Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Pitcher’s Dream

“A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25 

In 1985, Tim Burke achieved a lifelong dream—in fact, almost every boy’s dream—when he signed to pitch for the Montreal Expos. He quickly proved his worth by setting a record for the most relief appearances by a rookie. In the years that followed, Tim and his wife, Christine, adopted four children born with serious illnesses or defects. Neither Tim nor Christine was prepared for the tremendous demands such a family would bring. And with a grueling schedule, Tim was seldom around to help.

In 1993, only three months after signing a new, $600,000 contract, Tim decided to retire. When asked about his amazing decision, he said, “Baseball is going to do just fine without me. But I’m the only father my children have.”

You might ask yourselves as a couple, “Does our current lifestyle, and our dreams and goals, fit with God’s desire that we have a generous spirit?” Tim Burke’s generous spirit caused him to give up his career dream, as well as the wealth it brought. Yet in the end, his act will be worth the sacrifice—his marriage and the well‐being of four lives God placed in his care will reap eternal dividends. That’s God’s idea of a brilliant career move!

Just between us…
  • Have you ever had to give up any of your dreams for someone?
  • How do you feel now about those old dreams?
  • What new dreams do you have for yourself and for us as a couple?
  • How can we help each other achieve them? 
Dear Lord, we surrender together whatever selfish dreams or ambitions are keeping us from the larger life You have in mind for us. Show us Your better idea. We want to do Your will with joy and expectation, because we trust You. Amen. 

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

The Daily Readings for May 11, 2016

Isaiah 4:2-6
On that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel. Whoever is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, once the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. Then the LORD will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over its places of assembly a cloud by day and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night. Indeed over all the glory there will be a canopy. It will serve as a pavilion, a shade by day from the heat, and a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.

Ephesians 4:1-16
I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it is said, "When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people." (When it says, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people's trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body's growth in building itself up in love.

Matthew 8:28-34
When he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way. Suddenly they shouted, "What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?" Now a large herd of swine was feeding at some distance from them. The demons begged him, "If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine." And he said to them, "Go!" So they came out and entered the swine; and suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the water. The swineherds ran off, and on going into the town, they told the whole story about what had happened to the demoniacs. Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighborhood.

Morning Psalms

Psalm 101
1 I will sing of mercy and justice; to you, O LORD, will I sing praises.
2 I will strive to follow a blameless course; oh, when will you come to me? I will walk with sincerity of heart within my house.
3 I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the doers of evil deeds; they shall not remain with me.
4 A crooked heart shall be far from me; I will not know evil.
5 Those who in secret slander their neighbors I will destroy; those who have a haughty look and a proud heart I cannot abide.
6 My eyes are upon the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me, and only those who lead a blameless life shall be my servants.
7 Those who act deceitfully shall not dwell in my house, and those who tell lies shall not continue in my sight.
8 I will soon destroy all the wicked in the land, that I may root out all evildoers from the city of the LORD.

Psalm 109
1 Hold not your tongue, O God of my praise; for the mouth of the wicked, the mouth of the deceitful, is opened against me.
2 They speak to me with a lying tongue; they encompass me with hateful words and fight against me without a cause.
3 Despite my love, they accuse me; but as for me, I pray for them.
4 They repay evil for good, and hatred for my love.
5 Set a wicked man against him, and let an accuser stand at his right hand.
6 When he is judged, let him be found guilty, and let his appeal be in vain.
7 Let his days be few, and let another take his office.
8 Let his children be fatherless, and his wife become a widow.
9 Let his children be waifs and beggars; let them be driven from the ruins of their homes.
10 Let the creditor seize everything he has; let strangers plunder his gains.
11 Let there be no one to show him kindness, and none to pity his fatherless children.
12 Let his descendants be destroyed, and his name be blotted out in the next generation.
13 Let the wickedness of his fathers be remembered before the LORD, and his mother's sin not be blotted out;
14 Let their sin be always before the LORD; but let him root out their names from the earth;
15 Because he did not remember to show mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy and sought to kill the brokenhearted.
16 He loved cursing, let it come upon him; he took no delight in blessing, let it depart from him.
17 He put on cursing like a garment, let it soak into his body like water and into his bones like oil;
18 Let it be to him like the cloak which he wraps around himself, and like the belt that he wears continually.
19 Let this be the recompense from the LORD to my accusers, and to those who speak evil against me.
20 But you, O Lord my God, oh, deal with me according to your Name; for your tender mercy's sake, deliver me.
21 For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.
22 I have faded away like a shadow when it lengthens; I am shaken off like a locust.
23 My knees are weak through fasting, and my flesh is wasted and gaunt.
24 I have become a reproach to them; they see and shake their heads.
25 Help me, O LORD my God; save me for your mercy's sake.
26 Let them know that this is your hand, that you, O LORD, have done it.
27 They may curse, but you will bless; let those who rise up against me be put to shame, and your servant will rejoice.
28 Let my accusers be clothed with disgrace and wrap themselves in their shame as in a cloak.
29 I will give great thanks to the LORD with my mouth; in the midst of the multitude will I praise him;
30 Because he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save his life from those who would condemn him.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 119:
121 I have done what is just and right; do not deliver me to my oppressors.
122 Be surety for your servant's good; let not the proud oppress me.
123 My eyes have failed from watching for your salvation and for your righteous promise.
124 Deal with your servant according to your loving-kindness and teach me your statutes.
125 I am your servant; grant me understanding, that I may know your decrees.
126 It is time for you to act, O LORD, for they have broken your law.
127 Truly, I love your commandments more than gold and precious stones.
128 I hold all your commandments to be right for me; all paths of falsehood I abhor.

Psalm 119:
129 Your decrees are wonderful; therefore I obey them with all my heart.
130 When your word goes forth it gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.
131 I open my mouth and pant; I long for your commandments.
132 Turn to me in mercy, as you always do to those who love your Name.
133 Steady my footsteps in your word; let no iniquity have dominion over me.
134 Rescue me from those who oppress me, and I will keep your commandments.
135 Let your countenance shine upon your servant and teach me your statutes.
136 My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.

Psalm 119:
137 You are righteous, O LORD, and upright are your judgments.
138 You have issued your decrees with justice and in perfect faithfulness.
139 My indignation has consumed me, because my enemies forget your words.
140 Your word has been tested to the uttermost, and your servant holds it dear.
141 I am small and of little account, yet I do not forget your commandments.
142 Your justice is an everlasting justice and your law is the truth.
143 Trouble and distress have come upon me, yet your commandments are my delight.
144 The righteousness of your decrees is everlasting; grant me understanding, that I may live.

The Daily Meditation for May 11, 2016

From Forward Day by Day

Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

These words from Ephesians begin the service of Holy Baptism in The Episcopal Church. They are a call and response setting in The Book of Common Prayer. The presider and people share in proclaiming our unity in one God.

These words have welcomed infants and elderly. They have been prayed with people whose faith has been passed to them across generations and people who have newly discovered Christianity. For rich and poor, powerful and meek, those who come with joy and those with some trepidation.

Words of unity remind us of our unity in God.

In our world where we are too often categorized and identified by words and issues that divide, I give thanks for the words of baptism that remind us of our unity, our one-ness.

 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 - Wednesday, May 11, 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,

The world you live in is full of lies to cause you confusion about your faith. Deception is the weapon sent by Satan to deceive on all of my daughters. This trap was set on my first daughter Eve and she fell for it. Deception is dangerous and I want to protect you my daughter from a life filled with pain from poor choices. However, without my word hidden in your heart, you will not have the wisdom to know the difference between right and wrong or truth and lies. Carve my truth into your character and it will become to be your guard, your guide and your gauge to keep you from falling away from me!

Your King, Your Wisdom 

For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. - Proverbs 2:6-8 (NIV)

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

Girlfriends in God - May 11, 2016

Look for the Pearls
Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places so that you may know that I am the LORD, your God (Isaiah 45:3, NIV). 

Friend to Friend

Life can be so irritating. It’s usually the little things that annoy me the most. The lost set of keys or the misplaced cell phone. The icemaker that quits working before a party … the little things.

But then there are times when people are the problem. They show up without an invitation or call when I am running out the door, late for an appointment. Been there?

I am convinced that these tiny irritations are a tool in the hand of a loving Father who uses them as "heavenly sandpaper" to rub off our rough edges.

I was invited to speak for a women's conference based on the theme, "Pearls of Wisdom." When I arrived at the conference center, every woman was wearing pearl necklaces, bracelets, or pins. Each table was beautifully decorated with treasure chests overflowing with strands of pearls. Oyster shells held candy mints that looked like pearls and each nametag was decorated with a single pearl. It was amazing!

I was warmly welcomed and then introduced to the event director and leadership team. Everyone was excited and ready to go - except for one problem. I was "pearl-less" and the speaker had to wear pearls of some kind. I did not have any pearls, but this creative group of ladies was not easily deterred and before I knew it, I was wearing a stunning pearl necklace - and the pearls were the real deal. I could just see that necklace breaking while I was speaking, but before I could utter one word of protest, the owner of the necklace said, "Don't worry! You can just give it back to me at the end of the conference." And off we went!

I am what you might call an "active" speaker. I cannot stand still and talk at the same time. I get excited, pace the stage and can literally work up quite a sweat. The "Pearls of Wisdom" conference was no exception. In fact, it was a blistering summer day and the air conditioning was having trouble keeping up with the size of the crowd. By the time I finished speaking, I was indeed "glowing."

When we were dismissed for the day, women waited in line to talk, ask for prayer or share a new truth God had given them. I forgot all about the pearl necklace until its owner quietly slipped up beside me and said, "I have to leave and need to retrieve my necklace." As she began to undo the necklace clasp, I apologized for perspiring all over her beautiful pearls. She laughed and said, "Actually, it’s good for them. Human perspiration helps the pearls keep their luster."

I am constantly amazed at the profound truths God has tucked into the simple things of life.

Pearls are formed when a piece of grit, sand or shell is trapped inside an oyster. The oyster protects itself from irritation by secreting a nacreous liquid that surrounds the irritant until it eventually becomes a pearl. In other words, that which begins as an annoying irritant eventually becomes a valuable treasure. The same is true in life.

The greatest treasures in my life are products of the darkest times of my life.

A battle with clinical depression stripped away years of fear and doubt, leaving me with a new identity in Christ and a ministry I never thought possible.

The inability to have biological children made it possible to adopt our son and daughter, Jered and Danna, giving my husband and me a gift beyond measure.

Over the years, weaknesses have given way to strengths and failures have led to successes.

God has used it all for His glory and my good.

In God's economy, a mess is the perfect setting for a miracle, girlfriend. A sliver of hope and a seed of victory are buried at the center of every problem. God has gone before you. He has already been where He is asking you to go and made a way.

There’s more. In every trial or difficult moment of life, God has buried a treasure. To find the treasure, we must go through the trial. So when the tough times come, just look for the pearls. 

Let's Pray

Father, I am so sorry for the way I complain about my circumstances. Please forgive me for my bad attitude when things don't go my way. I want to see Your hand in every part of every day - good or bad. Help me learn how to face every storm with confidence, knowing that You really are in control even though I cannot hear Your voice or see Your hand at work.
In Jesus' Name,

Now It's Your Turn 

Read James 1:2-4 and answer the following questions:
  • What does the word "consider" suggest as a response to difficult circumstances?
  • What should our first response be to trials?
  • What does the testing of our faith produce in us?
  • What promise does James give us when we are faithful and choose to stand strong when life is hard? 

More from the Girlfriends 

We live in uncertain times that demand a certain hope that can only be found in God. Need help dealing with fear? Check out Mary’s E-Bible Study, Getting a Grip on Fear. "Getting a Grip on Fear" uncovers God's plan for peace and identifies five ways to deal with and be free from fear. (Bonus Articles – Included)

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


Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. Acts 14:19-20a 

Today we hear from Open Doors’ author and co-worker, Anneke Companjen. These are the concluding paragraphs of her first book, Hidden Sorrow, Lasting Joy:

My husband, Johan, likes to speak on Acts 14 when he challenges Christians around the world to care for the Suffering Church.

In that chapter we read how the authorities won the crowd over and stoned Paul. They dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead. 

“Period!” Johan tells his audience. “The devil wanted to put a period here. Paul was finished as far as the enemy was concerned. But God had other plans. The story continues, ‘But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city’ (Acts 14:20). Something happened that turned the devils period into God’s comma. What made the difference? The disciples’ prayer.”

God loves to change the devils periods into commas, and he’s still doing it today.

It is my heart’s desire that he will use you and me to make a difference in the lives of Christians who are persecuted for their faith around the world. We can reach out to them, each in our own church and community and in our own way, through awareness, through action, and most of all, through prayer.[1] 

RESPONSE: Today I will not underestimate the power of prayer for persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. I will pray asking God to turn the devil’s periods into His commas.

PRAYER: Pray for persecuted Christians today whether they are experiencing pain or pressure, guilt or relief, sorrow or joy, faith or denial, isolation or fellowship, prison or freedom, hope or despair, forgiveness or bitterness. 

1. Anneke Companjen, Hidden Sorrow, Lasting Joy (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), pp. 216-217.

Verse of the Day - May 11, 2016

Ephesians 4:32 (NIV) Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Read all of Ephesians 4