Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Your Father’s Arms

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father… encourage your hearts and strengthen you.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16–17

A talented young athlete, the son of a star baseball player, was struggling in the minor leagues and expected to be released any day. During one game, he came to bat having already struck out once and quickly rang up two more strikes. Then the catcher trotted away for a conference with the pitcher. The umpire, standing behind the plate, spoke to the young man. “You hold the bat just the way your dad held it,” he said. “I can see his genes in you. You have your father’s arms.” On the next pitch, the young man knocked the ball out of the park. His play improved remarkably, and soon he was called up to the major leagues. When asked what changed his game, the young man gave credit to the umpire’s words. “After that,” he explained, “whenever I swung the bat, I just imagined that I was using Dad’s arms instead of my own.”

In your ministry of encouragement in your marriage, remember to use your Father’s arms. Maybe you recall the biblical example of Barnabas, whose name means “son of encouragement.” The Bible says he was “full of the Holy Spirit and faith” (Acts 11:24), and his gift was invaluable in helping the apostle Paul lead others to Christ during their missionary journeys.

Do you sometimes feel inadequate to help others? God Himself is ready to encourage you—and to bless you with His strength to encourage those you love.

Just between us…

  • What’s your favorite form of encouragement?
  • In what ways do I encourage you without words?
  • How can we best tap into God’s resources to encourage each other?
Almighty God, thank You for Your gifts of encouragement and comfort to us. Help us to draw on Your strength as we encourage one another. Amen. 

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

Edict of Nantes

TODAY in History: Edict of Nantes, French Édit De Nantes , law promulgated at Nantes in Brittany on April 13, 1598, by Henry IV of France, which granted a large measure of religious liberty to his Protestant subjects, the Huguenots.

Signed by Henry IV of France at Nantes on April 13th, 1598, the edict put a temporary end to the ferocious religious wars between Roman Catholics and Protestants which had torn France apart since the 1560s. Of the numerous assassinations and atrocities carried out by both sides, the most notorious was the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre of Protestants in Paris in 1572. The French Calvinists, who were known as Huguenots, were only in a minority in France, but they had created a virtual state within a state and held numerous fortified towns. Now, after skillful persuasion by Catholic diplomats and much hard bargaining, they accepted a document of ninety-two articles granting them a measure of religious toleration as well as social and political equality. Huguenots were to be entitled to worship freely everywhere in France in private, and publicly in some 200 named towns and on the estates of Protestant landowners. They were permitted to inherit property, engage in trade, attend all schools and universities, and be treated in hospitals on the same basis as everyone else. There was a full amnesty for crimes committed during the wars by both sides and in secret articles, signed on May 2nd, the government agreed to pay the Protestant pastors and subsidize the garrisons of some fifty Huguenot fortified towns.

Catholic opponents of the edict were gradually won over and the eventual outcome of what had been virtually a prolonged civil war was the strengthening of the French monarchy, which was able to neutralize the two rival factions. Henry IV, king of the Pyrennean statelet of Navarre, came from a junior branch of the royal Valois dynasty of France. He succeeded to the French throne in 1589 after the murder of his predecessor, Henry III, by a Catholic fanatic. He was the first of the Bourbon kings of France and, though himself a notable Protestant leader, four years after succeeding to the throne he became a Roman Catholic because that was the religion of the great majority of his subjects and, in his famous remark, he considered Paris well worth a mass. Some historians regard the Edict of Nantes as an equally cynical stratagem to draw the Huguenot sting, as in fact it did. Protestantism weakened in France after 1598 until eventually Louis XIV’s revocation of the edict in 1685 led to mass emigration of Huguenots to England and other countries.

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Daily Readings for April 13, 2016

Exodus 19:16-25
On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the LORD had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently. As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder. When the LORD descended upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, the LORD summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go down and warn the people not to break through to the LORD to look; otherwise many of them will perish. Even the priests who approach the LORD must consecrate themselves or the LORD will break out against them." Moses said to the LORD, "The people are not permitted to come up to Mount Sinai; for you yourself warned us, saying, 'Set limits around the mountain and keep it holy.'" The LORD said to him, "Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you; but do not let either the priests or the people break through to come up to the LORD; otherwise he will break out against them." So Moses went down to the people and told them.

Colossians 1:15-23
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers-- all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him-- provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel.

Matthew 3:13-17
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."

Morning Psalms

Psalm 38
1   O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger; do not punish me in your wrath.
2   For your arrows have already pierced me, and your hand presses hard upon me.
3   There is no health in my flesh, because of your indignation; there is no soundness in my body, because of my sin.
4   For my iniquities overwhelm me; like a heavy burden they are too much for me to bear.
5   My wounds stink and fester by reason of my foolishness.
6   I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; I go about in mourning all the day long.
7   My loins are filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body.
8   I am utterly numb and crushed; I wail, because of the groaning of my heart.
9   O Lord, you know all my desires, and my sighing is not hidden from you.
10   My heart is pounding, my strength has failed me, and the brightness of my eyes is gone from me.
11   My friends and companions draw back from my affliction; my neighbors stand afar off.
12   Those who seek after my life lay snares for me; those who strive to hurt me speak of my ruin and plot treachery all the day long.
13   But I am like the deaf who do not hear, like those who are mute and who do not open their mouth.
14   I have become like one who does not hear and from whose mouth comes no defense.
15   For in you, O LORD, have I fixed my hope; you will answer me, O Lord my God.
16   For I said, "Do not let them rejoice at my expense, those who gloat over me when my foot slips."
17   Truly, I am on the verge of falling, and my pain is always with me.
18   I will confess my iniquity and be sorry for my sin.
19   Those who are my enemies without cause are mighty, and many in number are those who wrongfully hate me.
20   Those who repay evil for good slander me, because I follow the course that is right.
21   O LORD, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God.
22   Make haste to help me, O Lord of my salvation.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 119:
25    My soul cleaves to the dust; give me life according to your word.
26   I have confessed my ways, and you answered me; instruct me in your statutes.
27   Make me understand the way of your commandments, that I may meditate on your marvelous works.
28   My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.
29   Take from me the way of lying; let me find grace through your law.
30   I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set your judgments before me.
31   I hold fast to your decrees; O LORD, let me not be put to shame.
32   I will run the way of your commandments, for you have set my heart at liberty.

Psalm 119:
33   Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end.
34   Give me understanding, and I shall keep your law; I shall keep it with all my heart.
35   Make me go in the path of your commandments, for that is my desire.
36   Incline my heart to your decrees and not to unjust gain.
37   Turn my eyes from watching what is worthless; give me life in your ways.
38   Fulfill your promise to your servant, which you make to those who fear you.
39   Turn away the reproach which I dread, because your judgments are good.
40   Behold, I long for your commandments; in your righteousness preserve my life.

Psalm 119:
41   Let your loving-kindness come to me, O LORD, and your salvation, according to your promise.
42   Then shall I have a word for those who taunt me, because I trust in your words.
43   Do not take the word of truth out of my mouth, for my hope is in your judgments.
44   I shall continue to keep your law; I shall keep it for ever and ever.
45   I will walk at liberty, because I study your commandments.
46   I will tell of your decrees before kings and will not be ashamed.
47   I delight in your commandments, which I have always loved.
48   I will lift up my hands to your commandments, and I will meditate on your statutes.

Daily Meditation for April 13, 2016

From Forward Day by Day

Matthew 3:15 Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.

Each morning I wake up and have my prayer time… except for the mornings that I don’t. My prayer time doesn’t always feel holy. Sometimes I am so tired that I find myself rereading the same line. I find myself rereading the same line. (That was a test to see if you are having the same trouble this morning!) Some days, I dread sitting still long enough to do my morning prayer time, because there are other tasks to get to, just waiting for my attention.

If I let my own desire be the deciding factor, I would likely choose to sleep an hour longer most mornings or go straight to the task list for the day. Instead, I try to do what is righteous, what sets my relationship with God in right order, so that I might be formed and shaped by this intentional time with God. I hope someday every moment of my life will be laced with an awareness of God’s presence in every breath. Until then, I have my practice to teach me, and I have a good strong cup of coffee to help me along.

His Princess Every Day - Wednesday, April 13, 2016

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

My Forgiven Daughter,
Forgiveness is my gift to you. I want you to give this same gift away to those who have let you down or disappointed you. I know there are those who have done horrible things that seem unforgivable, but I am a just God and you can trust me to deal with those who have hurt my daughter. What I ask of you will unlock the door that holds your heart hostage in a prison of pain. You can’t soar when you carry heavy chains of unforgivness. I want to see my girl free full of life. If you refuse to forgive, you are not hurting those who have caused you pain, you are hurting yourself, my love. Please take the keys to freedom I offer you and release yourself from this prison of pain and forgive as I, your Father, have forgiven you.

Your Father Who always forgives you

O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help. - Psalm 86:5 (NLT)

Make it a Strong Close

by Sheri Rose Shepherd
Watch this week's video by clicking on the image below.

It is always the last act of love, the last word spoken, the last move made that is the one remembered most.

Have you ever fought hard for something or someone you really believed in? You gave your all, your love, your time and your talent only to have it come to a bitter end where it seems you lost everything that mattered most to you including your faith? I have been there, and in these broken-hearted moments I could not find anyway or anything to restore what was lost or repair the damage done. But I discovered in the word of God that the ONE thing I can do is choose to lay down my feelings and bring a strong close to whatever is coming to an end. I can choose to react in a way that will bring glory to God. I know it is hard to push through painful places when you're hurting, but it is even harder to look back with regret and know you wasted the pain and became part of the problem.

If you are in a season of painful change and things seem to be coming to an end, allow me to share with you some Bible Life Coaching tips that will give you peace, perspective and help you persevere so you finish with a strong close...

  • Pray for a bigger picture than your own pain and it will help purpose you to Finish Strong!
  • Do what is right and Refuse to engage with whomever is attacking you or you become like them.
  • Focus on God's will and not your rights. Remember that our God is a just God and He will repay those who have come against His children.
  • Turn your hurt into Hope for the future and, rather than fix your mind on what you're losing, choose to trust God for new beginnings that will lead to His plans for you!
God's Letter to You 

I believe if The Lord was going to write you a personal letter about battles this life brings it may read like this.... 

My Beloved Child,
Your life lived for me will become the legacy that lives on long after you are gone. Your fight will never be forgotten. You are a hero of the faith and your commitment to the call will carve character into the next generation. Every prayer you prayed will become a blessing passed down. Every tough choice you made to obey me will become a foundation of faith your family will stand on in their tough times.
Your courage will continue to bring comfort to many during their difficult times. Your Trust in me will remain in others who watched you walk in peace. I, your God, declare on this day that your children's children will be forever blessed because you lived your life for an audience of One... Me!
Your Lord and Savior who died for you

Treasure of Truth 

Happy are those who delight in doing what He commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will never be forgotten. — Psalm 112:1-3

Girlfriends in God - April 13, 2016

When You’ve Failed and Bailed
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV) 

Friend to Friend

I just love Moses. I can relate to him on so many levels.

For about forty years, he thought he was an Egyptian...the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter. But somehow he discovered that he was NOT an Egyptian after all. He was a Hebrew, the son of a slave woman. . . and that changed everything.

Moses had a mid-life crisis and came up with a plan to save his true people from Egyptian slavery. God did not call him to this plan. He came up with it all on his own. (Red flag for all of us.)

One day Moses was walking among his people and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave. Glancing first one way and then another to make sure no one was looking, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. One down. Several million to go. Moses was working the plan.

The next day, Moses was out walking among his people and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”

The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?”

Moses realized what he had done was widely known. The Pharaoh was out to kill him, and his fellow Hebrews mocked him. So he failed and he bailed.

Moses fled to a place called Midian, married a gal named Zipporah, and joined the family business taking care of sheep. The next time we see Moses, forty years have passed; he is now 80 years old . . . and he is stuck. Oh, sister, I’ve been there. Have you?

Moses was stuck in Midian and held hostage by his failures. He had settled for less than what he was made for. Less than what God had prepared him for. Less than what he had hoped for in himself. And there he stayed.

This is where many people drive their tent stakes in the ground and settle. They make a mistake, fall flat on their face, and run away to the far side of the wilderness, hoping no one will notice. Praying everyone will just leave him or her alone, at the same time, absolutely miserable that life has morphed into a monotonous, lackluster checklist. Like Moses, many bury their hopes and dreams to protect their hearts from further disappointment.

But that’s not where God wants you to stay. We all fail. We all make mistakes. Peter did. Moses did. Jacob did. Samson did. David did. But just because you failed does not mean you ARE a failure. You are a child of God who makes mistakes.

God wasn’t finished with Moses and He’s not finished with you or me. He has a plan...a good and perfect plan.

So if you feel stuck...if you’ve failed and bailed to your far side of the’s time to get unstuck and move forward. God has burning bushes all around. This could be one right now. He’s calling you to let go of your failure, move forward in all that He has for you to do, and live bold.

Come on. Let’s do it together! He’s calling your name. 

Let’s Pray

God, I cringe at the times I’ve let You down. It breaks my heart to think about the times that I’ve failed. But I am so thankful for Your GRACE. Thank You for calling me off the bench and back into the game even when I didn’t feel worthy. I love you so much.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

Read Jesus’ discussion with Peter, not by a burning bush, but by another burning fire.
John 21:15-17.

What had Peter done to let Jesus down?

What was Jesus doing during this conversation with Peter?

What is Jesus saying to you through today’s devotion? 

More from the Girlfriends 

Today’s devotion was taken from my new book, Take Hold of the Faith you Long For: Let God, Move Forward, Live Bold. A mediocre, mundane faith is not your destiny! In Take Hold of the Faith You Long For, I reveal the most common reasons we get stuck in our Christian faith. I show you how to break free of all that holds you back, move forward with all that God promises, and live the adventurous faith of bold believing. It’s time to leave behind feelings of inferiority, insecurity, and inadequacy that hold you hostage and take hold of the mountain-moving faith God intends. Let’s uncover untapped sources of confidence and courage, and see how to move from simply knowing the truth to actually living it out boldly in a life marked by true freedom and expectancy. It’s time to get UNSTUCK! Click on the book cover to discover free bonuses when you order before May 1, 2016. 

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Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall…famine…? Romans 8:35d

The question asked is a personal one. Not “what” can separate us but “who”? The inference is our enemy, Satan, who tries every tactic he can garner to make us think we can be separated from Christ’s love. Today we look at his tactic of “famine.”

Wilson Chen from Vietnam spent five years in one of those harsh and primitive re-education camps. He was forced to spend long hours of hard backbreaking work clearing jungles for farmland, cutting trees for lumber and farming the fields. He had looked forward to a successful secular career and also to marrying his lovely girlfriend. In his final year in camp, he received the crushing news that his girlfriend had given up hope, married another and escaped from Vietnam.

The camp food was barely enough to keep him alive. “The constant brutality attacked our minds and spirits; the malnutrition attacked our bodies,” he recalls. The constant hunger drove them to eat anything. He would search the ground with other prisoners for rats, toads, worms, snakes, insects and birds to supplement their diet and keep them alive and to simply ease the feeling of constant hunger.

Wilson remembers companions who went insane from the pressure of hunger. Others committed suicide. Many died from diseases caused by the malnutrition.

That very night they were subjected to mental torture and political indoctrinat. Always in their minds were thoughts of escape. But Wilson Chen says, “It was hope in the Lord Jesus that kept me alive. I fed this hope by secretly reading the Scriptures...” In that camp situation, Wilson promised the Lord that he would serve him if he ever received the opportunity. The Holy Spirit whispered to him, “You have opportunities right here!” Very soon three fellow-prisoners came to know the Lord.

Camp experiences helped him reflect on the significance of the sufferings of Jesus. In that context he found refreshment and exhilaration in his own weakness. And he says, “...Jesus gave me peace in the midst of tribulation.” 

RESPONSE: I will live this day aware that famines can never separate me from Christ’s love.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that You give peace in the midst of tribulations.

Verse of the Day - April 13, 2016

Romans 3:23-24 (NIV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 

Read all of Romans 3