Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Shocking with Kindness

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 

While standing in line at a grocery store checkout a few years ago, I (jcd) noticed that the elderly woman in front of me had filled her cart with more food than she could pay for. “I just don’t understand where my money is,” she said as she desperately searched the depths of her purse. I whispered to the checker, “Total her bill, then accept whatever money she has, and put the rest on my bill.” I paid an extra eight dollars to make up the difference. The old woman never knew I had helped her, but after she shuffled away, the checker had big tears in her eyes.

“I’ve been doing this work for twenty years,” she said, “and I’ve never seen anyone do something like that before.”

It was no big deal—an insignificant eight dollars—yet kind gestures are so rare today that many people find them shocking. As a husband and wife commissioned to demonstrate God’s compassion to our world, we can make a tremendous impact through simple acts of kindness.

Just between us…
  • What small kindness did I do for you this week that you appreciated?
  • Am I treating you and others around us as kindly as I should?
  • How does “shocking kindness” contribute to our witness for Christ?
  • How can we be shockingly kind more often? 
O Lord, Your kindness changed us forever. Your love broke into our lives most unexpectedly. Thank You so much! Empower us to love just like that. Amen. 

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

What If You Were Asked to Choose?

by Sheri Rose Shepherd

If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. — Matthew 6:25 

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

Many times we have to lay down our dreams for divine destiny.

King David was a mighty warrior of the faith, but his biggest battle was inside himself as he fought to understand why God would choose him. This future king was torn from the many comforts he was accustomed to and forced to hide out in caves to protect his very life. I’m sure David must have wondered, "Is this truly God’s will for my life?"

King David did not ask God to become a leader of the faith, but David did say yes to the call to fight to further God’s Kingdom. It took sixteen years of “spiritual boot camp,” personal battles, and great sacrifices to prepare David to lead God’s people.

David did not allow the battles to make him bitter; instead he transferred his painful preparation time into prayers and cried out to God in writing. Today those pain-filled prayers found in the book of Psalms show us how to find God in our own personal battles. His calling was not easy, but his life was full of adventure and his faith still lives on in our heart today.

I know it is hard to see yourself as a David, but he is no different than you and me. He was an imperfect person who stepped out and trusted God by surrendering his wants to God’s will for his life. He lost much, but gained a legacy of faith. He fought to walk the narrow road, trusting his God to guide him all the way home to heaven.
God's Letter to You

My child,

You have my Spirit inside of you--therefore you have my power to live a life without limits. There is no war I cannot win for you. There is no problem hard enough that I cannot solve it for you. There is no life so broken that I cannot put back together again. There are no chains so strong that I cannot break them. Don’t ever doubt who you are in me. Nothing can limit you from living an abundant life but your disobedience and lack of faith. Now step out on a limb and choose to obey my commands, and you will feel my power and passion resurrect inside your soul. I will do immeasurably more than you would ever dare to ask of me, or even imagine! 

Your God Who knows NO Limits

For more about Sheri Rose's ministry, visit HisPrincess.com.

The Daily Readings for May 10, 2016

1 Samuel 16:1-13
The LORD said to Samuel, "How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons." Samuel said, "How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me." And the LORD said, "Take a heifer with you, and say, 'I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.' Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you." Samuel did what the LORD commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, "Do you come peaceably?" He said, "Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice." And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, "Surely the LORD's anointed is now before the LORD." But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart." Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, "Neither has the LORD chosen this one." Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, "Neither has the LORD chosen this one." Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, "The LORD has not chosen any of these." Samuel said to Jesse, "Are all your sons here?" And he said, "There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep." And Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here." He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The LORD said, "Rise and anoint him; for this is the one." Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

Ephesians 3:14-21
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Matthew 8:18-27
Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. A scribe then approached and said, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." Another of his disciples said to him, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead." And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, you of little faith?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?"

Morning Psalms

Psalm 97
1 The LORD is King; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of the isles be glad.
2 Clouds and darkness are round about him, righteousness and justice are the foundations of his throne.
3 A fire goes before him and burns up his enemies on every side.
4 His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees it and is afraid.
5 The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
6 The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.
7 Confounded be all who worship carved images and delight in false gods! Bow down before him, all you gods.
8 Zion hears and is glad, and the cities of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O LORD.
9 For you are the LORD, most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
10 The LORD loves those who hate evil; he preserves the lives of his saints and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light has sprung up for the righteous, and joyful gladness for those who are truehearted.
12 Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous, and give thanks to his holy Name.

Psalm 99
1 The LORD is King; let the people tremble; he is enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth shake.
2 The LORD is great in Zion; he is high above all peoples.
3 Let them confess his Name, which is great and awesome; he is the Holy One.
4 O mighty King, lover of justice, you have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.
5 Proclaim the greatness of the LORD our God and fall down before his footstool; he is the Holy One.
6 Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among those who call upon his Name, they called upon the LORD, and he answered them.
7 He spoke to them out of the pillar of cloud; they kept his testimonies and the decree that he gave them.
8 O LORD our God, you answered them indeed; you were a God who forgave them, yet punished them for their evil deeds.
9 Proclaim the greatness of the LORD our God and worship him upon his holy hill; for the LORD our God is the Holy One.

Psalm 100
1 Be joyful in the LORD, all you lands; serve the LORD with gladness and come before his presence with a song.
2 Know this: The LORD himself is God; he himself has made us, and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.
3 Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise; give thanks to him and call upon his Name.
4 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his faithfulness endures from age to age.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 94
1 O LORD God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, show yourself.
2 Rise up, O Judge of the world; give the arrogant their just deserts.
3 How long shall the wicked, O LORD, how long shall the wicked triumph?
4 They bluster in their insolence; all evildoers are full of boasting.
5 They crush your people, O LORD, and afflict your chosen nation.
6 They murder the widow and the stranger and put the orphans to death.
7 Yet they say, "The LORD does not see, the God of Jacob takes no notice."
8 Consider well, you dullards among the people; when will you fools understand?
9 He that planted the ear, does he not hear? he that formed the eye, does he not see?
10 He who admonishes the nations, will he not punish? he who teaches all the world, has he no knowledge?
11 The LORD knows our human thoughts; how like a puff of wind they are.
12 Happy are they whom you instruct, O Lord! whom you teach out of your law;
13 To give them rest in evil days, until a pit is dug for the wicked.
14 For the LORD will not abandon his people, nor will he forsake his own.
15 For judgment will again be just, and all the true of heart will follow it.
16 Who rose up for me against the wicked? who took my part against the evildoers?
17 If the LORD had not come to my help, I should soon have dwelt in the land of silence.
18 As often as I said, "My foot has slipped, " your love, O LORD, upheld me.
19 When many cares fill my mind, your consolations cheer my soul.
20 Can a corrupt tribunal have any part with you, one which frames evil into law?
21 They conspire against the life of the just and condemn the innocent to death.
22 But the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my trust.
23 He will turn their wickedness back upon them and destroy them in their own malice; the LORD our God will destroy them.

Psalm 95
1 Come, let us sing to the LORD; let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.
3 For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the caverns of the earth, and the heights of the hills are his also.
5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands have molded the dry land.
6 Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, and kneel before the LORD our Maker.
7 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!
8 Harden not your hearts, as your forebears did in the wilderness, at Meribah, and on that day at Massah, when they tempted me.
9 They put me to the test, though they had seen my works.
10 Forty years long I detested that generation and said, This people are wayward in their hearts; they do not know my ways."
11 So I swore in my wrath, "They shall not enter into my rest."

The Daily Meditation for May 10, 2016

From Forward Day by Day

Matthew 8:22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

My grandmother had a punchbowl a friend borrowed and never returned. This happened decades ago. Every time she had need of a punch bowl, she brought up the saga of the borrowed but not returned punchbowl…again.

We all have punchbowls in our lives. They may be relationships that didn’t end the way we thought they should. They may be regrets for choices we wish we hadn’t made. They may be situations we couldn’t control to our liking.

Dwelling on them might not be helpful to our spiritual growth. Some things in our lives are dead ends for our emotional and spiritual energy, especially if that energy is spent wondering how we can control others.

Following Jesus means we might need to recognize when something, some event, some relationship has ceased to be life-giving and has moved to a place where God alone can resurrect, where God alone can offer us insight.
Join more than a half million readers worldwide who use Forward Day by Day as a resource for daily prayer and Bible study.

His Princess Every Day - Tuesday, May 10, 2016

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

Speak Life With My Words

I know the world whispers in your ear that what you possess defines who you are, and that what you look like determines your worth. This is a lie, My love. The generations to come will never remember you for the things you accumulate or the efforts you placed in your appearance. In fact, the harder you strive to collect more things and to perfect your image, the more insecure you will be about who you are and why you are here. I am in you and you are in Me. I will give you all that you need. Now go and walk through your world in the confidence that I’ve uniquely equipped you with all you need to impact the lives of those around you forever!

Your King and your Confidence 

For the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught. - Proverbs 3:26 (NASB)

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

Chocolate For Your Soul with Sheri Rose Shepherd - In the Arms of Your Savior

by Sheri Rose Shepherd
Come to me all who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest. — Matthew 11:28

I  don’t know what you carry or who or what burdens you, but I do know your Daddy in heaven is lovingly waiting for you to give them to him.

Even after I became a Christian, I did not know how to process the problems and pain this life brings. Somehow, I thought that following Jesus would eliminate all my pain . So whenever I experienced emotions that did not feel good, I ignored them. I thought if I kept my feelings covered up, they would go away. I handled my heart the same way I did before I was a Christian. I put my life in fast-forward by setting more goals and filling my schedule with excessive busyness. I did this so I would not have to feel or deal with anything emotionally difficult.

In theory, that sounds like it might work, but in real life it causes emotional meltdowns. At one point of my life, I had buried so much of my emotional pain that every part of my body was hurting. I had panic attacks, crying spells, loss of memory, and chronic depression. When I had no more strength or desire to run any longer, I finally found freedom and powerful peace. I learned to run to God and cry out to my Daddy in heaven. I don’t know where your heart is at this moment, but I do know how to lead you to your Father in heaven, in whose presence healing begins and you can breathe again.

Let’s do the following three things today: 

1. Pray and ask God to show you the areas of your life that you are holding back from Him.
2. Write a list of the heavy things you carry and you want to give your heavenly Father.
3. Be still after you do the above and allow Him to show you that He is the god of comfort and is strong enough to carry anything that concerns his chosen child… 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.... 

Beloved Child,

When you are too weak to run the race, allow me to carry you.
I know how tired you often become, running everywhere except to Me. If you want to win this endurance race, you must let go of living your life without Me to guide you. You’ll find that My grace will lighten your step, and My favor will follow you when you draw close to Me. No one can comfort you like I can. In those times when you will stumble and fall while you run to Me, I will pick you up. I will do this as many times as it takes, and I never grow tired of picking up, My beloved. Make it your daily passion to run to Me and with Me, and I will carry you over the finish line of your faith. Together we will win! 

Your Heavenly Daddy

Treasure of Truth
Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. — 1 Corinthians 9:24

Girlfriends in God - May 10, 2016

A Firm and Flawless Foundation
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times. (Psalm 12:6, NIV) 

Friend to Friend

I recently got to the bottom of my favorite liquid foundation. I wanted to make sure it was completely used up before I bought a new one because it’s pretty pricey. I’m willing to pay a higher price for it because it matches my coloring better than any other foundation I’ve ever used. It is the perfect base to my face! It evens out my skin tone and makes it look flawless. {Which it’s not!}

In Psalm 12, David talks about a different kind of foundation: the Word of the Lord. He was frustrated with the people around him and felt alone in his faith. He was tired of lies. Tired of negativity and deceit. In his frustration he called out to God and noted the difference that he found in the Word of the Lord as compared to the words of man.

He began his conversation with God this way: 

Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore;
those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
Everyone lies to their neighbor;
they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts.
May the Lord silence all flattering lips
and every boastful tongue—
those who say, “By our tongues we will prevail;
our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?” (Psalm 12:1-4)

It can be very hard when we feel like we are the only ones who care about honesty or matters of believing. As if we are the only ones concerned with honoring God and seeking to know Him more. All throughout Scripture we see believers who loved God but got weary and, like David, probably felt alone in faith.

Noah was a righteous man who walked faithfully with God and was blameless, while the world around him did not and was not. (Genesis 6:9) He did the things the Lord asked him to do and did not win any popularity contests. He was ostracized and ridiculed … and I imagine he had a few conversations with God that started a lot like David’s in Psalm 12.

Jeremiah was a prophet who was faithful to God, but felt ignored and rejected by God’s chosen people. He was so sorrowful about the people of Judah turning away from God that he became known as the “weeping prophet."

Elijah got so discouraged at one point in his ministry that he told God he wanted to die! {That’s pretty discouraged!} God responded to his lament compassionately and told him that he was not the only faithful servant. In fact, there were 7000 others. (1 Kings 19)

As frustrated as he was when he began his lament in Psalm 12 about the lack of faithfulness and honesty around him, David’s heart turned toward the positive as he contrasted the shifting faithlessness of man with the sturdy Word of God. 

And the words of the Lord are flawless,
like silver purified in a crucible,
like gold refined seven times. (Psalm 12:6)

I love that David spoke to God courageously about the brokenness of humanity, and I respect the way he discerned that it was important to transition his rant to righteousness. I want to be that honest and that positive.

I’m reminded that though the people around me might not live with the same values as me, I should celebrate the gift of God’s Word that provides my life with a firm and flawless foundation. A foundation that is complete and made perfect in Jesus.

He paid a high price for us to be able to stand firm and flawless in the sight of God. The highest price. So that you and I could be purified and refined in the crucible of His sacrifice on the cross.

What an incredible foundation! The One and Only Word made flesh, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) Our Cornerstone. “So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.’” (Isaiah 28:16)
I’m so grateful.

Jesus is the perfect base for my faith. {The ONLY base for my faith!}

Would you join me in giving thanks to Him today for being our firm and flawless foundation? 

Let’s Pray

Lord Jesus, Thank You for the giving Your life so that I could stand firm in forgiveness, redemption and love. Please continue to refine and purify my heart today. Help me to be honest and courageous in my conversations with You and with others.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

Read Psalm 12.

Note that David did a few things: took his frustrations to God, asked God to respond, and celebrated the flawless foundation of the words of the Lord. Spend a few moments doing the same thing in prayer. Grab your journal and write a prayer of response or simply hash it out with Him on your knees. 

More from the Girlfriends 

Ready for a fresh faith adventure? I Want It ALL by Gwen Smith will help narrow the gap between average ordinary living and the not-so-ordinary promises of God found in His Word. We are meant to be women of impact who expect great things and move in the power and grace of Jesus. That’s the message of I Want It ALL. Order yours today from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook.com or your favorite retailer.

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Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Matthew 27:55 

The New Testament records the fact that many women were among the larger body of disciples that followed and served Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, we only know the names and stories of a few. They were more loyal to Jesus at the time of his crucifixion than his male disciples.

Despite the patriarchal society of that day, four women—two of them Gentile foreigners—were named in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel chapter one. It is significant that Jesus included women in his teaching putting them on equality with men. The same ethical and moral standards were demanded from both genders and the same way of salvation was offered for both.

Throughout the Bible, women filled significant roles—from leadership like Deborah to unique motherhood like Mary. The same has been true of those in the persecuted church.

A pastor in Cuba once told me, “Lenin said that without women there would be no revolution. I say that without women there would be no church!”

In China, the group of Christians who have had a major role in the revival and church growth are referred to locally as “Bible Women.” Chairman Mao once said, “Women hold up half the sky.” But it is estimated that about seventy per cent of the active Christian workers and church leaders in China today are women.

For example, Chinese Bible Woman, Ding Xianggao, has an incredible testimony. She is a young itinerant evangelist in China. Very much aware of the cost, she says, “In my country there are many brothers and sisters who suffer for Christ. Some of my co-workers have spent thirty years in prison for the sake of the gospel.”

Two of her associates were actually martyred. Because she is a hunted woman, she often sleeps in caves and fields to avoid capture.

Her commitment is expressed this way: “Jesus died for me. The least I should do is die for Him. To suffer and go to prison for Him is my honour, and I look forward to it.” She ended up in a large prison with over eight hundred inmates involved in prostitution, murder and kidnapping. But Ding believed God had placed her there for a reason. After three years she was released from prison. But not before seventy-eight people had made a personal commitment to Christ.

Sister Chan was sent to prison for six months for public preaching in central China, a prison with six thousand other women. During her time there, she led eight hundred women to faith in Jesus.

God uses everyone who is available in establishing His kingdom on earth. 

RESPONSE: Today I will not assume that I am not useable by God. I will make myself available to Him.

PRAYER: Pray for the ministry of Christian women around the world—especially those who serve our Lord in difficult assignments or places.

Verse of the Day - May 10, 2016

Matthew 18:15 (NIV) [ Dealing With Sin in the Church ] “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.

Read all of Matthew 18