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

His Princess Every Day - Monday, March 28, 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 Always Come When You Call

My Beloved Bride,

I will always come when you call for me, my love. Call out to me as many times as you need me and I will come comfort you. I never tire of hearing your sweet voice address my name. When your heart is broken, I want to put all the pieces back in place for you. When you feel empty, I will fill you up again and again. When your spirit has been crushed, my love, I am here to revive your soul. Be assured my princess, I am always available to you anytime you need. Call to me and I will answer.

Your Prince who is only a prayer away

The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. - Psalm 34:17-18

Prayer to my Prince

My Lord,

I love to call to you, my Lord, It is an amazing comfort to know you, the Son of God, hear my cry and come to my rescue! Why am I so blessed to personally know the only one who truly understands what I need to be rescued? Thank you for who you are and all you do for me, my beloved prince. I am truly blessed to be your bride.

Your Bride who is forever grateful

In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice my cry came before him, into his ears. - Psalm 18:6

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.

Women of the Bible - Jael

Her name means: "A Wild or Mountain Goat"
Her character: Decisive and courageous, she seized the opportunity to slay an enemy of God's people.
Her sorrow: To be lauded by Deborah and Barak for her part in a decisive victory.
Key Scriptures: Judges 4-5 

Her Story 

Jael watched uneasily through the flaps of her tent as clouds swept the blue from the sky and rain fell like a shroud across the horizon. Sisera, she knew, had marched to Tabor. But what good were iron chariots in a flooded valley? she wondered. Yet the Israelites were poorly armed, with little chance of prevailing. Still, she remembered the stories of Moses and the people he had led across the wilderness. Had their God, she wonderd, been asleep these many years?

The sight of a man running, then stumbling toward her interrupted her thoughts. A soldier fleeing? Was he Israelite or Canaanite? His identity might reveal the way the winds of battle were blowing. She went out to meet him, surprised to find that Sisera himself was approaching, dirty and bleeding.

"Come, my lord, come right in. Don't be afraid," she welcomed him.

"I'm thirsty," he said. "Please give me some water." Instead Jael opened a skin of milk and gave him a drink.

"Stand in the doorway of the tent," he told her. "If someone comes by and asks you, 'Is anyone here?' say 'No.' "

As soon as Sisera fell into an exhausted asleep, Jael picked up a tent peg and hammer. Her arm was steady, her aim sure. Hadn't she been in charge of the tents all these years? Quickly, she thrust the peg through his temple and into the ground. Like a piece of canvas fixed in place, Sisera, the great general, lay dead, slain by a woman's hand, just as Deborah had prophesied to Barak.

Was Jael a hero, an opportunist, or merely a treacherous woman? It is difficult to know. She and her husband, Heber, were Kenites, members of a nomadic tribe whose survival depended on its ability to stay clear of local disputes. Her husband had made his peace with the Canaanites despite his descent from Hobab, Moses' brother-in-law. Perhaps ancient ties had no longer seemed expedient, considering the power of the Canaanite rulers. But Jael may have believed in Israel's God. Or perhaps she merely wanted to curry favor with the Israelites, the day's clear winners. Certainly Barak and Deborah approved of her, singing:

Most blessed of women be Jael,
the wife of Heber the Kenite,
most blessed of tent-dwelling women.
He asked for water, and she gave him milk;
in a bowl fit for nobles she brought him curdled milk.
Her hand reached for the tent peg,
her right hand for the workman's hammer.
She struck Sisera, she crushed his head,
she shattered and pierced his temple.
At her feet he sank,
he fell; there he lay.
At her feet he sank, he fell;
where he sank, there he fell—dead. - Judges 5:24-27

Jael's treachery and Deborah's gloating strike us as bloodthirsty, all the more so because we don't usually attribute such behavior to women. But by the standards of ancient warfare, both were heroes. Both were decisive and courageous women who helped God's people at a critical moment in history. 

Her Promise 

Behind the story of Jael and the death of Sisera is a God who promised never to forget his people and who holds to that promise. When hope seems dim and the prospect of victory seems close to impossible, God is at work, bringing about his plan.

The people of Israel during the time of the judges must have worn God to exasperation with their continual wavering. When times were good, they easily forgot God and went their own way. But as soon as times got tough, they went running to him for deliverance.

Sound like anyone you know? The story of the wavering of God's people continues even today. We so easily move forward on our own, thinking we can handle it all, until we run up against something too hard for us. Only then do we run to God for help.

But what an amazing God he is. Always there. Always willing to rescue us when we call. Always willing to forgive.

Girlfriends in God - March 28, 2016

When His Face is Toward Us
March 28, 2016
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry (Psalm 34:15).

Friend to Friend

Pastor James Moore of Houston, Texas tells the story of a young man whose wife died, leaving him with a small son to raise alone. After a beautiful and moving memorial service, the young man and his son returned home from the cemetery.

Family and friends had all gone home. The man was lost. Numb with grief, he decided he and his son would go to bed early because there was nothing else he could bear to do.

After tucking the little boy into bed, the young father laid in the darkness - heartbroken and weeping - wondering how he could go on without his wife beside him. The voice of his son broke through the darkness with a haunting question, "Daddy, where is Mommy?"

The father could not speak. He simply got up and brought the little boy to bed with him. The child could not fall asleep. He was confused by the day’s events. Although he did not really understand all that had happened, the child knew something was very wrong. He tossed and turned, disturbed and restless, occasionally asking questions like "Why isn’t she here?" and "When is she coming back?"

When the weary father had run out of answers and the anxious little boy had run out of questions, he finally said, "Daddy, if your face is toward me, I think I can go to sleep." The father turned toward his son, wrapped his arms tightly around him, and asked God to strengthen them both for the days ahead. In just moments, the little boy grew quiet and was soon fast asleep.

The father lay there in the darkness for a while, staring into the beautiful face of his son. A new resolve took root. It was just a tiny broken seed, but that is all faith requires when placed in the hands of God.

So in childlike faith, the shattered and desperate young man cried out to God, "Father, I don't see how I can survive this. The pain is just too much, Lord! The future looks so lonely and so miserable. But God, if your face is toward me, I think I can make it."

Girlfriend, that is exactly what the Messiah came to teach us - that God's face is always towards us. No matter where you are, no matter what you are facing – rest your wobbly and oh-so-feeble faith on this bedrock conviction - you and your God are in this together.

Let God replace your fear with His peace. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7, NASB).

Expect God to meet your every need. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19, NIV).

Believe God is your safe place. God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1, NIV).

Rest in God’s plan for your life. ‘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).

Trust God to deliver you from the darkness. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand (Psalm 40:2, NIV).

Know that Jesus Christ will never leave you or forsake you. God has said, ‘I will never leave you; I will never abandon you’ (Hebrews 13:5, NCV).

Pain can rip our lives apart. We frantically try to find some way to put it all back together, but the broken pieces don't seem to fit anymore.

You may be desperately clinging to the broken and mismatched remnants of your life, wondering how you can go on. Whispers of the enemy creep into your heart, soul, and mind, taunting you with the lie that you are just too dirty and too broken for God to love or use. You might as well give up, the devil taunts. Do. Not. Believe. Him.

Trust God. Like the children of Israel, just stick your toes in the water, and watch God part the raging sea before you. His face is always toward you.

Let’s Pray

Father, I come to You – desperate and broken. I don’t have the strength to go on, Lord. You are my first and last hope. Hear the cries of my heart, God. See the shattered pieces of my life.
Jesus, I come … I come.

Now It’s Your Turn

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

Make a list of the dark places in your life today. Surrender each one to God. Ask Him to bring light into your heart and mind and help you walk in His peace today. When the waves of darkness come, remember each one now belongs to your Father.


Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself. (2 Timothy 2:11-13)

Paul is writing his last letter before execution addressed to his spiritual son, Timothy. New Testament scholars are convinced that Paul is quoting here an ancient Christian worship chorus or “hymn.” It is assessed to be one of the songs Christians sang as they were walking into the arena to face certain death. Paul himself may have sung this hymn when he was executed in Rome.

There is plenty of historical evidence that people of the pagan world were amazed at the courage and joy – often expressed in music – Christians exhibited when facing their death. Early church father, Tertullian was reportedly converted soon after first observing this exhibition of abnormal joyfulness. He later made the oft-quoted statement that “the blood of the martyrs is seed!”

The first couplet is powerful because it is in the Greek aorist tense which indicates a specific moment in the past. When Christ calls us, we die to sin and to ourselves. Therefore, the song begins, “We have already died with Him and we will therefore live with Him!” It goes on to proclaim that when we endure, we’ll reign with Him; if we deny Him, He will deny or disown us; but when we are faithless, He always remains faithful because it is a characteristic of His unchanging nature.

Korean Elder Kwan-Joon Park was called an “Elijah of Korea” or sometimes a “Daniel of modern times.” He died as a martyr for his faith in Christ and his opposition to the Japanese colonial rule during the Second World War when Korea was occupied by the Japanese Imperialists. The latter enforced Shinto worship on the Korean people.

On March 24, 1939, Elder Park went to Japan to protest against inhuman colonial policies of Japan. He walked into the 74th Imperial Diet of Japan. When the opening pronouncement of the lower house was made, he stood up from his seat in the visitor’s balcony and shouted, “This is a great mission of God, Jehovah’s great message!” Then he threw leaflets to the floor below exposing cruel abuse of Korean Christians by Japan and warning them of God’s imminent judgment and destruction of Japan as a result of her wrong doing and tyranny. They also explained the resistance against Japanese imposition of Shinto shrine worship upon Korean Christians.

Elder Park was arrested and sentenced to six years in Japanese prison. While serving his sentence he was martyred at the age of seventy. We don’t know if he sang. But one line from his last poem written during his imprisonment expresses well his firm resolution to die willingly for Jesus Christ: “Since Jesus died for me, I will die for Jesus!”

RESPONSE: Today I will resolve to live courageously even if it means facing death for Jesus who died for me. I will express my joy in living and dying for Him in every way – including singing!

PRAYER: Lord, help me to be joyful even in the face of death knowing that You are always faithful.

Easter Monday

Easter Monday is the day after Easter Sunday and is a holiday in some countries. Easter Monday in the Western Christian liturgical calendar is the second day of the 50 days of Eastertide and analogously in the Byzantine Rite is the second day of Bright Week.

Daily Readings for March 28, 2016 - Monday in Easter Week

Psalm 16:8-11
8   I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand I shall not fall.
9   My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices; my body also shall rest in hope.
10   For you will not abandon me to the grave, nor let your holy one see the Pit.
11   You will show me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy, and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.

Acts 2:14,22b-32
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. "You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know-- this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. For David says concerning him, 'I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will live in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.' "Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, 'He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.' This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.

Matthew 28:9-15
Suddenly Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, "You must say, 'His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.' If this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.

Daily Meditation for March 28, 2016 - Monday in Easter Week

From Forward Day by Day

Matthew 28:10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Yesterday was Easter, right? Well, not exactly. In fact, we are just getting started on a great season in which we spend fifty days celebrating the wonders of Easter. By this afternoon, most of the stores, which were selling Easter candy, will have removed their displays. But we Christians know that today is only day two of fifty.

The father of one of my friends makes a habit of answering his phone differently this season. Instead of hello, he answers, “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” Before you conclude he must be some kind of overly enthusiastic Christian, I assure you, he is an Episcopalian!

I wonder what might happen if we made our Easter joy known to the world. What conversations might start up? What amount of hope and Good News might we spread?

Verse of the Day - March 28, 2016

1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NIV) For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.