The Committee
Susanne Scheppmann

"You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him." Deuteronomy 13:4 (NASB)

A committee of voices live in my head. Most days they are quiet. However, when a pivotal decision develops, they all want to chime in with their points of view. All the personalities clash and clang about, making a ruckus rather than a decision. Here's an example of the conversations that might be heard on any given day.

Miss Scaredy-cat whispers, "Don't do it. You'll fail."

Mrs. I Can Do shouts, "Go ahead. Go for it! What's the worst thing that can happen?"

Ms. Prideful says, "What will other people think? I wonder what they will say?"

Miss Procrastination states, "Just wait to make the decision. Wait another day."

Now I know that Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27, NIV). Yet, I admit sometimes His beloved voice gets lost in the clatter of "The Committee." I lean toward being a type-A personality with lots of ideas and dreams. So, my own strong personality voices are difficult to squelch. Unfortunately, God's voice is usually the quietest whisper among the din of fear, pride and procrastination.

The Committee visits me frequently, and the bigger the decision, the more noise erupts in my thoughts. Life-changing choices create the biggest clash of voices. Decisions concerning relational conflicts, career changes, and ministry efforts generate non-stop thoughts in me.

So how do I keep The Committee subdued? For myself, I have found that I need to physically go to a place of quiet where I can sit and listen to God. I take my Bible and read a few Psalms. I sit. I wait. I still my mind. Eventually (it takes time), my spirit and my personality calm down and then I can begin to discern God's quiet voice. The Committee takes a recess and God takes command. When His voice is in control, I feel the "peace that passes understanding." It enables me to think rationally without all the emotional inner dialogue.

Although the decision making process will never be easy for me, I can make the process more palatable by listening for God's direction. I need to appoint the Holy Spirit as the chairperson. I must sit quietly and still The Committee in my head so that I am able to discern the whisper of God.

Dear Lord, quiet my thoughts. Teach me to sit still and listen. Train me to hear Your voice. Grant me the ability to discern Your thoughts and will for my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Embraced by the Father: Finding Grace in the Names of God by Susanne Scheppmann

More peace and perspective is offered with our Radio program White Noise

10-Minute Time Outs for Busy Women by Grace Fox

Application Steps:
Determine to set aside 30 minutes for a time of stillness. Choose a quiet place to sit and reflect. Read three or four Psalms. Close your eyes and listen. Ask God to speak to your heart.

Do I consider making decisions a difficult process? Why or why not?

What types of "voices" try to influence my choices?

When a decision needs to be made, do I try to listen to the God's voice?

Power Verses:
Isaiah 28:23, "Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say." (NIV)

Psalms 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." (KJV)

1 Kings 19:11-13, "The LORD said, 'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by. Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?'" (NIV)

© 2010 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , ,

Sanctuary Isn't a Great Pair of Jeans
Lynn Cowell

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus who went before us, has entered on our behalf…" Hebrews 6:19-20a (NIV)

As I got dressed, the brand name label in my jeans caught my eye: Sanctuary. Really? They definitely are my favorite pair of jeans, but could they really be considered a sanctuary?

This word "sanctuary" keeps showing up in my life. My family recently took a much needed respite away from our busy and demanding schedules. We went to a place whose motto is "Escape completely." That sounded perfect to me.

One morning, I headed to a spot they called "The Sanctuary." Anticipating a great time with the Lord, I found a quiet chair overlooking the peaceful water. Settling in, I had my Bible open and journal and pen in hand when I heard "Excuse me Ma'am. Do you have your Sanctuary card?" Sanctuary card? You've got to be kidding? I have to have a separate card to get into "The Sanctuary?" I picked up my things and found another cozy spot two feet outside of "The Sanctuary" where I didn't have to have the appropriate card to meet with God.

Opening my Bible again I could hardly believe my reading:

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus who went before us, has entered on our behalf…" (Hebrews 6:19, NIV).

I had not been allowed to enter "The Sanctuary" two feet away because I didn't have the right card, but because of Jesus, I could enter the true sanctuary…His presence.

The Bible says a true sanctuary is not a place created with comfy chairs, soft music and views of the water. It is a place where the presence of God pours over us like a healing balm and Jehovah-Rophe, our healer, is present.

Combining the many definitions of sanctuary in the dictionary, I created this one: A place in God's presence where I can find shelter or protection from danger or trouble, finding relief and escape, and exemption from liability and prosecution.

The Psalmist spoke of his need for just such a sanctuary throughout Psalm 73:
Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.

(Sometimes in life, I feel like I'm hanging on the edge. Something has happened; causing me to feel like I'm going to lose it. What are you doing, God?)

For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.

They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills.

This is what the wicked are like—always carefree, they increase in wealth.

(Sometimes in the middle of our pain, we look around at others, and ask – "Why is their life going well? And why isn't this Christian life thing working for me?)

Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.

All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning.

(He just doesn't get it. Why is his life a mess? Can you relate?)

When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.

(In the sanctuary of God, things changed. In the presence of Jehovah-Rophe my healer, I can find relief; escape and exemption from liability and prosecution. I find healing.)

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds (verses:1-5, 12-14, 16-17, and 23-28).

Sounds like the Psalmist really got it and it doesn't sound to me like a sanctuary can really be a pair of jeans!

Dear Lord, sometimes I feel like I need to escape completely. May the only place I escape to be You. When I feel like I want to run, help me to run straight into Your arms! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

The Wonder of His Love: A Journey into the Heart of God by Nancy Stafford

When a Woman Meets Jesus: Finding the Love Every Woman Longs For by Dorothy Valcarcel

Find sweet encouragement with our free resource The Shelter

You are My Hiding Place, Lord: Finding Peace in God's Presence by Emilie Barnes

Application Steps:
Want to learn some ways to run into God's presence in the middle of your hectic life? Join Lynn at her blog today for some fresh ideas!

Are you making it a point to come into God's presence, His sanctuary, on a regular basis in order to be refreshed by Him?

When you feel like escaping, what is the thing that you turn to?

If you are not running to Him when you feel like running, what can you do to change that habit?

Power Verses:
Psalm 73:28, "But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds." (NIV)

© 2010 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , ,

The Touch of Your Hand
Glynnis Whitwer

"Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. 'I am willing,' he said. 'Be clean!'" Mark 1:41 (NIV)

The labor and delivery of my second child was fast. In fact, within three hours after the first inkling of pain, I was in the hospital being prepped for delivery. Although my husband stood at my side, the intense pain surprised and overwhelmed me. You see, my first delivery took 13 hours, with lots of pain intervention. This time, because of the speed, I had no pain relief.

I'll never forget looking into the face of the young nurse standing at my right, coaching me through the delivery. After an excruciating contraction, I said, "Would you hold my hand?" She smiled and grabbed hold of my hand while another wave of pain radiated through my body.

I knew it sounded pitiful and needy to ask someone I didn't know to hold my hand, but at that moment I needed her strength.

There have been other times I've needed to hold someone's hand. The first time I went snorkeling, I thought I was going to pass out I was hyperventilating so badly. I held my husband's hand on my left and my son's hand on my right until I could control my breathing and enjoy the incredible sights. Hiking up Angel's Landing in Zion National Park, I held someone's hand when I wasn't grasping on to rocks. I've held my mother's hand and my sisters' hands as we've walked through the pain of losing loved ones.

There's something about physical touch that brings comfort and stability in an uncertain world. The New Testament is filled with stories of Jesus touching those around Him. He laid His hands on women who had been scorned, children dancing at His feet and lepers ashamed of their faces. I picture His hands always reached out to someone.

In this world of virtual relationships, conversations managed via electronic devices and fear of inappropriate touch, I wonder if we are losing our physical connections to each other. And yet God designed us to need touch. In fact, it is critical to our health – both emotional and physical. Babies need touch for their brains to develop and children need touch for their emotions to develop. Experts say appropriate touch has a profound effect on the brain's programming and re-programming.

Perhaps it's time to become more intentional about offering loving and appropriate touch to others. We all need it, but often find it awkward to accept and offer. My immediate family is very comfortable with touch, as my children have grown up with lots of physical affection. But I have to be intentional about reaching out to others in gentle and creative ways.

I have discovered reading the New Testament that the first believers were very affectionate with each other. In fact at the end of Acts 20, we read that all the believers embraced and kissed Paul as he was leaving for a journey. They were also encouraged to greet each other with a holy kiss.

While I realize not everyone is ready to be touched with such intimacy, I am challenged to bring healthy touch into my relationships in greater measure. Whether it's a hug, pat on the head, stroke on the arm, or a holy kiss, touch is needed in our society. Maybe if we brought more healthy touch into our relationships, people wouldn't be driven to seek it in inappropriate ways.

For whatever reason, God designed us to need the physical touch of others. So the next time you need to hold someone's hand, I'm your gal.

Dear Lord, I know You designed us to need the touch of other people. It's not always easy to admit we need someone to hold our hand, or give us a hug. Help me to be more aware of the needs of those around me, and to offer healthy and loving touch in natural ways. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
When Your Child is Hurting by Glynnis Whitwer

P31 Woman magazine

Visit Glynnis’ blog for tips on creative and healthy touch.

Consider starting a Gather & Grow group

Application Steps:
The next time you are at church, challenge yourself to offer healthy touch to two or three people. Become the person who offers a hug, rather than waiting for one.

Think about reasons why God would design us to need the physical touch of others.

What are some things that keep us from offering loving touch to others?

Power Verses:
1 John 1:1, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life." (NIV)

1 Peter 5:14, "Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ." (NIV)

© 2010 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , ,

Sharing Grace
LeAnn Rice, Executive Director, Proverbs 31 Ministries

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

Five years ago I took a spiritual gift test and failed! Well, in my assessment, I failed.

I had high hopes that the test would confirm that I have the spiritual gifts of wisdom, discernment, evangelism or mercy. You know…a good, useful gift. A change-the-world kind of gift. I was crushed to discover that I do not possess any of what I perceived as the "good" gifts.

Since I was sure I knew myself better than this silly test, I took it again. I ended up taking the spiritual gifts test five times! Sadly, each one confirmed that I was stuck with the frivolous gift of hospitality. Seriously? I wanted to be a wise sage and soul-winning evangelist, not a hostess!

Shortly after my testing marathon I read today's key verse. Reading it a second time, my eyes lingered over the words "whatever gift." It doesn't say, "Only those of you with the gift of leadership or evangelism go and serve others." As I pondered this verse I came to realize that as a body of Christians we could not accomplish nearly as much if we all had the same gifts. I began to embrace my gift of hospitality and God showed me that He could use my ability to create a fancy meal or decorate a beautiful table to make others feel special. I can administer God's grace through what I thought was fluff!

What gift(s) has God given you? If you haven't yet determined your spiritual gift(s), spend some time thinking about what you do well, what hidden talent you may have, and what you have a passion for. Ask your friends what they think your talents are.

Then ask God how you can use these gifts to share His grace with others. If you are a musician, consider playing at a local retirement center or soup kitchen. If you love to scrapbook, consider organizing memories for someone who is unable to do so for themselves. If you have great computer skills, consider helping women at a shelter put together resumes or teach them computer skills to help them secure a job.

I have learned that my "frivolous" gift of hospitality is not so frivolous after all. Extending hospitality, simple or extravagant, is a tangible way to share God's love and His grace with family, friends, co-workers, and strangers. My prayer is that every day, God will provide me with new opportunities to use the gifts He has bestowed upon me for His kingdom and for His glory.

Dear Lord, thank You that You have gifted each of us differently. Help me to discover the gifts You have given to me so that I may use them to administer Your grace to everyone around me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit our new site She Cooks today!

Click here for an awesome giveaway and to see how LeAnn is using her gift of hospitality to reach others with the grace of God. Come for recipes, menus, and special event planning, but stay for much more! LeAnn is looking forward to spending time cooking together.

Do You Know Him?

Sharing Grace: Recipes - Family Traditions - Gift Ideas by LeAnn Rice

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

Shaped with Purpose Workbook and CD: Discovering Your God-given Gifts, Passions, Personality and Abilities by Renee Swope

Application Steps:
How can I purposefully use my spiritual gifts to share God's love and grace with those around me?

Reflect on 1 Peter 4:9-11a, "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. 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." (NIV)

Am I truly being a good steward of the gifts entrusted to me by the Holy Spirit, using them to serve others and to glorify Christ and not merely for my own personal gain or enjoyment?

Power Verses:
Romans 12:4-6a, "Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us." (NIV)

1 Corinthians 12:4-6, "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men." (NIV)

© 2010 by LeAnn Rice. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

The Treasure of Thrown Away Food
Lysa TerKeurst

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:57 (NIV)

If there was ever a secret for unleashing God's powerful peace in a situation, it's developing a heart of true thanksgiving. My son, Jackson, knows this. I came to understand how powerfully he knows this when editing a paper he wrote recently. Jackson hasn't always lived in the safety and security of our home. For the first 13 years of his life, he lived in a forgotten orphanage in the third world country of Liberia, Africa.

Jackson's paper was about the corruption and greed that caused the civil war in his native land. He did a great job recounting the facts of the story. But the difference between Jackson and most other kids explaining a historical event, is before we adopted him - he lived in the midst of the horrific conditions of this war.

During one part of the paper, he described what it felt like to be naked digging through the trash looking for the treasure of thrown away food.

The treasure of thrown away food.

I can hardly type those words without crying. This is my son.

And yet, despite the horrific conditions of his childhood there was an unexplainable thread of peace woven through his recollection of the story. A powerful peace centered in the awareness of God's presence.

The truly thankful person is a truly peaceful person. They have made a habit no matter what to notice, pause and choose.

Noticing something for which to be thankful no matter what circumstance they're in.

Pausing to acknowledge this something as a reminder of God's presence.

Choosing to focus on God's presence until His powerful peace is unleashed.

I doubt any of us will find our treasure in thrown away food today. But will we be a noticer, a pauser, a chooser - a person of thanksgiving no matter what circumstance we're facing? I find this truth about the power of thanksgiving over and over in Scripture. What was the prayer Daniel prayed right before being thrown in the lion's den and witnessing God miraculously shutting the lion's mouths? Thanksgiving.

After three days in the belly of a fish, what was the cry of Jonah's heart right before he was finally delivered onto dry land? Thanksgiving.

How are we instructed to pray in Philippians 4:6 when we feel anxious? With thanksgiving.

And what is the outcome of each of these situations where thanksgiving is proclaimed? Peace.

Powerful, unexplainable, uncontainable peace.

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus," (Philippians 4:7, NIV).

One of Webster's official definitions of thanksgiving is: "a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness."

I wonder how we might celebrate God's divine goodness today?

I wonder what might happen if we decide in the midst of our circumstances today to notice, pause, and choose something for which we can truly be thankful….

Dear Lord, will You help me to notice things for which I can be thankful in each circumstance I face today? Will You help me remember to pause and acknowledge this as evidence of Your presence? And will You help me to remember to choose to focus on Your presence until Your powerful peace rushes into my heart and helps me see everything more clearly? Thank You for the reality that being thankful truly changes everything. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
We are writing a thankful journal on my blog today. You can get there by clicking here. Be sure to visit and write down some things for which you are thankful and it will automatically enter you to win a signed copy of my latest book, Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl.

I’m speaking in over 40 cities this year and would love to meet you! To check for a city near you, click here.

Get a copy of my latest book, "Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl" by clicking here.

The accompanying DVD teaching series can be found by clicking here. It contains 6 sessions lasting 15-20 minutes each on one DVD for only $24.99! Perfect for your Bible study group or as a neighborhood Book Club. The Bible Study workbook can be found by clicking here.

Application Steps:
Start a thankful journal where you daily list five things each day for which you are thankful. Do this for the next 30 days and see how much more peaceful your mindset about life becomes.

What makes you grumpy and steals your propensity to be thankful?

Think of someone in your sphere of influence who is really thankful. Despite the circumstances they face, are they more peaceful? How does this inspire you?

Power Verses:
1 Chronicles 16:34, "Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever." (NKJ)

1 Chronicles 23: 30, "They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD. They were to do the same in the evening." (NIV)

© 2010 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

In Search of a Zesty Life
Rachel Olsen

"Who out there has a zest for life? Can't wait each day to come upon beauty." Psalm 34: 12 (MSG)

How's your day going so far?

I wonder if the weather where you are is pretty or if you woke to clouds and felt a little blue. I wonder if your family, friends, co-workers or boss have aggravated you today. Has it dulled your mood? Are you mulling over an unpleasant interaction, dreading a task, or maybe griping about some aspect of your life this morning?

I recently read that 80% of working Americans have no passion for their work. Do you find passion or beauty in your work? Be it an office job, a self-employed business, or the business of changing diapers and sweeping up Cheerios; are you reasonably happy as you go about your work? Could you be? What would it take?

What about the people in your life – your family, friends, church members, neighbors – have you enjoyed their company today? Or recently? Have you loved the ones you're with?

I wonder too, have you noticed any beauty today? Have you looked for it? Have you even looked up?

God is in the beauty making business. Just glance outside and see what I mean. Even if it's cloudy or rainy, there is beauty to be seen. And felt. And experienced. When did you last take a walk outdoors, maybe through a park or down a shady trail just to enjoy the surroundings? Just to breathe the air.

We see God's beauty most clearly in creation but you can also see it in the way a mother cradles her baby, or the way a woman looks adoringly at her fiancé, or the way a child splashes joyously through puddles in his rain boots.

You can hear it too, in the sound of birds, the sweet whisper of "I love you," or the sound of a choir joining voices in praise. Have you heard it today?

Throughout the Bible, especially the Psalms, I see a link between joy and worshipping God. I see commands to be joyful, to rejoice, to bless and be blessed. I believe the Bible calls us to cultivate a joyful, "zesty life" that looks for His beauty daily and thanks Him for it. "Who out there has a zest for life? Can't wait each day to come upon beauty?" (Psalm 34:12, MSG).

Did you wake this morning with an expectation of encountering something of the splendor of God? Did you swing your feet out of bed anticipating enjoying the God-ordained beauty in your day? Are you cultivating a zesty life, or drudging through your days, ticking off your to-dos, oblivious?

If you've been less than zesty, or even oblivious, it's not too late. Ask God to open the eyes of your heart today to see and savor Him, in the miraculous and in the mundane.

Dear Lord, thank You for the beauty You surround each of us with daily. The greens of grass and trees, the reds of tomatoes and strawberries, the smell of the air after a rain. God You are magnificent in Your beauty and goodness! And You're gracious in Your blessings. Open my eyes to notice them. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Rachel’s blog and share something beautiful from your day.

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

31 Days of Praise: Enjoying God Anew by Ruth and Warren Myers

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

Application Steps:
Read the Psalms below in the Power Verses. Pull out your Bible and scan the Psalms yourself looking for clues to a zesty life in God.

Have you created any beauty yourself today? Have you hugged someone? Planted some flowers? Smiled at a stressed looking stranger? Written someone an encouraging note? Put on some pleasant background music? Have you mulled over your blessings, allowing them to beautify your outlook? Doing these things to the glory of God transforms them into worship, transforming your outlook in the process.

How apt am I to enjoy my day despite setbacks or frustrations?
What can I do to increase my ability to see and savor God in each day?

Power Verses:
Psalm 34:8, "Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see - how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him." (MSG)

Psalm 27:13, "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living." (NIV)

Psalm 27:1, "Light, space, zest - that's God! So, with him on my side I'm fearless, afraid of no one and nothing." (MSG)

Psalm 105:1-5, "Hallelujah! Thank God! Pray to him by name! Tell everyone you meet what he has done! Sing him songs, belt out hymns, translate his wonders into music! Honor his holy name with Hallelujahs, you who seek God. Live a happy life! Keep your eyes open for God, watch for his works; be alert for signs of his presence. Remember the world of wonders he has made, his miracles, and the verdicts he's rendered." (MSG)

© 2010 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , ,

The Return of Respect
Micca Monda Campbell

"Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord." Leviticus 19:18 (NIV)

When I was pregnant with my third child, I shamefully displayed a lack of respect for a police officer. It was a Wednesday afternoon and I was running late for church. On the way, I had to drop off my eldest son at baseball practice. The fact that he had practice on a church night already had my tail feathers up in the air, not to mention it was drizzling rain.

To make up for lost time, I sped right into the park where the police officer pulled me over. I was appalled! How could he set up a speed trap in the park on a rainy day to catch a pregnant woman who was running late for church! The nerve! I thought.

I'd had it. Before the officer could approach my car, I jumped out in the rain and met him halfway. "Are you going to give me a ticket?" I questioned with one hand on my hip and the other pointing in his face. He didn't speak nor did his expression change so I continued. "I thought it was outrageous enough that these boys have to practice ball on a church night in the rain, but nooooo! Being set up for a speed trap in the park takes the cake!"

"Ma'am, I'm sorry." He apologized.

"Well, you should be," I whispered under my breath.

"I can't do anything about your son's practice, but I can assure you I can do something about your speeding," he said while firmly pulling his ticket pad from his coat pocket. "Furthermore," he added, "if you continue to disrespect my authority, I can do something about that too."

Disrespect his authority? Is that what I did? Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened. While I'd like to blame my behavior on my hormones, I can't. I was guilty on all accounts. As I cowered back to my car, I noticed my children's faces pressed against the window of the backseat. They were no doubt learning how to disrespect authority—from their mother.

I let what I thought were my rights blind me to truth. It was my duty to submit to the authority of the police officer. Regrettably, this kind of behavior goes on everyday in the workplace, the home, and even in the church. Why is that? I believe it's because our society today has lost a general lack of respect for one another.

God commands, 'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord" (Leviticus 19:18). We show honor to God by displaying reverential esteem of others. Respect for God alone should motivate us to offer grace by extending an encouraging word instead of thrashing another with a rude comment. Generally, those who tear down others usually have little respect for themselves. Their rude comments are a desperate attempt to make themselves look better. Sadly, the results usually turn out opposite.

Can you imagine what our world would look like today if we heeded God's command? Envision how great it would be if all spouses respected one another; if children honored their parents; and if citizens obeyed the laws of God and government. It would be a different world! We would have a feeling of security with gestures of love freely given and received. Common courtesies would be raised from the dead. We'd make an effort to know our neighbors and lend a helping hand to a stranger. The words "fear" and "anxiety" would be dropped from the human language. Peace and goodwill would be the heartbeat of our existence.

Let's not dream of a world where people live together in unity, love, and respect as God intended. We can make it happen together using one little word called respect.

Dear Lord, I confess that I don't always respect others' rights, feelings, properties, time or space. Help me to be more gracious and kind, by the power of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Taken from An Untroubled Heart by Micca Campbell

A Woman's Secret to a Balanced Life by Lysa TerKeurst & Sharon Jaynes

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

Visit Micca’s blog

Check out our free resource License to Sin

Application Steps:
Practice respect this week by holding the door for a stranger. Help out a sales clerk by re-hanging dropped clothing from the floor. Respect the privacy of your co-worker by not sharing her troubles with another. Respect your child by listening to their dreams. When your spouse speaks, give your undivided attention. And respect traffic laws by going the speed limit!

What can you do at home, church and the work place to revive respect among one another?

Power Verses:
Galatians 5:14, "The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (NIV)

© 2010 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Can I Call You "Daddy?"
Glynnis Whitwer

"For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" Romans 8:15 (NASB)

Victoria gripped the phone, and dialed frantically. "Answer, answer, answer," she muttered. Finally, a deep male voice was heard on the other end.

Victoria's words tumbled out in a rush, "Daddy, I'm in trouble. I need you."

This scene was from a favorite show. While it's not the most intellectual program out there, I'll admit I'm hooked on the characters. One in particular. The father of the panicked woman mentioned above. He's not a perfect dad; not even a good one most of the time. However, his children know he will hire a small army, spend any amount of money or fly his private jet to come to their rescue.

His desire to help his children pulls at something deep within me. Although I grew up with a good father, I wouldn't have asked him for help. My father was scholarly. He was a teacher who adored his books, classical music and pipe. I knew he loved me … that wasn't the issue. He just wasn't an active part of my life. My mother was my problem-solver and rescuer.

I never had any issues with my father. At least none that I knew of. Until someone told me that my relationship with my earthly father had already affected my relationship with my heavenly Father. Really? I thought I was pretty healthy. Then I started praying and thinking about it.

Although I loved God deeply, I realized I didn't see Him as a close father. Maybe a distant one. But not one I could call when I'm in trouble. Not one who would hold me while I sat on His lap and cried. Not one who would move heaven and earth, or fire up the private jet, to save me.

You see, I've never had a father like that. In the depth of my heart, I knew God could help me, but did He really want to? Was He motivated to help me with the same passion I have to help my children? Sadly, I realized I didn't know how to relate to God like a caring father. But I wanted to.

So I started to change how I pray. Jesus modeled a close relationship with His Heavenly Father. In fact, Jesus called Him "Abba" or "Daddy" (Mark 14:36). I started to pray that way as well. I'll admit it was awkward, and still is at times. Yet, as I have drawn near to God in this tender new way, I realized He has been waiting for me all along.

I'm coming to understand that God's longing for me is similar to how I feel for my own children. Even though my 18-year-old feels too big to need his mama, I still desire to mother him with protective and loving oversight. And just as I long for my growing children to come and sit on my lap or rest a head on my shoulder, God longs for me to come to Him.

I'm still learning what all of this looks like. What I know for sure is that I've been invited into a precious relationship with my heavenly Father. In fact, I've been invited to call Him "Daddy."

Dear Daddy, how I long to fully understand Your love for me. I know in my head You are a tender father, but my heart still doesn't understand. Please reveal Yourself to me as a caring daddy. Help me to overcome all barriers I have to living like a chosen and precious daughter of Yours. I want to know You more. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Embraced by the Father by Susanne Scheppmann

Do You Know Him?

Visit Glynnis’ blog

His Princess: Love Letters from Your Prince by Sheri Rose Shepherd

Love Notes in Lunchboxes by Linda Gilden

Application Steps:
Make a list of five things a loving earthly father does for his children. Now consider how God does those same things for us, but in different ways.

How has your relationship with your earthly father affected your relationship with your heavenly Father?

If you could ask your heavenly Daddy for something today, what would it be?

Power Verses:
1 John 3:1, "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. (NIV)

Matthew 7:11, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (NIV)

© 2010 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

More than a Job
Zoe Elmore

"Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:12-13 (NIV)

Perhaps this economy has forced your child to move back home because they are unable to find a job. Our youngest son Joseph returned home almost six months ago and while my husband Tom and I enjoy having him around, we do struggle to offer words of wisdom when our son asks, "Why is this taking so long? Has God forgotten about me, and will I ever get a job as a pilot?"

Tom and I want to encourage Joseph without preaching to him and sometimes that can be difficult to do. I'm reminded of Solomon's request for wisdom in 1 Kings 3:7-9:

"Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?" (NIV).

God rewarded Solomon's request and blessed him with great wealth and influence. Kings from all over the world sought out Solomon's wisdom. He is still considered the wisest man in the Old Testament.

While I don't come close to having wisdom like Solomon, I do have access to the One who is the source of all wisdom, Jesus Christ.

Our son needs a job, that's certain, but I'm more certain that our son needs to deepen his relationship with the One who provides all wisdom. When Joseph realizes that his relationship with Christ is more important than finding a job, our son will experience the blessings wisdom brings, just as Solomon did.

It's hard to watch our child struggle as he flounders in his faith. It's not easy to pray without preaching. I know that a deep and meaningful relationship with Christ is something I can NOT do for my son; Joseph must choose to deepen his relationship with Christ all on his own. I know God draws near to us in the midst of our times of trial and discouragement and I want my son to experience that. I long for him to trust God's perfect timing as He works behind the scenes to work things out for Joseph's benefit.

While I wait for my son to grow in his faith and knowledge of Christ, I hold onto God's promise in this verse, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

Dear Lord, today I eagerly ask You to give our loved ones knowledge, understanding, discernment, and the perseverance needed to follow it. Help them to trust in You even through the waiting. Help them to hear Your voice whispering nearby. Allow them to feel Your very presence and see Your purpose in the midst of their circumstances. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
When Your Child is Hurting: Helping Your Child Survive the Ups and Downs of Life by Glynnis Whitwer

Divine Prayers for Despairing Parents by Susanne Scheppmann

For more encouragement, read Building Faith

The Principle of the Path by Andy Stanley

Application Steps:
Make a list of verses on wisdom and take notes on what you find.

Where do you find godly wisdom for your life?

How might my life look different if I followed godly wisdom?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 2:2-3, "Turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding." (NIV)

Deuteronomy 4:29, "But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul." (NIV)

2 Chronicles 15:12, "They entered into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul." (NIV)

© 2010 by Zoe Elmore. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , ,

Fraidy Cat
T. Suzanne Eller

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

I stood on the edge of the cliff, the slender bar clenched in my hands. An old chant came to mind as I glanced past the rocky threshold to the thin strips of smoke wisping above two live volcanoes.

Fraidy cat. Fraidy cat.

I was in El Salvador working with children orphaned by previous civil wars. Kings Castle was their sanctuary, and after a hard days' work several children and a counselor had pulled me and others up the cliff with stunning views.

"Jump!" they shouted. The children pointed to the volcanic crater below, its depths inviting but very frightening. The children pointed to a circling boat below, trying to assure me. Then, one after another, children grabbed the bars and flung themselves away from the cliffs, letting go and plunging into the water below.

I looked over at my fellow team members. One shook her head vigorously. "Uh uh," she insisted.

I grabbed the bar, noting that my knees were quaking. I closed my eyes, pushed off and swung through the air, screaming when I let go and plunged downward. I hit the icy cold water with a splash. Several children above me shouted and clapped their approval. But I could barely hear them over my own whoops of delight.

I wasn't afraid of jumping that day nearly as much as I was afraid of the unknown. There were elements that were familiar, like water and diving, but when you toss in heights and volcanoes, it knocked me right out of my comfort zone.

Sometimes parenting teens is like that. When my three children moved from tweens to teens, suddenly things changed. There were familiar elements, but lots of scary new developments like driving, dating, and requests for freedom. I wanted to cling to the familiar. I'm the boss, so that's just the way it is. I don't care if everyone else has a later curfew, yours isn't changing.

One day I noticed that my oldest daughter, Leslie, had shut me out, and it hurt. She was 16 years old and I couldn't have been more proud of her. I treasured our relationship, and so was confused by her silence.

I finally found the root of her problem. It was me. I was parenting out of fear.

Fraidy cat. Fraidy cat.

I said no to her, not because of her character or the trust she had earned, but because I feared poor influences, or letting her go and her free-falling. I saw some of the teens that used to frequent our home making life-altering decisions, and it shook me. So I pulled her in closer, tighter. I refused to let go—even an inch.

Though I had worked with thousands of teens over 20 years, I made a huge mistake with my own. I forgot to parent Leslie based on who she was, and what I knew to be true, and allowed fear to dictate our relationship instead.

Worse, I made her feel that she was untrustworthy.

That day I stepped up the scary cliff of parenting a teen and took a second look around. I noted the familiar. Leslie had made good decisions. She was maturing, growing into a woman. She wasn't perfect, but she tried really hard to do the right thing, not for me, but because of her faith and her own convictions.

Sometimes parenting is scary. Sometimes letting go a little bit at a time feels uncomfortable, but it's also a key ingredient in shaping our teens into confident adults of character.

But what if they break the trust? Pull the reins back in. Allow them to take responsibility for their mistakes. Then allow them to earn the trust back.

Today Leslie is a 28-year-old married woman, an attorney, and soon-to-be-momma. I wish that I could say that I never faced fear again as a parent, but that simply wouldn't be true. But I learned to recognize fear for what it is—an ineffective response that distorts reality and clouds the decision making process. Stepping back and looking at the whole picture allowed me to say yes to the opportunities to grow—opportunities for me as a parent, and for my teen.

Dear Lord, help me to see my child clearly today. If I need to set boundaries, help me to set them with love and wisdom. If it is time to encourage my child to grow, to stretch, give me the courage to let go. Thank You for my child's destiny. Thank You that You have a plan for my teen's life. I trust in that 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

Visit Suzie’s blog where she digs deeper into this topic. Enter a giveaway on the site for an autographed copy of Real Issues, Real Teens: What Every Parent Needs to Know.

Raising a Spiritually Strong Daughter: Guiding Her toward a Faith That Lasts by Susie Shellenberger

More encouragement can be found at In God’s Hands

Application Steps:
Has your teen proved trustworthy in the past?

If the answer is yes, what are your fears?

Is there information that would calm those fears (where the teen will be, who they will be with)?

If the answer is no, when were they last untrustworthy and on what scale?

If it has been a long time, are you willing to release the reins a little, with the understanding that additional trust can be earned?

"There is always a moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in." -Graham Green.

Power Verses:
Psalm 27:1, "The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?" (NKJV)

1 John 4:18, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love." (NKJV)

© 2010 by T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Our Bodies, God's Temple
Tracie Miles

"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple." 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (NIV)

It was an odd conversation, I must admit.

As I was driving my sixteen year-old daughter to church, she expressed she was hungry. Pulling up to the drive through window, she ordered a Double Baconator Combo - you know, the hamburger with two thick patties, six strips of bacon, cheese and toppings, plus a large fry and drink.

I gently warned her that unhealthy eating habits would eventually catch up to her. Then the conversation took an interesting twist.

I had recently been studying the book of Leviticus, which focuses on the building of God's temple by the Israelites after they had left Egypt, and apparently I had "temple on the brain" syndrome.

I explained to my daughter that she needed to remember that her body was God's temple; therefore, she should take care of it, and part of taking care of our bodies, is eating healthy. She replied by saying (with her teenage facial expression of utter confusion), "Are you trying to tell me that eating this hamburger is a sin?!"

This comical conversation went on for several minutes while I attempted to convince her of the importance of treating her body as God's temple, and she held her ground that eating a hamburger was not a sin.

You see, after reading countless details about the tabernacle (the tent-version of the temple), I had a newfound appreciation for its sacredness. I felt encouraged knowing that the Lord actually resided in the Temple. I admired the hours of work devoted to building the Tabernacle, and the many rules and requirements that God set forth regarding honoring and caring for it.

In the New Testament, we are reminded many times about how we are now God's dwelling place. We no longer have to worship, pray or converse with God in a specific place, because He lives within us.

At first glance, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 implies an overwhelming responsibility to understand that we truly are God's temple, that we are the only ones who can take care of it, and that He has commanded us to do so. But thank goodness, caring for a temple is not nearly as hard as it was for the Israelites. Let's look at how we can care for God's temple today:

- The original temple had walls made of cloth. Their purpose was to protect the holy contents that were inside. In the same way, we also have to protect the contents of our temple, which is the Holy Spirit living within us.

- A lot of cleaning took place in the temple continually. We can keep our temples clean through purity of heart and mind.

- The temple was built for worshipping. God calls us into worship every day, inviting us to spend time with Him and in His Word.

- The Lord spoke in the temple and His voice was heard. The Lord is still speaking to us, in our hearts, and being able to hear His voice requires an intimate relationship with Him.

1 Corinthians 6:20b, says we are to honor God with our body. Does that mean never eating another hamburger or doughnut? Of course not! God does not command us to have perfectly sleek figures, or infallible eating habits. Nor is He is concerned with what we wear, what color our hair is, or how many wrinkles we have.

1 Samuel 16:7 says, "But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'"

God cares about our hearts, His Temple. We are called to care for His Temple daily, through healthy eating, yes, but most importantly through purity of heart, mind and soul.

Dear Lord, prompt me to never forget that I am Your temple, Your holy dwelling place. Help me to honor You in all that I do. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Tracie’s blog for more encouragement

His Princess: Love Letters from Your Prince by Sheri Rose Shepherd

Becoming the Woman God Wants Me to Be by Donna Partow

Visit our Everyday Life Health and Well-Being page

A Woman Who Fears the Lord- T-Shirt

Do I treat my body as the residence of God?

Am I committed to living a life of purity of heart and mind?

Power Verses:
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (NIV)

© 2010 Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , ,

Time for Plan A!
Amy Carroll

"'But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord's anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let's go.'" I Samuel 26:11 (NIV)

He had the perfect opportunity not once, but twice, yet he waited. Twice David faced a tempting decision. Should he kill the vulnerable king or wait on God's timing? David chose to wait while seemingly living out "Plan B."

David spent years waiting between the time he was anointed as the king of all Israel to the time when he officially wore the title. They were years spent in fields with sheep, in the palace as the reigning king's musician, and in caves on the run from Saul's murderous rage. However, the Psalms record for us that David never lost faith. Instead of despairing that "Plan A" would never surface and come to fruition, David declared, "But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever. 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" (Psalm 52:8-9, NIV).

He trusted that God would never waste one moment, circumstance or trial. He steadfastly believed that each incident could be used to bring about God's promise that had been given years before. He held fast to the hope that he would someday be king without taking matters into his own hands.

That day finally came. After lamenting Saul and Jonathan's deaths, David inquired of the Lord, followed His directions and declared himself as king. David was ready to step into God's perfect plan in God's perfect timing. He never looked back to the fields and caves, but rather walked forward into his destiny with all the experience and wisdom God had given him through the many steps it took to get there.

I've had to make similar decisions as I've asked myself these questions: Do I wait for God's promise to be fulfilled in His time or do I work to make something happen in my own strength? While I'm waiting to walk in the fullness of what I believe He's called me to, will I trust Him to use each step along the way for my good and His glory? When it's finally time to move into a new season of promises fulfilled, will I walk forward into that exciting new place or will I look back over my shoulder and choose to stay where it's safe and known?

These are the decisions that have been facing me this year. Over a year ago, I heard God whisper a calling and a promise into my heart. I could look back and see how all my education, previous jobs and experiences have been building blocks for this dream. At times, some of those places have seemed like "Plan B," but they never were. Each step of obedience has brought me to this new place.

In February, I had to make a decision to stay in my job or leave for something new. It's a job that I have been called to in the past, but this time God said "no." He brought me to the realization that choosing this job over the calling would be to choose "Plan B" and furthermore, it would be disobedience. God always calls His children to walk on the "Plan A" path. There may be discomfort, waiting, and trials on this path, but obedience is always "Plan A" and where the blessings lie!

Dear Lord, help me to always walk in Your "Plan A" even when it's hard. I want to make choices in Your perfect timing that lead me forward with You instead of simply staying where it's safe. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman

Visit Amy’s blog

What to do in the W.A.I.T: Finding Contentment in God's Pauses and Plans (CD) by Wendy Pope

Check out our radio program, Do I Trust Jesus?

Brokenness, Surrender, Holiness by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Application Steps:
Take some time for evaluation. List some ways that you can see that God has worked in your past to build your future.

Have you chosen a safe path that is not in obedience to God?

Is being outside of God's will really worth what you're missing in say "yes" to Him?

Power Verses:
Psalm 31:14-15a, "But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me." (NIV)

Psalm 37:18, "The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever." (NIV)

Jeremiah 29:11, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (NIV)

© 2010 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

With My Bible Pressed to My Heart
Karen Ehman

"Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24 (Amplified)

It was an ordinary day. My friend Laurel decided, as she often does, to spend some time reading her Bible that afternoon, connecting with God in the midst of her busy day as a wife and mother. As she leaned forward to reach something with one hand, she held her open Bible close to her heart with her other. It was then that it happened. Through the leather-bound book pressed upon her heart, she felt a small lump on her chest.

A physician was summoned; tests were ordered; Laurel's worst fear became reality. She had breast cancer.

The days, weeks and years that followed brought hospital visits and radiation, probing and prodding, uncertainty and discomfort. Now years removed from those emotionally trying days, my sweet friend's body is free from any traces of that often-deadly disease. She is a healthy high school foreign language teacher who goes about her commonplace days with a deep love for Jesus and eternal gratitude in her heart. Most of all, she is thankful that God arranged circumstances in such a way that her cancer was caught early; all because she held her Bible close to her heart.

I pondered Laurel's experience recently. Imbedded in a touchy relationship issue with a friend, I was angry. It was a situation in which I felt used, violated and unappreciated. I was ready to enter my alone time with God with a whine on my lips and an intense need to vent my mounting frustrations. It was then that He brought today's verses to my mind. I looked them up in the Amplified Version (one which sheds light onto the original Hebrew or Greek meaning of the words) It was then that my eyes fell upon this phrase,

"….see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

Instead of complaining about the actions of my friend, I decided to hold God's Word close to my heart; to see if there was any wicked or hurtful way in me, not in her. When I did, He was quick to point out ways I was wrong; deeply rooted attitudes I displayed that rear their ugly heads and manifest themselves in awful, unattractive behaviors; behaviors no Jesus-following girl should exhibit. I saw I was as much to blame in the situation, maybe even more.

With scripture as a scalpel, God performed open heart surgery that day, and many days since. As I now go to the Great Physician for regular check ups, He is faithful to point out the errors of my ways; to nudge me to allow His thoughts to radiate my soul, burning out the nasty disease that tries to root and grow like a cancer, killing friendships and love.

I wonder, just how many relationship diseases could be cured if we were all more intentional to, early on in the situation, press our Bibles close to our hearts, feeling for any festering lumps of sin?

Dear Lord, please help me to love unconditionally and mind my own sin. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

For more on this topic and a chance to win an English Standard Version leather reference Bible, visit Karen’s blog

A Life that Says Welcome by Karen Ehman

10 Minutes a Day with Jesus: Growing in Your Love for the Savior by Jim Reapsome

Application Steps:
What attitudes do I sometimes display that are the opposite of what God wants for me?

Instead of patience, annoyance? Instead of kindness, harsh words? Do I more readily display rejection rather than exhibit acceptance?

Has there ever been a time that someone extended grace to me when I was actually the one in the wrong? What transpired? How could remembering that kindness keep me from pointing fingers in the future?

Power Verses:
Jeremiah 17:9-10, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds." (ESV)

Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (ESV)

© 2010 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Casting Your Cares
Micca Monda Campbell

"And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" Philippians 4:19 (KJV)

God must have anticipated certain events in the lives of His children that would cause them to become "worry-warts." Even the most mature Christians today are quick to labor under the burden of anxious and excessive care. We worry over personal concerns, family woes, financial woes, cares of the past, and cares for the future.

The Apostle Peter saw this anxious care as a heavy burden and offered us some wise counsel for dealing with it. Peter's advice is to cast all our cares upon God. We are to throw the cares that distract us, wound our bodies and souls, and lay heavy on our hearts, upon the wise and gracious providence of God. You can do that because "he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7) Isn't that awesome? You and I don't have to carry the burden of our worries. God is willing to release us from our cares, and take our concerns upon Himself.

That sounds great. I have no problem casting my cares upon God. At first, the weight is lifted. That is, until God doesn't respond to my need like I think He should. Then it becomes hard for me to not retrieve the burden.

After I lost my husband, I suffered with severe stomach pain. It was how my body dealt with the stress. I assumed by casting my situation on God and asking Him to carry the burden, my stomach troubles would go away. I also expected to not have the burden of going to counseling once a week and not paying that extra bill. But none of that ceased. I kept having stomach pain, which meant I still needed counseling for my grief. I had also hoped that the counselor would at least ease my debt, instead, she went up on her prices.

What was the point of giving my burden to God in the first place if he wasn't going to make it all go away? I wondered.

The point is this: when you and I cast our cares on God, we are acknowledging that it's His responsibility to care for us. We often forget that God is painting on a large canvas. He sees the big picture. We only see what's happening to us at the moment. That's why God allows events to come into our lives—good things and bad things; things that make sense and things that don't.

What you and I may think is harmful and destructive God can use for our good—to bring us to completion in godly conduct and character. He will allow nothing to happen to us that isn't first filtered through His screen of protection.

Ultimate harm would be if God left our character in the state that He found us in. During turbulent times, you and I have this promise, "We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed" (2 Corinthians 4: 8, 9; NIV). God will not let our hardships destroy us. Though they may be tragic in and of themselves, He will use them for our good.

You and I can cast our worries on God because it's His responsibility to care for us. As we trust Him with the bigger picture of our lives, the weight is lifted and peace washes over our anxieties.

Dear Lord, When hard times come, I will not be afraid. I trust in Your loving care to provide for my family and me. Take my burden, Lord, and replace my worry with peace. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
This devotion was taken from Micca’s book, An Untroubled Heart

Do You Know Him?

Cultivating Contentment message on CD by Micca Campbell

Visit Micca’s blog

Application Steps:
Acknowledge God as your Provider. Talk to Him about your burden and place it in His care. When doubt temps you to retrieve it, remember that God is in control; He loves you beyond measure and is working behind the scene on your behalf.

Why is it hard to let go of your burdens and trust them to God?

What is one way you can wait on God until He shows up with a solution?

Power Verses:
Philippians 4:6-7, "Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of god, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

© 2010 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Desperate for Reassurance
Lysa TerKeurst

"Whatever is true...think about such things...And the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:8-9 (NIV)

For the past couple of months I've needed to sense God's most tender mercies more than ever. It's not that I'm going through any kind of crisis. I just feel completely desperate for Him.

If you've ever heard me give my testimony you know part of what I share is being a little girl twirling around next to my daddy wishing I could know that he loved me. Maybe in his own way, he did love me. But something was broken in our relationship that left me feeling desperate for reassurance.

Over the years, God has healed my heart in miraculous ways. God has whispered all those things I wished my earthly father would have said. I know for sure God's love for me is deep, unwavering, and certain.

But there are still times I catch myself twirling again. Crying out again. Wishing I could feel totally secure. Hating my insecurities. And mad that this struggle I thought was over, surfaces still.

Maybe it always will.

And maybe that's not such a bad thing.

For it keeps me desperate for a reassurance I can't get any other way. It keeps me desperate for God.

I can hear my husband tell me a hundred times that he loves me and no, my backside isn't big...and still feel my heart desperately twirling.

I can stand in an arena with thousands of people clapping for the message I just gave... and still feel my heart desperately twirling.

I can conquer my food demons and finally fit back into my skinny jeans... and still feel my heart desperately twirling.

The only thing that stops the desperation, the uncertainties, the insecurities, the for the Spirit of God to lay across my heart and make it still. The blanket of His presence and His protection is the only perfect fit for the deep creases and crevices carved inside me.

I don't know what tough things you've been through in your life sweet sister, but I do know brokenness is universal. We all have things in life that trigger deep insecurities and our own personal twirling about looking for reassurance.

But here's the amazing thing.

While brokenness is universal-God's redemption is also universal for those who proclaim Christ as Lord. No matter what cracks and crevices we have in our heart, if we seek the truth of God above all else He is enough to fill in those raw places. "Whatever is true...think about such things...And the God of peace will be with you" (Philippians 4:8-9).

Have you caught your heart twirling, desperate for reassurance lately? Today, spend a few minutes letting these truths fill your mind and seep into those desperate places of your heart:

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).

I pray that you...may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:17-18).

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness" (Jeremiah 31:3).

Dear Lord, may Your spirit fall fresh upon each of us today. Remind us. Reassure us. Rest upon us. Help us to be still and know that You are our loving God. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Leave your prayer requests on my blog today. It would be my complete honor and privilege to pray for you and whatever circumstance you are facing right now. Please leave your prayer request in the comments box on my blog and throughout the day I will personally be lifting you up.

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

And if you identify with tough life circumstances and insecurities, consider getting a copy of my latest book, Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl by clicking here.

The accompanying DVD teaching series can be found by clicking here. - Contains 6 sessions lasting 15-20 minutes each on one DVD for only $24.99! Perfect for your Bible study group or as a neighborhood Book Club. The Bible Study workbook can be found by clicking here.

Application Steps:
Print this devotion out and give it to a friend who may find great comfort in these truths. Spend a few minutes praying with and for each other.

What things trigger my heart to feel desperate? How can I keep these truths handy so I can refer to them in those hard moments?

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

Psalm 48:9, "Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love." (NIV)

© 2010 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Hold That Thought!
Luann Prater

"Another disciple said to him, 'Lord, first let me go and bury my father.'" Matthew 8:21 (NIV)

In the movie Bolt, a self-centered Hollywood agent constantly tells his child star, "We'll just stick a pin in that." He holds an imaginary push pin in the air and pretends to shove it into an invisible cork board as he says it. He's claiming he'll save that thought/question/request until later and revisit it. But what he really means is, "Get out of here with that request! Not happening!"

The disciple in today's key verse says basically the same thing to Jesus, "Uh, master, hold that thought. Love what you're doing here, want to be a part of it, really I do. Just need to step over here and handle this task first. You understand, right?" The three telling words in this passage are "first let me…"

We are busy, aren't we? If I tell you how busy I am maybe you won't ask me to do something else. Maybe you will think I'm super spiritual because I have so much going on in my life. Don't.
When I am the busiest I really am the most self-absorbed. I'm just being honest here. When there is so much to do often the most important things get shoved to the side or don't make the list at all.

Have you ever said this, "Once I get _____ done, then my life will calm down"? You are not alone. It's an easy habit to develop, but a hard one to break!

Hi, my name is Luann and I'm addicted to activity. Embarrassed to admit it, but got to have a real moment with you. God makes a simple request in my life and yours: "Follow Me." But all too often those four words, "first let me _______," slip past my lips. You can fill in the blank with whatever you put before what Jesus is calling you to. Instead of Jesus telling you, 'let the dead bury their own dead,' maybe He's saying:

"Follow Me, and let the kids wait a minute."
"Follow Me, and let the phone ring."
"Follow Me, and let the dishes sit."
"Follow Me, and reschedule the appointment."
"Follow Me, and let the Facebook and Twitter friends wonder where you are."
"Follow Me, and put everything else on your to-do list after Me. Deal?"

It's time to stop putting God on hold. It's time to stop using everything in our life as an excuse not to do "first things first."

Hold that thought …first let me drop to my knees and pray that God will give me a yearning to put Him first.

Dear Lord, I'm sorry that anything has taken first place in my life besides You. Forgive me and teach me this day to begin with You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

When a Woman Meets Jesus: Finding the Love Every Woman Longs For by Dorothy Valcarcel

His Princess: Prayers to My King by Sheri Rose Shepherd

Spend Saturday afternoons with Luann on Encouragement Café

Intimacy with God: Establishing a Vibrant Quiet Time and Prayer Time by Tara Furman

Application Steps:
Get in the habit of putting Jesus first by spending quiet time with Him before anything else happens in the morning. Beginning in John, read one verse a day and ask God to reveal something new to you. Then write down the first thing that comes to mind.

What is the most important thing in my life?

When do I put Jesus on the list?

How can I stop putting Jesus on hold?

Power Verses:
Matthew 6:33, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (NIV)

Luke 9:62, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." (NIV)

© 2010 by Luann Prater. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , ,

The Blessings of Forgiveness
Marybeth Whalen

"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." Matthew 6:14 (NIV)

I sat listening to my Bible study leader as she took us through our lesson in Genesis. I should have been paying attention but my thoughts kept drifting back to hurtful words and bad memories. It had been weeks since I had spoken to the person who had said those hurtful things, but the pain was still fresh.

I wanted to move on, but I didn't know how. I was caught and I could not get free. The hurt replayed in my mind over and over, a never ending film-loop of words and actions.

That day in Bible study we covered the story of Joseph. I will never forget as we got to the place where his brothers cowered in front of him after realizing who he was…and what they had done (Genesis 50:18). In that moment I will admit that in my humanness, I wanted Joseph to hurt them as much as he had been hurt. At the very least, I wanted him to turn them away as they deserved. Even though I knew the story, I still hoped for a different ending.

And yet, the ending went on just as it had before. Joseph offered his brothers—the brothers that had sold him as a slave—forgiveness. He reached out to them and restored them to a place they didn't deserve. He didn't do it because of them. He did it because of God. He knew what it meant to be forgiven, and he knew the power in extending forgiveness to someone else. I will never forget that moment when God spoke to my heart: "You need to forgive as Joseph forgave."

I will confess I didn't want to offer my forgiveness. God showed me that I was hanging onto my unforgiveness like a burlap security blanket. It was time to offer my forgiveness—not because the person had earned it or deserved it, but because God had asked me to forgive out of simple obedience to Him. Just as He had forgiven me. It was, He reminded me, the least I could do.

In my novel, The Mailbox, the main character Lindsey has several people she must forgive during the course of the story. She learns that there is freedom and peace that is released at the moment we forgive, which makes her eager to forgive even more. This happened to me as well. I heard once that unforgiveness is like eating poison while waiting for the other person to die. Better to walk in the freedom of simply doing what God has asked and let Him take care of the rest. God required me to sacrifice my pride in exchange for the blessing of peace in that relationship. It was definitely worth it and I would do it all over again.

Dear Lord, help me extend forgiveness to those who have hurt me, even when I don't feel that they deserve it. The truth is, I didn't deserve Your forgiveness. Thank You for forgiving me and please help me forgive others as freely as You do. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit She Reads for an exciting giveaway today – a copy of Marybeth’s new novel The Mailbox and an ocean-scented candle.

The Mailbox by Marybeth Whalen

The Friends We Keep: A Woman's Quest for the Soul of Friendship by Sarah Zacharias Davis

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Receive more free encouragement with Forgiveness is Like Spinach

Application Steps:
Is there someone you need to forgive? Spend time journaling about what's holding you back, then pray and ask God's help in extending forgiveness to that person.

Why is unforgiveness like eating poison while waiting for the other person to die? Have you ever experienced this personally or seen it with someone else?

Power Verses:
Luke 11:4a, "Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us." (NIV)

Mark 11:25, "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." (NIV)

© 2010 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

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