A Life That Pleases God
By Micca Monda Campbell

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Romans 8:5 (NKJ)

The Tennessee Women’s prison has an unusual baptistery in their chapel. It’s a coffin. For these women, being baptized in a coffin is a powerful visual of their death and burial with Christ. Thereafter, the coffin, which is a permanent fixture in the chapel, becomes a daily reminder that they are no longer slaves to sin and enemies of God. Their old way of living is dead, buried, and gone; and they are now free to live a life pleasing to God.

This is such an awesome truth in ours lives that Billy Graham says, “We should meditate on the truth that we are dead to sin and alive to righteousness, until returning to the old way of living is unthinkable.”

While it is true that we are dead to our old life, staying dead is another matter. Often, our dead flesh will raise its ugly head and try to influence our thoughts and actions. If we listen long enough to its demands, we suddenly find ourselves at the graveyard fervently digging up our old flesh, so that it can perform its sinful deeds.

Christians have a responsibility to put to death their old nature through daily surrender or else they cannot live a life pleasing to God. They will begin to think only of themselves again and ways to gratify their flesh. However, those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit will live a life of righteousness free from sin. Those who follow the Holy Spirit will not think about fulfilling the desires of the flesh. Their thoughts are occupied by God’s Word, His ways, and purposes.

The Bible tells us in Philippians 4:8, “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely an admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” So, what dominates your thoughts?

If we only think of ourselves, what we want and our rights, then eventually we’ll find ourselves going down the wrong path, one that leads to a stinky life. On the other hand, thinking on things that are pure and worthy brings forth life that is pleasing to God and a witness to others.

If you are in Christ, then the flesh no longer dominates you, my sister. So stop visiting the graveyard. Instead be led by the Holy Spirit by dying daily to your old way of thinking and living. Then, the Spirit of God can create in you a pure life that releases a sweet, pleasing aroma.

Dear Lord, I confess that I often visit the graveyard to free my dead flesh. Help me to keep that person in the grave by yielding solely to Your Holy Spirit so that my life will be pleasing to You, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Micca’s Blog

Micca Campbell’s Testimony DVD

The 7 Hardest Things God Asks a Woman to Do, by Kathie Reimer and Lisa Whittle

Do you know Jesus?

Application Steps:
Begin each day by surrendering to the Holy Spirit. Allow Him to guide your thoughts and actions and you will not give in to your own desires. When you fail, quickly confess it and surrender again. Soon Christ’s character will exude in your life while overcoming your own.

When you smell the stench of selfish flesh do you quickly confess it, turn from it, and begin living in the spirit again?

Is your life overall a pleasing aroma to God?

Do you follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life even when it’s hard?

Power Verses:
Galatians 5:16, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (KJV)

Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (NKJ)

Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world; but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the acceptable and perfect will of God.” (NKJ)

Be the Man
By Van Walton

”Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.” Luke 2:52 (NLT)

I recently visited my oldest son, Aaron, and his wife. They impressed me with their hard work and smart decisions. I admire them because they have found their way into responsible adulthood.

I realize looking back that my son didn’t automatically grow into maturity. Foundation stones and building blocks had to be carefully laid. That is where parenting came in. In addition to providing food, clothing, and shelter my husband and I were committed to preparing our sons to be men of strong godly character.

I always tried to remind myself that I was not raising boys - I was growing young men. When parenting got tough and I was tempted to back off and get lax, I remembered: “These are not little boys. They are future leaders, husbands and daddies. They need direction right now, not a push-over mom.”

Don’t get me wrong. I had lots of fun with my two sons, visiting museums, zoos, parks, and ski slopes. We attended church and participated in many children’s programs. Hiking the nearby woods, digging snow forts, and playing in the colorful fall leaves described our days.

I have other memories also of challenging situations when I had to say, “No.” Sometimes the parent-child struggles seemed unbearable. I often wanted to give up, allowing Aaron or Benjamin to have their way. Their smart manipulations sometimes confused me. Then I would have to remind myself that I was the mom.

One of the most difficult parenting tasks is to remove oneself and allow our children to fail as a result of the choices they make. The first time Aaron missed the bus, we had been struggling with time issues. Watching him return home, I prepared myself by smiling and opening the door. Without overreacting I listened to his story and responded, “You know the house rules. If you are not in school, you go to bed and stay in bed.” He argued that he was not sick, that I should take him to school. I knew if I caved in today, this battle and similar battles would plague us. I stood my ground, telling him that daddy is never late to work. Grown men don’t “miss the bus.”

If mothers do not do their “home work” right the first time around, the re-do’s become increasingly difficult and complicated – sort of like if you don’t memorize your multiplication tables, division will take you down!

I had to get my home work right with my youngest son, Benjamin, also. Sometimes his choices put him in peril so I developed a short phrase to repeat whenever he tried to dodge uncomfortable consequences. “Be the man” I’d say, “I am sure you can figure your way out of this problem.” Angered, Benjamin would often accuse others, but I reminded him that he alone was at fault. Grown men do not blame others for their mistakes.

Recently Benjamin, who’s now in college, told us his winter break plans, including a ski trip with friends. After listening to the exciting details, including the fact that he funded his entire trip, I gladly replied, “You’re the man. I’m impressed!”

In my son’s voice I detected strength, confidence, and a growing sense of self worth when he thanked me. I flashed back to those times I had encouraged him to solve his problems and “be the man.” My words might have seemed harsh and uncaring, but in reality I spoke of trust and confidence, telling him he was capable.

If we parent with an eye to the future rather than working out of today’s emotional reactions, we’ll successfully accomplish our “home work” and help our sons “be the man” God wants them to be one day.

Dear Lord, being a good parent is difficult. I find it hard to draw the line between genuine love and foolish pampering. Give me strength to wisely direct my children. Give me a picture of my son as a man and help me to parent toward the future. I dedicate my children to You, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
That’s My Son: How Moms Can Influence Boys to Become Men of Character, by Rick Johnson

Be the Parent, by Kendra Smiley

Visit Van’s blog

From the Pound to the Palace, a children’s book by Van Walton

Application Steps:
Write a letter to each of your children (or “god-children”) detailing your dreams for them.

What measures must I take today for my children to be enjoyable teens and godly adults?

Am I willing to take the necessary stands today so my children will grow up to be outstanding Christians tomorrow?

Power Verses:
1 Samuel 1:24 & 27, “After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was…, and brought him to the house of the LORD…‘I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.’” (NIV)

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

Who’s in Your Space?
By Susanne Scheppmann

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

Black lingerie barely covered the girl’s petite body. Written in red marker across her stomach were provocative words aimed for seduction. She was thirteen and an active member of her church youth group.

Aghast, I sat silent watching my neighbor’s daughter dance across the computer screen. My neighbor asked, “How did this happen? What is this MySpace?”

Hot angry tears ran down my cheeks. Once again, MySpace.com struck close to home. Just a month before, I had discovered a teenage relative of mine dressed in macabre attire spewing profanities before a camera. Her gothic attire and horrific language went against everything I knew about the one I had affectionately thought of as a “bookworm.”

MySpace.com is one of several websites that promotes social networking. Anyone can setup a profile and say anything about himself or herself. It provides a false sense of anonymity and safety for teens. They can promote themselves as sexy, daring, or rebellious. Really, how many teenagers are going to admit that they’re a bookworm? It’s more fun to become someone they’re not. It can turn out to be a masquerade of self before an audience of millions.

Sexual predators search social networks such as MySpace.com looking for innocent victims who are usually unaware of the danger. When immature and unaware kids foray onto the Internet, doors open for insidious people to come into the space of your home.

So, what can we moms do? We can wise up and go on the offense. Let’s heed the advice found in Proverbs 2:11, “Wise planning will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe” (NLT).

Know Who’s in Your Space
We need to know who is coming into our homes uninvited. (This can include our kids who may be engaging in online behavior beyond our recognition.) In today’s world of computers, Internet, and cell phones, it is not always easy to know what our children are doing – alone or with friends. Usually, teens are savvy when it comes to the world of electronics, so we need to become proactive in our awareness. As mothers who want to protect our children, we should talk with them about online dangers and take steps to guard against unacceptable Internet activity.

Take Advantage of this Opportunity
Let’s remember the computer is not the enemy. (To me, it is the best thing since the microwave!) The evil that lurks on the Internet comes from the evil one, not the hardware. So, “Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13, NLT). See this as an opportunity to connect with your children on their own turf. Allow them to discover that you can be fun and interactive, even in their space.

Most importantly, let’s ask for wisdom from our heavenly Father to aid in understanding what’s in our space—our homes.

Lord Jesus, grant me wisdom in raising my children in the age of the Internet. I ask that you give my children wisdom and discernment when they go online. In Your Name, I pray.

Related Resources:

Disconnected: Parenting Teens in a MySpace World, by Chap and Dee Clark

Perplexing Proverbs—A Woman’s Bible Study, by Susanne Scheppmann

Visit Susanne’s Blog

Application Steps:
● Talk with your child/children about the Internet.
● Discuss what may happen if they masquerade as someone they are not.
● Don’t assume your child would not masquerade on the Internet.
● Keep your computers in family rooms. Do not allow your teens to shut themselves up in their
room with a laptop or PC.
● Consider not using wireless networking in your home so you can limit Internet access only to
rooms with family activity.
● Talk openly with your children about social networking sites. Ask to see some of their friends’
sites. If they willingly show you how to log onto a friend’s site, jot down passwords and
usernames. Once you log on, you can hopscotch to other teen profiles.
● Know your kid’s friends and their parents. Make allies with other parents and ask them to
help you with the task of discovering who’s in your computer space.
● Be spiritually aware and on guard. Pray that God will give you wisdom and direction as you
begin to maneuver in the world of teen cyberspace.


Do I know what my child is doing on the Internet?

How can I educate myself on new technology?

Power Verses:

1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” (NIV)

Proverbs 4:11, “I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.” (NIV)

Wonderful Counselor
By Melanie Chitwood

“And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6b (NIV)

The past year has brought many unexpected challenges in my life, mostly in the form of stress over various relationships. These concerns wake me up early in the morning to pray, and they’ve led me to be increasingly dependent on God.

One morning as I was reading my Bible, God reminded me that I am not alone and I do not face these challenges on my own. I’ve known this for many years, but this morning God moved that truth from my head to my heart with the words from today’s key verse.

Jesus is my Wonderful Counselor. Have you ever paused to dwell on those words? Jesus is my Wonderful Counselor. When I don’t know how to be a mother to my newly turned teenage son, Jesus is my Wonderful Counselor. When I don’t know how to comfort my relatives going through a hard time in their marriage, Jesus is my Wonderful Counselor. When I want to offer wise counsel to my friend whose life seems to be coming apart, Jesus is my Wonderful Counselor.

As I looked at the other names of Jesus, I was reminded of what kind of Counselor He is. He is our Mighty God – God’s strength surpasses any attacks the world brings. He is our Everlasting Father – His love and strength are eternal. And He is our Prince of Peace – He calms our fears and worries when we hand them over to Him.

Do you know Jesus as your Wonderful Counselor? Whatever concerns or challenges you face today, you can take them to Jesus.

Have you asked Him into your heart and are you sure that you are a child of God? If not, click on the “Do you know Him” link below, and ask Jesus to be your Wonderful Counselor today. He loves you and can’t wait to be there for you now and always.

And if you already know Jesus as Savior, have you trusted Him to be Wonderful Counselor as well?

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

NIV Women’s Devotional Bible

What a Husband Needs from His Wife, by Melanie Chitwood

Loving God with All Your Heart – Encouragement for Your Everyday Life

Application Steps:
Whatever is worrying you or weighing on your heart, right now shift that burden to the Lord by praying. Ask Your Wonderful Counselor for His advice and be ready to act on His leading.

Dwell on the names of Jesus in today’s verse: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Are you being self-reliant or relying on God?

Are there situations you need to pray about? Do you need to let go of trying to solve these problems?

Power Verses:
1 John 3:1a, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! “ (NIV)

Matthew 28:20b, “’…I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’” (NAS)

Psalm 100:5, “For the Lord is good, His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.” (NAS)

The Song of My Rag Tag Soul
By Lysa TerKeurst

“…And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together will all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled up to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19 (NIV)

God has had me on such an amazing journey for the past seven years.You see it was 7 years ago that I knelt beside my bed in a hotel room and told God that I wanted to live a life completely and utterly surrendered to Him. Through my tears I asked Him to reveal to me what He required of me? His reply, "Radical Obedience."

I had been obedient but only to a certain point. I was good but I was not holy. I had faith but had no desire to be put in a position to really have to practice it.

So, I pulled out my Bible and read it with fresh eyes. Eyes that desired to see more than just words. Eyes that desired to see God Himself. I wanted to walk, breathe, live, and maybe even have parts of me die in order to get past just being a good Bible study girl. I was so full of knowledge and yet completely starved of experiencing God Himself.

Francis Frangipane wrote about this condition, "Right knowledge is vital, but we want more than just knowledge. We want the Presence of the Almighty to fill the vacuum of our doctrines with substance, the very substance of Himself."

So, the adventure started. I began praying the dangerous prayers and asking the unsafe questions. I shifted from “bless me” to “expose me.” I admitted my ugliness and confessed my unwillingness. And I dared to admit that I was not a woman of faith. For if I was completely honest, I lived a life that required no faith at all.

I cried. I hurt. Finally, finally the Lysa that so desperately wanted the world's acceptance, accolades, ease, answers, cover-ups, and half-hearted faith, died.

For the first time ever, I tasted life. God Himself was there. The more I saw Him, the more I was compelled to give Him everything. Francis also says, "The more we see God as He is, the more compelled we are to give Him our all."

My friend, giving my all has found me many days in the very fibers of my carpet crying puddles of tears while asking, "Are you sure God? I am scared. I am so not capable. If I were You, I'm not sure I would trust me with this."

Passionately pursuing God in absolute obedience led me to pull away from some friendships. It led me to a fast from TV for over 2 years. It led me to come to know about a war-torn nation full of crying orphans. It led me to hearing "mom" said with an African accent. It led me to deep places of questioning. It led me to be on the Oprah show. It led me to endure some of the harshest criticism I've ever known by people who don't understand. It led me Hollywood. It led me to understand that even having a national platform is very empty in and of itself. It led me to a place of desperation for God.

Now, after seven years of radical obedience, I wish I could give myself an “A” on this lesson and move on. But I must be honest. I find myself again in the midst of God's sweet presence saying, "I have been obedient but only to a certain point. I have been good but I am not holy. I have faith but still struggle with the desire to be put in a position to really have to practice it." And so the journey continues.

One thing I do know is that a few years ago the world was asking, “Is Jesus real?” That's not the question any longer. I'm convinced the question the world now asks is: "Does Jesus work?" Oh God, that my life could answer this question with a resounding yes, is the very beat of my fragile heart, and the song of my rag tag soul.

Dear Lord, help me know You in the deepest ways and taste and see that You are good and can be trusted in every way. Give me courage to live the life my soul was designed to live. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

Visit Lysa’s blog

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith, by Lysa TerKeurst

What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
In your journal, write about something that God has been asking you to give up in order to spend a little more time with Him.

Ask the Lord to help you see the joy beyond your sacrifice.

If any part of this resonates with you, post a comment on my blog and let me know about it.

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

John 5: 39-40, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (NIV)

Training Our Children to Follow God
By Melanie Chitwood

“’Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.’” Deuteronomy 6:4-8 (NLT)

God’s Word teaches us that the spiritual training of our children is our responsibility as parents, but to be honest I’ve struggled over the years with how to do this. As I’ve prayed and tried different approaches, the following ideas have guided me.

First, as today’s key verse says, before we’re commanded to teach our children anything, we’re told how to live out our own personal relationship with God by loving Him with all our heart. We’ve all heard the phrase that “more is caught than taught.” We need to ask ourselves if we’re living out in our lives the godly principles we want to teach our children. Kids tend to be very sensitive to hypocrisy, so if our children don’t see us modeling God’s truths, they’re likely to tune us out.

Secondly, I’ve discovered that love is the most effective teacher. I experienced this firsthand in my life. I became a Christian as a teenager after my Young Life leaders took an interest in me, listened to me, and became involved in my life. They did this for years before I ever committed my life to Christ. Their love for me was genuine and I knew it. No one wants to feel like a project on someone’s Christian “to-do” list. That includes our children. Training our children in God’s principles happens best when our children know that we love them, we care about all aspects of their lives, and we value them as top priorities.

Third, I have looked for practical activities that will lead to great conversations with my kids. My favorite is when we sit down at the dinner table and each family member shares his “highs and lows.” A “high” is simply something good that happened that day or week, maybe something that made that person happy. A “low” is something that made him sad or unhappy during the day.

Sometimes our sharing time is very light-hearted and silly, but other times it’s more serious, leading to more questions and conversation. Most importantly, this sharing time provides an avenue for me to give my children some ideas for applying God’s truth in a very real and practical way to what’s going on in their lives. It’s become one of our favorite family traditions.

As we pray for His help, I have found that God is always willing to give us great ideas for pointing our kids to Him.

Dear Lord, thank You for the children You’ve given me. Give me Your wisdom, strength and discipline in raising them to be godly men and women. Let my life be an example of loving and following You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
A Mom’s Guide to Making Memories Last, by Crystal Bowman. Please call 877-731-4663, ext. 208 to order this resource

Do You Know Him?

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

What a Husband Needs from His Wife, by Melanie Chitwood

Application Steps:
Try sharing “highs and lows.” This can be done at the dinner table, riding in the car, or during family devotions.

Let your children see you reading your Bible. Show them how important it is by not letting them interrupt this time.

In everyday conversations share some of the things God’s teaching you.

Try memorizing Scripture together.

Play a CD in the car of the Bible on tape or Christian songs.

When observing your life, what do your children learn about God?

Does your life reflect that your children are amongst your top priorities?

Do you play and pray together as a family?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 22:6, “Point your kids in the right direction — when they're old they won't be lost.” (The Message)

Ephesians 6:4, “…bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (NIV)

Cheer Leading or Cheer Leaking?
By Tracie Miles

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:10-12 (NIV)

Both of my daughters have had a passion for cheerleading for eight years. This year the league was recruiting new coaches and I volunteered. The opportunity for new coaches resulted from a change in leadership. The change was embraced by many parents, but rebuked by others.

Although I had prepared my mind to handle the conflicts that were sure to arise, I was not prepared in my heart for the hurt inflicted by those not embracing the change. I unknowingly entered into a battle, which I was not prepared to fight – a battle of spiritual warfare.

The term “spiritual warfare” is not mentioned in Scripture, however, the Bible clearly identifies the concept. You may think it sounds silly that the enemy would use cheerleading in his war games, but the enemy will use any opportunity to pull us away from God.

I gradually became distracted by the obligations of coaching and I was too busy for my own good. Each week presented a new problem, and I started feeling consistently discouraged. The harsh words of a few people deeply hurt my feelings. My hurt soon turned into anger and resentment. Then I became frustrated and started questioning God’s purpose for my being a coach – to be a cheer “leader” for our team. The enemy used many strategies to weaken me. He even succeeded in causing the “cheer” to leak from my soul. Although I tried to wear a smile, on the inside I felt confused, defeated and broken.

Eventually, I realized I had let a handful of hurtful people steal my joy. I knew that two key pieces of God’s armor are prayer and His Word. I decided to daily pray Psalm 51:12, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (NIV). I asked for God’s grace in helping me sustain joy in the midst of this challenging situation. I also prayed Proverbs 17:22, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones,” asking God to rekindle cheer in my heart.

Over the next few weeks, through various sermons I heard and Bible passages I read, the Holy Spirit began to fill my heart with cheer. God showed me that my struggles were not with flesh and blood, but with the spiritual thief who wanted to steal my joy.

Although I temporarily allowed the enemy to crush my spirit through the ungodly actions of other people, through this experience I learned some great lessons. I learned that I had to purposely choose perseverance when I wanted to quit; choose happiness even when people were unkind to me; choose to forgive those who didn’t deserve it; and choose a heart full of cheer during difficult times.

Most of all, I learned that I have to choose to keep my eyes focused on Jesus when the trials of life begin to distort my spiritual vision.

I am not capable of doing any of these things on my own, but only by relying fully on Jesus and allowing His supernatural power to abide within me. God could have changed my circumstances at any time, but His desire was to change my heart during the circumstances.

Jesus was my coach, and I once again became His “cheer” leader.

Dear Lord, help me to recognize when the enemy is at work in my life. I acknowledge my desperate need for Your love. Restore to me the joy of my salvation and help me to be a cheerleader for Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Reinventing your Rainbow, by Tracie Miles

God Calling, by A.J. Russell

The 7 Hardest Things God Asks a Woman to Do, by Kathie Reimer and Lisa Whittle

Application Steps:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus and look full into His face; and the things of earth will go strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace” (from Hymn by Helen H. Lemmel, 1922). Look to Him today.

Have people hurt you? Is your heart in danger of being filled with resentment towards them? How is it affecting the condition of your heart?

Have you allowed these problems to pull your focus away from God?

Power Verses:
Ephesians 4:31-32, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (NLT)

Philippians 3:12-14, “I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.” (Message)

John 10: 10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (NAS)

Becoming a Patient Woman
By Rachel Olsen

“We also pray that you will be strengthened with his glorious power so that you will have all the patience and endurance you need.” Colossians 1:11 (NLT)

In a heart that values instant gratification like mine does, patience seems hard to come by.

In the last several weeks I’ve raced through a yellow light because I didn’t want to wait at a red light. I’ve looked up my symptoms on the internet because I didn’t want to sit in a doctor’s waiting room. I’ve paid extra for an item off the internet because I didn’t want to stand in line at the store. I’ve also eaten dessert first, because I didn’t want to wait until it was “time” for dessert. (I think anytime is a good time for dessert!) Though I can’t recall a specific instance, odds are high that I lost my patience at some point and fussed at my kids.

We want stuff and we want it now. We want results and we want them now. Yet the Bible repeatedly says that patience should be a way of life for followers of Christ.

God is love and patience is part of His character. For you and I to love like God loves, patience will be required (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Loving as God loves is the ultimate goal as we walk through this life seeking to please God and become like Him.

Patience could be defined as the ability to endure graciously. We all have to deal at times with people or circumstances that try our composure – an ungrateful child, an inattentive waitress, a slow moving line at the cash register, a spouse taking our hard work around the house for granted. How graciously do we behave in these circumstances?

The Bible says God will be faithful to complete the good works He began in us (Philippians 1:6). That implies there’s going to be some “in the meantime” when we’re all less than perfect and less than easy to love. This is where patience comes in. The apostle Paul instructs us to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph.4:1-3).

We also have to exercise patience towards God as we wait for His full plan to unfold. At times we must wait for answers to prayers, for deliverance, for provision, or for Him to dispense justice or reveal His will. We really have no choice but to wait in these circumstances, but a woman developing patience will endure the wait graciously. It helps to remember how very patient God has to be with us on a daily basis (1 Timothy 1:16, 2 Peter 3:8-9).

Exercising patience isn’t just an exercise of the human will. The kind of patience Paul is talking about is a fruit of the Spirit developed in a woman’s soul in tandem with God. It’s a virtue that grows from her confidence in the sovereignty of God and His ability to bring all things to completion, in His timing, in a way that benefits His children and glorifies Him.

This patience thing may take some time to develop, but I’ve decided to graciously endure the process. I started today by stopping and waiting at a yellow light I’m certain I could’ve made it through safely. As I sat at the intersection, I thought about God and about developing patience. The light turned green a mere minute later, and I went on my way with a smile on my face, happy to be a woman who is embracing patience … even if in a very small way.

Dear Lord, thank You for being so very patient with me. Help me to develop patience, and display that quality for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

We apologize our shopping cart has been down during our transition to our new website and thank you for our patience! This week’s links are now connected to an active resource area. If we can aid you further in the ordering process, please don’t hesitate to contact us at resources@proverbs31.org.

30 Days to Taming your Tongue, by Deborah Smith Pegues

Visit Rachel’s blog: “My Life in Chapter & Verse

God’s Purpose for Every Woman: P31 Devotional, by Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olsen General Editors

Application Steps:
Pray for patience daily.

Keep the word “patience” in the forefront of your mind today and look for opportunities to be more patient.

Who in my life can benefit from me extending them more patience?

How would becoming more patient change my day, my outlook, my health, or my relationships?

Is my patience stronger than my temper? Or stronger than my longings?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 25:15, “Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can crush strong opposition.” (NLT)

Ecclesiastes 7:8, “Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.” (NLT)

Romans 15:5, “May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other – each with the attitude of Christ Jesus toward the other.” (NLT)

Isabella and Jesus

By Van Walton

“The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: ‘Don't push these children away. Don't ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in.’ Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.” Mark 10:13-16 (MSG).

My friend Kathy is a grandmother of three. You would never know it if you saw her. A former dancer, she is tall, athletic, and beautifully young. I am so impressed with my friend who returned to school in her fifties, earned a nursing degree and is now working full-time. During her spare time she enjoys her grandchildren.

Every once in a while her granddaughter, Isabella, visits her Nana for a sleepover. Kathy uses these times to tell Isabella about Jesus. However, the first time Kathy tried to introduce her granddaughter to Jesus, Isabella flatly said, “But I can't see Him.”

The next time Isabella spent the night, Kathy decided to get creative. She got out her stethoscope and showed Isabella where her heart is inside her chest. Then she had Isabella ball up her fist and she explained that it was the same size as her heart. Kathy then asked, “Can you see your heart?”

Isabella said “no,” so her Nana held the stethoscope to her chest and let her hear her heartbeat. "Is your heart in there?”

“Yes.” Isabella responded.

“How do you know?” her grandmother asked.

“I can hear it!” She said.

“Well, one day you will begin to hear Jesus even though you can't see Him.”

Isabella doesn’t know how blessed she is to have a grandmother who is not put off by a child’s uninterested answers. Kathy’s perseverance reminded me that whether I am talking with my own children, my little neighbors, or my nieces and nephews, I can have an impact on their spiritual lives by finding creative ways to teach them about Jesus.

Dear Father in Heaven, I know it is no accident that children are all around me. I ask your special blessings on my neighbors, the children of my dear friends, my nieces and nephews and my own precious children. You have equipped me with everything I need to share the gospel with them. Please give me wisdom and discernment as I interact with the children in my life. I want to introduce them to You. I anticipate the day of celebration when one of these children would come to You because of something I said that opened their eyes and heart. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
We apologize our shopping cart has been down during our transition to our new website. This week’s links are now connected to a working resource area. If we can aid you further in the ordering process, please don’t hesitate to contact us at resources@proverbs31.org.

From the Pound to the Palace, by Van Walton

Do You Know Jesus?

For the Least of These, P31 Love-in-Action blog

Sponsor a Child through Compassion International

Visit Van’s blog

Application Steps:
In the midst of any given day an adult who interacts with children has the opportunity to invite God into ordinary conversations. Begin your day by asking Him to show you the life lessons He wants you to teach. Ask Him to give you an opportunity to touch a child’s heart. Begin praying for one particular child in your realm of influence.

Develop their trust in God by explaining we can depend upon God to give us daytime and nighttime, every 24 hours.

Point to nature and say, “If what He makes is this beautiful, can you imagine what we will see when we see God face-to-face?”

Read Bible stories and apply them to everyday life: Read a story about Jesus and those He healed. Ask a child to ride along with you to deliver a meal to a sick person. Remind a child that Jesus cares for children.

Together sponsor a child through Compassion International.

Do I take time to direct children’s attention toward God?

Do the media I offer my children - books, DVDs, television programs - contain Biblical lessons?

Have I modeled a prayer life for my children?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 31:28, “Her children stand and bless her…” (NLT)

Acts 2:38-39, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children…” (NIV)

The Gift of Listening
By Renee Swope

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

I was recently reading a book in bed when I heard my husband calling our dog to come get her treat. He was actually luring Chelsea, our thirteen-year-old daschund, to her doggie bed.
Daisy, our beagle, was already outside doing her business, anticipating the reward of a doggy biscuit if she obediently came back inside and went to her bed. However, Chelsea was sound asleep in her chair; and nothing was going to get her to budge. Not even the promise of a bedtime treat.

I wondered if Chelsea had perfected her “selective hearing” skills, knowing it was time for bed, or if she's going deaf. I had a feeling it was the latter.

Once the dogs were tucked in bed, we laughed about how Chelsea used to hear every little thing. If the wind blew a leaf outside our front door, she barked.

Andrew my 10-year old came to my bedside to kiss me goodnight. With a concerned look in his eyes he said, “Mom, I hope when you get old you don’t go deaf like Chelsea.”

I laughingly told him that when I’m as old as Chelsea, it might be good if I can’t hear everything. She gets a lot more sleep than she used to, and I love to sleep. She also doesn’t hear when we laugh at her, and it might be good if I don’t hear jokes them laughing at me either.

My light-hearted response didn’t wipe the concern off his brow, so I asked why he was afraid I won’t be able to hear him."Well, sometimes you don’t hear me now. Like when you're on the computer and I ask you a question, sometimes you don’t hear me.” He answered without hesitation.Ouch! I was not expecting that answer. I almost plunged into a "bad mommy" moment. My child thinks I can't hear him. I thought. I felt really bad because although I may be deeply distracted, I know that I hear him but I don’t always listen.Instead of defining that moment with guilt, I pulled Andrew close to me and told him I was sorry for not listening sometimes.

I didn’t want him to fear that old age might make it worse. So, I explained how me being on the computer is similar to when he’s watching a good movie or playing video games. I reminded him how he gets so involved that’s it almost like he’s in another world and sometimes doesn't hear other noises, like me calling him for dinner. He nodded with a smile.

Then I made a promise I want to keep. “Andrew,” I said, "I am going to try really hard to stop what I am doing when you come to me, look away from my computer and really listen to what you’re saying. You're more important than anything I do on the computer. What you have to say matters to me!”

Today’s verse reflects our longing for God to hear us. It reminds me that in the same way I go to God because I want Him to listen and answer me; my child and others come to me because they want me to listen to them.

That night God showed me a valuable gift I can give to my children, my husband, friends, co-workers and even strangers. I can give the gift of listening by simply stopping what I’m doing, and giving my full attention to them when I hear them speak to me.

Lord, thank You for listening to me. Please help me be a better listener. It’s easy to hear with one ear while the other is turned toward my computer, the television or my cell phone. I want to give the gift of listening this year. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Living and Leaving a Legacy, 2 part DVD Conference Message by Renee Swope

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

Renee’s Blog

Love the One’s You’re With, a free devotional by Renee Swope

Application Steps:
Make a list of those you want to give the gift of listening to. Tell them your want to be more like Jesus by devoting your full attention to them when they’re talking. Ask them to help you.

Here are some ideas I am implementing:
  • Turn off my cell phone in the evenings
  • Limit email to one hour each morning and evening at home
  • Delay answering the phone during dinner and family time
  • Turn away from my desk at work when someone comes to talk with me
  • I’ve asked my kids to come to my side and jokingly say, “Chelsea? Chelsea?” after a few failed attempts to get my attention. This is a fun way for us to keep it light while helping me realize when I’m not listening.

When I talk to God, do I realize that He’s listening with His full attention?

When someone is talking to me, do I stop what I’m doing and turn my full attention to them? How can I be a better listener?

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

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

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

Balancing Act
By Zoë Elmore

“His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant!’” Matthew 25:21a (NIV)

I had the privilege of being a stay-at-home mom while our sons were growing up. I very much enjoyed volunteering at their school and in our community. Once our sons entered junior high school, I began working outside our home to help our family income. Now that they are both out of the house I have not one, but three part-time jobs. I spend four to five days a week as a receptionist for a doctors’ office, a counseling center and I spend many weekends traveling and speaking with Proverbs 31 Ministries. All three jobs are a rich-training ground for learning how to balance work, family and home responsibilities. This schedule has certainly given me a new appreciation of how easily my balance act can be disrupted.

There are days when the Lord and I keep things on track at work and at home, and then there are days when it seems to be one derailment after another. It’s in those days of derailment that I ask the Lord to show me ways to get back on track. Throughout this last year I’ve discovered three areas of intent that help keep my life balanced no matter what the day is like.

First things first… I must keep my daily appointment with the Lord. Some days it consists of my usual quiet time, and other days it’s reduced to prayer while driving (with open eyes of course). In either case, being intentional about spending time with the Lord keeps the attitude of working for the Lord utmost in my mind.

Keeping this attitude leads me to the next area of intent… Control my work. Working hard comes easily to me, but it’s the one place l can lose my balance when I allow my work to control me. Perhaps it’s my desire to do my work with excellence or maybe it’s the “disease to please.” Whatever the reason, when I allow the Holy Spirit to guide me in balancing my life's priorities, I’m reminded that my source of significance is Jesus Christ, not my work.

Another thing I’ve learned to do is ask for help. I’ve made an agreement with friends to be there from time to time when we need a helping hand. I’ve learned that it’s okay to admit that my life isn’t perfect (my friends already know that). I’ve also learned to get my family involved in everyday chores; this not only frees up time, but it is also a good way to build character and self-esteem in my children.

The last area of intent is the idea of intentional, godly fellowship. Our spiritual lives need the encouragement from other believers. When we neglect this area, we can lose our warm fuzzies (as I call them) and open the door to the cold and pricklies. Just like separating logs in a fireplace causes them to cool off faster, neglecting godly fellowship will cause us to lose the warmth of our spiritual lives.

If you’re struggling with the delicate balance of work and home, I want to encourage you to be intentional about asking the Lord to show you strategies for balancing your life. As women we are all pulled in many directions each day. Having good intentions simply isn’t enough. We must implement intentional behavior if we are going to master the balancing act of life.

Dear Lord, I thank You for the responsibilities You have placed before me because I know they are from Your sovereign hand. Show me practical ways to prioritize my life in order to obtain and maintain balance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources

A Woman’s Secret to a Balanced Life, by LysaTerKeurst and Sharon Jaynes

Visit Zoe’s blog

Women Who Do Too Much, by Patricia Sprinkle

Application Steps
As you begin your work today, ask God to show you practical ways to balance your life.

Make a commitment to be intentional with the things God shows you.

Be willing to ask for help. Allow others the blessing of lending a hand. For instance, take turns cooking dinner. If your children are too small to cook have a “breakfast” night once a week and enjoy a bowl of your favorite cereal.

Have you pushed God aside in the pursuit of balance?

Are you wearing the “My life is perfect” mask? Remove it permanently and get real. Nobody’s life is perfect on this side of heaven.

Power Verses
Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (NIV)

Ephesians 6:7, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.” (NIV)

Real Resolutions for Moms
By Karen Ehman

“… But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13b-14 (ESV)

It’s that time when many of us are making New Year’s resolutions, so how about some resolutions for mothers? Here are mine:

I will put my Bible before the television, the radio, the telephone, and even before good Christian books, for my children will know my priorities by the way they see me spend my free time.

I will make my prayer requests known before God and my children, enlisting their help in the process and informing them of the outcome, for by letting them help when I petition our Lord will they learn of a living God who still answers prayer.

When times of crisis, conflict or confusion arise, I will hit my knees before I hit the phone knowing that by my example my children will discover that although friends are important, God alone is the one who holds the solution to life’s every problem.

I will erase the words “luck” and “lucky” from my vocabulary and will instead by my speech point my children toward the One who orchestrates every detail of our lives and brings all good things to pass, for by this my children will learn of an omniscient God.

When bad things happen, I’ll neither grumble nor complain, but will instead help my children see that in the scope of our lives even the bad times are allowed for a reason, for by this my children will learn quiet trust in their Maker.

When normal childhood mishaps occur, I will remember that although difficult, it is still easier to remove grape juice from off-white carpet than to erase harsh and unloving words hurled at a child whose chubby little fingers have failed her, for by this my children will see a God who understands when our best efforts fall short.

When my children have witnessed something ugly in me - unkind words, an angry temper, “harmless” gossip, biting sarcasm or even my infamous “mommy pout” when things don’t go my way - I will confess it as sin before them seeking their forgiveness, for by this my children will develop the much needed habit of wiping their spiritual slate clean before God and man.

I will teach my children the importance of cleanliness and order while at the same time remain sensitive to the fact that a skinned knee or hurt feeling is more crucial than a spotless floor or uncluttered counter, for by this my children will learn to value people above things.

I will make time for the lonely, the sick, the elderly, the difficult to love, and will bring my children along, for with each afternoon visit, each ride to the doctor, each raked lawn or washed window they will have opportunity to serve Jesus by serving the “least of these.”

I will make our home a haven of rest and retreat from the outside world and a welcomed place for my children’s friends, for with each impromptu backyard soccer game, each video viewed on a rainy day, each cup of hot cocoa or chocolate chip cookie, my children will have opportunity to practice the art of Christian hospitality thereby learning to share all God has given them.

I will by my actions and my speech let my children see a mom love their dad, for by this will my children sense family stability at a time when marriages all around them are crumbling.

I will not require of my children obedience, honesty, patience or kindness without first being willing to submit to the same rules whether in speed limit, in miscounted change from the grocery store or when answering a toddler for the fourteenth time, for by this my children will see a mother who is also learning and not a perfect parent to whom they’ll never measure up.

In all things will I remember that more is caught than is taught.

There are little eyes upon you, mom. You are the first Bible your children will ever read.

Dear Lord, may my goals this year spring from a right relationship with You and may carrying them out point others heavenward. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources
A Life that Says Welcome, by Karen Ehman

Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture, by Mary DeMuth

Visit Karen’s Blog

You are Special, a children’s book by Max Lucado

Application Steps
Pick just one or two resolutions that have to do with your role as a wife or mother. Tell a friend and have her hold you accountable for carrying them out.

Of the above resolutions, which are the most difficult for you? Why?

Do any of the things mentioned come more naturally for you? Have they always? Or have you seen growth in your life in these areas?

Power Verses
I Timothy 4:12, “Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” (NIV)

II Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (NIV)

Who Is Jesus to You? Part II
By Amy Carroll

“’But what about you?’ he said. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” Matthew 16:15-16 (NIV)

Isn’t it amazing how a question asked at the appropriate time can pierce your heart? Not too long ago, I was in the midst of a judgmental rant when my husband asked just such a question. It absolutely stopped me in my tracks. My heart ached and tears began to run down my face. From one piercing question, I faced my own self-righteousness, and it changed both my mind and heart.

Yesterday’s devotion showed how Jesus was the master of using a timely question. He asked his disciples about the culture’s perception of who He was to get them to examine those assumptions.

His next question may be one of the most important questions that any woman faces: “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” This question resounds through the generations until it lands squarely at our own feet. Each person is required to come to a conclusion about this question. No conclusion IS a conclusion by the way.

Jesus had quite a bit to say about who He was. He called Himself the Son of Man (Matt. 16:13), Messiah (John 4:25-26), the Bread of Life (John 6:35), the Light of the World (John 8:12), I Am (John 8:58), the Good Shepherd (John 10:14), and Son of God (John 10:36-38). This is only a partial list, but Jesus was unequivocal about His identity.

Josh McDowell, a well-known Christian apologist, has said that either Jesus told the truth and is truly Lord as He claimed, or else He was a lunatic or a liar. That’s strong stuff, but upon inspection, he’s right. C.S. Lewis, who was once an agnostic, said it this way, "You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Jesus’ question, “Who do you say I am?” pierced my heart when I was ten years old, and I’ve been passionately in love with Him as Messiah, Savior and Lord ever since. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve struggled with the hard questions presented by life, death and suffering. I’ve fallen to sin and failed those around me more often than I even want to remember. I’ve had doubts and struggled with fear. But the over-riding strength and faith that I’ve received from answering that one question continues to be a blessing to me.

I challenge you to take this week to examine Jesus’ question for yourself. Ask God to show you who Jesus really is. If you’re a Christ-follower already, ask God to remove any human preconceptions and inaccuracies. If you’re not a Christ-follower, start reading the Gospel of John and ask God to reveal the truth of who He is to you. I believe He’s big enough to answer His own question - “Who do you say I am?” – in your heart.

Dear Jesus, I want to know the truth of who You are. Help me to search it out in the Bible. Open my eyes and my heart to what is true about You and help me to then dedicate my life to knowing the truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources
Do you know Jesus?

Women's Devotional Bible

What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, by Lysa TerKeurst

Visit Amy’s blog

Application Steps
Choose a Bible translation that you can understand easily and read the Gospel of John.

Ask God out loud (even if you’re not sure that you believe) to show you the truth about Jesus.

Have I settled the question of who Jesus is to me?

If I haven’t, what is holding me back?

If I have, does my life really reflect that belief?

Power Verses
Matthew 3:17, “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’” (NIV)

Hebrews 1:3, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (NIV)

Luke 22:70, “They all asked, ‘Are you then the Son of God?’ He replied, ‘You are right in saying I am.’”

Who Is Jesus? Part I
By Amy Carroll

“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’” Matthew 16:13 (NIV)

Our culture has many things to say about Jesus. Some say that He was a master teacher or a prophet. Some say that He was a good man who set an example for living. Others say that He is a myth or a symbol of a religious system.

His method of teaching qualifies Him as a master teacher without a doubt. In this scene, Jesus begins with two questions that are still essential today as we face questions about faith, both in our culture as a whole and personally. His first question to His disciples is, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13 NIV) This question begins to open a door to the opinions of the day about Jesus, who used “Son of Man” as one of His own titles. The disciples answered with a list of prophets, all of whom were dead.

Why did Jesus ask the question at all? If He really was divine, didn’t he already know the answer? I believe that He asked the question not to gain information but in order to get the disciples to examine the perceptions of the culture around them. There must have been quite a bit of talk about Jesus in His time. The news of reported miracles and confrontations of the religious leaders must have spread like wildfire. Scripture reports that once His ministry was in full swing, crowds followed Him relentlessly.

Sadly, there’s less and less talk about Jesus in our present culture. Jesus has become a politically incorrect term. You step on far fewer toes when you just refer to your chosen deity as “god.” Even so, every once in a while there will be a new furor over Jesus. Think of The Da Vinci Code as an example. For a time, talk of Jesus was on the front burner again.

I think it’s appropriate for believers and unbelievers to examine the answers to Jesus’ piercing question today … “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

For believers it’s important to be able to address the views about Jesus in our culture. I heard different responses from Christian leaders about The Da Vinci Code. Personally, I felt led to read it so that I could respond to those in my book club, at the bus stop and others who were curious but undecided. It’s important as Christians not to “switch off” (our brains) and “tune out” (our culture). We are called to be salt and light to the world around us (Matthew 5:13-16). It simply shouldn’t be an option to hide out in a little safe bubble of our own making when God’s heart is crying out for the unbelievers around us to know Him. A scriptural response to unscriptural beliefs in our culture can help to plant seeds of faith in hearts filled with confusion.

If you aren’t sure what you believe, I encourage you to ask God to show you who He is. It’s important to face the question that Jesus poses. Floating along undecided and filling all the voids with anything that we can get our hands on only satisfies temporarily. God has something better to offer as we turn our attention to Him and ask the hard questions.

Next we’ll look at Jesus’ follow-up question. It’s hard-hitting and heart-piercing. Don’t miss it tomorrow!

Jesus, we want to know who You truly are. As we examine thoughts and attitudes about the Son of Man, help us to know the truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Related Resources
Do you know Jesus?

Women's Devotional Bible

i am not, but i know I AM, by Louie Giglio

Visit Amy’s blog

Application Steps
If you are a believer in Jesus, take some notes this week from media sources and conversations about beliefs about Jesus. Examine how these match up to Scripture.

If you don’t know much about Jesus, read one of the gospel chapters in the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. These are the histories of Jesus’ life. Take a look and decide what you believe about Jesus.

What are some of the beliefs about Jesus in my home? My workplace? My circle of friends?

How do those beliefs affect what I believe?

What is the final authority for my beliefs about Jesus?

Power Verses
Mark 1:27, “The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, ‘What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.’” (NIV)

Luke 4:22, “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. ‘Isn’t this Joseph’s son?’ they asked.” (NIV)

Luke 4:28-29, “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff.” (NIV)

Never Alone
By Lysa TerKeurst

“’Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13: 5b-6 (NIV)

Do you ever feel lonely? Recently, I was at an event full of people. Everyone else seemed gabby and like they were effortlessly making easy connections with others. I just felt out of sorts. Someone had said something to me earlier that day that hurt my feelings and knocked me off kilter. It was one of those I would really like to be at home alone, in a bubble bath, eating something chocolate kind of nights. But I had to go to this outing, so here I was - lonely.

I politely smiled my way through the evening and finally got to go home. As I crawled into bed that night, I asked Jesus, “Why am I letting some thoughtless comment someone made affect me like this?”

There was no deep explanation. There was no Bible verse that instantly popped into my head. There was no sudden rush of peace through my heart. There was only a very gentle reminder in the depths of my soul that Jesus loves me - insecurities and all.

Jesus loves me. It’s just a simple little song that I learned all those years ago. Very simple yet so powerfully profound, that one statement grounds me in the truth of who God says I am. Friends can’t make you feel accepted all the time. Accomplishments will never truly make you feel secure. Having lots of people around you does not mean you won’t ever feel lonely. And chocolate, while it is deliciously distracting, is just a little too temporary.

So, I turn to the One who is Everlasting, Prince of Peace, and Emmanuel - God with us. I draw close to Him so He can help me separate solid truth from shifting emotion. And I remember I’m never alone.

Dear Lord, “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.” (Psalms 61:1-4) In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources
Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? (a book to find hope and healing), by Lysa TerKeurst

Thank-FULL, Fear-LESS message, on CD by Lysa TerKeurst

Do You Know Him?

Visit Lysa’s blog

Application Steps
Has someone hurt your feelings lately? Typically people respond to hurtful things that are said in one of three ways:
● Get angry with the person who hurt you. But this only hurts you more.
● Internalize it and let it affect your mood and attitude. This hurts innocent others around you.
● Or, take it to Jesus and ask Him if any part of this statement is true and ask him for help letting the rest go. Then, use this encounter to make you a better person instead of a bitter person. Now this is progress!

How can you prepare your heart for the next time someone hurts your feelings?

I’ve had to challenge myself with this question, “Do my feelings get hurt too easily?” Sometimes I have to say that they do. So, I am working on being less sensitive to others and more sensitive to the truth of God. The more filled up with God I am, the less I look to others for approval. And isn’t the real root of others hurting our feelings really the lack of their approval?

Power Verses
Philippians 4: 4-6, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with Thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

Philippians 4:8, “Finally, my brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- If anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.” (NIV)

Green Pastures
By Susanne Scheppmann

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” Psalm 23:2-3 (NIV)

“He makes me lie down in green pastures.” This familiar verse resonates with feelings of peace and rest. I always visualize a meadow with a bubbling brook whispering to me, “No cares. No worries.”

However, recently at small group women’s Bible study, new images of this verse began to develop. We were studying Priscilla Shirer’s, He Speaks to Me. One of the thought-provoking questions was, “What is your green pasture?”

As our group discussed this question, the following responses emerged:

“My children – I love being a mother,” stated a mother who had lost one child to cancer.

“Bubble baths and reading for hours,” replied a woman who serves in ministry.

“I like to crawl into bed at night – just resting and knowing the day is over,” said a woman who teaches at a local high school.

These responses caused me to ponder “green pastures” for days. What makes a green pasture a place where He makes us lie down and restores our souls? It certainly isn’t always a place of beauty and serenity.

I believe that green pastures vary with the individual, the season of life, and the quiet place God has chosen for us to enjoy life. If asked today, “What are your green pastures, Susanne?” I could say being a mother, bubble baths, great books, and crawling into bed anticipating a good night’s sleep. I could add dining out with my husband, rocking my grandchildren, and taking an afternoon nap.

Green pastures are the times and places in life that restore and refresh our souls from the ordinary wear and tear of the daily grind. Jesus desires to lead us to a place of quiet water out of the storms of life. However, we must look around our mundane lives to discover our local green pastures and then scurry to the side of the Shepherd so He can make us lie down in them.

Lord Jesus, You provide green pastures for Your children to rest in. Help me to open my eyes to my places of rest. Reveal to my weary soul the things in life that bring me refreshment and joy. Finally, I ask that You make me lie down and rest. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources
Do You Know Him?

He Speaks To Me, by Priscilla Shirer

Perplexing Proverbs: A Women’s Bible Study, by Susanne Scheppmann

Visit Susanne’s Blog

Application Steps
Make a list of your seven favorite activities. Then, if possible, try to complete one a day for a week. Ask the Shepherd to help you find your own green pastures.


What are green pastures for me?

How can I make time for my green pastures?

Do I allow or encourage my family to find time for their own green pastures?

Power Verses
Psalm 46:4, “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. (NIV)

Revelation 7:17, “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." (NIV)

Getting Caught
By Micca Monda Campbell

“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NAS)

Do you pray for your kids to “get caught” when they do wrong? I know that may sound strange to some, but let’s say that you have a student driver in your home that is inclined to speed. Wouldn’t you rather he or she be stopped by a police officer than be stopped by a tree? Praying for your child to “get caught” may be the difference between the two.

As parents, it’s our job to teach our children how to live wise, safe and healthy. Thankfully, God is on our side. I use Him to my advantage by praying daily for my children to “get caught” in their wrong behavior. They are aware of this and have learned that God always come through.

I’ll never forget the first time my son “got caught” speeding. He was a young driver who thought that he was “King of the Road” until his reign came to a halt by a state trooper.

Entering through the backdoor, he didn’t say a word or even look at his dad and me. Placing the ticket on the kitchen counter, along with his keys, he ran upstairs to his room, closed the door, and began to sob. His dad and I looked at each other. Immediately, I got up, went to our son’s room, and knocked on his bedroom door. He didn’t answer.

Downstairs, his dad called to me, “You’re not going to believe this.” Still holding the ticket in his hand, my husband informed me that our son was speeding down the highway through a construction site at 92 miles per hour. Stunned and feeling rather sick to my stomach, I replied, “So that’s why he left his car keys beside the ticket. He knows we’ll never let him drive again.”

Although I was terrified at the thought of my son I racing down the freeway at top speed, I was thankful that he had been caught and was alive to sit in our family room and discuss, again, the good habits of safe driving. Of course, he had a few months to review those safety tips before he sat behind the wheel of a car again.

Getting stopped by a police officer for speeding instead of a tree is actually a gift of grace for both our teens and us. It provides us with the opportunity to further train, nurture, and guide our adolescent according to the rules of the road. Otherwise, they may continue to speed without our knowledge which could lead to tragic results. For that matter, any misconduct that happens without our knowledge can cause a child to end up in a place he or she never intended on being.

Praying for your kids to “get caught” is not about being a controlling, mean, rule-orientated parent. It’s about being a wise, caring parent. When your child “gets caught,” it’s not a tragedy nor is it a cause to tear down their spirit with condemning words of disapproval. “Getting caught” is actually a blessing in disguise. It’s an opportunity to “re-train your child in the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6).

When we see it from this perspective, it defuses our anger and allows us to see the situation in a new light. I’ve come to realize that God is hearing my prayers and protecting my child by allowing me to see where he or she needs more guidance. Revealing these rough edges is God’s way of coming along side of us and helping us to parent our child. With God on your side, we’re sure to succeed.

Dear Lord, as much as I love my children, I know You love them more and desire only good things for them. I ask You to reveal any darkness or wrongdoing they may be involved in. Allow them to get caught so that, with Your help, we can redirect their path that leads to a life of righteousness, in Jesus’ Name Amen.

Related Resources
Be the Parent, by Kendra Smiley

Building the Christian Family You Never Had, by Mary DeMuth

Visit Micca’s Blog

Application Steps
After inviting God to help you parent your child, be aware when your child gets caught that God has heard and answered your prayer. Thank Him! Then, share this with your child. It will help make God real to them. Make sure you explain it in a way that reveals both your and God’s love and concern for them.

How do you view your role as a disciplinarian; to teach or to control your child?

Do you feel alone in raising your children?

Have you ever thought that if God has called you to the task of parenting, He has also equipped you to succeed?

How can asking God to help your children “get caught” in wrong behavior make you a better parent?

Power Verses
Proverbs 1:8, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” (NAS)

Proverbs 19:18, “Discipline your son while there is hope, and do not desire his death.” (NAS)

Proverbs 29: 17, “Correct your son and he will give your comfort; He will also delight your soul.” (NAS)

James 1:5, “But if any one of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (NAS)

A Foundation of Joy
By Zoë Elmore

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” James 1:2 (NIV)

I’ve struggled with dyslexia and ADD since childhood, and for the most part I don’t allow myself to dwell in the land of defeat and discouragement as I try to concentrate and focus on my home and work responsibilities. However, one day last week everything I attempted was either backward or forgotten about altogether. That may not seem too distressing, but with three part time jobs its imperative I stay on task and do things correctly. It was a day of total frustration and embarrassment; the kind of day you pray that the floor will open up and swallow you whole. I left my office discouraged and defeated, wanting nothing more than to put this day and myself to bed.

After dinner I put on my pajamas, slid under the covers, and settled in for a little bedtime reading. I came across the most interesting story on Thomas Edison, a story that helped put an end to my pity-party. It reminded me that trying times are a normal part of this life, and they present an opportunity to strengthen my foundation of joy.

Thomas Edison invented over one thousand things in addition to the phonograph he is famous for. As amazing as his inventions are, I was particularly interested to discover that this man of genius and invention struggled with dyslexia. Despite this, he found ways to learn from his failures. Did you know that in 1914 his laboratory caught fire and burned to the ground while eight fire companies watched helplessly? The next morning as he looked at the remaining rubble, Edison said, “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.” What an incredible attitude! This man was able to see beyond the disaster before his very eyes to the potential ahead.

His words pierced me like a knife, as I thought about my defeated and discouraged attitude of the day. Where I had lost one day’s work through a computer glitch, this man had lost a lifetime of inventions. Where I had chosen to see the remaining rubble of the day, this man chose to see the future that awaited him. When I longed to hide under the covers, this man took joy in the good that would come about from his loss. Thomas Edison’s statement sums up the truth about spiritual growth perfectly: trials are the foundation of joy for spiritual maturity. We grow spiritually only from and through the trials that arrive on our doorstep.

If you’re feeling frustrated, defeated and discouraged by the trials in your life today, I want to encourage you to look beyond the rubble to what lies ahead. It can be difficult to face our trials with the kind of spirit that sees great value in disaster, but that’s what the Lord expects from us if we are to be women who walk on their foundation of joy. Here is a poem that reflects this attitude so well. While the author is unknown, the poet obviously knows the formula for the foundation of joy.

It’s sometimes very difficult
for us to understand
the wisdom and the love
behind the things that God has planned.

But we wouldn’t have the rainbow
If we didn’t have the rain;
We wouldn’t know the pleasure
If we never tasted pain.

We wouldn’t love the sunrise
If we hadn’t felt the night;
And we wouldn’t know our weakness
If we hadn’t sensed God’s might.

We couldn’t have the springtime
or the yellow daffodil
if we hadn’t experienced
the winter’s frosty chill.

And though the brilliant sunshine
is something God has made.
He knew too much could parch our souls
so He created shade.

So God’s given us a balance:
Enough joys to keep us glad,
Enough tears to keep us humble,
Enough good to balance bad.

And if you’ll trust in Him you’ll see
Though yesterday brought sorrow,
The clouds will part and dawn will bring
A happier tomorrow.

Dear Lord, You are good and everything You bring into my life is for my good and Your glory. I thank You for burning away my mistakes and providing an opportunity to start anew each day, just as Your mercies are new each morning. Help me to see beyond the rubble and to You for the lessons necessary to grow my faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources
Do You Know Him?

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

Because, Worship CD by Gwen Smith

Visit Zoe’s Blog

Application Steps
Ask the Lord to reveal the lessons necessary to grow your faith. Write them in your journal.

Record your spiritual growth on a spiritual doorpost, just like you record your child’s physical growth on a physical doorpost.

What rubble is holding you back? What keeps you from displaying a mature spirit?

Why are you focused on the rubble and not the revelation the Lord longs to share with you?

Power Verses
Lamentations 3:22-23, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (NIV)

Psalm 25:5, "Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day."(NAS)

Psalm 31:3, "For You are my rock and my fortress; for Your name's sake You will lead me and guide me."(NAS)

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