Words of Life or Death
Melanie Chitwood

"The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences." Proverbs 18:21 (NLT)

I often hear my husband Scott say something to my sons that brings a smile to my face. "Have you told your mom you love her today? Don't ever forget you have the best mom in the world." When I hear him praise me to our sons, I feel encouraged and appreciated. From my husband's example, I've learned to be careful about the words I say not only to my husband but also about my husband.

Today's key verse tells us our words can bring "death or life." In our marriages, this means our words can either tear down our spouses or build them up. I've been noticing lately whether I'm more likely to say words such as, "I'm married to the greatest man," or words like, "I told you so," or "You don't even try to understand me."

What about you and your words to your husband? When you speak to your husband, do you fill him up with praise, or make him feel like he's not measuring up?

Let's also consider the words we say about our husbands to others. What kind of things do you say about your husband to your children? Your best friend? Your sister or mother?

I tend to be a "venter" when I am angry or frustrated with my husband. Sometimes I turn to others because I'm seeking validation for my angry feelings. Often I vent when I haven't taken the time first to deal with the situation with God. I'm learning that if I go to the Lord first in prayer, pouring out my heart to Him, He changes my heart and brings me to a place of repentance and calmness. Then I'm able to let go of my anger and move on, or talk to my husband about it in a loving manner.

Scripture gives plenty of evidence that God's words have the power of life. In Genesis we're told God created every inch of the world with His spoken words. John 1:1 tells us that Jesus is the Word. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus heals countless people with the power of His words. In a similar manner, our words have accomplishing power. God wants our words to bring life to our marriages. We can choose what we will sow—words of life or words of death—and we will reap the consequences many times over.

Use today's application steps to fill up your husband with words of life.

Dear Lord, let my words to my spouse and about my spouse draw us closer to one another. Teach me to communicate in ways that build my husband up instead of tearing him down. If pride, stubbornness, selfishness, or any other sin is preventing me from speaking words of life in our marriage, Lord, I confess that right now. Make me aware of any words of death I've spoken in our marriage. And as the Holy Spirit brings those to my mind, help me confess and turn from them, especially any words of divorce. Break any curse on our marriage from hurtful, angry, or destructive words. Guided by Your wisdom and love, may our words to and about one another build a protective wall around our marriage. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Today’s devotion is adapted from What a Wife Needs from Her Husband by Melanie Chitwood

What a Husband Needs from His Wife by Melanie Chitwood

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue and accompanying Workbook by Deborah Smith Pegues

For more marriage encouragement visit Melanie’s blog – What Matters Most

Melanie offers more words of wisdom in her P31 Woman article Protecting the Oneness in Marriage

Application Steps:
Considering the list below, which words do you speak most frequently to your husband, "words of life" or "words of death"? Plan on blessing your husband with at least one phrase from the "words of life" suggestions.

Words of Life
I appreciate how hard you work.
You are an incredible husband.
You have great insight.
I'm really looking forward to going out with you.
I'm sorry.
I was wrong.
Will you forgive me?
Thank you.
I understand.

Words of Death
You never listen to me.
You just don't get it.
I told you so.
You should have…
I wish you could just try to understand me for once.
How could you think that?
Why did I ever marry you?
That was dumb.
We'd be better off divorced.

What situations tend to cause you to speak "words of death" to your husband?

Are there certain words you need to make off-limits in your marriage?

In what other relationships do you need to practice speaking "words of life"?

Power Verses:
Ephesians 4:29, "Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift." (MSG)

Psalm 19:14, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer." (NLT)

© 2010 by Melanie Chitwood. All rights reserved.

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Undignified Worship
Glynnis Whitwer

"…It was before the LORD who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD's people Israel – I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this… ." 2 Samuel 6:21-22a (NIV)

I grew up in a traditional church, singing traditional hymns. Being a Christian was very matter-of-fact for me. I was a Christian in the same way I would have told you I was a student.

Nothing much changed in our little church. Every Sunday, faithful men and woman of God taught Sunday school, served on committees and made lemonade, coffee and cookies for after-church fellowship. It was a wonderful experience and I grew up loving God's Word, His church and its people.

When I was a high schooler in the late 70s, I was introduced to Christian "rock and roll." Being in Arizona, we got overflow from the California Jesus movement, and were familiar with many of the bands coming on the scene. I heard songs by Keith Green, Second Chapter of Acts and Phil Keaggy. These songs depicted a faith in God that was passionate and alive. Something stirred within me as I listened to their music over and over.

I can still vividly picture myself in a sold-out symphony hall before a live concert as one half of the room yelled, "We love Jesus, yes we do. We love Jesus how 'bout you?" I was on the other side, and we answered as loudly as we could, repeating the challenge. Joy and celebration vibrated through the hall as we shouted, jumped up and down and waved our arms in the air for love of Jesus.

It was completely undignified and I was completely undone … never to be the same. I knew I wanted a faith like that. I wanted to be so excited about Jesus that it overflowed, and I didn't care what my worship of Him looked like.

A few years ago, I read the story of King David dancing before the Lord. Now there was someone who didn't worry what others thought. David had overseen the return of the ark of the Lord to Jerusalem, and as it neared, he couldn't contain his joy. He replaced his kingly attire with a simple outfit and danced with all his might.

His wife, Michal, watched from the window and didn't approve of David's behavior. She was disgusted with him, and told him so. David wasn't fazed, and responded with words that encourage me today, "It was before the LORD who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD's people Israel – I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this …" (2 Samuel 6:21-22a).

David was so in tune with God's heart, that he was unconcerned with the judgmental comments of others. David's only focus was on worshipping his God with sincerity and abandon.

That is my hope and prayer for myself. I want to let go completely of the fear of man, and worship with uncontained joy. When I am older, too old to dance in some people's opinion, I hope you'll find my gnarled hands raised, my gray head bobbing and my body swaying in worship. My kids and grandkids might be embarrassed. But, yes, I will be even more undignified than that for my King.

Dear Lord, King David got it right, and I want to as well. You are worthy of all my worship and adoration. Forgive me for letting the opinions of others influence my worship of You. Help me to focus more on Your majesty, and less on myself. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Have you met a King who is worthy of your devotion? If not, click here to learn more: Do You Know Him?

Worship: Nearing the Heart of God a small group Bible study by Brian T. Anderson & Glynnis Whitwer

Visit Glynnis’ blog where she shares more thoughts on worship

Pure Pleasure by Gary Thomas

Check out two of our event worship leader’s CDs: From My Heart to Your Throne: An Intimate Worship Collection by Melissa Milbourn and Jason Catron by Jason Catron

Application Steps:
Set aside some time this week to worship God. Read the Psalms, listen to music or just sit somewhere quietly. Write down five characteristics of God that make Him worthy of our praise.

Read 2 Samuel 6:14-23. Describe the scene in verses 14 and 15. What are some of the ways people are rejoicing and worshiping God?

How can David's answer to Michal help us overcome the fear of other's opinions?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 29:25, "Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe." (NIV)

John 4:23, "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks." (NIV)

© 2010 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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Love is Powerful
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 keep sinning. 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 (Proverbs 26:11). Eww, ick!

So why do we do this when according to the Bible, Christ has conquered sin on our behalf so we can overcome its power? If, "by his divine power God has given us everything we need for living a godly life," why does sin have any place in our lives?

The answer is the same reason a dog returns to her vomit. Gross as it is, she gets some degree of satisfaction from it. She likes it. See what I mean:

• Lust – or its fulfillment, sexual indiscretion – feels pleasurable in the moment.
• Overeating—or its biblical term, gluttony – feels comforting in the moment.
• Power – called "lording it over someone" in the Bible – makes you feel significant.
• Lying is convenient at the time.
• Splurging and spending – compared to saving or giving -- feels fun and rewarding.
• Stomping and yelling feels cathartic and justifiable.

This list could go on ad nauseam. Sin has power because we enjoy it. It promises something we want - pleasure, escape, wealth, power, attention. 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.

What can help us overcome the sins that we have love-hate relationships with? A surpassing love. A greater love that carries with it no hate, no guilt, and no shame. A love that actually delivers the many benefits it promises. A love that is full of beautiful grace and soul-deep compassion.

A love more attractive and more 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, pray for it and see it at work in our lives - 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.

Immersing ourselves in the everlasting love of God, we become willing and able to walk away from sin.

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 Him who loves you so?

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan

Check out Rachel’s blog today.

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.

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

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)

© 2010 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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Two Left Feet
Susanne Scheppmann

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)

The accordion wheezed in and out with the melody, while the tuba burped out the rhythm—oompah pa pa oompah. The oompah band, dressed in traditional Bavarian attire—red knickers, canary yellow knee socks, small hunter green vests and green felt caps with bright red feathers wagging from the brim—played for the crowd. Each musician clutched his instrument as if it were his lover and then nodded toward the audience, encouraging them toward the dance floor.

Several members of my extended family stared at the video recording of my father-in-law's retirement party. We sat mesmerized as we relived the gaiety of those priceless moments. With oompahs playing in the background, we watched ourselves hitch arms and jig in a large circle. And, of course, human nature as it is, we all wanted to see ourselves dance to oompah music.

Suddenly, I spied myself. I thought, "Ugh!" Unfortunately, my father-in-law paused the video and said with an air of surprise, "I didn't know you had two left feet."

I have many deficiencies—two left feet is a minor one. Trust me, I have some real doozie problems in my life—like we all do. But I know for a fact that no matter how large or small my deficiencies, Christ is all sufficient in my life. I have been a Christ follower for over thirty years and not once has Jesus failed to meet my needs. I can say along with King David, "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song" (Psalm 28:7, NIV).

I may have a myriad of deficiencies, but I can still sing for joy in His strength.

We all have deficiencies. God created us that way. Why? So that we would learn to depend on Him as our key verse states, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'"

So today, I am going to dance in faith with my two left feet. Will you join me in trusting Jesus, our Almighty God, with your deficiencies?

Dear Lord, I recognize my need for Your strength in my life. My day-to-day existence is fraught with deficiencies. Thank You for being more than enough in my life. Thank You for being my Almighty God. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Embraced by the Father: Finding Grace in the Names of God by Susanne Scheppmann This book will introduce you to God, through His names and the metaphor of dance.

Visit Susanne’s blog

A Perfect Mess: Why You Don't Have to Worry About Being Good Enough for God by Lisa Harper

Application Steps:
Consider in what areas you need the strength of Christ today. Take a short time to pray and ask Him to give you endurance and the hope to see you through each difficulty or deficiency you face today. Remember He is our Almighty God.

What type of "deficiency" do you feel you have? Do you believe you can overcome it by yourself? How can God's strength enable you to endure difficulties?

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 1:20-21, "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so through him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ." (NIV)

Psalms 37:39, "But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble." (KJV)

Psalms 147:11, "Those who fear God get God's attention; they can depend on his strength." (MSG)

© 2010 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

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When God Calls a Woman
Micca Monda Campbell

"I took you from the ends of the earth, from it farthest corner I called you. I said, 'You are my servant,' I have chosen you and have not rejected you." Isaiah 41:9 (NIV)

Growing up in church, I was familiar with the term called although its meaning had little interest to me. Once I sensed God's call on my own life, the term took on new significance. The emotion I felt most was fear! Like Moses, I thought of everything that would disqualify me for ministry.

Later on, I realized those were only excuses. The God who calls us equips us. My mind understood this truth, but the rest of me struggled with fear. Anxious thoughts raced around my head such as, Did I hear God correctly or was this sense of service coming from my own desires? Eventually, I found peace in Paul's words:

"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 1:1, NIV).

I noticed that Paul was called "by the will of God." That means that ministry is not something you and I choose. God does the choosing. We can choose to do any other profession on earth, but ministry. To do ministry, you and I must be chosen by God.

According to Billy Graham, people ago into ministry work for various reasons. Most are thankful for their salvation. Others have a genuine desire to help others. Many are merely following in their parents footsteps. And some desire the respect that comes with the profession. These are all good reasons, but the peace-giving key to being in ministry is knowing you were called there by God.

Each person should be able to pinpoint a time in which they became certain God called them into a lifetime of service. This is the first step to overcoming fear. This can be a Damascus Road experience like Paul's or a growing sense that God has separated you for His service. It may be a mixture of both. The important thing is not how you were called but that you were called. This person not only has God's favor but His promised presence and provision. Trusting that God will make up for what you lack is the second step to putting fear to rest.

Moses had doubts and fears about his ability to be in ministry, but God didn't. He knew just what He was getting when He called Moses. What's more, God knew what He was getting when He called you, too—someone about your size, with your heart, your personality, your accent, your background, your talents, and even your flaws. God looked you over good and said, "Yep, she'll make a fine partner! Someone who recognizes the reality of that statement understands that they are not working for God but with God. There is a huge difference.

Fear, worry, and anxiety are symptoms of doubt. Doubt often means our focus is on self instead of God. When we trust God to do what we can't, it takes the burden off us and places it on Him. Then, as we look to God, we see reflected in His eyes great potential that only He can accomplish as we join Him.

Lastly, we grow in confidence through confirmation. Many times others will notice the call on your life or your giftedness before you will. Take these comments as confirmation. Other ways to affirm your call is through a godly counselor, mentor, or pastor. My pastor played a huge part in my preparation and confirmation into ministry.

Another way to establish confidence is to attend a writer and speakers conference. Proverbs 31 Ministries holds this type of conference annually called She Speaks. Many have attended and left with the assurance to say "yes" to the call, along with the tools they need to fulfill it.

God wants you to be certain of His plan and purpose for your life. Whether you're called to serve within your church or in full time ministry, there's no need to fear. You can be confident that God will provide all you need.

Dear Lord, I don't always see the obvious—Your provision; but I trust it's there to empower and guide me beyond my imagination. I'm placing my fear aside today and saying "yes" to whatever You have for me. Lead the way with assurance and clarity. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
We’re giving away *one full scholarship* this week to our She Speaks Conference! Visit the Proverbs 31 Ministries homepage to find out how to enter!

Finding a Faith Stronger Than all My Fear (Three CD Series) by Micca Campbell

Visit Micca’s blog for more tips on clarifying your call.

The Message of Leadership: 31 Essential Insights from Proverbs by Daniel Southern

If you feel called to speak or write, these two resources are for you! The Reason We Speak and For the Write Reason Gen. Ed. Marybeth Whalen

Application Steps:
If you don't know your purpose, seek God and wait and watch for the ways in which He answers. If you sense God has called you into ministry, make certain you were chosen by God. Relinquish your fear and commit to His will. Next, seek godly counsel and direction. Finally, gain experience and training by attending She Speaks.

What is holding you back from serving God with confidence? Identify it and give it over to God.

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 9:8, "God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." ( NIV)

1 Thessalonians 5:24, "The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it." (NIV)

© 2010 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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In Tents Again
Marybeth Whalen

"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt; I will make you live in tents again, as in the days of your appointed feasts." Hosea 12:9 (NIV)

Many times in the Bible we read about God giving us direction, pushing us forward and providing us with a future. But have you ever felt like He has taken you backwards instead? Have you ever wondered why?

In today's verse we read about Him telling the Israelites that they were going to take a few steps backwards. They had gotten out of Egypt, moved on with their lives, stepped towards a future, but forgot their God in the process. He determined that the best thing He could do was to take them back to the days they lived in tents, back to the time they celebrated feasts and remembered His goodness. A time, the Bible notes, they were filled with indescribable joy in spite of their surroundings.

God has had to take me back many times, I am sad to say. I get in forward motion, so focused on what lies ahead, that I forget what He has done for me in the past. Living in fast forward gives me little time to rewind, to replay what He has done on my behalf, to rejoice over His sovereignty. Sometimes He has to take me back—not because He is punishing me, but because He knows how spiritually forgetful I can be. He simplifies my life for me, weeding out the distractions so I can refocus on Him. He puts me in "tents" again so I can remember where I started.

Maybe today you are feeling like you are in "tents" again financially or professionally. Maybe your marriage seems to be in "tents" again. Maybe you are going through something with a child that feels reversed when what you really want is to move ahead. Let God take you back, and trust that forward motion doesn't always mean growth.

Sometimes going backwards is what He knows is best for you. Trust the direction He is taking you. Settle into those "tents" and look for Him to dwell among you as He did with the Israelites. Instead of grumbling and complaining about where He has you, choose to feel His nearness and soak in His love. Sometimes He puts us in "tents" again because there is something He once taught us that we need to relearn. What might that be for you?

Dear Lord, I don't like going backwards. I want to move ahead but I know that isn't always what's best for me. I trust the direction You are taking me, even if it means going back. I want to draw closer to You and I trust Your guidance. Please reveal Yourself to me in "tents" again. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

For encouragement delivered to your door, order your subscription to P31 Woman

Visit Marybeth’s blog

Becoming A Woman of Influence (CD) by Marybeth Whalen

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

Application Steps:
Think of a time when God took you backwards. What did you learn from that time? Did you draw closer to God? Journal about that experience and write down today's verse.

Do you accept when God takes you backwards? Do you seek to learn whatever it is He is trying to teach you or do you rebel against where He has you?

Power Verses:
Nehemiah 8:17, "The whole company that had returned from exile built booths and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated like this. And their joy was very great." (NIV)

Exodus 29:46, "They will know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God." (NIV)

© 2010 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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When God Hurts Your Feelings
Lysa TerKeurst

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)

Has God ever hurt your feelings? I'll be honest, sometimes I'll read those verses from Philippians listed above and think to myself, "This is a tough pill to swallow."

Content in any and every situation?


A few years ago my daughter was a state champion gymnast. To see her do gymnastics was like looking at God smile. She was beautiful, graceful, and captivating to watch.

Then one night while practicing for one of the largest tournaments she'd ever competed in, she fell. It was a move she'd done hundreds of times with the greatest of ease. But this time something went terribly wrong and that one mistake ended her gymnastic dreams.

We spent a year going from doctor to doctor only to be told she'd never be able to support the weight of her body on her injured shoulder again.

I'll be honest, this was a tough pill to swallow. Watching a 14 year-old girl wrestle with the fact that her dreams were stripped from her doesn't exactly lend itself to feelings of contentment. Now, I know in the grand scheme of life, people face much worse situations. But in her world, this was huge.

It was so tempting to want to wallow in the "why" questions and tell God He'd hurt our feelings.

Why did this happen?

Why didn't You stop this God?

Why weren't my prayers answered?

Have you ever been there? Have you ever had a big situation in your life where you just couldn't process why God would allow this to happen? Or maybe even a small annoyance like losing your keys or having a flat tire on a morning you really needed to be somewhere.

It's so tempting to wallow in the why.

Asking why is perfectly normal. Asking why isn't unspiritual. However, if asking this question pushes us farther from God rather than drawing us closer to Him, it is the wrong question.

If asking the why question doesn't offer hope, what will?

The what question.

In other words: "Now that this is my reality, what am I supposed to do with it?"

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

I like to call this verse "directions on where to park my mind."

And that's exactly what Ashley has had to do with her dashed gymnastics dreams. Instead of wallowing in why did this happen, I've had to help her say:

This is my reality, now what am I going to do with it?

What can I learn from this?

What part of this is for my protection?

What other opportunities could God be providing?

What maturity could God be building into me?

Switching from the why to the what questions paves the road to parking our minds in a much better place.

Is it always easy? Nope.

But is it a way to find a perspective beyond situations where we feel God has allowed something in our lives we don't understand and we absolutely don't like? Yes. I pray this helps you today. You can also download a free resource on how to change your why questions into what questions. Just go to my blog, www.LysaTerKeurst.com and click on the button "When God Hurts Your Feelings."

Dear Lord, I want to process everything I face in life through the filter of Your love. I know You love me. But sometimes it's just hard to understand the circumstances that come my way. I find myself consumed with trying to figure things out rather than looking for Your perspective and trusting You. Thank You for this new way to look at things. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Click here to visit Lysa TerKeurst’s blog to get your free resource mentioned above and to post your prayer request for whatever situation you are facing today. I consider it a great honor to pray for you.

Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst. This book contains chapters that will help you better process tough times when God hurts your feelings.

Also, consider doing this study in a group setting by ordering Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl DVD set – Contains 6 sessions lasting 15-20 minutes each on one DVD for only $24.99 and a free Leader’s Guide!

Application Steps:
Mentally walk yourself through parking your mind in a better place by remembering an event that happened this week and looking for God's protection, provision, and process of maturing you.

Am I afraid to have honest conversations with God about how I really feel about some of my circumstances?

How might it be helpful to really talk to God about things that hurt me?

Why is it helpful to ask what now, instead of wallowing in the why questions?

Power Verses:
Isaiah 55:8-9, "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 higher than your thoughts." (NIV)

© 2010 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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Embraced by the Father
Susanne Scheppmann

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him." 1 John 3:1 (NIV)

Her smile lit up the room when her daddy entered. Her rosebud lips spread into a wide beam of a smile. Her silky black hair leapt about her face as she bounced excitedly on the balls of her feet. She looked like Snow White after a large cup of espresso. The man started the music and began to walk toward her. He stopped and opened wide his muscular arms—the familiar invitation to dance. She raced to him and perched herself atop his feet. They began two-stepping to their special song, "My Personal Penguin." The princess was dancing with her Prince Charming—her daddy.

Bittersweet joy washed over me like a warm spring rain as I witnessed this scene between my son and granddaughter. Happiness for my granddaughter flowed into my heart, but there was also a tinge of sadness. I regretted never having experienced the same type of father-daughter relationship with my earthly dad.

My own father resembled the character of Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind. He was suave, handsome, and self-assured, but a rogue. I traveled through my childhood and adolescence wishing for a Rhett Butler type of man to whisk me off my feet. I desired a rogue to embrace me with a wild and untamed love. Because of my "father image," I actually desired imperfect love from people. A flawed love would hurt, but it still appealed to my broken heart. I believed falsely that love could only be achieved through volatile sparks of emotion, fueled by the uncertainty of the love.

Of course, it was all a misguided representation of a girl's broken heart. But now, I have learned to know a perfect love—the love of my heavenly Father. Only He has been able to fill my heart with a perfect love. The night I accepted His love, He began to reveal to me the character of a faultless Father. As the Father embraced me, my idea of errant love slid into oblivion. I learned the true meaning of love as I gained knowledge of God. He taught me His characteristics and personality through the diversity of His names, but my favorite will always be Father—Abba—my Daddy.

Do you know Abba—the heavenly Father? He is waiting for you with His arms wide open. Come and be embraced by the Father.

Dear Lord, thank You for revealing the true love of a Father to my broken heart. Help me learn to live out my life in Your perfect and holy love. Remind me that You love me just as I am—flaws and all. Thank You for Your love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Embraced by the Father: Finding Grace in the Name of God by Susanne Scheppmann

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan

Visit Susanne’s blog

Application Steps:
Read Zephaniah 3:17. Write down the activities that sound like a father loving his daughter. Imagine yourself sitting on the Father's lap and allowing Him to sing over you.

What is my mental image of a father? Do I believe that God loves me as a perfect father would?

Why or why not? What hinders me from accepting God's unconditional love?

Power Verses:
1 John 1:2-4, "The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete." (NIV)

Galatians 4:6, "And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, 'Abba, Father.'" (NLT)

© 2010 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

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Feeling Weak?
Mary DeMuth, She Speaks Conference Graduate

"For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God." 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (NASB)

I didn't know that when those older boys pinned five-year-old me to the earth, my backside poked by brambles, that someday God would choose that frightened little girl, sexually abused for a year, to shame the wise. But He chose a shattered me.

I didn't know that as my childhood home filled with drugs and unsafe parties, God would rescue weak and scared me. But, eventually, He salved my fears.

I didn't know that as I ran from other predators, the boys' marks on me like a beacon, I'd someday limp into the arms of a Savior. I felt debased, unworthy, ugly, dirty, ruined. But He welcomed me.

I didn't know that as my earthly father slipped from this earth, my Heavenly Father stood nearby, open armed. Though my earthly father's death left me fatherless, my Heavenly Father didn't orphan me. He grafted me into His family.

I didn't know that as I considered different ways to kill myself in junior high, as I faced a third parental divorce, that Jesus' own beautiful death provided a way of new life for me. He rescued me from taking my life.

I was all the things the apostle Paul wrote about in today's key verse, and then some. Neglected, needy, pained, lost, small, frightened. And yet God took those negatives and beautified them with Himself. That's the great paradox God brings to all of us, no matter how "easy" or hard our upbringing. It's not that we're strong and sufficient and wise, it's that He is.

Perhaps you've looked back on your past and shuddered. Perhaps you've questioned God about why He'd allow atrocities in your life. But consider this: God gets the most glory in the life fully surrendered to Him, and it's hard for a self-sufficient person to submit. He does the most work in our helplessness. (See 2 Corinthians 12: 9, 10).

Our weakness and frailty are not merely places of desolation; they are dance floors—holy places where the God of the universe is allowed to freely move in our lives. Our own lack allows for and welcomes this sacred dance where God's talent outshines our capabilities, where only He receives the glory.

Will you lay down your past today? Will you trust Him with the mess, the memories, the mayhem? If you do, He will take the marred pieces of your life, reassemble them, and make you fly. So you (because of Him) can shame the wise.

Lord, I confess I've seen my own injuries as reasons to blame you and keep You far from my heart. I'm sorry. Help me instead to see my weaknesses as a place where You can demonstrate Your strength. I welcome You into the painful places. Do something new and miraculous. I don't want to be embittered. I want to be free. And I want to give You all the glory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
View the trailer for Mary’s newest book, Thin Places: A Memoir and purchase your copy today of Thin Places: A Memoir by Mary E. DeMuth

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

Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner: The Transforming Power of God's Story by Wendy Blight

For more encouragement, read Stained and Ruined

Application Steps:
Find a trusted confidant and share your story with her. Confess ways you've pushed God away. Ask her to pray for you so that you can allow God into the painful places of your life.

Journal a prayer to God about your difficult memories. His shoulders are big enough to carry your authentic, raw words.

Ask God to specifically guide you to Scripture that speaks to your past. Write them out, put them in your purse, and memorize them.

Look back on your life. When have you felt closest to God? The most distant? What were your circumstances at each time?

In what ways are you afraid to surrender your past to God?

How can you choose today to believe the truth that God's strength is stronger where you're weak?

Power Verses:
Isaiah 43:18-19, "Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert." (NAS)

2 Corinthians 12:9-10, "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake, for when I am weak, then I am strong." (NAS)

© 2010 by Mary DeMuth. All rights reserved.

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Maybe it was Hormones…
Melanie Chitwood

"…but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day." 2 Corinthians 4:16 (NAS)

My husband Scott and I were watching a movie when we heard a great line: "Put the cuckoo back in the clock." We looked at each other and laughed, really hard.

I had been having some emotional days, and we both knew that this line from the movie was one aptly applied to me lately. While most women would agree that emotional days are not out of the norm, this new degree of emotional upheaval was a bit over the top for me.

In my early forties I discovered that my hormones were changing. That might be more than you wanted to know about me, but I think you'll be glad you read this because even if you're not in your forties, at some point as a woman you're going to feel the effects of hormones. (If you're a man, this devotion might help you to understand the female in your life when she seems unstable or overly emotional.)

When hormones change, you can experience all sorts of physical, mental, and emotional changes. You fluctuate between being so hot you want to jump in a cold swimming pool, and then a short while later you feel you need gloves and socks on. You are weepy one minute and a nanosecond later your child's presence makes you more irritable than you ever have been. You're sure at some point in your life you had the ability to remember things but that ability is long gone. Finally, one day your husband's comment about the cuckoo clock is funny, but another moment, it is the absolute wrong thing for him to say.

So how do we respond to these hormonally-induced changes? We must take into account that the hormonal changes we're experiencing are real, and that our "outer man," the term used in today's key verse, is changing. While we don't want them to master us, at the same time we cannot discount the real effects of hormones. We need to make adjustments in all areas of our life.

Spiritually speaking, the flesh may seem much stronger than the spirit, so we will need to counter these changes with spiritual weapons. We can be "strong in the Lord and the strength of His might" (Ephesians 6:10, NAS). We'll find that God's spirit renews our "inner man."

We also need to make adjustments in the physical realm. Sometimes we as Christians want to separate the physical from the spiritual or emotional aspects of ourselves, but it's all connected. Physically speaking, we need to take care of ourselves. Too much junk food, sugar, and caffeine will only exacerbate our emotions and thoughts. In addition, we may not have the stamina to do all we've done before. We may need more exercise and more rest. A doctor can advise you.

In the mental and emotional realm, we may have thoughts and feelings of insecurity, doubt, anxiety, irritability or anger in a way we never have before. It's so easy to perpetuate the downward spiral of our thoughts, beating ourselves up for having these negative feelings. Instead, we need to confess any sinful reactions against others and recognize that when our bodies are changing, we need to be purposeful about taking our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

In a nutshell, we need to seek a balance. On the one hand, we need to be gracious to ourselves, knowing that our "outer man" is changing. On the other hand, we need to take practical steps to prevent our hormones from ruling us. God created our hormones and He will give us wisdom and strength in dealing with them.

Dear Lord, thank You for hormones, even when they sometimes don't feel like a gift. Open my eyes to how my hormones affect different aspects of my life, and give me the strength to deal with them in a healthy way. Thank You, Lord, that because I'm Your child, Your Spirit lives in me, giving me the strength to do what I feel I can't do. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Melanie’s blog -What Matters Most for ideas to help on hormonal days!

What a Husband Needs from His Wife and companion book What a Wife Needs from Her Husband by Melanie Chitwood

She's Gonna Blow! Real Help for Dealing With Mom Anger by Julie Ann Barnhill

For an extra measure of encouragement, read Handling Daily Frustrations

The S.O.S for PMS: Practical Help and Relief for Moms by Mary M. Byers

Application Steps:
Keep track of your emotional and physical changes in a journal. Can you identify a pattern? Be prepared for times that will be hormonally charged. Take some things off your schedule and eliminate some stressors. If you can, wait to make major decisions. Take a walk, read a book, sit outside. Even if it's just for 15 minutes, take care of yourself.

What's the most challenging aspect of hormonal changes to you? The mental, physical or spiritual aspects?

Do your changing hormones result in treating other people in a not-so-nice way? What can you do to respond better to others? Especially to family members?

What are some practical steps you can take to minimize any negative effects of changing hormones?

Power Verses:
Galatains 5:16, "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh."

2 Corinthians 4:7,"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." (NIV)

© 2010 by Melanie Chitwood. All rights reserved.

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Crows Have Landed
Luann Prater

"She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." Proverbs 31:25 (NIV)

I was 45 when it hit me. We were on vacation and the hotel had one of those cool magnifying mirrors in the bathroom. Well, it was cool until it showed the truth. It seems my "laugh lines" were running amuck and creeping out of the sides of my eyelids.

"What in the world!" I shouted. "How long have I had these trenches in my face? And when were you going to tell me?" I yelped. My wise husband knew a death trap when he saw it, "Honey, I love your eyes," he replied.

Now that I've hit the fabulous fifties, they don't wait for a smile to show themselves; no, the crow's feet have firmly landed and are forever etched in my face. I knew it was obvious one day when a client who works for a plastic surgeon told me she could get me a good deal, then she patted my face.

No one escapes the fact that we all age. One day we wake up and realize the spring in our step has a bit of a squeak, gray hairs are sprouting in the most bizarre places (like cascading from your chin), and everything that was once perky has headed south. Of course this is the exact moment I see a twenty-something bounce across the television screen and everything in me wants to burrow beneath a blanket on the couch with a warm chocolate chip cookie and pretend this will all go away.

Then I hear my grandkids squeal and run into the room. It's time for another round of "The Gramminator!" I roll to the floor and put on my best Schwarzenegger voice and proclaim, "No one escapes the Gramminator!" and the pouncing and wrestling begins.

It's at these moments I realize how much I love being 50-something. The road to get here was not easy; in fact, those lines in my face were earned. Every gray hair represents a tough time of losing a loved one, stressing over finances or crying over a wayward child. The main lesson I've learned along the way is everything in life is temporary. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you" (NIV). Whether I'm on the mountaintop or in the valley, neither will last but He will always walk with me.

Today, I choose to laugh and let the lines dig in a little deeper because this is the only day I am guaranteed. We are but dust, here today and gone tomorrow. Besides, my grandson just gripped my face in his sweet little hands and said, "Grandma, you're beautiful." His view is better than the mirror.

Come on, let's embrace this thing called age together and laugh!

Dear Lord, thank You for every gray hair and every wrinkle for they serve as reminders. Each one represents a time of leaning into You for strength. You have provided all I've ever needed. May You always be evident in my life as I laugh at the days to come. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Spend Saturday afternoons with Luann on the air at Encouragement Café!

Instill these truths in your child with The Tale of Three Trees retold by Angela Elwell Hunt

Instill these truths in your tween with The Divine Dance: If the World is Your Stage, Who are You Performing For? by Shannon Kubiak Primicerio

Instill these truths in your twenty-something with Authentic Beauty: The Shaping of a Set-apart Young Woman by Leslie Ludy

Instill these truths in your heart with Broken into Beautiful: How God Restores the Wounded Heart by Gwen Smith

Application Steps:
Choose to laugh today. Take every care and give God thanks and praise for already taking care of it. Then find someone to laugh with.

What causes me to frown?

When will I see my age lines as triumphs?

How can I rejoice and not be afraid?

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

Proverbs 16:31, "Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life." (NIV)

© 2010 by Luann Prater. All rights reserved.

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Choose Where You Will Stand
Tracie Miles

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

Several years ago, I began playing tennis and became a member of a competitive team. Each week the team attends a practice clinic with our tennis professional to learn new techniques and strategies. He is always full of great tips and advice to help us improve our game, but one particular week he said something that really stuck in my mind.

He discussed the importance of court position; where we stand on the court could determine whether or not we keep the ball in play and if we win the point. Then he said that although we could not control what was going on in the court, we could always control where we stand.

I thought about how that statement is applicable not only to tennis, but to life. You see, even though we can't control what happens in the world, we can always control where we stand on issues of righteousness and integrity. Where we choose to stand will be evidence of the role that we are allowing God to play in our lives.

For example, we have no power over the sex, drugs, language and violence on TV, but we can choose whether we watch it or not. We have no power over the content of the movies coming out in the theatres, or how lenient the ratings are, but we can choose what we allow ourselves or our children to see. We can stand for purity.

We have no power to control the beliefs and actions of other people. We cannot control the downfall of morals in our society. We cannot control the decisions that Congress makes, which new laws are put into place, escalating gas prices, politics in the workplace, questionable practices in corporations, liberal tolerance, foreign affairs, war, or the state of the economy.

In fact, sometimes it may seem that we have no control over certain situations in our own lives, much less the things happening in the world. But there is good news - we always have the choice to choose where we will stand in the game of life.

Proverbs 20:5 says, "Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart; a wise person draws from the well within" (The Message). That is really where court position begins - in the heart. If our faith is strong and grounded, then we will be able to pull from that wisdom when faced with opportunities to choose where to stand, knowing that the power of God within us will empower us to make good decisions.

Our only hope in fighting this battle of good versus evil, in our hearts and in this broken world, is to be prepared to stand tall and firm for Christ, despite what the opposition may bring.

You know, life is a lot like a tennis court. We each have our side. We try to stay on the right side, but sometimes the balls that get thrown at us pull us in the wrong direction. Other times they are difficult to defend, cause us to stumble, or throw us off track. But if we choose the right court position to begin with, that is, to stay on God's side and choose Him as our partner, we are much more likely to exercise the power we have within us. Drawing deep from the well of God's wisdom in our hearts, we can do the right thing.

There are times when standing up for our faith may cause us to lose the popularity contest, but it will allow others to see God in us. And, there may even be times when our court position speaks louder than words ever could.

Where will you stand today?

Dear Lord, help me have the strength and faith to stand up for what is right when I am faced with opposition, and not be swayed by the pressures in a fallen world. Help me live a life that glorifies You, instead of just taking the easy road and going along with the crowd. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper

Visit with Tracie on her blog.

Help your kids take a stand! Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex and Brett Harris

Listen to Staying on Track for an extra dose of encouragement today.

Application Steps:
Consider ways you can stand firm in your faith in your home, at work, with friends and in your community.

Ask God to be your partner and seek His guidance where to stand on the court.

What opportunities have you recently had to stand up for truth? How did you do?

If you were faced with opposition to God's truth in some way today, would you be prepared to stand up for Him?

Power Verses:
Ephesians 6:14, "Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place." (NIV)

Proverbs 11:4, "A thick bankroll is no help when life falls apart, but a principled life can stand up to the worst." (MSG)

© 2010 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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Grabbing Hold of Shiny Thoughts
Rachel Olsen

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

Sitting in the overstuffed chair at Barnes & Noble I feel undersized. My feet don't quite touch the floor with my back against the cushion. So I pull my legs up and fold them beneath me, making a bird's nest of my lap. I pour my attention onto the pages of my selected book. People walk past me – surely, it's a busy Sunday afternoon – but I don't notice. I'm enamored with the words before me. I'm following in the footsteps of the author, from my perch in the enormous chair.

Twenty some minutes go by before I look up and stretch. The bookstore café sits in my sight line, just a few dozen feet before me. People are milling about. None of them in particular stand out. Until I spot the woman, coiffed like a porcelain doll. Ready to be someone's bright-eyed treasure. She's attractive, put together, and carries herself with that certain air only long time southern residents with a good bit of money seem to possess.

I stop scanning the café and watch only her. That is until a dark-haired man in a suit enters a few minutes later and heads to the tail of the coffee line. His suit is out of place for this time and space. But I suspect he could still stand out in a pair of khaki Dockers.

I watch him awhile, inching his way towards the counter, waiting his turn to order an espresso. Then I return my gaze to the woman, now seated at a table with her trendy bag, cell phone, coffee cup and papers, likely doing something important. Or at least doing something well. I notice my pulse has slightly increased. And when I inventory my thoughts, I find them discussing how to be as attractive and commanding as these two.

That's ironic, given that a few paragraphs back in the book, I'd paused at the author's line, "When did looking good become your god?" The question in the middle of the paragraph had begged me to pull the journal from my purse and write it down for future consideration. After dragging my attention away from the shiny café people, I decide now should be that future time. Placing my pen to the journal page, the ink forms this note to God and self:

"When I see someone, male or female, who looks good in my opinion—or in the world's opinion, as the two are entirely too synonymous at times—my attention fixates. I find my pulse even quickens. This happens whenever I like what I see—be it a person, a painting, or a ripe plum. I admire and desire it. And, honestly, I find myself longing today to elicit that kind of response in others. Why??

Probably because it seems powerful. Probably because a mind that is not set on Christ derives too much pleasure from being admired. But here I sit today, a bit disheveled, in need of a haircut, with my feet in my lap like a child. And what's equally honest is I want to enjoy sitting here like this without regret. Without worry that I'm not a shiny, suit person right now. I wish I looked my best at all times, and at the same time, I don't want to be driven by that wish. I see that for what it would truly be: slavery to image. I want to look nice when it's fun for me to, or necessary for me to look professional. But I don't want looking good to become my god. Thank You God, that You look at my heart and not my appearance."

And with that, having taken my thoughts captive, I return to my chosen book. Contented. With my feet in my lap like a child. And I walk some more in the author's footsteps, forgetting all about myself and the shiny people in the café. My mind has just tasted freedom in Christ—it tastes much sweeter than the world's best espresso and crème.

Dear Holy Spirit, help me be aware of my thoughts today. Bring them consciously before me, and help me line them up with Truth. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Rachel’s blog

God’s Purpose for Every Woman: A Compilation of Favorite P31 Devotions by various Encouragement for Today authors, Gen Eds. Lysa TerKeurst & Rachel Olsen

Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets the Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

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

A Woman’s Price Tag offers more truth for you

Application Steps:
Choose a certain bracelet, or tie a piece or ribbon around your wrist today to remind you to pay attention to your thoughts. When you catch sight of it, inventory your recent thoughts. How do they line up with scriptural truths?

Do you pay attention to what you are thinking? Are you quiet enough at times in your day to notice your thoughts?

What strategies do you have or can you create for taking your thoughts captive and submitting them to Christ?

Power Verses:
I Samuel 16:7, "But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.'" (ESV)

© 2010 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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Discipline My Body
Marybeth Whalen

"I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified." I Corinthians 9:27 (NLT)

As I shared with a woman I met about our family's journey out of $95,000 worth of debt, she posed a question that stumped me. "That's great that you guys did that," she said. "But do you really think that people out there are willing to do the hard work it will take to get out of debt?"

I confessed to her that I couldn't answer for other people. I could only share what we had experienced—what we knew worked. She responded that she thought people were looking for simpler, easier solutions than the arduous four-and-a-half year process we went through. I knew she was probably right.

Days later as I was struggling through the first mile of my run, I thought about her question and compared it to my lack of motivation to lace up my running shoes that day. I didn't feel like running. I didn't want to stop what I was doing at home and take time to go running. I didn't want to do the hard work. The phrase "I discipline my body" went through my mind. As my legs pumped and my muscles strained and my heart cried out for relief, I certainly understood what Paul meant when he wrote that verse.

As I ran, my mind cycled through the many other things in life that are worth doing, yet require us to "discipline our bodies" into submission to accomplish them. In some instances we must physically discipline our bodies. Taking care of ourselves, exercising, and making healthy eating choices requires resolve, sacrifice, and some hard work.

In other instances we must emotionally discipline our bodies. Choosing to honor our husbands, or our parents, with our words and attitudes requires a continual humbling process that our flesh rails against.

Still other times we must spiritually discipline our bodies. I am learning it's not enough just to say I want a close relationship with God. I have to "discipline my body" to pursue Him. This includes getting up early when my body wants to sleep longer so I can start my day by having a quiet time. And I can't say I want to live by His Word if I am not willing to spend time studying it, disciplining my body by foregoing my desire to veg out in front of the TV in favor of reading the Bible.

I am learning that most things in life that are worth doing aren't going to be easy. Yet my flesh—my lazy, insolent, ugly flesh—continually hangs onto the thought that it should be easy.

Sometimes my flesh wins out, I won't lie. But for the most part I am learning that when I make the effort to "discipline my body" I am always glad later that I did.

Maybe there's something that God is urging you to do that's going to require disciplining your body. Maybe you have resisted it because you don't want to go through that. From someone who understands that battle, might I urge you to take the time, and submit your body, heart and mind to the process? On the other side of your effort is a transformed life waiting to happen.

Dear Lord, I know that doing the right thing is not usually the easy thing. Help me to follow Your ways and not my own. Help me to commit to the changes I know I need to make in my life. And let me feel You guiding and encouraging me every step of the way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Marybeth’s blog

Learning to Live Financially Free: Hard Earned Wisdom for Saving Your Money and Your Marriage by Marybeth and Curt Whalen

A Tip a Day: 12 Months Worth of Money-Saving Ideas by Ellie Kay

From Financially Frantic to Financially Free (CD) by Marybeth and Curt Whalen

Do you dread talking finances with your spouse? Click here for tips on how to have a smooth conversation.

Application Steps:
Write down in your journal one thing that you feel God has laid on your heart that will require "disciplining your body" to make it happen. Maybe it's taking better care of yourself or losing weight. Maybe it's doing the hard work and submitting yourself to the process of becoming debt free. Maybe it's recommitting to spending daily time with God—foregoing some sleep to make that happen. Whatever it is, pray about it and consider asking a friend to hold you accountable.

What does your flesh want? Is it the best thing for you?

How will discipline change your circumstances in the long run?

Power Verses:
Romans 8:13, "For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live." (NIV)

Galatians 6:8, "The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." (NIV)

© 2010 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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Attitude Adjustment
Melanie Chitwood

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…" Philippians 2:5 (NIV)

One day I opened my car door and was blasted with a horrific smell. I searched every inch of the car but could not find the source of the stench. I then took action to get rid of the smell: I scrubbed the carpet with deodorizers and sprayed air freshener. The stench persisted. I left the car doors open, deciding I couldn't possibly run errands in that stinky car.

I went back inside, opened the refrigerator, and noticed a small trickle of milk had leaked on to the shelf. After examining the milk container, I realized that the milk must have leaked into the car the day before when I got groceries. That explained the cause of my stinky car: spoiled milk, one of the most offensive odors I've ever smelled.

Negative attitudes are like the stench of spoiled milk, permeating our lives and affecting everyone we come in contact with. Think about some of these negative attitudes that might make you stinky: complaining, selfish, prideful, bitter, or unforgiving. Do any ring true with you today?

Now imagine a pleasing aroma. What comes to mind? A freshly baked pie, the scent of the ocean, newly brewed coffee, or a cinnamon candle. A pleasant aroma is so powerful that it can bring a smile to our faces and make us feel more positive. The same is true of our positive attitudes. In our relationships we can be like a fragrant aroma by adopting attitudes that please and reflect Christ. In fact, Paul teaches that we are a "fragrance of Christ" (2 Corinthians 2:15). Consider these pleasing attitudes: thankful, humble, generous, gracious, kind, and cheerful. You can ask God to be one of these fragrances through you today.

Our attitude provides an accurate litmus test for the true condition of our hearts. God cares first about the condition of our hearts because when God has our hearts, He knows that we're surrendered to Him. He'll mold us and shape our attitudes and actions to reflect His character.

Dear Lord, search me, O God, and know my heart (Psalm 139:23). Soften my heart and make me willing to receive an attitude adjustment from You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Today’s devotion is adapted from What a Wife Needs from Her Husband, companion to What a Husband Needs from His Wife, both by Melanie Chitwood

Visit Melanie’s blog, What Matters Most

The S.O.S for PMS: Practical Help and Relief for Moms by Mary M. Byers

Show your spring style with a She Speaks T-Shirt in Cranberry or Teal.

Application Steps:
Since our attitudes reflect the condition of our hearts, take some time to sit quietly before the Lord. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart.

If you know you've had a bad attitude, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the root of that stinky attitude. For example, if you've been grumbling and complaining, the root of this attitude might be a sense of entitlement. Once you recognize the root, confess it and ask God to remove it. Ask God to work His Christ-like attitude in and through you.

Consider the various relationships affected by your positive or negative attitude. What fragrance does your spouse smell when you come near? Spoiled milk or a fragrant spring candle? What attitude do your coworkers get a whiff of? What about your children? Or,.the cashier at the grocery store when you're hurrying and running late?

In which relationship is it the most difficult for you to be the "fragrance of Christ"?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 4:23, "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life." (NAS)

2 Corinthians 2:14, "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place." (NAS)

© 2010 by Melanie Chitwood. All rights reserved.

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Potholes Required
Van Walton

"Dear…sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow." James 1:2-3 (NLT)

Before moving to the warm South, complete with mild winters and smooth roads, my family lived in Wisconsin. The greatest contrast I noticed? Southern roads free from potholes.

Or so I thought.

Then one day as I sailed along a local street, my car sank into a deep hole. Water and mud splashed over the windshield and bounced off my side view mirror. The abrupt pitfall surely damaged my car. At the very least it was dirty and dented.

"Where did that come from?" I wondered. "A pothole on the streets of my fine city?"

Driving on, I considered the pothole. Every road we travel is susceptible to pothole blight. I remember my front walkway caving in and crumbling after a heavy rain washed out the ground underneath it. I've even found myself walking around muddy holes on forest paths.

Yes, every road we travel is susceptible to the pothole blight, including the road of life. God's Word guarantees it: "You will face all kinds of trouble …Your faith will be put to the test" (James 1:2b-3a, NIRV).

At one time or another, the highway on which we travel will fall out from under us. Or, if we are not personally affected by troubles, we know someone who is. Potholes are inevitable, it seems, if we're going anywhere. Consequently, we can spend much time dealing with the destruction, or rescuing others from their deep pits. Writing these words distresses me and if I were to camp on this thought, I could find myself sorely depressed.

So I drive on, focusing on God's Word. Like the dependable tow truck that fixes damaged tires or the repair shop that aligns them, God's Word assures me that falling into an abyss is not the end of the ride. Life does go on … with a high calling and meaningful purpose.

Consider these words:

"The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort…comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort others …" (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV)

"…we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair…" (2 Corinthians 4:7-8, NLT)

"…under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way." (James 1:2-4, MSG)

And finally Isaiah 53:3a, 4a explains that the troubles our Lord Jesus suffered made us whole. He was "a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief…it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down…" (NLT)

Precious friend, are you stuck in one of life's potholes? Don't despair. You're not alone. Jesus knows. You may feel damaged, broken, or rejected but there is a high calling, a greater purpose for your troubling experiences. One day you will comfort others in their afflictions. Your light will shine on another's dark and difficult path. And when you step into eternity you will receive the crown of life.


Father, God, I have fallen into a deep hole. I am damaged, broken, and feel rejected. Please use my circumstances to strengthen me and cause me to shine so others may see Your glory. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Van’s blog

From the Pound to the Palace by Van Walton describes for your children how a relationship with Jesus helps us endure troubles.

Trials for Today, Treasures for Tomorrow: Overcoming Adversities in Life by Janet Eckles

For more hope and to take a free test How Do I Know If I’m Depressed? visit God Sees You

Defeating Depression: Real Hope for Life-Changing Wholeness by Leslie Vernick

Application Steps:
Read James 1:1-18 in several Bible translations.

What troubles threaten to destroy me?

Isn't God greater than any trial that comes my way?

Can I set my mind on trusting God rather than caving to defeat, confident that today's trials strengthen me for tomorrow?

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 4:16-17, "…we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (NIV)

2 Corinthians 6:4, "In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. (NLT)

© 2010 by Van Walton. All rights reserved.

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When My Mean Girl Wants to Come Out
Lysa TerKeurst

"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." John 15:11 (NIV)

Do you ever have days where someone tries to rip the joy right out of your life?

I do.

And it's really hard. It's a battle. The good girl part of my brain says, "Be nice. Honor Jesus with your actions. Your response is your responsibility. Self control, Lysa, self control."

But the mean girl part of my brain says, "How dare they act that way! I'll show you Buster Brown."

One part of me says fold your hands in prayer.

But another part of me says throw your hands in the air and throw a good old fashioned hissy fit.

I have them. Maybe most of us girls do. Especially that one special week a month.

But God.

I love how those two words interrupt me. Redirect me. Remind me. Comfort me. Battle the mean girl in me. And cause me to pause.

Pause. Just for a minute, pause. And it's in that pause where we give the Holy Spirit room to interrupt the mean girl response just dying to come out and bloody the situation.

The Holy Spirit says, "Lysa stop and think. It might feel good in the minute to scream, retaliate, pitch a fit and flood the situation with scary emotions. But it won't feel good in the long run. It will feel awful in the long run. You'll feel the sting of regret. Come on Lysa… be rare. Be a girl who looks ahead and determines to do what's best in the long run."

Yes, it stinks that this other person is determined to steal my joy.

It really does.

But in reality, my joy can only be stolen if I let it be stolen. In John 15:10-12 Jesus says, "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."

Several things struck me as I read this verse. In each interaction I have with others, I'm faced with the choice to either remain in God's love or retreat from God's love. I can't control how this other person is acting towards me. But I can control how I act and react. If I chose to remain in God's love and react to this other person kindly, it affects my joy. Jesus interjects His joy right into the heart of a kind person. If I make the choice to be kind, instead of my joy being depleted, it will be completed.

So back off mean girl part of my brain. The Jesus girl in me is taking over. And holding on to every ounce of joy that's rightfully mine. Circumstances can steal stuff from me. But not my joy.
And all Jesus' girls say, "Amen and amen!"

Dear Lord, this sounds so good in this moment. But it will not be easy when I have an interaction today with "that person"… the one who makes my mean girl want to come out. Will You help me remember these truths? Will You help me remember this person can not steal my joy? And help me remember if I react kindly my joy can be completed rather than depleted. And that's what I want. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Click here to visit Lysa’s blog for a list of three practical things we can do to keep our mean girl from coming out today.

Lysa is speaking in over 40 cities this year and she’d love to meet you! To check for a city near you, click here.

Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst. This book contains three chapters all about what to do when our mean girl wants to come out. Learn how to conquer your anger, envy, and stress today!

Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl DVD and Leader’s Guide – Contains six sessions lasting 15-20 minutes each on one DVD and a Leader’s Guide for only $24.99! Perfect for your Bible study group or as a neighborhood Book Club. Participant’s Guide sold separately for $9.99 each.

Application Steps:
If you know you will be interacting with someone who has a habit of trying to steal your joy, plan how you can remain calm and kind. Also, plan how you can limit the time you spend interacting with them.

Keep these three thoughts in your mind:

This person can only steal my joy if I let them.

I can't control this person, but I can control how I act and react.

If I make the choice to be kind, instead of my joy being depleted, it will be completed.

For a list of three practical things we can do to keep our mean girl from coming out today, click here.

What situations in my life might get better if I apply what I'm learning in this devotional today?
Do I want frustration or joy to be my reality today? What would it be like to live with Jesus' complete joy in my heart?

Power Verses:
John 15:10, "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love." (NIV)

John 15:11, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." (NIV)

John 15:12, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." (NIV)

© 2010 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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