Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Daily Readings for April 20, 2016

Exodus 33:1-23
The LORD said to Moses, "Go, leave this place, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, and go to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, 'To your descendants I will give it.' I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, or I would consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people." When the people heard these harsh words, they mourned, and no one put on ornaments. For the LORD had said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, and I will decide what to do to you.'" Therefore the Israelites stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward. Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp; he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise and stand, each of them, at the entrance of their tents and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses. When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise and bow down, all of them, at the entrance of their tent. Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then he would return to the camp; but his young assistant, Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the tent. Moses said to the LORD, "See, you have said to me, 'Bring up this people' but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, 'I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.' Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people." He said, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." And he said to him, "If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth." The LORD said to Moses, "I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name." Moses said, "Show me your glory, I pray." And he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, 'The LORD' and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But," he said, "you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live." And the LORD continued, "See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen."

1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us. You remember our labor and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was toward you believers. As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, urging and encouraging you and pleading that you lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

Matthew 5:17-20
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Morning Psalms

Psalm 119:
49   Remember your word to your servant, because you have given me hope.
50   This is my comfort in my trouble, that your promise gives me life.
51   The proud have derided me cruelly, but I have not turned from your law.
52   When I remember your judgments of old, O LORD, I take great comfort.
53   I am filled with a burning rage, because of the wicked who forsake your law.
54   Your statutes have been like songs to me wherever I have lived as a stranger.
55   I remember your Name in the night, O LORD, and dwell upon your law.
56   This is how it has been with me, because I have kept your commandments.

Psalm 119:
57   You only are my portion, O LORD; I have promised to keep your words.
58   I entreat you with all my heart, be merciful to me according to your promise.
59   I have considered my ways and turned my feet toward your decrees.
60   I hasten and do not tarry to keep your commandments.
61   Though the cords of the wicked entangle me, I do not forget your law.
62   At midnight I will rise to give you thanks, because of your righteous judgments.
63   I am a companion of all who fear you and of those who keep your commandments.
64   The earth, O LORD, is full of your love; instruct me in your statutes.

Psalm 119:
65   O LORD, you have dealt graciously with your servant, according to your word.
66   Teach me discernment and knowledge, for I have believed in your commandments.
67   Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.
68   You are good and you bring forth good; instruct me in your statutes.
69   The proud have smeared me with lies, but I will keep your commandments with my whole heart.
70   Their heart is gross and fat, but my delight is in your law.
71   It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.
72   The law of your mouth is dearer to me than thousands in gold and silver.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 49
1   Hear this, all you peoples; hearken, all you who dwell in the world, you of high degree and low, rich and poor together.
2   My mouth shall speak of wisdom, and my heart shall meditate on understanding.
3   I will incline my ear to a proverb and set forth my riddle upon the harp.
4   Why should I be afraid in evil days, when the wickedness of those at my heels surrounds me,
5   The wickedness of those who put their trust in their goods, and boast of their great riches?
6   We can never ransom ourselves, or deliver to God the price of our life;
7   For the ransom of our life is so great, that we should never have enough to pay it,
8   In order to live for ever and ever, and never see the grave.
9   For we see that the wise die also; like the dull and stupid they perish and leave their wealth to those who come after them.
10   Their graves shall be their homes for ever, their dwelling places from generation to generation, though they call the lands after their own names.
11   Even though honored, they cannot live for ever; they are like the beasts that perish.
12   Such is the way of those who foolishly trust in themselves, and the end of those who delight in their own words.
13   Like a flock of sheep they are destined to die; Death is their shepherd; they go down straightway to the grave.
14   Their form shall waste away, and the land of the dead shall be their home.
15   But God will ransom my life; he will snatch me from the grasp of death.
16   Do not be envious when some become rich, or when the grandeur of their house increases;
17   For they will carry nothing away at their death, nor will their grandeur follow them.
18   Though they thought highly of themselves while they lived, and were praised for their success,
19   They shall join the company of their forebears, who will never see the light again.
20   Those who are honored, but have no understanding, are like the beasts that perish.

Psalm 53
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   God 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, those evildoers who eat up my people like bread and do not call upon God?
5   See how greatly they tremble, such trembling as never was; for God has scattered the bones of the enemy; they are put to shame, because God has rejected them.
6   Oh, that Israel's deliverance would come out of Zion! when God restores the fortunes of his people Jacob will rejoice and Israel be glad.

Daily Meditation for April 20, 2016

From Forward Day by Day

1 Thessalonians 2:8 So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.

In the conversations I have with Saint Paul in my head, I ask him why he didn’t write, “Especially our own selves” instead of “but also.” Fear of sounding arrogant, I presume.

What is the gospel, though, unless it seeps from the cracked places of our own lives? Unless we reveal the wounds that the good news has healed. It is from these wounded places that the gospel is actually revealed. It is not our talk about gospel but the experience of the gospel. When I reveal my own fear of being a fraud, it is only overcome by trusting God to help me be authentically myself.

When I reveal my struggle with abandonment issues, I am healed through inclusion in God’s kingdom; it is from those wounds healing that I understand and can share the gospel.

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His Princess Every Day - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

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


My Daughter,

Please don’t walk away from me when life hits and your heart is broken. I know sometimes you hurt so bad you want to blame me. I understand how hard it is for you to keep your heart committed to me, when you feel I have disappeared in the midst of your pain. I have been broken for you to have the strength to live. I am here--and I am working things out for you even when it seems as if nothing has changed. I have my hand on you and extended to you at all times. No one can hold you as close as I can. So don’t run, my love--unless it is into my arms of mercy.

Your Lord 

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. - Psalm 23:6 (NLT)

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

Girlfriends in God - April 20, 2016

The Power of a Song
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

For the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2b, ESV). 

Friend to Friend

Just try to keep my daughter from singing. Go ahead and try. You will fail. She must sing. It’s just her thing. Some days when I’m writing, or simply trying to piece together a coherent thought, I dream that she could travel to a land far, far away from me and hang out in a sound proof room. 

Shhhhhhh! Embrace “quiet” already, girl. 

I know. When it comes to 24/7 musical expressions, mother-of-the-year I am not.

And I’m okay with that.

The irony, of course, is that I, too, love to sing—just not all day every day like my daughter, and certainly not when I’m writing.

Oh, but I do love music. It’s central to who I am as a person. I love writing songs, singing songs, learning songs, and playing songs. If my iTunes library were in book form, it would fill the Library of Congress.

In many ways my life is processed through melody and verse. I can scarcely pick up my Bible and spend time in God’s presence without having to run to the piano in responsive worship. When His deep calls out to my deep, I just have to chase it musically!

Why? What is the big deal about songs?

I could never hope to understand the full scope of the answer, but I know this: music is powerful. It heightens our emotions and allows us to feel our way through a thought.

Think back to the first time you heard Judy Garland sing “Over the Rainbow”…or Darlene Zschech singing “Shout to the Lord”…or Ray Charles singing “Georgia on My Mind”…or Gloria and Bill Gaither singing “Because He Lives”…or Aretha Franklin singing “Respect”…or Celine Dion singing “My Heart Will Go On”…or Chris Tomlin singing “How Great Is Our God."

Pure melodic magic.

Notes and words strung together in excellence can raise us to our feet or push us to our knees.

Because music touches something at the core of our being, it should come as no surprise that one of the names of God found in Scripture is My Song. First seen in Exodus 15:2, My Song is a name that Moses used to describe God as he celebrated the miraculous deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt.

Can you imagine how his heart swelled as he watched God turn a massive body of water into a walking trail for millions of Israelites? So Moses and his people threw down a big ol’ God-party on the victory side of the Red Sea! 

Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying,

"I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. (Exodus 15:1-2)

Moses had to sing because his heart couldn’t contain the gratitude and awe he felt for God. He called the Lord My Song. He was compelled to worship. I totally get that. God had freed His people through a medley of miracle after miracle. How could they not respond in grateful worship? How could He not be their Song?

How could He not be ours, as well?

The greatest commandment of God to His people is not vague. It is crystal clear. Both the Old and New Testaments tell us that the most vital calling in life—your greatest purpose—is to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).

Bam! That’s it.

What better way for us to express love to God than by living out a life that sings His praise and features Him as the ultimate object of our desire?

I will be the first to admit that my feeble attempts to live out the greatest commandment fall short every single day. I want to love Him perfectly, but I’m just not able to. I want to love Him with all of my heart, soul, and mind. Sincerely. But the reality is I can’t because I am a distracted worshiper.

My life is busy with ordinary. The laundry never ends, the family activities never cease, dust dominates, and dishes fill my kitchen sink, even when I’ve just cleared it out. To sprinkle special on our ordinary days, we add music. We sing. We dance. We worship.

So, as much as my daughter’s constant melodious outbursts may wear me out, maybe she’s on to something after all. If God is our song, then how can we not sing? How can we not find a song—our Song, God—in both the mundane and the miraculous of our lives? If He is our song, then let’s raise our voices with His praise! 

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, You are my Song. Thank You for giving us music! Thank You for inviting me to honor You in praise with instruments, voices, verses, and melodies. Help me to love You with my heart, mind and soul…more today than yesterday…and more the next day than tomorrow.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

In Psalm 40:3, King David expressed God’s loving deliverance this way, “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” Has God given you a new song? Give Him thanks! Praise Him!

If you had to pick a song that captured your feelings for God today, what would it be?

Leave a comment on my blog

Click here to listen to a song I wrote called “My Strength, My Song,” that was inspired by this very Scripture. 

More from the Girlfriends

Today’s GiG devotion is adapted from Knowing God by Name by Sharon Jaynes, Gwen Smith, & Mary Southerland by permission of Multnomah, division of Random House, Inc. 

Ready to move forward in faith today? Gwen Smith’s new book, I Want It ALL, gives you practical help to connect your struggles to the solutions of God found in His Word. Order yours today from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite retailer.

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Holy Motives

“If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” John 15:10 

During Jesus’ time on earth, He was the epitome of love and compassion—yet He was also surrounded by conflict. He didn’t hesitate to set the Pharisees straight when they spoke or acted against God’s will. Jesus even rebuked Peter when His disciple rejected the prophecy that Christ would suffer and die (Mark 8:31–33). But Jesus’ motives were pure and perfect. He never intended His words to harm His listeners; rather, He spoke from a heart of love for His children.

We urge you to consider your motives when the temptation arises to do battle with your mate. Is your aim to lovingly enlighten, or to prove you are “right”? Are you reacting to another problem that has nothing to do with your partner? Is this really an important issue, or are you just blowing off steam at the expense of your spouse?

As long as we remember Christ’s motives for conflict and follow His example, we will “remain in his love,” and our marriages will move down the right path.

Just between us…
  • During our last dispute, did you feel that my goal was to “lovingly enlighten,” or to win the battle?
  • During conflicts in our marriage, how can we be more like Jesus?
  • Have I wounded your spirit during times of disagreement? If so, will you forgive me? 

Lord Jesus, You were no stranger to the challenges of conflict, and we thank You for Your inspiring example. How much we want to be like You and to do Your will. Show us Your wisdom in new ways as we seek to mature in this area. Amen. 

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


…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6:15 

The cry for peace is as old as the dawn of history and as fresh as the morning newspaper. Several centuries before Christ, the prophet Isaiah said, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace….” (Isaiah 52:7)

When the Hebrew prophets foretold the coming of a divine deliverer, they said one of his names would be “Prince of Peace. When the Savior was born, the note struck by the angelic chorus in the nativity story of the shepherds was “…and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)

Therefore, it is not surprising that when describing the armor of God, Paul included the element of peace. As God’s peacemakers, our sandals enable us to march into circumstances to bring peace, not destruction. Christ calls people who have made their peace with God to fight for fellowship, not against it (Hebrews 12:2-3). So we must be ready to go where God sends us with the message of peace, forgiveness and hope. We may be called to march right to the gates of hell—which He promised would not hold us back (Matthew 16:18). It is in this sense that we can be considered “waging” peace.

Your life thus centers on the good news of the kingdom. Everything else comes second. Know how to share the good news. Understand what it has done in your life. See how it can help others. Ask God to give you opportunities to share with others. Be alert for the opportunities. Be prepared to take advantage of them…standing strong in your sandals of peace.

Brother Alagaw in Ethiopia started an aggressive gospel ministry in his region. People accepted the Lord through his preaching. The people of the traditional church colluded with the Muslim fundamentalists to fight Alagaw and his followers. They said, “These people will destroy our country, nation and religions if we do not stop them immediately.”

Alagaw and his followers organized their first evangelistic meeting at the local stadium. They hired sound systems for this big occasion. Early in the morning they started with their outreach. At about 10:00 a.m. a big crowd approached the stadium. Without saying a word, they destroyed the sound system and a lot of other property. Some believers went to the local police station, but the police refused to help. During the attack, a pregnant woman lost her baby.

After this incident other forms of harassment followed. During church services stones were thrown on the roof of the church building. Faceless people burned down their church building. However, the Lord has blessed their ministry and their peaceful responses with one hundred and twenty new believers. 

RESPONSE: Today I put on the sandals of peace and stand firm in the good news of the Gospel.

PRAYER: Lord, may Your peace shine through me today and be a light to all I encounter.

Verse of the Day - April 20, 2016

1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (NIV) “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Read all of 1 Corinthians 15