Removing My Mask
Janet Perez Eckles, She Speaks Graduate

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8 (NIV)

"Yikes! You scared me," I screamed feigning fright. "Who’s that!" I peered down at the three-foot little person wearing a mask framed with wild hair colored in shades of black, purple, and pink. The features, distorted by a huge lumpy nose, droopy eyes and a mouth revealing crooked, jagged teeth, gave a new meaning to the word “ugly.”

A muffled, "Trick or treat" wafted from behind the mask. I chuckled as I dropped hard candy into the orange plastic pumpkin.

I have memories of my own boys dressed up in various costumes, dashing from house to house with their daddy trailing behind. I’d stay home to greet the neighborhood trick-or-treaters.

But now, years later, Halloween masks resemble those I myself try to slip on. They come in handy to cover the real me. So often in my life I’ve worn masks, perhaps not as horrid as the friendly trick-or-treater’s, but an effective masquerade nevertheless.

When people ask me how I lost my sight, I give the routine answer: "A disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa deteriorated my retina and took my sight."

A simple question followed by a simple answer. But when they ask about how I dealt with the unexpected tragedy, that’s a different story. I’m tempted to pull down the mask over my heart and give a bland answer.

"It was tough at first, but in time, I adjusted."

Underneath that mask, however, is a whole different script with the real answers: "I wanted to die, I hated my life, I wanted to give up, and wondered if my little boys would survive with a mommy who couldn’t see."

Then God’s Word nudged me to remove that mask and allow the glow of truth to shine through: “The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful” (Proverbs 12:22). In obedience, I resolved that when asked a question, I’d spill information that reflected what truly stirred in my heart.

Here are the results: when my words are strung with honesty without omissions, deletions or embellishments, I can breathe easier. When the mask is off, the air is fresher and the view is clearer. When it comes to sharing my feelings or relating events in my life, I’ve developed a motto: Don’t omit the negative or squelch the positive.

Not long ago, a good friend called and asked about my writing. I started to blurt out that it was great, moving along fabulously, and that my agent is working on a possible submission to a publishing house. But then I gulped and remembered that masks are stuffy, binding and often ugly. Instead, I decided to rip the mask off to pull out the truth: though my agent is working for me, I’m furiously laboring on the first edit. Writing a novel is grueling, it’s demanding and at times, the work is so hard that it makes me wonder if I’m really supposed to be doing this.

Ah! The feeling of telling the real scenario with honesty is like opening the window to a stuffy room and letting the fresh spring breeze come in to caress your face.

As our little ones unwrap their candy, I also peel off what hinders honesty in my heart--misleading comments, half-truths or words hiding my real feelings. Once all this is discarded, the reward appears in the mirror: a shining reflection that sparkles with sincerity and truth—a sweet fragrance to the Lord.

Dear Lord, thank you for giving me your Word to follow. Grant me the guidance when I speak, when I formulate my thoughts and prepare my replies to all situations. Grant me the wisdom to speak with a truthful heart. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

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

Listen to Today’s Radio Show

Application Steps:
Before speaking, stop and measure your words—are they truthful, sincere and honest? If there’s a spot in your heart you’d rather hide from others, release it to the Lord and ask Him to grant you the courage to remove that mask.

Do I have the confidence in the Lord to know He accepts me as I am?

What keeps me from telling the complete truth? Am I hiding something for fear I might be judged?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 25:24, "A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit."

Proverbs 2:7-8, "He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones."

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Spooks, Skeletons, and Saints
Micca Monda Campbell

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15 (KJV)

When Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” did He mean for us to include ghost and goblins? I view every Halloween as an opportunity to witness to “the dark side.”

Many Christians don’t know what to do with Halloween. They wonder if they should ignore it; protest against it; go along with it, or find alternative ways to participate without offending their faith. We often reason, nothing good can come from evil so why take part in this holiday? Yet, Joseph tells us in the bible that what is meant for evil God can use for good. In that case, Halloween can be an opportunity for us to do good!

Some of you may be wondering if I’ve been living on a far away planet unaware of what Halloween is. No, I’m very much aware of its meaning and tradition. Before Christ, Halloween was part of the Celtic Feast of Samhain. This Druid priest celebration commemorated the beginning of winter. The Festivals consisted of animal sacrifices to the dead and bonfires in recognition of departed souls. Those who participated in the festival believed that goblins, demons, witches and elves were sent from the world beyond to harass the living. For self-protection, the Druid’s would dress up like ghouls and goblins and involve themselves in demonic activities. They believed participating in this way kept them from being attacked by real witches and demons.

The early church responded by moving All Saint’s’ Day from spring to fall and renamed it Hallows’ Eve. In doing so, Christians used the pagan festival as catalyst in which to proclaim Christ’s death and resurrection. Halloween, for the early church, became a time to evangelize. They took something evil and used it for good. We would do well to follow their example.

Halloween is full of trickery and illusions about mystical powers and the living dead. Christians today can use these illusions in comparison to the truth that Jesus overcame the grave by the power of God and is the true Resurrection and Life. Better yet, those who are in Christ will also conquer the grave and live forever in the presence of God. What good news to share on a dark day!

There are many ways to share the good news of the gospel. My church has a Harvest Party on October 31 every year. The children play games and collect candy while the adults enjoy hayrides and wiener roasts. The most significant part about our party is the gospel room. This is where a drama is presented sharing about the good news of Jesus Christ and His saving power. One way for you to share Jesus with others is to invite an un-churched family to your church’s festival.

Another way to participate if you’re a stay-at-home kind of person is not to turn off the lights and hide as some of us tend to do. Instead, be a shinning light on a dark night. Tie scripture or gospel tracks to some candy and hand it out at your front door with Christ-like love and joy.

If you have the gift of hospitality, then have a Harvest party at your house. Invite friends, family, and neighbors to sit around a camp fire or your living room floor and swap Holy Spirit stories rather than ghost stories.

Halloween is not a time for avoidance. It’s a time to communicate with your children, family, and friends that, “yes,” evil, death and the grave are real, but through Christ, we are more than conquerors over it all. What better time to share this good news with others then when our minds are on such things? It’s an opportunity to take something meant evil and use it for good.

Dear Lord, Give me your perspective on Halloween. Help me to be a shining light on this dark night by sharing about your saving power with my children, family and friends, in Jesus Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Micca’s Blog

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

Application Steps:
Pray and seek ways to be a witness for Christ.

How can you us this holiday to communicate Christ to others?

What are some ways to involve your children in sharing about Christ this season?

Power Verses:
1 Corinthians 9:19 “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” (NIV)

Mathew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” (NIV)

1 Corinthians 2:14, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (NIV)

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Tricks of the Traitor
Renee Myers, She Speaks Graduate

“And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 11:14 (NIV)

A scary “monster” appeared at my son’s football game last week. It was actually a friend’s son having a little fun in his Halloween mask. Although he was scary at a first glance, everyone knew he wasn’t really a monster. And so it will be in the coming days as Halloween approaches. We’ll see ghosts, goblins, and other scary looking creatures, but will know they’re not real.

However, there is a demon that roams the earth and his presence among us is very real. He is Satan, a fallen angel who now lives to disturb, disrupt and destroy the goodness of Christ in our lives. Satan is a tricky force to reckon with. He, too, likes disguises, not just at Halloween, but always. The Bible describes him as being clever, cunning, and shrewd.

I’m ashamed to admit that I recently fell for his deception. After returning home from a women’s retreat where’d I’d talked about how Satan tries to trip us up, I allowed him to do just that. I had a disagreement with my husband when I got home and I listened to the voice in my head that said I should be very upset with him. The “good” voice in my head tried to be the voice of reason to keep me out of trouble, but the “bad” voice sounded more reasonable to me, and it had the last word. I unsuspectingly acted on the promptings of Satan’s voice and said things that deeply hurt my husband. As soon as the words were out I realized I’d made a terrible mistake, but it was too late. The damage was done.

I was so upset with myself. I’d fallen for the tricks of the traitor. How could I have let this happen?

Looking back, I see that the traitor caught me in a moment of weakness – a common mode of operation for him. I should have been on guard. I should have prayed for discernment to help me decide which voice to listen to. At the time the voices sounded just alike, but in retrospect I see an obvious difference between the two. The “good” voice – the voice of God – spoke words that went along with the teachings of the Bible about grace, truth, love and forgiveness. The other voice spoke harsh, self-centered words that contradicted God’s words of mercy and love.

The traitor can trick us in many ways. He can distract us with busyness to keep us from our time with God. He can lead us into destructive habits and thoughts. And he can hold us back by mocking us with guilt and shame if we let him.

The traitor might have his tricks, but he can’t win our souls if we’re sold out to Christ. Christ is the victor and we can always overcome attacks by the traitor by claiming victory in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Determined to spite Satan and turn his tricks into my treats, I prayed to God claiming Romans 8:28 which promises that God can work all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. And treats were mine, indeed. My husband and I worked through our problems to find our marriage stronger and better on the other side of this ordeal. We now respect each other in new ways and are better equipped to move forward into future endeavors.

Dear Lord, Thank you for rescuing me from the snares of Satan and for letting me stand victoriously with You. Please help me avoid the tricks of the traitor by being mindful always of the truths of Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Capture His Heart by Lysa TerKeurst

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Do you know Him?

Application Steps:
Identify the ways Satan tries to trip you up in your relationships.
Pray for protection from his sneaky attacks. Be firm in your faith.
When challenged, seek the truths of God’s Word in scriptures.

What can you do to be on guard for the tricks of the traitor?

How will you avoid his deception and destructive ways in the future?

Power Verses:
Romans 6:12-14, “Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to its lustful desires. Do not let any part of your body become a tool of wickedness, to be used for sinning. Instead, give yourselves completely to God…Sin is no longer your master, for you are no longer subject to the law which enslaves you to sin. Instead, you are free by God’s grace.” (NLT)

1 Corinthians 15:57, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NIV)

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Living Life Aware
Marybeth Whalen

“Somehow, though he moves right in front of me, I don’t see him; quietly but surely he’s active, and I miss it.” Job 9:11 (MSG)

For a long time, I lived life unaware of God’s activity around me. I wrote things off as “coincidence” or “random”—never realizing that the God of the Universe is a living and active part of my life. I lived a crazy, chaotic existence, too busy and distracted to focus on God’s presence. Instead I rushed from one urgency to the next—not relying on God to get me through, depending foolishly on my own strength. It never dawned on me to slow down, to tune my ear to God’s voice, to learn to listen and look for Him. I simply didn’t know how gratifying life could be if I did.

Then a friend of mine began to share with me how God would often speak to her, urging her to do things that didn’t always make sense to her, but always produced miraculous results. My friend was on a daily adventure with God. Her day began with a prayer to help her see Him at work, and her life became one big “yes” to Him. She experienced a level of faith that I knew I hadn’t come close to, and it excited me to hear what God was going to do next. I realized that I was missing out by living life unaware.

I think that living life aware of God’s presence—of His activity all around us—is the life Jesus described when He spoke of living life “to the full.” (John 10:10) He didn’t mean a life of material abundance, but of spiritual abundance. He wanted all of us to feel the joy and abandon of participating in miracles with Him. He wanted us to lose sight of the world’s opinion as we turned our eyes to Him and allowed our purpose to line up with His. He knew that this is a life that is truly life (I Timothy 6:19).

He also knows that we face an enemy who would like nothing more than to snatch that abundance away from us. He knows that too many of us never even come close to this life. We live life ignorant of His activity, and ignorant of the possibilities for blessing and true joy that exist just beyond our comfort zone, just a step outside our busy lives. The trick is to start looking for those “yes” moments.

Yes God, I will give that money away—not because it makes sense or because I know exactly how You will provide, but because I trust You to do so.

Yes God, I will let that person know I am praying for her—even though she isn’t a Christian and might laugh at me.

Yes God, I will reach out to that person I don’t know—even though I might look crazy. I care more about what You think than what others think.

Yes God, I will … (you fill in the blanks)

Do you need to live life aware instead of unaware? Are you ready to start saying “yes” to God? Is God prompting you to do something crazy, but are too afraid to step out in obedience? Living life aware is a great way to live. It is a life of abundance that is unmatched by anything the world can offer.

Dear Lord, I want to live life aware of Your promptings. I want to say “yes” to You without counting the cost. I want to learn to listen for your voice. Please help me to do so today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Marybeth’s blog

Do you know Him?

Application Steps:
In your journal, write about one thing that God is personally speaking to you about. How have you responded? Think about a time when you felt God was speaking to your heart and record that as well.

Think of the way my friend influenced me by simply sharing what God was doing in her life. Her influence became a key part of my own faith walk. Are you sharing your adventures with God with other people? Should you be bolder about doing so? Is there someone God is bringing to mind that needs to hear your stories so their faith can be increased?

Power Verses:
I Timothy 6:118-19, “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” (NIV)

Isaiah 30:21, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”(NIV)

I John 2:5-6, “But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him. Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (NIV)

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Forgotten No More
Rachel Olsen

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…” Hebrews 6:19 (NIV)

I was having lunch at a quaint outdoor café all by myself. Actually, I was trying to spend a little time with God so I’d brought along a small devotional book called Daily Prayer from the New International Version. Flipping through its pages, my fingers stopped suddenly when I saw the entry’s title: “Ecuador’s Forgotten Ones.” My eyes ran eagerly across the words on the page:

“You see them on the well-worn, two-foot wide median that divides the city’s busiest street. Vehicles zip past at alarming speeds while preschoolers play tag, oblivious to the danger. But when the traffic halts, these little ones press their dirty faces against closed car windows, begging for pennies. At night older children join them and spit gasoline into the air, lit by matches into flaming, dragon-like plumes, hoping for a coin from a passing motorist. These are Ecuador’s forgotten ones: slum-dwelling children with no hope for a future.”

Tears filled my eyes. I couldn’t shake the thought of the damage that gasoline was doing to their young bodies and minds. But I knew even more damaging was the feeling of having no hope. No help, no anchor, and no future. I silently pleaded with God to send help and hope to these fire-breathing forgotten ones. For I know God has not forgotten them. He sees them. He is their help, their anchor and their hope. And we are His mouthpiece and hands.

My mind drifted to the reason my fingers had stopped on this page in the first place: Mauricio. My husband and I sponsor a young Ecuadorian boy through Compassion International. The Compassion organization had recently taken me to Ecuador to see the children impacted by poverty, and to visit “my” Mauricio. The people I met there – adults and children alike – were so very precious.

The country’s economic structure has been suffering for awhile. A few years ago their government abruptly switched their money system to the US dollar. Overnight everyone’s bank accounts were frozen. Many people were not able to get to any of their money for many months … others never got their money back at all as their banks folded. Even those who were too poor to have bank accounts suffered. I was told that overnight the cost of basic goods including food went up by as much as 300%.

Multiple government leaders have taken office, made drastic or selfish changes, and then defected the country – leaving the Ecuadorian people forgotten. But God has not forgotten them, and He doesn’t want us to forget them either. Someone has to pray for them, someone has to help them, and someone has to hand them the anchor of hope. Someone has to declare to them the words of the author of Hebrews: “We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation” (6:9, NLT).

God has not forgotten the Ecuadorian people and He has not forgotten you either. Are you in need of an eternal anchor yourself today? Is your soul adrift in the traffic of life? If so, click here to meet your Hope.

Are you able to be God’s hands of hope to Ecuador’s forgotten ones? If your heart is quickened to help a child from Ecuador or elsewhere, click here to find out how from Compassion International. Hebrews 6:10 assures us, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (NIV). Perhaps you can demonstrate to one child that he is forgotten no more.

Dear Lord, my heart aches for your people facing poverty, injustice, and infirmity in this world. Help them, Lord. Be their anchor and hope. And help me as Your servant to know when and how to help them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Sponsor a child through Compassion International

To read Rachel’s description of her August trip to Ecuador,
visit her blog “My Life in Chapter and Verse.

Click here to read about our Proverbs 31 Ministry team visiting Ecuador.

Application Steps:
Pray for the children of Ecuador today. Pray for their salvation, their health, their economy, and their leaders. Pray for God to send workers and support to help them. Consider how you can get involved.

Imagine what daily life feels like for one of these children.

Read Matthew 25:34-40 and reflect.

Power Verses:
Matthew 25:34-40, “Then the King will say to those on the right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.' "Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?' And the King will tell them, 'I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'” (NLT)

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Friend of God
Glynnis Whitwer

“You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:14 (NIV)

I often think about what it will be like when Jesus comes back to earth. In my mind I imagine the crowds that will surround Him. People will push to be near Him. They will call His name hoping He’ll stop and turn for just a moment … His hand on their heads or a word of blessing from His mouth.

In that same picture, I imagine myself on the outside of the circle. Not quite brave enough to push through the crowd. Timid and certain that Jesus would be looking to find someone more “important” than me. What would I say if I actually got close enough to speak to Him? How would I introduce myself?

“Uh, hello Jesus … it’s me … Glynnis.” Ugh! I’d probably embarrass myself with awkward and stilted words. What would I say next? Knowing me, I’d probably begin a list of how I’ve served Him, hoping to prompt His memory about who I am. Or maybe trying to impress Him a bit. Double ugh.

As I read through today’s scripture verse, I got another picture of Jesus. In that one, I don’t have to introduce myself to Jesus. He already knows who I am. In fact, just as a friend calls for me across the street, Jesus would call me by name. I won’t have to spell it for Him as I’ve done all my life. I won’t have to tell him my name is “Liz” like I do at Starbucks so they’ll be able to pronounce it when my coffee is ready. Jesus will already know me and call me by name … Glynnis.

How am I sure of this? John 15:14 tells us that when we obey Jesus’ commands He calls us friend. Scripture also tells us that He knows us by name (John 10:3). And that He’s coming back to get us (John 14:3).

This picture of meeting Jesus fills me with joy. Whether it’s here on earth at His return, or when I get to meet Him in heaven, Jesus will call me friend if I obey His words. As joyful as the future will be when I meet Jesus, I can start to develop that relationship with Him now. Reading the Bible so I know what to obey is critical. I also can spend time talking with Him in prayer. My friendship with Jesus needs an investment of time just like my other friendships if it is to develop and strengthen. That sure sounds better to me than standing on the outside of the circle.

Dear Lord, I praise You for Your faithfulness to me. Thank You for loving me and for calling me friend. Help me to make obeying You a priority. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

work@home: A Practical Guide for Women Who Want to Work From Home by Glynnis Whitwer

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

Application Steps:
Name five characteristics of a good friend. Think of how God has fulfilled these characteristics.

What does it tell you about someone when he or she remembers your name?

What difference does it make to you that Jesus knows your name?

What changes do you need to make in your life so that you are a better friend to God?

Power Verses:
John 15:15, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (NIV)

John 10:3, “The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (NIV)

Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NIV)

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By Faith
Melissa Milbourn, She Speaks Conference Graduate

"By Faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land…” Hebrews 11:29 (NIV)

I love the Word of God…its width and its depth, and how it is truly alive and active when we choose to get into it and allow it to transform our hearts. But in the past this particular scripture has been humorous to me. I always thought, “For crying out loud, how much faith could it take to cross the Red Sea? You’ve already seen God’s might by way of parting it! The Egyptians are CHAISING YOU, the only common sense thing to do is RUN ACROSS the sea through the path that God has created…or be slain by the Egyptians, or taken captive again! What kind of faith does it take to cross in those circumstances?”

I thought it was humorous, that is, until God made it alive to me by relating it to my life.

This past year God called me to “step out” in a variety of ways in my life. His callings took me into unfamiliar territory. I, too, had a choice to make. I either had to stay where I was, or cross the Sea. To stay where I was meant that I wouldn’t fulfill the “hope of my calling,” or enter my “promised land”. This is where God’s blessings would flow fully and abundantly to me and through me as I allowed Him to be Lord of my life. There’s much reward in obedience. I knew that crossing the sea was the way to go. I knew it was best for me, and yet I stood on the shore saying, “Do I cross or not cross?”

Put yourself in the place of the Israelites. Picture yourself standing by the Red Sea. The Egyptians are hot on your trail. Moses raises the staff and the waters part. You’re standing on the shore looking at that. You have to run down a hill to the bottom of the sea. Can you imagine how high the walls of water would be on each side of you? What about the noise of the wind holding the water back? You’d be thinking, “If I run into this, will the waters stay back until I get across? Can I make it before the waters come crashing back in?” “By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land.”

Even when God is offering deliverance or a good path, it still takes faith to accept it!

The good news is our God is so faithful to us. He doesn’t stand on the other side of the sea shouting, “Hurry up and run!” He gently and lovingly stands by our side, takes our hand, and says: “Beloved, don’t be afraid. I will not leave you nor forsake you, I have summoned you by name, you are mine. When you walk through the waters I will be with you, they will not sweep over you, for I am the Lord your God and I love you…together, let's cross the sea” (adapted from Isaiah 43).

Is God calling you to “step out”? It could be getting more involved at church, a new ministry, a new job, or moving to a new area.

Whatever sea of circumstances you might have, may you, by faith, cross the sea as though on dry land.

Dear Lord, earnestly I seek You. Help me not to fear, but to be strong and courageous, standing on the promise that You will not leave me nor forsake me. Together we'll cross the sea. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

i am not but i know I AM by Louie Giglio

If you believe God is calling you to step out in faith by working at home, Glynnis Whitwer will be hosting a 4-part conference call series - based on her book work@home: a Practical Guide for Women Who Want to Work From Home by Glynnis Whitwer- beginning Monday, October 29th on how to make the transition. For more information, click here.

Application Steps:
Practice faith. Be faithful in the small things that God is calling you to do, so that when the big things arrive you'll already be accustomed to obeying God's ways. Establish a level of faith and trust.

Is God calling you into an area that's new to you?

Are you going through a difficult time and don’t see a way out? Pray and seek to recognize His call for you to trust Him.

Power Verses:
Psalm 77:19, "Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen." (NIV)

Luke 17:6, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you." (NIV)

Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (NIV)

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Making Everything Known
Rachel Olsen

“He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.” Daniel 2:22 (NIV)

For Americans, Halloween is just a week away and fake skeletons seem to be everywhere I look. I don’t like skeletons - especially the proverbial kind that hide in my closet. We all have “skeletons in the closet” - stuff we keep hidden away from everyone, except perhaps our closest friends. Deep hidden things about who we are, where we come from, what we’ve done …. things we’re afraid to bring into the light … things we’re afraid to look in the eye ... things we fear may cause others never to look at us the same. But Jesus knows, and loves us still.

Jesus knows. Genesis 16:13: “You are the God who sees” (NIV).

Jesus knows. Ezekiel 11:5: “The LORD says… I know what is going through your mind” (NIV).

In fact, He knows and still He truly desires to be friends with you.

Friendship is a two-way street. It’s both give and take, talk and listen, reveal and accept. Jesus is on that two-way street with us. We can be vulnerable and real with Him. We can relax and safely surrender the key to our closet. We can bring our “skeletons” into His light, where they’re not merely tolerated, but miraculously transformed from dry bones to abundant life. No other friend can do that!

We can share our secrets with Him and He will reveal His mysteries to us. Psalm 24:14 tells us, “The LORD confides in those who fear him” (NIV). The word “confides” means to disclose, to pass on, to speak in confidence, and to open your heart to. Jesus wants to open His heart to you and give you full access! Pause and think about that humbling, exciting, amazing reality for just a minute!

Jesus also wants to pass on to us everything He learned about how to live here on earth while staying connected to God in heaven. That is knowledge you and I need to know, and Jesus is the friend who can hook us up with it. He made all this known to his disciples while living among them and teaching them. He’s also made it known to us through their gospel accounts in the Bible.

“I no longer call you servants,” Jesus said to His disciples, “because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15, NIV). Jesus considers us a friend, and is keeping nothing hidden from us. Anything we want to know about Him, or about what He knows of His Father, is available to us. It’s not automatically downloaded into our brain without any effort on our part – yet, we need only read His Word, and connect with His heart in prayer to receive it. I’m confident we’ll find it worth the effort.

So Jesus has made the first move. He’s reached out to you in friendship. He has vulnerably opened His heart to yours. He’s willing to tell you everything. Will you do the same? -Will you let yourself be fully known by Him? Are you ready to hand over that key and let those skeletons come out into His transforming light?

Sit down with Him and His Word today, and connect friend-to-friend … heart-to-heart.

Dear Lord, I want to connect with Your heart. I want to know what its like to be Your friend – deeply and joyfully connected to You. Help me move into this relationship. I trust You’ll meet me there. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

For more on connecting with Him, visit
Rachel Olsen’s blog

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Set aside a time and space each day this week to encounter Jesus by reading through one of the accounts of His life called the “gospels.” Try reading the book of John in the New Testament of your Bible. (If you don’t have a Bible, you can purchase one here.)

What “skeletons” are in your closet? Tell them to Jesus and ask Him to cover them with His transforming light.

Are you ready to make the effort to develop a true friendship with Christ? You may want to (re)read last week’s devotion on Making the Effort.

Power Verses:
Proverbs 18:24, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (NIV)

Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” (NIV)

Psalm 51:6 “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” (NIV)

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Answering God’s Call to be Home
Glynnis Whitwer

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1 (NIV)

From the time I was a little girl, I envisioned myself as a career woman. It wasn’t that my mother modeled this at home; she waited until I was in high school to work outside the home. I suspect it was a cultural norm. Whatever the reason, step-by-step, I progressed towards a full-time career.

Although I reduced my hours when my children were small, that was a temporary delay in my plan to excel professionally. You see, I was enamored of the business-woman persona – leather organizers, sleek business suits and heels that click when you walk down a hall. Little did I know that God’s plan for me actually involved t-shirts, shorts and sandals that flap when I walk into my kitchen.

Nine years ago, God redirected my career goals and called me to work at home. God wasn’t subtle in this “call,” which I would actually call a “shout.” It seems I had ignored His gentle nudging and promptings to leave the traditional workplace for years. So, faced with a self-driven woman (that would be me), God picked up my family and moved us 2000 miles away from everything I knew, in order to make His will clear.

A traditional career is a wonderful thing, if God has called you to it. But that’s the key – knowing where God is calling you and being obedient to that calling. God was clearly calling me to work at home. He called me to re-examine my priorities and live a life that reflected His plans, not mine.

Psalm 127:1 warns against making plans without the Lord’s approval: “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” I had gotten my contractor’s license, designed the plans and construction was underway. Unfortunately, God was only a subcontractor in my agenda. Thankfully, I listened when the Lord spoke loudly and I relinquished control.

Every day, God calls women to transition from the workplace and come home. We all have different reasons. Some women want to be more involved with their children, volunteer more, or start a home-based business.

Whatever your reason, if God is calling you home, then I encourage you to be obedient. It might not be easy, but it is possible with God’s help. When you hand over control of your building project, you will find a life filled with blessings beyond your imagination.

Heavenly Father, I praise You for your goodness and faithfulness. I ask forgiveness for seeking my own way in this world, and building my own house. I give You control of my life and ask You to reveal Your will to me. Please give me wisdom and resolve to answer Your call on my life. In Jesus name, Amen.

Related Resources:
work@home: a Practical Guide for Women Who Want to Work From Home by Glynnis Whitwer

Living Life on Purpose by Lysa TerKeurst

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

Application Steps:
Ask the Lord to confirm His will for your work, or to reveal His plan if it’s different from your current situation.

Look at your calendar. Do your time commitments regarding family, work, volunteering and church reflect your priorities? If they don’t, ask the Lord to direct changes that might need to be made.

What happens over time when you make a commitment that isn’t in God’s will for you?

Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” What have you “built” without the Lord’s approval?

This Psalm describes labors who work in vain. This implies that their work has no satisfactory outcome. Have you experienced laboring in vain? Describe.

Power Verses:
Proverbs 16:3 “Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (NAS)

Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (NIV)

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (NAS)

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Who Should Submit?
Wendy Pope

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21 (NIV)

I was driving out of the neighborhood the other day and saw something that broke my heart. A sheriff deputy’s car was parked outside the home of one of my neighbors. Beside the deputy's squad car sat a moving truck. Coming out the front door was the woman of house with an armful of stuff. It didn't take long to figure out what was going on. This was the sight of a broken home.

With this image still heavy on my heart, I later learned that two couples who had been friends with my husband and me early in our marriage had divorced. My mind wondered and my heart cried out, "Lord, what happened? Why does this keep happening?" In the case of my neighbors, I am sad to say that I don't know if they were believers. Our friends were believers and at one time had been very active in the church. Through heartache and prayers I again asked the Lord another question, "How can I keep this from happening in my marriage? What can I do?"

He quickened my spirit to the book of Ephesians, specifically, chapter five. I had a mental conversation with Him. "Lord, submission? It can't be just up to me." Quickly I felt peace in my spirit as I realized He was talking about verse 21. I have to say I felt relieved once I understood what He was saying. The submission must be to Him. Both the husband and the wife must submit. I daydreamed of what my marriage would be like if both my husband and I fervently submitted to the Lord in every area of our lives. Wow, it gives me tingles just thinking of it.

The purpose of today's devotion is not to debate the pros and cons of submission. Nor is it to discuss the context of chapter 5 in Ephesians. The purpose of the devotion is to make us think. Whether you are married or single this verse applies to you. Submitting to God is not an option. It is God’s prescription for a world of peace. In a world where everyone submitted, God would be heard by all His children and they would willingly and delightfully obey. In such a world families would stay together, murders would cease, and kindness would abound. Wouldn't you like to live in a world like that? It would be heaven on earth!

Dear Lord, Let Your kingdom come. Help me to submit to You as the Lord of my life so that I might reflect the beauty and kindness of who You are. I want to pray for others to do the same, and then this world would be like heaven on earth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

i am not but i know I AM by Louie Giglio

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

Application Steps:
In your journal, prayerfully and honestly answer the reflection questions.

What areas of your life do you experience difficulty submitting?

How do you perceive submitting in the difficult areas will personally affect you?

Are there any areas in your life in which God has called you to submit and you have not? If yes, why haven't you?

Power Verses:
Job 22:21, "Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you." (NIV)

Psalm 34:8, "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." (NIV)

Psalm 112:1, "Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands." (NIV)

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What You’re Called
Marybeth Whalen

“To them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off.” Isaiah 56:5 (NIV)

Recently, my fifteen-year-old son posted this quote on our refrigerator message board:

It’s not what you’re called, it’s what you’re called to do.

After I read what he wrote, I thought about the message contained in that short thought. I thought about how that is exactly the way God sees us. There are many examples of this in the Bible, but I thought specifically of two.

When Gideon is hiding out threshing wheat in a winepress, the angel of the Lord comes to him and says, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” (Judges 6:12) Later, Gideon reveals that he is far from a mighty warrior. Instead he sees himself as a least of these. He says, “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (Judges 6:15). The angel of the Lord looked past what Gideon was called or how he saw himself. Instead he focused on what Gideon was called to do. He didn’t see a least of these, he saw a mighty warrior. He knew that Gideon had that potential within him if he would only trust God and take a step of faith. Gideon did, and a nation was saved.

Peter was the other example that came to my mind. Peter’s name was Simon, which meant “shifty.” But that is not what Jesus saw. He saw the potential within Peter. He immediately changed Peter’s name from Simon to Cephas (or, Peter), which means “rock” (John 1:42). Jesus looked past what Peter was called, to what He knew Peter would be called to do. Indeed, after Jesus’ ascension, Peter led the early church, preaching at Pentecost and rising to the calling on his life as the rock on which Jesus would build His church.

These stories bring me comfort as I think of the things I have been called in my life—the things I have believed about myself. I think of my shortcomings and my past, and I know that apart from God, I can do no good thing. My only hope is in the transformation God can and will work within me, day by day. In my own strength, I will always be a least of these, shifty and of no account. But in God’s hands, I can be a mighty warrior, a rock.

God doesn’t see me as I am, He sees me as I can be. He doesn’t leave us as we are, but renews us with each new day. It isn’t what I am called, it’s what I am called to do. I must remember that so I can become what God has already determined I can be.

Dear Lord, help me to see myself as You see me, not as what I have believed about myself in the past. Help me to hear Your voice speaking my real name. Help me to fulfill my calling so I can bring glory and honor to Your name. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Do you know Him?

Shaped with Purpose CD and companion Workbook by Renee Swope

Marybeth Whalen’s blog

Application Steps:
What names do you call yourself? Write them down. What names do you believe God wants you to be called? Cross out the old names and write down the new ones! Under that, write, “It isn’t what I am called, it’s what I am called to do.”

Is there something you have believed about yourself that is not true?

What obstacles stand between the Truth about your calling and your past perceptions? Pray and ask God to remove those obstacles so you can see the potential He sees.

Power Verses:
Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (NIV)

Ephesians 3:22-24, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (NIV)

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No More Shame
Lysa TerKeurst

"I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame." Psalm 34:4-5 (NIV)

I still remember the outdated furniture and stale coldness of the room. Women from all walks of life were there. Our paths had crossed at this awful place, a place where life was exchanged for death. We would now share an unmentionable secret.

No one let her eyes meet another's. Though medical fluorescents brightly lit the room, the heavy darkness in my soul made true vision nearly impossible. What had brought me to this place?

Certainly, I had people to blame. There was the man who sexually abused me in childhood. I could blame my biological father. Maybe if he had given me the love and acceptance I so desperately longed for, I would not have come to this place. I could blame God. Why had a loving God let such terrible things happen to me?

Tears filled my eyes and deep sobs poured from my soul in that cold room. I knew I could not blame anyone but myself. I'd walked into this place. I'd signed the papers. I'd allowed my baby to be aborted.

I can just imagine Satan hissing as he writes his name across the victim's heart: Shame. I have felt shame's pain - a deep, constant throbbing of regret from the past mixed with dread of the future.

Let's look at when shame made its debut. Genesis 2:25 says, "The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame." Then Satan slithered onto the scene to deceive Eve. When Eve fell into sin and took Adam with her, their reaction was to hide and cover up their mistake.

That’s exactly what I did for so many painful years. But keeping my secret in the darkness allowed Satan use it against me. He is the father of darkness and the author of shame. He would constantly whisper that I was worthless and that if anyone ever found out about my secret they would condemn me.

But that is a lie from the pit of hell. When I finally brought my sin out into the light, God met me there with grace, forgiveness, and healing. Then he gave me the courage to let Him take my shame and use it for His good. I can say without hesitation the thing that has brought me the most healing has been to share my story with other women. Now that I have seen God touching and healing others through my testimony, the shame has gone and freedom has come.

Dear Lord, I thank You for seeing me as pure, clean and spotless and without blemish. You alone have the power to heal those parts of me that I have buried and tried to hide for so long. May Your grace be enough for me today as I trust You to work all things for Your good. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst

Listen to Today’s Radio Show

Do you know Him?

Lysa’s blog

Application Steps:
Write down and meditate on these three truths:1. By His wounds, I am healed.

2. God never forgets His promises. When He says that nothing I have ever done could make Him stop loving me, it is absolute truth. His love for me cannot be shaken.

3. Jesus died of a broken heart, so that I don't have to. He thought of me on that cross, and because of His sacrifice, I am forgiven and set free.

My Bible dictionary defines shame as the following: “disgrace, humiliation, often at hands of an enemy.”

We have an enemy in this world who leads us into temptation. Ultimately, if temptation overtakes us then we fall into sin which brings on a sense of shame. The feelings of guilt, disgrace, and humiliation that we experience as a result of shame can bind us and paralyze our relationship with God.

Remember that Jesus Christ defeated Satan, with the cross. Because of that, we don’t have to be held captive to shame at the hands of our enemy any longer.

Power Verses:
Psalm 118:5, “In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free.” (NIV)

Matthew 10:26, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” (NIV)

1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (NIV)

Revelation 3:18, “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich, and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” (NIV)

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Retreat Required
Karen Ehman

“…He said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” Mark 6:31b (NIV)

I have a confession to make. I am an addict. A serious addict. And I know many others who share my awful obsession. No, it is not to alcohol or drugs or nicotine. It isn’t trashy TV or romance novels. I am addicted to busyness.

My addiction habit began forming long ago when I was just a girl in junior high school. To escape a less-than-perfect broken home, and to numb the emotional pain I was feeling from the fallout, I soon discovered busyness. Yep, sign me up for cheerleading, school newspaper, Spanish Club, National Honor Society, softball, the local youth group, volunteer work and a part–time job to boot! By the time I graduated high school I was involved in more activities than a set of triplets should be. Unfortunately, I carried this trend into my adult life.

In my defense, today we dwell in a society that not only encourages the busy lifestyle, it even applauds and rewards it! And what gal in her right mind doesn’t want an “’atta girl” now and then? Why, our society goes as far as to paint those who live life at a slower pace as freeloaders or slackers. “Why can’t so-and-so help a little with this bake sale? She doesn’t do nearly half as much as I do!”

If left unchecked, our busyness can crowd out the most important things in life—God and our families. I have had to learn the hard way that in order to be an effective woman of God, wife and mother, I need to not only slow down, regularly scraping commitments off of my too full plate, but sometimes I need to stop altogether. As I sit writing this, I am outside at a lovely retreat center on a hill overlooking its grape arbor and pear and apple orchards. My take-life-slow husband strongly suggested I come here occasionally to get alone with God; to read; ponder; write and reflect. I walk the pine and perennial-laced grounds in solitude. There are no television sets or computers or ringing phones; only unfamiliar, but blessed, quiet.

I will be honest and say it has taken me YEARS to get used to this ceasing of activity for occasional 24-48 hour periods of time each year. I fret and fuss as I am packing. “What about the kids? Will they be okay without me? Oh, maybe I should just stay home. I could get so caught up around here with that big chunk of time!” But Christ beckons me. “Come with me by yourselves….” Alone. By myself and for myself. It is for my own good. It is necessary. And ultimately, it is better for my family to have a rested, focused and refreshed mom. On retreat I can best hear from God whom I have discovered most often prefers not to scream over the top of our busyness but instead to whisper to us in quiet.

Yes, in the Christian life retreat is required. Running full steam ahead at Energizer bunny speed is not only stupid, it is downright dangerous. Even the Lord Jesus had regular times of rest and withdrawal. We need to follow His lead. I have come to realize the truth of the saying, “If Satan can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” And dear ones, both states render us useless and ineffective for the kingdom. Decide today that very soon you too will cease, retreat and refuel. You won’t regret it.

Dear Lord, Forgive me for ignoring Your command to come away with You for a while. Please arrange my circumstances soon so that I might spend uninterrupted time with you. May I drink deep of Your lavish love and reflect the calm and comfort I receive to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman

The Air I Breathe by Louie Giglio

Application Steps:
Put pen to paper and craft yourself a pie chart of your life. What percent of the time do you spend each month on these various activities: working—away or at home; sleeping; eating; caring for kids; homemaking; church; outside activities; hobbies; Internet or television, etc…? Now, how much time do you spend alone with God? I don’t mean “going to church and church activities” I mean you, God and your Bible, a journal, some worship music and maybe a classic Christian book? Now take a look at the chart in front of you. How would you like to see it change?

Plan today for a retreat in the near future. Be creative. While all towns may not have an inexpensive retreat center open to the public, with a little ingenuity you can come up with a plan. A hotel room, library conference room, church Sunday School classroom or out of the way coffee shop are all places of possibility. Perhaps you are a mom with young children at home ... barter with a friend and you’ll both come out winners. One day you watch all of your combined children at her house while she uses your place for a 9 to 5 weekday retreat. The next week, swap.

To help you focus and forget your worries for a while, try this: Make a prioritized list of all of the things you’d like to accomplish at home and all of the items needing your attention when you return. Fold up the paper, place it in an envelope and mentally and physically leave it home when you go away to retreat. Tell God that you’d love to forget about all of those tasks and focus on Him for the next period of time. Knowing your never ending “to do” list is all made out and waiting for you when you get home will help to keep your mind riveted on God.

Power Verses:
Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (NIV)

Psalm 131:1-2 “My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. (NIV)

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Get Real
Tracie Miles

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory; which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV)

I was sitting in Sunday School listening to prayer requests being mentioned. Prayer needs varied - someone’s neighbors were having marital problems; a co-worker was having a problem with her boss; a friend whose child was being rebellious; a family member’s health issues. A few were personal requests such as an important decision about work, a scheduled surgery, and safe travels for vacation. All the prayer requests were valid and prayer-worthy, but I started to wonder if we were really being real with one another. Why were we not asking for prayers for our own struggles - our own marriage struggles, our own children, or our own challenges in living a Christ-like life?

I had many prayer requests on my heart that morning but instead of sharing them with my Christian friends, I kept them hidden in my heart. Part of me yearned for their prayers, but part of me also feared sharing my most personal issues and concerns with others. Instead of focusing on the truth that God would hear the prayers of these prayer warriors and divinely intervene in my life, I focused on my own insecurities, and the fear of being judged for circumstances in my life or the condition of my own heart. I finally realized we all needed to get real, and that by keeping our struggles to ourselves, we were denying each other the opportunity to be encouraged by hearing the triumphs over trials in other people’s lives.

In today’s society, we have a tendency to focus more on outward appearances than on the inward condition of our hearts. We may have a smile on our face on the outside; but on the inside, our heart is aching, and our soul is pleading for someone to care enough about us to speak with God on our behalf. Our hearts need to be in God-condition for us to be confident enough in our faith to allow us to solicit the prayers of others. In so doing, we glorify Christ through our lives. If we truly desire a character like Christ’s, we must be willing to expose our weaknesses, shed our hypocrisy and stop pretending that our life is a bowl of cherries. God calls us to be transparent.

The Lord made it clear to Samuel that he did not care about what was on the outside. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’" Samuel was in the process of determining which son of Jesse God wanted to become the king of Israel. Samuel was looking at the outside, instead of the inside condition of the heart.

When I am transparent, I allow people to see, pray for, and love the “real me.” Being real and vulnerable helps me to be usable for God. Once my mask is removed God can use the “real me” to minister to others. Sharing about a restored marriage, about forgiving someone who betrayed you, about a repaired relationship, about spiritual healing from an abortion, or recovery from an addiction could be exactly what someone else needs to hear so that their life, and their heart, can be changed. If people think we “have it all together,” they are less likely to share their struggles. This could close the doors God opens for us to minister to others so that we can help them remove their masks, as well.

By removing our own masks, we can be transformed into vessels for to God use to bring glory to His kingdom. Not only will people see the prayer needs in our lives, they will also see the transparency of a sinner being transformed by being real and praying to a faithful God.

Dear Lord, help me take off the masks I wear so that I can be real to others. Give me the strength to look past my own insecurities and fears, so that I can use my experiences to help others learn to see You working in their lives. Please bring people into my path that I can minister to by being a vessel for Your mighty work. 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:
Ask God to show you how you can minister to someone by sharing your victory over a difficult situation.

Am I willing to be real with my friends and acquaintances?

Am I more concerned with my outward appearance than the condition of my heart?

Power Verse:
2 Corinthians 3:16, “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” (NIV)

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When Self-Rescue is Not an Option
Glynnis Whitwer

“The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name.” Psalm 91:14 (NLT)

All climbers preparing to brave the extremes of Mount McKinley/Denali in Alaska must first check in at the Talkeetna Ranger Station. Here, mountaineering rangers give last-minute preparation and safety talks before hikers are flown to Base Camp at 7,200 feet.

Although we would only view the stunning mountain from afar, this summer my family got to hear a portion of what the climbers hear before beginning their ascent. The kids loved the part about packing out your own “waste.” But the most striking part to me was the necessity of being prepared to “self-rescue.”

In other words, if you fall into a crevasse, have a plan to get yourself out! Because rescues can cost up to $30,000 and put the rescuers at great personal risk, it was easy to understand this advice. I nodded my head in agreement. I’ve always felt people should be prepared to rescue themselves from trouble.

Less than a month after that Alaskan trip, I went to Ecuador with Proverbs 31 and Compassion International. More than traveling from the northern to the southern hemisphere, God took me on a trip to transform my thinking. As I stood at the top of a garbage-strewn street in Quito (a far cry from Denali National Park), I looked over structures built with broken bricks and tin and on past to a city of 13 million mostly poor inhabitants, God smashed my “self-rescue” mentality.

Here before me were people who had no way to rescue themselves. Their poverty, and all that goes with it, had eliminated their ability to change their circumstances. Their only hope was brought to them by other people. Into this desperate situation walked humble servants of Jesus … wiping runny noses, feeding hungry children, training moms to care for babies, tutoring students and teaching about the saving love of Jesus.

God used that trip to Ecuador to show me His heart for the poor, and something more. God showed me that I’m not so different from the beautiful Ecuadorians I met. As much as I like to be independent and rescue myself, I can’t. Not only that, but God never meant for me to. God created me with a deep need for Him. Every step towards greater self-sufficiency takes me further from God’s help. I fight this dependency on God at times, falsely believing I must “self rescue.” And yet when I do ask for God’s help with any worries or concerns, I wonder why I stubbornly waited so long.

There are many things I can’t do on my own. To name just a few, I can’t love those who have hurt me or forgive great offenses without God’s help. And I will never be “good enough” to enter God’s presence in heaven without the ultimate price that was paid by Jesus’ death on the cross.There’s a freedom in admitting I need rescuing, and in gaining a greater compassion for others. I’m so glad we serve a God who delights in reaching down from heaven to give His beloved children a helping hand.

Heavenly Father, I praise You and thank You for being powerful enough to rescue me. Thank You for loving me so much that You sent Jesus to pay the debt for my sin, a debt I couldn’t pay. Help me not be so self-reliant that I neglect to ask for Your help. Fill me with love and compassion for those who need my help as well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst

Sponsor a child in need through Compassion International

Application Steps:
Identify one problem in your life right now. Write out a prayer on a 3”x5” card asking God for His help with that problem. Post the card where you’ll see it every day, continue to pray, and watch for God’s answer.

What keeps you from asking for help? (either from other people or from God)
Read Psalm 91. What are some of the ways God rescues us, according to this passage?
What is our part in the rescue?

Power Verses:
Galatians 1:3-5, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (NIV)

Psalm 30: 1-2, “I will exalt you, O LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.” (NIV)

Psalm 18:19, “He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” (NIV)

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Making the Effort
Rachel Olsen

Be earnest and unwearied in prayer, being on the alert in it and in your giving of thanks.” Colossians 4:2 (WNT)

I was recently interviewed by a Christian radio station; following the release of our devotional book God’s Purpose for Every Woman. The interview began with a brief discussion of the nature of God’s promises and purposes for women. Next, the topic shifted to the daily discipline of spending time with God, communing with Him through the words of the Bible and prayer. Of course I said how important this was for Christian stability and growth. Then the interviewer challenged, “So bring this home. You are a wife, a mother, a university teacher, a writer, and a traveling national speaker. I’m guessing you are pretty busy. Rachel, how do you find time to have a quiet time?”

There was a day when this question would have struck me deaf and dumb because I didn’t know what the answer was. I knew people who would spend an hour alone with God each day, and I wondered what their secret was. What was it that enabled them to do that? What kept them from falling asleep sitting there alone with the Bible? How did they know what to say, read or think about during all those minutes? How did they keep from getting distracted? How did they even manage to find an hour of free time each day? I kept waiting for a season of my life to come during which a block of time would regularly present itself and my spirit would drive me to God like my sweet tooth drives me to the freezer for chocolate ice cream. I wasted a lot of time idly waiting for that to happen.

“Rachel, how do you find time to have a quiet time?” I don’t find the time,” I answered. “I have to make the time. I can’t expect to find time – that’ll never happen. There’s always going to be something needing my attention, calling my name. I have to make the time, and that means sometimes I have to let other things slide. I have to be OK with letting less important things slide,” I confessed.

I’ve come to realize it’s a matter of choice, a matter of discipline… and a matter of active investment. E.M. Bounds wrote, “The lazy man does not, will not, cannot pray, for prayer demands energy.” That is a simple but profound statement. When I don’t pray it’s because I simply don’t want to expend the energy on it. People who do not pray much probably claim to be too busy or too bored with it, but in reality are too lazy to press into God. Wow. Ouch!

We have to be earnest and unwearied in prayer as today’s verse urges. In the words of a little shoe company called Nike; we have to “just do it.” Let’s carve some time in our days to be quiet before the Lord, to read His words and pray. We can trade a small portion of our time and energy for a large portion of His grace and power.

Purpose to stick to it for several weeks until it sinks into your schedule and your soul. If you want some help being accountable on this, visit my blog listed below. I know we’ll find it is more than worth the effort.

Dear Lord, I want to make the effort and time to interact with You. I want to pray and seek your heart. I don’t want to be too lazy to connect to Your love, wisdom, power and grace. Help me in this, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Rachel’s blog

God’s Purpose for Every Woman: A Compilation of Favorite P31 Devotions by various Encouragement for Today authors. Gen Eds. Lysa TerKeurst & Rachel Olsen

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

Application Steps:
If you are not in the habit of praying or regularly communing with God, commit to doing so. It doesn’t have to be for an hour - start with 10 minutes. Gather your Bible, some pen and paper and set the timer. For more tips see my blog.

Have you believed you were too busy to have a “quiet time” or pray?

Would you agree that you are too lazy to pray?

Has there been a time in your life when you were committed to regularly spending time alone with God? If so, what was the outcome of that spiritual practice?

Power Verses:
Matthew 6:6, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (NIV)
Mark 6:31, “Jesus said, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (NIV)

Mark 6:46, “After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.” (NIV)

1 Corinthians 14:15, “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.” (NIV)

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A Gentle Breeze or a Sledge Hammer
Melanie Chitwood

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)

Gentleness is part of being feminine - part of being a woman, and God made us distinctly different from men on purpose! God wants us to bring our gentleness to our marriages, to love our husbands with the tender love of God. Our tenderness woos our husbands and allows them to be vulnerable in return.

We can show our husbands gentleness in many ways—a soft touch, a sweet smile, a kind deed, and a caring tone of voice. We show gentleness when we are considerate, patient, understanding, forgiving and not easily offended or irritated.

Think about the opposite of gentle—harsh, pushy, insistent, demanding, caustic, and argumentative. Are you more likely to respond to your husband in gentleness or harshness?
Sometimes I think we fear being gentle because we fear we’ll appear weak or vulnerable. We see in Scripture that God is both a mighty warrior and a tender Shepherd. In Isaiah 40:10 and 11 we read, “See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power …He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart” (NIV). In the same way a woman can be both gentle toward her husband and strong. Consider the ways of a mother with her child; she is the one who scoops her child into her arms and hugs him tighter than tight, and she’s also the one who is fiercely protective of her child’s well-being.

As I was discussing the idea of a wife being gentle, an acquaintance shook his head and said, “My wife makes me think of the blows of a sledge hammer. There’s nothing gentle about her. She’s like a run-away bus and you just better get out of her way.”

Let’s practice the application steps below. Let’s watch our marriages flourish as we practice being more like the caress of a gentle breeze rather than the blows of a sledge hammer.

Dear Lord, Thank You, Heavenly Father, that You are both a mighty Warrior and a tender Shepherd. Help me to be a wife who is both strong and gentle. Fill me with Your Spirit and make me gentle like You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

For more on marriage issues visit the
Growthtrac website

Do you know Him?

Application Steps:
Enjoy God’s quiet presence and tender love.

Don’t let harshness become a bad habit. Begin to replace it with gentleness.

Practice patience.

Refrain from interrupting, correcting or nagging your husband.

Think before you speak. Do you really need to say what you’re about to say?

Spend time with friends or family who have a gentle spirit and observe.

How do you think being gentle helps your marriage? How does harshness hinder your marriage?
Do you have any fears about being gentle toward your husband? Be honest before the Lord and ask Him to give you His gentleness.

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

Matthew 11:29, “’Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’”(NIV)

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A Path to Contentment
Marybeth Whalen

“And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life.” I Corinthians 7:17 (MSG)

I have heard it said that comparison is the death of contentment, and truer words were never spoken. As I read this verse, I was struck by what Paul was saying. His words took me back to a place in my life when I was discontent with my marriage, my home, my children, and my life. I looked around me for answers and compared my situation to others. The trouble was I had limited information as to what was really going on in other people’s lives. I could only see what they wanted me to see, what they chose to reveal.

This habit of comparison led me to dissatisfaction with my husband. If only he were more godly. If only he were more attentive. If only he made more money. If only he understood me better. If only he were like so and so’s husband, then… This vicious cycle continued for many years, diminishing my husband in my eyes, and defeating our marriage from the outside in. Unless something changed, we were doomed to join the statistics.

It was the Truth in this verse that led me to stop the madness. Instead of focusing on other people, I focused on my husband. Instead of wishing away what God had given me, I started counting my blessings. Instead of wanting what I didn’t have, I worked at wanting what I had already been given. This external shift in perspective resulted in an internal heart change. Over time, I learned to live out the Truth in this verse.

If you break the verse down, you find three parts. One: Don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. This statement is true for both spouses, and reflects an attitude that is rampant in the culture. Be careful of the times you say to yourself, “If only…” Those statements lead down a dangerous road.

Two: Where you are is God’s place for you. For reasons you may not understand, God has allowed you to be in the place you are in. Instead of spending time wishing it away, spend time seeking God to determine His purposes for you. Use this as an opportunity for spiritual growth. This is true for singles as well as married couples.

Three: God defines your life. Don’t let your spouse, position, address, income, or anything else define you. If you have been guilty of letting these things define you, ask for His forgiveness and take steps to break free from these attitudes today. Spend some time letting the God of the Universe tell you who you are and what He sees in you. Don’t look to your spouse, your friends, your coworkers, neighbors or family members for these answers.

These three steps will lead you down a new path. This path leads to hope and contentment, freedom and abundance.

Dear Lord, Please tell me who I am in You. Help me to seek your answers and not look to other people’s situations as a solution. Help me find the path You have carved out for me so I can live the life of freedom and abundance You have uniquely planned for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Marybeth Whalen’s blog

Capture His Heart by Lysa TerKeurst

For more on marriage issues visit

Do you know Him?

Application Steps:
Is there someone you tend to compare yourself to? Perhaps it is a neighbor or family member. Write down any names God has brought to mind and any action steps you can take to stop looking to them.

What feelings does this verse stir up in you?
Which of the three parts most applies to your situation today?

Power Verses:
Psalm 16:11, “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 4:8, “There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. ‘For whom am I toiling,’ he asked, ‘and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?’ This too is meaningless—a miserable business!” (NIV)

Philippians 4:12-13, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” (NIV)

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