The Beauty God Gives to You

By Dr. Jack Graham

And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 1 Peter 1:17-19

A very vain woman went to get some photos taken one day. She spent hours with the photographer, getting just the right angles with the perfect lighting. By the end of the day, the photographer was exhausted and the woman was irritated because she didn’t think the pictures were going to turn out well.

When she received the proofs, her fears were confirmed. She hated every single one of them. So she called the photographer and let him have it. “These pictures,” she shouted, “none of them do me justice.” At his wit’s end, the photographer said, “Lady, you don’t need justice; you need mercy!”

We can’t physically see the filthiness and ugliness of sin on our souls. And while many people might think they’d look just fine if they sent their spiritual photo to God, the truth is that no amount of makeup or Photoshop could ever do us “justice” in His eyes. We need mercy!

But the good news is that God’s mercy is available to us. Through Christ, we can have God’s goodness and His pardon from all our sins. Because of that, God sees us as having the righteousness and beauty of Christ, which covers all sin. Thank God for that remarkable gift of mercy today!

Thank God that through Christ’s mercy, he covers every spot and blemish of sin and sees you as having the beauty of Jesus!

A Mother’s Work

By Os Hillman

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother—which is the first commandment with a promise—that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth”—(Eph 6:1-3).

One of the great tragedies of society today is the minimizing of the work performed daily by stay-at-home moms. Women who decide to stay home to raise their kids are a rare breed indeed. They must overcome the stigma of comparison to others who pursue careers outside the home. They fail to get the feelings of accomplishment that can come from a career. They are the unseen missionaries of our day. There will be a special reward for these selfless servants.

Without the commitment of our stay-at-home moms we would not have some of our greatest leaders. “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother,” said Abraham Lincoln.

Though poor, Ida Stover was determined to go to college. She scraped together enough money to attend Lane College in Lecompton, Kan., where she met fellow student David Eisenhower. She was known as a firm but gentle disciplinarian and was deeply religious. It is said she once won a prize for memorizing 1,365 Bible verses. As a pacifist, she was not in favor of her son attending West Point but decided to let him go. She was the mother of Dwight David Eisenhower, one of the greatest U.S. presidents.

Mary Litogot grew up on a farm, and met her future husband, William Ford, when he came to work on their farm. She was 12 and he was 26. They married nine years later. Mary was self-sufficient and a diligent worker. Henry later attributed his clean factories to her belief in cleanliness. She encouraged his interest in machines early on. He later said, “I have tried to live my life as my mother would have wished. I believe I have done, as far as I could, just what she hoped for me.” She was the mother of Henry Ford.*

Has God called you to be a stay-at-home mom? Know that your obedience and sacrifice will be recognized by the Lord.

Whatever the Cost

By Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Now is the time for a movement of reformation and revival in the hearts and homes of Christian women all around this world.

Now is the time to go against the flow. I believe God has brought you into His kingdom for such a time as this.

Teens: That means the willingness to follow Christ and His Word when it seems that all the other girls your age are consumed with beauty, guys, self, sex, and having a good time. It means setting your affections on Christ, guarding your heart, choosing the pathway of purity, and becoming a Truth-speaker in your generation when all your peers seem to be going the opposite direction.

Single women – That means choosing the pathway of contentment. It means being willing to be married or single—whichever God has for you—for His glory and the sake of His kingdom. It means using your singleness to serve the Lord without distraction. It means being willing to be sexually pure and to be a servant of the family of God.

Married women  It’s a call to be faithful in a world of broken promises—to love your husband, to pray for him, to build a marriage that glorifies God. It means being faithful in the good times and the hard times. It means saying yes to your high and holy calling of being a helper to your husband, reverencing him as the Scripture exhorts, submitting to him as a picture of your submission to Christ Himself. It means giving yourself wholeheartedly to your husband and saying no to emotional or physical intimacy with any other man.

Mothers  That means embracing the calling and gift of being a giver and a nurturer of life. Don’t let the world tell you how many or how few children to have. Let God give you His vision for the impact that your children and grandchildren could make for His kingdom for generations to come. Do battle in prayer for the souls of your children and your grandchildren.

Older women  It means choosing not to retire spiritually. Don’t settle for a life consumed by golf, bridge, meaningless activity, and preoccupation with self. Younger women need you. They need your counsel, encouragement, and prayers. They need you to take them under your wings and help them learn how to live lives that please the Lord.

I often say to women, “We’ve got to be willing to be salmon swimming upstream.” What do salmon do? They get bloodied and beat up on the rocks in order to give birth and produce life. Then what do they do? They die. You say, “That doesn’t sound like something I want to be called to.” But what a picture that is of the heart of Christ, who swam upstream—bloodied and beaten—to give spiritual life; laying down His life on Calvary to give us eternal life. We may die in the process, but if we die fulfilling the kingdom purposes and will of God for our lives, so be it. If we perish, we perish. Let’s go for broke!

That’s what Amy Carmichael did for over 55 years. She risked her life to rescue little girls who had been sold into prostitution in the Hindu temples—one young woman at a time. She worked tirelessly to salvage those lives and to expose the works of darkness that had claimed so many children’s lives in India. Each step of the way she was fighting and pushing against the powers of darkness—not in her own strength, but in the strength and power of God who had sent her there. She endured and persevered through all those years with a handful of victories, but also with numerous heartbreaking losses and apparent defeats.

The issues around us are no less serious than those of those little girls sold into temple prostitution. Women and girls all around us are in bondage to guilt, fear, bitterness, anxiety, eating disorders, sinful behaviors, addictions, and depression. They need to be rescued from the enemy who has taken them captive. We are called to fight the powers of darkness in the name, power, and Spirit of the Lord Jesus and to join God in His great rescue operation. We’re called to shine the light in the darkness, to see captives set free, and to see God glorified. If you’re like me, you feel inspired and grateful to help with such a mission, but on the other hand, there is a real sense of weakness and overwhelming inadequacy.

In these times of fear, the Lord reminds me of that passage in Luke 1 when the angel came to Mary and said, “You’re going to have a baby—God’s Son. I know you’re not married and you’ve never been intimate with a man, but this is what God is going to do.” Mary asked the obvious question, “How can this be? It’s not physically possible.” The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”

Who’s going to win the battle? God is. Who’s going to fill you with power? God is. “Nothing will be impossible with God,” the angel said. What was Mary’s response? Mary said simply, in faith, humility, and surrender, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Mary said, “Yes, Lord.” If you were to ask her today, “Was it worth it, Mary? Would you do it again?” Do you have any doubt about what she would say? “Yes, it was worth it. The Savior was born!”

His calling on our lives will involve hardship, suffering, and obstacles. It’s not a calling to comfort, convenience, and self-fulfillment. It’s a calling to glorify God with the laying down of our lives, just as our Savior was willing to lay down His life so that we could live.

When you and I see the face of Christ—if we’ve been faithful in fulfilling His calling in our lives—we will say, “Jesus, it was worth it all for You.” In fact, I think most—if not all of us—will say, “I wish I’d given You more.”

I’m asking God to raise up a great host of women—women of courage, faith, compassion, humility, and wisdom. Women filled with Jesus for such a time as this. Will you join me in that mission? Will you be a part of that counter-cultural revolution?

Will you say, “Yes, Lord. I am Your servant. Take me, use me, spend me. Fulfill all Your holy, eternal purposes in and through my life, whatever the cost”?

One Sin I Thought Was Unforgivable

By Tracie Miles

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 (NLT)

The event speaker spoke the one word I didn’t want to hear. She said the one word that elicited painful memories, shame and regret. One word that left me weeping silently in the pew, hoping no one would notice my brokenness.

My eyes were closed, but I sensed God’s eyes were wide open and focused directly on me. Part of me felt afraid and confused, but a bigger part of me felt peace in light of the gift God was offering.

Amid the flood of hot tears that burned in my swollen, tightly shut eyes, I pleaded with God for His forgiveness of the one sin — the one word — that I felt was unforgivable. I meekly, humbly and reluctantly dared to ask God, once again, the prayer I had uttered so many times, yet never believed could be answered.

Could You … would You … possibly … forgive me for that, Lord? Really?

If You could forgive others for their sins, could You maybe, just maybe, forgive me too?

If You can still love them, despite their pasts, can You love me too?

Will You still love me, God?

I felt like a little girl sitting at her daddy’s feet, asking forgiveness for not listening to his words of instruction, and longing for him to scoop her up and reassure her of his love. My heart was gaping wide, and I waited, anxious for God to fill me with all the things I never thought I deserved to ask for, much less receive.

I felt sure God was wondering if I were a broken record instead of a broken soul. I had asked for His forgiveness for 14 years, never feeling worthy of it and never expecting Him to actually grant it. But this time, in this place, I actually believed I was forgiven.

I felt the lightness and freedom of a prisoner set free. Joy caught in my throat, and I could hardly swallow. The unbearable, heavy burden of my shame, regret, sorrow and haunting memories were all lifted the moment I embraced God’s promise that ALL sins are forgivable through Christ. Including mine.

Abortion. The one word that made my heart shudder — that was a tragic choice made by a scared 19-year-old. And unfortunately, statistics show that more than 56 million U.S. women may have shuddered at that one word as well, since abortion became legal in America.

Yet despite the reasons we made bad choices, God longs to offer forgiveness. The enemy doesn’t want us to believe that truth. He wants to keep us in bondage to shame and secrecy … to prevent us from living as a testament of God’s grace and power over sin. As our key verse notes, Scripture states quite the opposite: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

The “one word” you dread might be very different from mine, but God can free you from whatever keeps you from embracing how much you are adored by Christ. Might today be the day you learn to fly in the freedom of His forgiveness and peace?

Father, You know the “one word” that makes me shudder. Forgive me and cleanse my heart. Fill me with overwhelming peace and acceptance of that gift. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ephesians 1:7, “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.” (NLT)

1 John 1:9, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (NLT)

Psalm 34:5, “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” (NIV)

RELATED RESOURCES:
April is National Abortion Recovery Awareness Month and Tracie’s heart is to help women find healing who are still struggling with regret or shame over abortion, or any sin or experience that has made them feel unforgivable or unlovable. Visit Tracie’s blog for tips and resources on overcoming shame and embracing your value and worth to Jesus.

To read the rest of Tracie’s story of how God transformed her heart and life after abortion, you can purchase her book Your Life Still Counts. Tracie also offers other study material on her blog.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What is the “one word” you don’t want to hear? Embrace God’s forgiveness and freedom from it once and for all.

Let God guide your thoughts as you sit in His Presence. Utter the words you never felt capable of uttering, and be ready for God to move in your heart.

It’s Just Girlfriends Talking

 

by Wendy Pope
Have you ever thought to yourself, “It’s not really gossip. It’s just girlfriends talking.”? Wendy Pope shares a helpful acronym that helps her determine if she should speak or keep silent.

It’s Just Girlfriends Talking

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

My mouth has always gotten me in trouble. You might say I am “quick to speak, slow to think.” Apparently, the filter between my brain and my mouth doesn’t always work well.

I don’t mean to hurt anyone. I mean, it’s not really “gossip.” That’s wrong, I know. But this is only harmless sharing… really. I’m concerned and share those concerns. It’s just girlfriends talking. Right?

The danger of “just girlfriends talking” hit hard after recalling a recent conversation with a friend after church. After speaking my mind, I realized the woman we were chatting about was very close to where the conversation took place. Panic and a sick feeling stirred in my stomach. Questions raced through my mind:

Did she hear us?

How should I act when I see her?

What kind of excuse can I make up for why we were talking about her?

Words from Ephesians 4:29 rushed into my mind as conviction filled my heart: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Nothing in that conversation had been helpful in building up the topic of our conversation. Not one word spoken brought benefit to anyone who listened. Our conversation was truly gossip—casual, unconstrained talk.

That potentially-damaging conversation made me realize once again the power of my words. I can use them to hurt or to help.

I’m committed to making a change with my words. Oh how different my conversations are when I use the acronym “T.H.I.N.K.” before saying anything. This helps me determine if I should speak or keep silent. Are my words:

T: True?
H: Helpful?
I: Inspiring?
N: Necessary?
K: Kind?

I love to talk. But sometimes my careless chatter has hurt others, and my loose lips have left me full of regret. However, God’s Word and the T.H.I.N.K. acronym help me to use my words wisely. They help me know when to press pause so I can walk away from a conversation without any regrets.

Will you join me in becoming more than just a girlfriend talking? Will you challenge yourself to T.H.I.N.K. before you speak and to use your words to benefit as well as to build up others?

Dear Lord, You gave us one mouth and two ears for a reason. Help me think before I speak. I want to be a wise woman and use my words to help, heal, honor, benefit and build up those who listen. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Reflect and Respond:
Put to memory T.H.I.N.K. How can this acronym benefit your relationships?

Is there a recent conversation you regret? Consider if you need to apologize for any hurtful words.

Power Verses:
Psalm 141:3, “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (NIV)

James 1:26, “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” (NIV)

When Being Quiet Just Isn’t Enough

 

by Sheila Walsh
Are you serene on the outside but seething on the inside? How can you cultivate a quiet and gentle spirit?

When Being Quiet Just Isn’t Enough

“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NLT)

My mother, Elizabeth, has a gentle and quiet spirit. I have her smile but, I’m still working on her spirit!

I discovered that it’s not enough just to be quiet. Some cats are very quiet right before they pounce! No, the kind of beauty that Christ wants to work in us comes from a peaceful place of surrender, not from a woman who has learned to bite her tongue!

I grew up as a bit of an emotional “stuffer.” My dad’s brain injury and subsequent anger scared me badly as a child. After his death, I never wanted to make anyone angry or rock the boat. So rather than say what I honestly felt, I would put on a smile and push my feelings into the basement of my soul.

Have you ever done that?

Your husband said he’d be home at 5:30 p.m. for dinner, but now it’s 6:40 p.m. and the lasagna looks like a burnt offering! But rather than say, “Honey, if you’re going to be that late again, would you just give me a quick call?” you force a smile, feed the lasagna to the dog and start dinner over, muttering under your breath.

Or maybe you’ve asked your daughter three times to bring her dirty laundry downstairs yet it still decorates every square inch of her bedroom. Rather than sit down with her and explain how disrespectful it is to continue to ignore your requests and promise consequences if it happens again, you just trudge upstairs and gather the abandoned articles yourself. It’s easier to just get it done, so you shove your feelings down and carry on.

The trouble with living like that, however, is that when the basement gets too full, it only takes one more little thing and the whole place blows up like fireworks on the Fourth of July.

There has to be a better way to live as daughters of the King of kings!

I find it interesting that Peter compares focusing on the outside of our lives with what lies inside our hearts. It makes me think that to have a gentle and quiet spirit there must be a direct correlation. If you’re like me, when I only focus on what I can see in the mirror, I can get to a crazy place!

I need to lose 15 pounds!
My hair looks like it was attacked by a pack of wild cats!
I have nothing to wear!

Our world bombards us every day with unattainable images of so-called perfect women, and it’s hard not to compare ourselves with what we see. When I allow myself to go there, I know my life is not a thing of beauty to God or anyone else.

So, here’s what I’m learning …

  • To find my worth in God’s amazing love for me.
  • To lean into the truth of who His Word says I am.
  • To talk through every little moment of my day with Him before I take it out on someone else.
  • To be honest with myself and with others.
  • To be still and know that He is God.

The truth is, although perfection is a myth, pure and simple, godly beauty is something that never fades. When I read that it’s precious to God, I want that. I want to cultivate a life that brings Him honor and pleasure, don’t you?

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You know me just as I am and You love me. Teach me to rest in Your love and to value what You value. May Your grace and Your love touch everyone I meet today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Philippians 4:8, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (NLT)

Matthew 6:27-29, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.” (NLT)

What Is it

By Shaunti Feldhahn

So my husband was sick this past week. Right as I had to leave to speak at a women’s retreat. I don’t like leaving Jeff and the kids at the best of times, but I felt terrible that I was getting on an airplane and wouldn’t be able to take care of him; especially since he rarely gets sick.

We didn’t really know what was wrong. Painful body aches, but no fever. Malaise, but nothing really definable. Some nausea, but low level. But it all added up to him feeling bad. He just wanted to lie down and not move.

What he didn’t want to do was go to the doctor.

What is it with men and doctors? A woman at my event this weekend asked that question. A man may look like he’s on death’s door, but any suggestion of “let’s get you to the doctor” is met with irritation and what looks to us like stubbornness. A refusal to do what seems to clearly be the logical, efficient, thing: ask for help, get help, and get well. So they don’t feel so bad!

The problem is: men don’t want to ask for help.

Which is almost infuriating to us when we are watching the one we love be miserable. It certainly was hard for me, this past weekend while I was away. Just go to the doctor! I wanted to scream. Maybe you have a kidney infection or something and antibiotics will clear it up! Why be miserable for days when you might be able to avoid it?

As hard as it was, I had to remember everything I say in my books, and stop myself from haranguing him. I had to respect his decision that he just wanted to rest and didn’t want the “fuss” of going to the doctor. And frankly, I had to remember that in men’s minds, asking for help means that they are weak. And feeling weak is right up there with feeling inadequate or incompetent as the most painful feelings a man can have. The prospect of going to the doctor, for them, can be more painful than whatever the sickness is to begin with.

It often seems that men will make the calculation to go to the doctor only when the scale tips the other direction. Only when he feels it is truly “worth it.” Which means the illness has to be bad enough that it trumps the pain of feeling “I’m-so-weak-and-helpless-I-have-to-ask-for-help”. Which is why it rarely happens.

As much as I wished Jeff would have gone to the doctor, I had to realize that his reluctance wasn’t in fact a negative trait like stubbornness. It was just a different set of priorities. A different wiring. A different person. And as bad as he felt, I didn’t want to be the cause of him feeling worse by nagging or haranguing and telling him that he was incapable of making the right call. Sure, there’s probably a time and place for insisting “we are going to the doctor now.” But this wasn’t it.

This was the time for me to help my husband in the only way I could from far away: to tell him that I loved him and I felt so bad that he felt so bad, and to stop myself from beating him over the head. To stop myself from bringing up the doctor two or three times a day. Or five. To instead thank him for being such a good dad to our kids there at home, even when he was feeling so awful. To instead tell him how much I missed him and I appreciated him keeping things running on the home front. That, I think, was the best medicine I could give him.