Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Empty Castles

“This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” Luke 12:20

The utter folly of materialism hit home dramatically for me (jcd) during a trip to Britain years ago. As I toured the museums and historical buildings, I was struck by what I called “empty castles.” Standing there in the lonely fog were edifices constructed by proud men who thought they owned them. But where are those men today? All are gone; most are forgotten. The hollow castles they left behind stand as monuments to the vulnerability and impermanence of the men who built them.

I hope to leave more than empty castles behind when I die—something more meaningful than land, machines, stocks, or fame. I will consider my earthly existence to have been wasted unless my legacy is a loving family, a consistent investment in the lives of people, and an earnest attempt to have served the God who made me. Nothing else really matters.

Just between us…
  • If we died tonight, would our obituaries describe empty pursuits or meaningful lives?
  • How would the Lord judge our stewardship of money, time, and belongings?
  • What has been our most foolish investment or expenditure in the past few years?
  • Do we seek satisfaction in things or in the Lord? Is a change in order?
  • How can we encourage each other to pursue what really matters?
Lord, we know that all that is of this earth will eventually turn to dust. How much we long to live like Your children every day—with eternity’s values always in mind. Grant us Your grace and wisdom as we seek to make changes that will glorify You. Amen. 

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

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 see 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.
Your Lord and Savior who died for you

Daily Readings for April 6, 2016

Exodus 15:22-16:10
Then Moses ordered Israel to set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter. That is why it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?" He cried out to the LORD; and the LORD showed him a piece of wood; he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made for them a statute and an ordinance and there he put them to the test. He said, "If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in his sight, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the LORD who heals you." Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they camped there by the water. The whole congregation of the Israelites set out from Elim; and Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger." Then the LORD said to Moses, "I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days." So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, "In the evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your complaining against the LORD. For what are we, that you complain against us?" And Moses said, "When the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the LORD has heard the complaining that you utter against him-- what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the LORD." Then Moses said to Aaron, "Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, 'Draw near to the LORD, for he has heard your complaining.'" And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.

1 Peter 2:1-10
Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation-- if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God's sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture: "See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame." To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner," and "A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

John 15:1-11
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

Morning Psalms

Psalm 119:
1   Happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!
2   Happy are they who observe his decrees and seek him with all their hearts!
3   Who never do any wrong, but always walk in his ways.
4   You laid down your commandments, that we should fully keep them.
5   Oh, that my ways were made so direct that I might keep your statutes!
6   Then I should not be put to shame, when I regard all your commandments.
7   I will thank you with an unfeigned heart, when I have learned your righteous judgments.
8   I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me.

Psalm 119:
9   How shall a young man cleanse his way? By keeping to your words.
10   With my whole heart I seek you; let me not stray from your commandments.
11   I treasure your promise in my heart, that I may not sin against you.
12   Blessed are you, O LORD; instruct me in your statutes.
13   With my lips will I recite all the judgments of your mouth.
14   I have taken greater delight in the way of your decrees than in all manner of riches.
15   I will meditate on your commandments and give attention to your ways.
16   My delight is in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

Psalm 119:
17   Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word.
18   Open my eyes, that I may see the wonders of your law.
19   I am a stranger here on earth; do not hide your commandments from me.
20   My soul is consumed at all times with longing for your judgments.
21   You have rebuked the insolent; cursed are they who stray from your commandments!
22   Turn from me shame and rebuke, for I have kept your decrees.
23   Even though rulers sit and plot against me, I will meditate on your statutes.
24   For your decrees are my delight, and they are my counselors.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 12
1   Help me, LORD, for there is no godly one left; the faithful have vanished from among us.
2   Everyone speaks falsely with his neighbor; with a smooth tongue they speak from a double heart.
3   Oh, that the LORD would cut off all smooth tongues, and close the lips that utter proud boasts!
4   Those who say, "With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own; who is lord over us?"
5   Because the needy are oppressed, and the poor cry out in misery, I will rise up, says the LORD, and give them the help they long for.
6   The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined from ore and purified seven times in the fire.
7   O LORD, watch over us and save us from this generation for ever.
8   The wicked prowl on every side, and that which is worthless is highly prized by everyone.

Psalm 13
1   How long, O LORD? will you forget me for ever? how long will you hide your face from me?
2   How long shall I have perplexity in my mind, and grief in my heart, day after day? how long shall my enemy triumph over me?
3   Look upon me and answer me, O LORD my God; give light to my eyes, lest I sleep in death;
4   Lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed over him, " and my foes rejoice that I have fallen.
5   But I put my trust in your mercy; my heart is joyful because of your saving help.
6   I will sing to the LORD, for he has dealt with me richly; I will praise the Name of the Lord Most High.

Psalm 14
1   The fool has said in his heart, There is no God." All are corrupt and commit abominable acts; there is none who does any good.
2   The LORD looks down from heaven upon us all, to see if there is any who is wise, if there is one who seeks after God.
3   Every one has proved faithless; all alike have turned bad; there is none who does good; no, not one.
4   Have they no knowledge, all those evildoers who eat up my people like bread and do not call upon the LORD?
5   See how they tremble with fear, because God is in the company of the righteous.
6   Their aim is to confound the plans of the afflicted, but the LORD is their refuge.
7   Oh, that Israel's deliverance would come out of Zion! when the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice and Israel be glad.

Daily Meditation for April 6, 2016

From Forward Day by Day

1 Peter 2:10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.

I sometimes forget that it is still Easter. I forget that the transformation of Jesus from death to resurrection is my transformation—and the transformation of the whole church. In this season, in the waking world, flowers open to announce new life and help to proclaim the story of resurrection.

As the daylight hours grow longer, tipping past the equinox, the whole world declares the reality of resurrection from the dead. When I forget that we’re in the fifty days of Easter, and that I too am resurrected with Christ, nature offers plenty of reminders of the mercy of God: reminders that we are God’s resurrected people, walking around like spring flowers, shining God’s presence in this great, living Easter proclamation of life.

His Princess Every Day - Wednesday, April 6, 2016

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

I know that you are under great attack as you are bombarded with lies about your worth. You are mine and this Identity crisis is not my will for you. The truth is that you are my treasured possession and my crown jewel. You are much too precious and valuable in my kingdom to allow anyone or anything to make you feel worthless. My daughter does not need bow down to a man-made image to find her true value. I already proved to you how much you are worth--on the cross. Now allow me alone to reveal to you your true value and worth. You’re created in my Image and you’re worth everything to me. It breaks my heart when you let these lies keep you in darkness when I called you to be light.


Your Father who treasures you

"or you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession. - Deuteronomy 14:2 (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.

Girlfriends in God - April 06, 2016

Making the Choice to Forgive
Mary Southerland 

Today’s Truth

Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ (Ephesians 4:32, NCV). 

Friend to Friend

A little boy went to see the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. When he arrived, he pointed up at the monument and announced to the guard on duty, “I want to buy it.” The guard asked, “How much money do you have?” 

The boy reached into his pocket and pulled out a quarter. The guard said, “That is not enough.” The little boy replied, “I thought you would say that” and pulled out nine more cents.

The guard looked down at the small boy and said, “You need to understand three things. First, thirty-four cents is not enough. Second, the Washington Monument has never been, nor will it ever be for sale. Third, if you are an American citizen, then the Washington Monument already belongs to you."

We need to understand three things about forgiveness. First, we can never be good enough or do enough to buy it. Second, forgiveness is not for sale, nor can we earn it. Third, if we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, then all the forgiveness we will ever need already belongs to us. But we must choose to experience that forgiveness by accepting it as a free gift of God.

Our pride is often the biggest obstacle to experiencing forgiveness.

It is hard to admit that we are sinners in need of a Savior.

We like being in control of our lives … until that control lands us in some ditch or pit, and we need saving. In desperation, we lay down our pride and cry out to God … and He hears us.

Psalm 77:1 (NCV) “I cry out to God; I call to God, and He will hear me.”

God does not respond to our cries for help with condemnation and guilt. That’s the standard operating procedure of Satan. God offers unconditional love and eternal forgiveness.

Our pride is often the biggest obstacle to forgiving others. True forgiveness always requires sacrifice on our part – a truth that may often seem unfair in human terms. After all, we are the ones who have been hurt. Why should we have to sacrifice anything? Shouldn’t the people who hurt us be the ones who have to make the first move and offer the biggest sacrifice?

True forgiveness – God’s forgiveness – defies human logic and cannot be explained in human terms. Human forgiveness is easier … but a shallow substitute and a cheap imitation for the amazing power of God’s forgiveness.

We need to be willing to take the first step in the process of forgiveness. Jesus was. Romans 5:8 tells us that “God shows His great love for us in this way: Christ died for us while we were still sinners."

He did not wait until we shaped up.
He did not wait until we cleaned up.
He did not wait until we asked for forgiveness or even knew we needed to be forgiven.

Jesus stepped out of heaven onto a cross, purchasing true forgiveness for us.

Jesus died for people who do not deserve forgiveness, people who refuse to ask for forgiveness, people who ignore their own faults, people who sit in judgment of others, people who insist on others taking the first step. People like you and me.

We need to love and forgive in the same way.

God is very serious about forgiveness.

Matthew 5:23 (NLT) “If you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God."

God wants us to understand that it doesn’t matter how much we do or don’t do. If we have not forgiven someone, if we know that someone has not forgiven us, we should drop everything, put life on hold, and make things right.

If we want to experience the power of forgiveness, we must be willing to nail our pride to the cross, experience the love and forgiveness of God, and choose to forgive.

Let’s Pray

Father, I come to You today, asking first for Your forgiveness for the sin in my life. I choose to turn from that sin and obey you. Thank You for your grace and mercy. Give me the strength and power to extend that same mercy and grace to those in my life who have hurt me.

In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

What hurt or pain are your holding onto? Make the choice to let it go today.

What one person do you need to forgive right now? Pray for that person. Ask God to let you see them through His eyes and make the deliberate choice to forgive them.

Forgive the person who hurt you. Forgiveness is a choice … not an emotion or feeling. If you make the choice to forgive, God will supply the forgiveness.

More from the Girlfriends

Need help? Get Mary’s MP3, The Power of Forgiveness for practical ways to practice true forgiveness in your life.

Be sure to check out the FREEBIES on Mary’s website and connect with her through Skype, email or on Facebook.

Seeking God? Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 1311
Huntersville, NC 28070


“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. John12:32-33

Manuel was an effective evangelist among the mountain Quechua people in Peru. He felt called by the Lord to take Bibles and share the gospel with the anti-government guerilla soldiers who camped in hiding in the mountains. For the many illiterates he took the New Testament on cassette. It was a bold and risky ministry.

One day some Shining Path guerrillas with their big AK-47 guns intercepted him on the trail and ordered him to stop going to the mountains; stop handing out Bibles, cassettes and other Christian materials; and stop preaching about Jesus. They threatened his life if he did not desist.

Some months later Manuel did not return home when expected. A search party discovered his dead body at the side of the trail. It was more than just a cadaver. His feet, hands and tongue had been cut off. And with a knife they had carved on his torso a message in Spanish, “We told you to stop!” The chopped body parts completed the message, “stop visiting the villages; stop distributing Bibles; stop preaching about Jesus!”

There was a memorial service for Manuel attended by many believers. Hundreds of people came from the mountains to honor his memory. Our Open Doors co-worker reported that there were more people standing outside the rural church than sitting inside the crowded sanctuary.

An evangelist preached the memorial service message and challenged young people to come forward and take Manuel’s place. Ten young people made the commitment and knelt at the front altar.

An elder standing at the side asked in a loud voice, “But young people. What if the same thing happens to you as happened to Manuel?”

One of the youths at the front cried out, “If we die, a hundred will spring up and take our place!”

Living for Jesus is actually harder than dying for Jesus. It means I must die to myself every day!

RESPONSE: Since Jesus gave His life for me, what more can I give Him than my own life. And until that day of physical death, I will die to myself daily.

PRAYER: Thank You Jesus, for giving Your life blood for me. I give You my life in service today and every day until You call me to be with You in Your heavenly home.

Verse of the Day - April 06, 2016

1 John 3:16 (NIV) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

 Read all of 1 John 3