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 HisPrincess.com 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, ChristianBook.com 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.