Joining the Geek Squad
Rachel Olsen

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." James 1:5 (NIV)

Have you read the dramatic story of Daniel the Israelite becoming a key consultant to Babylon's king? Let me tell you about it - it's found in Daniel chapters 1-2.

Daniel was considered a wise guy—in fact, among the wisest in the ancient nations of his time. He'd been taken to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar's administrative assistant following Israel's loss to the Babylonians. He was forced to serve their king as an advisor. As part of what I call the "Babylonian Geek Squad"—a group of magicians, astrologers, and enchanters the king relied on to make decisions, solve problems and offer predictions.

Only these guys were not who anyone should seek wisdom from. They may have been smart, they may have had some pedigree or skills, but they lacked true wisdom. Can you imagine Daniel lumped in with the pagan wizards and fortune tellers?

Daniel did his best to keep himself pure before his God under these circumstances. The Bible says because he did, God gave him "an unusual aptitude for learning the literature and science of the times. And God gave Daniel special ability in understanding the meanings of visions and dreams" (Dan. 1:17). The Bible also says that in all matters requiring wisdom and judgment, the king found Daniel's advice to be "ten times better than that of all the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom" (v. 20).

One night the king had a nightmare. When none of the astrologers, magicians, or enchanters could interpret his dream, he sent an angry decree for all his royal advisors to be killed. When Daniel learned of this he asked God for wisdom to interpret the dream. God granted it, sparing Daniel's life and the rest of the Babylonian Geek Squad.

Read carefully Daniel's response to God's provision:

Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he alone has all wisdom and power. He determines the course of world events; he removes kings and sets others on the throne. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars. He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness, though he himself is surrounded by light. I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors, for you have given me wisdom and strength. (Dan. 2:20–23)

After Daniel explained the dream—and the fact that both the dream and its interpretation were provided by Yahweh—King Nebuchadnezzar bowed before Daniel honoring him and his God. He lavished Daniel with gifts, promoted him to head of his advisors and made him a ruler over the providence of Babylon.

Daniel staked his life and security on his access to God's wisdom. And it secured him.

Mind if I ask what you tend to stake your security on?

Where do you get your wisdom from? On a daily or hourly basis, what guides your decisions?

Between the tissue-thin pages of your Bible, you too have access to the wisdom and power of God. Just like Daniel. I wonder, are we using it? Do we crack it open beyond Sunday morning or Wednesday night Bible class?

Have you called on God for wisdom today?

The wisdom in the Bible can guide, transform and secure us. Whether your Bible is a $20 paperback or an $80 leather-bound gold-embossed edition, it is the most valuable thing you own. Hands-down!

And there is nothing geeky about treating it as such. So open your Bible and seek out God's wisdom for today.

Dear Lord, I thank You for access to Your wisdom and power. I thank You for the wisdom the Bible shows and for the power in Your son's name. Incline my heart to Your Word and make me wise in Your eyes. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

To learn how you can win a free copy of Rachel’s book It’s No Secret today, visit her blog at

We invite you to grow in biblical wisdom with one of God’s girls, check out It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know by Rachel Olsen. It includes end-of-chapter Bible studies you can do alone or with a friend.
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:
Commit to regular reading of the Word of God. Make a plan today for when and where you will read it tomorrow.

Do you feel you need some guidance digging into the Word? Get a copy of Rachel's new book It's No Secret, or follow a Bible reading plan—you can find them online.

What do I tend to think my security is tied to?

Do I treat my Bible as the most valuable thing I own?

Realize that Daniel was placed into a situation that seemed like it would be the farthest thing from God's will. But look how God used him there! What does this say about your current circumstances?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 8:10, "Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than pure gold. For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it." (NLT)
© 2010 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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Samantha Reed, P31 Executive Assistant

"I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth." 1 Corinthians 3:6 (NASB)

Every story has a beginning, middle and end. The same is true for the story of our life. Our education starts in kindergarten, goes through elementary and middle schools and ends in high school or college. A romantic relationship begins with friendship, passes into dating and culminates in marriage. Meals start with appetizers, lead to a main entrée and finish with dessert.

How about our salvation story? The middle of every believer's salvation story is a relationship with God, and the end is eternity with Him. What about the beginning? That's different for everyone. Maybe a salvation-seed is planted while attending church with a neighbor. Perhaps a grandma's prayers are rays of sunshine on a cold heart. Hard, bitter soil may soften through the kindness of a women making room on the pew. Or roots sprout when a stranger in the front of the line buys lunch for those behind her.

Yes, every salvation story has a beginning. Have you considered the possibility that you could be part of someone's beginning? Unbeknownst to me, I was part of my friend Javier's!

Javier and I were neighbors in college a decade ago. Our roommates dated, so we hung out often. We cooked dinner. Spent lazy afternoons watching movies. Cheered next to each other at football games. When I took guitar lessons, Javier taught me chords. Despite all this time together, I'm sorry to say I rarely brought the Lord up in conversation. Over the years we've kept in touch sporadically. So when Javier sent me this email, I was humbled and amazed.

Just wanted to thank you for being in my life in college. I came to Christ about four years or so ago and when looking back in my life, I think of people that were examples I wanted to follow. Even though we hardly talked about God, I knew you were a Christian and really admired that about you. Talk about planting a seed that didn't bear fruit right away. 10 years in the making. I am glad I am able to tell people who helped me find Christ how important they were.

The day I received Javier's email was one of the best days of my life! To know I had planted a seed in his salvation-story is an honor. Our key verse teaches we each can play an important role in bringing salvation to others. We may not always be fortunate enough to know the outcome of the seeds we plant, or water, but we can have confidence the Lord will cause growth.

Javier's story inspires me to plant more seeds by being intentional with my words, deeds and actions. I want to be the neighbor, grandma, woman or stranger... the friend or family member ... church member or coworker ... who plays a role in the salvation stories of others. How about you?

Dear Lord, You are in control of all things. Thank You for calling me out of darkness and into Your marvelous light. Please use me as an instrument in someone else's salvation story so they too may walk in Your light. I long to be a willing vessel; help me to do this for Your glory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper
Join Javier today on Samantha’s blog where she is doing a Q&A and a giveaway!
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:
Is there someone you have prayed to come to salvation for years? Re-read Javier's email and take heart. Seeds take time to grow. Keep praying. Our God is the God of hope (Romans 15:13, NIV).

Perhaps it's time to follow up with that person if you don't talk to them regularly.

Who in my life doesn't know the Lord?

How can I be part of their salvation story?

Power Verses:
Matthew 5:16, "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (NIV)

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

Luke 15:10, "There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (ESV)

© 2010 by Samantha Reed. All rights reserved.

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I Don’t Want to be a “Good” Christian
Wendy Pope

"Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instruction." Psalm 119:18 (NLT)

A good Christian should read the Bible.
A good Christian should love the Bible.
A good Christian should understand the Bible.
A good Christian should live the truths of the Bible.

These statements shaped my life and summed up my thoughts about God's Word eleven years ago. In my mind I was not a "good" Christian because none of these statements were true of me. Have you ever made such assumptions about yourself and your thoughts toward the Bible? Do you feel like you can't tell anyone for fear of being judged?

I felt the same way. I truly believed that since I had not attended, nor had any aspirations of ever attending seminary, I was automatically disqualified from understanding the Bible. Therefore, if I did not understand the Bible how could I discover its truths and apply them to my life?

I did not love the Bible. I carried it with me to church. I believed it to be the inerrant and infallible words of God. I also opened the Bible to look up verses so I could fill in the blanks for my Bible studies. However, there was not a desire on my part to know the Bible better. How could I attend church for 30 years, call myself a Christian, and not have a desire to read and know the Bible? What was wrong with me?

All this changed in 2006 when I decided I was going be a "good" Christian and read the entire Bible. With all the self-determination I could muster, I set out to spend the year reading the Bible. I was going to make myself love and understand God's Word so I could be a "good" Christian. What I learned in the first year of reading the Bible was amazing and life-changing. All my wrong assumptions were made right through the light and love of God and His Word.

Did I learn spiritual truths that I could apply to my life? Yes. Did I understand everything I read? No. I learned God's Word is full of rich life application written to produce God's best in my life, however I should not pressure myself to understand it all in one reading. God desires for me to continue to read His Word so He can reveal to me its meaning when He is ready to teach me.

My mind wanted my heart to love God's Word. So, did I fall deeply in love with God's Word the first time I read it? Not right away. If that shocks you, imagine how I felt. The question is better asked in this way: Did I fall deeply in love with wanting to know God and His Word more intimately? The answer is a resounding yes. The love for His Word has developed and deepened over the time that I have invested in reading and studying it.

Of all the lessons I learned the first year I read through the Bible, I suppose the most valuable was I do not want to be a "good" Christian. Gasp. No, I did not nor do I want to be a "good" Christian. Gasp again. The word good is defined as satisfactory in quality, quantity, or degree.

Never do I want to be satisfied with the quality and quantity of my life as Christian. Never do I want to be a "good" student of God's Word, one who is a satisfied with her quality and quantity of time in it. I have made a commitment to learn, live, and love God's Word by reading year after year until Jesus comes.

Would you like to join me in 2011?

Dear Lord, thank You for leaving Your Word for us to learn, live, and love. It is our guiding light in our dark world. Will You help to make a commitment to read Your Word daily? I don't want to be a "good" Christian. I want to be a Christian who is never satisfied in my relationship with You and my knowledge of Your powerful, life-changing Word. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

The One Year Chronological Bible

Visit Wendy’s blog to find out how to be part of the amazing online study of The One Year Chronological Bible. Read testimonials of those who have been involved in this study for 2 years. And get to know Wendy face-to-face as you listen to her talk about how this specific Bible has changed her life and her love for God’s Word.

Out of the Mouths of Babes by Wendy Pope

Application Steps:
Pray about making the commitment to read though the Bible in a year. After God confirms your prayer, purchase The One Year Chronological Bible from Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Read Psalm 119.

What are my fears about reading through the Bible?

Am I satisfied with the quantity and quality of time with the Lord?

Power Verses:
Psalm 119:32, "I will pursue your commands for you expand my understanding." (NLT)

Psalm 119:37, "Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your Word." (NLT)

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

© 2010 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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Amy Carroll

"Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God." 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 (NIV)

"Are you sure you're ready to have a tiger by the tail?" mom asked with a big grin. That was her first response when my then-boyfriend Barry asked my parents if he could marry me. It still makes me laugh, because I was certainly a strange mix of rule-following, first-child with a wide streak of sassiness and fierce independence. I'm still not sure Barry had any idea what he was getting into when he said, "I do."

That was over twenty years ago, so when Barry asked an unexpected question during our family vacation this year, it opened my eyes to some of God's difficult work in my life. Barry and I sat on the deck overlooking the ocean talking in low voices about the topics that concern many of us--finances, parenting, plans for the future... Suddenly, Barry asked his startling question.

"If you could change one thing about me, what would it be?"

My mind went blank except for the thought, "Whew! This is a really loaded question." At first I didn't want to answer (why ruin a great evening?), but I finally answered, braced myself and re-asked the question, "What would you change about me?"

I had a pretty good list going in my mind of what I thought he'd say--I wish you weren't so critical. I wish you wouldn't talk so much. I wish you would cook dinner more often.

What he actually said surprised me. "I want you to get your confidence back. When I married you, your favorite phrase was, 'I'll do it myself!' I've watched you lose your confidence over the years, and I want you to have it back." He replied.

A move, a couple of friendships with bad endings and struggling to find a place in my new home town had knocked the stuffing right out of me. I had fought and lost against my own tendency toward comparison, perfectionism and an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. Little by little, I became convinced that I couldn't and that I wasn't. My confidence was shaken and then it crumbled.

But sometimes things have to be torn down before they can be rebuilt.

Was it God's plan that I would move, fail in some friendships and beat myself bloody trying to be somebody else? No! He did, however, use this bad place to bring me to a better place. God began rebuilding in me about a year ago, but He capped it off when I got home from our She Speaks conference this year. There He spoke to me over and over again about trusting my life to His control. The scripture in my Sunday school class the following Sunday was our key verse today, 2 Corinthians 3:4-6: "Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." (NIV)

I started with, "I can do it," but God brought me to "He can do it in me." He has brought me out of my own power, which is so limited and flawed, to being dependent on the infilling power of His Spirit. Confidence in myself has very limited power whereas confidence in Him brings limitless possibilities.

I know that I'll still have days of struggle with confidence, but my rebuilt and renewed sense of confidence is now firmly in Christ. It's a beautiful place to be.

Dear Lord, I have depended on myself so many times and fallen short. My confidence has been shaken. Rebuild me by helping me to put my full confidence in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know by Rachel Olsen

Visit Amy’s blog for more encouragement today!

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Read our free encouragement, Healing in Hurting Times
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:
Journal a prayer thanking God for His limitless power and capabilities. Ask God to fill you with His power while giving up your own.

Am I truly dependent on God, or do I rely primarily on myself?

Where is my focus when I am struggling with confidence?

Power Verses:
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build…." (NIV)

Philippians 3:3, "For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh…" (NIV)

© 2010 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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The Real Meaning of Perfection
Tracie Miles

"So you are also complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every rule and authority." Colossians 2:10 (NLT)

I recently earned the unofficial title of mom-of-the-year. How? I made muffins. Not just plain ol' muffins, mind you. Chocolate chip and blueberry muffins in the cute, baby-muffin pan.

I had risen early, pre-heated the oven, and wiped the sweat from my brow, as I quietly set about my muffin-making task, just like a good Proverbs 31 woman would do. As the muffins began to appear plump and golden, the savory aroma permeated the house.

Then it happened.

My children came bolting down the stairs as if the house were on fire. One of them jumped up and down and screeched in delight, while the other one yelled, "Yeah, muffins!" They paced the kitchen until the coveted pastries were done; then gobbled them up. Everyone was happy. I was thanked, appreciated and hugged. Even though they acted as if I had never fed them breakfast before, it was still awesome. I coveted my new mom-of-the-year entitlement.

Shortly after, it was time to leave for school. I hurried everyone along, with instructions for teeth brushing, book bag gathering, and snack grabbing activities.

Then it happened.

My son exclaimed that his coat was missing, even though it had been in his hand ten minutes earlier. Apparently the coat fairy had snatched it and hid his coat in her invisible closet.

In the process of his frantic coat search, my son accidentally stepped on my daughter's toe. Not just any ol' toe, but the toe that had incurred a serious stumping injury the day before. Instant drama, tears, accusations of doing it on purpose, and flying Band-aids filled the air.

In the midst of the excitement, my other daughter discovered that the coat fairy had taken her coat too - and possibly her shoes. She was having trouble locating her things due to the onslaught of incoming text messages that kept distracting her search efforts. Thus, threats were made about losing phone privileges if it continued to interfere with life itself.

Now that my son was going to be tardy for school - again - because my daughters were not ready, again (primarily due to excessive hair-straightening obligations as opposed to muffin eating) - a heated discussion took place before we finally made it out the door.

My wonderful mom-of-the-year-Proverbs-31-woman award fell to the floor and shattered in a million tiny shreds of disappointment. Calmness, patience, mercy and joy flew out the window quicker than those Band-aids had flown around the kitchen.

Our happy, peaceful, muffin-eating, hug-giving, laugh-sharing moments seemed fuzzy memories. As we drove to school, the chaos slowly slipped away. Emotions calmed. Tears dried.

Positive, loving discussions occurred and I gradually began to feel like maybe I wasn't that bad of a mother after all.

Driving home, I realized that I was holding myself up to unrealistic standards - my own standards for perfection and performance, not God's.

You see, my heart longed to be like that seemingly perfect Proverbs 31 mom. The kind of mom who is always patient, helpful, calm, understanding and reasonable in every circumstance. The kind of mom who never loses her temper. The kind of mom whose children arise every morning and call her blessed, with or without muffins.

It's easy to get hung up on the woman described in Proverbs 31. We begin to believe that God holds us to an unrealistic standard of goodness and perfection. But God sees perfection differently than we do.

Webster's defines the word 'perfect' as "being complete; lacking in nothing." God knows we cannot be perfect physically, but He does desire that we become complete spiritually. Our spirit can be perfect through the blood of Christ, even when our flesh fails.

Our efforts to model the Proverbs 31 woman should be focused on the love that was behind her actions, not the actions themselves. This woman is simply one whose outward actions were a result of a heart being transformed into Christ-likeness. She was exemplary because God's intervention had influenced her life, not because her human efforts were perfect.

So I've decided that my love for my children, not what I cook them for breakfast, will be what determines my attitude and identity today. How about you?

Dear Lord, draw me close to You. Transform my heart, and motivate me to desire completion in You, as opposed to my own standards of perfection. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Tracie’s blog

The Uncommon Woman: Making an Ordinary Life Extraordinary by Susie Larson

Reinventing Your Rainbow by Tracie Miles

The Mom I want to Be by T. Suzanne Eller
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:
Consider who set the standards that you have been trying to live up to.

Does my inability to be perfect cause me to feel discouraged or hopeless?

Have I forgotten that my identity and value come only from Christ within me?

Power Verses:
Psalm 18:32, "It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect." (NIV)

Psalm 119:96, "Even perfection has its limits, but your commands have no limit." (NLT)

© 2010 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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Do the Work
Marybeth Whalen

"Then David continued, 'Be strong and courageous and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the temple of the Lord is finished correctly.'" I Chronicles 28:20 (NLT)

I pushed the computer aside, convinced that the task I was attempting was impossible. I couldn't fathom completing the work I had ahead of me and I needed a mental break. Picking up a Christian book I was reading, I carried it upstairs to the treadmill, deciding to pound out my frustration and read at the same time. I had no idea I was about to have my own personal revival.

Several pages into the book I read today's verse. Have you ever had a verse jump off the page at you? Well, this one did. I thought back to my frustration with the work I was facing earlier and felt God speak to me through this verse. Quit telling me how impossible the task is and just do the work, He said. Don't forget I will show up each time. Not so you can boast about your abilities, but so you can boast in Me.

After my time on the treadmill, I raced downstairs to email a friend of mine who I had complained to earlier that day. I told her how the verse had ministered to me, and how I was going to simply do the work. She wrote back that she had been praying for God to speak to me about the task that was overwhelming me. I had a new motto as I recommitted to the task at hand: Do the work. Whenever I started to get discouraged or overwhelmed by the hugeness of the task, I reminded myself: Do the work—three little words that got me through one of the biggest challenges of my life. Perhaps you need to hear those three little words today.

Are you facing a challenge in your job? Do the work.

Does your marriage need to be rebuilt? Do the work.

Are you worried about your ability to be a good mother? Do the work.

Are you dealing with a personal hardship that just seems too big to overcome? Do the work.

Are you struggling with debt and financial issues? Do the work.

Do you want to eat healthier, commit to regular exercise or lose weight? Do the work.

Is there a dream that God has planted in your heart that seems too big for you? Do the work.

Make no mistake: sometimes the work will be hard. Note that our verse today didn't say "Lay around and hope things get better." The challenge we face is not in focusing on how hard the work is, but in seeking the God who has promised to show up as we work. We offer our best efforts and trust that He will multiply them. We will see Him supply the words, the resources, the energy, the time, the patience, the grace we need. But first we must do the work. Just like the priests had to first step into the water before the Jordan could part in Joshua 3:15-16, so we must begin working before we can see the solution appear.

What work do you need to start doing—or keep doing—no matter how discouraged or disheartened you feel? I pray that you will see Him at work on your behalf today as you do the work He has called you to do. Do the work, and He will be with you.

Dear Lord, help me to look to You and not to the hugeness of the work I have ahead of me. Help me not to be afraid or discouraged. I thank You for Your promise that You are with me and that You will not fail me or forsake me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Need a compelling reason to buy yourself a new book this fall? Or want to get an early jump on Christmas shopping? For the rest of this week only, we are offering a 31% discount on all of our resources! Click here to visit our P31 online store and save big on titles you’ve been wanting to read!

The Mailbox by Marybeth Whalen

Learning to Live Financially Free by Marybeth and Curt Whalen

The Complete Guide to Getting & Staying Organized by Karen Ehman

Application Steps:
Spend time journaling about a challenge you are facing in your life. What work can you do today towards that challenge?

What discouragement or fear keeps you from doing the work? How can you avoid those crippling feelings?

Power Verses:
Haggai 2:4, "But now be strong O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord, and work. For I am with you, declares the Lord almighty." (NIV)

Ephesians 6:10, "Finally, be strong in the LORD and in his mighty power." (NIV)

© 2010 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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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)

Have you ever caught yourself compromising your healthy eating plan with the little "I'll start again on Monday" escape clause? Me too.

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. By the end of the night my friends and I were giggling over the attention of 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. 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 and 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 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 Monday" escape clause?"

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 today for a list of other “Go To Scripts” perfect for those trying to get healthy!

If this devotion resonated with you, click here to pre-order Lysa’s upcoming book “Made to Crave… satisfying life’s deepest desire with God not food.” This will be a perfect book to use individually or in your January Bible study group. Preorder your copy at a 31% discount this week only and it will ship to you in December.

The “Made to Crave” DVD and Bible study workbook will be released January 10.

Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa is also a great resource to use for group Bible Studies and it’s available now on sale!

Application Steps:
If food is an issue for you, visit 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 with me through this journey of learning to make healthier choices?

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

© 2010 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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Laying Me Down to Sleep
Rachel Olsen

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

What time did your day begin today?

Did it begin as the sun poked through the widow urging you to wake? Or, did the alarm buzz at 5:30 AM? Or maybe at 6:45? Perhaps you slept until 8:00?

What if I told you your day began last night as the sun set – would you disagree?

In the modern, westernized world we think of our days as sun rise to sun rise. In other words, we rise, we work, and then we end the day in rest. We rest to recover from our work … with whatever time is left over after the work is done.

However, in the ancient Jewish tradition the day runs from sundown to sundown. That's quite a different concept. In other words, we rest, then we rise and do our work. Rest becomes the source and fuel for the work rather than merely recovery from it.

Where did the Hebrews get this seemingly backwards notion of the day beginning in the evening? From the God who never sleeps, in the Bible. Notice in today's key verse - in fact, in multiple verses throughout the Genesis creation account - there was evening, and then morning and that was counted as a day.

A secular rhythm of life makes work primary. We work first, then go from work to vacation. In contrast, a sacred rhythm makes rest primary, moving us from God-ordained rest into our vocation. The sacred rhythm is rest, rise, work rather than rise, work, rest. Let that difference sink in and sway the seat of your soul.

Internalizing this difference is the basis for connecting with God through rest. Pastor and author Eugene Peterson describes this ancient rest-first rhythm:

"This Hebrew evening/morning sequence conditions us to the rhythms of grace. We go to sleep, and God begins his work. As we sleep he develops his covenant. We wake and are called to participate in God's creative action. We respond in faith, in work. But always grace is previous. Grace is primary. We wake into a world we didn't make, into a salvation we didn't earn. Evening: God begins, without our help, his creative day. Morning: God calls us to enjoy and share and develop the work he initiated. Creation and covenant are sheer grace and there to greet us every morning."

I don't know why God's Word marks out time in this way in Genesis, but I am discovering I think and live differently when I adopt this view of my days. I see each night's rest as something important, something to prepare for – and something important that prepares me. I've long known that rest prepares me physically to rise and work again, and now I'm finding it prepares me spiritually to rise walk in grace and faith.

As I lie down, close my eyes, pray, and slip from consciousness, I do so with the understanding that it is God who holds everything together during my temporary absence from the world. And it's Him who will continue to hold everything together when I rise and work in the coming daylight. At no point – day or night – am I independent of Him. He even has the power to direct my dreams should He desire.

So I've developed a theology of sleep that punctuates my days. It helps me see my nights and my rest as set apart and holy. It helps me to see God as I lay myself down to sleep. In fact, it helps me see that it is He who lays me down for the gracious gift of rest.

What about you? How do you think about rest? How do you treat it? How might God be calling you to look at it differently?

Dear Lord, thank You for rest. Thank You that I can rest while You continue to hold everything together. Help me rest well and worship You through rest. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources – on sale 31% off this week:
If today’s topic struck a chord, you’ll want to read the chapter “Turn the Beat Around” in Rachel’s new book It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know. Order now as it’s ON SALE this week only at 31% off!

Visit Rachel’s blog for six tips on resting well.

Need a great reason to buy the book above, or maybe another you’ve had your eye on? This week P31 is offering a 31% discount on all of our resources! Plus, when you make a purchase with P31, you support this non-profit ministry and help bring God’s truths to women around the world.
Visit our P31 online store and save big today!

Worry over wandering children keeping you up at night? For comfort check out Divine Prayers for Despairing Parents by Susanne Scheppmann.

Application Steps:
Make intentional plans for how you will end this day in a way that is peaceful, restful and connects your heart with God.

Head over to Rachel’s blog for some ideas on this.

Do I make time for rest, or treat it as an afterthought?

Can I worship God through rest?

Power Verses:
Genesis 1:7-8, "So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse 'sky.' And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day." (NIV)

Psalm 3:5, "I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me." (NIV)

Colossians 1:17, "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (NIV)

© 2010 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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So This is What "Hard" Feels Like

"I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth." Job 19:25 (NIV)
Do you know what "hard" feels like? I'm not talking about the feel of stone by a river, or concrete under your feet. I'm talking emotionally hard … spiritually hard. The kind of hard that makes you want to give up, go back to bed or slip into some sort of temporary abandonment of reality.

Do you know the kind of hard that makes you question everything you know, or thought you knew, about God?

The book of Job in the Old Testament tells the story of someone who knew hard. It's surely one of the most difficult to read because God removed His hand of protection and allowed all the pain that Job experienced. In fact, God even pointed Job out to Satan as blameless, which Satan twisted into a challenge to bring Job down.

Confident in Job, God allowed the testing. So one by one, Satan destroyed that which was dear to Job: his family, health and possessions. Then, just when you think it couldn't get any worse, Job's wife and friends step in to "help" with the most unhelpful advice. Job is beset on all sides, and at times he is ready to give up, even asking God to "crush" him and relieve him of misery.

Job was a good and honest man. A man of high integrity, He didn't deserve the hard times he experienced. Yet, in spite of unrelenting agony, Job battled to hold on to truth – truth about his feelings and truth about God. In spite of confusion and questions, Job refused to curse God. Though Job didn't understand why he was suffering, he chose to walk in honesty and integrity, believing God would bring something good out if it.

Job faced "hard" head on. He wobbled a bit, but then planted his feet and steadfastly held on to faith that his God who had never abandoned him before, would not do so now. No matter what he lost, and who abandoned him, Job knew God would always be with him. His emotions may have pulled a bit on this, but Job kept steering back to center. Job faced "hard" well.

To declare his faith, Job spoke words that echo through generations, off the lips of saints of old and suffering saints today: "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth."

Job's story has a happy ending. After passing the testing, the Bible says, "The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first" (Job 42:12a, NIV). Although Job had to go through the hard times, and there were no easy answers, the Lord never abandoned him, and had a reward on the other side.

The good news is Job's story can be ours. Not that we would wish such catastrophe on ourselves, but we all face our own "hard." And Job's Redeemer is our Redeemer. If you are facing something hard today, Job's story can bring you comfort and hope, for our Redeemer lives!

Dear Lord, I praise You for being the same regardless of what I am going through. There is nothing that is outside Your control. Help me to suffer well, and to guard my lips against any falsehood. Turn my face toward You when I can't lift it myself. I choose to trust You today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources – all on sale this week:

Visit Glynnis’ blog for tips on how to make the most of hard times.
For this week only, we are offering a 31% discount on all of our resources! Click the titles above to visit our P31 online store and save big!

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you support the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide women around the world. Thank you! ________________________________________

Application Steps:
List attributes of God that you know will never change.

Keep this list handy the next time you face trouble.

What are some characteristics of a person who faces "hard" well?

What are some good daily practices when one is undergoing difficult times?

Power Verses:
Job 13:15-16a, "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance" (NIV)

Job 42:12, "The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first." (NIV)

© 2010 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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A Slow Boil
Melanie Chitwood

"Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex." Hebrews 13:4 (MSG)

There's a familiar story about the best way to boil a frog – not something I can imagine needing to know, but it offers a good lesson. The story goes that if you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, his survival instincts will cause him immediately to detect the danger and he'll quickly jump out. On the other hand, if you put a frog in a pot of cool water and gradually turn the heat up to a boil, he won't recognize the threat until it's too late.

The lesson here for marriage is to be aware of gradual temperature increases. I've heard people say that an affair "just happened." That may be true in the sense that sexual sin often does not start with a blatantly willful act. A more accurate portrayal of marital infidelity would be to say that the attraction and "temperature" gradually increases the more you are around that person. In other words, affairs develop little by little.

A friendly conversation with a workmate moves to flirtatious comments. Perhaps you find yourself wondering if he finds you attractive. You look forward to your next conversation. Your talks move from chit-chat to more intimate emotional matters. The next step might be secret emails, texts, Facebook messages or phone calls. Then, like the boiling frog, you find yourself in the scalding waters of marital infidelity.

What are some safeguards you can establish to protect your marriage from gradual temperature increases? What can help you avoid being in situations that might cause you or your spouse to be tempted to be unfaithful?
Here are a few suggestions:

• Avoid one-on-one time with someone of the opposite sex. If work or ministry put you in this situation, limit the amount of time spent with the other person. Keep in public places. Keep your office door open.

• Avoid friendships with other men, unless the friendship includes your husband. Be aware that many affairs begin as emotionally as a connection of the heart.

• Be careful how you talk about your spouse and with whom you talk. Aim to always present your spouse in the best light. Be careful not to vent about him, especially to another man.

• Give your spouse free access to your "technology." "No secrets" is a good rule of thumb when it comes to Facebook, texts, and emails.

Truthfully, I probably would have thought this devotion was pretty extreme when I had been married only a short time. So if you're thinking that, I understand. However, after nineteen years of marriage, after researching and writing about marriage for years, and after I've seen many Christian marriages fall apart because couples failed to take preventative measures, I assure you, this is wise.

Consider the ideas presented here, pray about this issue, talk to your spouse, and establish healthy safeguards for your marriage. And I pray you never find your relationship in the boiling pot of infidelity or divorce.

Dear Lord, deliver me from temptation. Make me wise in these matters. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Looking for great gifts for Christmas? Need some extra incentive to buy a book you’ve had your eye on? We’ve got just what you’re looking for and it’s on sale! This week, all our resources are offered at a 31% discount. Click a title below to visit our P31 store and save big!

Today’s devotion is adapted from What a Wife Needs from Her Husband by Melanie Chitwood.

Looking for a gift for a couple? Pair Melanie’s book above with her book What a Husband Needs from His Wife for a wonderful gift set – at 31% off.

Visit Melanie’s blog “What Matters Most”

Application Steps:
Discuss with your spouse the safeguards suggested here to protect your marriage. Are there any you both want to agree to follow?

Consider being accountability partners with a friend concerning your marriage. Choose someone you trust, someone you can be honest with, and someone who is willing to hold you to God's principles in your marriage.

Do you think the safeguards discussed in this devotion are too extreme?

What safeguards do you have in place?

Do you pray daily for your spouse and marriage?

Power Verses:
1 Corinthians 6:18, "Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body." (NIV)

Matthew 19:6, "'So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.'" (NIV)

(2010 c) Melanie Chitwood. All Rights Reserved.

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Could it be You?
Rachel Olsen

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives." 1 John 1:9-10 (NIV)

I remember the day I realized I have Adam's Disease. It took me awhile to notice—in fact, most people with this debilitating condition don't ever recognize it. But the best doctor I know pointed out its symptoms, and though I hated to admit it, I've frequently displayed them.

Could it possibly affect you as well?

Adam's Disease is an insidious condition that interferes with the patient's ability to grow. It does this by preventing the patient from admitting and taking responsibility for their sin. Take a look at the first confirmed case:

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"

He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."

And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"

The man said, "The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." (Genesis 3:8-12, NIV)

What we have here is a textbook case of acknowledgement-avoidance and blame-shifting. Classic traits of Adam's Disease.

Adam hid because he sinned. He did the very thing God personally commanded him not to, and he knew it. He ate the fruit. He held it to his mouth, bit in, chewed, felt the juice dripping from his chin—and then his eyes were opened. Opened to what he had done, and opened to how miserable it feels to disconnect from God.

Trying to change the subject and avoid talking about his sin, Adam said he was hiding because he was naked. Nakedness … a lesser offense. A problem, not a sin. A state that wasn't really his fault. After all, he didn't make himself naked. God did.

And that's where the second most prominent feature of Adam's Disease kicks in: blame-shifting. After trying to minimize the severity of their sin, the patient enters a frenzied state of denial and begins casting blame. He searches for a scapegoat. God will do; other people work even better, particularly those who are not without sin either. So the patient shfits attention away from themself by leveling accusations (no matter how old) on others.

If those of us suffering from Adam's Disease are skilled orators or experienced arguers, these tactics often work for us. The problem is, we walk away from the confrontation feeling victorious rather than convicted. We actually talk ourselves into feeling self-righteous after sinning.

However, without conviction there is no repentance. Without repentance, there is no grace to change. Without change, there is no growth. Only future sins to be committed, glossed over, denied and forgotten. And in the process we don't realize how miserable we truly are – how sick our souls become.

The doctor that pointed all this out to me, the Great Physician, said He could heal me of this disease if I would come to Him with a humble heart, confess and be cleansed. He showed me that confessing my sin rather than concealing it would set me free. And He showed me it will not hurt to say, "I'm sorry."

For those outside the faith, Adam's Disease is fatal. For followers of Christ, it is completely curable. So, could it be you? Could you suffer with this tendency too? My best girlfriend advice - make an appointment with your Great Physician for a check-up today.

Dear Lord, today I am willing to say that I am a sinner in so many ways. And I don't like to admit responsibility for my poor choices and harmful actions. Please cleanse me of all unrighteousness and empower me to live humbly in Your grace. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
If this devotion struck a chord with you, you’ll want to read chapter 10 – “Crave a Clear Conscious More than Clear Skin” – in Rachel’s new book It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know

We were made to live free from Adam’s Disease! Visit Rachel’s blog today to talk about it. She is also giving away a copy of her book It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know.
When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide to women around the world. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you!________________________________________

Application Steps:
Quiet yourself in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and show you any sin problems you need to confess. Then enjoy the spiritual vitality that you'll experience afterwards!
How willing am I to admit my mistakes? To God? To my boss? To my spouse? To my friends?

Do I shift blame as a knee-jerk reaction?

Do I resist saying, "I'm sorry"?

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

© 2010 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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Do You Hate Sin?
Glynnis Whitwer

"For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin." Psalm 36:2 (NIV)

Recently, a publicity firm invited a group of editors of Christian publications to preview a Hollywood film. The film producers were looking to get the message of this film into churches and wanted feedback from people like me in Christian publishing.

The movie was dark, with a theme of unresolved guilt. Sadly, that guilt consumed the main character all his life, until he became a bitter old man. After we viewed the movie, the publicists turned on the lights and led a discussion. Basically, they wanted to know if we would recommend the movie to pastors. I stayed out of the conversation, because I'm a Pollyanna when it comes to movies. I like them happy and with a predictable ending. I know that's not very high-brow, but it's the truth.

However, the ensuing conversation intrigued me. Some people thought the movie was rich with important themes. They believed it would provoke thoughtful discussion. Others couldn't get past the language, and would never recommend it. One woman shared her opinion on the language with eloquence and passion.

She would never recommend it, she said, because of several instances of taking the Lord's name in vain. She defended her position by saying that too many people minimize sin. In fact, she explained, the film violated one of the Ten Commandments, to not misuse the Lord's name (Exodus 20:7).

The conversation continued with the challenge of relating to people without violating any of our beliefs. Our time together ended, and a few people got up to leave, including the woman who spoke against the movie. After she left however, another conversation began when a college-aged woman spoke up.

"My friends and I would never be bothered by the misuse of God's name," she said. "But we should." We sat in silence digesting her words.

That comment plays and replays in my mind. The honesty of that young woman touched me, as she identified a serious problem among those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus: we tolerate sin. In fact, at times we even re-label it as "normal." I know there's a fine line between being in the culture but not of the culture. But that's not the root of this issue.

That young woman identified the real source: our hearts. We are going to be around sin until we get to heaven. Sin is woven in our human fiber. That's not the issue. The issue is what I think about it. Do I hate anything that sets itself up against God or His character? Do I hate sin?

I guess there's a part of me that shies away from the word "hate." I've taught my children not to use it, and I guard my own thoughts and tongue. Yet in doing so I've tamed my response to something that separates me from God. I've weakened my response and dulled my senses to that which God hates. He hates it because it takes me away from Him. And He loves me…and He loves you.

Call it old-school religion, but it's time for me to reexamine my response to that which God hates. It's time to settle in my heart whose side I'm on. It's time to decide if I will ignore or hate sin. Yep. It's time.

Dear Heavenly Father, break my heart with the things that break Yours. Remove from me any tolerance for the things that oppose You. You are holy and righteous and worthy of any sacrifice I might offer. Forgive me for tolerating the thing that caused the death of my beloved Savior, Jesus. In His Name and for His sake, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Jesus?

i am not but i know I AM by Louis Giglio

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

Visit Glynnis’ blog – Welcome Home…Where Your Heart Longs to be!

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:
Read the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20.

Identify if there is a wrong word, thought or deed in your life you have been tolerating.

What one change can you make this week to turn from that sin?

Power Verses:
Romans 12:9, "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good." (NIV)

Exodus 20:7, "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name." (NIV)

© 2010 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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Praying for the Impossible
Lysa TerKeurst

"’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.’" Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Five years ago I sat beside my youngest sister and listened as she boldly rejected my views of God. She’s always been a free spirit, much too non-conventional for traditional religion.

"Good thing I’m not into religion," I gently replied.

She twisted her face as if half expecting a lightening bolt to strike us both. "But you ARE religious."

I laid my head against the back of the lounge chair, closed my eyes to the sun now washing over me and simply replied, "Nope."

Deciding to let my statement just sit for a while, I decided not to clarify unless she asked. And ask she did.

That’s when I explained that I follow God not a list of rules. I am passionate about getting into the Bible - God’s teachings - and letting the Bible get into me. I no longer evaluate life based on my feelings. Instead, I let my feelings and experiences be evaluated in light of God’s Word.

I have watched God chase me around with rich evidence of His presence and invitations to trade apathy for active faith. But I had to make the choice to see God. Hear God. Know God. And follow hard after God.

Then I took my sister’s hand and told her I’d be praying for God to mess with her in ways too bold for her to deny.

Fast forward over five years later. My sister walks into one of her professor’s office and sees one of my books on her bookshelf. I don’t think she really believed anyone actually read my books. But there it was. And it messed with her.

She later went home and poked around my blog a bit where she found a clip of my testimony. Again, it messed with her. One verse in particular messed with her so much that she let the possibility that God exists slip into her heart.

A few days later she went and had Jeremiah 29:11 tattooed on the back of her neck. And she started calling wanting to talk to me. About life. About tattoos. And about God.

Last Thursday, I stood in the middle of the Atlanta airport praying for this precious girl who had called asking for those prayers. She had called. She had asked. And that’s the miracle of our Jesus. He is the God of the impossible.

I wonder what might happen if we dared to ask God for the impossible just a little more often. I’m up for it? Are you?

Dear Lord, use me today to reach the heart of one. I want to trade any apathy I may have today for active faith. Lead me, and I will follow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa’s blog for a chance to win a book and video package called “Sun Stand Still” by Pastor Steven Furtick. These great resources address how to pray for those things that seem so impossible. Plus, you can leave your prayer requests and our prayer team will pray for you!

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.

Learn how to study the Bible in a fun and relevant way on your own by reading Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst

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:
Read the book of John over the next several days. Let the truths of Jesus’ life resonate in your mind and soul. As you read and ponder each verse daily, let your feelings and experiences be evaluated in the light of God’s Word.

Have you made the choice to see God recently? Hear Him? Take the time to know Him? And follow hard after Him?

How can you, right where you are, choose to see the rich evidences of God? How can you show this to someone else who needs to hear it?

Have you asked God for the impossible lately?

Power Verses:
John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (NIV)

Colossians 1:9, "For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding." (NIV)

© 2010 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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Divine Design
Lynn Cowell

"The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." Proverbs 14:1 (NIV)

Boiling point. That is what I had reached as I sat on the floor in my office thinking, "How did I get here?" Was it the discovery of a third needed root canal in my son's mouth only one week before he started college? Maybe it was the discussion of who was going to take over his room when he left? It was also my daughter's new job which required me to provide transportation right in the middle of the day. I guess at that point it didn't really matter. I could feel a slow boil in my heart and I feared an explosion was nearing the surface.

Proverbs 14:1 instructed me that morning with exactly what I needed to hear, "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down" (NIV).

The choice was and is mine: to be part of the divine design or the devil's demolition. My kids don't make me blow up. My husband doesn't cause me to feel exasperated. Proverbs makes it pretty clear, it's my choice.

That is a lot of power. I think, at least in America where for years women have fought for equal rights, we've missed this enormous amount of power that we have held since Eve was created: the power to build a home.

We hear of women who build innovative businesses and women who build influential ministries, but how about women who build solid homes, investing in lifelong marriages and raising up godly children as the next generation? Proverbs says this woman is wise. Never mind what society says is valuable and praiseworthy. This power is of utmost importance. This tremendous power that is within us is the power to build or destroy and we, the women of the home, hold it.

Learning to wield this power isn't something that just happens. Jesus gives insight in Matthew 12:34 when He says that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Our mouths are one of our primary tools. So, what is the mouth's source? Our heart.

That is why we have to be so careful what we allow to linger there. Is it positive thoughts about our kid's, their behavior, their future, their friends? Do we think good things about our husbands throughout the day, thankful for their hard work, grateful for their companionship?

If our mouths are currently being used to tear down instead of build up, it's time for a heart overhaul; time to get the thoughts that we dwell on lined up with the good that is right under our roof.

Friend, I hope you will join me, inviting the Holy Spirit to empower you today to build your home. Look for ways to invest and opportunities to hold back those words that tear down. He wants to make us builders. Let's say "yes"!

Lord, I want to build today. I can see what this day holds: driving in carpool, washing dirty clothes, making another supper and learning third grade math…again. Open my eyes and shut my mouth when my actions are leaning toward destruction. May I choose inspiration, not irritation. Make me a builder empowered by your Holy Spirit with strength and wisdom. Thank You for this incredible opportunity. May I make You proud! Amen.

Related Resources:
The Mom I Want to Be: Rising Above Your Past to Give Your Kids a Great Future by T. Suzanne Eller

Would you like more ideas on how to build a bridge to your child’s heart? Stop by Lynn’s blog for an opportunity to win her teaching CD on doing just that.

What a Husband Needs from His Wife by Melanie Chitwood

She's Gonna Blow! Real Help For Dealing With Mom Anger by Julie Ann Barnhill

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:
Start a Bible study with some friends or neighbors choosing to focus on either marriage or raising kids. Click here to find some great studies to help you get started.

Visit our Everyday Life section to read more encouraging articles on family life.

What time of the day do you find most difficult when it comes to being a woman who builds and invests positively in your family?

In addition to spending time in prayer and reading God's Word, what do you need to do to be successful in building up your home: accountability with friends, more sleep, a better diet, exercise?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 14:8, "The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception." (NIV)

© 2010 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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Putting Grace in Its Place
Beth Webb Hart, She Reads Featured Author

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5: 6-7 (NIV)

I came face to face with grace in the wee hours of a summer night at the tender age of eighteen. I had just returned home from my first year of college, and after making a series of bad and destructive decisions, I could barely stand to be in my own skin. My mother, a new Christian, sensed my despair, and she sat me down late one night when the house was quiet and insisted that I tell her what was wrong.

Weary and depressed, I told her everything – all of my wrong-doings and the darkness which was consuming my heart as a result. She cried as any mother would. And I cried because I was ashamed and sorry, and I knew there was nothing I could do to turn back the clock and make things right. When the last tissue was frayed to bits, I looked up expecting her to write me off for good. It was certainly what I deserved. However, when our eyes met, her face softened, and she straightened up and said, "Jesus loves you, and He forgives you." Then she walked across the room, embraced me and added, "And so do I."

Grace. There it was. In an instant I felt the full weight of the truth proclaimed on the church marquee signs along the southern back roads of my childhood: "Jesus Saves," "Washed in the blood," and "There is a Redeemer." Jesus had sacrificed His life, not while I (or the rest of mankind) were well-behaved girls and boys, but while we were downright bad ones. Imagine.
"Thank you," I prayed as I stepped into the light. I could almost feel the rewiring of my heart, the restoration of my soul and the redirection of my very life.

Now it has been more than twenty years since that summer night, and I sometimes I wonder if I extend grace more often than not to the people around me. Do I keep a list of grievances against those who have hurt me? Do I habitually tally the debts I'm owed in terms of my time, my money and my service? Do I give family, friends and even that stranger on the city street who zips into the parking place I've been waiting patiently for (with my blinker on, I might add) the benefit of the doubt? How I wish I could say the answer was yes.

In my new novel, Love, Charleston, three tight-knit cousins in their late thirties find themselves living lives far different than the ones they daydreamed about as young girls growing up together in downtown Charleston. Anne, a bell ringer at a historic church, has never found love while Lish, a successful doctor, is blind-sided by an illness just as her husband's affection begins to wane. Lastly there is Della, a struggling writer, who begins to doubt the simple scrape-by life she and her sculptor spouse have chosen. It takes a miracle of grace to provide a joyful ending for these three Charleston women, and the resolution does not come without a willingness to reach out and love each other in the midst of the tough times.

Here are the questions my characters (and I) continually ask ourselves: How can we put grace in its proper place? How can it form the foundation of our everyday actions? How can we keep it in our very bones so that we don't wind up like the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35 who throws a debtor into jail just moments after the merciful king has cancelled his debts and set him free?

Dear Lord, thank You for loving me while I was a sinner. Help me not to grow numb to Your sacrifice, and show me how to extend Your grace to others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit She Reads for a chance to win a beautiful St. Michael’s Gates necklace, the children’s book Of Mice and Bells, and copies of Beth’s new novel Love, Charleston.

Confessions of an Adulterous Christian Woman: Lies that Got Me there, Truths that Brought Me Back by Lyndell Hetrick Holtz

The Woman I Am Becoming by T. Suzanne Eller

For more encouragement, read our free resource, Love is Powerful.
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:
Think of the person in your life who could never pay you back for a nice lunch or dinner. Prepare a lovely meal and invite them over.

Think of someone who has hurt or insulted you over the last year. Do something kind for them.

Do you, in your heart of hearts, believe that your good works keep you in good standing with God? Why must you get rid of this notion in order to fully receive His love?

Look around. Whose life appears to be a mess? Also, whose life seems picture perfect by the world's standards? Could a little unmerited favor and love set both of these folks free?

Power Verses:
John 15:12, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." (NIV)

Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (NIV)

Matthew 5:7, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." (NIV)

© 2010 by Beth Webb Hart. All rights reserved.

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If I Only Had the Nerve
Micca Monda Campbell

"So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord!" Psalm 31:24 (NLT)

There are two choices. We will either cower away from hard situations or charge toward them with courage. As for the cowardly lion in the classical movie The Wizard of OZ, he did both. Of all the Oz characters, I best identify with him.

Like the lion, I believe I could do anything if I only had the nerve. The trouble is that in scary situations the only "nerve" I have is a nervous stomach.

I've faced some pretty hard circumstances in my life, and I've discovered that I'm more courageous than I ever dreamed. One of the hurdles that took real courage was the time I was asked to speak before a group of teens.

I was asked to give a devotional message to the band members of a Christian school as they prepared to compete with other high school bands, at the state competition. On my way to the school that fall morning, my heart was full of joy. I was eager and well prepared to speak to the teens. All was going well until I pulled into the school's parking lot.

Suddenly, I was paralyzed by fear. With my hands frozen to the steering wheel of the car, I couldn't move. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't believe I had said, "Yes" to speak to anyone! Doubts about my ability and message flooded my heart and mind. I was in full-blown panic mode. With my hands still glued to the wheel, I turned and looked at the passenger seat. In my mind's eye, Satan was sitting there with a boastful grin painted across his devilish face that taunted me with doubt. How am I going to pull this off? I anxiously wondered.

I had a choice to make. Either I could allow my anxiety to prevent me from speaking or I could face the platform with courage. How does one find courage when they're trembling in fear? Sometimes it comes down to deciding what is more important—the thing we need to do or yielding to our fear. Courage is not absence of fear as you might think. Rather, it withstands fear. Being courageous is being brave enough to move through our fears. How? We put our hope in God who will see us through.

That day in my car when fear gripped me, I searched my thoughts only to discover that my nervousness is based on pride. What will they think of me? I nervously wondered. Knowing my own limitations created doubt in my mind, which in turn could have caused me to back away. Instead, I decided to move forward in faith. My heart warmed as I considered what was more important. God wanted to use me to speak truth and encouragement to those teens. Sure, my heart was pounding and my knees were knocking, but I chose to be brave. I chose to speak--afraid. The result was amazing. That's the incredible truth about courage. It transforms the ordinary into something extraordinary.

When you feel fearful, what's at the source? Are you focusing on yourself? Taking our eyes off ourselves helps us to see past our fears to the needs of others.

Where has God placed you right now? Are you in an ungodly workplace? Perhaps, you're in a bad relationship with a spouse or friend. Maybe you're living beside unbelieving neighbors or you have to care for aging parents. Whatever your situation, you have a decision to make. Will you cower away or charge forth in faith? While you may face scary risks, think of the difference you could make in someone's life or a whole community if you simply choose to be courageous!

Whatever God is calling you to do, this is His promise. "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9). Through you and me God can make a difference, perhaps save a life. The possibilities are endless if you only have the nerve.

Dear Lord, break this stronghold of fear and worry in my life. Increase my faith in You. Be my stronghold and my provision and in You will I trust. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
This devotion is based from Micca’s book An Untroubled Heart: Finding Faith That’s Stronger Than All My Fears

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

Additional Resources by Micca

Visit Micca’s blog for more encouragement

Birds in My Mustard Tree: How to Grow Your Faith by Susanne Scheppmann

Application Steps:
Make your choice. Is it more important to yield to your fear or do the thing you need to do? Remember, you are not alone. God is our ever-present helper in times of need. Discover courage by pressing through your fear with faith. You'll be amazed at how brave you are.

What fears are you dealing with today?
How can trusting God help you overcome your fear and experience peace?

Power Verses:
Palms 27:14, "Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." (NIV)

1 Thessalonians 5:24, "The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." (NIV)

© 2010 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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