Tracie Miles

"And then he told them, 'Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.'" Mark 16:15 (NLT)

I recently heard about a little boy who was involved in a serious accident, and lay in a coma in the hospital with massive internal injuries. The following day, the little boy's kindergarten teacher was talking to the students about the accident, and asking for suggestions on what they could do for their injured classmate.

Several children made suggestions such as taking food, writing cards and drawing him pictures. Then one little girl suggested that the class could pray for him. A few seconds passed, and then a young boy, who had been intently listening to the discussion, asked quietly, "What is prayer?"

The little girl proceeded to tell him how Christians pray to Jesus. The boy looked at her inquisitively for a moment, and then said, "Who is Jesus?"

This little girl, along with a few other classmates, proceeded to witness to this young boy, telling him all about Jesus. They shared that He is God's Son and was sent to earth to die on the cross for our sins so that we could have eternal life and go to Heaven. The teacher stood there with tears in her eyes, as these precious little children, barely knowing their ABC's, shared the gospel with intense knowledge, passion and commitment, and without any hesitation or fear. They were proud of their Jesus, and wanted to share God's love and promises with this little boy, who was completely unaware of Jesus.

This story touched my heart and I wished I could have been there to see it taking place. It was then that God pricked my heart, and said, "You can be there too, just in a different circumstance, with different people, and at a different time." I was reminded that opportunities for sharing the good news of Jesus are everywhere: around every corner, in the next cubicle, in every neighborhood, and in every classroom. We simply have to grasp the opportunities that are presented.

As a mother of two teen and pre-teen girls, I have the opportunity to interact with a lot of adolescents, many of whom are completely unaware of Jesus, just like that little boy. Unaware, not because of any fault of their own, but because no one has ever taken time to share Jesus with them. Unaware, because they were raised by parents who were unaware themselves. And for some, they have heard of Jesus, but have chosen to reject Him because they are unaware of their need for a Savior.

They all began just like that little kindergartner who had not heard of Jesus, and have grown into young adults who don't know Him. Completely unaware.

Reaching the teens of today's world can sometimes be intimidating, and at times, out of our comfort zone. But I wonder what the world would be like today if teenagers reached for Jesus for stress relief and comfort, instead of drugs, alcohol or physical intimacy. What would happen if every teen was impacted by the witness of a Christian?

Scripture tells us that everyone will be accountable to God (Romans 14:12), even if they have not heard of Him, which is the basis for global missions work. But what about the mission field right in our own back yards? Are we really reaching out to those who are reachable? As Christians, it is our duty to make sure that people become aware of Jesus, including teens that seem to need nobody but themselves. The people we encounter can be a divine appointment…even an unaware soul, longing to be rescued.

I heard a statistic once that stated that 80% of people who accept Christ do so by age 18. We have a window of opportunity to reach young people, and God is calling us now, to make an impact on the future generations of our world, one heart at a time.

Dear Lord, give me passion and courage to reach out to those who are unaware of Your sovereignty. Impart Your wisdom to me, so that I can be equipped to witness in such a way that peaks their interest and makes them aware of their need for You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Making It Real: Whose Faith is it Anyway? by T. Suzanne Eller

Visit the Next Generation blog for girls 12-17 years old

For information about Next Generation sessions that Tracie offers, visit her blog

Application Steps:
Think of three people you know that are unaware of who Jesus really is. Pray and ask God to open doors to share your faith with them.

Consider hosting a Next Generation Gather and Grow Group.

What can I do to reach out to a child or teen that I know?

Power Verses:
Matthew 28:19a, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations." (NIV)

© 2009 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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A Mom Who Keeps Her Promises
Glynnis Whitwer

"Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NIV)

One day, just before the start of school, my middle son sat cross-legged on the ground, playing at the foot of my desk while I worked on the computer. Since he'd been out-thinking me from the time he was two, I shouldn't have been surprised at the conversation that ensued.

"Mom," he started simply. "When you were little, did Grandma ever tell you she'd get you a pony and then didn't?"

"No, she didn't," I answered, fully engaged and wondering where this line of thought would go.

"Well, you told us you'd take us to Toys R' Us this summer and you didn't. That's a true lie," Dylan solidly proclaimed.

I was shocked that he remembered a promise from three months back, but more stunned by his reasoning. In the midst of being impressed by how his mind worked, I was convicted. He was right! Every time we drove past the toy store, my three little boys asked to stop and I'd put them off. It wasn't that we didn't have the time, but taking three boys into a toy store was pure torture. Either I should have taken them or I shouldn't have promised we would do it.

I stopped my work, joined him on the floor, and sincerely apologized for not following through on my commitment. That little 6-year-old taught me a lesson I'm still learning: I need to keep my promises to my children!

It's tempting to think the kids will understand when my schedule changes and it becomes inconvenient to keep a commitment. After all, they are "just" kids. Right? Wrong! I've discovered that after God and my husband, my children are the most important people to whom I should honor a promise.

The truth is while children may say they understand when we don't keep a promise, depending on their ages, it's really hard for them to fully grasp our complicated lives. All they know is they are eating a cafeteria lunch alone when mom said she'd bring a Happy Meal. Or they are in front of a TV when mom promised to take them to the park.

We all know life happens and interrupts even the best-laid plans. That's part of what we need to teach children – to be flexible. The problem arises when it becomes a habit. A mom who consistently backs out of promises will teach her children to do the same, and will leave them insecure and possibly resentful.

To become women who keep their promises, we need to guard our words and follow some daily practices. Don't make a promise simply to stop a child's repeated requests. Carefully consider your schedule and commitments before offering to do something. Start with small promises and build up to larger ones. If the promise has to do with an outing as a family, work together as a family to get everything done before going. Look beyond a child's words to her heart. Does her request have more to do with spending time with you than going to the park? If so, offer an alternative before you commit to something you probably can't do.

A mother has the high calling of modeling the faithfulness of God to her children. More than words, children watch actions. Will they find a mother who keeps her promises? If so, it will lead them to a God who keeps His promises.

Heavenly Father, I praise You for Your unchanging nature. I praise You for Your faithfulness in keeping Your promises throughout the generations. Please forgive me for the times I haven't kept my promises to the people I Iove. Help me become a person who keeps her word, even in the hard times. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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

Subscribe to The P31 Woman Magazine edited by Glynnis Whitwer

Visit Glynnis’ blog

Application Steps:
Think of one promise you can make to your child(ren), or someone you love, this week. Make that promise and keep it.

When someone keeps a promise they have made to you, how does it make you feel?

What are some areas in your life where you have trouble keeping promises?

Identify some daily practices that will help you keep your promises.

Power Verses:
2 Peter 3: 8-9, "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (NIV)

Psalm 9:10, "Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." (NIV)

1 Timothy 1:15, "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst." (NIV)

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Hidden Treasures
Susanne Scheppmann

"And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name." Isaiah 45:3 (NLT)

Secrets. Riches. Mysteries. Treasures. These words bring spine-tingling excitement. Around the world, Pirates of the Caribbean became an unexpected blockbuster movie. The Indiana Jones DVD series, after over twenty years, sells consistently as a top gift item. Adventure novels prevail in the bestselling book lists. The hope of finding treasure enthralls us.

This applies to followers of Christ as well. We read in Matthew 13:44, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field" (NLT). When I read this verse, it makes me ponder the last time I felt excitement over the kingdom of God. To be truthful, my excitement is usually based on the "performance" of God in answering my prayers.

However, the Lord doesn't promise to answer every one of our prayers as we expect. But He does promise to reveal treasures hidden in darkness. Sometimes our seemingly unanswered prayers are the secret riches that God wants to reveal to us. It reminds me of lines from the old Garth Brooks' song, Unanswered Prayers. "Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers…Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers."

Instead of acknowledging this truth about prayer, I find myself waiting and watching for the expected results of my prayers. What I should be doing is seeking God for who He is. God told the patriarch Abram, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward" (Genesis 15:1, NIV, emphasis added). So God, Himself, is the great treasure that I need to unearth. He has promised we will find Him when we search for him with an intentional attitude. "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13, NIV).

Today I desire to change my shallow-hearted expectations of God. I want to seek Him and His Kingdom as if I am an explorer on a treasure hunt. Right now, I choose to know God, seek Him, and treasure Him.

Dear Lord, teach me to search for the hidden riches of Your Kingdom. Help me to seek You with an excited heart. Remind me that the answers to my prayers are only the beginning of a relationship with You --You are the treasure! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Birds in My Mustard Tree by Susanne Scheppmann

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

For more from Susanne, visit her blog as well as her resource page.

Application Steps:
Today when you pray, intentionally ask God to reveal Himself to you in a new way. Ask Him to reveal to you "treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches." Begin a journal of God's revelations of Himself to you.

Am I disappointed when my prayers are not answered in the way I expect?

How can I better search for the secrets and treasures of God's Kingdom?

Do I believe that the Lord is the greatest treasure?

Power Verses:
Colossians, 2:2-3, "My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (NIV)

Matthew 6:21, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (NIV)

Philippians 4:19, "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

© 2009 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

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Lysa TerKeurst

"He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart." Ecclesiastes 5:20 (NIV)

The other day a friend asked me if I ever get disappointed.

I said "yes" and threw out a spiritually sound answer of how I process disappointment. It was an answer that would make most preachers proud.

And then the next day happened.

The day where a really big disappointment whacked me upside the head and sent my heart sinking. I'd been asked to speak at a really big event - one of the biggest of my life - and then things fell apart.

Invited- thrilled- excited- honored-included

turned into

Uninvited- bummed- sad- disillusioned- left out.

And while I still have solid spiritual perspectives to hold on to, my flesh just needs a minute to say, "Bummer!"

Sometimes things that come our way are a major bummer.

But right when I wanted say, "bummer" a few more times, I spotted a bowl that's been sitting on my dining room table for weeks now. Brooke found some caterpillars a while back, put them in a bowl, and has been holding them hostage ever since. I mean she's been lovingly admiring them underneath a layer of cellophane.

Wouldn't you know that those caterpillars formed cocoons inside that unlikely environment. And then today, as I was muttering "bummer," I glanced across that bowl and sucked the word back down my throat.

The cocoons were empty.

Expecting glorious butterflies, I had to chuckle when I got right over the bowl and closely examined the product of my little girl's hopes for new life.


I just had to chuckle. Yet another thing in my day that wasn't quite right.

Or was it?

When Brooke spotted the moths, she was beyond thrilled. Grabbing my hand, she led me outside, ripped off the plastic barrier, and watched the beauty of tiny wings beating- beating- beating and finally fluttering into flight.

As I watched Brooke's sheer delight with the rich evidence of life before her, she couldn't have cared less if it was a moth or butterfly. A creature that once only knew the dirt of the earth had just been given the gift of flight. Reaching- soaring-up- up- and away.

And with that, this simple creature pulled the corners of my mouth up into a smile.

Disappointment only stings as long as I let it.

Dear Lord, I freely offer up whatever has been a disappointment to me lately as a sacrifice of praise to You. I know You love me so much, that this disappointment is really Your way of protecting me, providing something better, or just part of the process of growing me more like You. So, for all three of those I praise You- praise You- and praise You again for the good that is wrapped in this disappointment. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa TerKeurst’s blog to read more about how God can bring good out of disappointment.

What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Ask God to help you find some Scripture verses to serve as anchors of truth as you process your disappointment. Write them on note cards and carry them with you. On the back of each note card start listing the good that is in your life. Focus on praying prayers of thanksgiving over the good.

How might God use even this disappoint for good in my life? Instead of asking God, "Why?" why not ask God, "Since this is my reality, what now? How can I glorify You through this, Lord?"

Power Verses:
Hebrews 13:15, "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name." (NIV)

Ephesians 4:2, "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." (NIV)

Mark 9:35, "…If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." (NIV)

© 2009 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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Childlike Wonder
Luann Prater

"Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all--he is the greatest." Luke 9:48 (NIV)

"Look grandma, this makes super-duper bubbles!" my grandson squealed. The new bubble gun I bought him at Cracker Barrel was indeed a marvel at propelling hundreds of soapy spheres at the touch of a button. He entertained himself for hours, shooting bubbles then chasing them across the yard.

At some point he decided catching them in his mouth might be fun, to which I warned it might make him sick. Grandpa chimed in, "That bubble might go down in your tummy and get bigger and bigger!" Matt stopped in his tracks, fixated on my husband, and replied, "Is that what happened to you grandpa?" This four-year old comment made me chuckle and then ponder.

What does God see when He looks at me? Does He see a wide-eyed child who simply believes Him? I'm afraid that innocent, uncomplicated girl got lost. And I don't think I'm alone in this. Simple faith is a rare find.

In this information age, the journey for knowledge has become the driving force in our society. As Dragnet's Sgt. Joe Friday always said, "Just the facts, ma'am." Faith gets pushed aside in exchange for internet wisdom. If you haven't been bitten by the know-it-all mentality, you simply haven't let your fingers do the walking across your keyboard! Do you want to find out how to build a house, take apart an engine, or stay up on the latest news? Google it. You can instantly become an expert in almost in field! So if God tells me to, "Go," my first instinct is to research the web for direction, instead of trusting His voice.

During a concert performance recently, our church choir wore costumes from Bible times. It struck me as I watched and saw only their faces showing, how each one had a childlike image. No one out-dressed the other. No one was thinner or heavier. No hair was perfectly styled. They all had rosy cheeks, bright smiles and joy in their eyes. The prevailing trait we find in children - innocence - shone through. I found myself wondering if that is what God sees when He looks at us, simple children.

When we come to Jesus it is critical to come like a child, innocent and amazed. My grandson simply believed his grandpa. When was the last time you simply believed God? No analyzing the situation. No studying alternative theories. Plain and simple, childlike trust in the One who created the heavens, the earth and you. Today, I want to focus on coming to Him as a child. I want to stop the grown-up worry and gaze lovingly into His Word.

Today, I want to enjoy being "the least among you all" so I can spend time with the greatest, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Dear Lord, You made the heavens and the earth and all that is in it, even the brilliant minds that created computers and the Internet. Yet none can match Your wisdom and splendor! No one has the knowledge that You possess. So I lay down my quest for seeking answers from this world and exchange it for Your simple and glorious truth. Impress Your words on my heart today I pray. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

Traveling Light: Releasing the Burdens You Were Never Intended to Bear by Max Lucado

Fresh Grounded Faith: Devotions to Awaken Your Spirit by Jennifer Rothschild

Visit with Luann on her blog

Application Steps:
Find quiet time today. Turn off the computer, the radio, and television. Silence your phone and go into a room with no noise at all. Speak out loud to the Lord. Then read His Word to hear Him answer.

What pulls me away from simple faith? Will I trust my grown-up life to an Almighty God who loves me as His child?

Power Verses:
Matthew 11:25-26, "At that time Jesus said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.'" (NIV)

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

© 2009 by Luann Prater. All rights reserved.

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Power to Overcome
Rachel Olsen

"By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence." 2 Peter 1:3 (NLT)

Do you find yourself doing what you know you should not? Do you find it hard to stop? Yeah, I know.

I've had several discussions lately with people stuck in patterns of behavior they want to quit. They're stuck in sin. What's more, they feel completely awful about it. Guilty. Shameful. Some to the point of hating themselves. And yet they feel powerless to stop – powerless to resist.

The Bible says when we return to our vices again and again, we are like dogs returning to our vomit (Prov. 26:11).


So why do we do this? According to the Bible, Christ has conquered sin on our behalf and we have the capacity to be free from its power. Yet that is far from the reality of many Christians' lives. Why?

Why does sin have any power over us? Why does it have any dominion in our lives? The answer is the same reason a dog returns to her vomit. She likes the taste.

Sin has power because we enjoy it. It promises something we want … pleasure, escape, esteem, wealth, etc. Sure it always has consequences we don't want, but in many cases those don't over power its feel-good moments or perceived benefits. In short, sin has power because we love it.

Earlier this year I quit drinking my favorite drink, a particular diet cola. Now, I'm not saying diet colas are evil or sinful, just go with me here! The first time I tasted this diet drink I didn't think it was all that yummy. BUT it promised to save me calories so I decided it was worth the slightly strange chemical taste. In short time, as it grew familiar, I began to like the taste.

Wasn't long before I was flat out addicted – wanting, even needing to have my beloved drink daily or I grew headachy and irritable. Sad thing is, it didn't help me lose weight at all. But that didn't matter because now I loved the diet drink. Furthermore, I was convinced if I gave it up, I'd not only get headaches but I'd gain more weight. I was enslaved in a way.

It was my drink of choice: I smiled when I had it and frowned when I ran out, or if a restaurant didn't serve it. And I'd get worried anytime a health report questioned the safety of aspartame, a main ingredient in my diet cola. But loving it so, I returned to it day after day. Even though I'd begun to feel guilty about that.

What helped me give up the diet cola? I found a different, healthier beverage I really liked and developed my taste for it. I was willing to give up that because I now had this. It's the same way with sin.

What can help us overcome the sins we love, but hate loving? A surpassing love. A greater love that carries with it no hate, no guilt, and no shame. A love that actually delivers the many, many benefits it promises. A love that is full of wisdom and compassion, not vomit. A love more attractive and powerful than the allure of sin. It is the love of God displayed in Christ.

When we catch hold of that love - when we read of it regularly, drink it in, and see it at work in our lives and in its glory - we cannot help but love Him back with all our heart, soul and mind. And in that state of all encompassing love, sin pales in comparison. Its power grows feeble. It no longer tastes as good.

When we immerse ourselves in the everlasting love of God that has made us its object, we're more than willing to walk away from the vomit. We can give up that because we have this.

Dear Lord, forgive me for the sins I return to. Cleanse me with Your majestic love and grace. Reveal to me the depth of Your love, the extent of Your sacrifice, and the beauty of the mercy You grant me daily. Open my eyes to see Your love afresh and may I be empowered to walk away from sin towards Your heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Love?

To read more about God’s love, head to Rachel’s blog and join the discussion.

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

Application Steps:
Fill your mind and heart today with the love of God. Read the power verses below, look up others in your Bible, or visit Rachel’s blog for more.

What sin do I return to? What is the benefit I feel this sin provides me?

Can I seek that benefit in Christ instead?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 8:17, "I love all who love me. Those who search will surely find me." (NLT)

Jeremiah 31:3, "Long ago the LORD said to Israel: 'I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.'" (NLT)

John 3:16, "For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." (NLT)

© 2009 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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Do It

"But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours." Matthew 17:27 (NIV)

Sometimes God asks us to do something we don't understand. It might seem unnecessary. It might seem crazy. Or it might seem like something God shouldn't need us to do because He is capable of doing it without our involvement. So why does He require our action?

When Jesus was asked to pay a tax, He told Peter to go catch a fish. Miraculously, the exact amount He needed was found in the mouth of the fish he caught. Peter had a moment where he had to either accept Jesus' methods or question them. In our limited human understanding it's easier to question, "Why didn't He just make that coin appear?" But Peter knew Jesus, and he knew he was better off to just do whatever Jesus had asked of him (Matthew 17:24-27).

Sometimes we have moments like Peter had. We stand there blinking, wondering if we heard Him right. In those moments we have to make a decision to just DO IT:





Certainly Jesus could have produced the amount needed in many different ways, but He required Peter to be involved. He required Peter to take action, just as He does with us at times.

When God showed my husband and I that we needed to begin tithing when what we wanted was to get out of debt, it didn't make sense to us at all. We had to simply respond with deliberate obedience and intentional trust.

When God challenged me to stick with my marriage when it seemed over, I wondered if He realized what He was asking. He wanted me to deliberately obey Him and intentionally trust Him. He didn't want me to look for the easy button. He wasn't offering a supernatural rescue. He needed me to walk through the process, learning lessons along the way. Instead of handing me a solution, He allowed me to be involved in it.

Is there something He is asking you to do that doesn't seem right, or normal, or natural from your human perspective? Are you ignoring His still small voice urging you to just trust and obey? Whether it's catching a fish or building an ark, you can rest assured that you are in good company. God has a plan—even when you can't see it. Sometimes you have to DO IT to reveal that plan.

Dear Lord, I want to learn to respond with obedience to Your requests. When I hear Your voice speaking to me, I want to willingly do it—whatever "it" is. Thank You for reminding me that sometimes You require me to be part of my own solution. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Join us for more Everyday Life encouragement

Learning To Live Financially Free by Marybeth and Curt Whalen

The Power of Prayer to Change Your Marriage by Stormie Omartian

For more from Marybeth, visit her blog as well as her resource page.

Application Steps:

In your journal, write about a time when God asked you to do something you thought wasn't necessary or was crazy. What was the result?


What is God asking you to do? How will deliberate obedience and intentional trust figure into your response?

Power Verses:

Ephesians 5:15, "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." (NIV)

© 2009 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T That is What He Needs from Me
Renee Swope

"However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:33 (NIV)

I have a confession to make: when my husband JJ and I got married over 15 years ago, I took out the words "honor and obey" from my wedding vows. I didn't say I would submit to my husband either. I vowed to "submit my ideas and dreams" to my husband and trust God's leadership in our marriage.

I had some serious issues going into marriage. I was a young Christian, who was afraid of the "S" word, and I wanted to make sure God and my witnesses didn't catch me in a lie. Like many women, I was terrified that if I submitted to my husband I'd become a doormat and lose myself somewhere in the middle of letting my husband lead. I regretfully remember one time JJ told me it was easier to let me lead because it wasn't worth the argument to him.

You'd think that's what I wanted - to get my way - but it wasn't because my husband became apathetic. Soon I realized I was losing respect for my husband and it was mostly my fault. I wanted him to lead, but when he tried I'd often criticize how he led. It was a mess.

One day I was praying God would change JJ and make him more decisive, more confident, more protective and, well, just more what I wanted him to be. God strongly impressed on my heart that my criticism wasn't getting me any closer to my desired result. In fact, my frustration with JJ only contributed to his own doubt as a man trying to follow God and lead His family.

God's also reminded me that I was fueling Satan's flaming darts of condemnation aimed at my husband's heart. I was joining efforts with the one who wanted to take out my husband as the leader of our home. Through prayer, God showed me that my husband needed me to be his greatest cheerleader and his biggest supporter verbally, emotionally and spiritually.

God challenged me to keep my mouth closed when JJ did something I didn't like or led in a way I didn't want to follow. He encouraged me to tell my husband all the wonderful things I appreciated about him and use the power of my words to build up and not tear down my man.

I started doing what God showed me. I looked for and found things in my husband that I valued, things I had started to overlook. I got intentional about finding things I respected and letting God take care of the rest. I made choices to honor him in big and small ways. And you know what? I discovered so many things about my husband that were worthy of honor and respect.

We've been through a lot together and our marriage is stronger because of it. I have followed God as I trusted many of my husband's decisions that scared me: job changes I didn't want him to make; financial investments that seemed too risky; parenting issues that were hard. It hasn't been easy, but it's been amazing to watch God make and mold my husband into the leader of our family, a leader I truly respect. And because of prayer and trusting God, I am more comfortable following my husband's lead than I ever thought I'd be!

Dear Lord, I want to respect my husband and build Him up with my words. Help me to measure my thoughts carefully and come to You with my complaints. I want to become my husband's biggest cheerleader and watch You do Your thing in His life. I know this is possible as I depend on You to live Your life through me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Renee’s Blog for powerful scriptures to pray for your husband.

What a Husband Needs from His Wife by Melanie Chitwood

Capture His Heart by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
• Tell your husband that you believe in him!
• Don't point out his mistakes, just fill in the gap.
• Ask God to show you ways to serve your husband.
• Don't ever say "I told you so." • Say "I'm sorry" and mean it when you dishonor him.
• Say "I forgive you" and mean it when he dishonors or hurts you.
• Tell your husband that you thank God for giving him to you (and be sure you do).
• Let him overhear you telling someone something you appreciate about him.
• Support and encourage his decisions.
• Praise him when his decisions turn out well and encourage him when they don't.
• Tell you husband each day about one thing you are thankful for - about his character, his work ethic, his provision, his humor or something he adds to your family.

* Several of these ideas are from What A Husband Needs from His Wife © 2006 by Melanie Chitwood.

What do I value and respect about my husband?

How often do I criticize or encourage him?

Power Verses:
1 Peter 3:15, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." (NIV)

1 Peter 4:8, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." (NIV)

Proverbs 17:9,"He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." (NIV)

© 2009 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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Did You Hear the Latest Scoop on Her?
Lysa TerKeurst

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

When we hear of another person's struggle is our first desire to more closely examine ourselves or more closely scrutinize this other person? It's a question worth considering. It's a question worth holding up to Biblical truth.

Over the past couple of days I've received three e-mails about an acquaintance of mine that is on the cover of many tabloid magazines right now. This devotion is not meant in any way to defend, offend, discuss, rehash, or remark about this woman I care about. This devotion is about you and me.

And those three e-mails.

The first e-mail I received used such hateful remarks it hurt my head to read it. Seriously, I could have skipped my run for that day because reading that e-mail set my heart racing as much as a good cardio workout. It was dripping with judgment, condemnation, and venomous words like "shameful" and "hate."

The second e-mail I received was a "Christian" call to action. It was strong and slightly demanding that I do something harsh about this situation. You know, rain down a little hell fire and brimstone in an effort to correct the actions of this woman in question. All in "love"' of course.

The third e-mail was completely different. It still expressed concern, and rightly so. However, in complete humility she said she's using this situation as a call to pray for this woman's life, and as a call to action to examine her own.

She said as she watched this woman being featured on TV, she saw things that bothered her. So, she asked herself some very tough questions about her own life - her own marriage - her own attitude about the importance she places on God. And she found herself falling short. With great honesty and courage, she set aside her judgments of another, and got down on her knees.

If I could have jumped through cyber-space, I would have thrown my arms around the author of the third e-mail and hugged her.

Sisters, I do believe with all my heart that there is a place for Christian accountability. I believe it is biblical and necessary. However, making judgmental remarks, rolling our eyes, belittling someone we don't personally know or do life with in the real world, and sending hateful e-mails is neither biblical or necessary.

It's sin.

It's totally missing the mark of what God has called His girls to be and to do.

If the actions and attitudes of another person hurt our heart and rub our soul the wrong way – be it a neighbor or a woman on the cover of a tabloid – I pray we handle it with the grace and dignity Jesus enables us to have. "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment" (Phil. 1:9).

And may we always remember the person in question is loved by God. He may not love their actions and He most certainly doesn't love anyone's sin, but the person, He loves.

They are loved.

She is loved.

We are loved.

Totally and immensely, unfathomably and remarkably, beautifully and abundantly loved.

Dear Lord, before I start picking at the splinters that are so easy to spot in other's eyes, may I have the humility to examine the plank I don't want to see in my own eye. Search me Lord, see if there is any wicked way within me and reveal it. Give me wisdom to know what to do about my own sin, a filter of grace by which to see others' sins, and a heart restrained from rash reactions because of Your love in me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa’s blog today for more on this topic.

What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Join or begin a Gather and Grow Group for accountability, spiritual growth and deep friendships.

Application Steps:
When confronted with someone judging another person, how will I respond? What is a good, biblical answer that I've thought through in advance to offer up in this kind of situation? Why not read through the Scriptures in this devotion and on Lysa’s blog to prepare yourself?

Imagine yourself standing at the grocery store line seeing all of your actions, reactions, mishaps, and misquotes splashed across the magazines for all the world to see?

Thinking about this really makes me pause to remember, those are people. Real people with real feelings. No amount of worldly success or popularity takes away the sting of cruelty being thrown in their direction. What an opportunity Christians have to pray for those people - really pray for them. And what a testimony of the reality of Jesus when we make the uncommon choice say, "no comment."

Power Verses:
Matthew 7:3, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" (NIV)

Psalm 139:23-24, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (NIV)

Proverbs12:18, "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." (NIV)

© 2009 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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The Strength of Love
Micca Monda Campbell

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

When my first husband died I was devastated. Weakened by grief, I ached inside as if someone punched me in the stomach and knocked the breath out of me. Perhaps you know that painful, empty feeling too.

At times, my need for his comforting touch was so strong it would play tricks on my mind. Once, I saw a man with brown, wavy hair driving a red truck just like my husband's truck and I followed him for miles. As my heart pounded with hope, nothing else mattered more in that moment than me catching that truck. I was willing to drive to the ends of the earth if necessary. When I finally caught up with him at a red light and our eyes met, my fantasy ended with a devastating halt. It felt as if the man in the truck had played a cruel joke on me. Weakened by the truth, I pulled over into a nearby parking lot, laid across the seat of my car and wept for hours. Night began to fall as the sun set in the sky. I was chilled as the temperature inside the car turned cool. Sitting up, I wiped my face, zipped up my coat, and headed for home—alone.

Awful things may happen to us as a result of living in this fallen world, but our hope lies in God's everlasting and unchanging love. I'm learning that God's love strengthens us, restores us, and is always available to us.

When darkness surrounds me, I remember that Christ experienced dark days too. Even though Jesus was fully God, He was also fully man. During His early ministry, Jesus experienced times of pain and anxiety just as we do. In the garden of Gethsemane, He endured great pain as He faced His fate—death on a cross. Never once in the garden did Christ thank God for the pain. He didn't rejoice in His fear, nor was He grateful for His suffering. In the flesh of man, He experienced deep sorrow, desertion, and anxiety. How did Christ manage to press on?

Christ endured because regardless of His circumstances, He trusted in His Father's love. Christ knew that God's love was the source of His strength. I imagine Jesus found comfort by quoting Isaiah 54:10 many times during His darkest hour:

"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,' says the LORD, who has compassion on you."

Hear this and allow the truth of it to warm your heart, soothe your pain, and calm your fears. God knows. He's been there, and He is there still.

Dear Lord, may every hardship we encounter be measured by the cross—Your greatest expression of love for us. Help us to see how great Your love for us truly is. And then, make us instruments of Your love for the healing of others. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Your Comforter?

When Your Family's Lost a Loved One by David and Nancy Guthrie

An Untroubled Heart: Finding Faith that is Stronger than My Fears by Micca Campbell

Visit Micca’s blog

Application Steps:
God's love is like a healing ointment when we apply it to our wounds. Mediate on the power verses below and allow God's love to comfort and heal you.

Reflections: Do you find it difficult to believe God loves you? Why or why not?

Will you let the love of God fill your heart and transform your life today?

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

John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (NIV)

© 2009 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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Once … Always?
Melissa Taylor

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ; he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

Once a liar, always a liar. Once a bitter person, always a bitter person. Once a failure, always a failure. Once impure, always impure. Once a bad mom, always a bad mom. Once a person living in fear, always a person living in fear. "Once a ____, always a ____."

What did you fill in the blank with? Do you have anything from your past that still defines you? I have good news for you. You can stop living like this today.

Who is Jesus to you? That is a question we all need to answer. Jesus' disciples were asked this in Matthew 16:15. "Then Jesus asked them, 'But who do you say I am?'" (CEV). Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God" (v.16). How would you answer Jesus' question?

So many of us know and believe Jesus is indeed the Son of the living God, but what does that mean to us in terms of our identity? The Bible tells us in John 3:16-18 that God loved us so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but live forever in eternity. "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them! No one who has faith in God's Son will be condemned." (CEV)

Did you notice that last part? Jesus did not die for our sins so that we would live under condemnation of them. Nor did He die so we would forever be labeled and falsely identified by our sins. He died so we would be set free from our sins and their shame, labels, and condemnation. Don't believe anyone who tells you different. Know who Jesus, your Savior from sin, is and rest in that truth.

Maya Angelo said, "When people show you who they are, believe them…the first time." I will have to disregard Ms. Angelo's statement. "Once a ___, does not make me (or you) always a ____." Why? Because of who Jesus is in us. Our God is not only a God of second chances, He is a God of infinite chances, forgiveness and grace.

We can't change what people think about us. Sure, we can try to explain how we've changed, but often others will define us by one or more sins we've committed in the past. It's happened to me before. Even though I may have once earned the "Once/Always" names I was called, I know that's not who I truly am. Our identity is NOT in what we did, but in who and Whose we ARE.

"Once a ___, always a ___"? No ma'am, that is not true in the context of Christ! In Christ, you are washed clean. Look again at our key verse, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the old has gone, the new has come." The old has gone. Gone. Gone. It's gone! Answer the question Jesus asks, "Who do you say I am?" And believe the answer that He is your Savior from condemnation. You are a new creation in Christ Jesus. No person or past action can take that from you because, "Once a beloved child of God, always a beloved child of God." That is the truth!

Dear Lord, I pray today that You will remind me that I am precious and washed clean in Your sight. The shed blood of Jesus on the cross is proof that I am no longer captive to what I've done or who people say I am. I am Yours! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Confessions of a Good Christian Girl: The Secrets Women Keep and the Grace that Saves Them by Tammy Maltby

Self Talk, Soul Talk by Jennifer Rothschild

Visit Melissa’s Blog

Application Steps:
Take a piece of paper and write down all the labels that define you that you would like for people to forget. Write down the negative names you call yourself. Read them outloud to God, ask for forgiveness and ask Him to remove them. Tear or burn this sheet of paper - watch it go up in smoke. That's the old you. It's gone!

Now take another piece of paper. Search the Bible or visit my blog for verses that tell you who you are in Christ and write them down!

Are your thoughts reflective of who you really are?

Do you look at yourself the way God looks at you?

Who is Jesus to you?

Power Verses:
Psalm 86:5, "You willingly forgive, and your love is always there for those who pray to you." (CEV)

Isaiah 43:18-19, "Forget what happened long ago! Don't think about the past. I am creating something new. There it is! Do you see it? I have put roads in deserts, streams in thirsty lands." (CEV)

Romans 3:23-24, "All of us have sinned and fallen short of God's glory. But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins." (CEV)

© 2009 by Melissa Taylor. All rights reserved.

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Praying the Word of God
Wendy Blight

"And we also thank God continually because, when you received the Word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the Word of God, which is at work in you who believe." 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NIV)

Do you pray?

If you pray, why do you pray?

Most of us pray when we are broken, hurting, and need God's intervention. God has a grander purpose for prayer. He desires to meet us in prayer so that we can know and be filled with more of Him.

If you pray, what do you pray?

If you are like me, you pray specific prayers asking God to fix something, provide something, or change something in your life. That is how most of us pray. Richard Foster calls these simple prayers. But the real power in prayer comes when we learn to pray God's Word back to Him.

John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." This "word" is "logos." Logos refers to that which comes from God to fulfill His purpose in and for the world, and in and for our lives. God is His Word. When we pray God's Word, we are speaking the very being of God into our situation.

When we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, God's Word, the Word, lives in us. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 says, "And we also thank God continually because when you received the Word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the Word of God, which is at work in you who believe."

Hebrews 4:12-13 tells us, "The Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to the dividing of spirit and soul, bone and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Jeremiah 23:29 says, "'Is my Word not like fire,' declares the Lord, 'and like a hammer that breaks rock in pieces?'" God's Word, spoken by us in and through our prayers, is powerful and effective, so effective it can move mountains, heal the sick, transform hearts, and change lives.

Isaiah 55:11-12 states, "...so is my Word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." Jeremiah 1:12 says, "The Lord said to me, 'You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my Word is fulfilled.'" The word "watching" here means "wakeful." God is ever watching, night and day. He never sleeps, ensuring His Word is fulfilled.

Meditating on Scripture, filling ourselves with His Word, causes God's Truth, through the power of His Holy Spirit, to saturate every part of our being, from the top of our head to the tips of our toes. Thus when we pray, we naturally integrate and incorporate it into our prayers. Not only do we align our will with the Lord's, but His will becomes our will. His desires become our desires.

How does this change our prayer life? First, knowing and praying His Word helps us know when we are praying outside His will. But even more than that, it ensures that God will answer our prayers in grander ways than we could ever ask or imagine.

Related Resources:
Do you know Jesus?

He Speaks to Me by Priscilla Shirer

Visit Wendy’s Blog and sign up to join Wendy, beginning June 17th, as she leads an on-line study using her book: Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner: The Transforming Power of God’s Story.

Application Steps:
Find a Scripture (or maybe a few) that speak to a concern in your life, perhaps fear, worry, or anger. Write out your verse, memorize it, and begin to pray it back to God. Be faithful to pray this verse for 14 days. Please stop by my blog and share with me how God has worked in and through your prayer.

Open your Bible to Psalm 119 and invite God to open the eyes of your heart so that you will see the wonderful things in His Law.

Power Verses:
Read all of Psalm 119.

© 2009 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

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Surf or Swim?
Marybeth Whalen

"But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind." James 1:6 (NIV)

It's easy to look around right now and get discouraged. The news is certainly grim, with little hope on the horizon. Something we used to take for granted—the state of our economy—has turned out to be a house built on shifting sand. We wonder: why did we ever trust in something that has turned out to be so fragile? As a nation, our confidence has been shaken.

But how about as individuals?

As we move through these uncertain times, it's normal to question many things. Some of us might be questioning God right now—wondering where He is in all of this and whether He cares enough to intervene? Our questions can lead us away from God, or they can turn us closer to Him as we seek His will. Instead of trusting in the almighty dollar, we can trust Him like never before.

I recently read a quote in Oswald Chambers's classic devotion, My Utmost For His Highest: "The surf that distresses the ordinary swimmer produces in the surf-rider the super-joy of going clean through it." As I thought about this idea in light of the current economic distress, I realized that we all have a choice to make. We can choose to let the current overtake us and drag us down. Or we can choose to ride the crest of the wave and soar through these challenging times, allowing God to teach us valuable lessons and turn our focus to where it needs to be.

We can do this by taking steps we might have never taken before. Intentionally working to pay off debt, tithing to your local church, setting up a monthly budget, communicating about spending with your spouse, and doing away with credit cards are all good steps to begin taking. When we make these kinds of choices, we honor God with our money. And as we honor Him, our eyes are opened to His activity on our behalf and we learn to trust Him all the more. As we move towards a life of financial freedom, we experience the abundance that Jesus spoke of in John 10:10. We realize it's not about material abundance, but something so much better.

I have heard many people talk about how the collapsing economy is causing people to take a good hard look at what's important; to push the reset button on a lifestyle of spending and excess, and choose instead to make wise, informed decisions in the days to come. If you are struggling financially right now, perhaps God intends to use this trial to teach you to overcome with His help. We can choose to go under in despair, or ride the wave with confidence—not in ourselves and not in the economy—but in God alone. Surf or swim? I know which one I choose!

Dear Lord, please help me to overcome these circumstances with Your help. I confess that I have let the bad news and uncertain times pull at me. I want to learn to trust You in a whole new way and to honor You with my money like never before. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Learning To Live Financially Free by Marybeth and Curt Whalen

Financial Survival in Uncertain Times by Deborah Smith Pegues

Visit Marybeth’s blog

Application Steps:
If you are struggling financially, pray for wisdom as to the changes you can start making in your finances. Whatever God guides you to do, do it.

Do you allow the economic climate to affect your outlook? How can you shift your perspective away from the world and keep your focus on God?

Power Verses:
Isaiah 40:31, "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (NIV)

Psalm 37:18-19, "The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever. In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty." (NIV)

© 2009 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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Lysa TerKeurst

"Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress." I Timothy 4:15 (NIV)

I think we all get to a place sometimes in our life where we have to honestly assess, "How I am doing?"

It's not really a conversation I have with a friend or family member. It's one of those middle of the night contemplations where there's no one to fool. There's no glossing over the realities staring me in the face.

I know certain things about myself need to change but it's easier to make excuses than tackle them head on. Rationalizations are so appealing:

I'm good in every other area.
I make so many sacrifices already.
I need this comfort in this season of life- I'll deal with it later.
I just can't give this up. The Bible doesn't specifically say this is wrong.
It's not really a problem, if I really wanted to make a change, I could - I just don't want to right now.
Oh for heaven's sake, everyone has issues, so what if this is mine?

And on and on.

But excuses always get me no where fast. This is especially true for me in the area of healthy eating. Even if that's not your issue, I suspect this same script of rationalization has played out in your mind over other things.

So, the cycle continues day after day, week after week, year after year.

A whole lifetime could be spent making excuses, giving in, feeling guilty, resolving to do better, mentally beating myself up for not sticking to my resolve, feeling like a failure, and then resigning that things can't change.

And I don't want to spend a lifetime in this cycle.

Nothing will change until I make the choice to change. I have to want it, spiritually, physically and mentally. The battle really is in all three areas.

Spiritually: In Colossians 3 1-5 we are told to set our minds and our hearts on things above. In order to do this, we have to put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature which sets itself up as an idol in my life.

Idolatry is trying to get my needs met outside the will of God.

Bingo. Can't deny it. This described food for me at times. Again, it wasn't a huge problem where I was medically in danger. But, any idolatry, no matter how small is a problem.

Physically: According to an extensive study done by Northwestern University, calorie restriction is the key ingredient for managing weight issues. (The link to see this study can be found on Lysa’s blog today.) Of course, they state that exercise is also important but good nutrition is crucial.

Bingo. Can't deny it. It does matter what I eat. My weight is a reflection of what I consume.

Mentally: Don't settle. Don't compromise. What happens when you cut the "com" off of the word compromise? You're left with a "promise."

We were made for more than compromise. We were made for God's promises in all areas of our life.

Honestly. I am made for more than a vicious cycle of eating, gaining, stressing - eating, gaining, stressing...

I am made to rise up, do battle with my issues, and using the Lord's strength in me, defeat them - spiritually, physically, and mentally - to the glory of God.

Dear Lord, help me be courageous enough to speak honestly to You and to myself in those areas I'm giving in to compromise. Show me how to rely on Your strength for more self-discipline in my life - not for my glory but for Yours. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa TerKeurst’s blog to see her progress with this and to enter a contest you don’t want to miss.

Do you know the One who can help you overcome?

What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

The Uncommon Woman: Making an Ordinary Life Extraordinary by Susie Larson

Application Steps:
So, how are you doing spiritually, physically, and mentally?

Decide today to set your mind on things above and ask God to reveal to you an area in which He wants to usher you to victory. It will take prayer. It will take faith. And it will take the encouragement of a friend.

What issue do I have that consumes way too much of my mental energy and produces stress in my life? Why not start tackling it today?

How might I apply the insights from this devotion to my particular situation?

Power Verses:
1 Timothy 4:16, "Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." (NIV)

Philippians 1:25-26, "Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me." (NIV)

Psalm 27:8, "My heart says of you, 'Seek his face!' Your face, Lord, I will seek." (NIV)

© 2009 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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When Faith Struggles
Susanne Scheppmann

"Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:3-4 (NIV)

My faith struggles. It occurs most often when something happens in life that is beyond my understanding. My faith plunges to below sea level depth when I witness a natural disaster, a family tragedy, or another Christian's failure. In my humanness, I cannot comprehend the "Why?"

Regardless of my stinkin' thinkin,' God is faithful. Scripture states the following three truths explicitly throughout the Bible.

God is faithful.

"He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is!" (Deuteronomy 32:4, NLT)

God always works in our best interests.

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. (Jeremiah 29:11, AMP)

God's ways are beyond our understanding.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV).

So what do I do when my faith plummets? I need to look to the truth that is deeper than my human reality. I need to acknowledge this fact - my faith can only grow when I have to trust God without the benefit of understanding every aspect of His divine will. I also need to realize that faith fluctuates and I am not the only one that struggles with the issue of doubt.

A biblical example of a person who struggled with his faith is the disciple Thomas. Thomas spent three years with Jesus. He watched the Lord perform miracles. But still his faith floundered. Jesus never gave up on Thomas but kept encouraging him to believe and to trust.

So when my faith struggles to stay afloat in a sea of doubt, I will look to Jesus for support. I will readily admit that I do not understand the why of the situation. And I will accept that it is part of the process of growing my faith. I will hold onto our Key Verse as a faith preserver. "Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:3-4, NIV).

If your faith is struggling today, join me in the journey of faith. We can walk in encouragement together knowing we are persevering and maturing and that one day our faith will be complete, not lacking in any area.

Dear Lord, at times my faith struggles. Help me to hold onto the truth of your Word. Allow me to remember my faith is in a state of growth in every circumstance. Grant me strength in my faith so that it may persevere and mature. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Birds in My Mustard Tree: When Faith Struggles by Susanne Scheppmann

Pierced By the Word: 31 Meditations for Your Soul by John Piper

Visit Susanne's Blog

Application Steps:
Copy onto note cards the following verses: Deuteronomy 32:4, Jeremiah 29:11, Isaiah 55:8-9, and James 1:3-4. The next time your faith feels shaky, read these verses to strengthen you. Ask God to reveal the truth of His faithfulness.

Are there certain areas where my faith quakes?

Do I feel guilty about my lack of faith at times?

Power Verses:
Romans 10:17, "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." (NIV)

1 Peter 1:7, "Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it's your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory." (MSG)

© 2009 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

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21st Century Community
Lynn Cowell

"Do not forsake your own friend or your father's friend nor go to your brother's house in the day of your calamity; for better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away." Proverbs 27:10 (NKJV)

When I moved to Charlotte, it was one of the loneliest times of my life. I was pregnant with my third child, in a new city with no church and no close friends. When Madi was born, I quickly realized just how badly I missed my small group back in Davenport, Iowa. There were no hospital visits from friends, no meals from my group and no play dates for my other two children from friends who wanted to help. These were all things I had experienced with my second child; I realized just what they meant to me when I no longer had them.

With email and internet, community has taken on a new meaning. Some ministries have "online communities" and bloggers everywhere have friends all around the world. Technology has done some amazing things for us when it comes to friendships.

But what happens when you need a friend to hold you? To come and lay hands on you and pray for you? To bring you a meal for dinner because you are sick? It is at times like these that we need the kind of community that comes from neighbors and those who live nearby.

Recently, a dear friend called me and said, "Lynn, can you come over?" She didn't need to say any more. My friend wasn't physically sick; she was heart sick. I was there within 20 minutes. Later on that day, supper was there for her too. These are the types of friendships that we need and can depend upon day in and day out. You just can't fully get that when your community doesn't live in your community!

Proverbs 27:10 encourages us, "Do not forsake your own friend or your father's friend nor go to your brother's house in the day of your calamity; for better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away." When I was growing up, I remember my mother having a friend over some afternoons for coffee. They didn't have to make an appointment on their calendars to meet at Starbuck's a few weeks down the road.

Sometimes, I wish I lived in those days of a slower pace of life. Obviously, I don't, but I can still invite a friend, spur of the moment, to come over for tea and chat about the important and not so important things in life.

Far away friends are great; I am so thankful for each and every one that I have. But in the middle of our fast paced, email raced society, let's not neglect our relationships that are right outside our front door. A friend when in need is a friend indeed!

Dear Lord, help me to slow down enough to embrace the friendships you have placed in my life. And if I am lacking true friends, please open my eyes to those in front of me who would be just that. Not only may I find true friends, Lord, but make me one as well. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

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

Girlfriends' Road Trip CD by Renee Swope

Visit Lynn’s blog

Application Steps:
What friendships do you have that have been neglected lately? What can you do to show these friends they are important to you?

If your life lacks deep friendships, make a commitment to meet some new friends. Think of where you can go to meet some new people. Bible study or small group at church? Taking an exercise class? Having a tea in your home for your neighbors? Volunteer at the school, or for a ministry?

Is there some reason in your life that you do not have deep friendships; possibly a healing that needs to take place?

Power Verses:
Ecclesiastes 4:9, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:" (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 4:10, "If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" (NIV)

© 2009 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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The Other Woman
Cheri Bunch, She Speaks! Graduate

"For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." Genesis 2:24 (NASV)

Our son Luke is in college and has just moved into his first home. I have been receiving many calls from him lately.

"Mom, how do you make fruit salad?"

"What do you use to get spaghetti stains out?"

"What setting should I wash my good jeans on?"

And the list goes on. It makes me smile when I get one of these calls. I realize that I am the woman in his life right now. He still looks to me for advice, counsel, direction and support. The Lord hasn't brought the one who will take my place into his life yet, that we know of. But I am sure she is on her way.

When she comes into Luke's life, it is not that I will not be important to my son anymore. I will always be his mom. He will always love me and remember me as a big important part of his life, but I will no longer be "the woman" of his life. That role must be turned over to someone else.

My husband is the older of two sons in a family with no daughters. I was the woman who "took" him away from his mother. It has been a rough transition, and now I am experiencing it from the other side. I believe this is one the hardest transitions in life. It is so important to realize that God has ordained that this transition take place – see today's verse. It is one of the pillars that makes a house a home and a family secure, but it is difficult.

Women have such a power of influence. It is a strength that God endowed us with and we can use it for good or for evil. When there is a mother and a wife in a man's life, the wife is to be the dominant influence. As a wife, I know this has been important to my marriage. But as a mother, I cringe at the thought of letting go.

Our older son, Caleb, has found the girl meant to be his lifetime soul mate. We are going through this tearing away process as I write. It is so important and I am so proud of him, but it is very hard for me.

I am soaking up my limited time with Luke. I realize that the wife he chooses might have a better fruit salad recipe, a different way of removing spaghetti stains, and perhaps will wash her good jeans in hot water, and I must rest from my ways and be content with hers. I hope that I will be the kind of mother-in-law that will look for the good in my son's wives. I want to encourage my boys and tell them what a good choice they made, and thank them for waiting for her. I will encourage them as couples and tell them that they are great parents.

And perhaps my new "daughters" will call me someday and ask me how I make my fruit salad, and how I remove certain stains, and what setting I wash my jeans on. I will be so happy to share my secrets with them.

Dear Lord, thank You for the sons You have given me. Help me enjoy the time I have as being the most important woman in their lives. Help me to use my influence wisely. When the woman You have chosen for them comes along, help me to surrender to Your plan. Help me to be an encouragement to them in every way. I pray that I will not feel threatened but may our relationship be one of love and respect for one another. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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

Use the extra time you have from an empty nest to invest in your marriage! Love Notes on His Pillow: And Other Everyday Ways to Keep Your Love Alive by Linda Gilden

Or invest in a friendship! I'll bring the Chocolate: Satisfying a Woman's Craving for Friendship and Faith by Karen Porter

Join us for more Everyday Life encouragement

Application Steps:
Enjoy every season that God has ordained for you as a mom.

Are you available when your son calls with how-to questions?

Do you know that you will always be a pillar in the home and that you will always be an integral part of your children's lives even though a new pillar may be added?

Are you a daughter-in-law struggling with a mom that is having a hard time letting go?

Do you have a small son? Can you imagine releasing him to someone else?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 31:25, "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future." (NASV)

© 2009 by Cheri Bunch. All rights reserved.

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God's Lifeboat
Micca Monda Campbell

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Luke 19:10 (NIV)

I recall the first time my youngest son, Parker, water-skied. He was having a great time while he was being pulled along by the boat. When he fell and let go of the rope, the connection to the boat was broken. Panic gripped his face as he watched the boat leave him behind. Dangling in unknown waters filled Parker with a sense of uncertainty. Anxious thoughts plagued his mind as he wondered whether or not his lifejacket was trustworthy.

It was only when the boat turned around and headed back in his direction that peace took hold again. When we pulled Parker back into the boat, he said with relief, "I didn't think anyone saw me fall. I thought you were gone for good." This is the kind of fright and worry we live with when we are not connected to God. We know that we can only tread water for so long on our own without the security of a boat.

The cross of Christ is our lifeboat that saves us from drowning in a sea of sin and selfishness. Christ's work on the cross has mended the partnership between God and us. However, some people don't realize that life is a partnership with God. Because sin separates us from God, the anxieties and burdens in life weigh heavy on our souls. Until we learn to trust Christ's provision, we'll never find peace. In fact, anyone living apart from God can expect to be plagued by phobias, fears, and anxieties. Until a person is reconciled to God, they are unpredictable and anxious creatures. Like Parker, their greatest need is a lifeboat.

Fearless living is achieved by making the choice to partner with God. Only then will our faith become stronger than all our fears. If you and I want to be rid of worry, we must first stop trusting in the things of this world. Instead, we must learn to put the weight of our burdens and cares on Christ who died for us.

Secondly, we need to refocus. Self-centeredness breeds anxiety. In truth, worry and stress are really symptoms of self-sufficiency and a lack of trust in God. When we take the focus off of ourselves and place it on God, it makes all the difference. Our troubles look small in comparison to our great God.

Finally, we must commit ourselves wholly to God. The Bible says "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23, NIV). That means that you and I have missed the mark. We can't get to God any other way except through His Son, Jesus. Whoever wants Christ, and believes He is the Son of God, has been given the full benefit of being God's child.

The truly happy person is the one who has placed her trust in Christ alone for salvation. She has discovered that Christ's saving grace is the solution to sin, egotism, waywardness, and fears. You can see a profound difference in the person who chooses Christ as her lifeboat. Anxiety dissolves away and peace rules the heart and mind.

Dear Lord, I am a sinner. I believe You died for me and rose from the grave to purchase a place for me in Heaven. Lord, Jesus, come into my life and take control. Forgive all my sin and save me. I'm placing my trust in You alone. Thank you, Lord, for saving me, forgiving me, and filling me with Your peace. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

An Untroubled Heart: Finding Faith that is Stronger than My Fears by Micca Campbell

Come Along: The Journey into a More Intimate Faith by Jane Rubietta

Visit Micca’s blog

Application Steps:
If you are full of worry and apprehension, then it may be that you have not fully given every area of your life to God. You can do so right now! All you have to do is acknowledge that you are a sinner and have been living a life separated from God, seeking your own will instead of His will. By using the prayer above as a guide, you can refuse your sins and commit your life totally to God.

Reflections: Worry and stress are really symptoms of self-sufficiency and a lack of trust in God. Do you agree—why or why not?

Do you sense God inviting you to trust Him as your Savior today? Will you say "Yes?"

Power Verses:
John 1:12, "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." (NIV)

Romans 10:10, "For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." (NIV)

© 2009 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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