The Source of Our Strength
Tracie Miles

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

When we arrived at her hospital room she was in the bed, looking very weak and frail. I fought back the tears as I watched her lie there, helpless to beat the disease that had waged war on her body. I found myself wanting to do something for her, but there was nothing I could do except wish to the depths of my heart that I could infuse her with the strength she needed to carry on.

But my strength held no power for her.

Later that day, I looked to God's Word for comfort. I came across some verses that seeped into the little cracks in my heart that so needed to be filled with something sweet of God. Those verses were Deuteronomy 11:8-9, "Therefore, be careful to obey every command I am giving you today, so you may have strength to go in and take over the land you are about to enter. If you obey, you will enjoy a long life in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors and to you, their descendants..." (NLT).

In this passage, through the mouth of Moses, the Lord instructs the Israelites about their soon-to-be entrance into the Promised Land. He reminds them of all the miracles and amazing things that happened during their journey. Based on their history of disobedient actions, God knew they were easily tempted and distracted – which caused them to lose spiritual strength.

Here in Deuteronomy, we find the Lord warning the Israelites about losing sight of their priorities. He reminds them that the only place they will find the strength to enter into what He had promised was through obedience to Him. The Lord also wanted them to understand that their strength could not come from merely desiring to be good, simply believing He exists, or by carrying out rituals or sacrifices in His honor. It would result from obedience to Him and His words. In fact, in verse 18 the Lord says, "So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine" (NLT). They drew their strength from full and wholehearted obedience to the Lord's commands.

God also wants us to understand the importance of obediently walking with Him every day. He desires that we obey Him in the big things, but also in the small daily things. In doing so, He infuses us with spiritual strength. That strength equips us to handle the tough situations which we feel are far beyond our human level of strength, regardless of whether we are in a hospital bed or standing beside one.

This daily obedience is where we find emotional strength to walk in His peace when we face doubts and fears; strength to walk in His joy when we cannot find any reason to be joyful; strength to stand firm in our faith when things seem hopeless; and strength to be strong when the painful things of life take their toll.

Whether we need strength to comfort a loved one who is hurting or strength to overcome an adversity of our own, a life focused on obedience to God taps into the strength we need to carry on.

Each time we get out of bed we have a choice to make - where will our strength come from to face the day ahead? Will we rely on ourselves or will we rely on God?

Even if our physical weakness is a reality, we can be spiritually strong by keeping our hearts focused on the only true source of unending strength.

Dear Lord, please hold me up today. Give me strength. Help me to lean on You. I am tired and weak and need Your strength today to face these hard situations and the pain in my heart. Draw me closer to You in the midst of this. 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

Visit Tracie’s Blog

31 Days of Power: Learning to Live in Spiritual Victory by Ruth and Warren Myers

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

Application Steps:
If you have been trying to walk through your life in your own strength, confess this to God and ask Him for His strength. Admit that you cannot carry life's burden on your own and lay those things at the foot of the cross.

Have I been trying to live life in my own strength?

Are there days when I am focused on what I cannot do, instead of focused on what God can do?

Power Verses:
Matthew 11:30, "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (NIV)

1 Chronicles 16:11, 18, "Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always…So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine." (NIV)

©Tracie Miles. All Rights Reserved.

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Becoming a Patient Woman
Rachel Olsen

"We also pray that you will be strengthened with his glorious power so that you will have all the patience and endurance you need." Colossians 1:11 (NLT)

In a heart that values instant gratification like mine does, patience seems hard to come by.

In the last several weeks I've raced through a yellow light because I didn't want to wait at a red light – that's dangerous! I've looked up my symptoms on the internet because I didn't want to sit in a doctor's waiting room – that can be dangerous too. I've paid extra for an item off the internet because I didn't want to stand in line at the store – that's wasteful. I've also eaten dessert first, because I didn't want to wait until it was "time" for dessert – well, that's just called for sometimes! Though I can't recall a specific instance, odds are high that I lost my patience at some point and fussed at my kids.

We want stuff and we want it now. We want results and we want them now. Yet the Bible repeatedly says that patience should be a way of life for followers of Christ.

God is love and patience is part of His character. For you and I to love like God loves, patience will be required (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Loving as God loves is the ultimate goal as we walk through this life seeking to please God and become like Him.

I define patience as the ability to endure graciously. We all have to deal at times with people or circumstances that try our composure – an ungrateful child, an inattentive waitress, a slow moving line at the cash register, a spouse or friend taking our efforts for granted. How graciously do we behave in these circumstances?

The Bible says God will be faithful to complete the good works He began in us (Philippians 1:6). That implies there's going to be some "in the meantime" when we're all less than perfect and less than easy to love. This is where patience comes in. The apostle Paul instructs us to "walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph.4:1-3).

We also have to exercise patience with God as we wait for His full plan to unfold. At times we must wait for answers to prayers, for deliverance, for provision, or for Him to dispense justice or reveal His will. We really have no choice but to wait in these circumstances, but a woman developing patience will endure the wait graciously. It helps to remember how very patient God has to be with us on a daily basis!

Exercising patience isn't just an exercise of the human will. The kind of patience Paul is talking about is a fruit of the Spirit developed in a woman's soul in tandem with God. It's a virtue that grows from her confidence in the sovereignty of God and His ability to bring all things to completion, in His timing, in a way that benefits His children and glorifies Him.

This patience-thing may take some time to develop, but I've decided to graciously endure the process. I started today by stopping and waiting at a yellow light. As I sat at the intersection, I thought about God and about developing patience. The light turned green a mere minute later, and I went on my way with a smile on my face, happy to be a woman who is embracing patience … even if in a very small way.

Dear Lord, thank You for being so very patient with me. Help me to develop patience, and display that quality for Your glory. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Related Resources:
30 Days to Taming Your Tongue by Deborah Smith Pegues

Visit Rachel’s blog – and be patient if it takes a moment to load!

God’s Purpose for Every Woman: A Compilation of Favorite P31 Devotions by various Encouragement for Today authors; Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olsen, General Editors

Application Steps:
Pray for patience - daily.

Keep the word "patience" in the forefront of your mind today and look for opportunities to be more patient.

Who in my life can benefit from me extending them more patience?

How would becoming more patient change my day, my outlook, my health, or my relationships?

Is my patience stronger than my temper?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 25:15, "Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can crush strong opposition." (NLT)

Ecclesiastes 7:8, "Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride." (NLT)

Romans 15:15, "May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other – each with the attitude of Christ Jesus toward the other." (NLT)

© 2010 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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When Persistence Pays Off
Marybeth Whalen

"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." Hebrews 10:35-36 (NIV)

I almost walked by her. As she looked over, our eyes met and recognition flashed between us. We crossed the room and hugged like the old friends we were. The usual conversation followed with a few minutes of catching up and then my tentative question: "Are you still going to church?"

My mind flashed back to years ago when we first met. I invited her to church and reached out to her about my faith but she wanted nothing to do with it. The look in her eyes told me that my efforts were hitting a brick wall she had carefully constructed around her heart. And yet, I still asked her to church, shared my own faith journey with her, and persisted in letting her know that God loved her.

This went on for years. Then one day she finally agreed to go with me. She visited with my family a few times, then told us that she was going to start attending another service that was better suited to her schedule. To be honest, I figured it was just a polite way to stop coming without telling me. You can imagine my trepidation as I asked if she was still going to church.

I couldn't believe it as she nodded in affirmation. A radiant smile filled her face. "Remember last week when the pastor asked people to raise their hands if they had prayed the prayer of salvation?"

I remembered the service clearly and smiled back as I nodded.

"Well," she said. "I was one of the ones who raised my hand!"

We hugged and laughed and promised to get together soon before parting to join the people we were with. I spent the rest of the night with a goofy grin on my face. I never thought I would stand across from her in a restaurant and hear that she had accepted Christ as her Savior! I had begun to believe that we would spend the rest of our lives with me pursuing and her running. I was glad I had persisted.

In my novel, The Mailbox, the main character Lindsey is a lot like my friend. She struggles with God and resists Him for years. Her best friend Holly is a Christian and continues to present God to her, giving her a Bible and praying for her, encouraging Lindsey to seek God when life delivers hard blows. Holly doesn't give up and even takes some rejection and ribbing from Lindsey through the years of their friendship. Holly has her eye on the prize and is undeterred by Lindsey's resistance. There might be someone in your life that God has given you a heart for—to reach out to, to invite to church, to pray for, to love, to be God with skin on. You look at their life and the deep need they have for Him and you simply can't turn away. You know you can offer the key to unlock the source of their fulfillment. This treasure is too important to give up on.

On my refrigerator hangs a magnet which says simply, "Never, never, never give up." This is true in sharing Christ with our friends and loved ones. Even when they turn away, we can persevere. I am glad I did.

Dear Lord, You know the person I am burdened for. You see their need for You. Help me to not give up in sharing You. Give me creative and non-threatening ways to make You real to them. And soften their hearts to receive what You are offering. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

The Mailbox by Marybeth Whalen

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

Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper

Visit Marybeth’s blog

Application Steps:
If there is someone on your mind after reading this devotion, do not wait to reach out to them today. Continue to build a relationship with them and pray for them even if they seem resistant to hearing what you want to share about Jesus.

Is there someone you have given up on? If so, why? Do you need to begin reaching out to them or praying for them again?

Power Verses:
Hebrews 11:27, "By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's wrath because he saw him who was invisible." (NIV)

I Corinthians 3:6, "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow." (NIV)

© 2010 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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Impulsive Shopping
Shari Braendel

"Imagine a person who lives well, treating others fairly, keeping good relationships…doesn't live by impulse and greed, doesn't treat one person better than another, but lives by my statutes and faithfully honors and obeys my laws." Ezekiel 18:5 (MSG)

Have you ever run out to purchase a new outfit simply because you felt you had nothing to wear? Or better yet, you're shopping with a friend and see a blouse that is oh-so-fabulous, only to get home and decide it doesn't go with anything else you own; as a result it hangs in your closet with the tags on.

Our class reunion, a wedding, a special party or even our best friend's cook-out begs us to run to the nearest store to buy something new. We often end up purchasing an outfit that is just so-so on us because we're in a hurry to find something and we end up wearing it only that once. Oh, the life of an impulsive shopper! Oh, the money wasted!

I wonder if God thinks we've become a nation of impulsive Christians too. We quickly toss up a prayer pleading for help regarding an illness or impending bills. Or, we quickly scan through a book that promises spiritual health in three easy steps. In the end, the quick scan of the book and the one-time prayer doesn't afford us all we really need – but we hardly notice since we've moved on to our next impulse.

Again and again we put our relationship with God in a corner, then pull it out when crisis comes, then stick it back in the corner as normalcy returns. And we become confused as to why things are turning out the way they are. We struggle with reaching out to God, only doing so when we need Him to fix something for us. Then we get angry when He feels distant; kind of like how we feel unfulfilled when that new dress or pair of capris doesn't really solve our wardrobe issues.

Impulsive shopping and impulsive Christian living have much in common. Both cause confusion and frustration. Both require intention and a plan to overcome.

Just like a well-equipped closet doesn't happen overnight, well-equipped faith doesn't either. Haphazardly bought pieces of clothing aren't effective in creating a solid, workable wardrobe. In the same way, haphazardly spending time with the Lord isn't going to be effective in building a solid, knowledgeable relationship with Him. As a Christian fashion consultant, I can tell you it takes time to grow your relationship with God, just as it takes time to assemble an efficient wardrobe.

Let's take time today and examine the areas in our lives that need some work. Go into your prayer closet today and ask yourself: How can I get more intentional about my walk with God?

Dear God, thank You for desiring more of me than just quick, impulsive prayers. I want to grow more like You every single day and seek You with purpose, not impulse. Please show me how You want me to do that. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Visit Shari's blog to win a signed copy of her newly released book Good Girls Don’t Have to Dress Bad. It is a full-color, complete style guide for women and is a long awaited resource for the Christian community. She will select 3 winners! You may also download a free Wardrobe Plan Sheet to help you get organized with your clothes, too!

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

Application Steps:
Do you set aside time each day to spend with God in prayer? You can start today. Begin with 10 minutes and before you know it, the time you spend with God will fly by, just like when you talk with a good friend!

Think twice before acting on impulse. I have rarely regretted the times I have paused and prayed before making a decision.

What situations tend to bring out impulsive reactions in you? If nothing comes to mind, ask God to impress upon you where you get tripped up. Pray about how to change the process.

There is only one be-all, fix-all in life, and it's not a dress, a pair of shoes, or a 10-day guide to happiness. It is Him, the One who made us. If I begin my search in a conversation with God, I will find the answers I am looking for. (Don't confuse this with always getting the answer you are hoping for, sometimes God's answer is not what we want to hear!)

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 10:5-6, "We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity." (MSG)

Romans 8:26, "The spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." (NIV)

James 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (NIV)

© 2010 by Shari Braendel. All rights reserved.

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The Waiting
Wendy Pope

"Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." Psalm 27:14 (NLT)

Waiting: a virtue I aspire to obtain but often fail to achieve. How about you?

In our hurry up, need it, gotta-have-it-now culture, we have been brain-washed into thinking there is something wrong with waiting and we shouldn't have to do it. Within seconds we can know the weather in southern Mongolia, order a cute blouse from a trendy store, or Skype a conversation with a friend on the opposite side of the country. We can instant message a friend or send a tweet to thousands in the blink of an eye; no wonder we believe waiting is hard to do.

The author of today's key verse was no stranger to waiting and knew full well of its difficulties. Out of nowhere, the prophet Samuel showed up at his home to anoint the next king of Israel who was to be chosen from his family. Only one of Jesse's sons would be anointed as God's chosen king for His beloved Israel. The son chosen was David. Scripture tell us the Spirit of God rushed over David and was with him the remainder of his days (1 Samuel 16:13, ESV). With such an anointing one would expect David to run to take his seat on the throne, but the only running David did was back to the pasture to do his job. Thus his wait began.

In the wait, God prepared David for his seat on the throne. The only vocation David knew was shepherding. He did not know the ends and outs of kingly protocol or the rules of royal deity. David did not have the support of the people or armies to defend him as king. He was only a lowly shepherd boy. Instead of taking the position he was promised David waited for God to move him from the pasture to the palace. In the wait, God made David ready for the move.
David learned many lessons about waiting. By examining and applying these truths we can find hope in the difficulty of waiting and determine that waiting in the present is beneficial to our future.

1. Even though we are anointed and appointed we may still have to wait. David waited fifteen years to be king of Judah and even longer to be king of all Israel.
2. God's ways are not our ways; His thoughts are not our thoughts. After being anointed and appointed David was called to serve Saul, the king who was sitting on "his" throne.
3. God doesn't waste time; He holds it in His hands. He redeems it by using our experiences to prosper us in each season of life.
4. If we allow it, our waiting will bring us to an intimate knowledge of the Savior that we would not other wise have. Most of David's beautiful and poetic psalms were written while in caves, caverns, and the wilderness, waiting on God.
5. God does not ignore the cries of His children. David cried out, and at times begged God for help, invention, and defense. God never let David down. He did eventually take the throne, didn't he?
6. Our waiting has a purpose for someone other that ourselves. It is not all about us. Just think of how rich our lives are today because of the wait David endured. We have the comfort, compassion, hope, and healing of his amazing poetry.

What awesome instructions David gives for waiting! Waiting is less difficult and the future is brighter when we let God to do His work in our waiting season. When we let our guard and defenses down He proves Himself faithful to bring His plans for our lives to fullness.

Dear Lord, help me wait. Help me wait well. I want to be still and allow You to bring Your plan in my life to its fullness. I can't do this without You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
What to do in the W.A.I.T? CD by Wendy Pope

Visit Wendy’s blog

Streams in the Desert: 365 Daily Devotions by L.B. Cowman, Edited by Jim Reimann

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

Lead Me Lord, a free resource, offers more insight into waiting on God

Application Steps:

Read more about David's life starting in 1 Samuel 16.

What is my first response to waiting?

Do I grow closer to or further from God when I am waiting? Why?

What has God taught me in today's devotion about waiting?

Power Verses:
Psalm 27:4, "One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple" (NIV)

Isaiah 40:31, "But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (NIV)
Lamentations 3:24, "I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."" (NIV)

© 2010 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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For the Greater Good
Micca Monda Campbell

"But as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." Genesis 50:20 (ESV)

Beyond a doubt, Joseph was a beloved son. In reading Joseph's story recorded in Genesis 37-50, I couldn't help but think how Joseph would make a great guest on any talk show if he were alive today. The title of the TV program might go something like this: From the Pit to the Palace.

Joseph's story begins much like ours. He came into this world an innocent child. He didn't ask to be born. Joseph, like any of us, deserved to be cared for, loved, and nurtured by his parents. On the other hand, so did Joseph's brothers. But in the eyes of their father, they were second best to Joseph. The rejection of their father caused terrible sibling rivalry until one day Joseph's brothers threw him into a pit.

While Joseph's brothers were eating supper and discussing what to do with Joseph, the opportunity of a lifetime arose. A caravan of Midianites passed their camp on the way to Egypt. Seizing the opportunity, the brothers sold Joseph as a slave for twenty pieces of silver. In U.S. money, that amounts to $1.28.

Is that where you are right now, friend? Have you been rejected by someone and thrown into the pit? Don't fear. You're not lost. God has not abandoned you. He knows your whereabouts. He is using your circumstance as a stepping-stone for a greater plan just as He did for Joseph.

Several years later during a life-threatening drought, Joseph's brothers traveled to Egypt to buy grain. It was Joseph, their brother, who had foretold the drought and prepared Egypt for survival. Many came from all over to buy grain, and so did Joseph's brothers. By now, Joseph had been promoted to second in command in Egypt.

In his powerful position, Joseph could have taken revenge on his brothers for betraying him. Instead, he chose to forgive them and reunite with his family.

As his brothers bowed before Joseph in fear of their lives, Joseph said, "But as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today" (Genesis 50:20). This verse is often compared to Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (NIV).

When you and I let down those walls of fear and trust God for the greater good, we'll find a measure of healing and restoration just as Joseph did. Instead, we often want to cling to the pain. That kind of thinking only keeps us in the pit and allows our wounds and fears to fester and grow. God has so much more for us.

What was meant for evil in your life, God wants to use for your good. The Lord wants to bring you and me out of the pit and place us in His palace. The choice is ours. We can focus on our own bad experience and miss the joy that can be ours. Or, like Joseph, we can take the risk, venture out, forgive those who hurt us and truly believe that God has a greater plan for our future.

Dear Lord, Your promises are a gift to me. You've given them to sustain me, to provide hope and peace while I'm in a pit. Help me to trust in all Your promises until You bring me out. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
This devotion was based on Micca’s book, An Untroubled Heart: Finding Faith that is Stronger than My Fears

Visit Micca’s blog

Great encouragement can be found with our P31 Woman free online article Surrendering Your Strongholds

Treasured: Knowing God by the Thing He Keeps by Leigh McLeroy

Application Steps:
Shake off the dust of your past by trusting in God's promises today. His Word is a light unto our path and our thinking. Instead of thinking about the pit, think about how God is working for your greater good. This will open your eyes to His presence and allow you to rest in His promise.

Do you daily feed your heart, soul and mind with God's promises or are you starving spiritually?

Power Verses:
Psalm 18:30, "As for God, his way is perfect. All the Lord's promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection." (NIV)

© 2010 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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God's Will for Me to Grieve
Melissa Taylor

"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you." Matthew 5:4 (MSG)

The past year has been extremely difficult. My mother died March 25th. On that same day a part of me died, too.

The months leading up to her death were filled with purpose. While I was going through the motions dictated by my circumstances, one thing was crystal clear: I knew what my priorities were and I was confident in what I was doing. For that season, I was to care for Mom.

I think it's amazing as I did God's will for my life, everything fell into place. Co-workers and volunteers did my job in my absence. Speaker Team members took my place at speaking engagements. My husband and mother-in-law picked up the kids from school and helped around the house. Friends brought meals. The Lord worked every detail out and because of that I was filled with peace throughout one of the hardest times I've experienced.

The way I handled life during that time surprised me. My normal reaction would be to freak out, especially since I have a history of anxiety. If you had asked me before my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer how I would manage that trial, I would have responded, "I'll fall apart. I can't take that." However, I did take it and I did very well. Of course, I had my moments when I cried and days I was physically and emotionally exhausted, but I had a purpose and my mom needed me. I chose to trust the Lord and felt His peace the entire time.

Since Mom's passing, I haven't had quite that same presence of peace or purpose. I still trust the Lord and know peace is available, but I'm struggling some with this new reality of Mom being gone. When my mom died, a big part of who I was died too. I lost her and I lost my position as her caregiver. I often feel uncomfortable, shaken. Sometimes I have to remind myself to breathe. Many times I have to tell myself that the same peace I had before is still available. God has not left me and despite how I feel, He still has a purpose for me.

Could it be that my purpose for now is to grieve? Grieving isn't easy and even though it's a natural part of life, it doesn't feel natural. It has required stillness and quiet, which is not simple to come by in my world. It's also required an understanding that my feelings are acceptable and it is okay to not have a clearly defined, tangible purpose for this season – other than grieving. I had to give myself permission to grieve and trust that through this God's will for me will prevail.

Life is filled with highs and lows, and God is there during them all. At times His will for our lives is very clear and at other times I think He wants us to seek Him and wait for Him to make it clear. It's during the seeking and waiting that we must hold on to our hope in Christ and claim the peace He offers us.

So for now, I grieve. The way I grieve may change daily, but one thing will not change: I am blessed, just as our key verse for today says. I'm blessed because of what I've lost. And I'm blessed because God is embracing me every step of the way (Matthew 5:4).

Dear Lord, I am so thankful for Your love. Please give me peace during the trials of my life. Help me be content where You have me today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Through a Season of Grief: Devotions for Your Journey From Mourning to Joy by Bill Dunn and Kathy Leonard

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

Visit Melissa’s blog to catch up on how she’s doing today and find out how you can receive her “Top 10 Ways I can Choose Hope and Claim Peace”

Application Steps:
Don't worry if you aren't sure what your next step in God's will is. Instead, take time to "seek Him and wait." Carve out time to pray, process, reflect, and journal your thoughts and feelings.

Post Scripture in places where you will see them as a reminder God is with you always.

Are you doing God's will in your life right now? How do you know?

Have you chosen hope in the midst of your trial?

If you've lost someone close to you, have you taken time to grieve?

Power Verses:
Jeremiah 29:11b, "I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for." (MSG)

Psalm 16:8, "I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me." (NLT)

John 16:33, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (NIV)

© 2010 by Melissa Taylor. All rights reserved.

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The Time Traveler's Wife
Rachel Olsen

"We love him, because he first loved us." 1 John 4:19 (KJV)

I recently saw the movie The Time Traveler's Wife. In it a man has the unusual experience of being repeatedly, supernaturally plucked from where he is and in a mere nanosecond, transported in time to another location. After a short duration there, he is again miraculously transported back to the present. He never quite knows when he will go, or where he will land. Like the novel it's based on, it is a love story with a science-fiction twist.

This morning as I was reading in the book of Acts I read a similar story – a love story with a supernatural twist.

In Acts chapter 8 we find a man named Phillip – not Philip of the twelve apostles, but another believer – preaching Christ to the Samarians. Before this point, following Christ's ascent to Heaven and the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came down in Christ's place, the disciples were in Jerusalem. Rather than going out to the ends of the earth to preach the good news, they were remaining on familiar ground. It took persecution to drive the Jewish believers out of Jerusalem to surrounding regions where they would spread the message of Jesus.

Phillip had fled the city and taken up that task. He was teaching the Gentiles that God loved them and Christ died for them.

The end of Acts 8 tells one of these accounts. An angel of God instructed Phillip to walk a specific road in a certain direction. When he did, he saw an African man there returning to Africa from Jerusalem. The man, a eunuch, was an officer in the royal household of Ethiopia. Phillip heard the Holy Spirit instruct him to go near to his chariot. Obeying, Phillip found the man reading the book of Isaiah – God was already wooing this man's heart. Indeed, already planning for salvation to come to the continent of Africa. While Africa was still clueless about Christ and dead in its sin, God's love paved the way for redemption. I told you it was a love story!

Phillip helped the man understand what he was reading in Isaiah – a prophecy about Jesus – and explained to him the message of salvation. The Ethiopian believed the account of Christ. Then he spotted some nearby water and asked to be baptized. The entire story to this point is supernatural – all driven by the heart of God – but here's where the science-fiction-like twist comes in. Read it for yourself:

When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. Meanwhile, Philip found himself farther north at the town of Azotus. He preached the Good News there and in every town along the way until he came to Caesarea. (Acts 8:39-40, NLT)

Just like that - like the time traveler in the movie I saw – Phillip was supernaturally transported from that moment in the water with the Ethiopian to another town farther north where he would continue telling the Gentiles of Jesus. While this seems bizarre and amazing to us, it's quite commonplace to God.

God travels through space and time without being bound by it. Let that sink in just a minute. He is already in the middle of your day, in the middle of your tomorrow, and in the center of next week.

Surely then, we can trust Him with our days. Surely He can handle whatever problems or emotions may arise this afternoon and this evening.

In the movie I watched, the time traveler loved his wife from her childhood through her adult years, and wooed her across space and time.The True Time Traveler has loved you from birth and woos you across space and time too. As a believer, you are the Time Traveler's wife – the very bride of the ascended Christ.

You love Him today because He first loved you.

Dear Lord, You are bigger, more powerful, and more magnificent than I can imagine. I place myself in Your hands today, trusting You wherever I find myself and with whatever comes my way. I love You, and I know that is because You first loved me. Help me show others Your amazing love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
If you are like the Ethiopian, trying to grasp who Jesus is and what that means for you, click here to find out.

Consider sponsoring an African child through Compassion International. Your chosen child will receive love, food, educational help, health care, and most importantly, the message of Jesus.

Say hello to Rachel at her blog

God’s Purpose for Every Woman: a compilation of favorite P31 Encouragement for Today devotions, by various P31 authors. Gen. Eds. Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olsen

Application Steps:
Is there something you are fretting over today? Pray and trust God with it.

Would you like to be a Phillip? Wishing you could help others know Jesus? You can. Follow this link, then choose a child, pray for him or her, consider partnering with Compassion International and begin writing your chosen child letters.

Do I share the love and gospel of Christ with others?

Do I show Jesus my love? He said, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." (John 14:15)

Power Verses:
1 John 4:7, "Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God." (NLT)

Romans 5:8, "But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." (NLT)

© 2010 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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It's Not About You
Zoe Elmore

"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)

In his popular book The Purpose Driven Life, author and pastor Rick Warren makes one point very clear, "It's not about you." In a world where pursuing personal comfort and happiness is an obsession, many of us chafe and choke at the thought of any struggle or pain invading our lives. The thought that the world wasn't created just to keep us happy and comfortable seems counter intuitive to today's thinking. It can be difficult to swallow the fact that God is not most interested in our comfort, but more interested in our character.

To put this in perspective, I recently reread the trials and tribulations of the apostle Paul. It is eye opening to discover the very things we dread and run from in our lives are precisely where Paul found his contentment. Look at his words in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. He's essentially saying: I am content when I lose. I am content when I am weak. I am content when I'm insulted. I am content when I endure hardships. I am content with persecutions. I am content with difficulties.

How can this be true? Paul shares his discovery: Because when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul's stunning contentment is a clear example of the way we should live our lives content in everything. This happens when we allow the divine strength available through the power of the Holy Spirit to permeate our human frailties and weaknesses.

Did you catch that? Paul's prescription for contentment is an attitude of unselfish humility. I think it's important to note Paul's selfless and humble attitude helped him see his imprisonment as a divine appointment.

Had I been imprisoned under Paul's circumstances, I'm sure I would have moaned and groaned, demanding the guards give me special treatment.

Mirroring the life of Christ, Paul empties himself of "self" and allows unselfish humility to drive his attitude and his actions. This is the first step to learning contentment. Paul encourages all believers to go one step further. "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe" (Philippians 2:14-15, NIV). Think about that for a moment; a life that lacks grumbling, complaining or arguing leaves room for only one thing…joy!

As we exchange our selfish attitude for one of joyful humility others will take note and be drawn closer to Christ. Friends, as we allow God to work in the midst of our brokenness and inability His strength rushes in to fulfill our need. Let's make a commitment to be joyfully humble for one week and experience God's transforming work in your life and in the lives of others. Living in His strength, our lives will reflect Christ and we will be content in all circumstances.

Dear Lord, You emptied Yourself of everything but love when You died on the cross for my sins and I am eternally grateful. Empower me through the Holy Spirit to be content in every circumstance or situation. Teach me to rely on Your strength and not my weakness. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

All I Need is Jesus & a Good Pair of Jeans by Susanna Foth Aughtmon

Visit Zoe’s blog

Brokenness, Surrender, Holiness: A Revive Our Hearts Trilogy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

You’ll find more encouragement with our free resource Honoring God with Your Life

Application Steps:
If you are in the midst of a struggle, ask God to encourage you through His Word. Write down the verses of strength you find and put your name in each one. Pray them every day this week and experience His contentment in all things.

Read Hebrews 4:16, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (NIV). Reflect on this verse and write down what the Lord reveals to you.

Power Verses:
I Corinthians 1:25, "For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." (NIV)

2 Corinthians 12:5, "I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses." (NIV)

2 Corinthians 13:4, "For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God's power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God's power we will live with him to serve you." (NIV)

© 2010 by Zoe Elmore. All rights reserved.

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Rediscovering Creativity
Glynnis Whitwer

"But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers for them in the desert!" Isaiah 43: 18-19 (NLT)

There are days when my inspiration well is dry. Cracked and dusty in fact. On those days nothing is flowing, not a gurgle or a drip. Try as I might, I can't manifest a single creative thought.

Dinner? Will toast and peanut butter work?

Writing? See Jane … uh … run. Daughter's history project?

Let's see what we can make with lined paper.

On those days, I'm convinced I'll never again write a witty word and my family is destined for mediocre meals. Even more concerning is the worry that I'm raising children who will perpetuate my blandness. What depressing thoughts!

Yet on other days, I'm the Colorado River of inspiration. A little muddy at times, but fast and free flowing. Thoughts with tinges of brilliance (and far above my normal level of thinking) burst from my brain faster than my fingers can type. Relief seeps into my heart. Gourmet meals are just an hour away! I'm not empty after all!

I've experienced both these conditions. And it got me thinking about the circumstances surrounding them. I've realized there are certain patterns that foster my times of creativity. Because I'm designed by a creative God to be creative, I want to dig in deeper to these ideas and work them into my life in greater measure.

The first circumstance that breeds creativity seems to be a new or renewed commitment to a God-given vision. In the past six months, God has refocused my personal ministry. Last year I had a sense He wanted to do something different in and through me, and spent time praying about it and waiting. As I embraced what God was showing me, He rewarded me with exciting ideas, more than I've had in years.

Turning to this new vision has meant leaving other things behind. That was painful. But as I listen to God and obey, I'm energized for the future.

The second circumstance that sparks my creativity is getting out of my routine, and positioning myself around something creative. A simple trip to a book or craft store can jump-start my thinking. I love going to a gourmet or niche grocery store. Farmer's markets, art museums, music stores, concerts or a model home might do the same for you.

We all have creativity designed into us. Yet many believe they were shorted in the idea department, while others got an unfair share. Not true! Perhaps you've put borders around what you think creativity looks like. A mom who whips up an amazing breakfast her toddler will eat is just as creative as a woman designing a line of fashion. God blesses both – they just don't look the same.

Take time to pray about God's vision for you, and position yourself in a creative environment. Who knows what amazing new thing God will do!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for making life beautiful and creative. Thank You for placing a bit of Your creativity in me so that I can enjoy You more. Help me to shake off the negative thoughts about my own lack and be open to whatever new thing You long to do in me and through me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
The Character of God: Understanding His Heart for Us, small group or individual Bible study by Glynnis Whitwer and Brian T. Anderson

Visit Glynnis’s blog

Don't Panic-Dinner's in the Freezer: Great-Tasting Meals You Can Make Ahead by Susie Martinez, Vanda Howell and Bonnie Garcia

Green Mama: The Guilt-Free Guide to Helping You and Your Kids Save the Planet by Tracey Bianchi

The Reason We Speak or For the Write Reason by Marybeth Whalen

Application Steps:
Identify one hobby or creative activity you love but haven't spent much time on lately. What one thing can you do in the coming weeks to position yourself for a spark of creativity? Schedule that activity.

How do we see the creativity of God in our world?

What are the benefits of living a life where creativity is cultivated and advanced?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 31:13, "She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands." (NIV)

Exodus 35:30-33, "Then Moses said to the Israelites, 'See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts - to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship.'" (NIV)

© 2010 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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Susanne Scheppmann

"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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:8-9 (NIV)

Do you know the most annoying word in the English language? By popular vote, the word whatever won the dubious award of most annoying word by a poll conducted by Marist College in October of 2009. And, admittedly, most people use the phrase, Whatever!—I do myself. Even my three-year-old granddaughter looked at me the other day and said, "Whatever, Grandma."

Can't you hear it ring in your head as an exasperated person says, "Whatever!" Or a teen rolling her eyes and whooshing out, "WHAT-ehv-errr." Yes, it can be an annoying word. It can be a hurtful word filled with dismissal of a person or a person's actions.

However, I believe the Apostle Paul would not agree that it is a word nominated for most annoying. He determined whatever was a word that encompassed all the good things we experience in this life. He preferred to use the term as a directive for us to consider all that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. Then he finished in admonishment to us with, "And the God of peace will be with you."

So what do we do with the word whatever? Such a contradiction found in one English word provides us with a spiritual opportunity. We can use whatever to provide a verbal cue to others that we found them or their actions to be ignored. Or whatever can be a prompt for us to search for the positive side of people and circumstances. The decision is up to us to determine what type of whatever we allow to inhabit our lives. Do we consistently complain? Or do we choose to engage in encouragement?

Will you take the whatever challenge with me today? Let's choose to believe and ponder on all that is a positive influence in our world—everything that proves itself to be true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable and anything that is excellent or praiseworthy. And the best whatever is that the God of peace will be with us as we strive to experience the positive.

Dear Lord, teach me to concentrate on whatever is beneficial to my thought life. Grant me the ability to push aside whatever I find annoying in my life and let me learn to focus on the lovely and praiseworthy things You have placed around me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

Divine Prayers for Despairing Parents by Susanne Scheppmann

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

Thin Places: A Memoir by Mary E. DeMuth

Application Steps:
Take a moment to make a list of things that are excellent and praiseworthy gifts from God, such as books, music, friends, church, etc. Today purposefully reflect on how these items enrich your life. Ask God to help you replace the annoyances of life with the thoughts of whatever is lovely.

What do I find exasperating in my life—what are my "WHAT-ehv-errrs?"

Am I thankful for my whatevers that are admirable and excellent?

Do I complain more than I praise?

Would my family, friends and co-workers describe me as a positive person?

Power Verses:
Romans 12:2, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." (NIV)

Psalms 33:21, "In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name." (NIV)

Philippians 1:27a, "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." (NIV)

© 2010 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

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God's Provision
Lysa TerKeurst

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God who richly provides us with everything..." 1 Timothy 6:17 (NIV)

It seems you can hardly turn anywhere today without seeing reminders of economic hardships. During the past couple of years the unemployment rate in our country has been the highest we've seen in 60 years. Friends and family members are suffering due to the loss of jobs, investments gone bad, and cutbacks that seem to be everywhere.

I have a friend who has owned a thriving car dealership for over 30 years. This man and his family have been pillars in their community who are known for their generosity and kind Christian spirits.

This past year though, he declared bankruptcy and literally lost everything--including their cars.

If that isn't cruel irony, I don't know what is.

So, I've had to have some discussions with God about the absolute heartbreak of this situation. I know God is the great provider, so why isn't He providing for my friend? God is a miracle worker, so why isn't He working a miracle for my friend?

These are fair questions about what seems like a terribly unfair situation.

Whenever I face situations I am having a hard time understanding, I have to park my mind with what I know to be true. Keeping my mind saturated with truth, keeps Satan from being able to whisper dangerous assumptions, false accusations, and faith-eroding perspectives.

So, what is true in this situation? What is true no matter what situation we are facing?

God is a good provider.

This is true. This is where I must park my mind. This is the reality that must saturate my thoughts. This truth rises above our troubling circumstances and calls us to see life from a perspective outside our screaming realities.

God richly provides us with everything we need. Therefore I must trust that God is providing for my friend. What is in front of my friend is God's provision. God hasn't stopped providing just because my friend is in financial turmoil. This situation hasn't caught God off guard. God hasn't run out of resources to help my friend.

Part of God's perfect provision for my friend is to walk through this. I may not like it. I may not understand it. But, because my friend knows and loves God, I have peace that he will make it through this.

The Bible tells us in Philippians 4:8-9 that if we think on what is true, the peace of God will be with us. And ultimately, isn't peace what we want? That's what I really want for my friend. I want this precious man and his family to have peace more than I want their dealership to be saved, their finances restored, and their old life to suddenly come back and settle into place.

Praise God, His peace is but an utterance of truth away. So, sweet sister, park your mind with His truth today. And watch God's perfect provision of peace flood whatever dry and lacking ache you are experiencing right now.

Dear Lord, thank You for being my provider each day. Help me not to fear these times of hardship. Rather, help me to trust in You and Your ways more each day. My desire is to focus on what is true and believe that You will make the rough places smooth. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit by clicking here if you would like to request prayer for yourself or one of your friends who are having a tough time in this economy. Lysa would consider it a great honor to pray personally for every request posted today.

Be sure to check out Lysa’s book and Bible study Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl. This is the perfect 6 week summer study or one to consider doing with your women’s group this fall.

To order your book, click here. To order your Bible study workbook and DVD study click here and here.

Application Steps:
Every time a discouraging thought comes into your mind today:
Replace it with a verse from God's Word.

Replace it with the truth that God is a good provider and that His unfailing love for you will not be shaken.

Replace it by seeking Him and calling on Him for He is always near.

How can God's peace restore you today?

Could this devotion showing up in your inbox today be a reminder from God that He sees you and cares about your situation?

Power Verses:
Psalm 84:1-2, "How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God." (NIV)

Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." (NIV)

© 2010 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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Timely Gifts
Lynn Cowell

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17 (NIV)

Yesterday was my birthday and birthdays mean gifts! My family is very good about gift-giving and tends to give me something I might have mentioned that I like, but really wouldn't buy for myself. Whatever they choose, they always pick just the right thing at the right time. Several years ago…ok, many, many years ago…for my sweet 16 birthday, my parents gave me a unique keychain with a key to their car. I loved it! That key represented freedom and independence. Exactly what I was craving at that time. It was the right gift at the right time.

If my parents had given me that same gift when I was six, it would have been very strange and inappropriate. At six, I would have wondered what it was for and how to use it. My parents knew what to give and when to give it.

In James 1:17 we are told that God our Father gives good gifts to us, His children. Not only does He give good gifts, but He knows perfectly what to give and when to give it. His gifts are not spur of the moment because He forgot that a special day was on its way. His gifts are all about perfect timing.

When I was five, I couldn't reach my jacket that was hanging on the last peg just above the cement steps that led to our basement. I called out for help, but refused to wait. A tumble down those steps produced a black eye that stayed for a very long time. I didn't trust that those who loved me would come and do what I needed when I wanted it.

Many of us are asking God for help. We are crying out for something we need. The key is, can we wait patiently, trusting that His timing is perfect? Can we trust that He has our best in mind and is working on our behalf?

Sometimes we grow impatient. We want what we want and we want it now. So we make the mistake of trying to get it by ourselves. Have you ever tried to get something by yourself? Is there something in your life that you really want…now?

Is there one thing you feel if you could have, your life would be complete? If you could just have that job at that pay, life would be so much better. If God would just open your womb, the emptiness would finally be gone. If He would just heal your broken, cold marriage, your heart would be joyful. If He would just fulfill that lifelong dream, you would be content. Are you tempted, like me, to get that thing any way you can, even with the possibility you could end up with way more than a black eye?

There are times with all of our prayers He seems to answer "no" or at least "not now." It is here, where our desires intersect His will that we have to trust the Father knows best and every gift comes from Him. Every time, in His time, the gift is good and perfect.

I have seen God's perfect gifts in my life as I have waited on Him. Waited on Him for a husband. Waited on Him to open doors for ministry. Waited on Him to draw my kids to Himself. I see my history with Him and I'm going to choose to keep on waiting for His good and perfect gifts.

Dear Lord, waiting on You is so hard! My heart wants to get things moving, step up and take action. Help me to always bring my desires to You, knowing that You always have my best at heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Order Wendy Pope’s CD What to Do in the W.A.I.T.: Finding Contentment in God’s Pauses and Plans

Visit Lynn’s blog to share and encourage others with your story of when you have waited and seen God’s perfect and good gifts!

My Prince will Come: Getting Ready for My Lord's Return by Sheri Rose Shepherd

When God Says No, Keep Asking offers more free encouragement!

Walking with God in the Quiet Places: Devotions for Women by Various Authors including Lysa TerKeurst

Am I currently in a waiting place? Am I waiting in faith, expecting to see God's good and perfect gift or am I living in a place of frustration because He doesn't seem to be doing things my way in my time?

How can I begin to honor God while I am waiting?

What type of testimony am I writing each day that I am waiting?

Power Verses:
Psalm 27:14, "Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." (NIV)

Psalm 33:20, "We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield." (NIV)

© 2010 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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Discipline: Willing Surrender
Wendy Blight

"And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as His children? He said, 'My child don't make light of the Lord's discipline, and don't give up when He corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child.'" Hebrews 12:5-6 (NLT)

Teaching is my passion.

Besides being a wife and mother, nothing brings me greater joy than teaching and sharing God's Word. Lately I have felt dry, asking the Lord what's next. I was ready for Him to do a new thing…desiring a new message. Well, friends, be careful for what you pray!! Because as I prayed, the Lord drew me to Hebrews 12. It was there He met me and re-introduced me to a word with which I have long been familiar…discipline.

Discipline. defines discipline as the rigor or training effect of experience or adversity. My parents disciplined me as a child. With a teenager and a tween, my husband and I find ourselves in a continual process of discipline. But me? I am an adult. I don't need discipline. And who really has the right to discipline me?

Hebrews 12:5-6 discusses just exactly who has the right to discipline me…and you. God. Our Creator. Our Heavenly Father.

I love how the writer of Hebrews 5 begins: "And have you forgotten the encouraging words that God spoke to you as His children?..." God intends for the words that follow to encourage us and not discourage us.

In Hebrews 12:5-6, the writer of Hebrews quotes from Proverbs 3:11-12 which says, "My child, don't reject the Lord's discipline, and don't be upset when He corrects you. For the Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights."

This word discipline in the King James translation is "chasteneth," which in the Greek denotes "to train" and is most often used with training up a child.

Elsewhere in Scripture it is translated learned or taught, but in Hebrews 12, it refers specifically to the part of training that means infliction of evils and calamities. When I read that, my first thought was surely not, God. But as I continued my study, God's Word helped me understand.

God knows who He created us to be. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you…plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."

God promises in Romans 8:28, "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them."

God balances these encouraging truths with the reality that we are sinful and selfish creatures. When given the choice, we will choose to please ourselves, serve ourselves, and put ourselves first. God knows to accomplish the plans He has for us, He must burn away that which is selfish and self-centered. He also knows that we will not willingly surrender to this chastisement.

But we all have faults and follies that need to be corrected. And at the time God led me to Hebrews 12, I was in the midst of struggling with those faults and follies. He wanted me to see that I had to walk through His refining fire to burn off all evidence of self in my struggle. Such a hard truth to hear. But the end result, the wonderful truth is that God promises me that when I emerge on the other side of His refining fire, I will be closer to reflecting His image and closer to being the woman He created me to be.

When we look at Hebrews 12:5-6 this way, we should willingly surrender to His discipline. For it is His discipline that assures us we are legitimate, loved children of God. He is treating us as His own. He is preparing us. He is training us. He is transforming us.

Dear Lord, thank you for disciplining me. It is hard to take but I understand it is for my good and Your glory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Would you be willing to share a time of discipline in your life? Please visit my blog and leave me your story. I will select one comment to receive a copy of i am not, but i know I AM by Louie Giglio.

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

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

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

Enjoy more encouragement with our free Everyday Life article A Well-Pruned Life

Application Steps:
Read Deuteronomy 8:2-5. What do these verses say about God's discipline?
Reflections: Reflect on a time of discipline in your life and journal what God taught you and how it has changed your life.

Power Verses:
Hebrews 12:7a, "As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as His own children." (NLT)

Deuteronomy 8:5, "Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good." (NLT)

© 2010 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

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When I'm on My Knees
Melanie Chitwood

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 (NAS)

Bending down with rag in hand, I wiped the coffee spills off the kitchen floor. Then my eye caught the spills dribbled down the cupboard door. I'm surprised I haven't seen that before, I thought to myself as I continued to clean. Okay, I'll just spend some time on my knees on this kitchen floor. Wow, there's more dog hair down here than linoleum. And there's that ball the boys have been looking for.

I thought I had thoroughly cleaned the kitchen, but on my knees I could see many things I had never seen before. So it is in my prayer life. Whether I'm literally on my knees or sitting in my big chair as I usually do when I pray, I'm often amazed to see how my perspective changes in prayer.

A quiet time of humbling ourselves before the Lord will allow Him the time to reveal anything that doesn't please Him. Psalm 139:23, 24 offers us a model of a prayer: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way."

When we see the dirt in our lives, we need to make sure we don't move to self-condemnation, but instead take the step God desires from us: confessing our sin to the Lord.

It's important to recognize that sin grieves our Holy Father, so much so that He sacrificed His precious Son for our sin. We need to call sin what it is; it's not a bad habit, a bad choice, or a mistake. Sin is sin, and its roots are rebellion and independence from God. By His death on a cross Jesus has already forgiven us, but confessing our sins is a way of acknowledging and remembering that we need a Savior.

By being honest with God about our sin, we discover a great treasure: He loves us just as we are, and at the same time He wants to transform our character to be like His.

Dear Lord, thank You, Jesus, for Your death on a cross. I never want to take that lightly. In a world where it's more acceptable to be tolerant, I want to remember that You are a holy God who does not tolerate sin. I am a sinner in constant need of Your grace, forgiveness, and love! Thank You for paying the price for my sins. I need You every minute of every day to empower me to be more like You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Melanie’s blog What Matters Most

What a Wife Needs from Her Husband by Melanie Chitwood

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

Application Steps:
Print out this devotion, look up each Scripture in the devotion, and spend time quietly meditating on them.

If you're not sure you're a child of God, you are only a prayer away from assurance! Click on Do You Know Him? for guidance in praying.

Go to Melanie's blog, What Matters Most, where you'll find a link to worship music to help you turn your heart and mind toward God.

Do you take time to be quiet before the Lord? Can you take time right now to confess your sin?

Know that God loves you. He is not eager to condemn, but to forgive you.

Power Verses:
Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (NAS)

Romans 8:1 "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (NAS)

© 2010 by Melanie Chitwood. All rights reserved.

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The Valve
Luann Prater

"Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark." James 3:5 (NIV)

My husband asked me to pick up some diesel fuel for the tractor. I had his truck and he had put the gas can in a box so it wouldn't tip over. Now, I'm 5'2", so can we just start there? Things that taller-than-me folks can do becomes a bit more of an issue for this vertically challenged gal. I pumped the gas into the can then tried to lift it, not only up to the bed of the truck, but over the top edge of the box. It was then I discovered the little valve cover was open.

A cup of gas escaped through that tiny opening, and strategically ran from the top of my t-shirt to the top of my pants. I panicked that my cell phone might ring and light my fire! That wasn't the type of flame I was hoping God would fan in my life!

I scrubbed and scrubbed in the shower but the stench of gas remained in my nostrils.

My lips are like that little valve. It is such a small opening, yet the fuel that escapes can be unpleasant, caustic and even deadly. Loose lips have snapped at my family. Harsh tones have left friends feeling poisoned. Careless words have killed the spirit in a vulnerable child.

James tells us that our tongue is like a restless evil full of deadly poison. Ouch! My husband didn't want me to spill that gas; we wanted to use it for good. God doesn't want our tongues to open unless they are going to encourage and spur one another on.

Several years ago I made a very small, but very life-changing decision. When a hurtful thought comes into my head, I tighten my lips and force a pause button to appear in my brain. When I allow myself to have just a second to think about the potential hazard that could come from 'speaking my mind' it gives the Holy Spirit time to check my heart and motives. In that pause moment I say, "Lord, take control of this tongue." And He does.

Do I get it right every time? No. But I can see fewer wrecks in my life, fewer wounds, fewer poison-tipped darts flying out of this mouth. And I no longer reek of gasoline I added to the fire.
Want to join me? Pause. Seal up the valve and allow the Holy Spirit to work for good through the words you speak.

Dear Lord, thank You for reminding us that our tongue can rip a heart apart, or seal it back together. Teach us to pause long enough to give Your Spirit time to work in and through us. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue: What You Say (and Don't Say) Will Improve Your Relationships and accompanying Workbook by Deborah Smith Pegues

Chat more with Luann on her blog or hear her on Encouragement Café every Saturday!

Self Talk, Soul Talk: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself by Jennifer Rothschild

For more daily encouragement, follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

Application Steps:
Before anything negative slips past your lips today, hit the pause button. Pray that the Holy Spirit take control. Ask God to make you a peacemaker.

Why do I say things I regret later?

When will I surrender my tongue to Jesus?

How can I allow my words to encourage instead of destroy?

Power Verses:
James 3:17, "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." (NIV)

Proverbs 27:15, "A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day." (NIV)
© 2010 by Luann Prater. All rights reserved.

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Sometimes I Feel So Overlooked
Lysa TerKeurst

"After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: 'I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart, he will do everything I want him to do.'" Acts 13:22 (NIV)

I'm sorry. I try not to complain very often. I do know that I am incredibly blessed to have a grocery store down the street and a washer and dryer to use when doing laundry. But sometimes I wake up on Monday mornings a little grumpy. Time to do it all again. I'll go buy food that gets eaten. I'll wash clothes that get dirty again. I'll sweep floors that just an hour later will be littered with crumbs.

Is there more to all this than just doing the tasks of everyday life?

Before I jumped into the normal routine this morning, I sat with Jesus. And this is what I found... some big truths by taking a little glance at David's life. Despite how other's saw him, his own propensity to sin, and his lack of position in his own family, David had the sweet reassurance of God and that was enough.

Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

To his older brothers, he was a pest. To his father Jesse, he was just the youngest son. To on-lookers, he was just a shepherd boy. But to God, he was the one destined to be king. And not just any king. His lineage was the one from whom Jesus would come.

Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

Even how he was anointed to be the future king is such a telling story. In 1 Samuel 16, God tells Samuel that He has rejected Saul as king and chosen one of Jesse's sons to be the replacement. Think of the list of qualifications that must have run through Samuel's head as he pondered which of Jesse's sons would be qualified for such a position: tall, smart, articulate, brave, groomed, well mannered, regal, a natural born leader. "But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his outward appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. (meaning Saul who had these qualities.) The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (vs 7).

Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

Next Samuel has Jesse line all of his sons up before him. All of them were to be looked at. Yet Jesse doesn't call David in from tending sheep. Was this an oversight? An assumption? A judgment call? A necessity? A deliberate choice?

Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

Samuel passes on each of Jesse's sons and then asks, "Are these all the sons you have?"

I imagine Jesse with a quizzical expression replying, "There is still the youngest but he is tending sheep." Surely one who spends his time taking care of animals is not the one to take care of a nation.

Overlooked by everyone else. Handpicked by God.

As soon as Samuel saw him, he knew he was the one. David was anointed to become king. But he was not immediately ushered to the throne. It was years before David would be recognized by the world. So, where did he go after being anointed as king? To a refining school? A government academy? Military training? Nope.

He went back out into the fields and continued to shepherd his flock. A king doing lowly tasks. A king whose character was being refined in the fields of everyday life to prepare him for his calling.

How like us. In the midst of smelly laundry, dirty dishes, snotty noses, misplaced keys, overdue library books, bills, and that birthday gift that still needs to be mailed to grandma - there is training there. There is character building. There is attitude shaping. There is soul defining. There is heart grounding. All which must take place for us to become what God intends.
Ever feel overlooked by the world? Take heart sister - we are handpicked by God.

I am not just doing tasks. I am building a legacy. I am shaping God's kingdom. I am in the process of not only discovering my calling but that of my family as well. And I don't know about you, but it sure does make me look at my everyday tasks, even the smelly laundry in a whole different light.

Dear Lord, thank You that even when I feel overlooked, I can rest in the fact that I am handpicked by You. Help me to live my life for an audience of One. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa’s new interactive website full of free resources and encouraging videos. You can get to by clicking here.

Today’s devotion is taken in part from Lysa’s book and Bible Study, Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl. This is the perfect 6 week summer study or one to consider doing with your women’s group this fall. To order your book, click here, to order your Bible study workbook and DVD study click here and here.

Am I Messing Up My Kids? by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Write down in your journal a list of qualities that you sense God is developing in you. Next write down why you think God might find it necessary to develop you in this particular way.

Are there any tasks that you particularly struggle with not wanting to do? Ask God for a new perspective and spend time listening for His voice while you do this job.

Power Verses:
Psalm 28:7a, "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped." (NIV)

2 Samuel 7:22, "How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears." (NIV)

© 2010 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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