by Susanne Scheppmann

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NASB)

I pulled in the driveway grateful to be home after a five-day conference. I pressed the remote and the garage door rolled open. Bloodied water trickled toward me as I stepped from my car. I knew immediately what had happened - the freezer had gone out. All the meat had thawed and the bloody, watery juices had drained out of the freezer into a maroon stream that slowly ran toward the driveway. Yuck.

Mark, my husband, was out of town. I stood in my garage disgusted and slightly freaked out. Of course, I called my husband for help. I didn’t care if it was late and there was a three-hour time difference between us.

He patiently said, “Check the G.F.I.”

“The what?”

“The ground fault interrupter. It’s in the electrical outlet where the freezer is plugged in.”

Sure enough, the G.F.I. had tripped and in response the freezer shut down. Nothing was technically wrong with the freezer, except now it had hundreds of dollars of rotting food sitting inside it. Because of a tripped G.F.I., my evening turned from one of anticipated relaxation to hours of vexing cleanup.

Isn’t our faith sometimes like that, too? We are believing and trusting the Lord, when all of a sudden something unexpected happens – our own G.F.I (God Faith Interrupter) gets tripped. In response, our faith shuts down and we melt like a gallon of vanilla ice cream in a hot garage.

It’s certainly difficult to understand the twists and turns in our journey of faith. When a God Faith Interrupter occurs, we grope in the darkness for something to reassure us that regardless of our circumstance, the Lord is loving, merciful, and He will guide us. God Faith Interrupters might shake our faith. They can be scary. They certainly will be unexpected and uncomfortable, but the Lord holds the charge of power to uphold our faith even when it shuts down temporarily. We must turn to Him.

Express to the Lord your fear of a “God Faith Interrupter” tripping you up. Then thank Him that He will be with you, showing you mercy and loving-kindness, no matter what happens in the days ahead. Then resolve to stay plugged into Him, no matter what.

Dear Lord, I prefer those times when my life goes smoothly. However, I ask for an extra measure of faith when my life takes an unexpected twist. Teach me to trust Your sovereignty in my life, and to rely on Your strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Birds in My Mustard Tree: For Those Who Struggle with Faith by Susanne Scheppmann

Sanctuary: A Devotional Bible for Women

Visit Susanne’s Blog

Application Steps:
Read Genesis 39. Note the G.F.I. in Joseph’s life. Consider how our Key Verse correlates with Genesis 39:20-23?

What G.F.I. (God Faith Interrupters) have occurred in your life?

Did you believe that God was with you throughout the ordeal? Why or why not?

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

Genesis 39:20b-21, “But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.” (NIV)

Psalm 57:1, “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Upside Down
by Luann Prater

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” Matthew 6:25 (NIV)

Everything in my closet is shrinking! Do you notice it too? It is amazing how a little extra around my waist causes my pants to rise above my ankles! And I am sure that since I hit the 50 mark, the Michelin Tire Man has taken up residence inside my skin. I don’t need an inner tube when swimming in the lake with my grandkids; I have one permanently affixed to my middle!

Recently I made a commitment to get back on track with my eating habits, choosing vegetables instead of bread, and fruit instead of snacks. Even though I know this is the right approach, I have found that it tends to consume my thoughts. Aren’t we funny creatures? We seem to major in the minors of life.

The Bible teaches us to put first things first; to seek God before all else. And yet, we continually put Him somewhere on the to-do list with everything else. He has proven to me over the years that if I put Him first, all the other things will fall into place. So why is it so hard to do that on a day-in, day-out basis?

1 Chronicles 16:11 tells us, “Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.” So what do I do instead of seeking the Lord? Often I seek my own will or pleasure before I seek God. Sometimes I’m more interested in getting what I want before I ask what He wants. Other times, I operate in my own logic and strength – calling my own shots according to what seems right to me.

When I live that way, I turn the guidance of the scriptures upside down. Matthew 6:33 clearly instructs us, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

So here is what I’ve learned recently on my quest to eat right. When I begin my day seeking Him, my appetite stays in check. Period. When I truly focus on my relationship with Him, eating is just where it needs to be. It becomes part of my day but not the focus of my day. God’s ways do work – we just have to follow them. So I challenge you, turn your logic upside down this week and begin each day seeking the One who created you.

Dear Lord, thank You for being enough. Teach us each day to seek Your face before all other things in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

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

Self Talk, Soul Talk by Jennifer Rothschild

Visit Luann’s Blog

Application Steps:
Rise each morning this week and spend quiet time seeking the Lord. Spend this time only focused on Him, who He is, and what He has already done in your life. Save the “I wants” and the “please help me” for later. Then record how your days become drastically different than the norm.

What challenge am I facing today?

Why do I try to conquer challenges on my own?

How can I turn my prayer habits upside down?

Power Verses:
Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (NIV)

Luke 12:31, “But seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” (NIV)

Acts 17:27, “God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Luann Prater. All rights reserved.

A Reflection of God’s Glory
by Susanne Scheppmann

“How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures . . . May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works.” Psalm 104:24, 31 (NIV)

Modern technology is amazing. I remember as a child watching high-speed photography of a flower budding and blooming. The photography captured days of nature’s movement and beauty, so that in a few minutes I could see and understand what took place in my garden.

Even though we can see pictures, movies, and read books on the wonder of nature, there is nothing like experiencing it for ourselves.

So often, we miss the glory of God in nature. Stress and busyness hinder our senses from recognizing the beauty of God’s creation. We allow life’s mundane tasks to strip us of opportunities to increase our faith. Yet the earth’s Creator gifted us with the five senses—sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. He did this so we can experience His character and personality.

Our God rules nature—nature does not control God. The Creator spread out the stars in the heavens and set the foundations of the earth. He covered it with water and then set the boundaries of the seas. He assigned the rivers to their places in the mountains. He provides water to all living things. God causes grass and plants to grow. He provides nutrition and lodging for His creatures. He enables us to cultivate and work the earth so we, in return, will glorify Him.

The Lord has given us proof through nature that He exists and that He provides for His creation. My faith increases when I stop to think about the miraculous beauty of nature. If God can take care of the mighty heavens and the spinning earth, then I know He is able to take care of me.

Dear Lord, open my eyes to Your wonders. Forgive me for taking for granted so many things that are amazing creations formed by Your hands. As I watch for nature to display Your wonder, increase my faith in You, my Creator. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Birds in My Mustard Tree: For Those Who Struggle with Faith by Susanne Scheppmann

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

Application Steps:
Plan a day this month to enjoy nature and God’s presence. Take a journal along to record your experiences and thoughts while outside.

Am I too busy to enjoy nature?

What can nature teach me about God’s character?

Do I praise God when He reveals a glory of nature to me?

Power Verses:
Psalm 8:3-4, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (NIV)

Psalm 19:1-4, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

What Should I Say?
by Renee Swope

“Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and petitions.” Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)

My prayers used to feel kind of flat. I didn't know what to say so I stumbled over my words when I talked to God. I especially didn't know how to pray when I was struggling or when a friend was going through difficult times. I wanted to say the right things because I thought that if I prayed the right way, then God would listen and answer my prayers, the way I wanted Him to.
It took me a while, but I finally got up the courage to talk with a friend about my fears and struggles. She explained to me that prayer isn’t about saying or asking the right things; it’s about building a relationship with God by talking to Him, and listening. She taught me how to be still and listen for His still small voice in my spirit before I started praying. I found that if I waited for Him to lead the conversation, the Holy Spirit would guide my thoughts and my prayers.

Over time, I also learned the power of praying God’s words written in the Bible. I read books and heard sermons that taught me that when we pray God's Word, we pray God's will. I loved that idea. It gave me a sense of confidence and direction when I didn’t know what to say in my prayers.

I also wanted my prayers to be filled with power. I wanted to believe that God was able and willing to accomplish what I was praying for. The Bible says that scripture is “alive and active” so I knew that when I prayed in agreement with God’s Words, I could expect those prayers to come alive in a situation and become active in the person's life that I was praying for.

Oftentimes when I pray now, verses that I’ve read in the Bible will come to mind. For instance, when I feel like my plans are spinning out of control, Jeremiah 29:11 will pop into my thoughts. On those days, I’ll pray:

“Lord, you know the plans you have for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me a future and a hope. You say that if I come to you and pray, you will listen and you will lead me. So, today I surrender my plans for Your plans. Please guide my decisions and thoughts to match Yours so that I can experience hope and not harm. Even though things aren’t going so great today, I trust the plans You have for me.”

I love knowing there isn’t a certain way I have to pray to get God’s attention. In fact, prayer has become one of my greatest passions and joys. I don’t feel any pressure to say the right things anymore. Sometimes I just sit still and let Him whisper His promises into my thoughts and then I ask for their fulfillment with my prayers. Other times I simply pour out my thoughts to Him. And when I need a little direction, or I am not sure what to say, I open up the Bible to align my words with His Words – knowing that I’m also aligning my heart and desires with His will.

Lord, I’m so glad I don’t have to say the right things to get Your attention. Thank You for Your Spirit that lives in me and leads me – in my daily activities and even in my prayers. I would love it if today You’d give me a verse to pray so that I can see Your Word come alive in my circumstances and become active in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
For a list of scripture prayers to pray for you, your family and friends visit Renee’s Blog.

31 Days of Prayer: Moving God’s Mighty Hand by Ruth Myers

A Busy Woman’s Guide to Prayer by Cheri Fuller

Do You Know Jesus?

Application Steps:
Find one of your favorite verses and turn it into a prayer. Here’s an example:

May the God of hope fill ______ with all joy and peace as ______trusts in him, so that ________may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

To find a verse on a specific topic or keyword, click here to go to Crosswalk’s online Bible search tools.

Do you ever avoid prayer because you feel like you don’t know what to say?

Power Verses:
Psalm 66:19-20, “God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. ’Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!’” (NIV)

Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (NIV)

Philippians 1:9, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,” (NIV)

© 2008 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

by Wendy Pope

“We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (NIV)

What difference can one make? In a world of over 6 billion people, what can one do? In Jesus’ three years of ministry on this earth, thousands followed Him. Thousands needed Him. Out of the thousands Jesus ministered to, one mattered …

the one waiting at the pool of Bethesda.
the one leper who was healed.
the one woman at the well.
the one whose son died.
the one who touched the hem of His garment.
the one whose demon was cast out.
the one whose sight was restored.

One matters. One can also make a difference. One has power.

One mattered to us as a ministry when we received a plea through our prayer line. She was about to take her life. She felt she had nothing to live for, no reason, and no hope. We heard her cry, the soul-reaching, heart-breaking cry of one.

At Proverbs 31 Ministries, the cry of one stops our “normal” work day noise and we gather together to pray. As we joined hands and prayed for the cry of this one, the room was filled with God’s presence and His love for this one. He answered our prayer for one and, with praise and thanksgiving, she cried out again:

“Lord, Jesus, I give you praise and humble thanks. I was in extreme distress. I screamed out in pain into cyberspace, overwhelmed and gripped in an attack. I was caught in a suicide space falling and planned to die. I was trapped and could not escape this. I was terrified and ashamed, caught in a deep undercurrent of self destructive feelings. There was no way out. The pressures were too much. Then I received an answer to my cries. Help, love and concern flooded into this dark space, people who cared and stayed with me, passing all kinds of lifelines, they prayed for me. Thank you Lord for these dear and true daughters of Yours.”

As daughters of Christ, His chosen ones, it is our delightful purpose to reflect Jesus, the One and only, to one at a time.

Sometimes it can be overwhelming to think of Jesus sending us into the world to preach the good news. But it doesn't have to be. When we reach out to just one person in Jesus' name, we change the world.

Did you know that you are one of 250,000 subscribers to our Encouragement for Today devotion? Just think if every one receiving this devotion reached out in Jesus' name today to pray for a hurting soul, help a neighbor, bless a co-worker, encourage a child, mentor a friend, or come alongside a ministry and partner together to reach just one. What a difference we could make!

Dear Lord, in this world one seems insignificant but with You one is very powerful. It is my desire to be one who reflects and pleases You in everything I do, everyday of my life. Forgive me when I fall short. Help me see the world through the lenses of Your eyes and respond to what I see with the actions of Your hands and Your feet, with the words of Your mouth and the thoughts of Your mind. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Click here to find out how you can partner with Proverbs 31 Ministries to make a difference through the power of one.

Do You Know Jesus, the One and only?

Application Steps:
Become a Proverbs 31 Ministries’ prayer partner and join us as we pray for the ones that cry out to us through our prayer line every day.

Pray about partnering with Proverbs 31 Ministries. Later today, Lysa will share the financial needs of the ministry and invite you to join us by giving one dollar, for all the ones this ministry reaches with the love of Christ.

What can I do differently to reflect God more clearly to those around me?

What keeps me from choosing to give to one?

What is God teaching me through today’s devotion?

Power Verses:
1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (NIV)

James 1:22, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” (NASB)

© 2008 Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

Do You Want to Get Well?
by Wendy Blight

“Pick up your mat and walk.” John 5:11 (NIV)

Are you familiar with the story of the man on the mat found in the Gospel of John? As the story opens, we find Jesus entering Jerusalem after a tiring journey. His Father led Him to a dirty, smelly pool of water. Every day the lame, weak, and sick gathered at this pool, believing an angel would come down, touch the water, and fill it with healing powers. Whoever entered the pool first received instant healing. As Jesus wandered through the crowd, God drew his eyes to an invalid lying on a mat.

Jesus looked deep into his soul and asked, “Do you want to get well?”

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Have you ever felt like this invalid? Are you paralyzed by fear, despair, isolation, or self-pity? Do you believe you are the victim of unfortunate circumstances?

I lived like that invalid for over a decade. In 1986 at age 21, I was raped by a masked stranger hiding in my apartment. Before that day, I loved my life. I had just completed four years of college and graduated with honors. I had dated and become engaged to a wonderful man. I had even been voted a homecoming princess and had an amazing job waiting for me. After that day, worldly praise and blessings meant nothing. My attacker’s vile and cruel act shattered my hopes and my dreams.

After that I lived in a prison of fear and despair. Then I encountered Christ in this gospel story. The words Jesus spoke to the crippled man pierced my soul. I realized that I was the man on the mat. I enjoyed being the victim. I had become accustomed to my place of sorrow. Worse, I was comfortable there.

I came to know the truth of Hebrews 4:12: “For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” God’s Word spoke personally to me. I knew I needed to take a first step.

I surrendered my fear, my pity, and my grief, and opened my heart to God’s Word. I learned He had a plan for my life and a purpose for my pain. I knew I would never see it until I had the courage to get up and walk.

If you find yourself on a mat, will you trust me and open God’s Word? God will speak into your heart promises of hope and healing. However, before you can take that step off your mat, you must surrender your fear, self-pity, and despair. Sweet friend, God is waiting. Will you take the first step?

Dear Heavenly Father, I humbly come before You, My Creator and my Savior. I love You and thank You that You love me with an everlasting and unconditional love. Since You created me and chose me as Your own, Father, I give myself to You now, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I give you permission to come in and wash me clean. Heal me of my hurts. Take away my pain. Remove anything in my life that hinders my relationship with You. Fill me with the fullness of Your Spirit and enable me to take the first step off my mat. Show me the great plans You have for me. I ask this in the powerful name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner: The Transforming Power of God’s Story by Wendy Blight (To be released February 2009 – pre order your copy today!)

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

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
List some practical steps you are going to take to make this happen. Write a prayer asking God to implement your plan.

Are you stuck on a mat? Do you find yourself giving excuses?

Is there something in your life keeping you from God’s plan? Are you willing to trust God with whatever “it” is, get off your mat, open His Word and let Him bring His hope and healing into your life?

Power Verses:
Isaiah 41:17, “The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.” (NIV)

Psalm 40:1-2, “I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and the mire; He set my feet upon a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

Please Don’t Leave!
by Marybeth Whalen

“Do not leave here, I pray You, until I return to You and bring my offering and set it before You. And He said, I will wait until you return.” Judges 6:18 (AMP)

My two year-old daughter has learned a new phrase that tugs at my heart. Whether I am going on a date with my husband, or walking out of the room after putting her to bed, or just running quickly to the library to return books, I hear the same thing: “Mommy, don’t leave me!” As she has gotten older and more aware of both my presence and my absence, she is much quicker to express the desperate feeling she experiences when I am not with her. She responds with a heartfelt cry—one that is not unique to a two year-old. Whether we are saying it to our spouse, our children, or our friends, we all know that desperate feeling of not wanting to be left.

It is no different in our walk with God. In the story of Gideon, we see him wrestling with many issues that we wrestle with today. Did God really ask me to do that? Am I capable? Am I worthy? Do I have what it takes? And we see him reacting as I think many of us do. We look to God in the midst of our wrestling and say, just like my two year-old, “Don’t leave me while I sort this out!”

The more we walk with Him, the more aware we become of the benefits of resting in His presence. We know what we receive from Him and we crave more. We have felt the warmth of His embrace and we want more time in His lap. We know the power only He can infuse us with and we want to stay connected to that. And yet, as we scurry about in our busy lives, we are likely to look over and accuse Him of leaving us—when really it is the other way around.

I love God’s response to Gideon as he desperately cries out for Him not to leave. Very lovingly and patiently God replies, “I’ll be right here.” I see God saying the same thing to all of us today. As you race to pick up your child at school, you call out over your shoulder, “Don’t leave me!” As you rush off to work, your mind filled with the things you need to do, you say to Him, “Please don’t leave God!” As you carry out the things He has called you to, needing Him more than ever, He lovingly replies, “Go do what you need to do, and I will be right here.” The New American Standard version of this verse says, “I will remain until you return.” He is a God who remains.

Gideon’s story comforts me not because he went on to fight a victorious battle and become a hero in Israel. Gideon’s story comforts me because he knew he needed the Lord and he understood his profound need for God’s presence. He experienced an abiding relationship with God that became his foundation and his fortress. I love knowing that when I desperately call out, “Don’t leave me!” He will lovingly reply, “I’m not going anywhere.” Every time.

Dear Lord, I praise You for being the God who remains. Even though I might run off, I know You are always there waiting for me. Thank You for Your patience with me and Your abiding love. Help me to draw close to Your presence no matter what is going on in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Visit Marybeth Whalen’s blog

Application Steps:
Is there someone in your life who needs to know that God has not left them? Find a way today to share with them that God remains. He is Yahweh Shammah, “The Lord is there.”

Do you need to be assured today that God has not left you? Have circumstances in your life overtaken the truth of scripture and convinced you that God is not aware of your situation? How can you reconnect with His presence and experience His abiding, steadfast love today?

If you have some tips to share or would like to learn more about how to remain in God’s presence in the midst of the busyness that distracts us, Marybeth will be discussing this on her blog today.

Power Verses:
Joshua 1:5, “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (NIV)

Psalm 146:5-6, “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—the Lord, who remains faithful forever.” (NIV)

II Timothy 2:13, “If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

When I’m Not There, God is
By Glynnis Whitwer

“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” Psalm 91:11 (NIV)

I watched the weather report with heightened concern. A winter snowstorm in the White Mountains was normally great news. It meant the ski lifts would soon be open and that our dry state would benefit from moisture. Today, however, it had a more ominous meaning, for my son Dylan was in the path of the storm.

Dylan and his high school wrestling team had been at a tournament in the mountains for a few days. They were due to be leaving soon, and my concern turned to dread as I pictured those desert dwellers trying to navigate through a snowstorm. My panicked mind reviewed all the horror stories of school sports teams, in vans or buses, going off the road. As I imagined the curving Mogollon Rim road with blinding snow, my heart started to pound.

The ringing of the phone jarred me from my unhealthy thoughts, and I heard my son’s voice on the other end. “Mom,” he said. “We’re leaving right now to try and beat the storm.” I breathed a prayer of thanks for those coaches who cared more about the kids’ safety than finishing the tournament, but continued my worry.

Never before had I experienced such a longing to have my son safe in my arms. But that wasn’t possible. Dylan had to make that journey home in the care of others. Thankfully, in the midst of that worry, God reminded me that Dylan wasn’t just in the care of those coaches, but that He was watching over Dylan.

I’ve struggled with this issue of worry over my children’s safety since they were born. Because of my tendency to worry, I have the potential to be over-protective. However, years ago, God revealed to me that my fears were born more out of my lack of trust than a healthy concern. The truth was I believed my children were only safe when they were in my care. The reality of this fallen world is my children are only safe in the care of God.

As school starts, and many children head off to classes, sports and clubs, many of us will deal with anxiety over their safety. Instead of being overcome with worry, I’ve learned to identify the worries that come when I’ve misplaced my trust. It prompts me to pray more, trust more, and enjoy more of life with my children. By the way, my son and his wrestling team made it home safely that day. We’ll be gearing up for more out of town matches in a month or two, and I’ll be increasing my prayers.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for caring for my children even more than I do. Thank You for hearing my prayers, and for protecting my children. Help me to learn to trust You more, and to pray more about even the smallest details of their lives. I want to be a mother who trusts You, the true source of all help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources
Do You Know Jesus?

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

Traveling Light by Max Lucado

Visit Glynnis Whitwer’s blog

Application Steps
Make a list of the times when you are most concerned for your child’s safety. Commit to praying every day for a week regarding these specific needs. Hopefully this will jump start a pattern of consistent prayer. If you aren’t currently parenting a child at home, identify a child you know and pray for him or her.

Why is it important for a parent (or any adult) to pray for children?

According to Psalm 91, from what does God protect His people?

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

Psalm 4:8, “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” (NIV)

Matthew 18:10, “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

My Secret
By Lysa TerKeurst

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

The young teenage girl named Sidney sat across from me with eyes full of emotion. Her voice choked out a whispered, “thank you,” as she turned and kissed the chubby-cheeked little boy sitting in the baby carrier beside her. Just one year earlier, I’d sat across from this same precious girl listening to her plans to have an abortion the next day. Panic, confusion and fear consumed her and made her feel as though she had no other choice. As soon as she spoke those words, tears fell from both of our eyes. Hers were tears of relief. Mine were tears of redemption. Both were wrapped in the hope that God truly can take even our worst mistakes and somehow bring good from them.

Yesterday, you read Luann’s beautiful devotion about her making the last minute decision to not abort her baby. Sixteen years ago I was also a young woman panicked and sitting in an abortion clinic. Only unlike Luann and Sidney, tragically, I kept my appointment. And I can honestly say, the grief that entered my life that day has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to face. For years I kept this secret buried deep within my heart. I was so ashamed, so horrified, so convinced that if anyone ever found out I’d had an abortion, I’d be rejected by all my church friends and deemed a woman unfit to serve God.

So I suffered in silence, wrapped in a cloak of shame.

Going to church was incredibly hard during those years. I was convinced I was the only Christian woman who’d ever had an abortion. I’d never heard another Christian woman share this as a part of her testimony. Never did I hear of anyone speak of the hope and grace that Jesus provides to those of us who were suffering from making that decision. I only heard well-meaning Christians debate the issue of abortion with very strong words. Their words stung, made my heart seize and my eyes feel like they’d explode into a flood of a million tears.

Don’t get me wrong, the issue of abortion is serious and we should take a strong stand against it. But we must also remember that it’s more than a topic of religious and political debate. For one in three women within the church, it is one of the most painful parts of their life story. One for which they want to find forgiveness and healing, but are too afraid of being judged to share their secret with anyone.

So they suffer in silence, wrapped in a cloak of shame.

Sweet friend, is this you? Are you in this place? Can I offer you a lifeline today? There is hope and healing that can be found. It is possible to be forgiven and to let go of the emotional pain. For me, there were three things that helped my healing more than anything. First, I sought help from my local Crisis Pregnancy Center who offered a Post Abortion Bible Study. Secondly, I named my baby and wrote a letter promising to make his life count by sharing our story to help others. And lastly, I kept my promise to my child and asked God to give me the courage to share my story with someone in order to help them.

Remember Sidney? She was one of the first people I ever told. Seeing God bring good out of what Satan meant for such evil in my life, did more to heal my heart than almost anything else.

Dear Lord, please tenderly give us the courage to face the secrets hidden in our hearts. Lord, we ask for your forgiveness. And we ask for your healing. Please help us see some kind of good come from our past mistakes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources
Visit Lysa TerKeurst’s blog to read the letter she wrote to her child that she referred to in today’s devotion.

Who Holds the Key To Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst. This book and Bible study were written specifically for people who are suffering in silence due to shame from their past.

Spend some time asking Jesus how He wants you to respond to today’s devotion.

Take time to pray for women in your community and church who are suffering from the pain of abortion.

Consider giving your time and resources to help your local Pregnancy Care Center minister to women in your community.

Power Verses
2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (NIV)

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

© 2008 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

Longing To Be a Lily
By Luann Prater

“See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.” Matthew 6:27-28 (NIV)

“They are simply stunning,” she raved, referring to the massive clump of lily blooms. Two years ago we moved that batch of flowers with us to this house, even though they had never produced one single blossom. We had hopes that given enough sun, space and care, they might just surprise us. And they did – just like my daughter, Tiffany.

We celebrated our youngest daughter’s college graduation recently, followed immediately by her engagement. It was during this gala event that our friend noticed the striking array of blooms leading up to our door. The lilies captured her attention.

The day after my visitors left, I sat at work pondering my daughter’s life. I had been thinking that day about how close I came to aborting my Tiffany, how incredibly hopeless I felt 22 years ago. But in the midst of it all, God had sent a 96 year-old angel by the name of Mrs. Metcalf to gently pat my hand and proclaim, "This baby will be a blessing." Soon after, those 6 words echoed in my mind as I sat in the waiting room at Planned Parenthood. When they called my name, I cried and ran for the door. I did not abort my baby.

While I was thanking God for Tiffany’s life, the phone rang. It was my counseling minister at church calling to ask for help. He’d just hung up from talking with a distraught mother who discovered she was pregnant...again. Her life was in turmoil and she had an appointment the next day for an abortion. He knew my story and asked if I would consider calling her. Isn't God amazing?

Please know that my life was not without many challenges after I made the decision to have my child. But this particular week I rejoiced that God urged a neighbor to come along side me and whisper words of hope. So here I was with the opportunity to share my story with someone so close to the same decision. I called her. I didn't preach, but simply told her my story. I told her how much I understood her panic, her fear, and her doubt, and it brought us together. Then I shared that 22 years ago I could never have imagined standing and applauding my daughter at her college graduation. Tiffany in turn has touched many others by her joyful, bubbly life. How could I have known the plans that God had in store for that precious baby in my womb? I didn’t, but God did. And He used Mrs. Metcalf to speak to me.

Mrs. Metcalf was my lily – my attention getter. She didn’t toil or spin trying to figure out what to say to me, or force her influence on my decision. Instead, she simply glowed with God’s beauty.

Is there a life near you that needs a lily – a display of God’s love, a place to feel His care? Are you willing to just simply be there for someone today and let God love him or her through you?

Dear Lord, thank You for giving us beautiful examples of how we should live our lives, like the lilies; simple, fragrant, outstanding. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

* We praise God for this beautiful story from Luann’s life. However, we realize that some of you may have suffered through the pain of an abortion. Therefore, we are running a devotion tomorrow written by Lysa where she’ll share her story, and the hope and healing that can be found following an abortion.

Related Resources
Traveling Together by Karla Worley

Who Holds the Key To Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst. (Lysa wrote this book and Bible study specifically for people who are suffering in silence due to regrets from their past.)

Do You Know Jesus?

Visit Luann’s Blog

Application Steps
Live this day as if there was no one to impress. Focus on God. Simply be.

What do I busy myself with in an effort to please God?

How do I spend my day?

Why do I worry about being useful?

Power Verses
Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (NIV)

John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV)

1 Corinthians 3:7, “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Luann Prater. All rights reserved.

Poison Ivy
By Van Walton

“… watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” Genesis 4:7b” (NLT)

My friend Wendy brought her children and their friends to my house for several hours of play in the backyard pool. We chatted while they entertained themselves.

I remember observing young Griffin’s curious mind as he ventured into the woods. His busy and energetic body refused to adapt to the games the other children wanted to play. Following his heart, he crept out of the pool and found purpose after strolling around the yard. For a few minutes he handed branches to my husband, helping him feed the chipper. Then he picked up a rake. In no time he began to change the landscape. He cleared a path for my dog and piled leaves creating a soft bed. He set stones in place creating a protected space for the food dish and water bowl.

What an industrious boy! He amazed me with his vision, strength, and positive attitude. I wanted him to come live with me - surely his presence would keep the atmosphere in my home lively. I remember thinking, “What a good boy!”

When he completed his project he asked, “Would you like to see what I did?” In single-file we followed him, listening attentively as he pointed out each accomplished task.

Then I spotted it. I never expected to find what I stumbled upon while admiring my newly landscaped yard. My delighted heart turned to dread, for there surrounding all of Griffin’s hard work … was Poison Ivy!

My countenance grimaced and my stomach flip-flopped.

Innocently, without suspecting, Griffin had walked through a bed of nasty plants. Never mind that he was involved in good works or that He had done nothing wrong. He had not purposefully stepped into a bad place. It just so happened that the vine had crawled along the ground, hiding under dead leaves and climbing tree trunks, camouflaged by other clingy vegetation.

We had no idea whether Griffin had come in contact with the evil poison. Regardless, we had to devise a plan to protect him from the outcome: miserable days filled with an itchy rash.

I grabbed Wendy and told her to get Griffin into the tub. Mixing a concoction we hoped would bring relief, we doused that unsuspecting boy. We rid him of any residue that might leave its painful mark.

The encounter with the poison ivy reminded me that not a day goes by that we don’t step out into life with a plan to accomplish our goals. We may set out to do good things, to change the world, and to serve others. But what we don’t realize is, temptation and sin can be just around the corner looking to grab hold of us and spread its poison all over our best-laid plans.

We need to know and teach our children what poisonous plants look like. But even more, we need to teach them to recognize sin and run from it. Even a minor brush with sin can leave its poisonous mark.

Thankfully, when we get too close to sin, we can rid ourselves of its toxins by confessing to Jesus and asking for His cleansing.

Dear Lord, You have taught me many lessons about sin. I know it’s seriousness, and how it prowls around seeking to destroy me. I know first-hand how easily we can fall prey to its creepy deception. Please forgive my sins and give me the wisdom to recognize sin ahead of time and flee. Help me influence the young ones in my life and teach them the truth about sin. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources
Visit Van’s blog

From the Pound to the Palace by Van Walton

Confessions of an Adulterous Christian Woman: Lies that got me there, Truths that brought me back by Lyndell Hetrick Holtz

Little Halos, a teaching tool for parents created by Van Walton

Application Steps
Soldiers prepare for the enemy by learning their foes’ tactics. Take time to teach your children about the nature of sin.

Without frightening my children, have I explained sin and its consequences?

What common situations in the daily life of my children can I use to warn them about sin?

Power Verses
Matthew 24:22, “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect…” (NIV)

2 Corinthians 7:1, “…let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (NASB)

Titus 2:4, “He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.” (NLT)

© 2008 by Van Walton. All rights reserved.

In Jesus’ Name
By Micca Monda Campbell

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Matthew 28:18 (NIV)

Children learn by copying their parents. They may not always understand their parents’ actions or words, still, they often adopt them as their own. The other day, our son offered the mealtime prayer. In usual fashion he finished the prayer by adding the tag line, “in Jesus Name.” This time, he questioned the “why” behind the words he had been taught to say.

Looking up from his plate, Parker inquired. “Why do we end our prayers in Jesus’ Name?” Great question! I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we end our daily devotions with the same phrase. Perhaps you’ve also wondered why.

Growing up, I was taught that praying in the Name of Jesus meant we were in agreement with Him. That sounds good, but what exactly are we agreeing with?

In the book of John, we find a woman who knew the importance of agreeing with Christ. During Christ’s absence, his beloved friend Lazarus took ill and died. When Jesus eventually returned to town, He found Lazarus’ two sisters, Mary and Martha, in deep grief because of their loss. Martha ran out to meet Him. “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you” (11:21-22).

Martha’s statement of faith, “I know whatever you ask of God, He will give you” is significant to why we pray in Jesus’ Name. Martha understood that God had given Jesus all authority over heaven and earth, and wouldn’t deny the requests of His Son. In other words, Martha agreed—by her expression of faith—that Jesus had the authority to change her present situation if He so desired. That’s exactly what He did by resurrecting Lazarus from the dead!

Martha may not have been sure of much that dark day, but she was certain of who Jesus was—who God was—and the importance of their relationship with one another. Martha knew there was no higher court to petition than Christ.

In times of helplessness, you and I understand the importance of authority and what it can do for us. It’s why we ask to speak to the manager of a store in order to solve a problem the clerk has no authority over. We do so because we know the manager has the power and authority to act on our behalf. In a similar manner, we pray in the Name of Jesus because He has the authority—and the power—to accomplish what we cannot without Him.

When you and I pray in the Name of Jesus, we are exercising the same kind of faith Martha expressed. We are agreeing with and claiming the authority of Christ over our circumstances. And we are praying with power—the same kind of power that raised Lazarus from the dead!

We may not be sure of much. But we can be certain that through the authority given Jesus, you and I can boldly make our requests known to God.

Dear Lord Jesus, I believe that whatever you ask God, according to His will, on my behalf, He will give you—and He will give me. My request is __________. I ask it in the powerful Name of Jesus who has all authority over heaven and earth, Amen.

Related Resources
My First Story of Jesus by Tim Dowley

Dear Jesus: Seeking His Light in Your in Life by Sarah Young

Do you know Him?

Visit Micca Campbell’s blog

Application Steps

The next time you pray in the Name of Jesus, think about what you are saying. You are confessing and agreeing with Christ’s authority given to Him by God. You are praying with power. And you are saying that you believe God will not ignore Christ, or you.

What new insight have you learned about praying in the Name of Jesus?

How does praying with the same kind of power that raised Lazarus from the dead impact your prayer life?

Who gave Christ power and authority?

Will God ever deny Christ’s authority—why or why not?

Power Verses
Daniel 7:14, “He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” (NIV)

Phillipians 4:6, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (KJV)

Matthew 11:27a, “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father” (NASB)

© 2008 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

The Pain of Rejection
By Tracie Miles

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or God? Or am I still trying to please men?
If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 (NIV)

If there is one thing that can make someone feel like they don’t have a friend in the world, it’s rejection. Whether it be rejection from a spouse, a co-worker’s gossip, a friend’s betrayal, an unappreciative boss, an unfriendly neighbor, or a teenager who suddenly doesn’t want to be seen with you anymore - rejection hurts.

A few years ago I was dealt a harsh blow of rejection from someone I thought I had a positive relationship with. In the midst of this rejection, I became so focused on my hurt feelings that it became nearly impossible to think clearly, or rationally.

For most of us, when we are drowning in the pain of being rejected by someone, our thoughts are often, “How could that person have done/said that to me? Do they know how much I have done for them? Have they taken a hard look at themselves?”

Do those words sound familiar? They certainly do to me. These are some of the exact thoughts I had when I was thinking vengeful thoughts about my “rejecter.”

My human nature wanted to get back at the one who hurt me. Maybe give them a taste of their own medicine. But God had a different plan in mind.

God desired for me to handle this challenging and painful situation with understanding and compassion. He wanted me to pray for that person, and see them as His child who had made a mistake and didn’t realize how their words and actions affected others. He wanted me to forgive them.

Yes, that was His plan, but I didn’t really buy into it at first. Instead, I chose to harbor anger and pierce the ears of my family and friends with all of my woes, forcing them to be an involuntary guest at my ongoing pity party. I chose to feel sorry for myself, and shed as many tears as possible, as if that would drown out the hurt.

However, despite my procrastination in handling things God’s way, over the next few weeks, God repeatedly intervened and reassured me of His love. I stumbled across sweet Bible verses dealing with overcoming rejection. My weekly Bible study topic was on rejection, my daily email devotions touched on rejection, and my pastor’s sermon was about rejection that Sunday.

Could all of those things just have been incredible coincidences? Definitely not! I knew it was the awesome work of my Lord and Savior, who cared about me enough to let me know that He was with me during this time of turmoil. He gently reassured me of my worth in His eyes, and reminded me that I did not need ‘man’s’ approval, only His approval.

God’s love helped me to wash away the pride from my eyes, and allow Him to wash my soul with His mercy and grace. In His arms, I was reminded that I am His and that He loves and adores me despite my flaws and insecurities. As a result, I was able to take my focus off of my rejecter, and instead focus on my approver – Jesus.

Isn’t it so comforting to know that you never have to try to earn Jesus’ approval, and that you can live with a peace of mind knowing that He accepts you, no matter what.

Although Jesus may not always approve of our actions or choices, He always approves of us as a person whom He created, whom He loves, and whom He thought was important enough to die for.

Dear Lord, I pray for Your wisdom on how to deal with situations in which I feel hurt, rejected and worthless. Fill me with Your love so that I can love others, even when I do not feel loved in return. Please help me to remember that the only One who I need to seek approval from is You, and that it is in You alone, that I can truly believe that I am worthy and unconditionally loved. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources
Do You Know Him?

Reinventing Your Rainbow, by Tracie Miles

The Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in All Your Relationships by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas

Visit Tracie’s Blog for more encouragement.

Application Steps
Ask God for the supernatural ability to forgive your rejecter. Remember who you are in God’s eyes is all that really matters.

Are you allowing the opinion of one person to affect how you feel about yourself?

Power Verses
1 Kings 8:50 And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their conquerors to show them mercy. (NIV)

1 Thessalonians 2:4 On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. (NIV)

© 2008 Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

A Dime in my Pocket
By Karen Ehman

"Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long.” Psalm 86:3 (NIV)

Do you remember pay phones? My kids are just sure I’m ready for the senior citizen’s discount when they hear me speak of them. But maybe you’re one of my fellow ‘old folks’ and know exactly what I’m talking about. They hung on the walls at restaurants and airports; in shopping malls and at gas stations. When you needed to get a message to someone back home that the ball game was over or the outing was finished, you dug for the dime your mother (being the proper parent she was) always made sure resided in your jean’s pocket. Then you reached for the receiver, slipped your other hand up to the slot, dropped the silver coin in and dialed. Soon help, or a ride, was on the way.

I used my dimes sparingly in the olden days—you know, the 1980’s—reserving them only for completely necessary calls and occasional emergencies. In the course of a month, I resorted to my waiting dime only a time or two. If it was to be used, I wanted to make sure it was really worth it. If not, then it stayed conveniently tucked away in my front pocket, waiting for the day it would be called upon to come and rescue me.

Contrast this with today’s cell phones and some teenagers. Oh dear, at times it appears those electronic contraptions are glued to their ears!!! These kids don’t make a call once or twice a month, but once or twice a minute in some severe cases! They feel free to dial at any time, call at their convenience, and to use their ‘phone a friend’ lifeline at the drop of a hat. Now, least you think this is going to be a devotion that scolds these talkative teens, let me make my point clear. I actually think they are on to something!

Think with me in terms of our relationship with God. I’m afraid that often I am much more like a teen in the 80’s when it comes to calling upon the Lord. I reserve my spiritual dimes for the times I really need Him, making sure it is worth the effort of prayer. (And earnest prayer is sometimes effort, you know!) When I fear I will be spiritually stranded without a ride, feel a bit scared and need someone to rush to my side, or any other such divine emergency, I call upon the Lord. Other times, sadly, I must admit my spiritual cell phone sometimes stays shut.

Instead, my prayer life should emulate the actions of the chatty teens of our current culture. I should feel free to call, text and mobile-to-mobile my Lord about any and everything and, as a result, stay constantly connected to Him throughout the course of my day. I should realize that His line is never busy, His ear never tires and He longs to connect with me more than an occasional time or two a week. I too can call (pray), text (journal), save a message (memorize Scripture) or return a message (praise Him) no matter the time or place! Oh, if only God’s presence in my everyday life became as precious and desired as a teen’s cell phone use addiction!

How about it, fellow phoner? Perhaps this week when we spy a cell phone, let it trigger our memory of today’s key verse. Call upon the Lord. All day long. He will answer every time. No roaming charges, no busy signals and best of all, no dropped calls!

Dear Lord, please forgive me for resorting to prayer only when I need You for something. I resolve now to keep connected with You all through my day. I’ll call upon You in times of need as well as when I just want to thank You or spend time with You. You are my only lifeline. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources
Do You Know Him?

For more thoughts on prayer, visit Karen Ehman’s blog

The Busy Woman’s Guide to Prayer by Cheri Fuller

Application Steps
What other visual reminders can you use to help you build prayer into your day?

What does “praying without ceasing” look like? Why don’t we do this more often?

When do you find yourself most often calling upon the Lord? In good times to praise Him or in bad times to beg Him?

Power Verses
Psalm 17:6, “I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer.” (NIV)

Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (NIV)

I Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (KJV)

© 2008 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

Salty, Shiny, Sheep
By Luann Prater

“You are the salt of the earth.” Matthew 5:13 (NIV)

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NIV)

"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” John 10:14 (NIV)

The world fills us with false descriptions of what we should strive to become. An entrepreneur like Bill Gates, a gardener like Martha Stewart, and you know some have stood in front of the mirror dreaming of becoming the next American Idol!

Being raised in the 70s, I always wanted to be the girl on the commercial who sang, “I can bring home the bacon; fry it up in a pan; and never ever let you forget you’re a man; ‘cause I’m a WOMAN!” What a lofty goal…ugh and tiring! We wear ourselves out trying to fit the image that Satan has painted.

Need a different image to conform to? How about salty, shiny, sheep?

Let’s take a look at how Jesus described us. We are salt. Do you know that salt is used in greater quantities and for more applications than any other mineral? It has more than 14,000 known uses! Every living creature requires salt for life and health.
Salt can soften hard water, remove impurities; preserve and cure foods; tan hides and it’s even been used to seed clouds to produce rain.

When Jesus refers to us as salt he means that we are essential to every living creature. We have thousands of uses in His hands. We can help soften, heal, separate, remove impurities, fill, preserve, cure and even tan hides!

Jesus also tells us that we are to shine like stars in the universe. Have you looked up and seen the stars in the sky? They twinkle at us from the middle of extreme darkness. Likewise, our world is often dark and we are called to brighten up our spot with the light of God’s truth and an attitude of grace.

Jesus also called us sheep. I can relate to this metaphor most of all. Whenever I do something brainless, I belt out a “baaa” sound. Like sheep, we wander off, we make the same mistakes again and again, and we mindlessly follow the crowd. Yet Jesus said when He speaks, we are able to recognize His voice – just like a sheep obeying a shepherd.

Ok, close your eyes and visualize a salty, shiny, sheep. Now, let’s go live like one!

Dear Lord, thanks for giving us clear images that we can relate to. Teach us to be versatile enough to be salty; bold enough to be shiny, and intent enough to listen for Your voice, like sheep In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Pierced by the Word by John Piper

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself by Mary Lance Sisk

Visit Luann Prater’s blog

Application Steps:
Look for ways to be salt today to those who are hurting.

Ask God to show you ways to shine His Light on others.

Find some quiet time to listen for the Good Shepherd’s voice.

What keeps me from allowing myself to be poured out like salt?

When was the last time my life shined?

How can I be intentional when listening for God’s voice?

Power Verses:
Mark 9:50 "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other." (NIV)

Philippians 2:15 “…so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” (NIV)
John 10:4 “When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Luann Prater. All rights reserved.

Born To Run
By Marybeth Whalen

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)

Running was always something I told myself I simply could not do. I reasoned that I was not born a runner and lacked the physical endurance and stamina that runners possess. Plus, I had a whole list of reasons for why I could not run:

If only I had a good pair of running shoes.

If only I had more time to run without kids in tow.

If only I had an Mp3 player so I could listen to music while I ran.

Then, I reasoned, I could take up running.

One day I realized that all these “reasons” were just thinly disguised excuses to avoid the work that I knew running was going to be. I didn’t want to extend myself outside my comfort zone. I didn’t want to strain every muscle in my body. I didn’t want to take time out of my already busy days and devote it to running. I liked to talk about running someday but I didn’t actually want to do it.

Eventually, I laid all my excuses aside and ventured out for that first run. It was grueling and humbling. And, surprisingly, I loved it. As I was running the other day, I thought about how much my attitude about running has changed since I started. If there’s a day that goes by that I can’t do it, I crave it. I look forward to my runs and have even learned to include my children in my trek around the neighborhood. As I thought about all the excuses I once used to avoid running, I was so glad that I eventually stopped hiding behind them and took the plunge. What I would have missed out on if I hadn’t!

Perhaps you have been hiding behind some excuses of your own lately. Maybe your excuses involve exercise like mine did. Or maybe they involve other things like why you can’t give up a bad habit, why you aren’t able to forgive someone, or why you are continuing in a sin God has been convicting you of. Maybe you have been letting excuses keep you from a more intimate relationship with God, or maybe you have been excusing the fact that you need to accept Christ as Savior. Even as you read these words, God is impressing on your heart that there is something you need to do—but you have been letting excuses serve as a barrier between knowing it and actually doing it.

Today I invite you to remove the excuses in your life. To choose one excuse today and begin to tear it down, taking just one brick out of the wall. Over the next days and weeks, choose more bricks to remove until one day, nothing is standing between you and that scary thing you know you need to do.

I am glad I stopped listening to my own excuses and accepted the invitation to venture beyond my comfort zone. I learned that we were all born to run, as long as we grip the Father’s hand with all our might and stop letting excuses keep us from taking that first step.

Dear Lord, I don’t want excuses to stand between me and whatever You are calling me to. Help me to rely on You and not hide behind excuses as You invite me to experience abundant life in You. Lord, I trust You to catch me when I fall and to be my strength in all situations—even the ones that scare me and stretch me beyond what I feel capable of. With You I can do anything. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
elf Talk, Soul Talk by Jennifer Rothschild

Visit Marybeth Whalen’s blog

For the Write Reason General Editor Marybeth Whalen

Application Steps:
As you think about excuses in your life—emotional, physical, spiritual, etc.—make a personal list of what God reveals to you in the days to come. Ask God to help you remove those excuses and equip you to tackle whatever you are avoiding.

Can you think of a time when you used excuses to avoid something and found that once you removed the excuses, you were glad you did what you’d been avoiding? How can remembering this experience help you face similar situations now?

Is there someone in your life who needs you to hold them accountable for removing the excuses in their life? How can you reach out to them today?

Power Verses:
John 15:22, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin.” (NIV)

Luke 14:18a, “But they all alike began to make excuses.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

He Prays For Me!
By Lisa Jones, She Speaks! Graduate

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” Luke 22:31-32 (NKJV)

One time while I was going through a serious trial in my life, I felt as if I were all alone. I felt discouraged and powerless. I would spend hours every day in prayer for everyone else and their situations, asking God to intervene on their behalf, and yet I wondered who was praying for me. Was there anyone out there who cared enough about me and my suffering to bring it before God and beg Him to touch my life? Was there anyone who shared with the Lord that I was hurting? Shortly after that God encouraged me through His Word, and through today’s verse, that His Son Jesus does care for me and prays for me faithfully.

I wonder what would have happened to Peter after he denied Christ if Jesus had not previously prayed for him? Would he have turned to the world, denying Jesus for eternity? Only God knows the answer. But the good news is God would not have it happen. Instead, God heard the prayers of Jesus for Peter. Therefore, after denying the Lord three times, Peter wept, repented, and drew near to God.

Jesus prays for me as well. He intercedes on my behalf. He knows what is set before me and desires that my faith in Him will not fail. He prays that I will have the strength to keep my eyes on Him, never straying too far behind, and that I will stay close to His side.

Jesus is my prayer partner. I am indebted to the Lord for He is at all times working on my behalf. He is my High Priest, mediating between me and God. Because of Jesus, I am made strong when I am weak. Because of Jesus’ faithfulness to me, I have experienced what joy feels like!

Jesus prays for you as well. He understands that Satan wishes to sift you like wheat. Do not despair, Jesus has prayed for you! He desires to wipe the tears from your cheek and replace it with the joy that faithfulness brings. When you feel all alone and like the world has forgotten you, when you feel as if you can continue no longer, do not fret—the Savior is there praying for you! His Father always hears his prayers. They will strengthen you, and then in turn you can help strengthen others.

Dear Lord, sometimes I feel all alone and weary, as if I have no strength left within me. Yet, I will seek You in prayer. I will make my request before You, for I know You are there for me and interceding on my behalf. You know what is before me and what I need. Give me strength when it feels as if Satan is trying to sift me like wheat. Create within my heart faithfulness and steadfastness. Thank You for praying for me, taking my request to the Father so, through You, I may gain strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

31 Days of Prayer by Ruth Myers

Dear Jesus by Sarah Young

Listen to Today’s P31 Radio Show

Application Steps:
Consider your personal prayer time with the Savior. Are you spending time daily with Jesus building your relationship with Him? If not, set time aside each day to talk with the Lord.

Continue in God’s Word, seeking out His wisdom so that when the storms of life come along you will stand strong in the confidence that you are not alone! Christ is there for you and will pray that your faith will not fail!

Am I coming before God boldly in prayer, making my requests known unto Him?

If not, what is keeping me from coming to the throne of grace?

Where do I seek out strength - in my own flawed self, or in the mighty strength of Christ?

Power Verses:
Hebrews 7:25, “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (NKJV)

The Healing Power of Hope
By Amy Carroll

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12 (NIV)

Our whole table was doubled over with laughter. The meeting had begun somberly with formal introductions, but all it took was a little fun to make my diminutive tablemates relax into our time together. Last summer on our team’s trip to Ecuador with Compassion International, we had the opportunity to share lunch and craft time with a group of elementary school aged children at a Compassion project near Quito. Each child had shyly introduced themselves with their beautiful Spanish name. When we got to one shiny-haired, sparkly-eyed boy, however, he announced his name loudly—“Stephen Segal!” The whole group erupted with laughter.

Dr. Wess Stafford, in his book Too Small to Be Ignored, says this about poverty, “More than any other emotion, the poor feel overwhelmed. Without financial resources, shelter, food, education, justice, or skills to address their plight, they succumb to the downward spiral that leads to hopelessness and despair. That, my friend, is the essence of poverty.” As president of Compassion, Dr. Stafford has seen the most extreme poverty and its effects on children all over the world. He has watched the light leave children’s eyes, seen their shoulders begin to slump, and their hearts begin to believe that all hope is completely beyond them.

As I watched these children laugh, I was struck with how little it takes to restore hope. A sponsor’s small, monthly donation of money is only part of the story. There are many other means of building hope in Compassion’s ministry. I entered a home later that day and delighted as a young girl brought out her treasured stack of letters from her sponsor. Each of those letters was a reminder that someone else in the world loves her, believes in her and has found her valuable. The kind words and smiles from the Ecuadorian Compassion staff also nourished the souls of their small students. I hope even their visitors from America stoked the fragile fires of hope in those children’s hearts.

There are children all around us that need an infusion of hope. They are longing for a kind look or an affirming word. It doesn’t take much to rekindle hope in a child, but it does require paying attention to those in need. Most of all, they need to hear about the God who created them and who cherishes them as His own special child. The children in Ecuador had heard The Message and received the hope that would forever save their inner selves from the ravages of poverty even though they still faced great physical need in their communities each day.

Before we left that day, I asked the children what they wanted to be when they grow up. “I want to be a policeman,” my precious sponsored child replied. “I want to be a teacher,” said another. One stunning little girl told me she wanted to be a fashion designer. Tears filled my eyes as I hugged these children good-bye. My heart was full, too, with the dreams and hopes of an amazing group of children.

Dear Lord, I want to be tuned in to helping restore hope in a hopeless child’s life. Will you bring me a divine appointment with a child today who needs a loving smile or a kind word? Help me to be ready to share your grace and love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Compassion International

You Are Special by Max Lucado

Visit Amy Carroll’s blog

Application Steps:
Go to the Compassion link and sponsor a child. The blessings will come back to you as you join with Jesus to restore hope in a child’s life!

Look for a child to encourage today. A child in need could be anywhere—next door, in the grocery store, or even in your own home.

What am I doing to help address poverty in the world?

How does God see people in poverty? (Use your Bible’s concordance to do a word study.)

Power Verses:
Acts 10: 4, “Cornelius stared at him in fear. ‘What is it, Lord?’ he asked. The angel answered, ‘Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.’” (NIV)

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

© 2008 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

An Ordinary Glass Window, A Timely Marriage Reminder
By Lysa TerKeurst

“Marriage should be honored by all ...” Hebrews 13:4 (NIV)

About a year ago I woke up early one morning and saw the strangest sight. Condensation had collected on one of my bedroom windows. Etched in the condensation were two perfectly drawn circles. They were joined at the center and looked exactly like two wedding bands.

I stared at this marking on my window and tried to come up with a reasonable explanation. I could not for the life of me figure out how two perfect circles could have gotten drawn into the condensation of my very high up bedroom window. Later that day I went back to look at the window, but the hot afternoon sun had long since caused the window to dry out. The wedding bands were gone. For days I looked for their return, waking each morning eager to see them and ponder their existence. But when the days turned into weeks without seeing them, I eventually stopped looking.

Then one morning they reappeared. Only this time they were there for several mornings straight. Each morning when my eyes would open, the two etched wedding bands were the first thing I'd see.

On about the fourth morning as I stared at this strange phenomenon my heart started aching. There was a kind of urgency suddenly pulsing through my chest. I tried to brush it off but couldn't quite shake the feeling. It was a conviction - but not a condemning kind of conviction, rather a tender conviction to love my husband more intentionally. And not just in the convenient ways, in the inconvenient as well. In ways that take a little more thought, intentionality and effort. Ways that are easy to let slip when the everyday urgencies seem to take precedence and seem more important.

So, I mentally made all kinds of promises and grand plans for a priority overhaul. And for a few days, I did great. But then life... lots of life distracted me and my attention got redirected. The window circles soon disappeared and so did my resolve. All my good intentions slipped back into a comfortable getting by of sorts.

Well, at the risk of starting to sound like a Hallmark movie, the circles came back. I don't want to sound presumptuous. I fully realize that there could be a perfectly good reason for the circles. One friend suggested that they could be leftover marks from when the windows were installed. But then why are they only sometimes there? We’ve lived in this house and had that same window for 15 years and they are just now showing up? And why do they only seem to appear when God needs to send me a perfectly timed reminder to give my marriage and my husband, more attention?

Do you think that maybe, just maybe, Love of the most divine kind has reached down to touch an ordinary glass window?

Dear Lord, I think we’ll be amazed one day when we get to Heaven and realize how intimately involved You’ve always been in our lives. Lord, thank You for this message in the form of two circles on my window. Even if there is an explanation for them besides You drawing these circles, I thank You that through them You’ve reminded me to love my husband more intentionally. Please help us all to make our marriages more of a priority in our lives. Show us how to love the way you intended us to love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa TerKeurst’s blog today to learn how to conquer one of the most challenging aspects of marriage - expectations!

Capture His Heart by Lysa TerKeurst

The Bathtub is Overflowing but I Feel Drained by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Make a list today of some attitudes and actions that you could change as a blessing for your spouse.

Attitude: Have you been struggling with any negative attitudes toward your spouse such as disrespect, unforgiveness, resentment, or frustration?

Actions: What are some little everyday things that you could do to make your spouse’s life better, more fun, or less stressful?

I know from personal experience that marriage can be both wonderful and incredibly hard. One of the most important things I can do as a wife is to actively pray for my husband, and myself in my role as a wife. What are some things that you could commit to praying for in regards to your marriage? After all if God can speak to me through an ordinary window, I know he can certainly speak to us and advise us about our marriages during focused times of prayer.

Power Verses:
1 Peter 3:1, “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.” (NIV)

1 Timothy 3:11, “In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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