The Bohemian Skirt
Susanne Scheppmann

"Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don't let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin." Psalm 19:13 (NLT)

I knew the world was seeing a flash of white thighs and cellulite. Somehow in the gust of a whirlwind, my long gypsy-like skirt flew straight up and over my head. I tried to bat in down, but it stood stubbornly straight up like a corn stalk. It seemed the garment had a mind of its own. The more I struggled to keep it down, the higher it flew. (At least my face was covered and no one would know who owned those stocky dimpled legs.)

The skirt was my favorite attire. I adored the fabric. The colors displayed were bright and varied. Dark rusts, velvet black, and fireman red circled around the turquoise satin. Golden metallic threads highlighted the colors like trees on an autumn day. The skirt's bohemian qualities tickled my eccentric personality. That is until the day of the whirlwind, because the skirt continued to behave badly.

Later the same day, I was attempting to go through security at McCarran International Airport. For some reason, I set off the metal detector—twice. The security personnel sent me to the "wand and pat down area." The wand floated across the lower part of my body. Beep, beep, and beep--it warned. I was completely flummoxed. Why was I setting off these metal detectors?

After much wand waving, hand patting, and scrutinizing it was determined that the metal threads in my skirt were the cause of the security breach. What? My unruly skirt seemed intent on deliberately ruining my day. The security guards suggested I not wear the flagrant fabric again to the airport. I agreed whole-heartedly.

These two episodes caused me to reflect about sin—especially deliberate sin. There are certain sins that I don't want to give up because I like them. They are comfortable. They might even appear "cute" to my friends. However, as a follower of Christ, I must not allow sin to control me—even when others approve.

Sin doesn't fit a follower of Christ. We have to put on love, put on righteousness, and put on grace.

Later in the evening, I made the decision to part with my beloved bohemian skirt. I did not want a repeat of the airport episode. I also chose to part with one of my deliberate sins—laughing at others when they are caught off guard in a ridiculous situation like I was in. Yes, I used to laugh at others and think to myself, "So, how did that work out for you?"

Not now! Because I flashed the world with my thunder thighs and set off the airport alarms all because of one strong-willed, metallic-thread skirt, I don't snicker anymore. I quickly pray, "Mercy, Lord. Help her!"

Dear Lord, set off an alarm in my head when I contemplate committing a deliberate sin. I ask for the Holy Spirit to strengthen me in my resolve. Keep me free of sin and guilt. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

Perplexing Proverbs for Women Bible study by Susanne Scheppmann

Confessions of an Adulterous Christian Woman: Lies that Got Me There, Truths that Brought Me Back by Lyndell Hetrick Holtz

Visit Susanne's blog as well as her resource page

Application Steps:
Take a spiritual inventory of known sins in your life. Ask a friend to hold you accountable for ridding yourself of particular sins that have a hold on you. Decide today that you will not allow sin to control you any longer.

Do I have a favorite sin in my life?

Why does it have a foothold in my life? What benefit does it seem bring?

How can I eliminate it?

Power Verses:
Psalm 119:133, "Establish my steps and direct them by [means of] Your word; let not any iniquity have dominion over me." (AMP) (emphasis added)

Psalm 18:32, "Is not this the God who armed me, then aimed me in the right direction?" (MSG)

Romans 6:11-12, "In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires." (NIV)

© 2009 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

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Learning the Hard Way
Whitney Capps

"A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke." Proverbs 13:1 (NIV)

As of January, I am now the mother of three boys under four years of age. Our house is full of testosterone and a loud, unbridled enthusiasm for life. This is most true of our middle son Dylan. He is wild and rambunctious - a boy through and through.

If you were to watch him enter a room, you would notice that he makes a mental list of every structure that he can scale, leap off of or turn over. He is as creative as he is fearless. It’s a dangerous combination.

To make matters worse, he has an extremely high tolerance for pain. My husband Chad and I are regularly amazed at the bumps, scrapes and knots that do not elicit tears or pleas for comfort. He is remarkably tough. Or stubborn. I am not sure which.

Unfortunately, he has gotten more brazen in his attempts of late. He has noticed that I spend most of my day incapacitated with a nursing child in my arms as my primary responsibility. This has greatly slowed or halted my efforts to keep Dylan from his version of "extreme sports." If the mere warning from my voice was enough to stop my little acrobat, he’d be fine. However, my two-year old doesn’t always listen the first time I say, "No."

So I have resigned myself to the fact that he is going to learn a few lessons the hard way. He is going to fall. He might even get hurt. I can’t always be there to physically remove him from every obstacle he scales. I can’t prevent every painful consequence of doing precisely what he chooses.

While I was praying for him the other night I asked God to make him more sensitive to my voice and to protect him when he ignores me and falls. I prayed for a gracious and forgiving attitude when he does need my comfort. In the quiet of my bedroom the Creator whispered, "I’m pretty good at that; that’s how I often parent you."

I knew in an instant what God meant. I regularly dive head-first into a situation analyzing how I’ll attack it. It’s not long after God has chastened my heart that I move onto the next dangerous display of independence. If I would simply listen to His voice, I’d be fine. He has desired on many occasions to protect me from painful consequences, to protect me from myself. Instead I chose to learn the lessons the hard way. I wish I could say it only happened once or twice, but like my two year-old, I am remarkably tough, or stubborn. Neither is a good characteristic for a child.
I finished my prayer that night asking my Heavenly Father to forgive my toddler-like ways. I am trying to listen more carefully to His voice. I want to respond immediately. I am sure to encounter fewer bumps and bruises along the way. More importantly, I am sure to enjoy the smile and warm embrace of my all-gracious Father.

Dear Lord, thank You that You are patient and kind with me in my follies. Help me heed Your warnings the first time. It is good to rest assured that You guard me, smiling on Your daughter as You watch my steps. Thank You that You discipline me because of Your great love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Messy Faith: Daring to Live By Grace by A.J. Gregory

Real Moms...Real Jesus: Meet the Friend Who Understands by Jill Savage

God’s Purpose for Every Woman – A P31 Devotional, Written by various P31 authors. General Editors Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olsen

Visit with Whitney on her blog today

Application Steps:
Look for ways to extend grace to others who are suffering the consequences of their own poor choices.

What painful circumstances have you endured because you didn’t heed the Father’s voice?

In what ways are you testing the Father?

Power Verses:
Deuteronomy 8:5, "Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you." (NIV)

Hebrews 12:5-6, "And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.’" (NIV)

Numbers 6:24-25, "God bless you and keep you, GOD smile on you and gift you…" (MSG)

© 2009 by Whitney Capps. All rights reserved.

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Nowhere to Hide
Tracie Miles

"God would surely have known it, for he knows the secrets of every heart." Psalm 44:21 (NLT)

Recently my friend Amy was telling me that when her daughter Caroline was three years old, she believed that if she closed her eyes tightly, nobody could see her. This especially came in handy when she wanted to hide. For example, when she had to eat her peas at dinner. Since she did not like peas, she would sit very quietly at the table and squeeze her eyes tightly shut, assuming since she could no longer see her parents, they couldn't see her and therefore didn't know that she wasn't eating her peas!

She tried to hide behind her eyelids, unaware that it was a completely futile effort!
While chuckling over this story, I thought about how we are often times so much like little Caroline. We think that we can keep our sins a secret, but the truth is, God sees all, and knows all.

There are certain sins in our lives that we may feel are justified and therefore we are not worried about who "sees" them - such as gossip, anger, revenge, jealousy, slander, envy, impatience. We know in our hearts those are not behaviors that please God, but they don't seem to be the "big sins," so we continue doing them.

On the other hand, there may be truly secret sins that we don't want anyone to know about. Sins that if made public, could result in serious negative consequences, broken relationships, personal problems, or embarrassment. The only difference between secret sins and public sins is that they result in even more sinning as lies and deception take place to cover them up, giving Satan an even deeper stronghold on our hearts.

Regardless of whether we view our sins as big or small, public or secret - sin is sin, and God sees. Although we may be able to keep secrets from others, we cannot keep secrets from God. He is omnipotent, meaning "all knowing," and there is nowhere to hide from God.

This acceptance that God knows everything can make us feel weak in the knees. Understanding that He sees all of our sinful thoughts and behaviors can even make us feel broken, worthless, ashamed and hopeless; however, that is not God's desire, but instead, the enemy's ultimate goal.
Satan wants us to feel broken and worthless because of our sin; God wants us to feel convicted to change. Satan wants us to feel ashamed; God wants us to feel redeemed. Satan wants us to feel hopeless; God wants us to see the grace and mercy that He offers. In fact, although God despises our sin, He takes great joy when we recognize our sin, and seek His cleansing forgiveness. He is pleased when we ask for His supernatural power to enter our hearts and help us overcome those private and public sins in our lives. He is proud of us when He sees that we tremble at His Word, and recognize our need for His omnipotence.

Yes we are sinners, but God loves us unconditionally, and His forgiveness is infinite and always available.

Trying to hide our sins from God is as futile of an effort as Caroline trying to hide behind closed eyelids. God desires that we open our eyes and see our sin through His eyes, repent in prayer, and thirst for healing forgiveness that only He can provide.

Dear Lord, I praise you for loving me despite my sin, and for forgiving me time and time again. Thank You for dying on the cross so that I could have eternal life, even when I don't deserve it. Please fill me with hope and strength to overcome, and continue to bless me with Your grace and mercy. Help me to have a heart that longs to think and behave in ways that please You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

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

Reinventing Your Rainbow by Tracie Miles

Visit Tracie’s blog and resource page

Application Steps:
Have a heart to heart conversation with God today.

If I were to consider what God sees me doing and thinking, would He be pleased with me?

Are there any sins that I have yet to confess to God, that are keeping me from being who God wants me to be?

Power Verses:
Romans 3:23-24, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (NIV)

Jeremiah 23:24, "'Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?' declares the LORD. 'Do not I fill heaven and earth?' declares the LORD." (NIV)

Proverbs 15:3, "The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good." (NIV)

© 2009 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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Women: Friend or Foe?
Rachel Olsen

"I'm a friend and companion of all who fear you, of those committed to living by your rules." Psalm 119:63 (MSG)

Not long ago I would've told you that I don't much like women. I counted a few as friends, but the rest of the gender I dismissed categorically as too much trouble. Never a "tomboy" by any stretch of the imagination, I just found guys so much easier to deal with. They generally say what they mean, let you know where you stand, and never size you up to determine who has the better haircut.

I didn't want to distrust women, but the majority of females in my life at the time evoked that response. They were catty, competitive, and conniving. They gossiped, backstabbed and manipulated. I have to admit that I often responded in kind. Isn't it strange how addictive relational drama can be?

I'm told you can put a frog in a pot of cold water on the stove and gradually turn up the heat, and it will stay in the pot until it reaches a fatal boil without attempting escape. Evidently the frog doesn't realize how unhealthy the situation is slowly becoming. I can't vouch for the accuracy of that fable - I'd never boil a frog! - but I've been in a few friendships that were like that. I stayed way too long in the pot before I realized this isn't healthy for me, and I got burned.

So what lead me to flip-flop my position on having girlfriends? First, I decided to follow Christ. This sparked many beneficial changes in my mind and spirit. Where I had been cynical and guarded, God's love penetrated and softened my heart. I learned the meaning of Proverbs 18:24, "There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother" (RSV). Christ was now my forever friend who could be trusted completely.

I also made changes in my choice of girlfriends. With the help of the Holy Spirit and lessons on character from the book of Proverbs, I learned to recognize which people and relational patterns were unhealthy for me. I was ready to be rid of the drama! The Bible teaches, "He who walks with the wise grows wise" (Proverbs 13:20, NIV). I wanted to walk with wise women through life. Many of my current-at-the-time friendships ran their natural course and dissolved. A few transformed along with me. But a few I deliberately phased out because my own character wasn't strong enough yet to remain Christ-like in their company.

Meanwhile, I prayed for quality friendships with women of faith. God heard my prayers, just as the Bible promises He does. Fun-loving, God-loving, gracious women at my church sought me out and invited me out. And I made the choice to trust them and invest. I discovered how beneficial it is to surround yourself with women who inspire your walk with God.

Over time, God birthed in me a huge love and great compassion for women. I began seeing them through His eyes and not just the lens of my own hurtful past. I realized that not all women are like those I had known. I also learned to forgive and pray for those who've hurt me. Today I cherish my friendships with the women in my life.

What about you? How are your friendships? Do you find yourself entangled in an unhealthy relationship? Are you in emotional hiding after being burned? Maybe you've written off the entire gender because of the trouble you've seen. Take that to God and ask Him to heal and bring restoration to your heart. Ask Him to send godly, wise women into your life. Then muster up the courage to respond and befriend them.

Neither gender is categorically a foe – but I count myself happy to be sipping tea, playing Dominos, doing Bible study, shopping and sharing my dreams with sisters of the fairer sex. Won't you join us?

Dear Lord, I want to have good friends, and to be a good friend. Help me to develop godly friendships, in Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
I'll bring the Chocolate: Satisfying a Woman's Craving for Friendship and Faith by Karen Porter

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

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself by Mary Lance V. Sisk

Connect with Rachel today at her blog.

Application Steps:
Study the book of Proverbs in the Bible and learn the traits of trustworthy character so you can develop them yourself and recognize them in others.

Is there someone you can befriend? Striking up a friendship can be a great way to introduce a gal to Christ.

What is the current state of your friendships – are they nurturing? Godly?

Are you open to making new friends? Why or why not?

Power Verses:
James 2:23, "And the scripture was fulfilled that says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,' and he was called God's friend." (NIV)

Proverbs 22:11, "If you love purity of heart and graciousness of speech, the king will be your friend." (GNT)

© 2009 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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Starting Fresh
T. Suzanne Eller

"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone: a new life has begun." 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

It was a typical holiday scene. My mother hummed an off-key tune in the kitchen. My father lounged in his faded blue recliner, while my husband and brothers talked about the football game on TV. The younger children played cards, while the older kids talked about my daughter's recent acceptance into college.

As I viewed the scene, I stood still in my tracks. Wait! When did we become a "typical family"?
My past will never resemble a Hallmark card. My mother had her first baby at 15. She lost her footing as she tried to be a young mother and wife. She was physically and verbally abused by her young husband and fled at 20 to start over. Alone and pregnant—with me—mom met a good man and later they married. But the emotional baggage took its toll on that relationship, and later on our entire family. She often threatened suicide. She raged. She lashed out physically. She begged for forgiveness. If I let my guard down to love, the next day or the next week a new scene would unfold. My heart hardened at a tender age.

Flash forward 25 years. I am no longer a child. I'm a woman with young adult children of my own. God has healed my heart.

As I stood in the living room I realized that I still viewed my family through the past. I had let go of the resentment, the anger, and I loved my mother and father, but I still saw my extended family as broken. In far too many ways our relationship was founded on that perception.

I stepped back and took a good long look. Who was my mom now? How had she grown? Did I recognize what God had performed in her life?

The answer was no, and I was not alone in this thinking. My siblings also wrestled with this. No matter what my mother did, no matter how much she had overcome, she still had a scarlet letter branded on her. She was marked "B" for broken.

My family had been "normal" longer than dysfunctional. I realized it was time to step into the present and leave the past behind.

That day I fully transitioned from child to adult. I reflected on what God can do in spite of a broken past. I rejoiced in what had taken place in the heart of my mother and our family. It didn't just change me, but it changed my mother and our relationship. Somehow she knew we had crossed a new threshold. The burden of guilt was eased as she looked into my eyes and realized I saw her fully as the woman she had become.

Several holidays have passed since that day. My mother still hums off-key. I still bring desert. But when I look at my family, I don't just see a family gathering, I see a portrait of God's grace.

Dear Jesus, do I recognize the miracles You have done in my loved ones? Do I hold on to resentment even if that person has changed? Give me new eyes to see. Paint the picture fresh for me as I extend the mercy You so freely gave to me to one person in my life today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

The Mom I Want to Be: Rising Above Your Past to Give Your Kids a Great Future by T. Suzanne Eller

Youniquely Woman: Becoming Who God Designed You to Be by Kay Arthur, Emilie Barnes, and Donna Otto

Visit Suzie’s blog where she shares what to do when a dysfunctional loved one hasn’t changed. Make sure to check out her other resources here!

Application Steps:
o Refocus: Take the spotlight off your childhood and put it on to the present.

o Be Realistic: Even normal families have conflict. There is no such thing as a perfect family.

o Relent: Do you rehash bad family memories or bring up the past to punish a loved one? Are you willing to begin a new conversation?

o Receive: Amends may be awkward and not what you think they should be. True grace is receiving a gesture with the same spirit with which it is offered.

"If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming." ~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Power Verses:
Matthew 9:13, "Then he added, 'Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.'" (NLT)

© 2009 by T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.

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What Did You Do With What I Gave You?
Luann Prater

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

"How can I make sure she doesn't become self-absorbed as she grows up?" a young mother asked me as we munched warm chocolate-chip cookies.

Our culture struggles with the "I wants." When children receive "things without strings" they begin a life of self-centered discontentment. Adults, in an effort to find happiness, reach for whatever they don't have, thinking that thing must be what is missing. In the United States we often convince ourselves that our wants are really needs.

I had the privilege of joining my Proverbs 31 Ministries sisters on a trip to Ecuador to visit the Compassion International projects. We came face-to-face with real poverty, real needs and real happiness. Many moments will remain etched in my memory, but two stand out as a glaring disparity to life as we know it.

First, we visited a family with three children who live in a block home, tin roof, dirt floors and have only one bed. I asked the parents if they could have just one thing what would it be. They thought about it, discussed it, then said, "We have everything we need."

Wow! Are there many in the U.S. who would say that? Furthermore, I wonder if the response in this country would be, "Only one thing?" They have the love of their family and more importantly the love of a God who fills their desires.

Second, I met Jonathan, a college student from a family of eight who is a Compassion International sponsored child. He is studying to become a math teacher. When asked why he chose that path he said, "The boys in my village drop out of school when they become freshmen so they can work and help support the family. I want them to know that if they continue on and learn math it can open many more doors in their work life. I also know that one day I will stand before God and He will ask me, 'What did you do with what I gave you?' I want to help change the reality in my own world."

Wow! This young man has been given an opportunity for a different life and now he gives back.

So, back to my conversation with my friend as we were eating cookies. My answer to this young mother was, "Go on mission trips, help the needy, sponsor a child and serve others." When we serve, the focus shifts from self to selfless. It is only then that the resemblance of Christ can be seen in our reflection.

How will we answer the question, "What did you do with what I gave you?"

Dear Lord, we are so blessed and yet we often live with impoverished hearts. Fill us with the Spirit that encourages us to go, to serve and to bind up the brokenhearted. Empty us of self so Your reflection can shine to others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most by Dr. Wess Stafford

Sponsor a child in need through Compassion International

Watch a brief story of our journey to Ecuador.

Visit with Luann on her blog and her radio show “Encouragement Café” website.

Application Steps:
Give up eating one meal out a month and prayerfully consider sponsoring a child in need through Compassion International.

What self-centered thing occupies my time?

How can I increase my efforts of serving others?

Who around me needs God's love to flow through me and onto them?

Power Verses:
Mark 10:45, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (NIV)

Mark 12:30-31, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (NIV)

© 2009 by Luann Prater. All rights reserved.

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Lysa TerKeurst

"The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just. The law of God is on his heart; his feet do not slip." Psalm 37:30-31 (NIV)

I think I've discovered one of the biggest tricks Satan plays on us girls to get us to give into temptation.

"It's not fair." It's not fair that others seem permitted to have this, do this, act this way.

It's not fair that God won't let us eat of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden... one little bite wouldn't be so bad, right?

It's not fair I can't buy that new thing I really want... just a little debt wouldn't be so bad, right?

It's not fair that I have this body that I have to watch everything I eat when that girl eats junk and stays a size 4... one piece of cheesecake wouldn't be so bad, right?

It's not fair that we can't have sex before we're married when we're so in love... experimenting one time wouldn't be so bad, right?

Our flesh buys right into Satan's lie that it's not fair for things to be withheld from us. So we bite into the forbidden fruit and allow Satan to write 'shame' across our heart. Once you taste the forbidden fruit, you will crave it worse than you craved it before, giving temptation more and more power. And given enough power, temptation will start to consume our thoughts, redirect our actions, and demand our worship. Temptation doesn't take kindly to be starved.

I don't know what tempts you today. But, I do personally know this vicious cycle and I'm here to give you hope it is possible to get past it. Just typing that sentence gives me chills. Just a couple of months ago, I wondered if that would ever be true for me.

I've been on a very strict eating plan since April. Part of this plan is no sugar. Which doesn't sound so bad until you realize sugar is in just about everything we enjoy eating. Breads, pasta, potatoes, rice and not to mention all things bakery-licious.

It has been challenging at times that's for sure. But while I was on vacation recently and watching others enjoys an abundance of treats, I started to have a little pity party and those words crept into my brain: "It's not fair." In that instant, I squirmed in my chair and thought, "I'll just take one little bite... maybe two... I've been so good... this is vacation... everyone else is indulging ... OH MY STARS WHAT ARE YOU DOING LYSA!"

In that moment of extreme temptation, I realized me having a pity party was a clue I was relying on my own strength… a strength that has failed me before and would fail me again. I had to grab hold of God's strength and the only way to do that was to invite His power into my situation. I mentally gave God control of the situation by reciting truths I'd been banking up in my heart. "I'm more than a conqueror." "Lead us not into temptation but DELIVER us from the evil one." "The law of God is in his heart; his feet do not slip."

Soon, it was time to get up from the dinner table and walk back to our room. And I've never felt so empowered in my life. Had I said yes that first night of our vacation, there would have been more compromises in future meals. Compromise built upon compromise equals failure. Instead, resisting temptation allowed promise upon promise to be built up in my heart, which equals Holy Spirit empowerment!

Like I said, I don't know what you might be struggling with today but I can assure you God is fair and just. There is a reason we must face this. The struggle may be painful in the moment but it is working out something magnificent within us. As James 1 promises, "This testing of your faith develops perseverance and perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature, complete, not lacking anything."

Oh sweet sister, that is the cry of my soul. My taste buds lie as they make empty claims to satisfy me. Only persevering with God will make me truly full, complete, not lacking anything. Press on sister. Press on.

Dear Lord, help me to see my sacrifice in light of Your truth. The truth is, this sacrifice is a necessary part of me seeking You - the only true fulfillment and satisfaction of my body, mind and soul. Give me strength, Lord. Remind me to rely on Your truth and Your Spirit to empower me moment by moment. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Click here to visit Lysa TerKeurst’s blog for more Scriptures that will encourage you and empower you to find victory over whatever is tempting you. Lysa wants to hear your thoughts on this. Dialog with her today through her blog.

Be one of the first to receive Lysa’s new book! Pre-order her newest release, Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl.

What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps: Write some of the verses Lysa gives here and on her blog on 3x5 cards and carry them with you. Recite them over and over when you face your temptation, and persevere in resisting.

What does this statement mean to you personally: "Compromise built upon compromise equals failure. But promise built upon promise equals success."

Power Verses:
Psalm 73: 26, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (NIV)

James 1:15-16, "Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death. Don't be deceived, my dear brothers." (NIV)

© 2009 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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A Place of Thus Far
Wendy Pope

"Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and said, 'Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?'" 2 Samuel 7:18 (ESV)

Have you been in a place of "thus far?" A place where you find yourself in the constant misting of God's blessing and favor on your life. Not blessings and favor by the world's standards of materialism and wealth, but by the Lord's standard of provision, protection, providence, and peace that come from walking with the Lord on a daily basis.

You arrive at the place by faith, following the Lord's leading and trusting His ways, not your own. One day, as you meet with the Lord, like David, you sit and take summary of all the Lord has done for you. With compulsory praise and complete humility you say to the Lord, "Who am I that you have brought me thus far?"

Oh the places David had seen in his lifetime! From the grassy meadows, to the splendor of palace life, a drafty cave, back to the throne itself. Yes, King David had arrived at a place of "thus far" in his life. He had experienced every emotion that exists, from confidence to fear, love to hate, and sadness to joy. After all that King David had been through I can certainly understand why he needed to go sit before the LORD and ask, "Who am I?"

He was overwhelmed at the goodness of God and the faithfulness he had experienced. He had been through some of the toughest situations a person could go through, yet because He remained faithful God was allowing David to receive his just reward. I have to think the reward of kingship and royalty paled in comparison to knowing the goodness and faithfulness of God.

Have you been there? Life has taken twists, turns, and changes at every bend, yet somehow for a season you have arrived at a place to receive abundant blessings from the Lord. You realize your place of thus pales in comparison to knowing and experiencing the goodness and faithfulness of God.

No matter what current circumstances you find yourself in, with our Living God there is always a place of "thus far" awaiting around the next bend. This is a place of celebration, praise, complete humility and gratitude before the Lord. I have discovered the hardships we go through are all worthwhile when we get to our place of "thus far." In compulsory praise, with a humbled heart, we can pour our blessings back out to the Lord in praise and cry, "Who I am Lord, that you have brought me thus far?"

Dear Lord, forgive me when I fail to sit and take summary of Your tremendous favor in my life. The misting of blessings and favor are far superior to anything this world can afford me. Help me to remember my place of "thus far" when Your plan for my life leads me to another season that may be risky and cause me to walk by faith and not by sight. I offer this praise of thanksgiving to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Living Free in Christ-CD by Wendy Pope

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

Visit Wendy’s blog and resource page

Application Steps:
Find a place to sit quietly with the Lord. Take summary of His blessing and favor on your life. Write down all the Lord brings to mind. Read the list back to Him as a song of praise.

Is there anything in my life preventing me from entering the place of "thus far" the Lord has for me?

How can I use my time while in a place of "thus far" to be a blessing or encouragement to others?

Power Verses:
Psalm 52:9, "I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints." (NIV)

Psalm 63:4, "I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands." (NIV)

© 2009 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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Spiking a Temp
Karen Ehman

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:15-16 (NIV)

Lawn chair? Check! Extra blanket? Check! Team roster? Check? Piping hot drink to ward of any chill? Check!

It was one of my favorite events of the year; opening day for my son's travel baseball team. On that early spring day, I'd gathered all the components for a picture perfect time and headed up to our town's ball fields. I unloaded my car and made my way to the sidelines. Now all I had to do was sit back and watch my son throw strikes and hit balls while I hollered and cheered for the red and black Redwings.

After about half an inning, I sensed something was missing. I ran through my checklist again in my mind. It was then that it hit me—my drink! I'd left it in the car. I waited for the third out and then quickly trekked back to the parking lot to get my drink and return so as not to miss any of the action.

When I got back to my lawn chair, I settled in and took a sip from my cup. Now, this wasn't just a cup of black coffee. Since it was opening day, I'd sprung for a treat. I'd ordered my current favorite: a tall, decaf, skinny, sugar-free mocha with a shot of sugar-free hazelnut, light whip, and no garnish. How I'd looked forward to sipping on that hot specialty latte! Only now it wasn't hot. It was lukewarm. And, it wasn't very appetizing. In fact, it tasted awful. When it was hot, it was delicious. Why, even when it was cold, served over ice during a sunny, scorching July baseball game, it was wonderfully refreshing. Now, in its subdued temperature, it was just plain awful.

Sometimes we are just like that ho-hum drink. We lack an extreme temperature. We are complacent, idle and ineffective. Today's verse tells us that God had the very same problem with the church in Laodicea. Because they were neither hot nor cold, but had turned a disappointing temperature of lukewarm, he was ready to be rid of them. While there are differing views of the interpretation of the temperatures hot and cold, Jesus words are simple and clear. "I wish you were either one or the other!" In biblical times cold water was good. It was refreshing. And hot water was good. It could be healing, as in a steaming hot bath. There was, however, little need for lukewarm.

May we see today's verse as a challenge. Knowing God has no need for lukewarm, may we seek to be those who offer refreshment and healing to a dying world. May our thoughts and actions not earn us the label of indifferent or ho-hum. After all, the God of the universe is on the sidelines watching us in the great game of life. May we please Him with our heart's desires and our deeds done only in order to glorify Him!

Dear Lord, teach me to be intentional in my spiritual life and not complacent. May my words, thoughts, deeds and actions please You and not be considered lukewarm. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

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

A Life that Says Welcome by Karen Ehman

For more on this topic and to take the spiritual temperature test, visit Karen’s blog and for more from Karen, visit her resource page

Application Steps:
What spiritual disciplines can help me avoid becoming lukewarm? Prayer? Scripture memory? Concentrated Bible study? A personal retreat to be alone with God?

Plan now to make time for some of these disciplines in your everyday life. See if a friend would like to journey with you in this venture.

When in my spiritual life have I felt I was really on fire for God? If that fire died down, what happened?

How do I feel when I am living a lukewarm life? How does it affect my attitudes and relationships?

Power Verses:
I Peter 4:11, "If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." (NIV)

© 2009 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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The Wedding Ring
Marybeth Whalen

"An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband." I Corinthians 7:34 (NIV)

While shopping for some nail polish remover, I stumbled upon a bottle of jewelry cleaner. As I picked it up and tossed it into my cart, I reflected on the days when I always kept jewelry cleaner so that I could keep my wedding ring sparkling and shiny. Somewhere in the rush of life, I stopped doing that, and it had been years since I polished up my very dirty, dingy diamond.

When I got home, I cracked open the new bottle and put my rings in to soak overnight. The next morning, I fished them out and used the little brush to scrub away any remaining dirt. As I slipped the rings on, I couldn't believe the difference! I knew my rings were dirty but I had no idea how sparkling the cleaner would make them. All day I kept looking down at my hand to admire the way the diamond reflected the light, brilliant and shiny instead of dirty and dingy.

God reminded me that my experience was a great illustration for how I have treated my marriage at times. Where once I worked hard to look nice for my husband, I often meet him after a long day in my pajamas—unshowered and unprepared to welcome him. Where once I took time to really listen to him, I let my thoughts wander when he talks, figuring I had heard it all before. Where once I looked forward to our time alone, I get in the car with a bored sigh, and a, "Where do you want to eat?" My shiny, sparkly, exciting marriage that I couldn't wait for had turned into a dirty, dingy drudgery that I forgot to take care of.

As I admired my diamond that day, I thought of ways I could "clean" my marriage, restoring it to the brilliance that God desired for us:
• Taking time to at least brush my hair and put some gloss on my lips
before I saw my husband at the end of the day.
• Committing to regular exercise and taking care of myself, so I would feel
better and look better.
• Treating him respectfully and watching both my words and my tone to him.
• Apologizing when I blow it and humbly seeking his forgiveness.
• Investing regular, consistent time into us by making the effort to plan
date nights and secure a sitter.
• Really listening to him when he confides in me, not letting my thoughts
wander to my to-do list.
• Spending time with him without feeling like we have to talk all the time.
• Respecting the differences in each of us, instead of fighting against
Of course I don't do these things perfectly every day, but I do have a renewed vision for what my marriage needs. Just like my diamond needed to be restored after neglect, so did my marriage. I can't become complacent or despondent about this most important relationship. I have to strip off the buildup of stress and busyness, scrub away any resentment or distance. When I do that, God has shown me that He will restore my marriage to its original brilliance and sparkle, reminding us both why we said "I do" all those years ago.

Dear Lord, it's so easy to let life and busyness keep me from giving my marriage the attention it needs. Help me to love my husband the way You do and to seek You for inspiration and insight. Help me to be intentional about working on my marriage instead of just drifting through it. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Join us for more Everyday Life encouragement

Love Notes on His Pillow: And Other Everyday Ways to Keep Your Love Alive by Linda Gilden

Learning To Live Financially Free by Marybeth and Curt Whalen

Visit Marybeth’s blog and resource page

Application Steps:
If you are married, clean your diamond today. If you don't have any cleaner, go and get some! (It's near the fingernail polish remover.) If you are not married but hope to be, spend time praying to have God's heart for your husband and for a marriage that will stay sparkling and shiny long after you say "I do."

What is one thing that you can do today for your marriage? Don't do it because your husband "deserves" it. Do it because it honors God.

Power Verses:
Proverbs 21:9, "Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife." (NIV)

I Peter 3:6, "Like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear." (NIV)

© 2009 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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Driving Tips for the Narrow Road
Glynnis Whitwer

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)

I found myself leaning hard to the left from the passenger's seat of the car. You know the type of nervous-passenger move when you are sure something bad is about to happen, and somehow you think you can stop it – or at least move away from it. Only nothing helps when your offspring is learning to drive.

I'm going through this learning process with my second child, and it's not getting any easier. He still has to pry the car keys from my clutched fingers. And yet I know he needs the practice, so into the big boat with wheels we go. It's not that this son is a bad driver, it's just he has one very nerve-wracking tendency – he drifts to the right.

Whether he's in the left, middle or right lane makes no difference. He consistently drifts over the dotted line or too close to the curb. As I try to help with my leaning, cringing and bracing for impact, I wonder when the lanes became so narrow. They seem wider when I'm driving. Now they are closing in on us as we barrel down the road.

The narrow road is breathtaking, in the very scariest sense of the word. A wrong move brings the promise of unpleasant consequences. I know – I've crossed over the line before in my own life, and live with regrets. And I wonder, as I ponder this concept, is it possible to stay on the narrow road? Jesus clearly calls us to it in the book of Matthew. We read in chapter 7, verses 13 and 14, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." But can we do it?

Jesus believes so. He knows the road to a faith-filled life isn't easy, but it can be found. As I've thought about staying true to my faith in Christ, I realize that I've given my son some driving advice that applies to my own life:

Stay alert to who is around you. Choosing the right friends is one of the top lessons I've learned about staying true to my faith. It's amazing how a friend's suggestions or words can take you on a detour from where you want to be. Yet the right words and encouragement can bring joy and peace.

Keep focused on the road ahead. Knowing where I want to be spiritually is a big step in the right direction. When I have a vision of what a follower of Jesus looks like, I'm better able to follow through.

Don't be overconfident. Overconfidence in my own power and abilities is very dangerous. Every time I think I've got a problem under control, I discover once again how much I need God. However, living daily with my desperate need for a Savior keeps me on the right path.

We've all been called to a different life as Christians. We don't walk the same road the world walks, and at times it feels scary and uncomfortable. Yet the good news is we've been given sisters and brothers in Christ to walk beside us and help keep us focused. Although I may not ever relax when a beginning driver is in control of the car, I know I can relax because God is in control of my life. Recognizing that, the narrow road isn't quite so intimidating.

Dear Lord, You know how much I long to stay on the narrow road in my faith. Yet I find myself drifting across the dotted line too many times. I know I can't do this without You. Please help me be the woman You have called me to be. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
P31 Woman magazine

Visit Glynnis Whitwer’s blog for more encouragement today.

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

Do You Know Jesus?

Application Steps:
Identify an area of your life that you know is crossing the line of where you want to be. Make a decision to change one habit or activity this week that will keep you on the right path in that area of your life.

What are some common areas Christian women find themselves crossing over the line?

What are one or two habits women can establish to help them stay true to their faith?

Power Verses:
Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." (NIV)

Matthew 25:21, "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" (NIV)

© 2009 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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The Real Me
Renee Swope

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." Psalm 139:13 (NIV)

I sat in the circle dreading my turn to talk. The facilitator of our team-building activity had asked our group of eight to answer these questions: What do you love to do? If finances were unlimited and failure was unlikely, what would be your dream?

I started praying we'd run out of time before it got to me. But just in case I had to answer, I listened to everyone else describe their dreams, hoping to get ideas. One wanted to be the first female president of the United States. Another friend said she'd always wanted to sing in a Christian rock band. I knew I was in trouble.

Here I was 32-years-old at the time, and I didn't know who I was or what my dreams were. Eventually everyone looked at me for a response. I stumbled over my words but finally admitted that I didn't really know what I loved to do. I didn't have a dream. I felt like a third-grader living in a grown woman's body. Did I want to be a nurse, a schoolteacher or a movie star?

Who was I and what did I like to do?

Unfortunately, I'd never taken time to think about or answer that questions. Instead, I had tried to be who others wanted or needed me to be. But honestly, I wasn't very good at it. I often had this uneasy feeling in my heart and a sense of just not being happy. I was also a constant candidate for burn out.

Later the group facilitator encouraged me to ask God what His dreams were for my life and to spend time getting to know myself better. She also suggested I read some books on personalities. I took her advice and began a process of getting to know the "real me" who had gotten buried in the busyness of life and people pleasing.

As I read books about different temperaments and personality traits, I started to recognize what I liked, strengths that came natural for me, and what I needed emotionally to encourage my heart. Instead of wanting to be like women I knew and admired, I realized there was a reason I was who I was – with my passionate preferences and mixed bag of emotions. For the first time I felt like someone (the author of those books) understood me. I also sensed that God wanted to use the unique way He made me to shape my heart for ministry.

Isn't it easy to completely neglect ourselves to meet the needs of everyone around us, and call it self-sacrifice? It sounds godly, but in doing so we risk shutting down a place in our soul where God's dreams and gifts are waiting to be revealed. It's not self-seeking but God-seeking to intentionally get to know and become the woman He created you to be.

So, how well do you know the real you? Have you ever taken time to think about what you like to do? How would you fill your free time if you had no fears, no insecurities and no doubts? (You probably have no free time, but what if you did?) What are your dreams?

I hope you'll take time to get to know the woman God created you to be. In doing so, I discovered the life I was meant to live, the dreams I was meant to dream.

Remember, God made you. He knows you and He loves you just the way you are. The only change He desires is that you become more like Him, as you become more like you!

Lord, I want to know the woman You had in mind when You created me. I don't want to grow old and never know Your purpose for my life. Show me your dreams for my life so I can offer what You want to give to those around me through my unique desires, personality strengths, spiritual gifts, abilities and experiences. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Uniquely You! Read more about getting to know the real you, and share your thoughts/questions on Renee’s Blog.

Shaped with Purpose Workbook and CD: A Practical Guide for Discovering Who You Are by Renee Swope

Personality Plus by Florence Littauer

Click here for more of Renee’s Resources

Application Steps:
In her book, Personality Plus, Florence Littauer describes four personality types. See if you can relate to the desires and emotional needs of one or two of these:

Phlegmatic: Desires PEACE
Needs times of quiet, reduced stress, feeling of worth, relaxation

Choleric: Desires CONTROL
Needs appreciation for achievements, opportunity for leadership, and participation in decisions

Sanguine: Desires FUN
Needs attention, affection, approval, activity with people

Melancholy: Desires PERFECTION
Needs sensitivity, stability, support, space, silence

Reflect on today's verse, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." Psalm 139:13 (NIV)

• Do I believe God created me with unique traits and dreams? Do I know what they are?
• Do I like who God created me to be? Why or why not?

Power Verses:
Psalm 139:13, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth," (NIV)

Psalm 139:1, "Lord, you have searched me and you know me." (NIV)

© 2009 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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Be Big!
Renee Myers, She Speaks! Graduate

"Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won't need to compare yourself to anyone else." Galatians 6:4 (NLT)

My son had a great experience playing on a Christian competitive basketball league last year. He was asked to play in their "select" division. It was limited to a specific number of players. Each player brought his own skills, talents, and gifts to the league. Some were quick. Others had great agility, or good instincts for handling the ball. One of my son's gifts was that he was taller and bigger than most of the players.

His coach was excellent. He knew how to maximize each player's performance by being positive and motivating. He also recognized each player's strengths and helped them make the most of what they had to offer.

My son is a "gentle giant," so often the coach would encourage him to be more aggressive and remind him to use his size to his advantage. "Be big!" His coach would often yell. "Be big!" This meant he wanted my son to raise his hands higher, reach wider, and make the most of his gift of size. My son quickly caught on and began using the "be big" approach to do his best and improve as a player.

All of the boys did an outstanding job of bringing their gifts and talents to each game, recognizing the offerings they could give that made them unique. The players played with confidence, not comparing themselves or trying to be like the others. The coach was wise to make the most of each player. Together they were an incredible team!

I think God wants us to "be big" too. He has given each of us our own set of gifts, talents, and abilities that make us uniquely qualified to do the things He wills for us to do. He wants us to make the most of these things so that we can improve as His players and work together to form an incredible team for Him.

The next time you want to shrink away from something God puts before you or feel that you're not up for the task at hand, imagine God coaching you from the sidelines, calling your name and yelling, "Be big!" Then reach higher and wider to make the most of the gifts, talents, and attributes He gave you to use, and feel confident knowing you've done your best for Him, and the team.

Dear Lord, thank You for creating each of us with Your plans in mind, and for making each of us is special with our own unique ways to be part of Your team. Help us all to be winning players for Your glory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

God’s Purpose for Every Woman by various P31 authors. Gen Editors Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olsen

Application Steps:
Recognize your importance to God despite challenges or circumstances you might face. Know that He has a place for each of us on His team – no try-outs required! Accept everything about you that is God-given as your personal gift set from Him and find ways to make the most of those things.

What things make me unique?

What do I do best? What do I enjoy?

What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses?

What weaknesses can I give to God to use for His glory?

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

2 Corinthians 12:9, "He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." (KJV)

Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (NKJV)

© 2009 by Renee Myers. All rights reserved.

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The Humanity of the Cross
Whitney Capps

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)

Several years ago our church showed Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" to commemorate the Easter season. I will never forget feeling physically sick watching the scene at Golgotha. What I remember is pieced together from a few fleeting, tear-blurred glances at the screen.

Crucifixion was one of the most brutal and inhumane forms of torture ever conceived. I'll admit that I have been guilty of trying to move quickly over the carnage it portrays. When in moments of worship or reflection, the Holy Spirit has led me to consider the Cross, I try to soften its jagged, bloody edges by reminding myself that Christ was God, trinitarily divine.

I want to protect Jesus (and myself) by pretending that He didn't need to feel every bone-crushing blow that nailed Him to that beam for my sin. It seems to make it just a little easier to think of Jesus on the cross not as man, but as God. That Jesus is God is a certain and theological truth, but I must not diminish the act of His suffering by thinking He would abuse His divinity.

Jesus didn't recoil into His divine nature to escape the pain of death on the Cross. He didn't sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane simply to prove a point or for dramatic effect. Jesus agonized over the pain He knew He would endure.

In Matthew 27, Scripture tells us that Jesus cried out from the Cross on two separate occasions. The first cry in verse 45 reflects Jesus' torment over His alienation from the Father. The second cry in verse 50 reveals His body's physical release from the pain of death as "he gave up his spirit." I believe Scripture records both of these cries to indicate that each outburst represents a distinct reaction - one spiritual, one physical.

I wonder if we aren't meant to relate to the Cross in similar fashion: spiritual and physical. I also wonder if we aren't guilty of reserving our concentration on the Cross for the yearly Easter celebrations. After Easter, is the reality of the Cross still poignantly fresh? In his book "Outrageous Mercy: Rediscovering the Radical Nature of the Cross," William Farley says of the Cross, "There is nothing deeper. It is a bottomless well, a fountain of vibrant truth, a pinnacle of wisdom and knowledge. In it lie the depths of the mysteries of God. The first sign of spiritual maturity is when one increasingly thinks about, ponders, marvels, and wonders at the mystery of the cross."

One of my ambitions is to think regularly about the Cross. I want to see the whole picture of the Cross. I want to experience it eyes wide open in painstaking reality. I don't want to deceive my heart in thinking it was less than horrific. My sin demanded such horror. I hope that in enduring the Cross with Jesus, I'll worship more deeply, weep more sincerely and rejoice more abundantly at His Resurrection.

Dear Lord, thank You for the grace of the Cross. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Sanctuary: A Devotional Bible for Woman in the New Living Translation

Whitney Capps’s blog

Application Steps:
Reread each gospel's account of Jesus' crucifixion. Try to read them as though you've never heard the story.

What sights would you see? What sounds would you hear? What emotions are particularly real to you?

Do you believe that Jesus really endured such torture for you? How does that affect your confidence in today's Power Verses?

Power Verses:
Hebrews 2:14-18, "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." (NIV)

© 2009 by Whitney Capps. All rights reserved.

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Van Walton

"Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever." Daniel 12:3 (NIV)

"If I only knew God's will for my life, I could plan my future."

Have you ever made that statement?

I think we all do some time in our lives. I know I do.

I have heard teens say so as they peer into the future. I've known young adults who say so while choosing a career. I've had this discussion with friends when they realized a little time management allows for a few extra hours in each week. Other mothers and I have wondered the same when we became empty nesters. I know those about to retire search for "God's plan for this phase of my life."

So what is God's plan for our lives? If you are like me, you want particulars. Only I am not sure God always gives us the step-by-step instructions we desire.

I remember a time in my life when I asked God to give me direction. I asked that He tell me where to move. My husband and I had a choice, but had to give an answer quickly. "Tonight," my husband said, "I have to respond to the offer this evening." He suggested I spend the day in prayer and give him the verdict by dinnertime.

I sat down at my dining room table to pray. I explained to God what He already knew: "We have these opportunities. Do we go here or there?"


"We want to go where You lead us. Where would that be?"


"We want to honor You."


"Do You know that we have to give an answer today? I'm waiting to hear from You." I sat as still as possible, trying to be patient.

God never told me where to go that day, but He did remind me that His plan for each one of us is universal and at the same time unique.

As I considered my two alternatives, my mind traveled back in time to the many moves my husband and I had made. Wherever we had lived, God had laid out unique opportunities for us to serve Him and each chance to minister appeared under one universal command, "Let your light shine. Love one another."

He had never specifically told us to start a bus ministry, serve as youth leaders, host a neighborhood Bible study, or mentor teens in a youth home.

I began to realize that God was not going to tell me where to move. He had a message for me. I remember it to this day, twenty-two years later.

"It really doesn't matter where you are. You are in Me and I am in you. Wherever you live, wherever you go, wherever you work, you will find people who need Me. Introduce them to your heavenly Father. Live a life that encourages others to seek Me. Love all people. Teach them how to live. Use your life, your actions, and My Word. This is what you can do whether you live here or there. Remember, wherever you go, I am with you. Wherever you go take Me with you and let your light shine."

As I said, God never told me where we should move. We made our choice to take God with us asking Him to use our lives to bring His Light into others' lives.

Ever wonder what God's will is for your life? Simple … shine!

Dear Lord, Your Word clearly details Your plan for my life. Forgive me for wanting all the specific details before I step out to reflect Your glory. I want to spend my days shining as a light in the darkness. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Van Walton’s blog for more thoughts on how to know God’s will for your life.

From the Pound to the Palace by Van Walton

What Happens When Women Say “Yes” to God by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:

Take an inventory of your actions and attitude. How can you arrange your life to reflect God's glory, shining so others might find their way to the Father?

Do I use the excuse that "God has not told me His will for my life" to keep me from serving Him and others?

Have I taken time to understand my spiritual giftedness to better understand God's will for my life?

Am I well enough acquainted with God's Word so I can confidently live a life that is pleasing to God?

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

Philippians 2:14-16, "…go out into the world… Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night…" (MSG)

© 2009 by Van Walton. All rights reserved.

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Bring It To Me
Marybeth Whalen

"Bring them here to me." Matthew 14:18 (NIV)

"Mo-om," my six-year-old son calls from the den where he is working on math, "I can't do this!"

I am in the kitchen washing dishes. "If you can't do it," I call back, "Just bring it to me."

And in a whoosh, I hear God's still small voice, coming in on the heels of what I have just spoken aloud. "Isn't that what I say to you?" He reminds me.

When I am overwhelmed: "If you can't do it, just bring it to Me."

When I am angry: "If you can't do it, just bring it to Me."

When I am hurting: "If you can't do it, just bring it to Me."

When I am confused: "If you can't do it, just bring it to Me."

Thousands of years ago, the disciples faced a situation they couldn't do. They couldn't feed 5000 men and their families lunch even though the people were hungry. They knew that allowing them to leave would mean missing a great ministry opportunity... but their resources were sorely lacking. And then one little boy stood up and offered his lunch. Jesus responded, "Bring them here to me." He took that meager offering—the tiniest bit offered in faith—and multiplied it beyond anyone's expectations.

I need God to do that for me every day. When I think that I can't do something, I need to faithfully take what little I can do and place it in His hands. And then I need to stand back and watch Him multiply my humble offering into something amazing.

What are you feeling like you can't do today?

Take on a challenge God is calling you to?

Respond to a ministry opportunity even though it is scary?

Stay in a marriage that looks over from where you're standing?

Persevere in your efforts to pay off debt?

Offer forgiveness to someone who hurt you?

Whatever it is, know this: You are right. You can't do it. So bring whatever it is to Him. Picture yourself offering it up, just like that little boy's lunch. Then stand back and prepare to be amazed.

Dear Lord, I praise You for being my burden bearer. Thank You for always taking my "I can'ts" and transforming them through Your power and Your blessings. Help me to remember not to be anxious or worried when I face difficulties, but to simply bring my issues to You again and again. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Read other real-life stories each month with our P31 Woman magazine

Learning to Live Financially Free Marybeth and Curt Whalen

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

Application Steps:
In your journal, list all the reasons why you can't do some aspect of your life—paying off debt, staying in your marriage, homeschooling, getting a job, etc. After you list all those reasons, take a red magic marker and write over top of the list the words "Bring it to Me." Rejoice that these are Jesus' words personally to you today!

Is there something you are telling God that you can't do? Spend some time today telling Him to take your pitiful efforts and multiply them as only He can. Every time you start to worry, go back and bring it to Him.

Power Verses:
Psalm 115:11, "You who fear him, trust in the Lord—he is their help and shield." (NIV)

Psalm 116:7, "Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you." (NIV)

© 2009 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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My Great Brownie Debacle
Lysa TerKeurst

"For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity." Proverbs 24:16 (NIV)

Rewarding. That's what this particular day was supposed to be, my shining-star day at my kids' school. Finally, I was going to get the "Really Good Mommy Award."

Not that this is an official award on a frame-worthy piece of fine linen paper. It is not. It's just a feeling—that feeling of getting a thumbs-up and acceptance nod that you are in fact doing an okay job as a mom.

I had volunteered to make 100 individually wrapped homemade brownies. And I was going to be completely fancy and use the turtle brownie mix that comes in a box. That's as close to homemade as I get.

After baking all those brownies and allowing them to cool, I cut and lifted each one into the safety of its own little baggie and recruited my daughters to help me finish up. We bagged up brownies 95, 96, 97, and then a disaster of epic proportions occurred.


These turtle brownies had nuts in them. Lots of nuts. And there I was standing over individually wrapped brownie number 97 listening to my daughter's reminder that our school is, in fact, a peanut-free school.

My arms started flailing about as if to gather the pieces of my scattered brain and tuck everything back into place. I sent the kids out of the room and ate brownies 98, 99, and 100.

No shining star. No Really Good Mommy Award. No happy, proud kids elated with their mom's efforts.

I spent the rest of the day trying to process this great brownie failure. I saw it as a debacle that defined my motherhood journey. Grand visions that led to big messes that led to unmet expectations that heaped more and more guilt on my already slightly fragile motherhood psyche.

And that's exactly where Satan would have loved for me to stay. That's his daily goal, actually. If Satan can use our everyday experiences, both big and small, to cripple our true identity, then he renders God's people totally ineffective for the kingdom of Christ.

These were brownies for a school bake sale. And these brownies had somehow knocked me to the ground. I didn't want to smile. I didn't want to be kind. I didn't want to be a disciple for Christ that day. Ever been there?

Satan wants us to entertain a very dangerous thought: "Why doesn't Jesus work for me?" This is never the right question. Instead, when circumstances shift and we feel like we fall short, we should ask, "How can I see Jesus even in this?"

The only way I can ask myself this question is when I pull back from whatever situation I'm facing and separate my circumstance from my identity.

Now let's state what is true. Despite my feelings, my identity stayed the same. I am a loving mom. I am a giving person. I am a woman who takes her responsibilities seriously. I am a daughter of the King.

All of this is true despite my failures. So, though I have a whole mess of extra brownies with nuts laying around and the school won't have any brownies for the bake sale today, this mishap doesn't define me. The only thing this means is I need to read the bake sale instruction sheet a little more closely next time.

That's it. It's simply a call to action not a call to condemnation. And did you notice the response of the righteous man in the key verse above? Though he fell time and again, he kept getting up. May we do the very same thing.

Dear Lord, help me separate my circumstances from my identity. Help me only determine my worth by Your truth and not my performance in any situation. Thank You for looking at me not as I am, but how Jesus has enabled me to be. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa TerKeurst’s blog to register to win 4 copies of her new book “Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl” which will help you apply God’s truths to your everyday situations.

This devotion was excerpted from Lysa’s soon to be released book, “Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.” To pre-order your copy, click here.

What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

The Bathtub is Overflowing but I Feel Drained by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Write down a failure you've experienced lately. What is a truth from God's Word that can help you? Write down 2-3 verses you find particularly encouraging in your area of struggle.

Have I let a failure define my worth lately? How might I separate my identity from my circumstance?

Power Verses:
Romans 9:15-16, "'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.' It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy." (NIV)

Hebrews 4:16, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (NIV)

© 2009 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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Faith Book
Susanne Scheppmann

"They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the Lord their God." Nehemiah 9:3 (NIV)

A new addiction slipped into my life recently - Facebook. Internet social networking slid in quietly and unobtrusively. Each day I found myself reading and posting a bit more. I learned how to create my visual bookshelf, so my "friends" could check out what I was reading. I linked my blog. My time seeped into Facebook like grains of sand slide through the hourglass.

My addiction soon took a turn for the worst. I began to put off my personal quiet time with God until after I had Facebooked. Sadly, scripture seemed boring next to my friends' postings. Strangely, the mundane posts intrigued me. I had fallen under the spell of social networking.

Then one day, I dragged myself away from my laptop. I had Bible study that night and needed to finish my lesson. The lesson pointed us to the book of Nehemiah. I read, "They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the Lord their God." (Nehemiah 9:3, NIV).

Yikes! They read God's Word for a quarter of the day, then spent another quarter of the day in confession and worshiping? These words haunted me the rest of the afternoon. When was the last time I spent that much time with God? How much time did I spend on the Internet? I felt a deep conviction about my Facebook addiction.

I determined that day to read my Bible, my FaithBook, before I turned on my computer each day. I would network with God, before networking with my friends. When I made this decision, I saw scripture jump back to life. God's Word spoke to me with a freshness that seemed as if He had just posted it Himself.

The addiction stopped. Oh, I still enjoy Facebook and other social networks, but I have learned to keep them in proper perspective. Psalm 119:59-60 sums up my new intent: "I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your laws. I will hurry, without delay, to obey your commands" (NLT).

Will you join me in the commitment to spending time in God's Word before time spent on Facebook?

Dear Lord, I recognize that I spend too much time on the computer. Forgive my inattention to Your Word. Help me each day to place You first in my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Listen to Today’s Radio Show for more about spending time with God.

Pierced by the Word by John Piper

Birds in My Mustard Tree: How to Grow Your Faith by Susanne Scheppmann

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

Application Steps:
Today, take notice of how much time you spend on the computer for personal enjoyment. Decide to make your quiet time with God a priority. Read Psalm 119 and then ponder the benefits of time spent in God's Word.

Do I put off my quiet time with God in lieu of "social networking?"

Am I willing to commit more time to reading the Bible?

How can I begin to keep my life in a healthy balance?

Power Verses:
Exodus 24:7, "Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, 'We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.'" (NIV)

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

Joshua 1:8, "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." (NIV)

© 2009 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

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