The Rescuer
Tracie Miles

“They cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent forth his word and healed them, he rescued them from the grave.” Psalm 107:19-20 (NIV)

As I was searching for a box in the attic, my 18 month old toddler slipped through a small hole in the 2nd story attic floor and landed in the garage about 15 feet below. Unfortunately that wasn’t the only time one of her injuries would land us in the emergency room in the years to come. But despite the fear and concern that her accidents have caused us over the years, God has used those incidences to show me not only His infinite love and protection, but also His power to perform miracles.

When my daughter fell from that 2nd story attic, disappearing through a hole which I was unaware of, I screamed and frantically rushed to where she had been standing. With horror, my heart sunk and fear filled every bone in my body as I helplessly watched her plunging to the hard concrete floor below. But her descent came to a halt with an unexplainable miracle. With my own eyes, I saw my baby gently bounce off of the hard concrete floor of the garage. It was as if she had landed on a big fluffy pillow of soft cotton, and just bounced off of it like a little feather.

Moments later after retrieving her from the garage floor, I realized she had a small bump on her forehead, but not a scratch, laceration, serious bruise, concussion or broken bone in her tiny little fragile body. The doctors could not logically or medically explain this phenomenon. They even questioned my husband and I as to whether or not she had really fallen 15 feet, especially since by the time we arrived in the emergency room, she had stopped crying and was acting like a normal happy baby at a routine checkup.

There is no other explanation for this miracle than God’s almighty hand at work. God’s mercy was with my child that day, and something besides the cold, hard concrete floor broke her fall. You see, I believe in my heart, that the strong and powerful hands of an almighty but gentle God, reached down at that exact moment in time and rescued her from imminent pain and possible death. This was God’s way of physically rescuing her and saving her from death, but it was a reminder to me that He is the ultimate rescuer of life.

When I accepted Jesus as my Savior, I too was rescued by God. Rescued from death, from sin, from the emotional suffering of past mistakes, from the pain of trying to live life on my own and from spending an eternity apart from His love.

Several years ago, the Christian group NewSong sang a song called Arise, My Love, which is a powerful song about the risen Savior. It serves as a reminder tome of what we were rescued from when He arose. The chorus says: “Sin – where are your shackles?; Death – where is your sting? Hell – has been defeated! The grave could not hold the King.” The risen savior rescued us from those things, and we are victorious through our King!

If you are living a life apart from God; falling into sin, pain, sorrow, frustration, despair, or even just the overwhelming demands of life – you need a rescuer! Simply lift up your arms, seek Him with your full heart, and lay those problems at His feet. No sooner than your prayers fill the air, will He will throw down a life raft of love, mercy, protection, provision and compassion.

Dear Lord, please rescue me. Help me to see You at work in my life, and understand how I can glorify You through these circumstances. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Reinventing Your Rainbow by Tracie Miles

Help rescue a child through Compassion International

Application Steps:
Write down two things in your life which you would like God to rescue you from.
Pray about them then keep a prayer journal of how you see God working in these areas.

Are there problems that I have been trying to handle myself?

Have I turned to God for answers, or sought answers from other measures?

Power Verses:
Psalm 18:17, “He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.” (NIV)

Psalm 81:6, "I took the world off your shoulders, freed you from a life of hard labor. You called to me in your pain; I got you out of a bad place..." (MSG)

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Pursuing Jesus Above All
Micca Monda Campbell

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirst for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalms 63:1 (NIV)

There is a tale of an elderly woman in the church who served the Lord for years. Instead of seeking the help of others, she did most of the work herself. She was head of women’s ministry, taught Sunday school, sung in the choir, was on the prayer team, and counseled the pastor on a regular basis. She was tired, worn out, and longed for heaven. Yet, because there was still so much work for her to do, she feared that she would never die. Eventually she did die. I guess God wanted His job back.

Nevertheless, from the perspective of most, today’s successful leaders, whether in the Christian world or secular, are much like this woman.

Somewhere between her calling and service to God she took over, rushed ahead, and set her own agenda. It happens to the best of us. In our service to God we can easily slip into pursuing ministry instead of pursuing Jesus, and miss the purpose of our existence. The same is true in every facet of our lives. The pursuit of happiness, opportunity, or even being a good parent, can get in the way of simply pursuing Jesus.

What are you pursuing? What is it that you really want? Is it a successful career that you covet? Is it to be a musician, a doctor, or to author a book? Maybe it’s a spouse you’re dreaming of, or the desire to be a mom that you’re longing for. Whatever your dream is, it’s a God-given dream. In addition to giving you the dream, God has also given you what it takes to make your dream come true. We don’t arrive at our dreams by our own efforts, nor can we make them come true all by ourselves. We get there by pursuing God.

I have found in my own life and ministry that when God reigns in my heart, blessings and opportunities pour down faster than I can make them happen myself. The best way to get where you’re going is to surrender your dreams to God.

We are always in a hurry. God never is. While He has given us the vision of what we are to become, it may not be a reality in us yet. We have to let God work in our lives until we are ready. The dream is not what needs shaping. It’s us. God often prepares us for our dreams through adversity in our lives.

Don’t be discouraged if your dream seems unreachable. No matter what your circumstances are, God is at work shaping and preparing you for it. You and I may achieve some sort of success by our own pursuit, but it will never satisfy us like pursuing Jesus and waiting on Him to bring our dreams to pass.

When God alone is our true treasure, reward, and prize; when He is all we long for, seek after, love and adore, then He gives us the desires of our hearts. Only then are we ready to fulfill our purpose. No other person or thing can satisfy us like Jesus or prepare us for our God-given dreams. What are you pursuing?

Dear Lord, You know the dream I have tucked away in my heart. You know how I’ve longed for it to become a reality. I trust You today. I give You permission to work in my life preparing me for that dream. While You work, I will simply pursue You and be satisfied until my dream is a reality. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Join us for more Everyday Life encouragement

Do you know Him?

The Air I Breathe by Louie Giglio

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Today give God permission to shape you for His purposes. Determine to pursue Him instead of your dream. Then, as God reigns in your life, watch how He pours down blessings and opportunities that can only come from Him.

Are you ready to fulfill your purpose in life or does God still have some work to do?

Are you consumed with pursuing opportunity or Jesus?

Who will accomplish your dream faster - you or God?

Power Verses:
Psalm 36:5, “Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.” (NIV)

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

Psalm 63:3 “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” (NIV)

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Order Me
Zoë Elmore

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God.” Matthew 6:33 (NIV)

While visiting a friend’s church, several men and women gave an update on their recent mission’s trip. There were the usual stories of making new friends, helping out with building projects and eating new and unusual foods. I seem to remember someone saying that they actually developed a taste for locust. Yikes, I’m not sure my taste buds will ever be ready for that. As the stories continued there were stories on how this culture practices putting the needs of others before themselves and one thing in particular caught my attention. In greeting one another, the tradition of this culture is to reply with one word “Mondi” when translated it means “order me.”

Wow, talk about loving your neighbor as yourself! Sadly, I’m not sure our culture has much room for that attitude today. As I look all around my neighborhood and community I see people so obsessed with chasing the next big deal in order to quench the desire for bigger and better stuff – so much so that people rarely even speak to one another face to face. Just imagine the difference it would make in all our lives if we had this same attitude of putting one another’s needs before ourselves.

This attitude of “order me” is such a clear picture of complete surrender to Christ. It’s a reminder that my relationship with Him is so much more than simply having my list of needs and greeds met. As I enter His presence with awe and reverence waiting to receive His ordered instructions for my day, I stay out of the trap of only seeking God’s hand without ever seeking His face. It’s in those quiet moments when I’m listening more than I’m talking, I not only experience God’s perfect provision; but I come one step closer to having my dreams fulfilled. Perhaps the old saying is really true, ‘God gave you two ears and one mouth, you should listen twice as much as you speak.”

Over the last few years the Lord has led me to develop and deepen my quiet time and to keep Christ first in all things. I periodically I ask myself the following questions:

· What things does the Lord have planned for me that will further His kingdom?

· Are there things is He asking me to put aside for now?

· Who does the Lord want me to encourage today?

· What can I give someone today that will bless them and meet a need?

I’ll never know the answer to these questions if I enter His presence with the attitude of me, my and mine. If you’re ready to refresh your spiritual life, I encourage you to adopt the attitude of “order me, Lord.”

Dear Lord, search my heart and show me the places I’ve yet to surrender to you. My desire to put you fist in all things and to serve you with gladness in every area of my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

Listen to Today’s Radio Show

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

Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer

Application Steps:
Study the lives of Abraham, Moses, Samuel or Paul; write down the verses that demonstrate their obedience in keeping the Lord first in their lives.

What areas of your life do you need to bring under the Lord’s control?
What is keeping you from total surrender?
Begin your day by asking the Lord to “order me” for your good and His glory.

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 5”15, “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (NIV)

Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. “(NIV)

Ephesians 4:1-2, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (NIV)

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Quiet Time
Luann Prater

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." Mark 6:31 (NIV)

I was on my way to work when an ambulance raced past me. The road was a two lane highway, so it startled me to see it blow by. Soon I heard several sirens and saw the brake lights tapping on the car in front of me. A sheriff was at the crossroads ahead detouring everyone into the country. He told us the road would be shut down for quite some time because of the terrible wreck ahead. My stomach knotted.

Later that morning, the phone rang; my colleague answered and said, “No! Don’t tell me that!” Norma was traveling with a group of teenagers from her church on their way to camp when a driver fell asleep, crossed the center line and hit them head on. Norma didn’t make it. Everyone said she was a fine Christian woman and only 60 years old. The papers said she had just returned from a mission trip with the teens three weeks earlier and was always ready to help those in need.

That night I couldn’t stop thinking about Norma. I didn’t know her, but her life made a final impact on mine. I wonder how she spent her last morning? People that barely knew her gave witness that she was a godly lady. So how did they know that? In Exodus 34:29 the Bible gives us a clue. It reads: “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.”

Norma must have spent quiet time with the Lord because she was radiant with God’s love. It is not something you can fake. It is not something you can imitate. There is only one way to illuminate God to others, spend time with him. That doesn’t mean feverishly working on programs at church, or feeding the poor, or volunteering for one more project. All of those things are necessary and God uses them as tools to shape and mold us, but before we can give his love to others…we must get alone with God.

Sometimes it is hard to get away from the noise and the clutter of everyday life. We mean to make time, but it seems the clock won’t cooperate. Like the key verse says, often we don’t even take the time to eat. Can you find a quiet place: In the waiting room at a doctor’s office? Stopped in a traffic jam? In the morning before anyone else is up? On a plane? Taking a walk? Watching your children play? On a coffee break? Turning off the TV? James 4:8 tells us, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”

Last year we started a new tradition. We gave everyone in our family the same devotional book. On any given day we know that our family may be reading the same passage from God. There is something unifying about that. This year I plan to give out P31’s new devotional book.

There is no doubt about it…Norma radiated God’s love to others because she spent time with Him. The Great Healer has written a prescription for your hurried life and weary soul: Quiet time with Him, everyday.

Dear Lord, you know the pace we keep. Teach us to utilize unsuspecting moments in quiet time with you. Give us the desire to come near to you. May our lives reflect your radiance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
God’s Purpose for Every Woman, Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olsen, General Editors

Do you know Him?

P31 Woman Magazine

Application Steps:
Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier and GET UP! Read a passage and talk to the Lord before your hectic life begins.

What robs your time?

How can you find quiet moments throughout your day?

Who can hold you accountable in this walk of quiet time?

Power Verses:
Hebrews 10:22, “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…” (NIV)

Matthew 4:4, “Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (NIV)

Mark 4:34, “But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.” (NIV)

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A Fresh Perspective
Melissa Taylor

“Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.” Psalm 37:5 (NLT)

One of the best ways to bring me down is to point out my inadequacies. Lately these inadequate feelings have come in the areas of motherhood and writing.

Are you one of those mothers guilty of believing it would get easier when all of your precious babies were out of diapers ... could tie their own shoes ... could dress themselves ... work or play independently ... drive a car? Admittedly, I am. What was I thinking? Parenting today is harder than ever, and it seems to get more complicated with every passing year. Lately, I have found myself with more questions than answers. I have been feeling defeated and inadequate as a mother.

Writing has also left me feeling like I just don’t measure up. I have spent four years writing devotions and messages in hopes to inspire and encourage others. So why then, as I try desperately to expand my borders and take a message to a greater level to write a book, is it like I’ve never written a single sentence? I have the ideas. The message is in my heart. I’ve prayed it, lived it, and I have a desire to write. But I lack motivation and confidence. Where are the words I need to put on the paper? I need help because I feel extremely inadequate.

I am in the middle of a great book right now called What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst. In the Bible study section of chapter six, she points out two familiar verses. Even though these verses are not new to me, today they have taken root in my heart in a new way. Both of these are listed as today’s key verses. Let’s take a moment to examine them.

The first verse is Psalm 37:5: “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.” I have to ask myself, Have I committed it all to the Lord---I mean everything? Do I wake each day saying, “Lord, these kids are yours, this book is yours—may Your will be done in them all?” This verse tells me that I must. It’s not an option if I want His help…and I do! And when I commit it to Him and trust Him, His Word says He will help me. Now where is the inadequacy in that? (I’m smiling as I write because in God there is no inadequacy.) The inadequacy in me disappears when I claim this verse. The Lord’s help is mine to be had. I just have to commit and trust.

The next verse is Proverbs 16:3: “Commit your work to the Lord, and then your plans will succeed.” Again there are not options here for success. Committing my plans to the Lord is a must. When I do, then I experience true success, not feelings of inadequacy.

Once again, God’s Word has given me a fresh perspective in life when my circumstances seemed bleak. We are never guaranteed an easy life, safe travel, problem-free day, perfect kids, or a published book. However, we are guaranteed help from God and success His way when we commit every detail of our lives to Him.

No matter what you are facing today, claim today’s key verses. Let go of any inadequate feelings and turn those areas over to the only One who can truly help you. Trust the Lord with everything.

Dear Lord, Today I commit ________________ to You. Help me to trust You with the details of my everyday life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

God’s Purpose for Every Woman
, Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olsen, General Editors

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
In your journal, write down two things you are feeling inadequate about. Copy today’s verses and claim them over these areas in your life.

Is there anything in your life that you are struggling with?

Have you committed everything you do to the Lord?

Power Verses:
Psalm 55:22, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” (NIV)

Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” (NIV)

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Karen Ehman

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. II Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV)

I have an ugly scar on my left knee. I got it one cold, crisp afternoon when I was about ten years old. I fell while ice skating on a bumpy, makeshift pond in our front yard. The rough homemade ice caught my knee taking out a huge chunk of flesh. Blood began to soak through my torn snow pants as I sobbed and hobbled back home on my wobbly skates. Although it’s been over 30 years since that chilly and painful day, I still have a scar on my left knee. That, however, is not my only blemish. I have a matching scar on my right knee. It’s from sledding down a steep hill and crashing smack into a tree. Then there’s the round little scar on my forehead from the summer of 1978 when I had the chicken pox. If only I had believed that universal mother’s warning…”If you pick them, you will scar.”

Besides these physical scars from my past, I also have emotional wounds that run deep. They are painful memories of my youth, or seemingly healed wounds from wrong choices I’ve made. It’s easy to cover our physical scars and hide them from the outside world. We can buy over-the-counter gel that is supposed to make our flesh scars disappear; and plastic surgery can remove the more dire scars. But what do we do with our emotional scars?

After years of pretending they didn’t exist and making a concerted effort to conceal them from others, I came across today’s verse. What an awakening! The bumps and bruises I’ve experienced have become part of who I am. However ugly or painful they may be, they can be redeemed and even used by God. He doesn’t want me to ignore the scorched places in my heart and past. Nor does He want me to run from them. He wants to comfort me in the midst of them. Then, when I am able, He wants me to do the same for others.

It never ceases to amaze me how God constantly outsmarts Satan. While the enemy loves to trip us up and make us fall, God desires that we walk in a way that honors Him and makes His name known. Rather than letting the pains and wrong choices of our past defeat us, rendering us unfit for God’s service, God will make use of our mistakes and our less-than-perfect circumstances. He can take our willingness to open up about them, being real rather than plastic, to encourage a weary traveler along life’s journey. If we let Him, our forgiving and patient Lord will turn our ugly scars into beautiful stars!

Dear Lord, I admit that I have scars in my life. Rather than opting for a quick fix, I want desperately to let You heal my scars and cleanse my sin. Take my life and let it be something that is useful in Your kingdom. May others be warned by my mistakes and prompted to prayer by my decisions. Turn my scars to stars that will shine brightly for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst

Your Scars are Beautiful to God by Sharon Jaynes

Do You Know Him?

Application Steps:
In your journal, list the events in your life that have been less-than-lovely. Look over the list. Are there events that still require action from you? Any confessions you need to make or someone’s forgiveness you should seek? Obey God’s promptings about these issues.

If you have any especially painful issues that you must deal with, don’t go it alone. Seek the advice of a trusted biblical counselor or godly mentor. Commit to making contact with such a person today.

Have you ever known a person who took a dire situation and, with God’s help, turned it around and made it a useful tool for His kingdom?

What would be the outcome if we chose not to confess our sins or talk about our scars?

Power Verses:
I John 1:8-10 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 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.” (NIV)

Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (NIV)

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The Perfect Fit
Janet Perez Eckles, She Speaks Conference Graduate

"O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways." Psalm 139:1-3 (NIV)

So why wouldn’t I jump at the chance to head to the mall when a great sale is calling my name? I imagine most folks would resist a shopping trip when blindness sets in, but not me. A while back, my dear friend Laura called. "I’ll pick you up early." Excitement splashed through her words. "There’s a great sale going on and we don’t want to miss it."

Although we both love a bargain, Laura knows unique adventure is in store when shopping with a blind friend. Some incidents make our cheeks burn with embarrassment; others spark roars of laughter. Either way, nothing prevents us from joining the army of bargain shoppers. Anticipating great deals sure to make my budget smile, I clutched my friend’s arm and we squeezed through aisles to begin our hunt. The word "sale" added to the excitement and ignited our itch to conquer.

Laura tugged at my arm. "Look…the perfect outfit for you."

"What color is it?"

"Black and red, your colors." She placed it in my hands. "And it’s on sale!"

I felt the fabric, shape, and style. Then with a clear image in my head, I smiled and added the item to the "try on" pile. Once in the dressing room, Laura reassured me, "It has to fit you. The price is unbelievable." I slipped it on halfway and something unexpected happened. It got stuck. "Hmm… a little tight," my muffled voice begged from inside this garment. With raised arms, I struggled to squeeze my torso through.

"Keep trying. It will look great on you." Laura pulled at the sides.

My attempts to remain calm threatened to vanish with my arms locked up in the air, unable to move one inch further. "Now what do I do?"

"It’s got to fit…it’s your size!" Laura insisted. "Let me help you." She tugged as I wiggled and strained.

"I really think I need a bigger size," I pleaded, feeling worn out by the struggle. I longed to be double-jointed.

"Remember…no pain, no gain," Laura announced. And with all her might, she gave one last yank. "There…it fits perfectly!"

I stared blankly, arms limp to my sides. They stung from the fabric that scraped my skin raw. I stood motionless from fatigue. Her comments of praise eluded me. My concentration drifted and I coveted Houdini’s ability to get back out of this garment.

"It looks great, Janet. Turn around." I felt her hand on the back. "Oh, there’s a zipper. I didn’t see it before. You have to really look for it."

"A zipper? A zipper?" I thought. What a relief!

The same painful struggle invaded my world when I faced my blindness. Feeling lost and destroyed by its horrifying grip, I had crafted my own solutions and answers, thinking they’d be a good fit.

The struggle began. I tugged, yanked and pulled to find a fitting answer for my anguish. I grew out of breath as the battle continued and anxiety squeezed at my heart and frustration left it raw. Then, when ready to give up, I stepped into the closet of my soul only to find the second hand rags of despair and frustration. But when I opened the zipper of my heart, I invited Christ into my life, and right away breathed relief from my pain.

His shining faithfulness, compassion and guidance offered a perfect garment for my soul. This gift, garnished with the accessories of His trustworthy promises, completed the wardrobe of a new life; one rich with newfound freedom. This garment with the reassurance that He created me and thus knew what will fit me. He knew the size of my pain, the color of my frustration, the fabric of my fears, and the fashion of my insecurities.

Once I opened the zipper of my heart to Him, the size of my problems and His sovereign provision were a perfect fit. No more struggling to force my own solutions. Instead, when facing difficulties, I dash to the sale rack of His faithfulness, forgiveness and provision. And to my delight, the price tag always reads "already paid for."

Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your love that covers all my pain. Thank you for knowing the intensity of my struggles and for having the perfect response. May I seek Your ways rather than my own. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

The Tale of Three Trees retold by Angela Elwell Hunt

Shaped with Purpose by Renee Swope

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Read and consider God’s promise in Isaiah 41:10.

Consider the times you tried to bring about your own solutions. How did that work for you?

Why does He instruct us to come to Him when we’re weary and overburdened? See Matthew 11:28.

In what ways do we stand in the way of God solving our problems?

Power Versus
Mark 10:27, "Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."

Isaiah 5:8-9, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."

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Micca Monda Campbell

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10 (NIV)

“Mom, when did you first begin to love me?” asked my youngest son. I was quite surprised by his question and had to ponder if for a moment. Then, I replied. “I first loved you when dad and I began to talk about having a baby.” Parker reacted with confusion. “But that was way before I was born.”

“That’s right.” I said. “Then, when I carried you in my tummy, my love for you grew stronger.”

“It did?” he questioned with wonder. “Yes it did, and when you were born and placed in my arms, I loved you even more!”

“Did your love for me rub off a little the first time I did something wrong?”

“Not a chance! There is nothing you could ever do that would make me stop loving you.” I reassured him. With a big smile on his face, he leaped into my arms and hugged me tight.

As I considered our conversation, I realized that as a child of God I’ve had those same questions. “When did you first love me, Lord?”

“Long before you were ever born I determined to love you.” God whispered to my heart.

“Well, what about the bad things I do. Do they make you love me less?” I asked.

“Not a chance! No sin is strong enough to deter my love for you.” God reassured me. I smiled and whispered back. “I love you, too, Lord.”

You may be wondering how God could love you despite the wrong things you’ve done. It’s simple. God sent Jesus, His Son, to earth to save those who were trapped in sin. When we tell God we are sorry for our sins and accept Christ’s death on the cross as payment for our wrongdoings, then there is no longer anything between you and God.

God’s love is hard to comprehend. It has no beginning and no end, and it’s greater than our sin. Therefore, there is nothing you and I can do that will separate us from God’s love. He has loved you and me from the beginning and His love remains forever consistent and committed no matter what.

Dear Lord, I’m in awe of the fact that You loved me before I was born, and that nothing I do can cancel Your love for me. Your love is truly amazing. Thank you for loving me completely. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Micca Campbell’s Testimony on DVD

Women’s Devotional Bible (NIV)

Application Steps:
Meet God in prayer. In your mind’s eye, climb into your heavenly Father’s lap and ask Him to love on you. While there, read scripture verses that pertain to His love for you.

Do you ever question God’s love for you?

Do you realize that there is nothing you can do that will separate you from God’s love?

Compare God’s love for you to the backdrop of the cross.

Power Verses:
Psalm 36:5, “Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.” (NIV)

Jeremiah 31:3, “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (NIV)

Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (NIV)

Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (NIV)

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Exit, Please?
Wendy Pope

“Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God." Exodus 2:23-24(NLT)

Years passed. The Scriptures say close to forty years went by. The Israelites must have thought after all those years that their crying had fallen on deaf ears. Was the Lord listening? Were they crying in vain?

Do you ever feel that way? You have asked God to deliver you from something, and it seems as though God has not heard your cries of deliverance. Let me encourage you dear one, He does not ignore the cries of His people. He has not ignored your cries. Just as God had a sovereign plan designed to free His people from slavery, He has a sovereign plan to free you from that which holds you captive.

The cries of the Israelites were heard and answered in Exodus chapter 13. Finally, they were going to be free from the bondage of slavery to the Egyptians. Don't you know they were thrilled beyond words? Life in total freedom was just over the horizon! However, the plan for deliverance from Pharaoh led them straight from Egypt to the desert. Funny how God works, isn't it? The desert was God's idea of freedom.

Isaiah the prophet tells us in chapter 55 that God's ways and thoughts are higher than our ways and thoughts. I do not know about you, but that gives me great comfort. Exodus 13:17 demonstrates this concept, "When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt’” (NIV). I really like short cuts, but God thought the short cut out of Egypt was not the best route. He was even gracious enough to explain His reasoning.

God wants to deliver us from our bondage, but many times we want the easy way out... a short cut: "Get me out of this mess Lord, but please don't let the way out cause me any pain or inconvenience." God knows our weaknesses. He knows how easily we would slip back into bondage if we faced adversity in the easy way out. In His great wisdom and sovereignty His plan for the exodus of our bondage is not the quick, easy way. He will lead us out through a path that will create a dependency on Him. This path will also strengthen our relationship with Him, give us a renewed assurance of our faith, and equip us for a possible slip back into the pit. Read in Exodus verses 18-19, "So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle." Did you catch that last part about being armed for battle?

The way out of bondage is sure but not always swift. In some situations God shows His great mercy and the exit is quick – we’re left in awe by His power. In other situations, God chooses to take us by the desert road to strengthen us. Two things are certain no matter the route: victory for us and glory for our God.

Dear Lord, thank You for not ignoring the cries of Your people. I realize through Your Spirit in me that I can wait on Your perfect deliverance from my current Egypt. I can't wait to celebrate the victory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

The Character of God: Understanding His Heart for Us by Brian T. Anderson and Glynnis Whitwer

31 Days of Prayer by Ruth Myers

Application Steps:
Read aloud the power verses listed below. Record them on index cards and place them in various rooms of your house. Read aloud Miriam's victory song in Exodus 15

Ask the Lord what He wants you learn from your current situation.
How have you seen yourself being "armed for battle?"

Power Verses:
Isaiah 42:6-7, "’I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.’” (NIV)

Isaiah 43:18-19, "’Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.’” (NIV)

Isaiah 61:1, "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners." (NIV)

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Being Quiet
Zoë Elmore

“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. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” Colossians 1:9-12 (NIV)

Our son came home from school and announced that he would not be attending the college he’d planned but would instead be attending a school in another state. There wasn’t anything we could say or do to change his mind. Wanting to thoroughly investigate this option, we invited the representative from the out-of-state school to our home in order to gather the information necessary to prayerfully advise our son.

With all the facts on the table my husband and I spent much of the next two days in prayer and concluded that it would be in our son’s best interest to return to the college plans already in progress. After a family discussion which consisted of my husband and me trying to put him back on track, Josh stormed out of the room and slammed his bedroom door behind him. For the next twelve months Josh barely looked in our direction and only grunted when he couldn’t answer us with a nod.

I cried out to the Lord for wisdom and guidance, and He whispered, Be quiet and trust me to work in your child’s heart.

I thought, Excuse me, Lord, I’m sure I misunderstood You. You can’t possibly expect me to keep silent on this important matter!?

So I decided to stop reigning down wisdom from the top of “Mom Mountain.” I spent the next twelve months praying through and studying today’s verses. I inserted Josh’s name in each verse and read them many times each day, sometimes to myself and other times out loud. During that year the Lord expanded and multiplied the truths and lessons contained in these verses. I experienced a deepening in my relationship with God while I witnessed a softening in our son’s heart.

Before we knew it, we were moving our son into his college dorm room. Despite the evidence of a softened heart, Josh was clearly still angry with us as we left him that day on the college campus. Months passed and we heard very little from our son. I continued to study and pray through these verses.

One afternoon our son unexpectedly came home and joined me on the back porch. He took my hands in his and with tears streaming down his face said, “Mom, I have to ask your forgiveness for my attitude and behavior this last year. While I’ve been at college, I’ve been part of a college ministry and the Lord has opened my eyes to the glorious relationship I can have with Him. Mom, I can’t thank you enough for praying me through these last few months without preaching to me. You allowed the Lord to show me Himself who He is. I’m so grateful that you and Dad continued to love me when I was so angry. I would have never met the godly people at my school if I had disobeyed you.”

Now that is a stand-in-your-chair-and-praise-God-moment if I’ve ever heard one, and I did just that! When I think about that year of quiet desperation, I’m reminded of the spiritual lessons I learned and how they remain an important step in my pursuit of a deepening relationship with my sweet Jesus. I learned to go to the throne instead of the phone for my peace and comfort.

If you find yourself in a desperate place, I hope you will choose to quiet yourself before the Lord in order to study and pray through His Word. In doing so you will receive knowledge of His will, wisdom and understanding for your spirit, and reassurance in place of your desperation.

Dear Lord, thank You for meeting me and teaching me in my quiet desperation. I praise Your name for the miraculous work You have done in my heart and in the life of my son. Only You can change a heart. You deserve all praise and glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Submit a prayer request or praise report

He Speaks to Me by Priscilla Shirer

God’s Purpose for Every Woman, Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olsen, General Editors

Application Steps:
Study your Bible on the topic of being alone with God.

Write your own prayer to God praising Him for His willingness to comfort and provide for us in our times of desperation.

If you are facing a desperate time in your life right now, what can you do in order to hear from God more clearly?

If the Lord asks you to be quiet in order to work in the life of a loved one, how quickly will you obey?

Power Verses:
Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (NIV)

Isaiah 50:4. “The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.” (NIV)

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Practice Makes Perfect
Marybeth Whalen

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48 (NIV)

I don’t know about you, but this verse has always made me nervous. I mean only Jesus is perfect, right? Perfection is impossible this side of heaven, right? So, why did God include this verse? I recently stumbled upon a new perspective for this verse that helped me to see it in a different, more hopeful light.

Perfection simply means “to seek union with God.” As we chase after Him with all our hearts, forming a relationship that is dependent upon Him, we are pursuing perfection. The closer we grow to Him, the more perfect we become. The more time we spend communing with Him, the closer we are to His image—the image of perfection. The trouble is that we interject our own insecurities into that verse. We know we can’t be perfect. We have tried it but it hasn’t worked. And so, we just dismiss that verse with a huff. “That is simply asking too much,” we tell God and give up before we have even begun.

Yet God is not asking anything more than to begin walking with Him, to pursue a relationship with Him, and to love Him more each day. The more we delight in Him, the more our desires line up with His. (Psalm 37:3-4) And the more our desires line up with His, the more perfect our hearts and minds become. We complicate what is actually simple.

Hosea 11:3 says, “’It was I who taught [my children] to walk.’” Just as parents teach their children to walk, God is allowing us as His children the time to practice our steps as we progress a bit more each day. He expects us to stumble along the way. Psalm 37:24, says, “Though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” I take great comfort in knowing that He knows I will surely stumble.

Whether I stumble or fall is not the point. The point is that I am walking, one baby step at a time, with Him. I have a firm grasp on His hand, and I have let go of the things of this world that keep me from moving forward. The more I do this, the more perfect I become; the more I am molded into His perfect image. When you put it like that, perfection seems doable. It even seems likely. The Bible says I can do everything through Him, who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13). I am counting on that Truth as I practice walking with Him day by day, getting closer to perfect with each step I take.

Dear Lord, I desperately want to be perfect and to please You. I am learning that You make me perfect as I draw close to You. Help me to be intentional about doing this day by day. I love You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

i am not but i know I AM
by Louie Giglio

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Application Steps:
Is there something that stands between you and God— something that is keeping you from walking with Him on a consistent basis? Take whatever steps necessary to remove any barriers from your life.

What is your image of perfection? Do you feel perfection is impossible? How has your perspective been changed or challenged?

Power Verses:
Hosea 11:4, “’I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.’” (NIV)

Jeremiah 31:3, “’I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.’” (NIV)

II Corinthians 13:11, “Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” (NIV)

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While You Are Sleeping
Renee Swope

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

Startled by silence, I sat up in bed so I could see the neon red lights that told me it was three in the morning, time to feed the baby. Andrew hadn’t made a sound. Was something wrong? Or could he be sleeping through the night? I wavered between panic and joy as I felt my way down the hall to the nursery and leaned over Andrew’s crib. I listened for the sweet sound of his breathing and carefully rested my hand on his tiny chest to feel the gentle rhythm of its rising and falling.

Moonlight slipped through the blinds helping me to see that he was perfectly fine. Most sane mothers would have gone back to bed. But not me, I stood there for a while watching my child sleep. The love and joy that I felt at that moment was almost overwhelming. How could I love someone so much? My heart longed just to be near this little guy who set my days in motion with his cries and smiles.

Andrew developed a routine of sleeping through the night soon after, yet I would listen for his cries hoping I would have a good excuse to check on him. While he was sleeping, I’d sneak into his room just because I wanted to be with him. Then I’d tiptoe into my older son Joshua’s room, and watch him slumber. As I looked at their faces, I’d dream of the little guys God was shaping them into. I’d whisper prayers for them to know Jesus in a personal way. I’d ask God to calm their fears, to fulfill their dreams, and to establish their steps to walk in His ways and not in the paths the world would pave for them.

There are still many nights that I sneak into to watch my children while they are sleeping, simply because I want to be with them. They aren’t doing anything to make me feel proud or happy. They may have even driven me to my wits’ end that day, but I enjoy them because they are mine. God feels the same way about you and me. He wants to be with us, even while we are sleeping!

God delights greatly in you my friend, and He is always there to quiet your heart with his love. He dances and sings over you and I bet He dreams of the woman He’s designed you to be while gently leading your heart to know Him more.

What a great reminder when nothing’s going right; when we feel like the whole world is against us and nobody understands what we’re going through. I hope the next time you have one of those days you’ll imagine the love of a parent watching their child sleeping and remember there’s a God who loves you even more than that!

Dear Lord, thank You for the reminder that You are always with me and that You love to watch over me, every minute of every day – even while I am sleeping! Help me to completely believe the truth about Your love towards me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Listen to Today’s Radio Show

P31 Woman Magazine

Shaped with Purpose by Renee Swope

His Princess, Love Letters from Your King by Sherri Rose Shepherd

Application Steps:
Be still and believe that God is watching over you at this moment. No matter what you have done or what has been done to you, God’s love reaches down to hold you in His embrace. Bow your head and tilt your heart to listen to Him whisper, “You are precious in my sight and I love you.” Now breathe in and breathe out the reality that He hears your cries, He knows your needs and He’s constantly by your side.

Do you ever imagine that God is watching over you, smiling and delighting in the fact that you are HIS child?

Would you like to begin a love relationship with Jesus today, accepting your secure position as God’s child? Click Do you know Him? to learn how.

If you could use more daily reminders of how much God loves you, read today’s power verses, write them on an index card or sticky note and carry them with you all day!

Power Verses:
Psalm 34:15, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry;” (NIV)

Psalm 139: 1-3, “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.” (NIV)

Psalm 33:18, “But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love.” (NIV)

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High Definition Escape
Rachel Olsen

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 (NASB)

I sat at a full table in a coffee shop, talking through an upcoming sermon series on stewardship with my pastor. I always enjoy these meetings - brainstorming and researching various sermon ideas - but this particular topic was making me uncomfortable. We talked through issues of money... giving...being generous...tithing...debt...being faithful in the little things...and trusting God. But the whole time I kept thinking about the 42” big screen LCD high-definition TV that I want. I’d been researching it, and desiring it, steadfastly for the last two weeks. It’s a lot of TV, and a lot of money.

Do you ever get a particular item you want stuck in your head? A certain car? A brand name purse? A larger house? A piece of jewelry? Or the latest cool gadget? I think we all do from time to time, imagining how great life would be if we could just posses that thing.

As my pastor was talking about how we need to trust God for the things we need, I blurted out, “I have no problem trusting God for my needs. I know He’ll supply everything I, water, shelter. It’s my wants that are the problem... I’m not so sure He’ll give all those to me, and that’s the rub. How do I handle my wants?” I was hoping he’d give me some sage advice but my pastor replied, “So what’s the answer?” “I don’t know the answer,” I said plainly, wishing I did. Then he challenged us with this question, “What would it look like to want appropriately?”

I’d always thought all my wants should be appropriate wants... and I’ve always known they weren’t all appropriate. Sure I want a cure for AIDS, world peace, and all my neighbors to know Christ - but I also want a cute pair of red flats, a pill that makes cleaning seem like fun, and this big screen TV. There in the coffee shop it occurred to me that maybe I should shift my goal from having all appropriate wants – after all, I’m not sure I can achieve that, or that I can even define what wants are OK and which aren’t - to learning how to handle my wants appropriately.

I had to ask myself, why do I want this TV so badly? I decided it wasn’t to impress the neighbors; most of them would never even see it. I knew it wasn’t pressure to have the latest and greatest technology. I was the last of my friends to get call waiting and the last to get a cell phone ... and I didn’t care that I was the last. I drive a 7 year old mini-van, no automatic closing doors here, and I still have a basic cell phone, no email or internet on my phone. Then I asked myself, when did the desire for this TV begin? This made me realize the correlation between my travel schedule and my newfound lust for large TVs.

I’ve been traveling a lot lately. Since April I’ve had a trip to take about every two weeks. My next trip – all the way out of the country to South America – is just two weeks away from now. And so I find myself longing for time spent at home with absolutely nothing pressing to do. I want to watch the Travel Channel, and stop living it for a moment. I desired some escape, plain and simple, and TV is a handy way to escape so I figured a large, high-definition TV would help me do that.

So my bottom line was I was after some refreshing escape from the pressures of my life. That’s not an unreasonable want, really, but perhaps my method for achieving it was suspect. I was putting my heart into an earthly treasure, rather than into God’s hands.

What if I could retrain my thoughts to think of time spent with God as my escape from the world’s demands?

· Surely refreshment can be found in the living God more so than in moving pictures on a screen.
· That big screen might be large, but not as large as the One who rules my world.
· It might be high-definition, but not nearly as true-to-life as the love Jesus has displayed for me. · It may have surround sound, but it can’t touch the sound of the angels in heaven crying out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord.”

As I thought all this through, my desire for that TV had less of a grip on me. I’ve decided to put off the purchase while I practice escaping into the presence of God, and asking Him to teach me how to want appropriately.

Dear Lord, forgive me for fixing my heart on earth’s treasures rather than the eternal treasures You provide. Help me to rightly handle my wants and to steward all that You have given me. Teach me to want appropriately. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Sponsor a child in need through Compassion International

God’s Purpose for Every Woman, Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olsen, General Editors

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

Application Steps:
In your journal, write about something you’ve been longing to have. Answer the reflection questions below.

When did I begin wanting this thing and what are my motives?

What do I think it will bring me?

What does God say about it?

Power Verses:
1 Timothy 6:6, “A godly life brings huge profits to people who are content with what they have.” (GWT)

Matthew 6:20, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal.” (NASB)

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Susanne Scheppmann

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

The math gene skipped our family. We do not understand algebra, geometry, or calculus. (Fortunately, we can balance our checkbooks!) Anything beyond basic arithmetic skills is beyond us.

However, there is one element of mathematics that I understand—infinity. Infinity goes on forever. It has no end. The only reason I can grasp this concept is that I have experienced it.

Sometimes, I experience discouragement concerning the problems of my child. Yet, somehow, God will provide a message of encouragement. It may be a song on the radio. A Scripture will resonant in my soul. A friend will call to chat about and pray for my wild child. The ways the Lord speaks hope to me is endless. He offers me eternal encouragement as I struggle with the never-ending episodes of wayward behavior from my child.

I may not comprehend algebra, and I certainly do not understand my child. Nonetheless, I do grasp that the Lord understands both my prodigal and me. “Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5 KJV). Thankfully, I do not have to solve algebra equations or my wild child’s self-made problems. God’s infinite understanding equates to eternal encouragement for both of us. Because of this, I can pray and not be distracted by discouragement. I will ask God to multiply His demonstrations of love to both of us. Our family doesn’t need any more division, but to be unified by understanding and encouragement. I know God will add these to our home so we can find a balance in our relationships.

Dear Lord, demonstrate Your love to my child. Allow him/her to experience Your love and grace. Encourage them in their heart and strengthen them in every good deed and word. Lord God, cleanse my child from all the sin that he/she has committed against You. Grant eternal encouragement and hope to all my children. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Join us for more Everyday Life encouragement on parenting

Birds in My Mustard Tree by Susanne Scheppmann

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

Application Steps:
Pray for your child every day. Look for specific Scriptures that you can pray concerning your children.

How often do I become discouraged over my child’s behaviors?

Do I complain about my child to others?

How can I help keep unity in our family?

Power Verses:
Ephesians 4:3, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (NIV)

Psalm 147:5, “Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.” (KJV)

Jeremiah 51:15, “He made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.” (NIV)

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A Woman’s Price Tag
Bonita Lillie, She Speaks Conference Graduate

“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” Proverbs 31:10 (NIV)

I looked like a peacock strutting in full splendor, displaying regal feathers. I was wearing my “coat of many colors,” a plaid sateen jacket, a gift from my sanguine mother who loves color and flair. It felt awkward wearing my mother’s personality. I err to the conservative side, preferring that all eyes not be on me. Uneasily, I slid into one of the front rows of the church, hoping the shine of the jacket wouldn’t distract people from the sermon.

I became engrossed in the service and it wasn’t until after church was over that the jacket came to mind again. My neck was itching and as I reached back to scratch it I was horrified to discover that the price tag to my new jacket was hanging down my back. Worse yet, I wasn’t just on sale, I was on clearance! I guess my fellow worshippers were too embarrassed to tell me.

Unfortunately, many of us are like that jacket. We look good, but we have an imaginary price tag hanging not on our clothes, but on our person. We see ourselves as cheap, not worth much, possibly even on God’s clearance rack. We don’t believe anyone could ever love us and certainly, God could never use us in His plan, but nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s interesting that in Proverbs 31 before God ever addresses the godly woman’s “to do” list, He establishes her worth. Before she ever says or does anything, He deems her worthy, apart from all works and He does it in such a way that we can never forget it. He doesn’t just label her adequate, but He raves about her, ranking her superior to the rarest, most exquisite stones. God’s woman is worth more than costly gems. That woman is you!

Your worth isn’t wrapped up in your accomplishments, possessions, job title, popularity, or looks. It isn’t about what others think of you, good or bad. It doesn’t even matter what you think of yourself. We can be our harshest critic, can’t we? Your worth has nothing to do with any of those things or even your ability to carry out the duties listed in Proverbs 31. You are precious to God simply because you are His child.

The truth is that one day you did have a price tag hanging on you. I Corinthians 6:20 says, “you were bought with a price.” Yet, you weren’t cheap. In fact, it cost God everything to purchase you for Himself. You are one valuable lady, a woman deeply loved and valued by God. You mean the world and all to Him!

Father, when I’m tempted to look down on myself or feel unworthy, help me to hold my head high, knowing that my value doesn’t come from my own feelings, but from You. You say I’m valuable and that is enough. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

The Confident Woman by Anabel Gillham

Beautiful in God's Eyes, The Treasure of the Proverbs 31 Woman by Elizabeth George

Application Steps:
Make eye contact with yourself in a mirror and repeat after me: I have value. I have worth. No matter how I feel, God’s word is true. He loves me. He values me. I am important.

Do you have a favorite piece of jewelry or maybe a certain type of stone that sets your heart a pitter-patter? Take a few moments to think about the beautiful facets of those gems. Ask God to bring this picture to mind when you start to thinking negative thoughts about yourself.

Power Verses:
Proverbs 31:30, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (NIV)

I Peter 3:3-4, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hear and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gently and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (NIV)

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

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“Bucket of Blessings”
Zoë Elmore

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

It was Friday afternoon and Tom arrived home early from work carrying a beautiful arrangement of cut flowers. I took the flowers from him, placed them on the counter then threw my arms around his neck squealing with delight and kissed his face.

Tom lowered my arms and he lowered his head as he began to tell me that his job had just been eliminated, and in a few short weeks, he would be unemployed. I couldn’t breathe or even speak.

We spent much of the night crying and discussing the details of what we would need to do while we waited for the Lord to open the next job opportunity. Over that next week I enjoyed carrying my beautiful flower arrangement from room to room not wanting to miss one moment of their beauty. Sadly, the blooms on my beautiful arrangement began to fade and I removed the wilted and brown flowers from their container and placed them in the garbage. I thought about holding on to a few of them as a memory of my husband’s tenderness toward me, but the Lord whispered, “Throw the blooms away but save the little blue container. I am going to fill it to overflowing.” Reluctantly I threw out the flowers, placed the little blue container in my kitchen and named it our “bucket of blessing”.

Throughout the long ten months of waiting for Tom to begin working again we received many cards, e-mails and phone calls encouraging us to persevere. Month after month we placed these encouragements in our bucket of blessing and before long it was filled to overflowing. It contained words of encouragement from friends and family, and stories of my husband’s integrity in his former job. Additionally, we placed in there reminders of kind gestures, unexpected gifts of kindness and nuggets of gold from God’s holy word. When either of us was tempted to feel discouraged we would remove one of those blessings from the bucket and read it. Each one was not only a reminder of God’s faithful provision to us but also God’s very presence with us.

Although Tom and I did not know what our future held, our confidence that God’s hand sustains and provides through times of uncertainty was greatly magnified. Although the flowers in that container were beautiful, their beauty only lasted a few days; however the blessings now held in our bucket will last a lifetime. Our circumstances may have changed, however God’s faithfulness does not ever change. The Bible is filled to overflowing with rich words of encouragement to trust the One who created us and who is faithful to sustain us.

Jehovah Jirah - He is faithful to provide!

Dear Lord, You are faithful beyond measure and I thank you for sustaining my family through difficult and trying times. Thank you for the Bible that reminds me of your faithfulness; and thank you for holding my future securely in your hand of provision. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

The Air I Breathe by Louie Giglio

Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey

Application Steps:
Create your own “bucket of blessing” and begin filling it with encouragement from God’s Holy word.

When you’re tired and discouraged, reach in the bucket, and pull out a blessing. Read it and know that the one who holds your future in his hands is with you and providing for you.

Have you drawn from the bucket of blessing today?

Are you relying on the beauty of the flowers to lead you through life today or are you relying on the One who created the flowers?

Power Verses:
Psalms 84:11, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"

Deuteronomy 30:9, " Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your fathers”

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A Life without Limits
Tracie Miles

“.... God formed man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The man came alive – a living soul!” Genesis 2:5 (MSG)

I was enjoying my morning run as the sun was shining, birds were singing, and the fragrant smell of honeysuckles filled the air. Suddenly I was startled by the loud sound of barking and noticed a dog, sitting near a garage, barking her little doggie lungs out. Although her bark seemed fierce, she did not run toward me. She was old; her hair was shaggy and faded; she was tired; her legs didn’t work as well as they used to; and she no longer had the physical strength or energy to dart across the yard. However, she chose not to allow her limitations to stop her voice from being heard. I admired her for her tenacity, and for her passion to fulfill her purpose of protection for her owners. Even though she now had challenges that prevented her from doing all she once did, she still gave it all she had.

I had to ask myself if I exert that same energy for Christ, even when limitations have befallen me. So many times we allow the circumstances of our lives and the limitations of our physical bodies to keep us from living out loud with our faith. The Webster definition of “living” is “the condition of being alive,” but the biblical definition of “living” is that the Holy Spirit resides within our bodies and also within our souls. We’re told in Genesis 2 that “God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive—a living soul!” Adam's body was formed from the dust, but his spirit was made in the image of God. Every person on earth can live – but only those who have accepted Christ as the true son of God are truly alive in body, heart and soul.

The decision to become a Christian is the beginning of a new life where many opportunities and challenges await us. Once we accept that new life, we are faced with another decision – will we live out our faith on a daily basis, despite our circumstances, challenges, and even physical limitations? Scripture teaches us that limitations in our life or physical bodies do not limit our abilities in Christ and we can find our strength in Him. Isaiah 40:29 says:

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak; even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

God is the giver of all life – not just the physical life of bodies, but the gift of living souls. If you have allowed your physical limitations to keep you from living out loud, ask God to show you how you can continue to serve Him, and for the strength to do His will despite your circumstances. If you have never asked Christ into your life, consider making that amazing choice today. Visit the “Do You Know Him” link below. Give God the opportunity to breathe life into your soul, to fill your heart with a love that is overflowing, and a passion to share the hope you have found with others as you live for Him.

Dear Lord, Help me know You are my strength and look past my own insecurities and limitations to dedicate my life to loving, praising and glorifying You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Reinventing Your Rainbow by Tracie Miles

The Character of God: Understanding His Heart for Us by Brian T. Anderson and Glynnis Whitwer

Application Steps:
Consider things in your life that may be preventing you from living your faith out loud, and ask God to give you strength to triumph over those earthly limitations.

Do I need to ask God for the ability to see past my limitations and see His will for my life?

Do I truly believe that I can soar on wings like eagles if I put all faith in Christ?

Power Verses:
Matthew 5:14-16, "Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. (MSG)

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The Jesus Bling
Wendy Pope

“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD." Exodus 34:29 (NIV)

If you have been a member of our Proverbs 31 family for any number of years, you have probably noticed some changes. Many things have changed: our devotions, our magazine, our team and staff members, as well as our colors and logo.

The changes I am talking about are what I refer to as the "what not to wear" change. A few years ago Shari Braendel joined our team. With her special gifts of grace, love, and humor, she begin to slowly teach us "what not to wear" by educating us on what looks good and what does not look good on us as individuals. Shari is a breath of fresh air and I have grown to love her very much. Her workshops teach women that beauty comes from the inside and that it is ok to "decorate" the outside.

After being around Shari, I have developed a love for "bling." “Bling” is a relatively new word added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2003 and it refers to jewelry. Apparently my love for bling shows as recently a friend gave me a bracelet she made for me. It is a witnessing bracelet. The colors of the delicate stones recite Psalm 23. I squealed with delight when I opened the box and immediately put the bracelet on my wrist.

As I showed my husband the bracelet, I recited the Psalm, pointing to each stone. He complimented the bracelet then walked out of the room, only to return quickly and say, "You love your bling, don't you? But Jesus is your bling." I agreed, with both statements and laughed out loud at the possibility of the phrase being the subject of a devotion that I would write.

The Lord took my thoughts straight to Moses and his face as he came down from Mount Sinai after meeting with the LORD. I pondered the question, "Does my face radiate Jesus? Do those who see me know that I have met with the Lord?" How about you? Are you wearing the "Jesus bling?" Can others see a difference in you - the Jesus difference? Ask God how you can shine brighter for Him today. The simple truth is this phrase I borrow from my friend Lysa, "Others will not want to know about your Jesus until they see the reality of your Jesus in your life."

Dear Lord, Help me to gladly put on a garment of praise today. I want the desire of my heart to be making You famous. I desire to boldly and unashamedly proclaim Your glorious name in all that I say, think, and do. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Beautiful in God's Eyes, The Treasure of the Proverbs 31 Woman by Elizabeth George

Reinventing Your Rainbow
by Tracie Miles

Application Steps:
Set your alarm clock 15 minutes before you normally get up. Spend that extra time for the next 21 days with the Lord before you go to work. When others ask about the change in you, tell them about Jesus.

Do you reflect the countenance of Christ?

What have others learned about Jesus by looking at you?

What is God whispering to your spirit now about the meaning of today's devotion?

Is the King my bling?

Power Verses:
Psalm 40:4a, "Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who makes the Lord his refuge and trust." (AMP)

Psalm 42:11, "Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God. (NASB)

Psalm 89:15, "How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! O LORD, they walk in the light of Your countenance." (NASB)

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