In His Dreams
Sharon Glasgow

“Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:10-12, (NKJ)

My mom and dad separated when I was a child, so I lacked the godly example of marriage. Being the oldest child I naturally took on an independent mindset. These two factors added together equaled a negative value in my natural tendencies toward marriage. My learning curve took years. . .

I loved my husband, but I didn’t respect all of his ideas, notions, and requests. I had my own ideas of how things should be and I thought I was right, naturally.

Overall we had a good marriage, but it wasn’t what it should be until, one day after reading the Bible God led me to make a decision that tamed my independent mindset. I knew I needed to submit to Dale’s role as the spiritual leader in our home, and to respect all of his thoughts all the time.

Our marriage started changing after that day. He would share what he thought the kids needed to do about school or church and my first impulse was to say, “Are you kidding, no way!” But I wouldn’t say a word, I would bite my tongue and receive his words and follow his leading. Amazing things started to happen, he would be right! Many times over the past years, I haven’t agreed with his decisions but I followed him anyway, and the outcome has always been the same, God is leading him and I am honored to follow such a man of God.

I am in awe of my husband, he is everything that a woman could ever dream of, and it is my desire to be everything that he dreams of and more! If he wants to wake up before my biological alarm goes off and needs a few kisses I just pray that God will give me the ability to rise up and be what he needs. I want to serve him in every possible way. I want to make his favorite meals and dress the way he wants me to and enjoy the same things he does.

Sometimes when Dale walks by me my heart will skip a beat, you know what I mean, like when you’re in passionate love. Every time I look at him I’m enthralled, doesn’t that sound like a magic love potion has been poured out on me? I think it has, when you honor your husband in every way at home, in public, in your conversations that he doesn’t know about, God will pour out this passionate love and you will be swept away by him.

Make a conscious decision to honor your husband’s decisions and his thoughts, love him passionately and you will not only become the woman of your husband’s dreams, but your legacy will be lived on through your children’s marriages and for generations to come.

Lord, help me to honor my husband in everything I do and say. Help me to bless him by lavishing him with passionate love. Thank you. In Jesus’ Name.

Additional Resources:
Capture His Heart by Lysa TerKeurst

Love Notes on His Pillow: and Other Everyday Ways to Keep Your Love Alive by Linda J. Gilden

When Your Marriage Dies: Answers to Questions about Separation and Divorce by Laura Petherbridge

Application Steps:
Seek God’s help in honoring your husband with your words, affirmation, and actions. Be wise with all your transactions with him.

Reflection Points:
Do you honor your husband in front of your kids?

Do you honor him with your actions around other men?

Do you honor him in your conversations about him to other people?

Are you praying blessings for his life?

Power Verses:
I Peter 3:3-5, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward-arranging the hair, wearing the gold, or putting on fine apparel-rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands.” (NKJ)

Proverbs 21:19, “Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.” (NKJ)

Titus 2:4, “Admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God may not be blasphemed.” (NKJ)

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The Ultimate Benefit Package
Wendy Pope

"Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits." Psalm 103:2 (NIV)

I have never worked in the world of “corporate America.” I don’t have stock options …I don't read or even understand the New York stock exchange results. I’m at a loss for understanding profit and loss sheets. I’m not savy at climbing the ladder of success. Neither am I a member of prestigious society. Benefits, however, now that’s something I do know!

I have the ultimate job with the ultimate benefit package. Unfortunately, like many people, I forget and sometimes take for granted the benefits I am entitled to. My position required no previous experience or specific educational background. I took the position early in my career but did not truly understand the job until I began to really study my training manual. My boss is awesome to work for. In addition to the benefits package, He makes sure I have everything I need to complete what He has asked me to do. He makes Himself available to answer questions and hear my concerns 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What is my job you ask? Let me refer to my training manual … 2 Corinthians 5:20, "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors."

My boss inspired one of my co-workers, David, to write a beautiful poem outlining the benefits of being part of this work force. David did such an incredible job recording our benefits that the Boss included it in our training manual. Here is a portion:

Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, O my soul,and forget not all his benefits-
who forgives all your sinsand heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pitand crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good thingsso that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

You can see by reading these few lines from Psalm 103 why I love my workplace and my Boss so much. There are more benefits listed in the training manual - God's Holy Word. I happen to know that my Boss is always looking for more workers. Our task is great and we could use all the help we can get. So if you are interested, give Him a call. You can reach Him through this network: P-R-A-Y-E-R. I know He would love to talk to with you. Oh, I did I mention He offers rewards, too? Just read the manual!

Lord, help to recognize today that You are my boss. You have agenda set just for me. Please be my daytimer, my organizer. Help me never to forget the benefits I have because of the sacrifice of Your son Jesus. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Additional Resources:
Do you know Him?

Out of the Mouth of Babes by Wendy Pope

Listen to Today’s Radio Show

Application Steps:

Read aloud the Psalm 103. Write the benefits that amaze you the most. Thank the Lord for His amazing benefits.

Reflection Points:
What is keeping me from enjoying the benefits of being a child of God?

Have I praised Him lately for what He has done for me?

Do I share the great news of His benefits with others?

Power Verses:
1 Samuel 26:23, "The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and faithfulness." (NIV)

Hebrews 11:6, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (NIV)

Revelation 22:12, "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done." (NIV)

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God’s Message Board
Melissa Taylor

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11 (NIV)

Recently I was asked, “Melissa, how do I know God is there, that He hears me, and know if He is speaking to me when I can’t see or hear Him?” That’s a question I used to wonder myself…at least until I got to know God’s heart and began spending more time with Him.

When I was younger I’d pray and even read my Bible some. I had friends who would tell me that they felt a calling on their life from God, or that God had spoken to them, or that they had a close relationship with Him, but I really didn’t understand it. I was a believer who loved God, but I didn’t know how to hear from Him. I wasn’t even sure if He was aware of me all of the time. I imagined God up in Heaven and that one day I would meet Him, but for now I should just try to be a good girl here on earth. If you see yourself in this description, read on!

Have you ever had a relationship with someone you’ve not seen in person? I have with a woman I met on a message board. A message board is a place on a website where you can ask questions, make comments, and talk to other people on the internet about a certain subject. I’d never met or begun a relationship with someone through the internet before. Typically, I would post or respond to a question and move on. This one time, however, I read a comment posted by a woman all the way across the country from me. Her name was Allison. I responded and I can hardly believe where the relationship has gone from there.

After realizing from our posts that we had so much in common, we exchanged email addresses and began communicating. I had heard horror stories about relationships formed on the internet, so I sought to make sure this woman was who she said she was. Allison said she was a school teacher, so I visited her school website to check her out. She also sent me her family’s personal website. I also wanted her to know that I was being truthful about who I was and sent her to the Proverbs 31 website and eventually gave her my phone number. When I felt sure that she was indeed who she said she was, I let my guard down and our friendship blossomed.

You see, before a deep meaningful relationship can occur, both parties have to know they can trust the other. We did not openly share our lives with each other at first. It took time to develop a relationship to the level where we felt comfortable doing that. We wrote each other almost daily and talked by phone a few times a month. Today, I consider Allison a true friend and someone that I could share just about anything with. I know she’d be there to listen to me, pray for me, and encourage me. I have never seen this friend of mine in person. Yet, I know she’s there.

This reminds me a lot of how a relationship with God works. When we come to faith in the Lord, we don’t know Him intimately right away. It takes time. It takes reading His letters to us (the Bible). It takes getting comfortable with Him and trusting that we can openly share our lives with Him. It takes us learning that He is Who He says He is. When we work on our relationship with God, we learn that He can be trusted. We also learn that He loves us no matter what we’ve done or who we are. Even though we may not be able to physically see Him, we find He is there all of the time. Even though we may not be able to audibly hear Him, we learn He can and does speak to our heart. We discover this by investing time into the relationship.

If you want to know God better, spend more time with Him. Read God’s Word and you’ll begin to experience God’s heart. Spend time alone with Him and you will begin to see and hear Him more in your life. It may be through a scripture, a friend, a feeling, or an idea that pops into your mind that you just sense is from God. When you know God better, you’ll also know how to recognize Him. It’s hard to explain, but you just do.

God’s Message Board is always open and He is always there to listen and reply. He is knowledgeable on all subjects and He stands ready to meet with you at any time. If you find yourself searching for answers or wondering if God indeed cares for you, post a question on His Message Board through prayer. Hide His Word in your heart. Meet with Him one on One. He will be the best Friend you ever make and you’ll see and hear from Him in a whole new way.

Dear Lord, I would like to know You better. Help me to understand the mystery of a personal relationship with You. Help me to read and understand Your Word so that I may understand You more fully. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Additional Resources:
His Princess, Love Letters from Your King by Sherri Rose Sheperd

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst

He Speaks to Me by Priscilla Shirer

Application Steps:
Get a 3-section spiral notebook. Label the first “Prayer”, the second “Scripture” and the third “Journaling.” In the first section write your prayer requests: for yourself, your family, friends, work, world, whatever you want…You can add to it as time goes on, check off answered prayer request, etc. In the second section, write down any Bible verses that speak to your heart. If there’s a verse you want to remember or that means a lot to you, write it here. Keep adding to this section and review it often. In the third section, write letters to God. Tell Him what you are thinking and feeling. Let Him know how much you love Him and need Him. Even though He knows all this already, something special happens when we write it down. As time passes, go back and read previous letters to God. You will find that you will see first hand the way He’s been working in your life.

Reflection Points:
Are you investing time in a relationship with the Lord?

Do you know Him well enough to believe His Word?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.” (NLT)

Jeremiah 29:13, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (NKJV)

Psalm 138:3, “When I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me the strength I need.” (NLT)

Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp that gives light wherever I walk.” (CEV)

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Saying Thank You
Marybeth Whalen

"One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice." Luke 17:15 (NIV)

Do you have an attitude of gratitude? Do you remember to say thank you to God whenever He does something for you—answering a prayer, sending a friend to comfort you, helping you solve a problem creatively, or granting you wisdom? There are two stories in the Bible about people who remembered to say thank you, and brought about blessings as a result. I have relied on these stories as an example of the attitude I need to have at all times.

The first story is of Joseph and is found in Genesis 40. When Joseph interprets the dreams of the cupbearer, he saves him. Yet the cupbearer forgets what Joseph did for him and goes on with his life. Because of his disregard for Joseph’s kindness, Joseph spends several more years in prison. Eventually, the cupbearer does remember and Joseph’s entire life is changed as a result. All because the cupbearer remembered to be grateful.

The second story is of Jesus healing the lepers and is found in Luke 17. Jesus healed ten lepers, yet only one returned to thank Jesus. Jesus remarked on this man’s grateful attitude, and said, “Your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:19) This verse tells me that God considers having an attitude of gratitude as essential to our faith. Gratitude is not optional to God.

I have come up with some ways to help yourself have an attitude of gratitude:

Keep a prayer journal to record your requests. Periodically go back through the journal and record answers to the requests.

Designate a certain day of the week as your praise day. On this day, do nothing but praise God, play praise music, read Psalms of praise, reflect on answered prayers, and meditate on who God is.

Keep a gratitude journal. Write five things you are thankful for from that day before you go to bed that night. Be mindful throughout your day of what you will add to your list.

When a prayer is answered or something wonderful happens to you, go to God immediately—before your husband, your best friend or your mom.

Practice being thankful in all circumstances. Look for something to thank God for no matter what is going on in your life. Try to look past your circumstances towards God’s plans for you.

It is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and forget to say thank you. And yet, we know that it pleases God when we remember to come before him with a humble, grateful heart. This honors God and helps us grow in our faith.

Dear Lord, I want to have an attitude of gratitude. I know that you desire for me to have a grateful heart. Help me to take steps towards always remembering to say “thank you.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Additional Resources:
Good To Me by LaTonya Mason

Celebrating a Christ Centered Christmas by Sharon Jaynes

Application Steps:
Read the passages I mentioned in this devotion. Write down any verses that particularly speak to you. Now, write down at least one step from the list you are going to take in the next day.

Reflection Points:
What keeps you from thanking God? Can you think of some other steps you already take or could take to help you remember to go back and thank him?

Power Verses:
I Chronicles 16:8, “Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what he has done.”

2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

I Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

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The Friendships of Women
Glynnis Whitwer

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:8-10

A study of elementary school activity recess revealed that boys and girls play differently on the playground structures. Researchers have found that girls are more likely to swing and climb to the top of the play structures and yell down at their friends who are close by on the ground. Boys, on the other hand, are more likely to run around the structure or the playground.

Apparently, these findings concerned the researchers because they worry that girls aren’t using enough of the playground. Isn’t that interesting? Without any suggestion from teachers or parents, the girls place themselves in closer physical proximity to each other, thereby increasing their social contact.

Although little girls tend to disagree more than boys, their need for friendships is obvious, and at a young age, seek each other out. God designed this need in us, and friendships offer more than companionship, they also offer protection.

With Satan as our enemy, and sin as our nature, we are weakened. One of Satan’s most effective tools is isolation. He knows if we stay away from godly friends, he can start planting lies in our minds, and thereby bring us down. But with good friends to surrounds us, and affirm God’s truth in our life, we are less susceptible to attack.

Consider frost damage. In a forest, a tree is more likely to be killed by frost if it is standing alone. The same goes for plants and bushes around our homes. However, when the trees are clumped together there is a natural protection and they survive the cold.

This is a lot like people. None of us expect a difficult time to come – but we live in a fallen world and bad things happen. To a person without godly friends, a time of frost can kill them emotionally. However, when a person is surrounded by friends, they are more likely to survive.

For many of us, friendships are whipped cream on the ice cream sundae of life. They are an added bonus, but not essential. However, God thinks otherwise. In Ecclesiastes 4:8-10 we have the following words of advice: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”

In another book of the Bible, we are advised to confess our sins to others. James 5:16 says, “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.” Since I’m probably not going to confess my sins to someone I don’t know, this verse affirms the importance of godly friends.

As we enter a busy time of year, take time to be with friends. Plan a holiday gathering and share the things you are thankful for. Look for opportunities to include friends in your planning and preparation for the big events in the next two months. While you are getting things done, take time to share what’s going on in your life. Our time invested in friendships is time well spent. It’s in our God-designed make-up to need each other and it accomplishes God’s desire for our protection when the hard times come.

Heavenly Father, I praise You for Your almighty power and great love. I confess the times I have neglected to develop godly friends. I pray for wisdom to know how to be a better friend to those You have placed in my life. Thank you for answering our prayers and for Your faithfulness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Additional Resources:
P31 Woman Magazine

Traveling Together: Thoughts on Women, Friendship and the Journey of Faith
by Karla Worley

Building an Effective Women's Ministry by Sharon Jaynes

At the Feet of Ordinary Women by Angie Conrad, et al.

Application Steps:
Identify one or two friends you haven’t seen or spoken to in a while. Plan a time to get together or talk on the phone.

Reflection Points:
What are some common hindrances to maintaining strong friendships?

What character of friendship is most important to you and why?

What are some examples of how pride comes between friends?

Read John 15:13. What does to “lay down his life” mean to you?

Why does showing love often involve a sacrifice?

Power Verses:
I John 4:11-12, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (NIV)

Romans 15: 5-6, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NIV)

Psalm 133:1, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.” (NIV)

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)

Galatians 6:2, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (NIV)


How to be Happy
Rachel Olsen

“Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

“Happy Thanksgiving!” people wish me repeatedly this week. Seems like everyone wishes for happiness. Everybody wants some. Everybody seeks it. Many people pretend to have it, yet few seem to truly possess it. Why is happiness so hard to find?

Pssst … lean in closer… I will whisper where to find it … the fourth chapter of Philippians. Look up and read verses six through thirteen, or read them below in the Power Verses section.

Notice in verse six, Paul gives three clear instructions for finding lasting contentment. He says:

1) not to worry
2) pray about everything
3) thank God for everything

What if today we took this instruction to heart and put it into practice? What if today we decided not to worry about anything? What if when we found ourselves worrying, we stopped and handed the situation over to God in prayer? What if we then thanked Him for taking care of the issue? In fact, what if we spent most of our mental free time today thinking about what good care our awesome God takes of us? What would happen then?

Paul says in verse seven, if we begin to live this way we will experience amazing peace – a kind of peace we can’t even imagine. This kind of peace is so powerful that it has a protective function on our hearts and minds – which only makes it easier and easier for us to stop worrying and be thankful. That sounds like a state of happiness to me!

In verse eight Paul elaborates on what to think about instead of our worries – whatever is good, true, honorable, pure, lovely, praise worthy, and right. Many things can fall into these categories, but Christ encompasses them all! This is not just “positive thinking,” this is spiritual thinking.

Further down in Philippians 4:10-13, Paul goes on to attest personally to the truth of this 3-step process as he writes from a Roman prison. From behind bars Paul says, “I’ve learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little … I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little" (Phil. 4:11-12). Did you catch that verb? Paul LEARNED how to be happy and content. It didn’t just happen once he reached his goals. In fact, he claims his ability to be happy had nothing at all to do with his circumstances, but rather his increased trust in Christ.

So happy contentedness is not something that comes once our waistlines have slimmed, our wrinkles are erased, our houses are clean and well furnished, our children are successful, our husbands dote on us, or our dreams are fulfilled. Instead it is learned as we become prayerful (verse 6) and thankful (verse 6), as we practice spiritual thinking (verse 8), and as we trust utterly in Christ (verse 13).

I can’t think of a better day to start practicing Paul’s process of prayer, thankfulness, and “spiritual thinking” than today. Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear Lord, I’m turning over all my fears and problems to You to handle today. I can’t fix a single thing by worrying about it - but you can fix anything because nothing is impossible for You! Thank You for my blessings, big and small. Thank You for Your loving care for me. Thank You for being in charge of my day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Additional Resources:
Good To Me by LaTonya Mason

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Listen to Today’s Radio Show

Application Steps:
Get out your Bible and highlight Philippians 4:6-7. Memorize those two verses.

Reflection Points:
Do I think about what is good, lovely, pure and right, or do I think about what is depressing, frustrating, unfair and wrong?

Does thankfulness characterize me?

Power Verses:
Phillipians 4:6-9, “Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” (NLT)

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Holiday Giving
Sharon Glasgow

“She sees that her trading is profitable.” Proverbs 31:8 (NIV)

Everybody was staring at me as I opened the present. My acting abilities aren’t exactly silver screen quality, but as I pulled the suit out of the tissue, I mustered every ounce of enthusiasm I could, “Thank you … you shouldn’t have!”

I didn’t like the style. With a quick glance I noticed that it was 3 sizes too big. Whew, that will be my excuse, I thought, its just way too big. She asked me to try it on anyway. “Oh Sharon, it’s perfect on you!” What was she looking at? It swallowed me whole. I would’ve drowned by the time I walked out the door.

After staring at it for a week, I just couldn’t bear the thought of ever wearing it. There were no tags on it for me to exchange it, so I decided I would take it to a consignment store to sell.

The next week I went shopping with my girls. Walking by the suit section of a department store, my eyes caught a glimpse of the suit I had just taken to the consignment shop. Quickly I picked up the tags to see the price, a hot flash went over my face. The kids were talking to me but I couldn’t hear what they were saying. I was sick!

The price tag said $280! What? How could anyone spend that much money on me? And for this suit? Immediately I called the consignment shop I’d left it at. They were closed until Monday.

Monday morning 15 minutes before they opened I was at their door waiting anxiously. As soon as it was unlocked, I pushed through the door and quickly asked if they still had my suit. They had to go to the back to find out. The minutes felt like years. They found it! “Funny thing is ma’am, that was the most popular suit this past weekend, many tried it on but it didn’t fit anyone.” “Thank you,” I said and I took the suit back out of the shop.

I took it back to my friend, thanked her and told her it was a beautiful suit but it just wasn’t my style and it didn’t fit properly. No, I didn’t tell her the whole consignment shop story, I probably never will - unless she reads this!

My point is, gift-giving is hard even for talented shoppers. Receiving gifts can be just as hard sometimes!

This holiday, speak up if someone asks you what you’d like to receive. Try asking friends and family to window-shop online or in a store that you have access to, and make a list of items they like. You can pick from what they have chosen. Or ask them if there is a service you can treat them to like a car wash or manicure. Gift certificates are usually a good bet as well.

Shopping this way may not seem special enough, but it’s better to be wise with the money God entrusts you with than to gamble on buying an expensive gift the recipient might dislike and dump at consignment. Not only the money but the time you spent shopping would be wasted. Finally, remember that the good news of the baby Jesus is the greatest Christmas gift ever given, and it doesn’t cost a dime to share that with those on your gift-list this year.

Dear Lord, Help me to be wise this year in my gift giving. Help me to make the best use of my shopping time. I want the money I spend and the time invested to bless others and bring glory to You. In Jesus’ Name Amen.

Additional Resources:
Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

Application Steps:
Be a good listener throughout the year and when someone mentions something they would like, write it down (somewhere you’ll remember to look again!).

Send a Christmas questionnaire out to the relatives, along with a couple of gift suggestions for the people in your family.

Ask God to help you make wise decisions.

Reflection Points:
Are you anxious about holiday gift-giving?

Have you set a pre-determined amount you will spend on gifts?

You’ll have more time to celebrate Christ this Christmas if you get organized regarding your budget and gift-giving now.

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 9:7, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. “ (NKJ)

Luke 6:38, “Give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For the measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (NKJ)

Ecclesiastes 7:12, "Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor." (NIV)

Proverbs 3:9-10, “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the first fruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” (NKJ)

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He’s Still God
Micca Monda Campbell

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair.” 2 Corinthians 4:8 (NIV)

I was away speaking at a women's event when the tornado struck the mid-south where my family and I live. My children were in “lock down” at their school for hours.

My husband felt helpless as our daughter begged from her cell phone, “Come get me, daddy. Please, hurry!” He was desperately trying to retrieve both of our children, but debris from the raging winds blocked his every path. Two hours later, he finally reached the school and found it, along with our children, untouched by the tornado. Our house had been passed over as well. Others were not as fortunate.

As I drew nearer to home, I looked on in disbelief as I weaved my way through the devastation. It felt as if my town had been ransacked by intruders. I felt cold and naked as I viewed the homes of friends, and business that had been stripped bare by the fury of the tornado.

Then, I saw the church. It once was a magnificent church standing tall and proud in our community. It was a symbol of all that was good. Now it was wounded and exposed; stripped of her beauty and glory. “Not the church, Lord.” I prayed. As destruction surrounded me, I looked to the heavens and questioned, “How will we survive this awful tragedy?”

Jesus promised that we would encounter trials and tribulation in this fallen world, but we need not despair. Why--because our hope is in God. Hope helps us see the God of restoration instead of becoming paralyzed by the mess of destruction.

Volunteers, workman, friends and neighbors put their hope in God and worked together to rebuild our city. It was a precious sight. It was the evidence of hope and the reflection of love.

Right now, you may be surrounded by trouble too, but you are not alone. You cannot be hedged in because you are not without help. You have great support. God is your helper. You don’t have to be perplexed, uncertain or concerned about your future. God has promised to deliver you. Even if you are being persecuted by enemies, or rejected by loved ones, God says, “I will never leave you.” There’s no need to fight your fears. Put your trust in God and allow His power to work through your weakness.

Months later, the faithfulness of God in times of trouble became apparent as I drove by the church. The yard had been cleaned and the walls patched. It looked as if she had been lovingly dressed up in second-hand clothes. Still recovering from near destruction, her message had not changed. Draped in a large sign that covered the front of her structure, she declared to all,


In this life, will we be pressed - yes, even crushed sometimes – and it can be perplexing, but we need never despair. Because no matter what storm we face, no matter what kind of trouble presses in; and no matter who’s out to get us, the truth remains the same: “He’s Still God!”

Dear Lord, may we never live in despair when trouble surrounds us. Help us to trust in the fact that You’re still God and the battle is not our, but yours, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Additional Resources:
Micca Campbell’s Testimony on DVD

Do you know Him?

Application Steps:
Make a list of all your doubts and fears. Then, confess them to God. Ask Him to replace your doubt with faith in what only God can do.

Reflection Points:
In what do you put your hope in, self or God?

Do you allow God to show His power and Glory through your weakness?

In what ways has God proven in your life “He’s Still God?”

Power Verses:
Psalm 135:6, “Whatever the Lord pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places.” (NKJ)

Deuteronomy 20:4, “for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.” (NKJ)

Deuteronomy 10:14, “Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it.” (NKJ)

Romans 8:31, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (NKJ)


Confessions of a Recovering Shop-a-holic

Wendy Pope

“Honor the Lord with your possessions …” Proverbs 3:9 (NKJ)

To be honest with you, there was a time when I wished Proverbs 31 Ministries' Principle Five, "The Proverbs 31 Woman contributes to the financial well-being of her household, being a faithful steward of the time and money God has entrusted to her" did not exist. Being a faithful steward of the time and money God and my husband entrusted to me has not always been an easy task.

I suppose it started years ago when I rode in the Country Squire station wagon with my mother from destination to destination searching for the "bargain of the century.” My mother taught me to be an expert bargain shopper. So much an expert that even now, many years later, friends call me for shopping tips and questions about where to get the best deal on what they’re looking for.

What I believe my mother meant for good, the enemy used for evil. Somewhere along the way, through disappointing times in my life and low self-esteem, I began to see shopping as an escape. It became the way I brought myself happiness. I use the word “happiness” because happiness describes a temporary emotion based on circumstances. Joy is something deep within yourself that remains regardless of your circumstances.

I entered my marriage in debt and managed to keep us in debt during most of our early years together. The debt I accrued became my secret. I hid credit card bills from my husband, as well as new things that I bought. Each month, I would scrape enough money together from my household budget to make the minimum payments. The lie kept me from having an honest and open relationship with my husband. It also kept me from experiencing the real joy that comes with an intimate relationship with Jesus. It was a true sickness.

This first step I took to rid myself of this sickness was commit to meet each morning with the greatest financial advisor who ever lived, Jesus. This is before my shower, juice and kisses from my family. In my quiet times, I asked God to change me. I begged Him to give me a heart to know Him. I invited him to teach me, refine me, and make me pleasing and acceptable in His sight.

I also made the choice not to go to the mall or other stores unnecessarily. Something else that was helpful to cure the sickness was to see where I was spending money by recording the amount for every purchase in a small notebook. The final step I took to financial freedom was to cut up my credit cards and confess my lifestyle to my husband.

Now my joy comes from something that cannot be stolen – how about you?

Dear Lord, You are Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides. Help me to trust You to provide my physical needs as well as my emotional needs. Forgive me for making foolish choices when it comes to spending the money You entrust to me. Reveal to me changes I need to make in my spending habits. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Additional Resources:
Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

Dave has written many books including The Total Money Makeover. He is a follower of Christ and along with his company The Lampo Group seeks to provide Biblically-based, common sense education on finances to instill hope and empower everyone from the financially secure to the financially distressed.

Application Steps:
Write down all “frivolous” debt you have like credit cards and department store cards. Begin praying over it. Ask God for the discipline and courage to cut up the cards and come clean. If you don't have any frivolous debt, praise the Lord for your freedom from such debt.

Reflection Points:
Are you in credit card debt?How often do you go to the mall or other stores to "window shop?"Where do you seek joy?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 17:16, "Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?" (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 7:12, "Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor." (NIV)

1 Timothy 6:6, "But godliness with contentment is great gain." (NIV)

Proverbs 3:9-10, “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the first fruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” (NKJ)

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Hoarder Disorder
Lysa TerKeurst

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything we need for enjoyment.” 1 Timothy 6:17 (NIV)

Have you fallen prey to the “Hoarder Disorder?” You’ve heard the old expression: “Save the Best for Last.” Well, “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” is more like it as far as I’m concerned. It’s time to get rid of the mindset that we must collect all we can, store it away, and only use it on special occasions. instead we need to start savoring what we have today. I’m not talking about living a frivolous lifestyle where we make impulsive choices that hurt us in the long run. I’m simply talking about living each day to the fullest, putting to good use the little gifts that God allows us to enjoy whether we realize it or not.

Today’s Key Verse is a good reminder that we won’t be able to take what we’ve saved with us when we leave this earth. Life and possessions are uncertain, so God intended for them to be used for our enjoyment (gasp!!!) while we still have them. In fact, King Solomon reflected on this truth in Ecclesiastes 2:18-20 when he stated, “I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun.”

Think about that candle that cost a little too much but you just loved the way it smelled. So, you bought it but only burn it for company. No, no, no! Get it right now and burn it because you like the way it smells. And while you’re at it, go get a plate of the china you never use. Even if you’re just eating peanut butter and jelly on it, use it to make you or the kids feel a little special. And that nice outfit that just hangs in your closet for the once a year company party – go, put it on. You may look silly but you’re doing it in high style, with fancy china by candlelight!

A friend of mine was at a scrap booking party where she shared her hesitancy to use her “good” stickers. A lady quipped back at her, “You’ve got hoarder disorder and you need to get over it. Pull those stickers out right now and use them. What in the world are you really saving them for?”

How true! Do we really think when we are old and gray that there is going to be a contest at the old folks’ home where an announcer steps up to a squeaky microphone and says, “Whoever has the most unburned candles, mint condition china, best stickers and never worn out-of-date clothes wins an extra bingo chip.”

I don’t want an extra bingo chip fifty years from now. I want to be a happy person today. I want to be a mother with a smile on her face. I want to teach my kids that it doesn’t mean you are a worldly person if you happen to find a little joy in the things of this world that bring your heart comfort.

Wean yourself off hoarder disorder. Try having a date with your husband, or a night out with the girls. Do some scrap booking, get your hair done in the salon, or take a bubble bath after the kids are in bed. Plan something big like a vacation or a shopping trip for something you’ve saved up to buy. And don’t forget to invest yourself and your resources in eternal things that have lasting value. Don’t hoard – use what you have to bless others (and yourself) every now and then!

Dear Giver of every Good and Perfect Gift, thank You for providing me with so many blessings at my disposal. Your gifts are both eternal and for this life. Show me how I can use them with wisdom, and remind me that I can’t take them with me when I leave this world. I pray that others would be blessed because I chose to not hoard what I have. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Additional Resources:
The Bathtub is Overflowing but I Feel Drained by Lysa TerKeurst

Can Martha Have a Mary Christmas? by Brenda Poinsett

Application Steps:
Storing up possessions for no useful purpose besides simply having riches is considered hoarding – it’s being stingy. Stinginess means that a person can afford to use what they’ve saved up for but they simply won’t use it because they’ve placed more emphasis on what it will cost them to do so.

Reflection Points
Read Proverbs 23:5-7

In what ways might you have hoarder disorder?
Why might this be?
Do you think that being stingy is part of your refusal to put to good use what you have?
Make a list of all those things you are hoarding away. Perhaps it’s your gourmet hot chocolate. Perhaps it’s that unused set of satin sheets you’ve had forever. Perhaps it’s cold hard cash you’ve accumulated with no purpose in mind.
After you make your list, write down one way you can put each of your hoarded items to good use. Get busy having a little fun using them!

Power Verses:
Proverbs 22:9, “A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” (NIV)

Proverbs 23:5-7, “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like and eagle. Do not eat the food of a stingy man, do not crave his delicacies; for he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost.” (NIV)

Acts 4:32, “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.” (NIV)

Matthew 6:19, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” (NIV)

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When to say, ‘I Do’
Van Walton

“Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; then stick to the path and stay safe. Don't get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.” Proverbs 4:25-27 (NLT)

I recently decided I needed a pair of earrings to match a dress I would wear to a wedding. Determined to find pink earrings to set off my special-occasion attire, I drove to the mall. I did not need another pair of earrings. I had some classic jewelry to wear, but I wanted to make a fashion statement. The latest fads dictated that eye-catching, fun-loving, color-coordinated accessories were necessary. While at the mall, I found some earrings that ”would do” or so I thought. Days later, I put on my new jewelry. Just the right color, they dangled correctly and made an appropriate fashion statement, but they just were not me. I was no longer satisfied with what had once charmed me. I wanted to return them, but they were now used goods.

This was not the first time I had made a choice I regretted. Many times I have thought a new “accessory” would truly improve me or change my life. Later I’d learn that what I thought was essential was only a romanticized notion.

Sometimes, to a woman, a man is that romanticized “accessory.” If you are a typical single woman, your future dreams probably include a man with whom to share your life. This is not unusual. God created us with that desire.

Thirty-five years ago, I married my man after a college courtship of two-and-a-half years. We met on the phone, sort of. He overheard his roommate talking with me and decided we should meet. After many phone conversations we agreed to get together between classes. That was the beginning of a life-long friendship.

I use the word “friendship” rather than “romance” purposely. Over time I grew to enjoy the company of this young man. Over the months we increasingly chose to spend time together. As we became more and more acquainted I knew we had a lot in common. I came to admire him. His intelligence, calm spirit, love-of-family, and clear respect for me made an impression. Eventually I realized I was no longer content in his absence.

I’ve seen so many relationships fall apart after the wedding. Like the earring purchase at the mall, women sometimes make passionate, impulsive, or desperate “purchases” at the altar without truly considering the long-term reality of marriage. Like rushing to buy a pair of earrings that are socially in fashion but just not really you, a lovely wedding is planned with a dazzling color scheme and an impressive dress but not long after regret sets in.

Each time I look at those earrings I ask myself why I bought them. Unfortunately I have friends who feel the same about the men they married. They wonder why they settled for someone who “would do.”

I believe it was God’s grace and many prayers that allowed me to date my husband for a long time before we married. I like to think I made a wise decision, but I can’t take all the credit. The Holy Spirit guided me in my choice for a life-long partner. Let me share three consistent thoughts I had as I dated:

  • Marry for friendship, not romance. Romance is nice but like a pair of earrings, it can lose its luster. A friend is someone you connect with, appreciate, and respect. Save physical intimacy for marriage.
  • Marry someone you know well. Allow the attraction that unites the two of you to be rooted in your minds, hearts, and souls - where true intimacy develops. The development of a deep relationship takes time. Don’t rush into a decision that can’t be “returned.”
  • Marry for honest reasons. Marriage is God’s design. It is a union between two people who promise before God to take care of each other, to encourage one another, and to help each other grow towards Christ. Marry a man who loves his Lord more than he loves you! Marry a man who has learned from God how to love his wife. Don’t marry for status or money. Also, don’t fall prey to the notion that you can “fix” him once you are married.

Heavenly Father, I long for a relationship with a man who will love me and cherish me. I know You have a perfect plan for me and I pray for patience and trust to wait for that husband. Give me the wisdom and strength to accept only Your best for my life, in Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

Additional Resources:

Dreams of a Woman: God's Plan for Fulfilling Your Dreams by Sharon Jaynes

Becoming the Woman of His Dreams, Seven Qualities Every Man Longs For by Sharon Jaynes

Application Steps:
Describe your notion of perfect husband. Ask God to show you what His notion of a perfect husband is. Do the two lists match up?

As you wait for Mr. Perfect to come along, remember there is only one perfect Man. Allow your relationship with Jesus to grow and develop to the point that know Jesus alone satisfies.

Prepare yourself to offer the purest gift of all to your future husband, a treasure no other has encountered.

Reflection Points:
Am I allowing the world to influence my values and dreams?

Am I in danger of settling for a man who doesn’t fulfill my dreams?

Do I believe marriage is God’s perfect plan for man and woman and am I willing to wait for the right man of God to come along?

What is the best that can happen if I wait for Mr. Right? What is the worst that can happen if I settle for a man who might not fit my needs?

Power Verses:
Song of Solomon 5:16, “His mouth is altogether sweet; he is lovely in every way. Such, O women of Jerusalem, is my lover, my friend.” (NLT)

1 Corinthians 6:18-20, “There's more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, "The two become one." Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never "become one." There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for "becoming one" with another. Or didn't you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don't you see that you can't live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.” (MSG)

Philippians 4:6-9, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. … whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (NKJV)


Investing Time
Sharon Glasgow

“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 (NKJ)

Imagine with me a mental chart of what could happen with an investment of 30 minutes. If we were to invest 30 minutes a day for one month, we would have invested 15 hours Take that 15 hours a month, times 30 years, and we would have invested 5,400 hours of our time. So, if we devoted 30 minutes a day for 30 years to something of eternal value, it would have a tremendous impact! If we invested 30 minutes a day with God I believe our direction in life would be clearer and we would waste less time.

George Washington considered time a precious commodity and carefully managed it as he sought God’s leading in all things. He calculated the hours in his day as early as a pre-teen. He set aside time to read the Bible, pray and write in a tablet the principles that would govern his manner and character.

In August of 1776, when faced with what seemed to be an impossible battle George Washington consulted with God, just as He had done every other day. Washington’s 8,000 men were untrained, ill equipped and cornered. The trained British out numbered his Continental Army two-to-one. There seemed to be no way out for Washington and his men.

George Washington went into his tent to seek God. Soon after, he came out with the plan that ultimately saved our country. He led all 8,000 men across the East River through the night on small boats without the British knowing. As the dense fog lifted the next morning, the last boat rowed to safety onto Manhattan.

It was written in the British diaries that the hand of God was upon the Continental Army. God was faithful to lead Washington that August 27th night of 1776. He had set aside time with God each day and the returns on his investment led to wisdom that impacted thousands of lives.

If we set aside time to read our Bibles and pray, God will more than give back our time. He will give us the secret places of His heart! He will lead us in the direction we should go and help us face what seem to be impossible battles each day.

What will you be known for because of how you invested your time? Give to Him and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over…for with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6:39, NKJ)

Dear Lord, I want my every hour to be directed by You. Lead me because I desperately do not want to live under my fleshly desires. Help me to keep my eyes on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Additional Resources:
P31 Woman Magazine

Living Life on Purpose by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Make a plan to invest 30 minutes a day. Spend time with God. Invest the time and talents He gave you, and use your spiritual gifts at least once a day.

Reflection Points:
Looking for where to find 30 minutes? It could be time that you would normally read the paper, watch TV or surf the Internet.

What legacy will you leave by the way you spent your time?

Power Verses:
Ephesians 5:15, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (NKJ)

Colossians 4:5, “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.” (NKJ)

Luke 6:38, “Give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over…for with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (NKJ)


Lost in a Crowd
Susanne Scheppmann

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:36-38(NIV)

Leslie sprawled across my family room floor in the midst of our small group for high school girls. Her waist-length blonde hair wrapped across her bare midriff. Her pose struck me as seductive and I wondered where she would land in life.

Although not a regular member of the youth group, Leslie visited occasionally. I knew she drank vast amounts of alcohol and flirted with drugs. She told us that she had been sexually active since she was fourteen. She continually attempted to shock us. However, the girls chose to accept her into the group.

One evening she knocked at the door. We all gasped in surprise. Her beautiful Repunzel hair was chopped off and dyed jet black. Her eyes were red and swollen from crying. She told us her father became enraged at her. For punishment, he had cut her hair. In teenage retaliation, she dyed it black.

We tried to comfort her to the best of our ability, but a new bitter hardness peered from her blue eyes. Once again, she felt lost even in the crowded room of girls. She came to our meetings sporadically over the next several weeks and, as the adult leader, I counseled with her personally. Still, I could feel her withdrawing.

I told Leslie that Jesus loved her. Unlike her father, He had compassion. Unlike her father, He could love her unconditionally. She wouldn’t or couldn’t believe these biblical truths. Her home life continued to worsen as did her destructive behaviors.

The last time I saw Leslie, she had run away from home. She was living on the streets, lost in the crowd of runaway teens who were looking for unconditional love. She called to see if I could bring her some food. I gathered some sandwiches, chips, and cookies. She met me on a corner. As her thin arm reached eagerly for the sack lunch, my heart ached for Leslie. I tried to coax her to come home with me, but she vowed she could live on her own. Sadly, I left her to cope with life as a runaway.

In our Key Verse today we saw that Jesus had compassion on the crowds. It didn’t matter to Him that they were dirty, uncouth, and sinful. His heart longed to be the Shepherd who would guide and care for them. Today let’s ask Jesus to give us love and compassion for those who do not fit into the image of our favorite people. Let’s step out of our Christian bubble into the crowds of lost people who filter through our day-to-day lives.

And if you happened to meet a young woman named Leslie from Las Vegas, would you tell her Jesus loves her and offer her something to eat?

Dear Lord, give me the ability to love those who are helpless and harassed. Grant me a heart of compassion so that I can point the lost to You, the Good Shepherd. Teach me to step out of my comfort zone to those lost in the crowd. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Additional Resources:
Sandpaper People: Dealing with the Ones Who Rub You the Wrong Way by Mary Southerland

P31 Woman Magazine

Application Steps:
Read Matthew 9. Make a list of all the different types of people Jesus helped that day. Make a second list of people who you know that could use your compassion and love to help point them to the Good Shepherd. Then make an effort to contact them with a measure of Christ’s love.

Reflection Points:
Do I stay in a Christian bubble each day?

Do I think harsh thoughts about people like Leslie?

Do I know someone lost in the crowd that I have ignored?

Power Verses:
James 2:13, “. . . Mercy triumphs over judgment!” (NIV)

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

Mark 1:40-41, “A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" (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)

Colossians 3:12, “Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (NIV)

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Melissa Taylor

“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12(NLT)

Relationships are an important part of life. We begin a relationship with someone from the moment we are born and most of us will continue in relationships of some sort until the day we die. God encourages relationships. The Bible is full of them. It is obvious that from the beginning of time, people need people. Even God Himself said about Adam in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a companion who will help him.” Jesus, too, did not do life alone. He had His family, friends, and disciples to love, help, and encourages Him throughout His life here on earth.

Today, I want to take a look at the different relationships in our lives. I also want to point out the importance of prioritizing them. Friends, if you want to lead a balanced life with purpose, it is crucial to order the relationships in your life God’s way.

Number One: Your Relationship with God. This should be the most important relationship in your life. Don’t say that you don’t have time– you do. We make the time for what is important to us, don’t we? The way to get to know God better is to spend time in His Word. Try spending at least fifteen minutes of uninterrupted time with the Lord every day. More would be better, but do what you can to develop the habit. God’s Word will teach, equip, cheer, encourage, and guide you.

Number Two: Your Relationship with your husband….if you are married, of course. Just like it’s important to spend time with God, it’s also important to make time for your husband. I have found that this relationship is the one that takes the most effort for me. I love my husband dearly, but I also take him for granted the most. It’s easy for me to allow my children, friends, or just busyness to get in the way of time with my husband. Set aside time each morning and evening to communicate with your husband in some way. Hug and kiss often and say “I love you” whenever you get the chance. Let your actions show him and others that you respect and honor him. One thing that my husband and I have started doing again is dating. Just like before we were married, we go out on dates. It takes time, effort, and often money, but it’s worth the investment. If money is tight, create a date at home or go to the park or for a walk together. Whatever it takes, spend time alone together, and make it a weekly habit.

Number Three: Your relationship with your children….if you are a mom. When I became a mom, I did not know what I was in for. I had no idea the extent of sacrifice it would take to raise my children. It’s worth every bit of it too. I once read that kids spell love - T I M E. I believe that with all my heart. God’s Word tells us that children are a gift from Him. We are to treat them like that, a gift. Motherhood is a high calling….possibly the highest we will ever have in our lives. It requires time and special attention. They are only with us for a short time, so let’s make the most of it.

Number Four: Your relationship with others. This includes everyone reading this. Our relationships with other people could include family, friends, business associates, mentors, neighbors and more. These are important, and in order to develop, grow, and nurture these relationships, time is needed. I happen to be blessed with many friends and cherished family members. Although I don’t have time to spend with them each day, I always want them to know how important they are in my life and how much I love them. That takes effort on my part, but what I receive back is priceless. If you find yourself lacking in this area, create special moments with these special people in your life. Make a phone call. Mail a card. Send an email. Invite to lunch. Have a party. Create a “girls’ night out” event. Pray for them.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 tells us that alone we can be attacked and defeated. This says to me, that we need people in our lives. We weren’t meant to go this life alone. It is often someone close to me who reminds me that I’m special when I’m feeling defeated. When I am alone, I often listen to the wrong voice if I’m not careful. The people in my life offer me love, encouragement, and fulfillment that tell me otherwise. I often refer to them as Jesus with skin on. This verse goes on to say that “two can stand back to back and conquer”. Then there is my favorite part. It’s when God is a part of our relationships. “Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Dear Lord, Bless the relationships in my life and help me to prioritize them according to Your perfect plan. Above all, I pray that we would grow closer each day. Help me to know you better so I can better give myself to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Additional Resources:
A Woman's Secret to a Balanced Life by Lysa TerKeurst and Sharon Jaynes

Capture His Heart by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Look at the relationships in your life. Take note as to how much time you are spending on each of them.

Set a date with the people in your life who need your time. Schedule your time with God daily and write it on your daily planner if you have one. Plan a date with your husband and arrange for a sitter if needed. Sit down and listen to your children one on one. Let them know you are interested in them. Plan a fun girls’ night out next month. Maybe go to dinner or a movie or play tennis with a friend. Just remember to keep God’s perspective and balance when making your plans.

Reflection Points:
Do your relationships stress you out? Maybe it’s because they are out of order. Do a check to make sure you are filling up with God before scheduling anything or anyone else into your day.

Does your marriage feel stale, dull, or empty? Think about what attracted you to your husband in the first place. Pray first and then plan some uninterrupted time for you and your spouse. Treat your marriage like it’s the most important relationship to you on this earth. If it’s not, it needs to be.

Do your children get your leftovers? Let them know just how important they are to you and that you are thrilled to be their mom by spending some time with them.

Are you lonely? Pray for relationships in your life, but go to God first. Ask Him to fill you with His Word and to nurture and grow the relationships in your life.

Power Verses:
Psalm 46:10, "Be silent, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” (NLT)

Matthew 19:4-6, "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (NIV)

Psalm 127:3, “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.” (NLT)

1 Thessalonians 5:11, “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” (NLT)

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Hanging On
Susanne Scheppmann

“He said to them, ‘Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you--they are your life.’” Deuteronomy 32:46-47 (NIV)

Do you ever feel like you are just barely hanging on in life? I do. Life circumstances seem to keep me off balance on a regular basis. However, yesterday I learned a lesson about life through bird watching.

I sat mesmerized by a flock of small yellow finches that hung upside down from a white mesh feeding-sock. They clung to the feeder filled with seeds with their tiny toes. With gravity defying agility, the birds continued to peck at the seeds despite their topsy-turvy position.

Occasionally, a strong gust of wind would shake the feeder. The birds ignored the earthquake that jostled their restaurant and calmly continued to peck undisturbed. Then, a new crisis developed. Large, ungainly, brown grackle birds began to dive bomb the finches. They attempted to knock the finches off the feeder. Nevertheless, the finches just clung to the mesh by their tiny toes. They did not allow themselves to be dislodged from their life-sustaining nourishment—the birdseed.

I glanced down at my Bible and thought, “That’s my life giving food. Do I cling to it when I find myself being thrown off balance with the challenges of life?” Unfortunately, I have to admit I don’t always hold on to the Word when times become difficult. It seems easier to just worry and fret over the day’s events instead of trusting God and His Word. Today’s Key Verse clearly instructs us, however, to “take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared . . . They are not just idle words for you—they are your life.”

I pondered these thoughts as I continued to watch the finches. Then the birds illustrated another truth of hanging onto God’s Word. While the baby birds struggled to hang on, the parents would take a few bites and then feed the younger finches the seeds they held in their beaks. This enabled the fledglings to concentrate on keeping their balance on the bird sock.

I recalled how often Christians more mature than myself had offered me the truth of God’s Word when a dilemma ruffled my walk of faith. Their patient support and encouragement enabled me to learn to trust the Hand of God.

So, my feathered friends taught me two lessons. One is to hang on to the truth of God’s Word no matter how much my life is rattled by problems. Moreover, not only do I need to accept help from others whose walk of faith is further along, but I should offer help to others who are swinging frantically on the rope of life’s difficulties.

My friends, lets hang on together and share God’s Word—for It is our life.

Dear Lord, I desire to hang on to Your Word. Make me hungry to read It each day so that my strength is in You. Help me to share Your Word with others who are just hanging on in difficult situations. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Additional Resources:
Breathe by Keri Wyatt Kent

Application Steps:
Read Psalm 119. Highlight all the verses that refer to the benefits of God’s Word in our lives.

Reflection Points:
Do I read my Bible on a regular basis for spiritual nutrition?

Do I encourage others to hold onto God’s Word?

How can I devote more time to study the Bible?

Power Verses:
Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (NIV)

1 Thessalonians 2:13, “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.” (NIV)

2 Thessalonians 2:15, “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” (NIV)

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An Accusing Memory

Wendy Pope

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." Psalm 51:12 (NIV)

Through my experience in talking with and ministering to people, I can confidently say most individuals have an easier time accepting God's forgiveness for their sin than forgiving themselves. For some reason, we believe that we must punish ourselves for the sins we have committed. We imprison ourselves by retreating and withdrawing from all "godly activities" for a period of time until we feel redeemed and worthy to rejoin the "Christian world". We forget the benefit of being forgiven by God is living in freedom. Satan wants us in this predicament - living in the guilt of our sin instead of the freedom of forgiveness. When we hold on to that which God has already forgiven, we become ineffective believers: powerless to promote the gospel of Christ. The words from the treasured hymn, O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing clearly defines what God's forgiveness does for the believer. Revisit the words of the fourth stanza with me:

He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean;
His blood availed for me.

Oh sweet friend, past sin only has the power you give it.

In Psalms, King David realizes the power sin has on his life. He cries out to God in Psalm 51 after his sin of adultery with Bathsheba, and the murder of her husband Uriah. He asks God for exactly what he needs: to be restored.

I don't know what burden you are carrying with you today, but after asking His forgiveness, God does not intend for you to hold on to it any longer. God has already forgiven you and through the Holy Spirit you have the power to forgive yourself and let it go. One of my favorite verses in God's Word is 2 Timothy 1:7. Read it in the King James translation: "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Don't be afraid, be empowered! Read and pray the words of King David from Psalm 51:10-12:

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Don't let the power of an accusing memory steal the joy and freedom of God's forgiveness. Grasp the reality that God loves you and has restored you unto Himself through your confession and acknowledgement of your sin.

Lord, today I acknowledge my need to be free from the accusing memory of past sins. I am asking You to restore me unto Yourself. Hold me close and wipe away all past sins from my memory so that I may live free and testify to Your grace and power. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Additional Resources:

The Confident Woman by Anabel Gillham

Out of the Mouth of Babes by Wendy Pope

Living Life on Purpose by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Locate and sing out loud the words of O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing. Memorize stanza four. Each time the accusing memory of a past sin comes in your mind, sing or recite stanza four.

What keeps me from living in the freedom of forgiveness? How will my life change today, after God's answers my prayer for the day? Is there someone I need to forgive?

Power Verses:
Psalm 32:5, "Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, I will confess my transgressions to the LORD "— and you forgave the guilt of my sin." (NIV)

Psalm 71:20,"Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up." (NIV)

2 Corinthians 5:21, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (NIV)

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Healthy Hearts are Happy Hearts
Lysa TerKeurst

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will you Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:9-11(NIV)

Healthy hearts are happy hearts. We have a special tradition of afternoon treats in our home. Now a nutritionist may or may not agree with me, but I think it’s a most heart healthy habit. Not that our treats are always that healthy, mind you. My kids and I love fresh baked cookies, moist chewy brownies, and other concoctions of all kinds. Sometimes we eat apples, oranges, or some other snack from the healthier regions of the food pyramid. But mostly we like sweet treats.

These treats are “heart” healthy for how they create moments of joy in the midst of busy schedules, projects that are due, activities to attend, and chores to be done. It’s a little burst of comfort that I, as a mom, delight in giving my children. It says, “I love you…I think about ways to make you happy…and I consider it a privilege to enjoy a treat with you.”

I remember as a little girl, my mom making ginger snap cookies for me. Even now, I can close my eyes and picture her rolling little balls of brown dough through the sugar before placing them on the cookie sheet. Then I’d watch as she placed them in the oven. The best part, though, was when mom and I enjoyed the first bite together. They were a connection point for us, and to this day, the smell of ginger makes me smile.

If these little treats made me happy as a child, why do they have to stop? I mean, why is it that I sometimes think motherhood is all about what I do for others and never about the wonderful benefits of treating myself? Sometimes the religious church lady in me creeps in with a wagging finger saying, “Don’t be so worldly! Pull out your Bible and read a verse or two. Get refreshed from the Spirit. Drink the Living Water and you’ll never thirst again. If you are really feeling weary, sing a hymn or two and stop thinking of yourself. It is better to give than receive!” Yikes. So, I whisper back at her, “If you are so into giving these days, I’d gladly let you watch my five kids, run their carpools, clean and cook for me while I go sit in the tub and sing hymns and reflect on spiritual insights.”

Yes, I think it is the best kind of refreshment to let the Lord fill you. But, just like me giving treats to my kids makes me happy, I think our Heavenly Father would like for us to receive things that make us happy as a treat from Him.

There has been so much talk about the difference between joy and happiness in the Christian world that we tend to shy away from happiness. Now granted, ginger snaps can’t provide me with lasting joy, but they sure can lighten a heavy moment. So, why not make a list of things that really make you feel happy. Then the next time you are feeling a little drained, put a care package together for yourself and thank God for His sweet treats.

Thank you, God, for simple treats that make me happy. They are a gift from You. Help me give myself permission to receive them as a simple reason to give You thanks and to make my heart happy.

Additional Resources:
The Bathtub is Overflowing but I Feel Drained

P31 Woman Magazine

Application Steps:
Here are some of the things on my sweet treats care package list as an idea. Think about what you really want and make up your own package:

1. Cinnamon Altoids Gum
2. Black gel pen-medium point
3. A candle that smells of the season
4. New pair of white socks
5. Lemon flavored Propel
6. Brownies from a box mix
7. Dryer sheets-fresh spring scent
8. Inspirational CD
9. Cup of White Chocolate Mocha, skim, no whip, no foam, extra hot

If you feel like it, share your sweet treats with others. Sharing the experience can make it that much more enjoyable!

Reflection Points:
What are some simple treats that make your heart happy?

What small gifts of happiness has God allowed you to experience recently?

Do you acknowledge them as gifts from your Heavenly Father?

God is a parent who loves to give gifts to His daughters. How has God taught you about being His child?

Power Verses:
James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 2:25-26, “For without him, who can eat of find enjoyment? To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” (NIV)

Proverbs 15:13, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful.” (NIV)

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Thanking God for Tests
Glynnis Whitwer

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2-3 (NIV)

My son sauntered from his room, proudly announcing he was ready for his test the next day. “I’ve studied all my notes, and I’m gonna ace that test,” he proclaimed.

“Great!” I replied. “Grab your notes and let me give you a little quiz.”

We settled down at the kitchen table and I proceeded to ask questions. One question after another was met with a shaky answer, most of them wrong. With his inadequate preparation revealed, he headed back to his room, notes in hand. After another period of study, he did indeed sail through the questions.

The pop quiz I gave made my son very uncomfortable. He was sad that he wasn’t ready, and sadder that he had to go back and study harder. My intent was certainly not to hurt his feelings, but to reveal the weak areas of his study so he could tighten the gaps and be ready for the real test.

Just as I tested my son, God tests me. He often puts me in uncomfortable positions to uncover weak areas. God doesn’t point out my weakness to take advantage of me. Instead, His testing is to reveal areas that need work, so I will be strong enough to persevere and eventually succeed in what He’s called me to do.

God uses all kinds of life situations to test us. Testing can take the form of difficult people in our lives, times of waiting, or a challenge to step outside our comfort zone to be obedient. Will we avoid the situation? Will we suffer through it and quit because it’s too hard? Or will we persevere and overcome?

We might think God gets frustrated with us when we “fail” a test. I sometimes wonder if God wants to give up on me when I repeat the same mistakes. But just because my son didn’t know the answers on our mini-quiz didn’t mean I would give up on him. Just the opposite! I wanted him to succeed and was willing to give him test after test to make sure he was ready.

God’s testing can be to prepare us for something more important, and often more difficult. He wants to see if we can sustain the pressure in preparation for something big. So, the next time your Heavenly Father calls you up for a pop-quiz, consider His desire to see you succeed. If a weakness is revealed, thank Him for helping you move to the next level by strengthening you.

Precious Lord, thank You for caring enough about my character and life to test me. Help me to see Your testing as a sign of Your love, and to be thankful for it. I pray for strength through Your Holy Spirit to walk in obedience and persevere. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Additional Resources:
What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

The P31 Woman Magazine

Application Steps:
Identify one difficult situation in your life. Determine to see it as a test of your faith. Ask God for strength to persevere.

Reflection Points:
Read Deuteronomy 8:1-5. What testing did the Lord put upon the Israelites? According to the Scripture, what was God’s purpose for this testing?

What life situations have you recently experienced that might have been a time of testing? Can you see God’s purpose in this testing?

Was a personal weakness revealed? If so, how do you think God wants you to address this weakness?

Power Verses:
Luke 8:13, “Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.” (NIV)

1 Corinthians 3:12-13, “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work.” (NIV)

Exodus 16:4, “Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.” (NIV)

Deuteronomy 8:2, “Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.” (NIV)

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