Desperately Determined
By Renee Swope

“Here I am. I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in…” Revelation 3:20 (NIV)

I’d been trying to find my son’s teacher to give her a thank you gift and a wedding gift since the last day of school. She had a very special place in my heart and I was hoping to see her one last time and personally deliver her gifts.

I’d gone by her classroom twice the week after school, but missed her both times. We played email tag all summer while two beautiful boxes sat in my van. I saw them every day and each time I thought, I’ve got to get these gifts to Ms. Currin.

I started feeling a bit desperate in August knowing that she’d be moving back to her hometown and getting married soon. Finally, I got in touch with her and we made plans to meet on her last day in town. She gave me directions to her apartment building and asked me to call her when we got there so she could meet us at the car.

Happiness filled my heart as we turned into her parking lot. However, when we pulled in front of her building I realized I had not written her phone number on the directions so I couldn't call her. I didn’t have her apartment number either. There we sat in front of a double sided, three story building with four apartments on each floor and 24 doors to choose from!

So, what’s a desperately determined woman to do? Get your husband, your two sons and their friend (13, 10, and 10) to get out in the 100-degree heat and go door-to-door in search of the teacher, while you drive the air conditioned van back and forth in case she comes out of a different building. My husband thought I'd lost my mind. But he also knew I was hormonal and on the edge of a migraine so it’d be dangerous to question my brilliant plans. The guys divided into pairs to cover both buildings, but couldn't find her. I got out and started knocking, too. Still no luck.

I suggested we search the parking lot for cars filled with contents resembling the belongings of a 4th grade teacher who is getting married. After five minutes, I admitted my plan wasn’t working. After all, what was I going to do - get her license plate number and call the police for her address? We decided to go home.

The next day my boys described the scene in great detail. “I can’t believe you made us knock on people’s doors! We even had a friend with us. Then you started looking in people’s cars and describing what you saw - that was weird! It was SO embarrassing."

I laughed so hard I cried as I listened to my kids describe the desperate determination that compelled me to do something so crazy, while enlisting the help of loved ones who now questioned my sanity. Yet it all made sense at the time. I had to find her. I wanted to see her. I needed to tell her how much she means to me, and give her a gift that would remind her for years to come.

I told some friends about my day defined by craziness, compelled by love, and fueled by a few hormones. Some gasped. Others laughed. A few confessed to similar acts of desperation. One smiled and reminded me that Jesus’ determination made others question Him too. I felt so much better!

Compelled by love alone, Jesus was determined to find us – the ones He came to seek and save. Enlisting the help of His loved ones to accomplish His plans, He was surrounded by people who questioned His ideas, and His sanity, too. Jesus could have somehow sent His gift through some other means, but He was determined to come to us personally to give the gift of His love, the gift of His life. A gift that should remind us for years to come of just how much we mean to Him.

God, thank You for being so determined to find me. I love knowing that you knock at the door of my heart because You want to give me the gift of Your life, the gift of Your love. I cherish your amazing grace that never gives up on me! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Renee’s Blog to read more about God’s pursuit of us and our pursuit of Him.

Searching for Satisfaction message on CD by Renee Swope

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Do You Know Him?

Application Steps:
Write down the ways God has pursued you with relentless love.

If you’ve never responded to Jesus’ knock on the door of your heart, click here to find out more about His love for you.

Do I really believe God would go to such great lengths to find me? Why or why not?

Power Verses:
Read the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and lost son in Luke 15.

© 2008 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

Aqua Viva
By Rachel Olsen

“Everything that touches the water of this river will live.” Ezekiel 47:9a (NLT)

On Sunday I woke up feeling overwhelmed. Several projects on my plate were consuming my focus, and closure was eluding me. I’d only been awake a few minutes when my family suggested we go to the beach for an hour or two before church. What? Go to the beach before church? Go get all sandy before church? You want me to body surf before breakfast – I hadn’t even had coffee yet!

That’s exactly what we did.

As soon as my toes hit the sand, I knew this was a good idea. Each shifting step toward the glistening water, brought me closer to refreshment. As I eased into the surf, slightly chilly water rushed over my ankles. Catching my breath, I pressed forward, breathing deep as the water reached my knees and waves splashed up to my waist. I kept walking until my chest was submerged under the flowing water, and the tension drained from my body and mind. The only thing I could or cared to do was focus on the beauty of God’s creation around me and the nearness of my family. Projects and decisions that had threatened to overtake me, were washed to the backburner of my mind. For the next hour or so, I floated over swells, dove through waves, and surfed on the salty sea foam. I walked out of that water feeling alive again.

A favorite Bible passage of mine is in Ezekiel 47 where the prophet experiences a vision of God’s temple. He is shown the Temple by a heavenly host – perhaps an angel, or perhaps even Christ Himself. Out of this Temple, past it’s altar, flowed a stream of water that became a massive river. Read for yourself Ezekiel’s experience there:

“Then the man brought me back to the entrance of the Temple. There I saw a stream flowing eastward from beneath the Temple threshold. This stream then passed to the right of the altar on its south side. The man brought me outside the wall through the north gateway and led me around to the eastern entrance. There I could see the stream flowing out through the south side of the east gateway.

Measuring as he went, he led me along the stream for 1,750 feet and told me to go across. At that point the water was up to my ankles. He measured off another 1,750 feet and told me to go across again. This time the water was up to my knees. After another 1,750 feet, it was up to my waist. Then he measured another 1,750 feet, and the river was too deep to cross without swimming.

He told me to keep in mind what I had seen; then he led me back along the riverbank. Suddenly, to my surprise, many trees were now growing on both sides of the river! Then he said to me, ‘This river flows east through the desert into the Jordan Valley, where it enters the Dead Sea. The waters of this stream will heal the salty waters of the Dead Sea and make them fresh and pure. Everything that touches the water of this river will live. Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters will be healed. Wherever this water flows, everything will live.’” (Ezekiel 47:1-9, NLT)

Are you feeling overwhelmed with problems, projects or decisions today? Are you feeling mentally drained, physically spent, or spiritually numb? Take a dip with me into the river of God, the river of healing, and be awakened to life in God. Let this living water flow over, into, and through you today – for wherever this water flows, everything will live.

Dear Lord, forgive me of my sins and plunge me deep into Your river! This is where I want to be. Cover me, wash me, cleanse me, heal me, and purify me. Make me spiritually alive and in tune with You today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Try a Girlfriends Get-A-Way Cruise with members of P31 Ministries

Visit Rachel Olsen’s blog

God’s Purpose for Every Woman: A P31 Devotional Gen Eds. Lysa TerKeurst & Rachel Olsen

Application Steps:
Spend a few minutes in prayer, imagining yourself walking into the river of God. Feel the presence of God wash over you as you turn your heart towards Him and receive cleansing from His living water.

Plan a trip to a local swimming spot and get some exercise as you contemplate living water. Invite a friend to come along, and tell them about the river of God described in Ezekiel 47.

Have I touched this river of life? Everything that touches it will live (vs. 9).

Have I gone beyond sticking my toes in – have I walked in far enough to be submerged?

Power Verses:
Revelation 22:1-2, “And the angel showed me a pure river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, coursing down the center of main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.” (NLT)

© 2008 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

Worthy Words
By Sharon Sloan – She Speaks Graduate

“…if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be My spokesperson.” Jeremiah 15:19 (NIV)

Worthy words. Wow. In this passage of scripture, God was urging Jeremiah to repent so that God could restore him and thus he could serve God again. This particular verse of God’s spoken word to Jeremiah really penetrated my heart as I read it recently. Worthy, valuable, precious words. Words that honor Him and words that are encouraging, founded in His truth and love. He gives words their worth.

Our God allows us to be His spokesperson. How humbling. In His wisdom, He requires that, in order to be His spokesperson, our words must be worthy, not worthless. The King James Version says “precious” words. What an excellent, ageless standard He sets for us to maintain as His children in order that we could be His spokesperson. A spokesperson is someone who represents you and your character well. As this verse resonates in my heart, I ask myself, “Are my words worthy and precious? Am I representing God well and with excellence? Am I allowing Him to mold me so I reflect His character? Am I keeping the bar raised to His standard such that I may be His spokesperson?”

In our home, our rule has been that our words should be based in truth, spoken in love, necessary and kind. Add to this that they must be worthy and precious. How often do I utter words that are worthless and hold no value for anyone? Oh, how I think of the words I have wasted. If my words hold value and worth, they will reflect His character and minister His truth and grace to those around me. If I keep His standards and utter only worthy and precious words, He allows me to represent Him and be His spokesperson. What an awesome privilege and responsibility.

As you go through each day, allow your words, whether they be written, spoken or thought, to go through His filter of requiring worthy, precious words. If those around you have lowered the bar, raise it again to His standard. Humbly meet the challenge to utter only worthy words that represent Him well. You may be His spokesperson.

Faithful Father, by Your grace and in Your faithfulness, allow my words to be worthy and precious. May they be worthy such that I may be Your spokesperson and represent you with excellence. Thank You for Your standards and for Your promises. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
The 7 Hardest Things God Asks a Women to Do by Kathy Reimer and Lisa Whittle

The Power of a Woman’s Words by Sharon Jaynes

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue by Deborah Smith Pegues

For more encouragement visit Sharon’s blog Joy In The Truth

Do You Know Him?

Application Steps:
Memorize Jeremiah 15:19 and use it as a standard for your words, whether written, spoken or thought.

Devote time each morning to seeking His face, soaking in His perfect written Word, and filling your heart with His love and desires for you.

Allow the Holy Spirit to control your heart and mind and, therefore, your speech.

Are my words worthy and precious?

Am I living to His standard such that I qualify to be His spokesperson?

Power Verses:
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 (NIV)

“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life…” Proverbs 10:11 (NIV)

“The lips of the righteous nourish many…” Proverbs 10:21

“Let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt…” Col. 4:6 (NIV)

“…the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace…” Romans 8:6

© 2008 by Sharon Sloan. All rights reserved.

The Blessing of Giving
By Wendy Pope

“In everything I did, I showed that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35 (NIV)

Giving is not always easy for me, is it for you? These ancient words from Acts are very difficult for this mind to comprehend. How can I be more blessed when I give than when I get? I am a girl, and in all honesty, I love to get stuff.

I must confess when God calls me to give; I don't feel like I am being blessed. Perhaps you have had similar experiences. The Lord prompts you to prepare a meal for a family who has been struck with an illness and after a long day at work, you are barely able to get yourself together enough to prepare a meal for your own family. Or maybe when you are physically exhausted and put out with your kids, He nudges you to go get your friend's children because she needs a break. No matter what the situation, when God calls us to give, we must obey and though it doesn't seem like something we want to do at the time, we come out on the other side of obedience being blessed. I can't explain exactly how it works, I just know that it does.

The Lord tells us through the prophet Isaiah that His ways and thoughts are higher than our ways and thoughts. In other words, He knows better. He sees the big picture. He has the master plan written and the only thing we need to be concerned with is doing what He asks of us, without compliant.

The meal He asks you to fix may interrupt or inconvenience your plan. You may want to question His reasoning when the Holy Spirit nudges you to take your rude co-worker out to lunch. You may be baffled by His suggestion to teach your child's Sunday School class so the regular teacher can have a break. Whatever our thought process may be at time, the bottom line is this: our decision whether we think it does or not, has eternal meaning. It means something to our eternity and to the person we are to give something to, or do something for.

Without Jesus in my heart, I would not have the ability to give to others. Basically, I am a selfish person. I remember reading today's key verse wondering, "What kind of blessing will I get for doing for others? Will it be money, a new car, or a finer home?" I am ashamed of those thoughts but they came from an infant Christian who did not understand the blessing one receives is a closer and more intimate walk with the greatest Giver who ever lived. I thankfully receive that blessing now.

Are you currently receiving blessings by being the giver that the Lord wants you to be?
Dear Lord, I need You to help me be the giver I should be. It is hard for me but Your Word says nothing is impossible for You. So Lord, will You please help me. Will you allow me to see the fruit of my obedience? I can't wait to receive and enjoy my blessing for giving: a closer walk with You. Thank You for every blessing You give me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Out of the Mouths of Babes by Wendy Pope

For more encouragement visit Wendy Pope’s blog

The Yes, No, and Maybe of a Balanced Life audio CD teaching by Wendy Pope

Application Steps:
Pray today's prayer aloud.

When the Lord prompts you to do something for someone, simply do it. Record His request, your response, and the blessing you receiving in a Giving Journal. Ask God to direct you to someone who needs to receive an act of kindness.


What keeps me from offering acts of kindness?

What steps do I need to take to be a better giver?

Power Verses:
Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (NIV)

Hebrews 6:12, "We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised."(NIV)

James 1:22, "But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth]." (AMP)

© 2008 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

The Ex-Factor
By Susanne Scheppmann

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:17-18 (NIV)

“Your ex-husband stayed in your guest bedroom while visiting for your son’s graduation?” my friend asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“That is the weirdest, most amazing thing I have ever heard,” she responded.

It’s true. My ex-husband has stayed in my husband and mine’s home a couple times for special occasions. I admit it felt odd. However, it was worth my uncomfortable feelings, because it allowed my children to observe a living example of forgiveness, kindness, and gentleness through the grace of God.

In addition, my husband’s ex-wife has celebrated Thanksgiving dinner with our family. These few hours of “making peace” enabled me to create a deeper relationship with my stepdaughter. In my opinion, the results were well worth the anxiety I experienced prior to the “ex’s” arrival.

Although God does not command us to invite ex-spouses into our homes, He does expect us to forgive, and attempt to be at peace with them as far as it depends on us. Out of all human relationships, perhaps “the ex-factor” holds the most potential to create conflict and bitterness. Every “ex-factor” contains its own problems, dilemmas, and special circumstances. As with any problem, we should always seek God for wisdom.

So, as we proceed with the attitude of our key verse, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone,” let’s seek God’s advice and wisdom. He will direct our steps in any difficult relationship. Let’s put into practice Proverbs 2:9-11:

“Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.” (NLT)

Sometimes it is neither safe nor healthy to invite ex's back into our lives. But we can still choose to find peace in our hearts by seeing them as God sees them. They may be broken, but they are a person God made and still loves. So, whether we feel led to be at peace with them from a distance or invite them up close again, through God's love in us, all things are possible. The wisdom of God, with the direction of the Holy Spirit, will help us discern the right course of action in every relationship—even with the ex-factor.

Dear Lord, grant me the desire and ability to pursue peace in every difficult relationship. Give me wisdom in complex relational interactions. Thank You for Your love and forgiveness in my own life. Allow me to mirror Your love and forgiveness love to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Visit Susanne Scheppmann’s blog

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

Perplexing Proverbs for Women Bible study by Susanne Scheppman

Application Steps:
Consider the various relationships in your life. Make a list of people you feel animosity toward. Ask for the desire and ability to forgive anyone you harbor anger or bitterness against. Seek God’s direction with His words, “as far as it depends on you,” that you might live at peace within these relationships.

How do I reflect God’s love in difficult relationships?

Are my children able to see my attempts at peace-making?

Have I sought God’s wisdom in dealing with thorny people who intersect with my family?

Power Verses:
Ephesians 4:31, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.” (NLT)

Hebrews 12:14-15, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (NIV)

Luke 6:37, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (NIV)

© Susanne Scheppmann 2008. All rights reserved.

Heart Whispers
By Tracie Miles

"A word was secretly brought to me, my ears caught a whisper of it.” Job 4:12 (NIV)

If only I had called her.

If only I had listened to that little voice in my head that nudged me to call her several times over the past few months. Although we were casual acquaintances whose paths did not cross very often, I still considered her a friend and a dear sister in Christ. She had been fighting cancer for years, but had recently been in remission and in good health. More than a year had passed since we had spoken, but we would still smile and wave at each other at church.

For several weeks recently, this friend kept coming to mind. I had felt God laying her on my heart, and I kept intending to call her, but would get busy and forget. Then I arrived at church one Sunday morning, only to read the shocking news that she had passed away. I was stunned. I had seen her fairly recently, buzzing around the sanctuary, and she looked great, but now she was gone. Now it was too late to call her. The door of opportunity to hear her kind voice had slammed shut. If only I had listened to that inner voice of the Holy Spirit prompting me to pick up the phone to call and check on her. I was unaware that she was sick again, but God knew.

If only I had stopped whatever I was doing, and taken just a few minutes to let her know I was thinking of her. I was unaware of her need to be remembered, but God knew.

If only I had called her, and let her know how her unshakable joy had impacted my walk with God. I was unaware of her need for encouragement, but God knew.

Tears filled my eyes as I considered not only the loss of this sweet, precious woman, but my own remorse for not listening to God’s whispers to my heart. God’s ways are not our ways, as we are told in Isaiah 55:8, and I have learned through this experience to always listen to the quietest of voices, and recognize that this voice is holy.

I now understand that when I suddenly feel the need to call someone whom I haven’t thought of, spoken to, or seen in months or even years, that it may be God Himself whispering to my heart. When I have an urge to tell someone I love them, even though I am sure they already know it, God is whispering to my heart. When I find myself dropping by to visit someone in the hospital that I don’t know well or possibly do not them at all, God is whispering to my heart.

God knows what His children need, and He uses each of us to meet those needs. Just because we don’t have all the answers yet, or do not know why God is prompting us to do a certain thing, doesn’t mean we should ignore the whisper. His ways are not our ways... but His way is the best way... and the necessary way.

When I learned of my friend's passing, I made a commitment to myself and to God that I will never again ignore even the tiniest, quietest whisper from the Holy Spirit. I will pray for discernment and whether He tells me to make a big sacrifice, or simply make a phone call, my hope is that I will step out in faith and obey, without delay.

If God has been whispering to you about someone or something, listen to those whispers. Don't discount them. Pray for discernment and be willing to take action, even if you don't fully understand the reason yet. Unfortunately, the consequence of not listening to those whispers, could result in you having to say, "If only …" just like me.

Have you heard His whisper?

Dear Lord, forgive me for not listening to Your voice. Help me to recognize your activity in my heart, and act promptly on the commands you speak to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer

For more encouragement about this topic, visit Tracie Miles’ blog

Reinventing Your Rainbow by Tracie Miles

Application Steps:
If you have heard a whisper to your spirit lately, did you consider that it could be God speaking?

Has God whispered the name of someone for you to call today?

Has He prompted you to be obedient in a small way, or even a big way, that you have yet to act on?

Power Verses:
Isaiah 55:8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. (NIV)

© 2008 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

The Mother I Want to Be
Glynnis Whitwer

“Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:9 (NIV)

I should have responded better. Patience and kindness would have been a more appropriate response than the unjustified annoyance that laced my tone of voice. In a regrettable moment of anger, I spoke words that left my son sad, and me wishing I could press the rewind button and keep my mouth zipped.

Unfortunately, I often respond better to the bigger challenges of parenting than the everyday frustrations. If you were a fly on my kitchen wall for a one day, you would wonder why a minor event sparked an annoyed response on my part. If your house is like mine, the answer is because that minor event actually happens frequently. Hence, I fall into the “If-I’ve-told-you-once-I’ve-told-you-a-thousand-times” trap of thinking, which doesn’t lend itself to much mercy.
When my patience wears thin, I find myself strikingly similar to the person spoken about in Ecclesiastes 7:9: a fool with a lap of anger. Unfortunately, when that lap is full, it only takes the slightest spark for frustration and anger to spill over onto some unsuspecting victims.

I know God is calling me to deal with this anger in a healthy and godly way. When my spirit is provoked, my first response should be to hold my tongue. While that doesn’t deal with the heart issue, it does keep me from speaking hurtful words that can never be withdrawn. But I can’t leave it there. I must address ongoing parental frustration as a spiritual issue and bring my concerns to God in prayer. I find that as I honestly confess my sin, the door is opened for God to bring His healing peace into my heart.

Anger over injustice is good. Anger over childish behavior isn’t. When I don’t confess my inappropriate anger to God, it just starts building up, making me a fool with a full lap. I’m so glad God offers me forgiveness when I mess up, and puts me back on the path of developing a sweet spirit of patience and gentleness within me. That’s the kind of mother I want to be.

Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me in spite of my weaknesses. Thank You for providing a way for me to deal with anger, and to become the kind and gentle woman we both want me to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
She’s Gonna Blow: Real Help Dealing with Mom Anger Julie Ann Barnhill

Season of Change: Parenting Your Middleschooler with Passion and Purpose Rebecca Ingram Powell

Visit Glynnis Whitwer’s blog

Application Steps:
Identify a time when you got angry at something that wasn’t really a big deal in hindsight. If you haven’t already, confess that anger and your behavior to God and receive His forgiveness.

Why is it easy to express anger and frustration to those we love?

What are some ways to deal with anger that don’t hurt someone else?

Write down some characteristics of a gentle and kind mother.

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

James 1:19-20, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” (NIV)

Philippians 4:5, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Somehow Form a Family
By Marybeth Whalen

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.” Psalm 68:5-6a (NIV)

Author’s Note: This devotion is not written to endorse divorce, but to encourage those caught in the pain of it.

Blended families are everywhere, in every shape and size. Perhaps you belong to a blended family, either through your extended family or your immediate one. Statistics show that most people reading this are part of a blended family – facing the unique challenges and struggles blended families face. Is it possible for blended families to work through all of this and enjoy happiness?

This Christmas I received a framed photo from my mother-in-law. Because my husband’s parents are divorced, I have two mothers-in-law. But this gift came from my husband’s stepmother. It was a framed group photo of all of us from our beach trip this summer — our family, his dad and stepmom, her daughter and her family, and my husband’s sister and her family. Eleven grandchildren dotted the beach as we all squeezed into the photo. As I studied the photo, I realized that it is a testimony to God’s ability to somehow form a family against all odds.

When I first met my husband 18 years ago, his family was still navigating through the uncharted territory of bringing together three teens from two different families and learning to live in some sort of harmony. Though Curt had left for college, his sister and step-sister remained behind and had some turbulent years as these two girls fought and schemed and cried. I know that those years were difficult for his stepmother and father as well. They questioned their decisions and wondered if they would all live through it.

But they also did something else which I have had the privilege of watching through the years. They sought the Lord. They practiced grace and exercised forgiveness. They turned the other cheek when feelings got hurt. They kept promises that were painful to keep. They demonstrated a love they didn’t always feel. They got stronger as a result of their struggles. They knew that God would work through their obedience, their prayers and their commitment. And, in looking at that photo, I know that He did.

I also grew up in a blended family - I am a stepchild. I know the struggle of having a parent in the home who was not your “real” parent. I know the resentments that can creep in, and have felt the pain of loss when broken relationships fragment families. And yet, I also know the joys and blessings that can occur from having extra family members thrown in the mix. My horizons have been broadened through relationships I have with my stepfather and his children. Their perspective and background has added a richness and depth to my life that I would have missed. I think a blended family can be a visual record of Romans 8:28 being worked out in our lives, “In all things (even the heartbreak of divorce), God works for the good of those who love him.” I think that helping people somehow form a family brings a smile to the Father’s face.

Dear Lord, help me do my part to bring peace to my family—even when You ask me to lay down my pride and be vulnerable. Help me to trust in Your ability to somehow form a family. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Blended Families by Maxine Marsolini

Visit Marybeth Whalen’s blog

A Woman of Influence Message on CD taught by Marybeth Whalen

Application Steps:
If you are in a blended family, reach out to someone today in your family who you have struggled with in the past. Write them a note or buy them a card. Ask God what you can do to bless that person today.

Are there resentments from your past within your family that you are hanging onto?

Who do you need to offer forgiveness to today?

What is one good thing you can think of about your family?

Power Verses:
Romans 8:37, “No, in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (NIV)

Isaiah 54:13, “All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace.” (NIV)

Psalm 29:11, “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

Extreme Makeover Meets the Real World
By Kelli Regan, She Speaks! Graduate

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:10 (NIV)

About a year ago, a family in my community received a new home courtesy of ABC’s hit show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. For a week, construction professionals and good-hearted volunteers worked side-by-side as the thrill of Hollywood filled the air. Local news crews descended on the scene. Police officers controlled the throngs of spectators.

Excitement bubbled everywhere I went. Even my kids came home from school abuzz with tales of who knew the recipient family, whose dad was a worker at the site, and who (gasp!) had actually met Ty Pennington!

At the end of the week, amid thousands of cheering people, the family shouted those famous words, “Bus driver, move that bus!” and a magnificent mini-mansion was revealed. It was glorious.

Fast forward almost exactly one year later. Literally right around the corner from this Extreme Makeover was another home, with another family in overwhelming need.

A single mother needed to quickly sell her ex-husband’s house after his recent death. But it was badly run down, and an open house was scheduled for just two weeks away. Overwhelmed by the task at hand, she sent out a call for help to our church family. Soon dozens of volunteers—armed with toolboxes, yard tools and paint brushes—arrived. Side-by-side they hammered, sawed, spackled, painted, repaired, vacuumed, dusted, raked, mulched and more! And when it was done, it was glorious. I know because I was there.

Arriving on the last day, I gazed at the sparkling house and was awed by my brothers and sisters in Christ who had selflessly and immediately joined together to do what seemed a daunting task with an impossible deadline.

As I worked in the quiet of the front yard, the official Extreme Makeover home loomed in the distance as a startling counterpoint. Sure it’s spectacular, but it’s fantasy—a wood, shingle and glass lottery ticket. Our life’s problems are rarely, if ever, solved so extravagantly and beautifully.

At my friend’s house we had experienced an extreme home makeover in the real world. We saw what it looks like when we love one another as Jesus commanded. We saw what the Master Carpenter meant when He said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35, NLT). Without cameras, celebrities, front-page stories or cheering crowds they offered hard work, a helping hand, and even a shoulder to cry on.

Our group of volunteers is special, but not unusual. Every day church families everywhere join together to do this very thing. We don’t do it for fame or recognition. We do it because that’s what the Bible tells us to do.

When I drove home that final day, the newly-planted For Sale sign silently proclaimed our glorious transformation. As it faded in my rear view mirror, I realized the most life-changing makeovers don’t happen in the glow of the spotlight, but in the quiet of our own hearts with God spearheading the effort.

Dear Lord, thank You for the example of love we have in Jesus. Forgive me for putting my needs above the needs of others. Help me to be more loving so I can respond selflessly and generously to my brothers and sisters in Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Share the love of Christ by offering an extreme “hope” makeover to a child in need.

Welcome to Community: Experiencing Life the Way God Intended by Brian T. Anderson and Glynnis Whitwer

Move Me Aside Worship CD with Lindsey Kane

Application Steps:
Think of someone in your church family (a widow, a single mom or family in need) who needs help around their home. Gather your Bible study or a group of friends to tackle a project there. Make it a regular event.

What situations, circumstances or attitudes keep me from saying “yes” when opportunities to help arise?

Where is God calling me out of my comfort zone to help others?

Power Verses:
Philippians 2:2-4, “Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (NIV)

Godly Talk or Gossip?
By Melanie Chitwood

“Tell the older women to behave as those who love the Lord should. They must not gossip about others or be slaves of wine. They must teach what is proper.” Titus 2:3 (CEV)

Have you ever said words such as: “I’m just telling you this so you will pray for her,” or “I’m really not supposed to share this; just don’t tell anyone else.” Truthfully, I’ve been guilty of trying to hide gossip with words like this, but God has really been convicting me lately about my words. Specifically, God is challenging me to speak godly words. Now that this subject of godly words is on my heart, it seems that God is bringing verses and life-lessons about this topic wherever I turn.

As I drove home from Bible study, I realized that God had used my friend Debbie that night to deliver one of those life-lessons about godly words. Out of all the discussions that night, Debbie’s words were the ones that stayed with me. Her words had pointed me to a deeper understanding of God, so much so that I wrote them in my journal and even shared them with another friend.

Over the ten years I’ve know her, I’ve learned many lessons about godly words from Debbie. First, I’ve never heard her gossip about another woman. The definition of gossip is “idle talk; rumor; talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature.” In Titus 2:3 we women are instructed not to be “malicious gossips.” God knew that we women might struggle with our words. Debbie has never even hinted at gossiping about another woman. That’s an amazing track record.

The second lesson about godly words from Debbie has been the way she talks about her husband and her marriage. We’ve had many honest conversations about our marital challenges. Once again, Debbie has never gossiped about her husband. Even at times when she’s been angry or frustrated with her husband, she doesn’t berate him or share details that would embarrass him.

Finally, one of the keys to Debbie’s godly words is in the amount she speaks. She is neither overly quiet nor overly talkative. The words she says are wise and point me to God. Her example in the amount she speaks teaches me to ask myself: Do I really need to say anything in this situation, or do I just want to hear myself talk?

I’m very much a work-in-progress in this area of godly talk. I’ve spent plenty of time lately confessing the sin of my ungodly talk, and I’m thankful for my heavenly Father who doesn’t give up on me but calls me to His standards. I’ll end with two things that are really helping me in this area. I have a friend who is also working on this and we hold each other accountable. And I have a question that I’m trying to use as a guideline for godly talk: Are my words going to lead to gossip or to God?

Dear Lord, You know what’s in my heart and You know that godly talk is something that’s challenging to me. Lord, I want to honor You with my words. I want to be a woman who can be trusted by others not to harm them, and I want to be trusted by You, Lord, to speak only what honors You. Make me aware of situations or people who might tempt me to gossip, and give me the strength to avoid these situations. Lord, if I sin with my words, convict me, cause me to repent, and to have a change of heart, a heart that wants what You want. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Related Resources:
30 Days to Taming Your Tongue by Deborah Smith Pegues

The Power of a Woman’s Words by Sharon Jaynes

What a Husband Needs from His Wife by Melanie Chitwood

Do You Know Him?

Application Steps:
Read through Proverbs chapters 6,10, and 13. Write down any guidelines you learn for godly talk.

Ask a trusted friend to hold you accountable to speak in a godly way.

Ask God to make you more aware of your talking.

Do I listen more or talk more?

Are my words going to lead to gossip or to God?

Are there situations or other people who tempt me to gossip? Can I avoid them?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 6:16, 19, “There are six things which the Lord hates … a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.” (NAS)

Proverbs 13:3, “Careful words make for a careful life; careless talk may ruin everything.” (Message)

© 2008 by Melanie Chitwood. All rights reserved.

Cultivating a Beautiful Marriage
By Micca Monda Campbell

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
I Thessalonians 5:11(NIV)

Have you ever secretly compared your husband to another man or your wife to another woman? Perhaps you’ve wished they were more thoughtful, spiritual, or a better dresser like “so-and-so.”

If so, let me reassure you. The grass is not greener on the other side. Trust me. That man you’ve got your eye on doesn’t clip his toenails either. Nor does that woman rub her man’s feet while feeding him grapes after a long day of work.

Your spouse and mine are the people we fell in love with. No, they’re not perfect. Maybe all they need is a bit of tender loving care. Instead of comparing and complaining about our partner’s shortcomings, you and I should try nurturing our mates lovingly in the area they need most. We might be surprised by the results.

I heard an encouraging story about an attractive millionaire who married an ordinary woman. The marriage instantly became the talk of the town.

“Why would he marry her when he could have any woman he wanted?” The people whispered among themselves. “It won’t last. She’s just not good enough for him.”

The man took the ordinary woman away for six months on an exotic honeymoon. When he returned, there appeared to be another woman on his arm. She walked with confidence and poise. The countenance of her face glowed with beauty.

“Now that’s the kind of woman a handsome man should be with,” announced the town’s biggest loud mouth.

As the happy couple causally strolled past the gossipmonger, she got a closer look. To her surprise, it wasn’t someone new holding the gentlemen’s arm at all. It was the average woman he had married months ago—completely transformed!

The wise millionaire had taken his common bride away and nurtured her inward beauty. He lovingly spoke positive and encouraging words to her day and night until she believed she was beautiful. The once ordinary woman now carries herself with confidence and exudes the exquisiteness that her husband saw in her all along.

His secret, you ask? He took time to care for and fertilize her confidence until she grew into the grandeur display she was always meant to be.

You and I shouldn’t dream about taking off our shoes and walking around on the neighbors’ grass. Instead, we should try fertilizing our own yard. We might be surprised how it blossoms into a thing of beauty.

Dear Lord, Thank you for my mate. Protect my thoughts and help me to see them as I once did. I’m not perfect either. I don’t want to judge my spouse. Instead, I want to encourage them to be all they can be. Today, I will put away any discontentment, any anger, any lustful thoughts toward another, and work at building a beautiful relationship that brings joy to our marriage and glory to Your Name, In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Micca Campbell’s blog

What a Husband Needs from His Wife by Melanie Chitwood

Capture His Heart/Capture Her Heart, by Lysa Terkeurst

Application Steps:
You and I can cultivate our marriages by choosing to see the good in our spouse or by acknowledging their effort to improve. Build up your spouse with encouraging words. Tuck a poem or card under their pillow.

Be their cheerleader and offer your support often. For instance, if they are trying to get fit, go on a walk with them. Nurture and support your spouse, and at the same time, you’ll be cultivating your marriage.

How did you support and nurture your spouse in the beginning of your relationship?

When is the last time you dated your spouse? What’s keeping you from a date this weekend?

How can seeing the best in your spouse improve your marriage relationship?

Power Verses:
1 Peter 1:22, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” (NIV)

1 Corinthians 13:4, 7, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

Great Sermons are Not Preached, They’re Lived
By Lysa TerKeurst

"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13 (NIV)

What if someone followed me around with a video camera all day documenting my every move? Catching on camera all of my words, facial expressions, actions, and reactions. And then what if someone packaged it all together and played it on some sort of reality TV show for all the world to see. What would be the glaring message of my life?

I am convicted thinking about this.

You see, if someone were to ask me, what are you all about? I would have some nice sounding answers. But what actually happens during the strains of everyday life can sometimes betray my best intentions.

I want to be a loving wife. Yet I can sometimes be found in a grumpy, selfish mood and view my husband as a business partner that better hold up his end of helping out.

I want to be a wise and patient mom. But my kids know the exact buttons to push that send me into a tailspin of emotion and exhaustion.

I want to be a strong witness for Christ. So why is it that I can read my Bible first thing in the morning and then find myself honking at the person that cuts me off in traffic just an hour later?

I realize there is a place for God’s tender mercies for me in all this. But I also know that while no TV cameras are following me around, my life is speaking a message about what I really believe and I want that message to honor Jesus. I once heard, “Great sermons are not preached, they are lived.” Oh how I long to live a message that speaks loud and clear, “Jesus is true and the principles found in His teachings work!”

Let’s just be honest, it’s tough being a sold out soul for Christ stuck in a flesh-filled body. That’s why it is essential that I view my time with God each morning as a preparation and an invitation. Every verse, devotion and prayer is all part of God’s preparation for me that day. Instead of just using it to quiet my soul for the few minutes of devotion time, I must with allow it His teachings to seep into my heart and mind. Then I must ask God to interrupt my natural flesh response throughout the day the truths He taught me that morning. That’s the preparation part.

The next essential view of my quiet time each morning is the invitation part. Spending time with God first thing invites His presence into my life and acknowledges, “Not my will God, but Yours be done.” So if my husband forgets to do something he promised, or my kids push my buttons, or a person cuts me off in traffic, or one of the other one million things happens that causes my flesh to want to rear up and act ugly… I can say, “Not my will God, but yours be done.”

This slight pause and acknowledgement of God redirects my frustration and replaces it with grace. Then and only then will my life speak to the fact that I have spent time with Jesus.

Dear Lord, please teach me how to reveal more and more of You through the way I live my life. I want to tell the whole world about You using words only when necessary. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Visit Lysa TerKeurst’s blog to dialogue with her today about keeping our cool with our kids.

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Who is someone today that might have the propensity to push your buttons? What are some Bible verses that you could think on and pray through today to prepare your heart to respond with grace?

What is your typical response when something in life happens that frustrates you? What is a more God honoring response?

Are you having a daily quiet time first thing in the morning?

If not, why not start today. If you need help getting started, click here.

Power Verses:
Hebrews 6:1,3, “Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity… and God permitting, we will do so.” (NIV)

Romans 7:21-24, “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (NIV)

© 2008 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

On Its Way – Part 2
By Whitney Capps

"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." Romans 8:28 (NIV)

In yesterday’s devotion, I told about God’s wonderful provision for the people of Israel and a poor seminary couple I call “Mom and Dad.” My parents’ legacy of faith is a great teacher, but today I want to tell you of a time God demonstrated today’s key verse for me personally. Bear with me. You’ll need some background on my dear husband, Chad. He is a man after God’s own heart and one of his most amazing gifts is that he’s a wonderful manager of money.

Chad has countless spreadsheets that track not only our bills, spending, retirement, and tithe but also our savings. Nothing slips by Chad. He prayerfully accounts for every bill paid, every obligation we’ll have to meet, and any potential catastrophes, including my occasional shopping weaknesses. I can’t remember a time when we were ever caught off guard, except one.

In early 2003, the leadership of our church asked us to commit to a “Day of Giving.” It was established as a day to bring a sacrificial offering, beyond our tithe, to present to the Lord.

Chad and I began praying about our gift. One night on the way home from church Chad told me that he felt God leading us to give $5,000. (Please understand I share with you the exact amount because its magnitude shows how far beyond us this task was, and just how big our God is.) For us to give $5,000 was huge, but it didn’t really hit me how God-sized this would be until Chad uttered a sentence I had never heard him say before. “Babe, I don’t know where it will come from.”

So I did what any good, moderately freaked out, submissive wife would. I worried, and then I said, “Let’s just pray about this.”

It was the first of February and we had about 6 weeks to try and find $5,000. By the end of 3 weeks we had managed to save just over $1,800. Though we had more time, we couldn’t foresee any other significant money coming in. I was beginning to panic. Like Chad, I sensed that God wanted us to give $5,000. What were we going to do?

Three weeks before our Day of Giving, Chad called me at work.

“Are you sitting down,” he asked.

“Yeah. What’s up?”

“Well, last night I was working on our taxes. I had guessed that we were going to receive a slight refund, but this morning I got up and finished entering all our gifts and exemptions and, babe, we’re getting back almost exactly $3,200.”

Chills ran over my entire body, and I felt I heard God say, “I will take care of you. I will receive glory for this gift. I am the benefactor; you are the beneficiary.”

Trusting God seems so basic and yet this is one of the fundamental faith issues that must be resolved in the heart of every believer. Do I really trust God? Despite seeing God work marvelously, Chad and I still have moments of weakness in trusting not only that His provision is coming, but that His ways will always be better than our own. In those moments God gently reminds us that He is neither hurried nor surprised. He will meet our needs and mold our lives into testimonies of His faithfulness.

Dear Lord, help me fight the temptation to scheme and fret rather than resting in Your sovereign provision. Help my impatient heart to trust Your unfailing love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Intimacy with God: Your Daily Guide to Prayer by Tara Furman

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Visit Whitney Capps’s blog

Application Steps:
Begin tracking ways that God has been faithful in the past.

Study characters in Scripture who were asked to wait on the Lord. What can you learn from them?

Are you petitioning God for His will or for your provision?

Are you prepared to see God’s wisdom and care even in the waiting times of your life?

Power Verses:
Psalm 40:1, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Whitney Capps. All rights reserved.

On Its Way – Part 1
By Whitney Capps

“Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died. And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God. So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them.” Exodus 2:23-25 (NASB)

In today’s key verse in Exodus, we’re given an update of the state of affairs in Egypt. Clearly, God’s people needed deliverance and provision. When I read this passage, what stands out to me isn’t the people’s situation but the number of times God is called “God.”

Read it out loud and see if it hits you too. In everyday conversation we don’t tend to repeat the name of the subject over and over in subsequent sentences. We say it once and then use pronouns like “He.” However, God is referenced by name 5 times in 2 sentences in this passage. Awkward? Maybe. Significant? Monumentally.

I think the purpose is to make it clear to us that God is the one in charge of all that is about to transpire. God will hear their cries, remember their situation, and look upon them with concern. Then God will initiate the activity that will set the captives free, bringing glory to His name.

The Israelites were crying out to God for help in their slavery, but had no way of knowing that their gracious God was already at work, calling Moses to be His mouthpiece and their deliverer from Egypt. God had heard their cries, but it would be some measure of time before they were aware that He had answered their prayers.

Patience is required for those who seek the face of God. He has the answer in hand before we even voice our need, but it may take some time to manifest. You’ll find many examples of this in Scripture, but can I offer you a more contemporary example?

Most of my earliest memories are set in Fort Worth, Texas where we lived while my dad attended Southwestern Seminary. I remember little of the hardships my parents and grandparents talk about. My Granny still cries every time she describes what those years were like for her young son and daughter-in-law, so poor and so far from home. My mom, though a degreed teacher, stayed at home with me. My dad went to school full-time and worked as much as his demanding study schedule would allow. These were lean times financially.

At one point during our stint in Fort Worth, our car was stolen from the apartment complex where we lived. Mom tells me that while we had insurance, we didn’t have the money to pay the $100 deductible. While my parents tried to figure out how to make the ends meet, the mail arrived that day with a letter from my dad’s childhood Sunday school teacher. The letter explained that God had laid our family on his heart a few days prior, and God had told him to send us some money. In fact, God had told him to send us $100.00!

So a letter left Georgia nearly a full day before our car was stolen and two days before we were aware of our desperate need for $100.00. Even before my sweet parents’ prayers had reached the throne room of heaven, our great God had provision on its way. Remarkable? Certainly. Significant? Monumentally!

God knew what His covenant people enslaved in Egypt needed in 1400 B.C. He knew what a poor seminary family in Fort Worth, Texas needed in 1979. And dear sister, He knows what you need today right this very minute. He knows what we need because He knows all the cares of our heart. He is intimately aware of all that happens to us, because it all comes through His hand purposed for His glory and for our good.

Dear Lord, remind me even in moments of desperation and fear that You are in control. Help me fight the temptation to worry or doubt your provision. Grant me the peace to accept Your will as your promise to protect and provide for me and my family. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Intimacy with God: Your Daily Guide to Prayer by Tara Furman

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Visit Whitney Capps’s blog

Application Steps:
Track your prayers in a prayer journal so that future generations can see how God’s faithfulness is at work in your life.

What are you anxiously praying for right now?

Can you resolve to set your heart at peace knowing that God’s best answer may already be on its way?

Power Verses:
Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Whitney Capps. All rights reserved.

Ocean or Mountains?
By Glynnis Whitwer

“For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature —have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:20 (NIV)

Ocean cabana or mountain cabin?
This was one of the questions in a great little book I bought for a summer road trip from Arizona to Wyoming and back. The book is called "Coke or Pepsi?" and it is filled with discussion starters. The ocean or mountain question was posed somewhere on Interstate 15 in Utah.

One by one, my family answered: "ocean" "ocean" "ocean," and so on. I knew their answers before they spoke because they love the ocean. I do too. But when the question turned to me, I answered “mountain cabin.”

For as long as I can remember, mountains have brought me peace. Growing up in a valley, I've been hemmed in by mountains all my life. They give me a sense of security, and their beauty delights my senses. Take some mountains, add a flower-strewn meadow and a stream winding somewhere in the midst of it, and that’s my version of ultimate beauty in all of God’s creation.

Part of our recent vacation was to the Grand Tetons. As I stood in front of these unbelievable mountains, I just gaped. They are a 40-mile-long section of the Rockies with a series of soaring peaks side by side. Their proximity to each other, and the fact that they have no foothills, creates an imposing sight. Snow still frosts the tops in the middle of summer, and the snowmelt made for numerous small waterfalls cascading down the sides and spilling into stunning lakes.

Descriptive words danced in my head as I looked at those soaring peaks: Dependable, unchanging, strong, awesome and beautiful. Those words not only describe the Tetons, they sound a lot like characteristics of God!

After reading Romans 12:1, I’m confident that one of God’s goals when He created mountains was to reveal Himself in creation to creation: “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature— have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

It still amazes me that God chooses to reveal Himself to me in so many ways. He really wants me to know Him. So in addition to sending Jesus, and having the Bible written, He has designed this world intentionally so we can know Him better. The wonder of God’s creation is that, no matter if we love to look at mountains or oceans, everyone can see a glimpse of God’s invisible qualities. We just have to see with new eyes.

So while my family enjoys the majesty, strength and depth of the oceans (and God), I’ll snuggle in close to the mountains and rest in the shadow of their mighty power (and God’s).

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me such a beautiful world to live in. As I look at Your creation, please help me to see Your power and character revealed. Open my eyes and heart to know You better. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

The Air I Breathe by Louie Giglio

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

Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer

Application Steps:
Identify your favorite place in nature. List three characteristics of God you can learn from this place.

Why would God choose to reveal Himself to us through creation?

How does creation reveal God’s power and divine nature?

What happens when we miss seeing God revealed in His creation?

Power Verses:
Psalm 121:1, “I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from?” (NIV)

1 Chronicles 29:11, “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.” (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

By Tracie Miles

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.” Psalm 18:16 (NIV)

When my daughter was just a toddler, I would frequently ask her, “Do you want me to hold you?” She would promptly nod and lift up her arms. Even though her vocabulary was limited, she soon learned that anytime she wanted to be picked up, she could simply raise her arms, look at me with those big, blue eyes, and say “hold you.” It was such a precious request in her sweet little voice, and I would always oblige. Those days seem long ago, as my daughter will be starting high school this year, but these memories came to mind when I heard the song by Natalie Grant, entitled “Held.”

Years ago, my sister was diagnosed with a chronic illness. Many times since then I have found myself pleading to God for her healing, or at a minimum, for an understanding of this hardship. During one of these times of doubt and worry, the song “Held” flooded my radio speakers. The words pierced my heart, and I would pray for my sweet sister each time I heard it, as God repeatedly comforted me with Natalie’s words.

The lyrics of the song say, “Who told us we’d be rescued? What has changed and why should we be saved from nightmares? We’re asking why this happens. To us, who have died to live. It’s unfair.” You see, that is exactly how I felt. My sister loved the Lord, and I thought God should be taking better care of her. I doubted His reasons for her illness. I continually cried out to Him, questioning why she had to be sick. Why did she have to suffer? It ‘s not fair Lord!

The chorus of the song goes like this, “This is what it means to be held. How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life. And you survive. This is what it is to be loved, and to know that the promise was when everything fell, we’d be held.” Through this simple song, God reassured me that His ways are not for me to understand, but I can trust that He loves my sister, His child, and is holding her close. Every time I heard that song, my heart would flutter, and I would be gently reminded that God sees her, and loves her, despite the circumstances.

Recently, her health condition worsened, and she was scheduled for a serious surgery. I left early in the morning the day of the surgery, and headed for the hospital. I was worried, and my heart was burdened. I breathed in a heavy sigh, and turned on the radio, and what was playing? “Held.” The words washed over my soul as tears came to my eyes, and a peace came over me. I knew that song was God’s way of reminding me that He was still holding her tightly in His arms. It was only then, that I knew she would be okay. After a successful surgery and twelve hours at the hospital, I got in my car to go home, and turned on the radio – you guessed it – “Held” was playing again. God was there.

If you are like me, despite our level of faith, there are times in life when we doubt if God is really watching over us or our loved ones. We question why things happen that seem unfair. We wonder what glory He could possibly derive from painful circumstances.

It takes great faith to believe that God does understand, and He wants us to know that He is always there. A song on the radio, a note from a loved one, a smile from a stranger, a powerful sermon, an applicable Bible verse. God could use any method to reassure us of His love, and His omnipotence, and His desire is to hold you and me close to His heart. We merely need to raise up our arms, look into His eyes, and say “hold you. He will.

Dear Lord, my heart is so burdened with worry for my loved ones. Please pull me into Your presence, and help me to feel Your arms around me. Forgive me for my doubts and lack of faith. Please help me to see how You are holding those who are hurting, and continue to reassure me of your sovereignty. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Today’s P31 Radio Show

Interested in God using you in an amazing way to help others feel “held” by God? Click over to Tracie’s blog today to find out how.

Reinventing Your Rainbow, by Tracie Miles

Application Steps:
Consider situations where you are struggling with worry and doubt. Ask God to reassure you of His presence in the situation.

Have I asked God to hold me during my times of doubt, worry and pain?

Do I need to make a new commitment to trust God in all situations?

Power Verses:
Psalm 73:23, “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

Your Heavenly Referee
By Micca Monda Campbell

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

Have you ever experienced a lack of peace that kept you from moving forward? I have. My husband and I were about to purchase our first home. After viewing several houses, we finally found a perfect fit. Or so we thought.

When closing day came, I couldn’t bring myself to sign the papers. Although it was natural for us to be both excited and nervous about becoming new home owners, I couldn’t shake the feeling of uneasiness. I asked to speak to my husband alone for a moment and discovered that he had the same sick feeling in his stomach as I had in mine. We decided not to move forward.

This was a wise decision. A few short months later, my husband died from a tragic accident. Had we bought the home, I wouldn’t have been able to pay a house note plus support a new baby and myself on one income. That’s when it dawned on me. Our lack of peace on closing day was the Holy Spirit calling a “time out” so that we would think it over and make the right decision.

You and I may not know our future, but God does. Through the Holy Spirit, God directs our steps by the way of peace, or lack of it.

The Holy Spirit works in our lives much like a referee does in a basketball game.
As long as the players stay within the boundaries of the court, they are free to move about. But when there is trouble on the court or the ball goes out of bounds, the referee blows his whistle. The sound of the whistle stops the game until the referee restores order, then he puts the ball back into play.

Likewise, we have a heavenly “Referee” — the Holy Spirit. When there is a lack of peace in our lives, that’s our signal He has blown the whistle and called for a time-out to redirect our path.

Sometimes our ball gets kicked out of bounds by unexpected adversity in our lives. Other times, we step out bounds on our own by giving way to temptation and sin. In each of these circumstances, the Holy Spirit will blow the whistle to gain our attention. If you and I are smart, we’ll wait on our heavenly Referee to restore our peace and put the ball back into play.

For peace to return, we need to wait and listen to the instructions of our Referee. You and I seek those instructions through prayer and meditation of God’s Word. It may also involve repentance before we can move forward. Either way I assure you that stepping out of bounds doesn’t mean God will call “game over.” As we respond and obey the Holy Spirit, He simply puts the ball back into play. Those who have learned to play under the guidance of their heavenly Referee will never stray long outside of the boundaries God has set for their life.

I’m thankful that my husband and I heeded the warning of the Holy Spirit and didn’t purchase that house. In doing so, we were spared undue stress. What about you? Is the heavenly Referee trying to get your attention through a lack of peace? Or is He giving you a green light through a calm sense of rightness? The right path is always marked with peace.

Dear Lord, only You know my future and what is best for my life. Guide me by the power of Your Holy Spirit. I will not move forward until I have a complete sense of peace. Until then, give me the strength I need to wait on You, In Jesus Name, amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Micca Campbell’s blog

Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes

Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer

Application Steps:
God has a distinct plan for your life. He is involved and working for your best. If you have a decision to make, seek God’s counsel. He will guide you by His peace. If you are not experiencing peace, do not move ahead. God will show you the way, and it will be marked by peace.

True, sometimes we have to step out in faith – but the risk will be accompanied by a peace that passes understanding if God is in it.

Have you ever had a lack of peace but moved forward anyway? What was the outcome?

What does it mean to you that God never calls “game over” when you’ve stepped out of bounds?

How can you utilize the help of your heavenly Referee?

Power Verses:
Luke 1:79, “to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace." (NIV)

John 16:13, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” (NIV)

Isaiah 58:11, “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

You Get What You Pay For
By Wendy Pope

“You were bought at a price.” 1 Corinthians 6:20 (NIV)

Crocs: now those are some ugly shoes in my opinion! I am not always on the cutting edge of fashion but Crocs are foot fashion that I can not embrace. The colors are loud, the shape is bulky, and did I mention the cost can bust a budget? I typically like to invest my money in knock-offs rather than name brands, especially when it comes to my children because not too long after a purchase they either out grow or destroy the item. Therefore, with a knock-off, I typically get my money's worth. Except when I bought "Crocs."

My children wanted Crocs and kept asking for them. I gave in to the asking but committed not to buy the "real" thing. We went to one of the higher priced stores, not a discount box store, to make our purchase. This store was known for quality, not to mention the shoes the kids wanted were on sale. So with great excitement, we tried on some shoes, found the correct size, and paid for them. My children were so excited they asked to wear them out of the store. How could I resist? Everyone was happy for a few hours, then I heard a loud shout from the back of the car followed by a cry, "My Crocs (imitation or not we called them Crocs) broke." I couldn't believe it. I went back to the store with receipt in hand and exchanged my son's shoes.

Two days later the same shout and cry came from my son. The second pair broke. I don't have to tell you that I was regretting my purchase. I put the shoes in a bag with the receipt and was ready to return them the next time we were out running errands. We found him another pair of shoes to wear that day, and he was ready to go back outside to join his sister bike riding. As we walked out, my daughter rode up only to tell me that her "Crocs" had broken too. Are you feeling my frustration?

A week later, with the love of Jesus on my face I returned, not exchanged, the broken shoes. As I signed the receipt, I said to myself, "Well Wendy, you get what you pay for?" It was then I heard the sweet whisper of my Savior, "Do I get what I paid for?" Talk about heavy. What a loaded question.

I did not feel rebuking or discipline from the Lord but more a sense of disappointment. The disappointment I sensed was for His church, His children - me. He paid such a high price for our freedom and our invitation to eternity, but I couldn’t help feeling what He often gets in return is our cheap imitation of Him. He paid the high price for the real thing, and I wonder if we give back the “knock-off” of our service and dedication. Do we take for granted that price paid, and neglect to give Him our best?

My children have real Crocs now. I broke down and made the investment. I even found them on sale. The words of the question the Lord whispered in my ear that day still echo in my mind. God made an incredibly expensive investment in my future by giving me the "real thing" of His own Son. It is up to me to make sure He gets what He paid for: a love relationship with me and a heart committed to making that same love known to others.

How about you? Is God getting what He paid for with your life?

Dear Lord, it is the cry of my heart for You know that You made a worthwhile invest by sacrificing Your life for mine. Forgive me for taking the price You paid for granted. With the help of Your Holy Spirit I can live a life that will not be a cheap imitation, but the real deal. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
A Love Worth Giving: Living in the Overflow of God’s Love by Max Lucado

Living Free in Christ- audio CD by Wendy Pope

Out of the Mouths of Babes by Wendy Pope

To get to know Wendy visit her blog

Application Steps:
Sit quietly with God. Ask Him to reveal ways you have cheapened His sacrifice and ways He would have you exchange the cheap imitations for real love, service, and dedication to Him. Be patient. Listen closely.

If you are not sure about your relationship with Jesus, or you want to exchange your “cheap living” by rededicating your life to Him, follow this link to get to know Him.

Do I give God my best?

What stops me from giving from giving God my best?

Will I obey what God asks me to do today?

Power Verses:
Colossians 1:10, "And we pray this in order that your may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that your may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light." (NIV)

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

2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who has called us by his own glory and goodness.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

Faith You Can Take to the Grave
By Rachel Olsen

“For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” Romans 6:4 (NLT)

Do you avoid stinky things? Me too, but reading the story of Lazarus in John 11:1-46, changed my mind.

Lazarus became very sick. So his sister Martha sent for Jesus to come heal him. Jesus sent word back promising Lazarus’ illness would not end in death, and God would be glorified. A couple of days later, Jesus had not shown up and Lazarus died.

After the funeral, Martha goes out to meet Jesus, leaving her sister Mary and the other mourners behind. When she sees Him, Martha exclaims, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.”

Her statement sounds like a complaint about Jesus running late or not answering her request for healing. Perhaps it was, but it was also a statement of faith. Her next statement was too. She said, “But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” Before Martha said another thing, Jesus assured her brother will rise again.

Martha remembered Jesus saying Lazarus wouldn’t die from this illness. But Lazarus did die, so she figured Jesus must be talking about the future resurrection day of all souls. She mentions that. Jesus explained that HE IS the RESURRECTION LIFE and anyone who believes this will receive eternal life on that coming resurrection day. He asks Martha if she believes that through Him a person can live eternally even though they die physically.

Martha – who today is known for being too busy in the kitchen to sit with Jesus when He visited – responded, “Yes, Lord, I have always believed that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” Martha may have taken some heat for fussing over dinner on that day, but on this day she takes the cake for having great belief in Jesus.

Martha left and told Mary Jesus wanted to see her. Mary had been inconsolable over Lazarus’ death. The Bible says, “When the people who were trying to console Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to weep at Lazarus’s grave and followed her.” Instead, Mary went to Jesus.

Jesus felt for Mary as she wept there at His feet over her brother. Jesus loved Lazarus, and cried along with her. Our Lord can feel our pain. I am so thankful for a Savior who has walked this dusty earth, feeling the emotions and dealing with the complexities of human life as we know it.

At Lazarus’ tomb, Jesus called for the stone to be rolled away and Martha panics over what it will smell like. To keep it real, I don’t care much for the smell of a dirty, sweaty man. So I’m with Martha here; I wouldn’t want to smell a 4-days-dead one. But Jesus responded to her, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?”

Pause here and consider, are there areas of your life you have thought “dead?” Maybe your finances stink, or your career? Maybe your marriage, or your sex-life with your spouse? Maybe a relationship with a parent, husband, or child?

Once the tomb was opened, Jesus said: “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so they will believe you sent me." Then Jesus shouted, "Lazarus, come out!" And Lazarus came out, bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, "Unwrap him and let him go!" (John 11:42-43, NLT). Many witnesses to this then believed in Jesus.

Notice that we may not always get to hear Jesus when He commands the resurrection in own our circumstances. Sometimes we just have to take it on faith. Furthermore, at first, it may not look or smell much like resurrected life – even though Jesus has summonsed it. In fact, it might continue looking like a smelly corpse in graveclothes! But, if we trust and persevere, unwrapping those graveclothes, we will find the miracle of resurrection life has gone forth.

Jesus holds resurrection power – do we hold belief? If so, we will get to see God and His glory displayed. If so, we will get to remove the graveclothes from the dead areas of our hearts and lives. And, if so, we too will one day rise from our graves.

Dear Lord, I praise You for resurrection power – may it go forth in my life today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

God’s Purpose for Every Woman: A P31 Devotional Gen Eds. Lysa TerKeurst & Rachel Olsen

To read or discuss this passage of scripture, follow this link to visit Rachel’s blog.

Are there areas of your life you’ve shut off from God’s resurrection power for fear of how it will “smell” if you open that door?

Where do you need God’s resurrection power - pray for it and believe!

Power Verses:
Colossians 3:1, “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.” (NLT)

© 2008 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

Site Search
Recent Devotions
Articles About...
Grab our button!