Lysa TerKeurst

"With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people, who have been made in God's likeness." James 3:9 (NIV)

A few weeks ago two of my kids were having a growth opportunity. "Growth opportunity" is the new phrase us TerKeursts use for "fight." It's like when people say pink is the new black.
Growth opportunity is the new fight.

Anyhow, back to the two kids who love each other but didn't like each other very much in the heat of the moment. I pulled out my proverbial soap box, got my hand positioned just right on my hip, and told these two young teens to look outside the window of our home. I told them that outside our home a world exists of people who may or may not be nice to us. There are no guarantees.

"But, inside this house," I continued as I turned them toward one another, "there are certain guarantees. Since the day I birthed you, I have preached one sermon about the words spoken in our home. It is a simple sermon. Before you part your lips to speak, you must ask yourself this question: Are my words kind, necessary, and true?"

"If the answer to all three parts of that question is yes…proceed ahead."

"If the answer to any part of that question is no…stop the words from coming out."

Does that mean there is no room to address hard issues with one another? No. But it will always be done with a spirit of kindness using only words that are necessary and true.

I then ushered these precious teens outside to a bench in my front yard and instructed them to figure out their issues between the two of them. But they were not going to bring words into our house unless they were kind, necessary, and true. Thank you very much. Have a nice time on this warm little bench on this warm little day.

Be sure when reading that last paragraph to do it with the mama attitude. I'll wait right here if you need to go back and re-read with attitude.

There are some verses in James I'm considering writing on the palm of my hand. Think of how handy it would be just to flash my palm up in the midst of my people's growth opportunities with this verse in bold ink: "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My people, this should not be" (James 3:9-10).

That same chapter of James goes on to read, "For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice" (verse 16).

Have mercy. I do not want disorder and every evil practice to be invited into my home. And if envy and selfish ambition (which are where ugly words come from) are the key that opens the door for all that evil mess, then I will do everything with the power of Jesus in me to tame tongues. And all my Jesus girlfriends said, Amen!

Dear Lord, help me to know how to teach my children how to be more like You. Help me to model You in my actions, my reactions, and in every word I say. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
If you are on board with this, leave a comment on Lysa’s blog today by clicking here . Just think what might happen if all of us commit to kind, necessary and true words only.

Plus, leave your name on Lysa’s blog post and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Lysa’s latest book!

To read more about taming the tongue using “Kind, Necessary and True Words,” get a copy of Lysa’s latest book, Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We wish we could, but we simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you! ________________________________________

Application Steps:
Take a moment to think about the words spoken in your home. Are they laced with tones of harshness? Bitterness? Envy? What can you do today to begin to improve these words and tones?

Ask the Lord to help you shine a light on all of the words that are spoken within the walls of your home so you can recognize any flaws and begin to change them. Growth and a change of direction can only begin when we can see and admit there is an issue.

Power Verses:
Philippians 2:5, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." (NIV)

Philippians 1:9-10, "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ." (NIV)

© 2010 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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Accountability Counts
Marybeth Whalen

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." II Corinthians 5:10 (NIV)

I sat on my bed feeling disappointed in myself. I had been to a party and, instead of abstaining from the junk food they were serving, I had indulged. Why did I keep cheating on the healthy diet I was trying to stick to? Just last year I was unswerving in my commitment to eat healthy, never cheating. I kept my eye on the prize of weight loss and better living through proper nutrition. While I still cared about how I looked and, even more, how I felt, I had less willpower than before. What had changed? As I thought back, I realized one essential component had changed from last year to this: accountability.

Last year I saw a doctor every week who weighed me, measured me and talked to me about my choices. She held me accountable in every sense of the word and there were many times that accountability of knowing I was going to have to check in with her kept me from eating what I was not good for me. Accountability, I realized, counted.

This realization made me look at other areas of my life where accountability had made a difference. When I decided to chase my dream of finally writing a novel, I had a friend who held me accountable—even to the point of making me finish it when I wanted to do anything but.

That same friend also holds me accountable for the way I spend my time. She challenges me to keep my priorities in check and to live my life according to what I say my priorities are. We have the kind of relationship where she can say hard things—even when that's the last thing I want to hear.

Sometimes we resist accountability, even when it's the best thing for us. My husband recently put a computer program on our children's laptops that keeps up with what sites they visit as well as the amount of time they spend online and then sends us a report. They didn't relish the idea of being monitored, but we assured them that this accountability will go a long way towards helping them form good habits. Knowing someone is checking behind us, asking the hard questions, and calling us on our actions can make all of us better stewards and servants of Christ. Sometimes we must enter into an accountability relationship—not because we like it, but because it's the best thing for us.

What do you need to be held accountable for? Maybe it's spending more time with your family, watching your words, respecting your husband, limiting time wasters, committing to regular exercise, breaking a bad habit, or avoiding weak areas in your life.

A single friend of mine asked several friends to call her after every date she went on. She knew that the fact that she was being quizzed on her conduct later would help her make better decisions in the heat of the moment. Sometimes just knowing we will have to answer for our actions changes the whole outcome.

In the end we will be held accountable by Christ. II Corinthians 5:10 says the things we do will be judged by whether they were good, or bad. The word "bad" in this verse means worthless. This was sobering for me to understand. I could fool myself into thinking as long as I didn't do something "bad" I was in the clear. Instead this verse tells me that God is going to ask me, "Did you make your time count? Were the things you committed to of value to My Kingdom?"

If I have to be accountable to Him someday, I think it's a good idea to install godly accountability in my life now: the right words, the right choices, the right voices speaking into my life. I have learned that accountability counts towards a more abundant life. I just have to submit myself to it first.

Dear Lord, please show me the people in my life who would serve as good accountability partners. Help me to see what areas I could use some accountability in. I want the things I do to bring glory to You and add value to Your kingdom. Help me to accept accountability in my life and to submit myself to it. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Visit Marybeth’s blog

The Mailbox by Marybeth Whalen

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

The Uncommon Woman: Making an Ordinary Life Extraordinary by Susie Larson
When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We wish we could, but we simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you! ________________________________________

Application Steps:
Pray for God to show you someone who can hold you accountable. Then humbly ask that person.

What area of your life do you need accountability? What keeps you from opening yourself up to it? How could being accountable to someone else for your actions change your life for the better?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 12:15, "The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice." (NIV)

Proverbs 19:20, "Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise." (NIV)

© 2010 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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Remain, My Love
Micca Monda Campbell

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love." John 15:9 (NIV)

Is it really possible to live in God's constant presence free from fear and sheltered by His love? Miraculously, it is. Living carefree in the love of God is doable and real.

It's the kind of life that Jesus lived on earth and the life He desires for each of us. "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love" (John 15:9).

I want to experience God's love and grace every day. As believers, our life is meant to be wrapped in God's love, but many of us live in fear and defeat instead. Where is our power and victory? Where is our peace that flows like a river? If you and I are in a love relationship with God, why don't we reflect that?

Many of us are powerless and full of anxieties rather than love because we do not faithfully practice fellowship with God. We simply stand in the shadow of God, but don't draw near. Perhaps we feel confused, abandoned, betrayed, or afraid of God. Or maybe we just stay too busy to draw near. This is not the Lord's desire. He longs to be with us.

To really experience the loving personality and presence of God, we have to spend time with Him. Knowing about God and knowing Him personally are two different things. We can read the Bible and acquire knowledge about God's love, but that doesn't mean we will experience it in an intimate way. Knowing about someone and being involved in a relationship with them are two very different experiences.

Personally, I don't want to simply know about God and His love. I want to share in it. I want to open my heart to God by telling Him about my hurts and my joys. I also want to know what's on His heart too. I desire to hear from Him instead of doing all the talking myself. I want the kind of relationship that Christ had with His Father in heaven while here on earth. And, I can have that through abiding. You can too.

To abide means to stay where you are. Colossians 3:3 tells us exactly where we are to stay. "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God."

That's our position; we are to stay in Christ. We don't just run to Christ when we're scared or desperate. Abiding in Christ means to remain in His presence daily - during every season and through every turn of life.

Abiding takes more than a token prayer, reading a few biblical words, or singing some praise songs on Sunday. Besides, abiding is not about doing more but about seeking God and connecting with Him. Today that connection may be about basking in his unconditional love. Tomorrow, it may be His strength that you relish. Whatever your need may be, you can find it in God's presence daily.

Is it possible to live a life in constant contact with God and His love all day long? It was for Jesus. Therefore, it must be possible for us too.

Dear Lord, how I long to live each day with You—in Your love, power, peace, and strength. Lord, I will stay in this moment with thoughts on You until I experience Your connection with me. Come, Lord, and meet with me today. Teach me to remain with You always. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Micca’s blog

Taken from An Untroubled Heart: Finding Faith that is Stronger than My Fears by Micca Campbell

Finding Faith that is Stronger than My Fears 3-Message CD set Taught by Micca Campbell

Additional Resources by Micca

Women's Devotional Bible (NIV)

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We wish we could, but we simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you! ________________________________________

Application Steps:
Carefully read John 15. Ask yourself, who is the vine and who is the vine-keeper? Who is abiding and why? What is the benefit of abiding?

What distractions keep me from having a deeper relationship with God?

Am I willing to make God my first priority every day? If so, how will it change my relationship with Him?

Power Verses:
Deuteronomy 6:5, "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (NIV)

Joshua 23:11, "So be very careful to love the LORD your God." (NIV)

© 2010 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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Being Perfect

"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence." 1 Peter 1:3 (ESV)

There's a moment I dread when going to the doctor for a check-up. It's not putting on that tissue paper rectangle they mistakenly call a "gown." It's not having my finger pricked for blood tests - though I'm really squeamish about that. It's the moment right after the nurse finishes her questions, grabs her clip board, and announces the doctor will be in to see me shortly. Pulling the door closed behind her, she leaves me alone with it.

I already know what it's going to say about me; I've read it before. It's going to say that I don't measure up. That I'm not reaching my potential. That I don't equal my ideal. It's the height/weight chart that declares the perfect weight for my height – and I'm several pounds away.

It extends no mercy. It offers no grace. It makes no allowances for how old I am, how many babies I've birthed, or the fact that my husband can eat three plates of food every night without gaining an ounce. It demands perfection.

A few years ago I heard a verse that seemed to be the scriptural equivalent of the height/weight chart. A single verse to measure my worth against, and feed my expectations for perfection: "But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48, NIV)

I figured this verse justified dressing my family in matching sweaters, in the middle of July, to take the Christmas card photo because I'd just gotten the perfect haircut. I figured it warranted pricey tooth whitening treatments because I drink coffee and tea, and it shows. And I figured it would be my defense when I drove my family nuts about deep-cleaning the entire house because my new friend said she might stop by.

While the verse came in handy when I needed to justify my quest for perfect teeth, perfect photos or a perfectly clean house, it added to my disappointment, guilt and occasional loathing when my life, body or family didn't match the ideal notions in my head. Rather than fostering perfection, it fueled my self-criticism. Surely this is not what Jesus intended!

In the years since hearing that verse, I've embraced a core conviction that goes like this: If God created life, He alone gets to define it. This conviction drove me to find out what exactly Jesus meant by "be perfect."

Matthew wrote this verse. And the word he used in the ancient Greek language means something a little different than Mr. Webster's English definition. The Greek word here is teleos and it means "complete, full grown, developing."

The first two pieces of that definition indicate something already accomplished, while the third indicates an ongoing process. So this perfection Jesus prescribes for us is already complete and yet still developing. Complete in Him; still at work in us. We're allowed to be a work-in-progress!

All parts of this definition, however, refer to maturity of character, rather than a flawless figure, immaculate home, or the faultless execution of a task. Jesus just doesn't care so much if there's dust on our mantle, a stain on our teeth, or a scratch on our car. He isn't interested in how well our bedspread matches our curtains; He's interested in our spiritual maturity. Jesus teaches I will not find my worth in my ability to reach my perfect weight or accomplish my to-do list flawlessly, but in the fact that I am learning to reflect His character. To graciously give and receive love.

That's good news for a recovering perfectionist. Plus, as John writes in 1 John 3:18-19 of The Message: "My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality. It's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it."

Dear Lord, thank You for grace! Thank You for mercy! Thank You for empowering me to be like You as I submit to Your Word. And thank You for not caring about dust bunnies or stained shirts. Help me to care less about those things as well and focus my heart more on You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

For a chance to win an Amazon Kindle e-reader, and gain some tips on overcoming perfectionism, come by Rachel’s blog this week. And if you enjoyed this devotion, you’ll want to get a copy of Rachel’s new book It’s No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know.
When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of life-changing ministry P31 provides at no cost. We simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you! ________________________________________

Application Steps:
Spend time reading through the gospels, noticing what concerned Jesus and what did not.

What surface-level thing(s) have you been worrying over lately?

If it's not about your character, let it go as imperfect and rest in God's grace today.

Power Verses:
Philippians 3:8-9, "More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith," (NASB)

© 2010 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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Composed and Quieted
Van Walton

"O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me." Psalm 131:1 (NASB)

I watched the young mother deftly work in her kitchen, amazed at all she could accomplish with one hand. In her left arm she tenderly cradled her little one. With her right hand, elbow, shoulder and hip she opened drawers and shut doors; she pulled out cups, saucers, and spoons; she scooped coffee and poured water.

While Juan Valdez's aroma filled the air, she gathered pastries from her pantry and other refreshments from her refrigerator. When silence replaced conversation, she hummed a quiet melody into her baby's ear. Finally we sat down to enjoy our mid-day visit and I realized her tiny infant had slept through it all, mindless of the constant noise and swirling activity.

Oh, to rest in such peace while all around me chaos reigns. What secret lay hidden in that little heart?

The chapter which contains today's key verse offers the answer- such a short and simple Psalm, yet it says it all, "Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother..." (NASB).

I long for an escape from life's challenges. Sometimes the force and frequency with which my trials torment me threaten to undue me.

I've been tested and tried this year to the point that I thought, "If the barrage doesn't let up, I am a goner." I held up my hand in the stop position and screamed out to God, "No more! Have mercy. I'm undone! How am I supposed to juggle all this?"

In that instant God whispered, "Like a child rests against his mother, quiet your soul."

Then the Master Artist sketched for me the picture I described earlier. His reminder recalled a young mother tenderly and safely holding her baby, while all around, life's responsibilities increasingly swelled.

Sweet friend, do you feel like you are losing your footing? Are you struggling to conquer the chaos? If you are like me you are on the brink, throwing up your hands and screaming, "I give up!"

That's good! Give up.

Yes, that is what I said.

Give up and like a child in her mother's arms, trust and rest.

Some matters are too complicated for us to figure out. Let God open and close the doors. Believe that He will prepare and provide. He created you, His precious child. He is protecting you in the crook of His strong right arm.

Father God, Your Word assures me that You are a strong shelter. You don't give me more than I can endure. Out of obedience I believe You and rest. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
From the Pound to the Palace Children’s Book or Story on DVD by Van Walton

You are My Hiding Place, Lord: Finding Peace in God's Presence by Emilie Barnes

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

Traveling Light: Releasing the Burdens You Were Never Intended to Bear by Max Lucado

We’d be honored to walk alongside you throughout your day. Find us on Facebook and Twitter.

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of life-changing ministry P31 provides at no cost. We simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you! ________________________________________

Application Steps:
Purposefully plan thirty minutes into each day with a goal to sit quietly. Begin this time speaking to the Father, "Like a child I rest in You. I trust You to take the matters to great for me and place them under Your authority."

If needed, repeat the above-mentioned prayer until your soul is "composed and quieted."

What areas of my life are too great for me?

What steps can I take to shed the burdens of my difficulties?

Who can I ask to pray with me and hold me accountable to give my burdens to God?

Power Verses:
Psalm 32:7, "For You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory." (NLV)

Psalm 131:2-3, "Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forever." (NASB)

1 Corinthians 10:13, "…you can trust God, who will not permit you to be tempted more than you can stand. But when you are tempted, he will also give you a way to escape so that you will be able to stand it." (NCV)

© 2010 by Van Walton. All rights reserved.

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Things That Seem So Small
Lysa TerKeurst

"A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back." Proverbs 29:11 (NKJV)

Yesterday, I was just mindlessly looking out the window of an airport watching a few seagulls dart about overhead while airline workers were busy loading bags. Nothing about the scene outside the airport window spoke of danger. But then suddenly I remembered the flight from New York a while back that was brought down by a few geese. The seagull that faded into the background just moments before became a point of extreme interest to me. What if?

It's amazing if you stop to think about it that a huge airplane could be brought down by just a few birds. Birds. Who would have thought? It makes me think about other seemingly small things that can cause great destruction as well… especially when it comes to marriage.

Words vented in frustration can seem so small.

Slightly disrespectful attitudes can seem so small.

Complaining about lack of finances can seem so small.

Brushing off his desires can seem so small.

Making mental lists of things you wish were different about him can seem so small.
But each one of these seemingly small things can so easily and tragically wedge itself into the core of a marriage and send it spiraling toward destruction. Entire families have been ripped apart by things that once seemed so small.

Listen to the heartbreak in this note that was anonymously posted on my blog:

"Girls...I know this seems small...but, it's really not. Take it from someone who has blown it more times in marriage than not. Now I have blown it enough to make myself a single mom. It's too late for me. But, it's not for you. Please be aware of the little things. I wouldn't have you join me for anything in the world. Be on your guard and protect your marriage."… Anonymous

I am challenged by this. I can't just mindlessly assume that my marriage is coasting along okay and that little problems can't topple even the most seemingly stable of legacies. I can't get complacent. I can't get prideful. I can't get lazy. I can't take the gift of my marriage for granted.

I have a great marriage but sometimes I slip into automatic and stop getting as intentional as I should about investing richly and deeply into our relationship. So, I've decided to declare this my get intentional week. Today I'm focusing on my words. I'm praying for God to interrupt my mouth at every turn today. I am going to hold my tongue against saying anything careless. I am going to intentionally use my words as gifts to my husband today and nothing else.

Not that one day of doing this can protect my marriage forever- but it sure is a good start. Care to join me? Oh you know there will be challenges ahead sweet sister, but I'm up for it. What about you?

Dear Lord, help me to realize that with each word I speak, I am making the choice to bless or to curse. Please help me to speak words that are pleasing to You - even when my emotions run high and my feelings beg me to betray this commitment. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Leave your prayer requests on Lysa’s blog today. It would be her complete honor and privilege to pray for your marriage and whatever circumstances you are facing right now.

Lysa is speaking in over 40 cities this year and she’d love to meet you!

If you identify with tough life circumstances and insecurities, consider getting a copy of Lysa’s latest book, Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl

The accompanying DVD teaching series contains six 15-20 minute sessions, perfect for your Bible Study group or neighborhood Book Club! Pair it with the Bible Study workbook.

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of life-changing ministry P31 provides at no cost. We simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you! ________________________________________

Application Steps:
Identify the areas of your marriage you may be struggling with – complacency, pride, laziness.

Look up verses in God's Word that address each.

Spend intentional time in prayer this week for your marriage and your husband.

What have I said recently to my spouse that seemed so small initially?

What have I done recently to my spouse that seemed so small initially?

What have I thought recently about my spouse that seemed so small initially?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 15:1, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (NIV)

Psalm 19:14, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." (NIV)

Philippians 4:13, "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." (NIV)

© 2010 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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I 'm Not Good as New
Glynnis Whitwer

"He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them." John 12:40 (NIV)

Years ago, I decided to save money and learn how to cut men's hair. With four males in my home, I figured electric clippers were a good investment. They were. After a few "oops" and "uh-ohs," I got the hang of it and have been cutting their hair ever since.

Recently, after finishing a trim, I dropped the clippers on the floor, knocking the blades from the holder. A quick examination revealed a very small piece of plastic had been chipped away. But the blades seemed to fit on fine, so I cleaned up the mess, brushed the clippers, and stored them in their box. Good as new, I thought.

Time for the next haircut arrived, and I retrieved the clippers from their box. I put the cape around my son's shoulders, snapped on the correct guide and proceeded to turn on the clippers. However, instead of hearing the normal electric purr, we heard a metallic grating. Apparently, that broken piece of plastic was actually important. Without it, the clippers didn't work right.

As I considered that incident, I realized many of us are like those clippers. At one time we have fallen emotionally. We've been hurt, betrayed, left out, overlooked. We carry scars from past relationships, jobs and bad choices. Most of us have been trained to pick ourselves back up and move on. We've been conditioned to put on a smile and pretend we aren't broken. The problem is most things that are broken don't fix themselves, and they don't work right until they are.

In the month between haircuts, that piece of plastic never jumped back on the clippers. Likewise, a leaking faucet doesn't just stop leaking one day. Buttons don't sew themselves back on. In every instance where something is broken, I've had to attend to it with care.

Sadly, I see many people walking around broken, pretending they are okay. Instead of acknowledging hurt and seeking healing from the One who can give it, they ignore it. Instead of seeking professional help when needed, they bury the pain, and hope it's deep enough to not bother them again. But the pain never really heals. It always pops up. And it affects current relationships and commitments when it does.

The truth is, none of us is as good as new. We are ALL broken in some way. We all have hurts we've buried and tried to move past. But that brokenness doesn't completely heal by itself. Thankfully, there is good news if you feel broken.

We serve a God who loves healing and wholeness. He knows it's painful to deal with past hurts. But He's willing to help. While we will never be "good as new" until heaven, we can be emotionally healed here on earth. Maybe we need to pick up our broken pieces, carry them in tender hands and present them to Jesus.

It may not be easy, and it will probably take time. But emotional healing is possible. After all, the One who conquered death, can certainly mend our brokenness.

Dear Lord, only You really know the depths of my pain and desperation. I've tried to hide it, even from You at times, but I won't any longer. Today I openly admit my pain and hurt, and ask You to heal me. Please give me wisdom to know other steps I need to take. Thank You for what You are going to do in me and through me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know the Gentle Healer?

When Your Child is Hurting by Glynnis Whitwer. This book equips parents to help their children deal with everyday hurts in ways that prepare them for a healthy future.

Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner by Wendy Blight

Visit Glynnis’ blog if you’d like her to pray for you today

When a Woman Meets Jesus: Finding the Love Every Woman Longs For by Dorothy Valcarcel

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of life-changing ministry P31 provides at no cost. We simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you! ________________________________________

Application Steps:
If you have tried to cover up a hurt in your past, perhaps today is the day to bring it out of the darkness. Choose someone you trust, and let them know the burden you've been carrying. Then pray for God's direction and healing.

Why do so many women pretend they are okay, when in fact, they are suffering on the inside?

Read James 5:16 (below). What are important steps to receiving healing? (The Greek word for "healed" here is "iaomai," which has multiple meanings, not just physical healing.)

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)

Malachi 4:2, "But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall." (NIV)

© 2010 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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"Summon your power, O God; show us your strength, O God, as you have done before." Psalm 68:28 (NIV)

It was the first day of the Bible study I was leading and I didn't know the women very well. When I asked them how they experience God's presence, I got the answers I expected: prayer, reading His Word, listening to music. Then one woman raised her hand. "My testimony," she said.

I know my face registered my confusion. This was not an answer I expected. "Your testimony?" I asked. I knew the word testimony meant her story of how she came to know Jesus as Christ or stories of His activity in her life, but I was not totally following her. "How do you experience God's presence through your testimony?" I inquired.

"Whenever I share my testimony, I am reminded of His faithfulness," she answered me, her dark eyes shining. "I remember what He did then and I feel Him there assuring me He will be faithful again. My testimony reminds me of God's presence throughout my life; that I can count on Him."

I wanted to let her lead the rest of the Bible study, because she clearly had a lot to teach me.
Since that moment I have thought about the woman's words. I have reflected on my testimony—the many stories I can share about the answers to prayer, the still small voice of reassurance, the mountaintop experiences, and the revelations in my depths of despair. I have many examples of when I have felt His presence in my life and those experiences have taught me that I can count on Him. He was there; He is there; He will be there. Our testimonies are not stories with a beginning and an ending. They are unfolding sagas of a lifelong love affair with the living God.

I have always thought of my testimony as something I can use to inspire and encourage others, but had never thought of it as something I could use to encourage and inspire myself. God is faithful and He has proved it over and over. I can look back over my life and trace His hand, feel His presence and trust His purpose.

What is your testimony? How can it inspire you today? What do you need to remember from the past that will speak into your life today? Let your testimony speak to you today.
Dear Lord, thank You for always working in my life. When I get discouraged, let me see that You worked in my life in the past and You are at work now. Help me to recall my testimony so that I can feel Your presence. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of life-changing ministry P31 provides at no cost. We simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you! ________________________________________

Application Steps:
Begin a list of times that God has come through for you in big and little ways. Keep that list somewhere you can access it easily. Add to it as God brings things to mind or as new things happen. During times of discouragement, pull that paper out and experience His presence.

Have you ever thought about your testimony ministering to you? Do you spend time thinking about God's past faithfulness or do you tend to always look ahead?

Power Verses:
Psalm 9:10, "Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." (NIV)

Psalm 145:18-19, "The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cries and saves them." (NIV)

© 2010 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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Why Does My Husband…
Melanie Chitwood

"I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Psalm 139:14 (NAS)

Have you ever found yourself puzzled about why your husband does or doesn't do certain things? Are you ever frustrated with his quirks and preferences?

Why does he have to have the proper tool for his project, when it seems to you he already has ten power tools that could surely serve the purpose? Or why does he not get the kids to bed on time, like you reminded him to do? Doesn't he know a schedule is important? Perhaps you've been on the other end of your husband's frustration when you want to socialize at the party as late as possible, but he's ready to leave after an hour.

While a couple's differences stem from many sources, one of the main sources of our differences is our unique personality types. Years ago when I stumbled across a book, Florence Littauer's Personality Plus for Couples, I felt like a light bulb turned on as it offered insight into my husband. This man who is very different from me.

This book explains that every person tends to fall in one of four personality types: Sanguine, Choleric, Phlegmatic, or Melancholy. Most people have a primary personality type and a secondary personality type, and each type comes with its positive and negative aspects.

The Sanguine personality type, also called the Popular Personality, is outgoing, adventurous, attention-seeking, talkative and social. Possible weaknesses of a Sanguine are they avoid anything that's not fun, tend to run late, and often do not finish projects.

When you think of the second personality type, the Choleric or Powerful Personality, think of a take-charge leader. Cholerics love challenges, are self-motivated, driven and determined. Their strong personalities can lend to weaknesses, such as being opinionated, stubborn or insensitive to other's feelings.

The third personality type, the Melancholy or Perfect Personality, tends to be introspective, creative, analytical and serious. Some of a melancholy's challenges are that they tend to be perfectionists, get their feelings hurt easily and can be critical of others.

Lastly, there's the Phlegmatic, the Peaceful Personality. Phlegmatics are laid-back, stable, calm and pleasant. While their peace-seeking personalities are helpful, they can avoid conflict at all costs, be scared to take a risk and may procrastinate.

Just reading this list makes me giggle as I think of a recent "situation" with my husband. As we prepared dinner for a cookout with neighborhood friends, Scott, a Sanguine-Choleric, got frustrated when he couldn't find the just-right knife for chopping up vegetables. To me, a phlegmatic-melancholy, it didn't seem like a big deal – any old knife would suit me fine for cutting up food. Later in the night when my more introverted melancholy side was showing, I was thankful for the talkative sanguine qualities of my husband who is great at making guests feel welcome.

Understanding my husband's personality type helps me to embrace him for the unique way God designed him. When I see how God gave each of us strengths and weaknesses, I see how we complement one another and how we truly are better together than apart.

Dear Lord, there are times when I just don't understand my husband, why he does or doesn't do certain things. Help us both to embrace one another's unique personalities. Lord, we trust that You can cause our differences to work for good in our marriage and in our individual lives. Lord, I want to go beyond just tolerating my husband's differences; I want to embrace them. I want to trust that our differences will complement each other, making us better together than apart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Melanie’s blog “What Matters Most” where she is sharing more about personality types and marriage today.

What a Husband Needs from His Wife by Melanie Chitwood

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

Personality Plus for Couples by Florence Littauer

Application Steps:
Take time with your spouse to identify each of your personality types.

Make a list of ten things about your spouse's unique personality that you're thankful for. Be specific! For example, "I'm thankful that Scott is a strong leader." Even more specific would be, "I'm thankful that Scott is a strong leader to our two sons, teaching them a strong work ethic by his example."

How do you and your husband complement one another?
How do you frustrate one another?

What can you do to embrace the way you complement one another, as opposed to letting frustrations with your differences lead to conflict?

In what ways are you and your husband "better together"?

Power Verses:
Genesis 1:17, "So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them…" (NAS)

Ecclesiastes 4:1, "Two are better than one…" (NAS)

© 2010 by Melanie Chitwood. All rights reserved.

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Where Your Treasure Is
T. Suzanne Eller

"Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal." Matthew 6:19 (NLT)

I was on my own at 17. I worked two jobs while attending a small community college and eventually left college because I ran out of funds. Three years later I married my husband. Over the next few years babies were born, with medical expenses incurred. Then I got sick: Cancer. It probably won't surprise you that because of these circumstances, there was a huge need in my life for financial stability.

I pinched pennies. I calculated paychecks to the last dime. I made lists of our debt month after month, figuring out how to pay them off quicker. I think financial gurus would say I was on the right track, but can I be honest? In the midst of my calculations and my overwhelming need for security, pinching pennies became not just a means to meet my goal and take care of our family, but it started to reflect my heart spiritually in the area of giving.

Even after I was secure. Even after our financial status was stable.

We tithed. We gave to others, even sacrificially. But my heart wasn't in it. As I placed a tithing envelope in the offering, I thought: What about our savings? Shouldn't we be building it? What about buying something new for us? Our car is older. The miles are racking up.

Friends would have been surprised at the battle that raged inside me. I was ashamed of it. They would have called me generous, but I knew the truth. I had worked so hard for such a long time that I had come to count on Suzie. I obeyed God in this area, but did I trust Him?

I desperately wanted a generous heart, no matter how much was in our bank account. The first thing I felt God asking me to lay down was worry. As I prayed, I went back to all the times God had liberally cared for me. As an unsure young girl alone at 17, His love led me day by day. As a young mom overwhelmed at times, He wrapped me in security and grace. As a 31-year-old woman diagnosed with cancer, He filled me with faith that could only come from Christ.

My confidence in Him had nothing to do with money, but rather His presence in my life. I put worry down, asking for the strength to abide in Him instead of fear.

The second thing I felt God asking me to lay down was resentment. Oh, Father, such a hard word. Are you sure that is the condition of my heart? And yet, there it was. Hidden from others, but clear as day to me and my Savior.

It's been years since that pivotal moment between me and Jesus. Recently I was talking with one of my daughters. "Remember when you used to worry about money?" she asked. I nodded, smiling. "You seem to be so different, Mom, and yet I know that you and Dad live on a strict budget, especially now that he's back in school. Do you have money I don't know about?" she teased.

Yes, baby, I do. But it has nothing to do with my bank account. It's a different kind of treasure, one that acknowledges how rich I am to have food on the table, a car that starts every time I turn the key, a family that loves me like crazy, and faith that runs deep. It's a treasure that is nestled inside, that is filled with joy when I drop off books at a shelter, or send a check to sponsor my beautiful Compassion International child, or respond to God's leading to give more than a tithe. It's a treasure that is a deep confidence in who God is.

In many ways I'll always be that 17-year-old girl wanting to be secure, but I've found a different kind of security. I may never be wealthy, but believe me when I say this: I'm rich beyond belief. I'm blessed, blessed, blessed.

Dear Jesus, You see my heart. You know my fears, insecurities, and hunger for stability. I pray I will see the vast riches around me, things others might not see as wealth, but in the end they are the most priceless. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

The Woman I Am Becoming by T. Suzanne Eller

Visit Suzie’s blog where she’s giving away a few copies of her books and offering a unique challenge.

Learning to Live Financially Free is a great book for you and your husband, and Raising Financially Savvy Kids (CD) for your children. Both by Marybeth and Curt Whalen

Application Steps:
List the things that money provides for you.

List the things you provide for yourself.

List the things God provides for you.

In each, describe your heart condition. Is it in balance with today's scripture (Matthew 6:19-21)?

Temptation to depend on wealth is insidious, but the real problem lies with attitude rather than with the amount of possessions we have. ~Anonymous

Power Verses:
Matthew 6:25-27, "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are?" (NLT)

© 2010 by T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.

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Nothing More and Nothing Less
Rachel Olsen

"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought." Matthew 5:5 (MSG)

Lord, how can I become content with just who I am, nothing more and nothing less?

I'm certainly prone to want to be more, or less, than I am. To be smarter, prettier, funnier, fitter. To be more productive, perky and high energy. And then also to be lower key, calmer, more level-headed and focused.

I want to have better self-awareness, and yet I want to be less concerned about what others think of me.

I want to be a better cook, to sing beautifully and to keep the house neat without so much perceived effort. And did I mention fuller, thicker hair would be nice too? I want to be a better writer – one that's both highly creative and meticulously organized. And I want fewer propensities to run late, slack off or procrastinate.

Yes, I want to be both more and less of me.

Jesus shushes my endless listing of the things I want to change about myself – to improve about myself so I can have what I'm sure would be a better life. He asks me instead to humbly make peace with it all. To lay down my notions of a better woman and a better life by letting Him be the judge of that. To simply take what I'm given and offer it back to Him, in service and surrender. Willingly assuming that I am enough – I have what it takes to live a great life. One that pleases God, others and self.

Today's key verse is among several in the Bible that fuels a core conviction I hold: When I stop striving to create a life for myself, I find the life God creates for me. This, my friend, is a powerful truth, a divine secret. His life for me begins precisely where mine ends. My life ends in my sin and striving and begins again in God's grace and power. His empowering indwelling affords me everything I truly need and nothing I truly don't.

Do you too long to be content with just who you are in Christ – nothing more and nothing less? Jesus addresses us both in Matthew 23:11-12, ""Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you'll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you're content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty." (MSG)

Amazingly, God's grace humbles a woman without degrading her, and His favor lifts her up without inflating her. The life she finds in Him makes her the proud owner of everything money can't buy – a life of contentment.

Dear Lord, help me to quiet my critical, striving spirit today and gratefully accept who I am and where I'm at in this moment. For You are here, ready to invisibly empower my life to count for plenty right where I am. Help me also to seek and hold your definition of "plenty" – nothing more and nothing less. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Jesus personally?

Connect with Rachel at her blog where she describes an everyday moment when she needed and learned to be contentment with who she is.

If you enjoyed this devotion, you’ll want to get a copy of Rachel’s just-released book It’s No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of life-changing ministry P31 provides at no cost. We simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you! ________________________________________

Application Steps:
It is possible to improve and grow - with dreams, plans and goals – and still be content today. Journal some notes to yourself about doing that – and schedule a time to return to read those notes in the future. Perhaps read it each Monday morning, or just whenever you feel yourself slipping into stressful striving.

Am I content today with who I am and where I'm at in life in this moment?

What can I do to find that contentment when it is missing?

Power Verses:
1 Peter 5:6-7, "So be content with who you are, and don't put on airs. God's strong hand is on you; he'll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you." (MSG)

Zephaniah 3:12-13, "This core holy people will not do wrong. They won't lie, won't use words to flatter or seduce. Content with who they are and where they are, unanxious, they'll live at peace." (MSG)

© 2010 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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Defined By God
Shari Braendel

"The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord." Psalm 45:11 (NIV)

One word. Flabbergasted.

That was the emotion I had coursing through my body as I sat at the coffee shop discussing my weight issues with a friend.

I told her I had recently cut out certain foods from my diet, but was continuing to maintain my "happy weight," that number the scale just seems extremely happy to faithfully report whether I have eaten healthy and exercised that week or not. We had a good laugh as she described how sometimes she locks her scale away so she's not tempted to jump on it every day just to find out if she's still her same "happy" self.

As a result of this conversation I realized that if I am not careful I can easily allow the scale, or the mirror, to become a compass that shifts my focus and points me in the wrong direction. It seems illogical, yet at times I look to this digital device, or this earthly reflection to gauge my emotional status and essentially define me.

The Bible tells us that the God of the universe is enthralled with our beauty. Seriously? Yes, indeed! He thinks we are amazing and wonderful. Unfortunately, more often than not, we look in the mirror and only see our flaws; hair that's just a mite too frizzy; a tummy that's a bit too fluffy; and thighs that have a few too many dimples on them. My friend Renee likes to call her cellulite "the fingerprints of God." One time I shared that with a group of women, and one of them said, "Well then He must have REALLY big hands!"

So, what would life look like if we accepted God workmanship? Can you imagine how different we would feel about ourselves if we glanced in the mirror and told God "thank You for making me so wonderfully"? If you listen closely, I bet you would hear Him respond, "All beautiful, you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you" (Song of Solomon 4:7, NIV).

No matter your size or shape, the number on your clothes tag or your scale, you are beautiful! Let's embrace that we are fine just the way we are because if God says so, then it's true!

Dear God, thank You for making me the way I am. Please help me to have more confidence. I will practice defining myself through Your eyes and not my own. I am grateful, and humbled to be Your beautiful daughter, and I can feel Your approving gaze upon me. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Shari’s new book, Good Girls Don't have to Dress Bad: A Style Guide for Every Women is a complete, full-color, style guide with lots of pictures of real women of all shapes and sizes!

Visit Shari’s Blog to continue this conversation and to enter a contest to win a signed copy of Good Girls Don't have to Dress Bad: A Style Guide for Every Women along with your own set of personal color swatches to help aid in choosing your best colors when shopping.

Do You Know Him?

Behind Those Eyes: What's Really Going on Inside the Souls of Women by Lisa Whittle

Application Steps:
Make a list of five things you really like about your outer appearance.

When you find yourself in a funk, remember to define yourself through God's eyes.

Accept a compliment with a smile and a thank you.

When was the last time you gave yourself permission to treat yourself to something new? You are valuable to Him, and to those who love you. It is okay to take care of yourself too.

Does my scale define me?

Power Verses:
Psalm 139:14, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." (NIV)

Song of Solomon 4:1, "How beautiful, you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful!" (NIV)

Ephesians 2:10, "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (NIV)

© 2010 by Shari Braendel. All rights reserved.

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The Gift of Listening
Renee Swope

"I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray." Psalm 17:6 (NLT)

I was reading in bed one night when I heard my husband calling our dog to come get her treat. He was actually luring Chelsea, our thirteen-year-old daschund, to her doggie bed. She was sound asleep in her favorite chair, and nothing was getting her to budge, not even the promise of a treat.

When my kids came to tell me goodnight, I asked if they thought Chelsea had selective hearing because she didn't want to go to bed or if she was going deaf. I had a feeling it was the latter. We reminisced and laughed about how Chelsea used to hear every little thing, from the ice maker in our kitchen to the wind blowing a leaf outside our front door.

My son Andrew, who was nine at the time, looked at me with a concerned look in his eyes and said, "Mom, I hope when you get old you don't go deaf like Chelsea."

I laughingly told him it might be good if I can't hear everything when I get as old as Chelsea. She gets a lot more sleep and she's not offended by the doggy jokes we make about her old age.

My light hearted response didn't wipe the concern off his brow, so I asked why he was afraid I won't be able to hear him. He answered without hesitation, "Well, sometimes you don't hear me now. Like when you're on the computer and I ask you a question. Sometimes you don't hear me."

Ouch! I had no idea my child thought I couldn't hear him. His answer almost plunged me into a bad-mommy moment with flashbacks from all the times I heard him but didn't listen because I was deeply distracted or listening to someone else via email or Facebook.

Instead of defining that moment with guilt, I pulled Andrew close and apologized for not listening sometimes. I didn't want him to fear old age might make it worse. So I explained how me being on the computer is similar to him watching a good movie or playing video games. He gets so involved that he doesn't hear things, like me calling him for dinner. He smiled because he could identify my "hearing loss."

Still, I didn't want that to be an excuse. So I told him, "Andrew, I'm going to try really hard to stop what I am doing when you come to me, look away from my computer and really listen to what you're saying. What you have to say matters to me."

Today's key verse reflects our own desire for God to hear us. It reminds me that in the same way I go to God because I want Him to listen and answer me, my child and others come to me because they want me to listen to them. When I stop what I am doing and listen, it tells them that they, and what they have to say, are important to me.

In our culture of constant contact through technology, it's easy for our attention to be divided and our focus to shift away from those who are in the room with us. Although we are physically present, often times we are mentally absent. At least I know I am. What about you?

That night God showed me the valuable gift we can give to our children, spouses, friends, co-workers and even strangers. It's the gift of listening. We give it each time we stop what we're doing and turn our full listening attention to them when we they talk to us. And, it's a gift God gives to us each time we talk to Him, too!

Lord, thank You for listening to me. Please help me be a better listener. It's easy to hear with one ear while the other is turned toward my computer, television or cell phone. I want to give the gift of listening because it communicates value to those who want me to hear them. Make me aware and willing to push past this habit so that I can be a listener like You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Living and Leaving a Legacy, 2 part message on DVD by Renee Swope

Mining for Gold in the Heart of Your Child, Character Chart & Message on CD by Renee Swope

Visit Renee’s Blog for more encouragement and practical steps to becoming a better listener, and enter to win a copy of her 2-part DVD teaching entitled Living and Leaving a Legacy!

God’s Purpose for Every Woman: A P31 Devotional By various P31 authors with editors Lysa TerKeurst & Rachel Olsen

Application Steps:
Ask God to show you throughout the day how you are doing when it comes to really listening to those you live and work with.

Make a list of people you will give the gift of listening to this week.

Visit Renee’s Blog for practical ways to become a better listener.

Take time to talk to God and enjoy the gift of knowing that He's listening with His full attention to you.

Power Verses:
Psalm 54:2, "Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth." (NIV)

Psalm 66:16, "Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me." (NIV)

Luke 2:46, "After three days they found him [Jesus] in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions." (NIV)

© 2010 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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Sanctifying Discipline
Wendy Blight

"No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening – it's painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way." Hebrews 12:11 (NLT)

Discipline hurts.

When on the receiving end of it, we hate it. We whine. We groan. We complain. Our sin nature rises up to defend, rebel, and justify.

The author of Hebrews recognizes this in Hebrews 12:11. He says, "No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening – it's painful."

Yes, it is. Don't you love how God validates our feelings? Discipline hurts!

But when we examine the second half of this verse, God also makes a promise. He promises that afterwards there will be "peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way." God promises to bring forth fruit from discipline. This fruit is the outward effect of His divine discipline. Each time God disciplines us, He moves us closer and closer to holiness.

Oh, how it hurts, though. Recently, I watched and listened as my husband spoke what I believed to be harsh words to my son about his behavior. I did not feel my son's childish behavior warranted my husband's reaction. I made my opinion known right then and there…in front of my son. Looking back, I can see that I disrespected my husband. But, of course, I did not see it that way at the time. In my mind, I was protecting my son's heart, believing I knew the right way, a better way, to say what my husband said.

Later that night, my husband addressed this with me privately. It felt like he was correcting me. I reacted as expected…defending and justifying my words.

God being God had already arranged for me to have coffee the next day with a dear friend who is about ten years ahead of me in parenting. I casually asked how her youngest son was doing. It opened the door to a conversation that led to how a woman needs to respect her husband and trust him with the discipline of a son. She stressed the importance of wives not only respecting their husbands but also trusting them and praying for them…for wisdom and strength as they father their children, especially sons.

Wow!! She knew nothing of my circumstances when she began sharing her wisdom. Tears fell from my eyes as I heard God speaking to me through her.

God softened my heart. Why? To be honest, it was probably because the words did not come from my husband.

I realized in that moment that I needed to change my heart. I learned through her words that my husband's admonishment about what I had done was God's discipline and sanctifying work. With this new perspective, I find myself more willing now to accept discipline and to work with God instead of against Him.

As we closed our time together, my friend prayed the most beautiful prayer that moved my heart to repentance. I could not wait for my husband to get home that night and share what God taught me.

God's promise does not end there. Hebrews 12:12 says:

"Therefore strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed." (NIV)

Friend, God uses discipline to heal. Our God wants the very best for us. He loves us. He delights in us. He has a plan for us. It is only when we willingly allow God to sanctify our hearts and remove sin…whatever it may be (pride, bitterness, fear, mistrust, shame, guilt, anger)…that God can truly use us and accomplish His plans in and through us.

Heavenly Father, give me a heart of glad surrender, one that willingly receives Your discipline. Father, whatever it takes, make me more like You. Bring forth a harvest of righteousness and peace in my life. Amen.

Related Resources:
All Things Wise and Wonderful: Applying God's Wisdom in Everyday Life (E-Book) by Wendy Blight

Visit Wendy’s blog to sign up for her latest on-line Bible Study, The Heart of a Mighty Warrior: The Life of David.

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

The Power of Prayer to Change Your Marriage by Stormie O'Martian
When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of life-changing ministry P31 provides at no cost. We simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you! ________________________________________

Application Steps:
Read 1 Peter 5:5-6 and James 4:6. Who does God oppose in these verses? Who does God favor? What is His promise?

In what ways has God brought the strong hand of sanctifying discipline into your life?

How has God worked in and through that discipline?

Power Verses:
1 Peter 5:5b-6, "All of you, clothe yourselves with humility….because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (NIV)

James 4:6, "…God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (NIV)

Psalm 51:17, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise." (NIV)

Isaiah 66:2, "…This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word." (NIV)

© 2010 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

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How to Deal with a Bully
Glynnis Whitwer

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

As another year of school begins, stories of bullies will surface. The most shocking ones make the news, but those are a small percentage of the actual bullying that takes place. Sadly, victims of bullies often keep silent due to shame, intimidation and a silent unspoken code.

But the schoolyard isn’t the only place we’ll find bullies this month. Bullies are everywhere. They are in offices, committees, homes and community meetings. They are found anywhere they can dominate through force of will. And I believe they have intimidated a generation of people long enough.

Sadly, many well-meaning Christians have "turned the other cheek" (Matthew 5:39) when bullied. However, a closer examination of that passage reveals something vitally important. Turning the other cheek involves us willingly ignoring an offense to us, even though we could defend ourselves. We don’t turn away because we are afraid.

Jesus could have called down 1,000 angels to protect Him from being crucified, but He willingly laid down His life. Jesus states this in His own words, "The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father" (John 10:17-18, NIV).

Jesus saw a greater good in submitting to those who would take His life. He did it for us. In an instance such as that, turning the other check is the best response.

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). Jesus also trained His disciples to put themselves in the path of danger for the sake of others.

As Christians, I believe we are called to play an unusual role in dealing with bullies. It is not a role the world plays—filled with anger and vengeance. It is not a role of passivity. It is not a role of hate. We can’t gratify our flesh and play tit-for-tat games. In other words, it’s not easy.

We are called to love our enemies, to pray for them, but to stand firm against unrighteousness and injustice. We are called to draw a line in the sand about our beliefs. We aren’t aggressive, but we are assertive. We aren’t boastful, but we are confident about our God’s wishes for His people. Most importantly, we can’t ignore the problem.

Ignoring a true bully doesn’t make the bullying stop. It just fuels his or her need for power. So what does help? First, pray for God’s wisdom in the situation. Understand that God loves you, and all His people, and wants not one of His children to be victimized in any way. Then, if there are physical threats or violence, get to somewhere safe and tell someone in authority. If the bullying is of an emotional nature, determine to respectfully take a stand on what you believe God is calling you to do. If it’s important enough, then be strong.

While that’s not a guarantee a bully will back down, it’s a start to developing a bully-proof life. Really, it’s a start to building moral courage in your heart. And bullies can’t stand that.

I believe God calls us to a life of passion for His people, and sometimes that takes moral courage. In fact, it’s going to take a lot of moral courage to address the injustices in this world. And it’s going to take a righteous indignation like Jesus had about the temple money changers. And it just might start with facing the bully in your life.

Dear Lord, I praise You for Your holiness and righteousness. Your ways are perfect. Help me to know the right thing to do when facing the bullies in my life. Help me know when to stand firm and when to turn away. I trust You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
For ways to help your child deal with bullies and other everyday problems, Glynnis has written When Your Child is Hurting

Visit Glynnis’ blog where she shares tips from her book about how to bully-proof your child this school year.

The Power of One (t-shirt)

Poverty is a brutal bully. Prayerfully consider standing up to it on behalf of those suffering by sponsoring a child through Compassion International

You are My Hiding Place, Lord: Finding Peace in God's Presence by Emilie Barnes
When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We wish we could, but we simply can’t compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you!

Application Steps:
If you are facing a bully in an area of your life, identify if you are responding in fear or confidence. If you have fear, then it’s time to do something about it. Gather one or two wise friends and pray for God’s guidance on what to do.

Consider a time when you faced a bully and backed down. What were your fears?

What are some practices you can put in your life now to prepare for the next time someone tries to bully you?

Power Verses:
1 Samuel 17:37a, "The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." (NIV)

Micah 6:8, "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (NIV)

© 2010 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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The Good Side of Conflict
Lysa TerKeurst

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1 (NIV)

When I was in my early twenties, there was nothing I disliked more than conflict. I won't use the tired cliché that I avoided it like the plague. But, since I just used it anyhow, I'll admit I tried to navigate around conflict at any cost.

I was a 'stuff it and smile' kind of girl. The problem with pretending to be fine when you're really not, is all that pent up steam will eventually come out. And if you've ever held your hand too close to steam, you know how it can burn.

A much healthier approach to the inevitable conflicts we all must deal with is to face the issue head on with grace and humility having asked ourselves one very crucial question. This question is so crucial that might I dare say not asking it could lead to extreme conflict escalation rather than relationship restoration.

So, what's this crucial question?

Am I trying to prove or improve? That's the question. In other words, is my desire in this conflict to prove that I am right or to improve the relationship at hand?

When I try to prove I am right, I use the circumstances of the conflict as an arsenal to attack the other person. I come armed with past hurts and offenses ready to state my case. I'm tempted to tear down the other person. I react from a place of hurt and anger and can often say things I later regret.

On the other hand, when my desire is to improve the relationship, I seek to understand where the other person is coming from and I care enough about the relationship to fight for it rather than against it. Instead of reacting out of anger, I pause and let the Holy Spirit interrupt my first impulses. I tackle the issues, not the person.

Here are some great questions to ask when we're dealing with conflict out of a desire to improve a relationship:

• Can you help me understand why you feel this way?
• Why don't we both agree to stick to the issue at hand and not pull in past issues?
• What is your desired outcome in this situation?
• How can we meet in the middle on this issue?

My husband I have renamed what we used to call "fights." We now call them "growth opportunities." And the more we've been practicing these principles, the less conflicts we've been having.

But I won't tie this devotion up in a neat bow and end all "cheerio." While Art and I are doing great right now and have had very few "growth opportunities" lately, conflicts with others seem to always be around the corner. So please hear my heart, I'm not saying all of this is easy. Just this week I've had to tackle some growth opportunities that made me feel like I had fire crackers burning through my veins.

Maybe you can relate.

What I will say is that it's possible to let those conflicts lead us to better places in our relationships. Improved places. And that is the good side of conflict.

Dear Lord, help me to realize that with each conflict I face I can make the choice to improve the relationship rather than try and prove I'm right. This is hard, Lord, really hard. But, I want to grow in this area and I know this is a good place to start. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

For another conflict resolution tip, visit Lysa’s blog today. Just for visiting, www.LysaTerKeurst.com you’ll get a free resource being offered today!

Lysa will be speaking in over 40 cities this year and would love to meet you! To check for a city near you, click here.

If you identify with this devotion, consider getting a copy of Lysa’s latest book, Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl

The accompanying DVD teaching series contains 6 sessions lasting 15-20 minutes each for only $24.99! Perfect for your Bible Study group or a neighborhood book club. The Bible Study workbook can be found by clicking here.

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We wish we could, but we simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you! ________________________________________

Application Steps:
Take time to pause before jumping into any conflict resolution. Sometimes a simple pause is all that's needed to remember to attack the problem at hand and not the person. Keep in mind it's more important to improve the relationship than prove we are right.

How might it help your next conflict resolution attempt to use these questions?
• Can you help me understand why you feel this way?
• Why don't we both agree to stick to the issue at hand and not pull in past issues?
• What is your desired outcome in this situation?
• How can we meet in the middle on this issue?

Power Verses:
Ephesians 4:29, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (NIV)

© 2010 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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