Thursday, March 31, 2016

Our God of Joy

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

The late entertainer Joe E. Brown once said, “I have no understanding of the long‐faced Christian. If God is anything, He must be joy.” How true! We have a God who loves us more than we love our children or even ourselves—a God who sent His Son to die for us and who has prepared a place in eternity just for us. He is indeed a God of joy—and we have much to be joyful about!

This is a lesson I had to learn the hard way. When we were first married, Jim and I taught school, served in the church, and carried many responsibilities. Jim was working on his master’s degree at the time, so he wasn’t able to help me carry my load. I looked forward every week to Saturday, when I could rest and recuperate. Gradually, I fell into the trap of being truly happy only one day a week. And if anything took that day away from me, I was very frustrated. Slowly, I learned to enjoy every day of the week, even though I was busy. It was a simple change in attitude that brightened my life. Someone once said, “If you have to cross the street to be happy, you’re not seeing things properly.” I agree.

There are many “long‐faced” Christians who are caught up in the trials of this world. It’s not always easy to remember that we can experience joy even in the midst of struggles. We forget that Jesus told us that our worldly grief would be like a mother giving birth: She experiences pain during labor, but then forgets her anguish because of her joy over the birth of her child (John 16:21). We forget that the apostles, after being flogged on orders of the Sanhedrin, left there “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (Acts 5:41).

Joy is something we experience when we begin to understand the magnitude of God and the love He freely gives us. It’s not something to be grasped, but shared. It’s not something to be contained, but made available to all. Joy is a selfless, abundant quality modeled by our Lord Jesus. He is the one who has called us to “rejoice” and “leap for joy” when we are poor, hungry, weeping, hated, and rejected, because “great is your reward in heaven” (Luke 6:23).

Joy can begin right now—if we choose! “Rejoice in the Lord always…!”

- Shirley M Dobson

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Why Did I Lose My Job if God Loves Me?

Silence Is An Answer

When he heard this, Jesus said, ”This sickness will not end in death. no, it is for God’s glory so that God’s son may be glorified through it.” now Jesus loved martha and her sister and Lazarus. so when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” —John 11:4–7
Have you ever wondered why Jesus, when he heard that his dear friend Lazarus was seriously ill, waited two days before going to be with him? Though Jesus’ delay seemed inexplicable — at least from the point of view of Lazarus’s sisters, who requested his presence — he would be “glorified” because of it. Jesus didn’t immediately respond to their request, and the end result revealed that he was indeed the Messiah, the Son of God.

In other words, “silence” was the answer he gave. Yes, the answer. That silence turned into an amazing demonstration of deliverance from a situation that Mary, Martha and their neighbors had never known was possible — the resurrection of a person who had died.

Here’s the connection to those of us on a transition journey. When we’re out of work we continuously ask God to answer our prayer for a new career opportunity. Like King David of Biblical times, we cry out, “Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint . . . My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?” (Psalm 6:2 – 3). We wonder how long it will be before we get a job — primarily because we assume that a new job is the only possible answer to our prayer.

What’s more, we believe anything short of getting a job means that the Lord is ignoring our prayer. We are tempted to believe that he has forsaken us if our prayer isn’t answered with a new job. Doesn’t God realize that I am afraid? That I need money? That I need self-esteem? That I need to rebuild my sense of self-worth?
Actually, God realizes much more than that. He is well aware of our needs, yet his desire is for us to grow closer to him, to trust in him, to experience the marvelous feeling of contentment that comes from a closer walk with him. The fact that Jesus didn’t drop everything and rush to Mary and Martha’s aid demonstrates that God doesn’t operate on our schedule. Clearly we are to operate on his schedule. That new job will come through on the exact day and at the exact moment he has planned it for us — and not one minute of worrying will change this.

We can make any bargains we wish with God, we can promise to be all he would want us to be — when we get that new job. But the Lord knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows that once we get that new job, we will revert to work-schedule mode and he will take the backseat again — that is, until we need him again.

Granted, we might be afraid; we might be unsure of ourselves and our abilities. We might feel rejected, overlooked and embarrassed, having heard nothing but silence from the Lord in answer to our prayers. If that’s you, I encourage you to take this time to know that he is God (see Psalm 46:10; 100:3). Silence is some- times his answer. Why? Because he wants us to spend more time working on our relationship with him.

Why not take a moment right now to actually praise the Lord for his silence? Praise him for the opportunity to grow closer to him. Enjoy the pleasure of his close company while you have the time to develop that habit of intimacy. Bask in the glory of his silence. Just lean back and feel his presence. It is peace.

This is the last entry in this seven-day devotional. We hope you've found it both encouraging and challenging. If you want to read more devotionals on this topic, take a look at the book from which this devotional is drawn: Why Did I Lose My Job If God Loves Me: Help and Hope for Those in Career Transition by Rick J. Pritikin.

John Donne, Priest

Today the church remembers John Donne, Priest, 1631.

"No man is an island". These oft-quoted words from John Donne are not only a terse statement of a universal truth, they also point to a perplexing dilemma in this great man's life. How could John Donne be reconciled to the baffling world in which he lived: an age struggling with change, shattered by "the new government" and even "the new religion"? He felt deeply his own responsibility to deal with these changes. He refused to retreat to an island.

Donne went through a troubled and reckless youth, characterized by cavalier gaiety on the one hand and by deep-seated anxiety on the other. His elegant poetry and the brilliance of his personality gained him many influential friends, but little success otherwise. He married, but could hardly be said to have settled down. His charming wife bore him lovely children, but peace and satisfaction did not enter his life until he took his life to the Master.

Finally, he plunged himself into the church's life with all the fervor of his cavalier days. He was ordained and, after serving as a royal chaplain and as rector of Sevenoaks, he became Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, London. There he preached many celebrated sermons. His hearers were astonished and many of their lives were profoundly changed. His works have continued to stimulate thinkers and writers into our own time.

Our prayer today comes from Donne: Keep us, Lord, so awake in the duties of our callings that we may sleep in thy peace and wake in thy glory. Amen.

Almighty God, the root and fountain of all being: Open our eyes to see, with your servant John Donne, that whatever has any being is a mirror in which we may behold thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Daily Readings for March 31, 2016 - Thursday in Easter Week

Psalm 8
1   O LORD our Governor, how exalted is your Name in all the world!
2   Out of the mouths of infants and children your majesty is praised above the heavens.
3   You have set up a stronghold against your adversaries, to quell the enemy and the avenger.
4   When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,
5   What is man that you should be mindful of him? the son of man that you should seek him out?
6   You have made him but little lower than the angels; you adorn him with glory and honor;
7   You give him mastery over the works of your hands; you put all things under his feet:
8   All sheep and oxen, even the wild beasts of the field,
9   The birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and whatsoever walks in the paths of the sea.
10   O LORD our Governor, how exalted is your Name in all the world!

Acts 3:11-26
While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon's Portico, utterly astonished. When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, "You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you. "And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus, who must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets. Moses said, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you from your own people a prophet like me. You must listen to whatever he tells you. And it will be that everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be utterly rooted out of the people.' And all the prophets, as many as have spoken, from Samuel and those after him, also predicted these days. You are the descendants of the prophets and of the covenant that God gave to your ancestors, saying to Abraham, 'And in your descendants all the families of the earth shall be blessed.' When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you, to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways."

Luke 24:36-48
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you-- that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

Daily Meditation for March 31, 2016 - Thursday in Easter Week

From Forward Day by Day

Luke 24:39 Jesus said, “Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

Easter isn’t easy to comprehend. There are places in the scriptures, such as this one, where post-resurrection Jesus goes out of his way to prove that he is as real as you or I. Elsewhere, he invites Thomas to touch him. But then there are other places where Jesus forbids people from touching him after Easter. He appears inside a locked room and then disappears. On the road to Emmaus, he is not recognized. We can believe Jesus is raised from the dead, but we may not understand every nuance.

Perhaps the post-Easter Jesus isn’t so different from our own life of faith. We can believe that God works in our world and in our own lives, though we may not understand every nuance. At times, God might seem concretely real. Other times, God’s presence is elusive. If we have trouble sorting this out, we should be gentle with ourselves. Even Jesus’ followers, those who had witnessed many miracles and who had been taught by Jesus himself, sometimes had trouble recognizing him in their midst. Let us all seek Jesus, but let us do it patiently

His Princess Every Day - Thursday, March 31, 2016

Devotionals for Women - Inspirational author and speaker Sheri Rose Shepherd imagines what a letter written from God to you would look like.
The Blame Game
My Warrior,

Don’t engage in relational battles and drain your strength trying to prove your point, win your way, or defend yourself. I am your defense, and if you will fight the temptation to give in to relational battles, I will reward you with perfect peace You are called to live above a life of blame and bitterness. The truth is that nothing anyone has said or done to you can stop My perfect plans or promises from coming to pass in your life. Now break through to a life filled with peace by walking away from the relational wars of wrath. It is time to fight for the things worth fighting for, and win souls for My kingdom!

Your King who has made you blameless

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. - Romans 12:18–19 (NLT)

A Prayer for the Blameless

Blameless Princess! I pray that our God will give you the wisdom how to navigate through relational traps set by the enemy to distract you. I pray you will feel his Holy Spirit rise up inside of you and take control of what you say when your are in a relational war. May you never again exhaust yourself with useless arguments. I pray that you will see the bigger picture and push past relationships that stop you from being all God wants you to be. I pray that you will be filled with your Father’s grace and love in every difficult relationship that you encounter. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
I am blameless before God;
I have kept myself from sin. - 2 Samuel 22:24

This devotional is written by Sheri Rose Shepherd. All content copyright Sheri Rose Shepherd 2015. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Visit for devotionals, books, videos, and more from Sheri Rose Shepherd.

Girlfriends in God - March 31, 2016

Stop Running From Fear
Gwen Smith
Today’s Truth

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7, ESV)

Friend to Friend

Proverbs 1:7 tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to be afraid.

Case in point. I was a tween with pimples; long, lanky limbs; and an attitude the summer our family went to Ohio to visit friends of my parents who lived on a farm. I didn’t much care if these people were nice. I didn’t much care what we would eat for breakfast, lunch, or even dinner. It wasn’t the beach, and I wasn’t overly thrilled to be in Ohio for a vacation. (No offense, Ohio people.) But I had heard they had horses, and that calmed my grump a good bit because, truth be told, I was giddy to ride one.

I just knew I was born to ride! My cousin Beth had horses, but up to that point, she hadn’t had the chance to teach me the ropes. Finally I would have my chance.

The sun danced with a summer breeze the morning we journeyed past the barn out into the pasture for our horse adventure. It was beautiful. A perfect day for an eager girl to do something new and exciting.

I got a quick bit of instructions, and then I mounted the saddled creature, grabbed the reins, and ventured out into the grassy fields. All by my big-tween-girl self.

Freedom met me in the tall grass as Butterscotch and I became fast friends.

We walked. We cantered. We even galloped! I was so good at this!

And then I turned him around, back toward his owner and the barn, and Butterscotch got his run on in a fierce way.

Scared. Me. To. Death.

I didn’t know what to do. I screamed, dropped the reins, and held on to the horn of the saddle for dear life. The owner was waving her hands trying to tell me what to do, but she sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher, and the moment was blurry mayhem.

Then when I was sure we would crash into the barn, causing me to meet Jesus way too young, Butterscotch came to a halt.

And I went inside to change my pants. (Joking.)

I was so scared that I collapsed into an ugly cry. Couldn’t even control my emotions. And on that day, one thing became crystal clear to me: I do not like to be afraid.


If I see a snake, a mouse, or a spider (generally anything with more or fewer legs than I have), chances are I’m going to run the other way screaming louder than a middle-school girl at a Taylor Swift concert. Why? Because those creatures freak me out. It’s an unsettling kind of fear. And remember? I don’t like to be afraid.

Yet the Bible says we are to fear the Lord. Come again? How does this make sense?

I’ve come to understand that the fear of the Lord is a good kind of fear; it’s a righteous fear. The best kind. When God says we are to fear Him, He’s saying we are to be in awe of Him, to revere Him as the One who dwells in unapproachable light. To recognize Him as the eternal eminence who sits on the throne of grace and lovingly welcomes us to encounter Him intimately as we worship.

I fear God when I reflect on His greatness, when I whisper, “Good job on that flower, God!” when I trace the jawline of my sleeping, whiskered man-child and give thanks to the loving Creator who created him.

I fear God by giving Him the honor, esteem, and adoration due Him. In good times and bad.

I fear God by recognizing that He is God and I am not.

I fear God by understanding that all of the power in heaven and on earth is His. And in doing so, I’m ushered into a fresh beginning. To the greatest resource of power. To a starting gate that opens wide to knowledge, wisdom, and instruction—all of which are worth far more than any understanding this world offers.

Straight up: The world is a faction of fools who laugh at godly wisdom. It whispers venom to our souls ... 

“You don’t have to pay attention to God.”
“Do things your way.”
“More! You need more!”
“It’s okay to watch that raunchy movie or read that trashy novel.”
Blah. Blah. Blah...

No thank you, world. I’ve got a mad crush on my God, and I don’t need your misguided direction. The fear of the Lord leads me to wisdom in a beautifully sacred way. And that’s a fear worth running toward full force.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, You are holy, and powerful, and full of grace. Please forgive me of my independence, indifference and stubbornness that keeps me from Your best. Please lead me in wisdom, knowledge and depth today.
In Jesus’ name,

Now It’s Your Turn

How intense is your fear of the Lord? How often do you prioritize Him, honor Him, reflect on His attributes, worship in spirit and in truth, fall before Him in awe of His God-ness? 

Read Psalm 112:1-4. Write out a prayer of response in your journal or click here to write a prayer response on the wall of my blog.

More from the Girlfriends

Today’s post is an excerpt from Gwen Smith’s new book, I Want It All.

Order your copy today from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite retailer.

Seeking God? 

Click here to find out more about
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Girlfriends in God
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Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23

The personal and trusting relationship between God and His followers now leads the believer to the commissioning aspect of commitment—a task that is characteristic of being His true followers—“and follow me.” This commitment is not to a task but to a person. To be a follower of Jesus is to be a disciple of Jesus. A disciple is one who follows the teaching of another; one who is like another; one who models after another.

What is the task to which he has called us? The task is none other than the words of what we call “The Great Commission”:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18–20)

The Christian’s task is nothing short of being a servant of Jesus Christ proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ and helping others become followers of Jesus. Our primary responsibility is neither overthrowing governments nor opposing ideologies but a proactive one of making disciples of all nations.

In the course of our obedience to God’s authority, we may come in conflict with the existing government. We have been called to be good citizens and history has proven that Christians are generally law-abiding and hard working. But when conflicts come, the Christian is ready to choose his commitment to Christ over his or her commitment to local authorities (Acts 4:19–20).

RESPONSE: Today I complete my commitment to follow Jesus in sharing His love with others.

PRAYER: As a true disciple, I give myself, Lord, to the task of world evangelization starting where You place me today.

Verse of the Day - March 31, 2016

Isaiah 53:5-6 (NIV) But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Watch Out For Traps

“Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

We’ve found that retired couples and stay‐at‐home spouses are especially likely to fall into four traps that can take the joy out of life. Here they are, along with some suggestions for avoiding each trap. First is the trap of isolation. Don’t allow yourself to withdraw within your own four walls. Stay connected to people even when it’s easier to stay home.

The second trap is inactivity. The simple act of taking a walk, visiting the library, or going grocery shopping keeps the muscles limber and the mind alert.

Third is the trap of self-pity. This attitude can cripple or even kill you! To ward it off, reach out to others. Develop a ministry of prayer and hospitality for those around you.

The fourth trap is despair. The elderly, in particular, can slip into thinking that life is over and no longer worth living. Yet the Christian must always be future oriented. The beauty of our faith lies in the assurance of the next world, where true joy awaits us all.

Just between us…
  • Do you ever fall into any of these traps? Which one(s)?
  • What specific things can we do to avoid them?
  • Are you looking forward to the future? Why or why not?
  • How does God use the elderly for His purposes?
  • How could praying and caring for others lead to joy for us?

Father, we are so thankful that we will one day leave life’s troubles behind and enter the joy of eternity with You. In the meantime, help us redeem the time for Your glory, confident that You are ready to work out Your divine purposes in every moment. Amen.

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Why Did I Lose My Job if God Loves Me?

Lessons From My GPS

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. —Proverbs 3:5–8

A headline in the April 23, 2012 edition of The Atlantic recently grabbed my attention: 53% of Recent College Grads Are Jobless or Underemployed — How? Think about how alarming that statistic really is — more than half of all college students are graduating only to find there isn’t a job in their chosen field waiting for them. After four years of study, many have to set aside their plans to pursue their dreams, settling instead for flipping hamburgers, selling coffee or sweeping floors.

There’s nothing wrong with those tasks. In fact, I believe much can be learned by engaging in manual labor. Whether you’re reading this as one of those “under-employed” recent college grads or you’re a seasoned professional who has been forced to deliver pizza or stock supermarket shelves, I’m here to tell you that the path you’re on is part of God’s plan for your life. Let me illustrate with a personal example.

When I lost my job as a “big-time” executive, I had to humble myself and take whatever I could find to do just to keep some income coming in. That included freelancing as a locksmith for a very gracious brother from church. My task typically consisted of assisting people who had locked themselves out of their car. One particularly busy day I was on a roll with 14 calls in a 12-hour period. Those calls had me zigzagging from one end of the county to the other to rescue stranded drivers.

I recall thinking about the many times I passed by the same landmarks. I wondered why that person or this person couldn’t have locked themselves out just 40 minutes earlier when I was in their area! I began to retrace my routes in my mind and realized what a maze of turns and curves and overlaps had occurred throughout my travels. It was a MapQuest nightmare!

When I read the words in Proverbs 3:6 about how the Lord "will make your paths straight," I was reminded of the haphazard route I had to take while working as a locksmith on that crazy, busy day — which, in turn, prompted me to think about my career path. Specifically, I reflected on how often I have worked at a job in which I had no idea how that role would fit into my future. As I reviewed my experiences in light of this verse, I realized that my assortment of jobs was not a maze of uncharted destinations. In fact, every bit of experience I have accumulated, in many different fields, I am using today. I have to believe that every job you have had has helped to mold you too.

You and I are a MapQuest trip “in process.” If you look closely, you can see how the Lord has mapped out your life and how seemingly unrelated job experiences really do fit together to formulate the Lord’s plan for you. The experiences of your life and career actually do make sense — you just might not see the big picture at the moment. Unfortunately, that’s because you and I are not privy to the directions beyond this very minute.

Although we still want to ask when this part of the journey will be over, and we still long to know where we will end up with our career, we can rest assured that God has a perfect plan for us. He will make your paths straight if you trust in him rather than in yourself. Why not take some time right now and look back over your road map? Isn’t it amazing how the Lord has worked, in all things, for your good? If you don’t see the straight road just yet, don’t worry. With his guidance, you will see how the road behind is part of the road ahead.

This seven-day devotional is drawn from Why Did I Lose My Job If God Loves Me: Help and Hope for Those in Career Transition by Rick J. Pritikin.

His Princess Every Day - Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Devotionals for Women - Inspirational author and speaker Sheri Rose Shepherd imagines what a letter written from God to you would look like.


My Daughter,

There will be times that you may feel I am far from you. That is not true, my girl. Your feelings will deceive you but I never will. The truth is that you will always find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will always help you find your way back to me no matter how far away you wander, because you are mine and I love you. Whenever you feel lost and alone, just look up and I will be the one to light your way. When your world seems dark and cold I will be your compass and your comfort. I will carry you when you’re too worn out to walk--just like a daddy carries his little girl. No matter how far you fall away from me, I will always come rescue you whenever call to me!

Your Father Who always has his eyes on his girl

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

"If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?" - Matthew 18:12 (NLT)

This devotional is written by Sheri Rose Shepherd. All content copyright Sheri Rose Shepherd 2015. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Visit for devotionals, books, videos, and more from Sheri Rose Shepherd.

Girlfriends in God - March 30, 2016

When God Says No
Sharon Jaynes
Today’s Truth

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5, 6 NASB).

Friend to Friend

Like any good parent, God’s answers to our requests are not always “yes.” When God says “no,” we must accept the fact that our Father knows best.

In my own life, my desire was to have three or four children. I conceived my first child with no problem. Little did I know at the time that Steven would be my only child. For years my husband and I prayed for more children. We traveled down the road of infertility doctors, diagnostic procedures, and timed intimacy, which is anything but intimate. As hard as it was for me to accept, God said “no.” 

Do I understand God’s decision completely? No, I do not. But I’ve come to realize that He doesn’t owe me an explanation. God is God. He does what He pleases and I must trust Him. When we can’t see His hand, we must trust His heart. I so know this: “One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving,” (Psalm 62:11,12). God is strong – He can do anything. God is loving – He will always do what is in our best interest.

Have you ever considered that God said no to His own Son, Jesus? Just before His arrest, Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me,” (Matthew 26:39). And yet, God said “no.” Jesus went to the cross. God knew it was the only way. He loves you and me that much.

We can be assured that if God does say “no” to our requests, it is for the same reason – He loves you and me that much.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, I am so glad that You have not answered “yes” to every one of my requests. When I think about what my life would be like if You had given me everything I had ever asked for…oh my, I shudder. Thank You for loving me enough to say “no.” Thank You for answering each and every prayer with Your infinite wisdom. I trust You.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

Make a list of some prayer requests that you are glad God said “no” to. 

Are there some prayer requests that God has said “no” to that you don’t understand?

Are you willing to trust that God knows best?

I would love to hear how you are thankful for one of God’s “no” answers in your life. Let’s chat at

More from the Girlfriends

We tend to read the gospels through the lens of the 21st century, but when we understand how oppressive the culture Jesus stepped into was against women, and how He broke a cultural rule every time He came in contact with a woman in the New Testament, we begin to understand just how radical His ministry, messages, and miracles were at setting women free. He risked His reputation to save theirs…and yours. How Jesus Broke the Rules to Set You Free: A Woman’s Walk in Power and Purpose, is now available on and By taking an in-depth look at how Jesus crossed cultural boundaries to honor women, you’ll fall in love with Him all over again and have the confidence to walk in the power and purpose God intended. Bible study guide is included. Click here to watch the book trailer and be blessed!

And wives, I Invite you to check out my app, Praying Wives.

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Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)

On the basis of certain facts, a relationship has been established between two parties. Now there must be actual evidence to prove that one has made that commitment. This is the aspect of entrusting oneself to that second party. In our Luke text, we see two phrases that reflect this entrusting aspect of commitment,deny yourself” and “take up your cross daily.”

Deny Yourself:

The word “deny” literally means “say no to oneself” or “renounce self—leave self behind.” The biblical concept of commitment calls the follower of Jesus to “deny oneself” not self-denial. This is not to deny something, but a more complete and total denial of oneself in which one no longer seeks for what pleases self.

This is in direct contrast to the normal way of life where everyone is out for himself or herself. The basic sinful nature of the world, whether communist, capitalist or revolutionary is the same. It desires the promotion of self at the expense of someone else. Jesus says his followers will be known as those who deny themselves.

Take Up Your Cross Daily:

The second part is even more extreme. Commitment also calls for the taking up of the cross. In commitment to Jesus, you deny yourself even to the point of willingness to go to your own execution! We only commit ourselves to the point of willingness to die when we understand that the present life ends up in death anyway and the One who has promised us forgiveness and eternal life can really deliver.

In Jesus Christ, the believer has found real life. Therefore the denying of self and the way of the cross are only logical steps for him or her to take.

A young man who had recently become a Christian was returning home to a country where the punishment for conversion to Christ was death. He was asked whether or not he was afraid to go back. He replied, “I have already died in Christ!”

Jim Elliott, a missionary who was martyred in Ecuador, said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

RESPONSE: Today I will commit to entrust myself to Jesus by denying self and taking up my cross.

PRAYER: Lord, I entrust myself to You and purpose to live the rest of my life to the fullest in ways that only You decide.

Daily Readings for March 30, 2016 - Wednesday in Easter Week

Psalm 105:1-8
1   Give thanks to the LORD and call upon his Name; make known his deeds among the peoples.
2   Sing to him, sing praises to him, and speak of all his marvelous works.
3   Glory in his holy Name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
4   Search for the LORD and his strength; continually seek his face.
5   Remember the marvels he has done, his wonders and the judgments of his mouth,
6   O offspring of Abraham his servant, O children of Jacob his chosen.
7   He is the LORD our God; his judgments prevail in all the world.
8   He has always been mindful of his covenant, the promise he made for a thousand generations:

Acts 3:1-10
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o'clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, "Look at us." And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, "I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk." And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Luke 24:13-35
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?" They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?" He asked them, "What things?" They replied, "The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him." Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?" That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Daily Meditation for March 30, 2016 - Wednesday in Easter Week

 From Forward Day by Day

Luke 24:32 Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?

Before I was ordained, I had three degrees in theology. I had read and studied the Bible, some of it in Hebrew. In an academic sense, I thought I was at least competent. But it wasn’t until five years into ordained ministry that I actually knew much about the Bible.

In one of the churches I was serving, we decided to read the Bible. We went all in. In September, we read the whole Bible out loud over a long weekend. Then throughout the rest of the year, we had a Thursday evening dinner and study group of a few dozen people who read the Bible cover to cover together. Sunday mornings we had a simpler, Reader’s Digest version of the class. We stopped printing the lessons in the bulletin and urged people to bring a Bible to church.

It was transformational. Opening the scriptures with open hearts with a group of people made room for the Holy Spirit to bring God’s word alive for us. Our hearts burned within us.

Verse of the Day - March 30, 2016

Isaiah 53:3-4 (NIV) He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Leaving “Victim” Behind

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example.” 1 Peter 2:21

Politically correct notions in the culture today would lead us to believe that we all have reasons to be angry about the biases arrayed against us. The supposed discrimination extends to girls, boys, the elderly, homosexuals, drug addicts, alcoholics, atheists, those who are overweight, balding, short, undereducated, women (representing 51.2 percent of the population), and now, white men. There’s hardly a person alive who doesn’t have a claim against an oppressor in one context or another. I (jcd) call it “the victimization of everyone.”

Unquestionably, there are disadvantaged people among us who need legal protection and special consideration, including some racial minorities. But the idea that the majority is exploited and disrespected is terribly destructive—first, because the belief that “they’re out to get me” paralyzes us and leads to hopelessness and despair; second, because it divides people into separate and competing self‐interest groups and pits them against each other.

The Scripture gives us a better way. It tells us to thank God every day for His blessings and to focus our attention not on ourselves, but on those who are less fortunate. Not once does it support or sanction the curse of victimization. Do not yield to it.

Just between us…
  • Do we usually blame someone or something for our circumstances?
  • How does playing the role of a victim make us tend to give up?
  • What does God promise us for our earthly struggles?
Lord, forgive us for our quickness to shift into “victim thinking.” Show us which hard things we can change and which we should accept as Your loving best for us. And grant us Your grace and joy in both circumstances. Amen.

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Why Did I Lose My Job if God Loves Me?

He Is On Your Side

Those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. what, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? he who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? —Romans 8:30–32

You might want to take a moment and read that passage again. As you reread those three verses, ponder these questions: What did God give up for you, and what else is promised to you?

If we are open to the Holy Spirit, every time we read God’s Word we very well could receive new insights. Does this Scripture make you feel like you could do anything with God in your corner? When I considered these verses recently, the words just made me feel like an eagle — empowered to soar above it all. Why? Because God is on my side. If God would sacrifice his own Son for me, what wouldn’t he do for me?

Here is where I believe the message gets a bit difficult to understand for those who are without work, without the daily purpose that comes with a job and the means to provide. In fact, I imagine these verses at times seem to offer a mixed message from the Lord. You may be wondering, If I am so important to God, why am I going through such a long drought, such a tough journey? If he really loves me, why am I hitting a brick wall on each interview and seemingly on each path I undertake? Why do I feel like I’m alone in all of this if God is by my side? Why does it seem like every move I make is a mistake? When will it all end?!

I get that. On one hand, the apostle Paul writes in —Romans 8:32 that the Lord will “give us all things.” And that seems to cover the need for a job, right? But here’s the twist. The Lord knows you and me better than we know ourselves. On the surface we may believe that getting a job is our most pressing need. Yet the Lord may be using this season of transition to weed out the pride, arrogance, self-reliance or other emotional or spiritual deficiencies that a career easily masks. In that respect, he is giving us a true gift — one that will serve us well in the days ahead.

We can truly trust the Lord because he didn't spare his own son. He assures us that he is in control, he will always provide what is best for us, and he may be using this season of transition for our ultimate good. That’s what —Romans 8:28 says: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

If God is working behind the scenes in all things for our good, that insight should set us free to praise him in all things — including when an interview goes poorly, when a job offer doesn’t come through or when the funds are getting so low that we have to make another withdrawal from our retirement account. In all things we will trust that God is on our side — for he loved us enough to sacrifice his only Son.

This seven-day devotional is drawn from Why Did I Lose My Job If God Loves Me: Help and Hope for Those in Career Transition by Rick J. Pritikin.

His Princess Every Day - Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Devotionals for Women - Inspirational author and speaker Sheri Rose Shepherd imagines what a letter written from God to you would look like.

I Will Redeem the Time for You

My princess,

I know that sometimes you look back on your life with anguish and regret--so much time wasted on things that did not matter. But take heart, My love. I am your Redeemer, and today is a new day. So start now by seeking My plans, which are to give you hope and a future. Just as I used hardship in Joseph’s life to lead him to a position of leadership, influence, and blessing, I’ve also called you. I will use your past to carve into your character everything you need for the here and now. I want you to let your past experiences teach you and not torment you. Remember, My princess, I will always turn into good what others meant for harm. I will redeem what was lost and place you on the narrow road that leads to an everlasting life.

Your King and your Redeemer

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

This devotional is written by Sheri Rose Shepherd. All content copyright Sheri Rose Shepherd 2015. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Visit for devotionals, books, videos, and more from Sheri Rose Shepherd.

Chocolate For Your Soul - Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Find Freedom From Shame
by Sheri Rose Shepherd

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! - Isaiah 43:18

David loved God with all his heart, but he blew it. He took another man's wife, got her pregnant, then had her husband murdered. He hid behind his sin, thinking it would just go away on its own. But God loved David so much He sent a prophet to confront him so David could be forgiven and freed from shame. David paid a painful price for what he did when his first son with Bathsheba died. God's grace was with David, however, and the second baby he had with Bathsheba is known today as King Solomon.

Don't wait another day bound up in shame. Whatever makes you ashamed, confess it to your Daddy in heaven and let Him cleanse your soul. Your Father is waiting to free you from shame. He sent His one and only Son to prove His love and to cover our sin, our shame.We can’t make ourselves clean or become a new creation in our own strength. Our loving Father longs have us confess to Him so He can tenderly cleanse our soul of sin and make us as white as snow.

If you are holding on to something, it’s time for you to at the cross as more than a symbol of your Savior’s death. When our Lord died and rose again, He broke forever the power of sin on our lives. Right now, take a moment to invite the Lord to search your heart for any unresolved sin from your past that continues to torment you. You can experience cleansing and freedom from this day forward! There is nothing else you need to do right now except rejoice. Now let faith rule your heart and your head, and whenever you begin to look back at who you were or feel shame again, speak out loud, “I am a new creation.” Then continue to ask God to help you receive all He has for you. You are forgiven whether you feel like it or not. So embrace it!

God's Letter to You

Leave your past is where it belongs... nailed to the cross!

Beloved Child,

I love it when you come to Me to confess your sin. I am your safe place and your salvation. There is nothing you can tell Me that I can’t handle hearing. I already know your every thought and action, so why waste even a moment trying to hide anything from Me? Let’s make it right together. Let Me have the thing that’s holding you back from a new and fresh start. Come to Me in truth and be transparent. I'm the Lover of your soul. If you will come to Me and confess, I will gladly wash over your mind, your body, and your spirit to make you clean. You will never need to feel shame again, because I covered you with My life.

Love, Your Lord and Savior who died for you

Treasure of Truth

You are the Lord’s treasured princess, and how you feel about yourself will never change who you are in Christ.

John Keble, Priest

Today the church remembers John Keble, Priest, 1866.

On July 14, 1833, before a distinguished group of judges assembled in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford, John Keble preached a startling sermon entitled "National Apostasy." He accused the English government of forsaking its ancient and sacred commitment to Christ and his church. This sermon marked the beginning of the Oxford or Tractarian Movement which shook the English church and nation to its roots.

The movement aimed at rescuing the institutional church from rampant liberalizing reforms that threatened to render the church impotent. Renewed emphasis was placed on the idea of the church as a divine institution, on the historic episcopate, and on The Book of Common Prayer. Of the many eminent churchmen who took part in this movement, John Keble was perhaps the most mature and certainly one of the best loved. His unquestioned loyalty to the Church of England and his wise and gentle leadership held the movement together and prevented many defections from Christianity on the one hand and to the Roman Church on the other. In the face of bitter controversy, there was no guile found in him.

His religious poetry had such a fresh, simple, and straightforward quality about it that it remains popular today.

As we seek to serve you, Lord Christ, help us keep our motives and our actions pure. Amen.

Grant, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know your presence and obey your will; that, following the example of your servant John Keble, we may accomplish with integrity and courage what you give us to do, and endure what you give us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Daily Readings for March 29, 2016 - Tuesday in Easter Week

Psalm 33:18-22
18   Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon those who fear him, on those who wait upon his love,
19   To pluck their lives from death, and to feed them in time of famine.
20   Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
21   Indeed, our heart rejoices in him, for in his holy Name we put our trust.
22   Let your loving-kindness, O LORD, be upon us, as we have put our trust in you.

Acts 2:36-41
Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified." Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?" Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him." And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

John 20:11-18
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord" and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Daily Meditation for March 29, 2016 - Tuesday in Easter Week

From Forward Day by Day

Acts 2:41 So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

It seems impossible at first. How could 3,000 people be baptized? It must be an exaggeration. That cannot be! Or maybe it can. Even in our time, in some parts of the world, there are regular occasions with hundreds and hundreds baptized. In my world though, where most congregations baptize only a few people a year, these numbers seem impossible. Consider though, that Peter was speaking persuasively to a large crowd, people hungry for hope and meaning. They responded to his excellent preaching.

In the United States, the church have grown complacent with slow, steady decline. At least that’s the pattern across this nation. But it doesn’t have to be this way. All around us are people yearning for a word of hope. They aren’t looking for a church, but they may well be looking for Jesus. Can we share the awesome news that he is alive? Can we tell people that death no longer has dominion over us, that we do not need to be afraid?

Girlfriends in God - March 29, 2016

 A Love That Meets You In The Lonely Places
March 29, 2016
Gwen Smith
Today’s Truth

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. (Psalm 90:14, NIV)

Friend to Friend

I’m needy when it comes to love. Remember that game Hungry Hungry Hippos? Well, I’m pretty much Hungry Hungry Gwenno. (Don’t remember that game? Google it and then buy it for your four-year-old nephew, neighbor, or grandkid. You’ll thank me.)

It seems our old friend Moses was a bit of a hungry hippo too. In Psalm 90 he asked God to fill him and God’s people full of love: “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (v. 14). Love this! Note that Moses connected the love of God with a satisfaction that put a song in his heart and a skip in his step.

Yes. I want this too. So my prayer each morning becomes, Satisfy me with Your love today, Lord. Fill me with Your joy and gladness, and lead my actions to sing of You.

As I pray this, His companionship meets my loneliness. 

His grace overwhelms my grump.

His joy trumps my anger.

His provision satisfies my need.

David recognized that he needed God’s all-satisfying love too. He celebrated it ... was desperate for it ... was responsive to it. Look at what he penned in the familiar words of Psalm 63:

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. (vv. 1–5)

I see my own heart reflected in David’s words and realize that when I’m hankering for a hunk of love, my longings are best met in the arms of my Lord. His is the love of power and glory. His love is “better than life.” And, like David, I choose to respond to His love with worship. My lips will glorify Him. I will lift up my hands. I will praise the all-worthy One. In doing so, my soul is secure. Satisfied.

Ultimately I experience the satisfaction of God’s love through Jesus. God’s perfect love compelled Him to sacrifice His Son to bridge the chasm of death between His holiness and my humanness. His is the love that holds, the love that heals, the love that refines, the love that calls my waywardness back to purity with kindness, the love that is always with me, that rejoices over me with singing and takes “great delight” in me (Zeph. 3:17).

This sacred, scarlet love of Jesus is the only water that can quench the desperate longings of my thirsty soul. If I want all the love God has for me, my feeble hands must reach for the ones that were pierced for my transgressions. Every day. When the sun shines. When the storm screams. I find God’s love when I reach out to Jesus.

His is the only love that satisfies.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, You are perfect love ... and all that my soul longs for. When I’m dizzy with discontent, please remind me that Yours is the love that satisfies.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

Read Psalm 86:15. What five words or phrases are used to describe God in this verse? How similar or different are these from the way you perceive God right now? Write a responsive prayer in your journal or on the wall of my blog.

More from the Girlfriends
Today’s message is an excerpt from Gwen Smith’s new book, I Want It ALL. Ready to narrow the gap between ordinary faith and the not-so-ordinary promises of God found in His Word? Order yours today from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite retailer.


Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)

The relational aspect of commitment is found in the phrase, “Whoever wants to be my disciple…” There is a desire on our part that causes us to want to come to Jesus to be His follower. It is a relationship that you seek to establish with Him. But what is the origin of this relationship? We do not have anything in us that is good enough to be offered to God. It is God Himself who has committed Himself to us. It is He who has taken the initiative that makes it possible for me to respond in commitment to Him.

We see God’s commitment in His creation. He made humankind in His image. And we see His true commitment when we messed up in the fall of humankind. Thus began God’s plan for salvation, the redemption story that culminated in the coming of Jesus Christ. God’s commitment to us is one of total love. This caused Him to not even spare His only Son from the cruelty of the cross to redeem us from the curse of sin.

In addition, when Jesus was on earth, it was He who took the initiative. In fact, when there were some who wanted to volunteer their services prior to their understanding of the true nature of discipleship and the commitment that is required of them, they were discouraged from doing so:

When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”

Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:18–22)

This is the relational aspect of commitment; one in which we desire to follow Jesus because God first committed Himself to us and calls us to follow Him. We who have experienced His love and grace desire to respond to Him.

RESPONSE: Today I commit to a relationship with Jesus in being a true learner and follower.

PRAYER: Lord, I respond to Your love and grace today and desire to become a fully devoted disciple.

Verse of the Day - March 29, 2016

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV) God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Trouble Paradox

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

When troubles line up in what seems like an endless parade, feelings of despair or helplessness can be overwhelming. One way out of this downward spiral toward depression is to reach out to someone else. Our own difficulties seem less threatening and all‐consuming when we are busy helping someone else handle theirs. The possibilities for helping others are limitless. Visit the sick. Bake something for your neighbors. Do household chores for an elderly shut‐in. Use your car for those without transportation. And, perhaps most important, be a good listener. Sometimes what a person needs most of all is simply a friend who will share his or her life for a few moments.

This is one of the powerful paradoxes of the Christian life: When we share someone else’s pain, we often shed some of our own. When we help others, we end up helping ourselves. When we lift another’s burdens, ours lighten.

Just between us…

  • What do you do when you’re discouraged or depressed?
  • Am I helpful to you when you’re feeling down?
  • In what ways did Jesus minister to the downhearted? Is there someone in a difficult situation who could use our help?

Dear God, thank You for Your goodness during trouble. Increasingly, make us Your instruments to help others in need. Help us to share Your comfort and testify to Your great faithfulness. Thank You that we’ll be blessed in doing so. Amen.

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Why Did I Lose My Job if God Loves Me?

Yes! Enjoy Today

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

I have a hunch. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were to say to me, “Rick, one of the problems I struggle with is an inability to enjoy what is happening right now. For some reason I am always looking ahead and just don’t get the joy of the now.” Sound familiar?

I resonate with that sentiment. Here is a perfect example. Prior to my transition journey, I would take my two younger daughters on vacation. We always planned a fun getaway to a very nice destination. In the weeks and days leading up to the vacation, however, I was planning and worrying about how we would get to the airport, when we would have to leave, how we would keep track of the luggage, etc. On the way to the airport I would wonder if I had forgotten to lock the back door at home.

Unlike their worrywart father, my girls were excited. They asked questions about where we were going and what we would be doing while preparing for a terrific family time. I confess I was absent emotionally from sharing in their joy and in their anticipation and discussions because I was too hung up on the details of planning the next step. To make matters worse, when we arrived at our destination I started worrying about making sure we got the luggage and the right transportation to the hotel.

When we arrived at the hotel, I was planning the trip to the pool while unpacking the luggage, and wondering who should get a key to the room. When we got to the pool, I was planning the order for showers afterwards and where we would have dinner. When we got to the restaurant, I was planning how to get back to the hotel or how late I should let the girls stay up. You get the idea.

It was only after an event that I realized that I really didn’t remember much about it. Even today my girls will say, “Dad, remember when we were in California and such and such happened?” I would have absolutely no recollection of the event at all. I was too busy worrying about or planning the next step, instead of enjoying the moment. Today I think of all the joy I have missed that can never be replaced.

Here’s the connection to your transition journey. If you allow anxiety to drive your thoughts, all the blessings you have received will be lost in the worrying about where the next month’s rent will come from or how you will manage to put gas in your car. My friend, whether you go on a vacation or, due to a lack of funds, you have a “stay-cation,” those family memories cannot be relived. They will be gone if you let them. The joy that could have been and should have been will be lost.

What about your journey? Are you focused on tomorrow, next week or next month? Are you planning for the “What ifs” instead of focusing on the right now? First Peter 5:7 reminds us to cast all our anxiety on the Lord. What does that do? It takes the pressure off us and places it on his able shoulders. After all, the prophet Isaiah assures us that God “will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure” (Isaiah 33:6).

Isn’t that great news? The Lord will carry our burden for us, and he provides from his storehouse of wisdom what we need to know to get through this minute. If you are traveling on this career journey worrying about tomorrow, isn’t it time to stop and smell the roses? Take some time and look for the blessings you are receiving, the friendships you are making and the answers to prayers you are receiving.

Remember, our heavenly Father loves us unconditionally and wants the very best for us. How can we possibly know how wonderful a life he is providing if we don’t start living in and enjoying this moment?

This seven-day devotional is drawn from Why Did I Lose My Job If God Loves Me: Help and Hope for Those in Career Transition by Rick J. Pritikin.

Investments of the Heart

Investments of the Heart

Proverbs 22:1–11

If Dr. Seuss had ended up on Wall Street instead of Mulberry Street, perhaps his book titles may have sounded something like this: Great Day for the Dow! Horton Hears a Hedge and a High Index; Green Backs and Pork. The growth of investment companies and of commercialism demonstrates the continuing deification of the almighty dollar.

We all know that money can’t buy love, happiness or redemption. So why does the book of Proverbs imply that wealth, honor and life will come to those who are humble and fear the Lord? There are Christians who are not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, just as there are wealthy Christians who don’t seem humble. Just what is the principle behind this proverb?

First, God’s definition of “wealth” isn’t the same as the world’s definition. King Solomon’s riches were legendary; his yearly income amounted to 25 tons of gold, not counting outside revenues from merchants and traders (see 1 Kings 10:14–15). In terms of finance, King Solomon was clearly qualified to write about wealth and prosperity. But the king soon discovered that God’s inheritance isn’t about quarterly dividends, accelerated land accumulation or a vast collection of chariots and horses. Rather, it is about the heart. In God’s eyes, spiritual riches are acquired by being rich toward him—by exhibiting a humble reverence for his awesome holiness. Spiritual wealth is laced with integrity, bejeweled by honor and polished for eternity. Spiritual riches will pay dividends in prudence, humility, honor, discipline, generosity, purity and graciousness.

This proverb is not a guide for earning wealth but a general principle for living wisely. Although this is not a guarantee that God will make us rich, spiritual riches can help reap financial stability (see Proverbs 21:20). Prudence will teach us to save for a rainy day rather than spend heedlessly. Disciplined giving can benefit us financially as well as spiritually. God delights in giving to the giver. Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap” (Luke 6:38). But more important than financial wealth is the richness of living a godly life. We may not live on Wall Street, but we can make investments every day that will yield the benefits of humility, the fear of the Lord, honor and eternal life.


  1. What, in your own life, does it look like to “fear God”?
  2. How do you invest the riches you’ve been given by God (your money, time, talents, etc.)
  3. How do you define wealth? How does God?
Proverbs 22:4
Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life.

Related Readings

Psalm 37:1–6; Proverbs 3:1–10; Mark 12:43–44; 1 Timothy 6:17–19