Friday, May 6, 2016

Ragamuffin Brother

by Ron Mehl

Roy Angel was a dirt‐poor preacher with a millionaire brother. Back in the oil boom days of the late 1940s, Roy’s older brother happened to own the right piece of Texas prairie at the right time. When he sold, he became a multimillionaire overnight. Parlaying that good fortune, the elder Angel made some strategic investments in the stock market and then cashed in on several mushrooming business enterprises. He moved into the penthouse of a large apartment building in New York City and managed his investments from a posh Wall Street office.

A week before Christmas one year, the wealthy businessman visited his preacher‐brother in Chicago and presented him with a new car—a gleaming, top‐of‐the‐line Packard. Roy always kept his new car down the street in a parking garage, under the careful eye of an attendant. That’s why when he came to get his Packard one morning, he was surprised to see a ragamuffin ghetto boy with his face pressed up against one of the car windows. The little boy wasn’t doing anything suspicious; he was obviously just peering into the new car’s interior with wide, admiring eyes.

“Hello, son,” Roy said. The boy spun around and looked at him. “Is this your car, mister?” “Yes,” Roy replied, “it is.” “How much did it cost?” “Well, I really don’t know.” The boy’s face registered surprise. “You mean, you own this car, and you don’t know how much it cost?” “No, I don’t—because my brother gave it to me. As a present.” At this the boy’s eyes grew even wider. He thought for a moment, and then said wistfully, “I wish… I wish….” Roy thought he knew how the boy would finish the sentence. He thought he was going to say, “I wish I had a brother like that.”

But he didn’t. The boy looked up at Roy and said, “I wish… I wish I could be a brother like that.”

That intrigued the minister, and because those were more innocent times, he said, “Well, son, would you like to take a ride?”

The boy immediately replied, “You bet!”

So they got in the car together, exited the parking garage, and drove slowly down the street. The little boy ran his hand across the soft fabric of the front seat, inhaled the new‐car smell, touched the shiny metal of the dashboard. Then he looked at his new friend and said, “Mister, would you—could you—take me by my house? It’s just a few blocks from here.”

Again, Roy assumed he knew what the lad had in mind. He thought the boy wanted to show off the car he was riding in to some of the neighborhood kids. He thought, Well, why not? So at his young passenger’s direction, Roy pulled up in front of an old, run‐down tenement building.

“Mister,” the boy said as they stopped at the curb, “would you stay here just a minute? I’ll be right back!”

Roy let the car idle as the boy rushed upstairs and disappeared.

After about ten minutes, the preacher began to wonder where the boy had taken himself. He got out of the car and looked up the unlighted stairwell. As he was looking up the dark stairs, he heard someone slowly coming down. The first thing he saw emerging from the gloom was two limp little legs. A moment later, Roy realized it was the little boy carrying an even smaller boy, evidently his younger brother.

The boy gently sat his brother down on the curb. “See?” he said with satisfaction. “It’s just like I told you. It’s a brand new car. His brother gave it to him, and someday I’m going to buy you a car just like that!”

Looking ahead…

In this story of two benevolent brothers, the millionaire certainly gave a nice present—but it’s the little boy who is the better example of a generous spirit. How many children dream of giving a new car to their brother or sister? Somehow I get the feeling that this little fellow wouldn’t squander a fortune if it came his way later in life.

During the coming week, we’ll be talking about the incredible power of generosity for good—both inside our marriage and in our relationships with others. Tonight I leave you with a question: Do you have a generous spirit?

- James C Dobson

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.“Ragamuffin Brother” by Ron Mehl. Taken from God Works the Night Shift by Ron Mehl. © 1994. Used by permission of Multnomah Publishers, Inc.

Men of the Bible - David

His name may mean: "Beloved" 

His work: A shepherd by trade, David became the second king of Israel.
His character: A man of stark contrasts, David was a man who did nothing halfheartedly. Though he sinned terribly, his repentance was deep and lasting. Scripture refers to him as "a man after God's own heart."
His sorrow: During his lifetime, David had to come to grips with his own sinfulness and the severity of God's punishment like the death of his sons and his inability to build the temple.
His triumph: Under David's leadership, the nation of Israel reached prominence like it had never known before.
Key Scriptures: 1 Samuel 17 

A Look at the Man

It's the stuff of epic cinematography—hillsides filled with thousands of jostling soldiers, clattering armaments, and everything at stake. But the heart of the story of David and Goliath is real. It's the story of a young man who threw himself at life with great abandonment, confident as he was in the goodness and power of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

There were two defining moments in David's childhood. The first happened when Samuel visited his father's home looking for the man who would someday be king. The youngest son and least likely candidate, David, came in from the pasture to receive the prophet's anointing and then went back to work.

The second defining moment was when he encountered Goliath in a contest that would determine the outcome of a battle. Forerunners of the ancient Greeks, the Philistines were accustomed to deciding battles in an arena rather than between armies. In addition to saving lives, such contests indulged the desire to turn warfare into sport. The Philistine army must have thought they had it made with a warrior like Goliath in their ranks. But they didn't reckon on the young boy who believed that God was capable of anything. Winding his way through the company of Israel's soldiers, David's innocent questions were met with shock and derision. But David was astounded by the Israelites' lack of faith.

Even the king was afraid. "Don't you know who you're fighting for?" David asked Saul. "Where's your trust in him?"

The courage David exhibited as a young man who defended his father's sheep from wild animals and then defended God's people from a godless thug lasted throughout his life. And the same confidence in the God of his fathers marked his life in the years that followed.

Though David wasn't a perfect man, he confessed his sins with the same unfettered confidence in God that had marked his previous dealings. And because he never blamed anyone but himself when he fell, he received God's mercy with no impediments.

Almost five hundred years later the prophet Isaiah would write: 

Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way
and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon (Isaiah 55:6-7). 

Perhaps Isaiah was remembering David, the man whose courage, confidence, faith, contrition, and trust in God's mercy knew no limits.

David lived without restraint. No giant would deter him. He took the promises of the living God for his own and seized life with the certainty of knowing that God was with him. This was the legacy of the "man after God's own heart." 

Reflect On: 2 Samuel 22 
Praise God: For his promises. 
Offer Thanks: For God’s faithfulness in keeping his covenants. 
Confess: The unconfessed sin that keeps you from serving God wholeheartedly. 
Ask God: For a renewed willingness to follow him.

Today's reading is a brief excerpt from Men of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Men in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Robert Wolgemuth (Zondervan). © 2010 by Ann Spangler. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Enjoy the complete book by purchasing your own copy at the Bible Gateway Store. The book's title must be included when sharing the above content on social media.

His Princess Every Day - Friday, May 6, 2016

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

His Open Door

My Daughter,

Not every open door in your life is from Me. If I opened the door, it will not cause you confusion. It will lead you to a closer relationship with Me. Don’t immediately follow people through an open door simply because they claim to speak for Me or ask you to trust them more than Me and My Word. Don’t seek counsel from those who don’t walk in My wisdom or who don’t live solely for Me. My open doors bring glory to My name and further My Kingdom. I am a God of order, and when I order your steps, I open doors that no man can shut. So before you walk toward a new opportunity, be sure to pray and count the cost of what you are giving up. Take an honest look at where you will be going and whether you are headed in the most effective and everlasting direction. When you seek My guidance, you will hear My still voice say, “This is the way, My beloved; now walk in it.” 

Your heavenly Father

This is what the LORD says:
"Stop at the crossroads and look around.
Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it.
Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.” - Jeremiah 6:16

Treasure of Truth

Before you walk away, count the cost of what you are leaving behind.

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 - May 06, 2016

Family Matters
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV). 

Friend to Friend

I remember that night well. It was so many years ago, but it seems like yesterday. And what a crazy day it had been! Probably a day like many of yours.

I was a young mom with two small children. My husband was the youth pastor of a large church in town. I taught a weekly Bible study for senior high girls and directed a youth choir that practiced one night a week and sang for the early worship service every Sunday. We hosted a youth bible study in our home every Monday night … and, well, you get the idea. My schedule was almost to the point of ridiculous and I was exhausted most of the time. But this particular day had been crazier than most.

Both kids had a cold and were grumpy because they didn’t feel well. The house was a mess, the laundry was piled high, and I had a meeting at church that night. I was counting the minutes until my husband came walking through the front door. I needed rescuing.

The phone rang. "Honey, I won't be able to make it home before church visitation tonight," Dan said. He sounded so tired that I could not muster up one ounce of anger. Instead, I shifted into overdrive - snatching both kids off of the backyard swing and away from neighborhood friends - plopping them in the bathtub for a quick rinse, impatiently shoving little arms and legs into clean clothes and spooning food into little mouths before firmly depositing both kids in their car seats. Off we went to church for the third night in a row.

At a stop sign, I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw two miserably silent children, tears streaming down their sad little faces. I heard His voice, "Mary, what are you doing and who is your audience?" My heart broke. I suddenly realized that I was running the race of life for the wrong audience that day. Turning the car around, I headed home.

"Hey guys! Would you like to go home, put on your pajamas, make some cookies and watch a movie with me?" Cheers and clapping erupted from the back seat as tears gave way to smiling faces. Laughter and giggles filled the car and my heart. It has been over twenty years but I still remember that precious night of ministry.

Women are so busy. As believers, we delight in finding creative ways to touch hearts and are often passionate about introducing those hearts to God’s love, forgiveness and transforming power – and rightly so.

But I wonder how many of us miss the hungry hearts that greet us each morning across the breakfast table or wait for us to come home each night.

Do we overlook a child’s silent longing for the kind of love that is spelled “t-i-m-e?"

Do we miss the opportunity to encourage a weary husband who has once again returned home without a job?

When was the last time you gave your parents a hug and thanked them for everything they have done for you over the years?

Do your grandparents know how valuable their legacy of love and wisdom is to you?

We make the erroneous assumption that the people in our lives know how we feel about them. Do they? And even if they do know, wouldn’t it be great to tell them again?

It is so easy to lose focus and scramble priorities. We get so busy doing good things and miss one of the highest things God created us to do – family.

Our public lives are only as valid as our private lives.

Family is the perfect framing for God’s highest work, the litmus test for authentic service, and our greatest opportunity to meet needs in His name.

Being involved in a church is a good and right thing. Providing creative outlets such as sports or music for our children is a wonderful gift. We just need to make sure we are not substituting activities for the time we should be spending together as a family.

I am amazed that we can stand in silence, watching homes, marriages and families disintegrate before our very eyes. Silence is agreement. It is time for us, as women of God, to boldly stand against anyone and anything that undermines our marriage or threatens the solidarity of our family.

Family matters to God. It should matter to us as well. 

Let’s Pray

Father, thank You for the family You have given me. Please grant me the wisdom to know how I can best serve and minister to them in Your name. Help me set priorities that reflect You and Your plan, and give me the strength and discipline to live by those priorities. Show me how to love and disciple each member of my family and lead them to become Your fully devoted followers.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

I believe God is calling us to pour encouragement into those people we call family. Read the following verses. Beside each verse, write the name of a family member who needs the truth contained in that particular verse. Now make a plan to do something about it!
  • Isaiah 35:3 “Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way."
  • Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."
  • Psalm 10:17 “You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry." 

More from the Girlfriends 

Family is God’s idea and He alone has the plan for making it succeed. Mary’s video message, How to Love Your Family, explores four steps we can take to build a successful family. Get it today!

Be sure to check out the FREE MP3s on Mary’s website and connect with Mary through 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


There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 

Satan has inspired rulers to try to force Christians to return to their former folk religions or the pagan gods of their ancestors—all in the name of patriotism or nationalism. Religious nationalism is where a particular territory or culture is staked out exclusively in religious terms.

Leaders say, “Only Hindus are allowed to stay in India.” Or, “You are a true Sri Lankan only if you are a Buddhist.” In such cases where religious nationalism reigns, Christians either must accept second-class citizen status, face daily discrimination, or leave.

Research done by Open Doors indicates that to establish a “religious state” the religious nationalists require four elements: a villain, a lie, a mob, and a vacuum. They need a “villain” who can unite the people with a powerful message; a “lie” (Christians are intolerant); a “mob” to create chaos (media support helps); and a “vacuum” (absence of moderates in power to control the nation).

Some in India and Nepal argue that their country is Hindu hence other religions are foreign and imperialistic. State assistance is denied to those who convert to non-Hindu religions.

At one point, the Mongolian State Intelligence Bureau described Christianity as a “foreign religion.” And today, Mongolia’s new laws imply that Christianity is “against Mongolian customs.”

In Mexico, a mayor of a community in the southern state of Chiapas has tried to justify the ongoing persecution of evangelicals with the claim that they “attack…our culture and traditions.” In reality, tens of thousands of Christians have been expelled from their homes for not joining in the syncretistic community spiritual activities.

Christians in an area of Swaziland were told by their chief that each Christian would be fined a cow for not attending the annual cultural ceremonies at the king’s royal cattle kraal. The chief announced that he had compiled a list of all his subjects who deliberately avoided two yearly ceremonies: the umhlanga (reed dance) and the incwala (first fruit). Pastors of churches accused of preaching against Swazi culture are among those fined. Pastors in the area plan to challenge the chief’s fines in a court of law.

Christians must avoid the mistake of identifying religion with nation, and nation with religion—even in the West. To do so severely hinders the growth of the Body of Christ where there is “neither Jew nor Greek.” 

RESPONSE: I will not make the mistake of identifying religion with nation…and pray for those who do.

PRAYER: Pray for Christians who struggle to survive in the midst of religious nationalism and extreme patriotism.

The Daily Readings for May 6, 2016

1 Samuel 2:1-10
Hannah prayed and said, "My heart exults in the LORD; my strength is exalted in my God. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory. "There is no Holy One like the LORD, no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry are fat with spoil. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts. He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's, and on them he has set the world. "He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness; for not by might does one prevail. The LORD! His adversaries shall be shattered; the Most High will thunder in heaven. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed."

Ephesians 2:1-10
You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-- by grace you have been saved-- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God-- not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
Matthew 7:22-27

On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?' Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.' "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell-- and great was its fall!"

Morning Psalms

Psalm 85
1 You have been gracious to your land, O LORD, you have restored the good fortune of Jacob.
2 You have forgiven the iniquity of your people and blotted out all their sins.
3 You have withdrawn all your fury and turned yourself from your wrathful indignation.
4 Restore us then, O God our Savior; let your anger depart from us.
5 Will you be displeased with us for ever? will you prolong your anger from age to age?
6 Will you not give us life again, that your people may rejoice in you?
7 Show us your mercy, O LORD, and grant us your salvation.
8 I will listen to what the LORD God is saying, for he is speaking peace to his faithful people and to those who turn their hearts to him.
9 Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.
10 Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
11 Truth shall spring up from the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
12 The LORD will indeed grant prosperity, and our land will yield its increase.
13 Righteousness shall go before him, and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.

Psalm 86
1 Bow down your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and in misery.
2 Keep watch over my life, for I am faithful; save your servant who puts his trust in you.
3 Be merciful to me, O LORD, for you are my God; I call upon you all the day long.
4 Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
5 For you, O LORD, are good and forgiving, and great is your love toward all who call upon you.
6 Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer, and attend to the voice of my supplications.
7 In the time of my trouble I will call upon you, for you will answer me.
8 Among the gods there is none like you, O LORD, nor anything like your works.
9 All the nations you have made will come and worship you, O LORD, and glorify your Name.
10 For you are great; you do wondrous things; and you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; knit my heart to you that I may fear your Name.
12 I will thank you, O LORD my God, with all my heart, and glorify your Name for evermore.
13 For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the nethermost Pit.
14 The arrogant rise up against me, O God, and a band of violent men seeks my life; they have not set you before their eyes.
15 But you, O LORD, are gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger, and full of kindness and truth.
16 Turn to me and have mercy upon me; give your strength to your servant; and save the child of your handmaid.
17 Show me a sign of your favor, so that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed; because you, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 91
1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, abides under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 He shall say to the LORD, "You are my refuge and my stronghold, my God in whom I put my trust."
3 He shall deliver you from the snare of the hunter and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He shall cover you with his pinions, and you shall find refuge under his wings; his faithfulness shall be a shield and buckler.
5 You shall not be afraid of any terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day;
6 Of the plague that stalks in the darkness, nor of the sickness that lays waste at mid-day.
7 A thousand shall fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you.
8 Your eyes have only to behold to see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because you have made the LORD your refuge, and the Most High your habitation,
10 There shall no evil happen to you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.
12 They shall bear you in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the adder; you shall trample the young lion and the serpent under your feet.
14 Because he is bound to me in love, therefore will I deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my Name.
15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; I am with him in trouble; I will rescue him and bring him to honor.
16 With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.

Psalm 92
1 It is a good thing to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to your Name, O Most High;
2 To tell of your loving-kindness early in the morning and of your faithfulness in the night season;
3 On the psaltery, and on the lyre, and to the melody of the harp.
4 For you have made me glad by your acts, O LORD; and I shout for joy because of the works of your hands.
5 LORD, how great are your works! your thoughts are very deep.
6 The dullard does not know, nor does the fool understand, that though the wicked grow like weeds, and all the workers of iniquity flourish,
7 They flourish only to be destroyed for ever; but you, O LORD, are exalted for evermore.
8 For lo, your enemies, O LORD, lo, your enemies shall perish, and all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.
9 But my horn you have exalted like the horns of wild bulls; I am anointed with fresh oil.
10 My eyes also gloat over my enemies, and my ears rejoice to hear the doom of the wicked who rise up against me.
11 The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, and shall spread abroad like a cedar of Lebanon.
12 Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God;
13 They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be green and succulent;
14 That they may show how upright the LORD is, my Rock, in whom there is no fault.

The Daily Meditation for May 6, 2016

From Forward Day by Day

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast.

A neighbor has a lavish strawberry garden, which (in her opinion) produces far more strawberries than she can use. This time of year, many of her neighbors arrive home to find pails of delicious strawberries on our front steps.

A gift out of one woman’s generosity and work. We do nothing, except enjoy them.

Her act is one of grace. I did nothing to help grow the strawberries. I didn’t plant them, water them, or even pick them. I just enjoy them in thankfulness. And she expects nothing in return. As she has said so many times, “I’m delighted to be able to share.”

Somehow, the berries always arrive when I’ve had a particularly long, tiring day, and in my weariness, I’m reminded of how wonderful grace is. We simply accept its healing, loving presence. We allow its sweetness to fill us and nourish us. The only expectation is that we accept it.

What acts of grace have appeared in your life? How might you extend grace to those you know?

Join more than a half million readers worldwide who use Forward Day by Day as a resource for daily prayer and Bible study.

Verse of the Day - May 06, 2016

James 5:16 (NIV) Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Read all of James 5