God’s Looking For A Gap Girl By: Sharon Jaynes

God’s Looking for a Gap Girl Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth

God said, “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one”(Ezekiel 22:30 NIV).

Friend to Friend

“Well, I guess the only thing left to do is pray about it.”

How many times have I heard those words? How many times have they slipped past my lips? But what if we looked at prayer from a different perspective…God’s perspective? What if we viewed prayer as our first course of action rather than a last resort?

The vast majority of the emails I receive through my ministry center around marriage problems. Women struggle with husbands who aren’t living up to their expectations: men who work too much and love too little, men who withdraw emotionally and advance sexually, men who initially appear to be Prince Charming but later reveal the villain within.

The second most common request is in regard to children—both school-age children and adult children out on their own. Listen, I get that. Been there. Still there on many days.

Regardless of where your marriage, your children, or your family fall on the continuum of terrific to tolerable to terrible, there is always room for improvement. Prayer can make a bad situation good and a good situation great.

One thing we have to remember: Prayer is not a means of gaining control over your husband, to whip him into shape and make him the man you want him to be. Prayer is a means ofrelinquishing control of your husband and asking God to shape him into the man that He wants him to be. Prayer involves turning the finger that points out your man’s faults and folding it along with the others in prayer.

Prayer is not a means of getting your children to be exactly what you want them to be, but for them to be exactly what God wants them to be.

Prayer is not a means to gain control over any situation in your life, but to relinquish control so that God can do what God needs to do.

The Bible tells us in Isaiah 29:16, “You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘You did not make me’? Can the pot say to the potter, ‘Upi knows nothing’?”

God is the Master Potter, and He certainly doesn’t need you or me to tell Him how to shape and mold the people that we are praying for. Oh, we’d like to. That’s for sure.

But God’s ultimate goal is for each lump of clay to be fashioned according to His design and for His purposes, not ours. “We are the clay, you are the potter,” Isaiah writes, “we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8). I am. You are. Whoever you are praying for today is.

God shapes and molds. You pray and intercede.

James warns about the danger of praying with wrong motives (James 4:3). Check your desire to control at the door of the prayer closet and don’t let it in.

Ezekiel gives us a glimpse into the heart of God regarding prayer. Israel had sinned in every possible way, and her people were doomed for destruction. God said, “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none” (Ezekiel 22:30). God looked for someone to pray, to intercede, to stand in the gap for Israel, but there was no one.

Today God is looking for women who will stand in the gap for their husbands, children, friends, family, and nation. I’m so glad He has found such a woman in you.

If you’re standing in the gap for someone today, click over to my Facebook page and say, “I’m a Gap Girl!”

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, today I stand in the gap for __________. I pray for _________’s mind, that You would keep wrong thinking out and usher truthful thinking in. I pray for ________’s eyes, that he/she would turn his/her eyes toward what is good, and away from what is evil. I pray for _______’s ears, that he/she will listen to words and music that glorify You, and turn his/her ears away from words and music that would do his/her soul harm.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Cover or Expose? By: Lynn Cowell

MARCH 18, 2015

Cover or Expose? LYNN COWELL

“Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.” Genesis 9:22-23 (NIV)

“This day is not getting off to a very good start. She’s already being rude,” my friend informed me.

It seemed the day ahead would present some challenges. One of our group members was having another rough day … and when she had a rough day, we all had a rough day.

I stopped for a moment to pray. I prayed for the woman. I prayed for both of our days. (It appeared we both needed it!) Then, I headed into a meeting, and purposed to forget the comment and move forward.

I know my friend was looking out for me by offering a warning, but when we find ourselves privy to information we didn’t ask for, we’re always given an opportunity …

Cover or expose?

In today’s key verses, Noah’s sons are in a similar situation. After the flood, Noah planted a vineyard. One day, while he enjoyed the fruit of his garden, he became drunk. In his stupor, he fell asleep naked in his tent. Ham, Noah’s son, walked into his father’s tent, I’m sure very surprised at what he found.

Stepping outside the tent, he let his brothers, Shem and Japheth, in on his discovery. The younger two responded to their father’s embarrassing situation by putting a cloak on their shoulders, walking backward into the tent and covering their father.

Noah’s sons had options on how to respond, and they took very different approaches.

Ham chose to expose. He took the opportunity to highlight his father’s fault.

To be fair, Ham didn’t intend to step into this uncomfortable scene. The Bible doesn’t say he was looking for dirt on his dad. We can’t assume anything other than Ham was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

In contrast, Shem and Japheth heard and covered. They weren’t looking to be told or to hear of their father’s unwise decision either. What made the difference, though, was how they responded.

They took action to protect their patriarch. We don’t read any words they said. No dialog of defense for their dad. They simply chose honor. They chose love.

God commands us to love others, and love makes choices for the good of others.

We, too, can find ourselves with the knowledge that someone has made a poor choice. Temptation nudges us to tell another. Like the brothers, it might be a family member, or it could be someone you barely know. No matter who the hurting person is, God calls us to practice protecting.

Practice taking the information to God first. Not to a friend or a favorite social media outlet. And if you feel God directing you, approach the person in a loving manner and protect them by speaking truth. Whatever the response, let it be in love and covered in prayer.

Ask God right now to give them the wisdom they need.

Father, (insert name) needs Your wisdom. Would You step in and help her find her way to what is best, and honoring to You? In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 13:7, “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (NIV)

Proverbs 11:13, “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” (NIV)

Seeing God in the Bread-and-Butter Days By: Sharon Jaynes

Seeing God in the Bread-and-Butter Days Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31 NIV).

Friend to Friend

I love talking about sudden glory moments—those moments right smack in the middle of your busy day when God makes His presence known. I love looking for God prints in the fierce storms, piles of laundry, and mounds of white. One of my favorite blog posts was about finding the beauty in the snow.

But I never want you to think better of me than I really am. The snow melts. The mud remains. And the ordinary bread-and-butter plain days come back.

There are many days when I’m not exactly sleuthing for God’s fingerprints throughout my day. Most of the time, my life is just plain bread-and-butter plain.

Deadlines. Emails. Laundry. Cooking. Cleaning.

Life is so daily. One foot in front of the other. Nine-to-five sandwiched between get up, get there, go home, go to bed.

Where are the glimpses of glory in all that? What did Jesus do with all that? Before you answer, consider this: Jesus’ ministry, the part of His life that we read about in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, consisted of about three and a half years. That’s 1,278 days. If you go back and count the days recorded in the four Gospels, you’ll come up considerably short.

So what was Jesus doing on the days that were not mentioned by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? He lived His life. He worked. He ate. He washed. He partied. He prayed. He studied. He meditated. He listened.

The Sacred lived in the midst of the secular in the one step in front of the other… bread-and-butter plain. And that is exactly where we can see God…where we can glorify God.

Paul wrote: “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31 NASB). Whatever you do…

Cleaning bathrooms to the glory of God. Vacuuming the floor to the glory of God. Reading my Bible to the glory of God. Singing praises to the glory of God. Being intimate with my husband to the glory of God. Cooking dinner to the glory of God. Helping in the soup kitchen to the glory of God. Shopping for groceries to the glory of God. Mailing packages to the glory of God. Filing my taxes to the glory of God. All things…to the glory of God.

What does “to the glory of God” mean? The Greek word for glory is doxa. It denotes honor or splendor, a reflection of God’s character. We are to reflect God’s character, His ways, and His splendor in everything we do. Discounting sinful behavior, such as sexual perversions, gossip, drug and alcohol abuse, or any number of immoral acts that contradict the life of a Christian, our entire existence—both in the secular and the sacred realm—could and should be an act of worship…could or should be a reflection of God.

When that happens, words such as “do everything as unto the Lord” and “pray without ceasing” become clearer and more within our grasp. Even in the bread-and-butter plain days, we can see God, we can reflect God.

In the spin of the laundry. In the cleaning bathrooms. In the vacuuming the floor. Reading my Bible to the glory of God. Singing praises to the glory of God. Being intimate with my husband to the glory of God. Cooking dinner to the glory of God. Helping in the soup kitchen to the glory of God. Shopping for groceries to the glory of God. Mailing packages to the glory of God. Filing my taxes to the glory of God. All things…to the glory of God.

And when you do all things to the glory of God, you begin to see the glory of God in all things.

Let’s Pray

Jesus, thank You that there is nowhere I can go that is away from Your presence. Help me to see You, to hear You, to sense Your presence as I go about my living life to the glory of Your name,

Amen.

Connecting the Dots By: Gwen Smith

March 13, 2015 Connecting the Dots Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”(John 14:26, NIV)

Friend to Friend

Ever since I was young, I’ve loved connecting dots. In my childhood it was dots with numbers on paper that stranded together to form an object. As I threw my attention to the page and followed the numbered steps, a picture developed. A new creation appeared that brought joy to my little-girl heart.

My grown-up dot-connecting challenges are far from a kid’s fun sheet. There are daily life dots, like: family dots, faith dots, emotion dots, relationship dots, job dots, parenting dots and decision dots. I continually struggle to make sense of situations and circumstances and I long for a simply numbered life sheet to give me guidance and direction.

Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever wonder how to connect the practical instruction of God’s Word to your daily choices, challenges and behaviors? Do you struggle to understand how to connect the dots between your questions and God’s answers? Between the decisions you need to make and God’s wisdom?

If you have a pulse, I’m guessing you deal with this dot-connecting life stuff regularly like I do. The Lord knew we would struggle with this, and He gives each of us the power to connect our life dots.

How?

Through His Holy Spirit.

In Scripture, we see a beautiful promise. Before His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus told His disciples that He must die in order to connect the sinful hearts of man to the holy heart of God. He explained that though He was leaving this world, His followers would not be left alone or without power.

If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. (John 14:15-17a)

Jesus went on to say, All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:25-26)

The Holy Spirit works in and through us to connect the life dots between our hearts and the heart of God. He’s the connector between our problems and the solutions we are desperate for.

When we humbly go to God in prayer and ask Him to help us take the next step, or make the next decision, or choose the next response, He faithfully leads us to the next dot with wisdom through the power of His Holy Spirit.

Invite the Holy Spirit to lead your decisions and emotions today.

Open your heart to His counsel.

Call on His wisdom and listen for the whispers of His truth.

As you do, He will connect your life dots in a way that brings glory to God the Father.

Imagine what our lives, families, churches, and communities would look like if we allowed the Spirit of God within us to connect our life dots each day. Without a doubt, the world would see a fresh and beautiful faith picture.

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, You are all knowing and all-powerful. You know every decision I need to make and every challenge I face. Please forgive me for the times that I try to figure this life out on my own. I need You. I need Your Holy Spirit to give me strength, wisdom, and direction, specifically concerning ______________.

In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.

What’s The Real Deal? By: Mary Southerland

What’s the Real Deal? Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45, NIV).

Friend to Friend

What is really inside will come spilling out for all to see when life puts the squeeze on us. My Mama often said, “What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket.” In other words, a crisis will usually reveal what is really inside our hearts.

It is easy to do and say the right things when life is calm and everything is going right, but what we say and do when chaos hits and the pressure is on tends to paint a more accurate picture of who we really are. But what is the real deal? Who are we really?

It is kind of like what I call sponge theology.

Suppose you have five sponges lying on your kitchen counter. Each member of your family has been using a sponge to clean a different area of your home, but the sponges all look the same. You are curious about what was cleaned, but you can’t tell just by looking at the sponges since they all look the same.

So what do you do? You squeeze each sponge to see what happens.

When you squeeze the first sponge, brown cola comes pouring out. Someone must have cleaned the spilled drink in the kitchen with that sponge.

Upon squeezing the second sponge, you see blue tub and tile cleaner oozing out of the sponge. Hmmm … someone must have used that particular sponge to clean the bathroom.

The third sponge is truly disgusting. When you squeeze it, dirty motor oil pours out. You determine that your husband probably used that sponge to clean the garage.

The fourth sponge produces a puff of baby powder when it is squeezed. The baby’s nursery was obviously cleaned with that sponge.

Finally, the last sponge is dripping with floor wax, which tells you someone used that particular sponge to clean the recently waxed hall floor.

As you lay the last sponge down, you look again at their similarity. They all look pretty much the same – until they are squeezed.

We are a lot like sponges when it comes to our faith in God. We look and act as if God is the Lord of our lives. We do and say all the right things in front of all the right people in an effort to prove we are right with God. But what is really inside? What do our hearts really look like?

When a crisis comes, and the pressures of life squeeze us mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, what comes out?

Do we respond to that difficult person in anger, or do our actions portray hearts filled with God’s patience and love?

Does revenge spill out in ugly words to that person who has hurt us more times than we can count, or do we take a breath and remember how much God loves them and that hurt people really do tend to hurt people?

Does the guilt of unresolved sin cause us to lash out in anger, or do we keep short books on our sin in order to keep the enemy from forming a toehold for anger in our own lives?

Just like the sponge, we can only squeeze out what is put in. Fill your heart with the things of God.

Stay in the Word each day. Read it … memorize it … share it. Saturate your life with His truths. Spend time with faith builders who will encourage you to be more like God and continually point you toward Him when you really want to walk in the opposite direction. Seek God and His plan for your life. Be willing to abandon your plan for His. And continually pray about everything – no matter how small the matter may be. If it is important to you, it is important to Him.

Then … when life puts the squeeze on you … and it will, the very nature of God will come pouring out.

Let’s Pray

Father, I want my faith to be more than just talk. I want it to be real and authentic, flowing from a heart set on You. Forgive me when I play religious games and pretend to be someone I am not. I am a sinner saved by Your grace. Teach me how to walk in that grace so that when the hard times come and the pressure is on, You come pouring out of my life.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

When You Wish You Were a Different Mommy By: Alicia Bruxvoort

MARCH 9, 2015

When You Wish You Were a Different Mommy ALICIA BRUXVOORT

“… and finally He said to me, ‘My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness.’ So ask me about my thorn, inquire about my weaknesses, and I will gladly go on and on — I would rather stake my claim in these and have the power of the Anointed One at home within me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (The Voice)

When my firstborn was 3 years old, he told me he wished he had a different mommy.

He spat the words from the seat of his faded red time-out chair where he’d landed after digging holes in the neighbor’s yard. He was certain that another mommy would understand that the best dinosaur bones were buried in the flowerbed across the street.

I’d remained silent, the angry words hanging between us like the strand of hair dangling over my son’s icy blue eyes. But every piece of my wounded spirit had agreed with my fiery boy. I wish you had a different mommy, too, my heart cried.

Truth be told, I didn’t want my son to exchange me for a new mommy; I just wished that I could be a different mommy. One who laughed more, forgave quicker and floundered less. One who never yelled in frustration or cried in exhaustion, and could turn scraps of paper into a Pinterest-worthy craft and bake a birthday cake from scratch. I wished I were a mom who innately knew how to parent children with temperaments unlike my own.

At first, I assumed my insecurities would disappear in time … that once I figured out how to be a fabulous mom, my parenting flaws would fade. I read dozens of parenting books and studied the habits of moms who seemed to have it all together. But ironically, the more children I had, the more apparent my shortcomings became.

Ten years later as I sat exhausted, rocking our fitful fifth-born, I eyeballed the mess around me — laundry and Lego piles, homework folders and smelly gym bags — and exhaled a discouraged sigh. Then, in a moment of vulnerable honesty, I confessed my angst to my husband.

“I feel like I’m not enough. I can’t ever do enough. Love enough. Work enough. Pray enough …” Jostling the fussy infant in my arms, I felt that familiar churn of self-doubt rising in my stomach.

My husband stared at me, his tender gaze reflecting my pain. “You don’t have to be enough,” he murmured quietly. “That’s Jesus’ job.”

I let his reassuring words seep deep into my splintered soul. In my striving to be enough, I’d forgotten that Christ’s perfect plan for my children depends on His faithfulness, not my flawlessness.

Late that night, I opened my Bible to 2 Corinthians 12:9 and underlined this sacred pledge: “My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness.” Then I wrote a simple declaration in the margin of my Bible: “I am not enough, but Jesus is.”

From that moment on, I began to replace my fears with faith.

Instead of spending all of my energy on futile attempts to be a perfect mom, I chose to spend time getting to know my perfect Savior. I committed to reading God’s Word daily and investing in prayer, memorizing Scripture and practicing the habit of gratitude. I “staked my claim” in the promises of Christ, and slowly, my qualms were quelled.

Today, I can humbly say that my firstborn’s wish has come true. I am a different mommy. I’m still not enough for my children, but Jesus is. As I trust in His sufficiency and rest in His grace, I’m learning to live in His strength rather than obsess over my weaknesses. Because this far-from perfect mommy has discovered a liberating truth — we have a Savior who is an expert at filling holes (even dinosaur-sized ones).

Dear Jesus, I’ll never be perfect, but You are. I want to live in the light of Your strength and let Your love shine through all of my holes. Show me how to trade my fears for faith and give me an unquenchable desire for Your truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 1:25, “You can count on this: God’s foolishness will always be wiser than mere human wisdom, and God’s weakness will always be stronger than mere human strength.” (The Voice)

Psalm 18:30, “Everything God does is perfect; the promise of the Eternal rings true; He stands as a shield for all who hide in Him.” (The Voice, emphasis added)

The Scribbled Truth That Changed My Life By: Lysa Terkeurst

MARCH 5, 2015

The Scribbled Truth that Changed My Life LYSA TERKEURST

“Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you.’” Acts 3:6a (NIV)

There was a season of my life that was very dark. When my baby sister died tragically and unexpectedly, my entire world flipped upside down.

What I once knew to be true suddenly became questionable.

Is God good? If so, why this? And if I never know why, how can I ever trust God again?

Hard questions. Honest questions. Questions that haunted me.

Until one day I got a note from a friend. A girl I not-so-affectionately called my “Bible friend.” She honestly got on my nerves with all her Bible verse quoting. I wasn’t on good terms with God at that point in my life. I didn’t want to believe God even existed. And I certainly wasn’t reading the Bible.

I made all of this very known to my Bible friend. But in her gentle, sweet, kind way … she kept slipping me notes of truth with gently woven verses tucked within.

And one day, one verse cracked the dam of my soul. Truth slipped in and split my hardhearted views of life open just enough for God to make Himself known to me.

I held that simple note with one Bible verse scribbled on the front as the tears of honest need streamed down my cheeks. My stiff knees bent. And a whispered “Yes, God” changed the course of my life.

My Bible friend had reached me. And because of her, I’m determined to use my words as a gift to others who may be in hard places … like a friend of mine who recently told me she is struggling with feeling she has no real purpose.

Life rushes at her each day with overwhelming demands. Everything feels hard, with very little reprieve.

If ever there were a drowning with no water involved, this is where my friend is.

Maybe you have a hurting friend, too.

So I sat down to write my friend a card and send her a little gift. I desperately wanted to love her through my words. My heart was full of care, compassion and a strong desire to encourage but I struggled to translate all I felt on paper.

As I prayed about it, the word “loved” kept coming to mind.

Remind her she is loved. Remind her how much you respect her. Remind her she is a woman who has so much to offer. Remind her she is valuable and she is enough.

In Acts 3, Peter and John encountered a crippled man at the temple gate called Beautiful. They stopped. They noticed. They decided to touch. Riches weren’t available to them but the ability to value was.

As our key verse of Acts 3:6-7a says, “‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, walk.’ Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up …”

Peter and John didn’t have silver, but they had a hand to offer and value to give. The man in need was worth touching. The hurting one in need was a man who needed someone to see him as a man. The man in need had so much to offer. After he got up, he went into the temple courts praising God and stirring up wonder and amazement about God.

I want my friend to remember she, too, has praise left inside her for our God. She too can get up. She too can stir up amazement and wonder about our God.

Yes, she is loved and God has a good plan for her. It’s my job to help her see that, just like my Bible friend did for me all those years ago.

I will never doubt the power of one woman reaching into the life of another woman with some written whisper of love.

Dear Lord, I’m so thankful for the relationships You’ve placed in my life. Would You help me discern what encouraging words my friend needs to hear today? I want to show her Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind.” (MSG)