Thursday, May 19, 2016

Looking Out For the Single Mom

“Look after orphans and widows in their distress.” James 1:27

Many years ago I was working around the house when a knock came at the door. When I opened it, there stood Sally, a young woman in her late teens. “I’m selling brushes,” she said, “and I wonder if you’d like to buy any.” I told her politely that I wasn’t interested in buying anything that day, and Sally said, “I know. No one else is, either.” With that, she began to cry. I invited Sally to come in for a cup of coffee and asked her to share her story. It turned out that she was an unmarried mother who was struggling mightily to support her two‐year‐old son.

That night, we went to her shabby little apartment above a garage to see how we could help her and her toddler. When we opened the cupboards, there was nothing there for them to eat—I mean nothing. That night they both dined on a can of Spaghetti‐Os. We took Sally to the market and did what we could to help her get on her feet. There are millions of single mothers out there who are desperately trying to survive in a hostile world.

All of them could use a little kindness—from babysitting to providing a meal to repairing the washing machine to just showing a little thoughtfulness. Have you opened your eyes to them lately?

Raising kids all alone is the toughest job in the universe. Look around your neighborhood through “God’s eyes.” Is a single mom going down for the third time? How about giving a helping hand? Not only will she be encouraged, but her children will bless you as well.

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

Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury

Today the church remembers Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, 988.

By the tenth century, England was exhausted from invasion and tribal warfare. Monastic life had degenerated, with few monks and fewer still who took seriously their vows and rules. Then a young monk appeared on the scene at Glastonbury monastery. His name was Dunstan and he was inspired to rejuvenate the lagging monasteries and revive the weary country. At Glastonbury he was instrumental in instituting the rigorous Benedictine Rule, and he got the scriptorium, a center for serious study, reopened. Finally, he was elected abbot.

As the good reputation of Glastonbury spread, the new abbot was inevitably drawn into politics. He served as Royal Treasurer to King Edred and under King Edgar he became, successively, Bishop of Worcester, then of London, and finally Archbishop of Canterbury.

As Archbishop, Dunstan put all his resources to work to strengthen and rebuild the decaying and war-ravaged church in England. Among a people who knew almost nothing save the art of warfare, he preached and taught the skills of peace, industry, and learning. Schools, monasteries, farms, and shops reappeared on the English countryside. Slavery, debauchery, and concubinage waned. The authority of the church was respected and England enjoyed a peace and unity unknown before.

Constantly revive your love in us, O God, that we may preach peace and teach your ways. Amen.

Read the Wikipedia article here.

O God of truth and beauty, you richly endowed your bishop Dunstan with skill in music and the working of metals, and with gifts of administration and reforming zeal: Teach us, we pray, to see in you the source of all our talents, and move us to offer them for the adornment of worship and the advancement of true religion; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Daily Readings for May 19, 2016

Proverbs 7:1-27
My child, keep my words and store up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live, keep my teachings as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers, write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, "You are my sister," and call insight your intimate friend, that they may keep you from the loose woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words. For at the window of my house I looked out through my lattice, and I saw among the simple ones, I observed among the youths, a young man without sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness. Then a woman comes toward him, decked out like a prostitute, wily of heart. She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the squares, and at every corner she lies in wait. She seizes him and kisses him, and with impudent face she says to him: "I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you! I have decked my couch with coverings, colored spreads of Egyptian linen; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until morning; let us delight ourselves with love. For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey. He took a bag of money with him; he will not come home until full moon." With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. Right away he follows her, and goes like an ox to the slaughter, or bounds like a stag toward the trap until an arrow pierces its entrails. He is like a bird rushing into a snare, not knowing that it will cost him his life. And now, my children, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Do not let your hearts turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths. for many are those she has laid low, and numerous are her victims. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.

1 John 5:13-21
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him. If you see your brother or sister committing what is not a mortal sin, you will ask, and God will give life to such a one-- to those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin that is mortal; I do not say that you should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not mortal. We know that those who are born of God do not sin, but the one who was born of God protects them, and the evil one does not touch them. We know that we are God's children, and that the whole world lies under the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

Matthew 11:25-30
At that time Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Morning Psalms

Psalm 18 Part I Diligam te, Domine.
1   I love you, O LORD my strength, O LORD my stronghold, my crag, and my haven.
2   My God, my rock in whom I put my trust, my shield, the horn of my salvation, and my refuge; you are worthy of praise.
3   I will call upon the LORD, and so shall I be saved from my enemies.
4   The breakers of death rolled over me, and the torrents of oblivion made me afraid.
5   The cords of hell entangled me, and the snares of death were set for me.
6   I called upon the LORD in my distress and cried out to my God for help.
7   He heard my voice from his heavenly dwelling; my cry of anguish came to his ears.
8   The earth reeled and rocked; the roots of the mountains shook; they reeled because of his anger.
9   Smoke rose from his nostrils and a consuming fire out of his mouth; hot burning coals blazed forth from him.
10   He parted the heavens and came down with a storm cloud under his feet.
11   He mounted on cherubim and flew; he swooped on the wings of the wind.
12   He wrapped darkness about him; he made dark waters and thick clouds his pavilion.
13   From the brightness of his presence, through the clouds, burst hailstones and coals of fire.
14   The LORD thundered out of heaven; the Most High uttered his voice.
15   He loosed his arrows and scattered them; he hurled thunderbolts and routed them.
16   The beds of the seas were uncovered, and the foundations of the world laid bare, at your battle cry, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
17   He reached down from on high and grasped me; he drew me out of great waters.
18   He delivered me from my strong enemies and from those who hated me; for they were too mighty for me.
19   They confronted me in the day of my disaster; but the LORD was my support.
20   He brought me out into an open place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 18:Part II Et retribuet mihi
21   The LORD rewarded me because of my righteous dealing; because my hands were clean he rewarded me;
22   For I have kept the ways of the LORD and have not offended against my God;
23   For all his judgments are before my eyes, and his decrees I have not put away from me;
24   For I have been blameless with him and have kept myself from iniquity;
25   Therefore the LORD rewarded me according to my righteous dealing, because of the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
26   With the faithful you show yourself faithful, O God; with the forthright you show yourself forthright.
27   With the pure you show yourself pure, but with the crooked you are wily.
28   You will save a lowly people, but you will humble the haughty eyes.
29   You, O LORD, are my lamp; my God, you make my darkness bright.
30   With you I will break down an enclosure; with the help of my God I will scale any wall.
31   As for God, his ways are perfect; the words of the LORD are tried in the fire; he is a shield to all who trust in him.
32   For who is God, but the LORD? who is the Rock, except our God?
33   It is God who girds me about with strength and makes my way secure.
34   He makes me sure-footed like a deer and lets me stand firm on the heights.
35   He trains my hands for battle and my arms for bending even a bow of bronze.
36   You have given me your shield of victory; your right hand also sustains me; your loving care makes me great.
37   You lengthen my stride beneath me, and my ankles do not give way.
38   I pursue my enemies and overtake them; I will not turn back till I have destroyed them.
39   I strike them down, and they cannot rise; they fall defeated at my feet.
40   You have girded me with strength for the battle; you have cast down my adversaries beneath me; you have put my enemies to flight.
41   I destroy those who hate me; they cry out, but there is none to help them; they cry to the LORD, but he does not answer.
42   I beat them small like dust before the wind; I trample them like mud in the streets.
43   You deliver me from the strife of the peoples; you put me at the head of the nations.
44   A people I have not known shall serve me; no sooner shall they hear than they shall obey me; strangers will cringe before me.
45   The foreign peoples will lose heart; they shall come trembling out of their strongholds.
46   The LORD lives! Blessed is my Rock! Exalted is the God of my salvation!
47   He is the God who gave me victory and cast down the peoples beneath me.
48   You rescued me from the fury of my enemies; you exalted me above those who rose against me; you saved me from my deadly foe.
49   Therefore will I extol you among the nations, O LORD, and sing praises to your Name.
50   He multiplies the victories of his king; he shows loving-kindness to his anointed, to David and his descendants for ever.

Forward Day by Day Meditation for Thursday, May 19, 2016

Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants.”
We were creating quite the masterpiece until I reached across the canvas and smeared part of the artwork. I sighed, “Well, looks like I messed this up.”

My little niece, her hands covered with every color of paint available, looked at our artwork, took her small fingers, and added a few smears and dots. Then she said, “No, it looks beautiful. You can’t mess this up.” The theology of Easter from a five-year-old. The wise and intelligent observations of infants indeed.

No doubt we try to mess this up—mess up our relationship with God and with each other. We smear each other and God. And every time, God adds paint to our mess, saying, “No, you can’t mess this up.”

I hear the words of my niece every Holy Week, as we humans really mess up, and on Easter Sunday, we hear God say, “No, it looks beautiful. You can’t mess this up.”

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His Princess Every Day - Conquer Evil

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

My Princess Warrior,

No unrighteous act is unseen by me, my love; you never need to give in to the temptation to conquer evil by responding with evil. The enemy of your soul wants you to give in to your anger. You will lose your integrity anytime you attempt to triumph over evil with evil. The only way to deal with your enemies and protect yourself in the heat of battle is to guard your heart and pray for your enemies so you don’t become like them. Revenge only brings pain; My way brings healing to a world filled with heartache and pain. I want you to win by loving others most when they deserve it the least... the way I love you!

Your King and your Shield

Instead, if your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. - Romans 12:20–21 (NLT)

A Prayer to Conquer Evil

Conqueror of evil! I pray that you will rely on the strength of God to love your enemies and bless those who curse you. May you not be distracted or angered by the wrong doing of your enemies. I pray instead that you will be full of grace and love. May your enemies see the light of Jesus in you, and may they be directed toward our God by your example of His love. I pray that you will be faithful to this truth even in the hardest times. In Jesus' name, amen.

You prepare a feast for me
In the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings. - Psalm 23:5

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 19, 2016

Permission to Feel Your Feelings
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

There is a time for everything … a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4)

Friend to Friend
Last month my dad had his first birthday in heaven. He would’ve been 71. {I’m happy for him. Sad for me.}

In a few weeks my son will don a high school cap and gown and will leave our home late this summer for a grand new adventure in college. {I’m happy for him. Sad for me.}

One of my closest and dearest friends in all the world will soon post a sign in her yard, pack up her Carolina living, and move to another state because her husband accepted a great job offer. {I’m happy for them. Sad for me.}

Goodbyes can wallop quite a sting. Like a sucker punch to the jawline. An upper cut to the gut.

My feelings of sorrow are real. Raw. Strong. {I wonder if perhaps they are even a bit selfish.}

For a long time, I used to just take deep breaths and move on. I built invisible walls. Constructed high places emotionally to keep the pain away from my heart. Confident, if not comfortable, that this is what strong Christian women do. We pray, strap on courage, and move forward. Chin up. God’s got this. Right?

In the past I’d glance toward sorrow, but would rarely invite her to walk beside me as I processed pain. 

Not anymore. 

Because I’ve come to realize that sometimes I just need to cry. 

God wired us with emotions and I am learning to allow them to accompany me on the road of life instead of pretending they don’t exist or really matter.

In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote about the gamut of minutes, months, and murk that all of humanity must navigate. 

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

His Word provides the bounce of perspective I need. It picks me up. Takes my hand and urges me forward. Leads me to His presence. Gives me permission to feel, to be sad. His grace gives the strength I need to handle the hard emotions. His compassion calmly covers my aches as I go to Him in prayer.

The Bible tells us to give thanks in everything. And that God has treasures hidden in dark places that can be found when we search for them. I consider this and choose to thank God in the midst of my grieving. There’s a power in praise that doesn’t negate sorrow, but does soothe and soften it. {TWEET this}
As I lift my weary heart to His, I am held by a loving Comforter who catches tears and willingly shares in sadness. And the prayer of my heart becomes…

Lord, Thank you for allowing me to know and love my father for 45 years. Thank you for the love we shared as a family. Thank you for the hope I have in Christ that he is in Your presence even now. And thank you for my son Preston. Thank you for allowing me to be his mama. Thank you for the ability You have given him to think, reason and dream. Thank You for the amazing plan You have for his life. Help him to walk on the path You are paving for him. Thank you for my precious bestie. Thank You for the depth and joy she adds to my life. Thank You for providing her husband a job and for
the opportunity she will have to make new friends and bless a new community with

the brightness You fashioned within her. You give and take away.
I bless Your great name, trust Your heart, and give you praise today.
In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, You are compassionate and loving. You know the details of my life and the burdens of my heart. I bring them to You now and give You thanks. (Fill in the following blanks with personal responses related to your biggest struggles.) Thank you for _________________ and for ___________________ and for _________________. I choose to trust You in the good and the bad.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

If you took one of your current sorrows or stressors and gave thanks to God in the midst of it, what would you say? Write your answer on my blog

More from the Girlfriends

I Want It ALL is now available! This new book 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, or your favorite retailer.

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Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” Luke 18:24

How is the god Mammon conquered? The Bible offers a perspective from which to view all of life’s economic decisions. The Holy Spirit is with us; Jesus is our present teacher. The following are some suggestions:

Get in touch with our feelings about money. Get in touch with our fear, insecurity, guilt, pride or envy. We are afraid to be short of money. And our fears, though irrational, are real. We need to face up to these feelings before we can apply God’s promises to our financial situation.

Stop denying our wealth. Instead of seeing the small picture of our situation, let us become world citizens, looking at ourselves in relation to all humanity.

• Create an atmosphere in which confession is possible. Much of our preaching about money has been either to condemn it or to praise it but not to help each other relate to it. Many of us feel isolated and alone. How much better if we could confess our fears and temptations.

Discover one other person who will struggle with you through the money maze. Together covenant to help each other detect when the seductive power of money is beginning to win. This needs to be done in a spirit of love and graciousness but also rebuking and prodding.

Discover ways to get in touch with the poor. One of the damaging results of affluence is allowing us to distance ourselves from the poor so that we no longer see their pain.

• Give with glad and generous hearts. Giving has a way of rooting out the tough old miser within us. The very act of letting go of money, or some other treasure, destroys the sin of greed.

Chinese house church leaders met together to discuss their problems. They concluded that their number two problem (after gossip) was money and the lure of materialism. There are two main sources of this. One is the rising standard of living in the coastal areas, which is tempting good teachers into commerce, depriving the church of much-needed leaders. The other is the kind, but often indiscriminate, giving of some wealthier Christians and missions to house church networks.

RESPONSE: Today I commit to living a simple life style and not give in to materialism.

PRAYER: Lord, I want to follow You all the way. And I want to be obedient as You direct and instruct.

Verse of the Day - May 19, 2016

James 3:17-18 (NIV) But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Read all of James 3