for my life.

The pressure to have more and do more can lead us down paths we never intended. In our attempt to fill the vacuum of our empty souls, we discover that external luxury is only a cheap substitution for spiritual wholeness. As our key verse points out, Paul knew the secret of finding contentment. "…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances."

Take note that Paul wrote these words in a high stress situation as he sat in jail awaiting a verdict for a crime he didn't commit. I don't know if I could find contentment if I were in his sandals. I would probably strum my wooden cage with a rock singing pitifully, "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen. Nobody knows my sorrow." Finding contentment doesn't mean we have to like our current situation, but it may require an appreciation for it. Let me explain.

Paul learned that the fruit of contentment is developed when we are thankful for what God has provided whether we like it or not. That's because peace isn't the absence of pressure. It's the presence of God and our attitude toward His provision in the midst of our stress. By expressing gratitude, Paul experienced richness of being, not having.

I realize you may be in a hard place right now and you're longing for freedom. Maybe you're in a job that feels like a dead end; perhaps you have two of them! It may be that you live in a space too small for your family and you hate it. You're not where you planned or hoped to be and you certainly don't like it.

The truth is, we don't have to like where we are or what we have, but if we will choose to thank God for His provisions regardless of our feelings toward them, we'll experience the same contentment Paul encountered.

We must understand that being thankful doesn't mean that God will eventually remove us from our situation. He may; He may not. Rather, being appreciative sets us free from the desire to have and lets us rest in the riches of contentment. And when we reach a place of contentment, we don't need earthly riches galore. God becomes our greatest treasure. In Him, we have everything we need.

Dear Lord, things could always be worse. I'm grateful for what You've provided for me. Fill me with Your peace so that I may be truly content in Your blessings. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Micca’s blog–Reflections

Today's devotion was taken from Micca’s book, An Untroubled Heart: Finding Faith that is Stronger than All Your Fears. Order your copy by clicking here.

Brokenness, Surrender, Holiness by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

For encouragement during the tough times, read Surrendering Your Strongholds

Application Steps:
Instead of focusing on what God has not provided, make a list of what He has. Then, thank God for His provision.

Does your heart always long for more than what God has provided?

If so, why and what do you need to do to find contentment?

Power Verses:
Psalm 103:1-5, "Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's." (NIV)

© 2010 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Site Search
Recent Devotions
Articles About...
Grab our button!