Monday, May 23, 2016

A Tale of Two Homes

“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Mark 3:25

Suppose that you’re seven years old. You arrive home from school, and your mother welcomes you with a smile and a snack. Later your father comes home. Mom and Dad greet each other with a kiss and loving words. Dad gives you a warm hug. That night, after you finish your homework, the three of you enjoy a family game. Finally, you say your prayers and fall asleep.

Now put yourself in another seven‐year‐old’s place. You come home from school to a mother who, when she’s home at all, is on the phone or watching television. You eat a bag of candy by yourself. Later your father returns. Mom complains about the unfinished garage project. Dad replies angrily and walks past you to the kitchen. You watch television all evening, then crawl into bed and fall asleep listening to your parents argue.

One home is safe and nurturing; the other lonely and contentious. Too often, children grow up in homes like the latter—or worse. So ask yourself: Which scenario best describes your family? Further, how would you describe the mood of your household? Divided or united? Amiable or argumentative? Supportive or sarcastic? Every day, the story of your home is etching itself into the spirit and memory of your children.

Just between us…
  • How does the way we were brought up affect the mood in our household today?
  • How do you think our children would describe our home?
  • How can we make sure our home is a positive environment? 
Loving Lord, we know that our relationship sets the tone for our children’s growing-up experience. Help us make our marriage the starting point of a good home and of a happy, Christ-honoring childhood for our kids. Amen.

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

Shoes in Church

 I showered and shaved................ I adjusted my tie.

I got there and sat................ In a pew just in time.

Bowing my head in prayer............ As I closed my eyes.

I saw the shoe of the man next to me....... Touching my own. I sighed.

With plenty of room on either side......... I thought, 'Why must our soles touch?'

It bothered me, his shoe touching mine.. But it didn't bother him much.

A prayer began: 'Our Father'............. I thought,
'This man with the shoes, has no pride. They’re dusty, worn, and scratched.
Even worse, there are holes on the side!'

'Thank You for blessings,' the prayer went on.

The shoe man said................. A quiet 'Amen.'

I tried to focus on the prayer....... But my thoughts were on his shoes again..

Aren't we supposed to look our best. When walking through that door?

'Well, this certainly isn't it,' I thought, glancing toward the floor.

Then the prayer was ended............ And the songs of praise began .

The shoe man was certainly loud..... Sounding proud as he sang.

His voice lifted the rafters........ His hands were raised high.

The Lord could surely hear.. The shoe man's voice from the sky.

It was time for the offering........ And what I threw in was steep.

I watched as the shoe man reached.... Into his pockets so deep.

I saw what was pulled out.......... What the shoe man put in.

Then I heard a soft 'clink' as when silver hits tin.

The sermon really bored me.......... To tears, and that's no lie.

It was the same for the shoe man... For tears fell from his eyes.

At the end of the service........ As is the custom here.

We must greet new visitors, And show them all good cheer.

But I felt moved somehow........... And wanted to meet the shoe man.

So after the closing prayer........ I reached over and shook his hand.

He was old and his skin was dark..... And his hair was truly a mess.....

But I thanked him for coming.......... For being our guest...

He said, 'My name’s Charlie............ I'm glad to meet you, my friend.'

There were tears in his eyes......... But he had a large, wide grin..

'Let me explain,' he said............. Wiping tears from his eyes.

'I've been coming here for months...... And you're the first to say 'Hi.''

'I know that my appearance...........Is not like all the rest.

'But I really do try....................To always look my best.'

'I always clean and polish my shoes...Before my very long walk.'

'But by the time I get here........They're dirty and dusty, like chalk.'

My heart filled with pain............ And I swallowed to hide my tears.

As he continued to apologize.......... For daring to sit so near

He said, 'When I get here............ I know I must look a sight.'

'But I thought if I could touch you....Then maybe our souls might unite.'

I was silent for a moment............. Knowing whatever was said

Would pale in comparison.... I spoke from my heart, not my head.

'Oh, you've touched me,' I said.......'And taught me, in part'

'That the best of any man..............Is what is found in his heart.'

The rest, I thought,............... This shoe man will never know.

Like just how thankful I really am.... That his dirty old shoe touched my soul

Live each day as your last, for we never know our time here on earth. Love and Peace My Friends and remember that it is not how we look on the outside but how we look within.

Able to Save

Daniel 3:1–30 

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego survived a close encounter with martyrdom. Because they defied the ruling authority, they were scheduled to be thrown into a furnace. But trusting God to honor their faithfulness, they vowed fidelity—even if it cost them their lives. While we know the end of the story (they lived), they had no certainty that they would survive the raging blaze of Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace when they stood up for God. And though they were certain of God’s power and willingness to protect them, they didn’t demand that he save them.

Now consider this story that occurred centuries later: A judge summoned Perpetua, age 26, and commanded her to deny God or face certain death. Perpetua, with a newborn infant, faced a dilemma. North African Christians under Roman rule in A.D. 200 ran the risk of being put to death for openly acknowledging their faith. As her father looked on, urging her to save herself for her child cradled in his arms, still she would not do as she was commanded and sacrifice to idols.

Perpetua held fast in her conviction and faith in the living God. When the wild bull that was released to attack her and another believer failed to kill them, the Romans sent in the gladiators. A terrified young man approached her and made several ineffectual stabs. In a final act of mercy, she steered his sword into the lethal blow and died.

Many Christians face persecution today. At some point many more may have to make the choice to denounce God or risk everything they hold dear, including their lives. And many face such choices now, though with less threatening consequences: We may be ostracized from our families or passed over for promotions. We may be treated unjustly or misunderstood.

Have you ever thought about what you would do if you were faced with dire persecution? Are you willing to risk everything because you are convinced that loving God is worth whatever sacrifices you face? When faced with the choice to remain faithful or cave in to fear, think of the three young men in Babylon and Perpetua in North Africa who counted their own lives as nothing compared to the grace they had been given.

  1. What kind of persecution do you face for being a Christian? How do you deal with it?
  2. What would it be like to face dire persecution like so many people around the world today?
  3. What lessons have you learned from Perpetua and Daniel’s three friends?
Daniel 3:17–18
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.

Related Readings

Psalm 124:1–8; Isaiah 43:1–13; Matthew 5:11, 44; Luke 21:12–19

His Princess Every Day - Celebrate With Me

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

My Bride,

I want you to celebrate life with me. There are so many amazing things we have to look forward to, so don’t let this world keep you from celebrating who you are and the wonderful things to come, My Beloved. The things that seem sorrowful now will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever! So stop for a moment, Do something to celebrate the love relationship we have together. Imagine our great and glorious wedding day, and as you do, let your heart bask in the beauty to come.

Your Prince and Joy 

The sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom,  and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD, saying, "Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, for the LORD is good; his love endures forever. - Jeremiah 33:11 (NLT) 

Prayer to my Prince 

Yes Lord, I will celebrate our love for each other. Thank you for reminding me to celebrate life with you. Who am I, that you would bless me to be your princess bride? I do indeed have much to be thankful for. May my heart never forget to take time to celebrate your everlasting love for me. 

Your Bride who loves you 

Rise up, O Lord, in all your power.
With music and singing we celebrate your mighty acts. - Psalm 21:13 (NLT) 

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

Women of the Bible - Bathsheba

Her name means: "The Seventh Daughter" or "The Daughter of an Oath" 

Her character: Her beauty made her victim to a king's desire. Though it is difficult to discern her true character, she seems to have found the courage to endure tragedy, winning the king's confidence and eventually securing the kingdom for her son Solomon.
Her sorrow: To have been molested by a supposedly godly man, who then murdered her husband. To have suffered the loss of one of her sons.
Her joy: To have given birth to five sons, one of whom became king of Israel after David's death.
Key Scriptures: 2 Samuel 11:1-12:25 

Her Story

Bathsheba squeezed the sponge, moving it rhythmically across her body as though to calm the restless cadence of her thoughts. Normally, she looked forward to the ritual bath marking the end of her monthly period, but tonight the water soothed her skin without refreshing her spirit.

She should be glad for the cool breeze. For flowers. For a lush harvest. But spring could also yield its crop of sorrows, as she well knew. Spring was the season for armies and battles. Once the rains had ceased and the harvest had been gathered, men marched off to war, leaving their women behind.

Bathsheba shivered as she stood up. Though her husband, Uriah, was a seasoned soldier, she still worried about him, wishing she could fall asleep in his arms. But he was camped with the rest of the king's army beneath the open skies of Rabbah, an Ammonite fortress some forty miles northeast of Jerusalem.

The king rose from his bed, unable to sleep. Pacing across the palace roof, he gazed at the city below. Jerusalem seemed calm, a city at peace with itself though at war with its neighbors. Soon his soldiers would gather a great harvest of Ammonite captives, laborers for his expanding kingdom. The casual observer might have thought David a man at peace with his growing power. Instead, the king could not quiet an increasing sense of discontent.

Then, in the half-light, David noticed the figure of a young woman bathing in the walled garden of a house below him. He leaned against the outer edge of the roof for a closer view. Wet hair curling languidly against skin soft as lamb's wool. Breasts like rounded apples. He reached as though to steal a touch. Unaware of watching eyes, the woman toweled herself dry and stepped into the house. He waited and watched, but even the king could not see through walls.

Over the next few days, David made inquiries and discovered that the vision had a name: She was Bathsheba, the wife of one of his soldiers, Uriah the Hittite. He sent for her. She came to him and became pregnant with his child.

Fearing discovery, the king ordered Uriah home from battle. But the soldier surprised him by refusing to spend the night with his wife: "The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my lord's men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!"

So David convinced Uriah to spend another day in Jerusalem, managing to get him drunk. Surely the wine would overcome his scruples. But it didn't. So David played his last card, entrusting Bathsheba's husband with a letter to Joab, commander of the army. It read: "Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die."

So Uriah died by treachery, and David claimed Bathsheba as his wife, her child as his own.

One day, the prophet Nathan approached David, saying: "There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup, and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.

"Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him."

David was incensed: "As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity."

Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master's house to you, and your master's wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house.' "

David's lust for Bathsheba marked the beginning of his long decline. Though God forgave him, he still suffered the consequences of his wrongdoing. His sin was a whirlpool that dragged others into its swirling path. And despite David's prayer and pleading, God allowed the son David had conceived with Bathsheba to die from an illness.

But why did Bathsheba have to suffer along with the man who molested her and murdered her husband? Though the story gives us little insight into her true character, it is hardly likely that Bathsheba was in a position to refuse the king. In Nathan's parable, in fact, she is depicted as an innocent lamb. Why, then, have so many people painted her as a seductress? Perhaps Bathsheba's innocence is too painful to face. That a good person can suffer such tragedies, especially at the hands of a godly person, appalls us. Worse yet, God punishes both David and Bathsheba by taking their son. If we can believe that Bathsheba had an affair with David, we could accept her suffering more easily; her guilt would make David's sin seem less grave and God's punishment less cruel.

Though Bathsheba may not have understood the reasons for her suffering, God gave her favor with King David, making her both a powerful queen and the mother of David's successor, Solomon, who became famous for his great wisdom.

Her Promise

The story of David and Bathsheba outlines in graphic detail the horror of sin and where it leads. David's first step toward sin leads to adultery, lying, deceit, murder, and, finally, the death of a son. The link between sin and restoration comes when David admits his sin and Nathan says the Lord has taken it away (2 Samuel 12:13). How much guilt is Bathsheba's isn't clear; however, when God tells them through the prophet Nathan that he loves their son Solomon and wants him to be called Jedidiah, the restoration is Bathsheba's as well as David's. If God could forgive this terrible sin of David, don't you think he could forgive your sin, whatever it may be?

Girlfriends in God - May 23, 2016

What Will You Do With Your Pain?
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

He gives strength to those who are tired and more power to those who are weak (Isaiah 40:29, NCV). 

Friend to Friend

I love a great movie! To me, a movie is great when good wins over evil, the right guy gets the right girl, nobody gets hurt and everyone lives happily ever after. A bit naive, I know. But I have decided that there is enough harsh reality ripping through daily life without paying to see more on a movie screen.

With these criteria in mind, I went to see the movie "Sea Biscuit." There I was; popcorn in hand, minding my own business and enjoying my brief respite, when his words slammed into my soul, yanking me back to the tenacious essence and interminable power of truth.

"You don't throw a whole life away just because it's banged up a little."

I was done.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the movie, those words linger still because it seemed they were written just for me.

The reality is that we are all "banged up a little." In "A Farewell to Arms" Ernest Hemingway writes, "The world breaks everyone and many are strong at the broken places."

We all have hidden scars, fresh wounds and broken places. The good news is that God is drawn to broken people. In fact, He accomplishes His greatest work through those who are most broken.

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

God has gone before us and in every trial and painful circumstance has buried a treasure or stored rich secrets that can only be found by going through that darkness. The most powerful truths are revealed in the darkest times. In fact, pain intensifies our need for God and can be counted as a blessing.

I struggle with clinical depression. The darkness has been an all too familiar companion for most of my life. Over the years, I tried just about everything to soothe the pain - things like success in ministry, the approval of others, perfectionism, doing good things, food and ... you get the idea.

In 1995 my carefully constructed world fell apart and I spent two long years at the bottom of a dark pit of depression. I had no idea how to handle the pain and hurt. I cried out to God. He heard my cry and led me to a passage of Scripture that continually heals me and helps me handle hurt.

Psalm 40:1-3 (NIV) "I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD."

I don’t know what your particular pit is.

But I know what you are feeling.

You may be desperately clinging to the broken and mismatched remnants of your life, wondering how you can go on.

Whispers of the enemy creep into your heart, soul and mind, taunting you with the lie that you are just too dirty and broken for God to love or use.

It seems as if nothing and no one can change that reality, so you might as well give up, throwing your life away.


Nothing could be further from the truth, girlfriend. Hurt may be inevitable, but misery is optional. How we respond to pits and pain is our choice.

We can surrender to the darkness and create an identity that feels at home in a pit or we can embrace the pain and learn from it.

We can settle for a life defined by pain or we can harness the power of our pain and use it for good.

We can try to ignore the pain and hope it all goes away or we can face it and let God heal the broken places.

Those are not just words, girlfriend. They are choices that you and I can and must make every single day. God knows. God hears. God will breathe life into the right choices that we make. And today He is asking, “Daughter, what will you do with your pain?”

Let’s Pray

Father, my heart is broken and I don’t understand what You are doing in my life. The darkness is very real and filled with more questions than answers. And I don’t like it! But I love You, Lord, so I choose trust over fear and faith over doubt. Lord, please fill each broken place in my heart with Your peace and love. Today, I choose You.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn 

Pour out your heart to your God in prayer, asking Him to uncover the hurt in your life. In your journal, record each one in simple, honest words. Every day this week, read aloud Psalm 40:1-3 and claim it as a certain hope from God's heart to yours.How has hurt impacted your life?What has been your typical response to hurt? Does that response line up with the truths of Psalm 40:1-3?Do you really believe that if you cry out to God He will hear your cry? What does that mean to you?Are you willing to face and deal with the hurt in your life? 

More from the Girlfriends

Mary Southerland seemed to have it all until clinical depression brought her world crashing down. She found herself paralyzed and unable to function at home or in ministry. Experience Mary's story of deliverance through this powerful and practical message, Coming Out of the Dark, available in  MP3 download or CD or book form, Hope in Midst of Depression.

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
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Huntersville, NC 28070

Salt and Light - May 23, 2016


Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:2 

In December 1999, a Muslim mob attacked the Doulos Bible School on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia. One of the main aims of this Bible School is to evangelize among the 30-million-strong Sundanese, the largest unreached people group in the world, who live in west Java. One student died and forty-four other students were wounded. About eighty percent of the buildings were destroyed. Domingus is a young student who was injured. He shares his personal story of the events that fatal evening:

That night I was asleep in bed so I didn't know what was happening. Suddenly a friend woke me up and shouted that we were being attacked. The building was already burning and I did not know where to run to. I knew if I ran to the main gate I would be killed. I ran to the back of the campus where my friend lived. I prayed “Lord, if I die, I know I will go to heaven.”

Suddenly the crowds arrived and they shouted to kill me. They grabbed me and blindfolded me. The Lord spoke to me “Don't be afraid, I will be with you.” They hit me with a big stick and I lost consciousness. I felt my spirit leave my body. Through a sequence of events I was brought to a place where people were singing and worshipping God. I saw a very bright light and I closed my eyes and bowed down. A voice said “Your time has not come yet; it is time to go back!”

I regained consciousness and realized where I was. I tried to look at my watch but I discovered my neck was very badly cut. I saw all the blood. I prayed that the Lord would send someone to take me to hospital. I thanked the Lord that I could be persecuted for the gospel and that through this I could meet Him.

When the police arrived they asked, “Where did you find this corpse?” They took me to hospital. I tried to open my eyes and I still saw the angels around me. The doctors said I would be paralyzed but as you can see I am not.

Upon the conclusion of his testimony, Domingus was asked the obvious question: “What now? They will come back to finish the job and kill you. What do you want to do with your life Domingus?” He replied with great conviction, “I just want to serve Jesus.”

RESPONSE: Today I reaffirm my faith in God as my only protector who does not allow me to be shaken.

PRAYER: Thank You Lord, that only in You can I find safety and protection. You have promised that You will always be with me.

The Daily Readings for May 23, 2016

Proverbs 10:1-12
The proverbs of Solomon. A wise child makes a glad father, but a foolish child is a mother's grief. Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death. The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked. A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. A child who gathers in summer is prudent, but a child who sleeps in harvest brings shame. Blessings are on the head of the righteous, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot. The wise of heart will heed commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin. Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever follows perverse ways will be found out. Whoever winks the eye causes trouble, but the one who rebukes boldly makes peace. The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.

1 Timothy 1:1-17
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy, my loyal child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine, and not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith. But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith. Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions. Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-- of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Matthew 12:22-32
Then they brought to him a demoniac who was blind and mute; and he cured him, so that the one who had been mute could speak and see. All the crowds were amazed and said, "Can this be the Son of David?" But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "It is only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons, that this fellow casts out the demons." He knew what they were thinking and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? If I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. Or how can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his property, without first tying up the strong man? Then indeed the house can be plundered. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Morning Psalms

Psalm 25 Ad te, Domine, levavi
1   To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; my God, I put my trust in you; let me not be humiliated, nor let my enemies triumph over me.
2   Let none who look to you be put to shame; let the treacherous be disappointed in their schemes.
3   Show me your ways, O LORD, and teach me your paths.
4   Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; in you have I trusted all the day long.
5   Remember, O LORD, your compassion and love, for they are from everlasting.
6   Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions; remember me according to your love and for the sake of your goodness, O LORD.
7   Gracious and upright is the LORD; therefore he teaches sinners in his way.
8   He guides the humble in doing right and teaches his way to the lowly.
9   All the paths of the LORD are love and faithfulness to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
10   For your Name's sake, O LORD, forgive my sin, for it is great.
11   Who are they who fear the LORD? he will teach them the way that they should choose.
12   They shall dwell in prosperity, and their offspring shall inherit the land.
13   The LORD is a friend to those who fear him and will show them his covenant.
14   My eyes are ever looking to the LORD, for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.
15   Turn to me and have pity on me, for I am left alone and in misery.
16   The sorrows of my heart have increased; bring me out of my troubles.
17   Look upon my adversity and misery and forgive me all my sin.
18   Look upon my enemies, for they are many, and they bear a violent hatred against me.
19   Protect my life and deliver me; let me not be put to shame, for I have trusted in you.
20   Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for my hope has been in you.
21   Deliver Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 9 Confitebor tibi
1   I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all your marvelous works.
2   I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing to your Name, O Most High.
3   When my enemies are driven back, they will stumble and perish at your presence.
4   For you have maintained my right and my cause; you sit upon your throne judging right.
5   You have rebuked the ungodly and destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name for ever and ever.
6   As for the enemy, they are finished, in perpetual ruin, their cities plowed under, the memory of them perished;
7   But the LORD is enthroned for ever; he has set up this throne for judgment.
8   It is he who rules the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with equity.
9   The LORD will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in time of trouble.
10   Those who know your Name will put their trust in you, for you never forsake those who seek you, O LORD.
11   Sing praise to the LORD who dwells in Zion; proclaim to the peoples the things he has done.
12   The Avenger of blood will remember them; he will not forget the cry of the afflicted.
13   Have pity on me, O LORD; see the misery I suffer from those who hate me, O you who lift me up from the gate of death;
14   So that I may tell of all your praises and rejoice in your salvation in the gates of the city of Zion.
15   The ungodly have fallen into the pit they dug, and in the snare they set is their own foot caught.
16   The LORD is known by his acts of justice; the wicked are trapped in the works of their own hands.
17   The wicked shall be given over to the grave, and also all the people that forget God.
18   For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish for ever.
19   Rise up, O LORD, let not the ungodly have the upper hand; let them be judged before you.
20   Put fear upon them, O LORD; let the ungodly know they are but mortal.

Psalm 15 Domine, quis habitabit?
1   LORD, who may dwell in your tabernacle? who may abide upon your holy hill?
2   Whoever leads a blameless life and does what is right, who speaks the truth from his heart.
3   There is no guile upon his tongue; he does no evil to his friend; he does not heap contempt upon his neighbor.
4   In his sight the wicked is rejected, but he honors those who fear the LORD.
5   He has sworn to do no wrong and does not take back his word.
6   He does not give his money in hope of gain, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
7   Whoever does these things shall never be overthrown.

Forward Day by Day Meditation for Monday, May 23, 2016

1 Timothy 1:4 And not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith.

My grandmother was an avid genealogist and found great joy in combing through legal records, church registers, letters, and other old documents to find the names and stories of ancestors. I have a picture of my grandmother, my great-uncle, and his wife sitting in the midst of a church graveyard in northern Alabama. The three, smiling as they stood next to the weathered headstone of one of my ancestors, held handfuls of ivy they had removed from the gravestone, exposing it to the sunlight for the first time in decades.

Our genealogies give us a place to belong on the family tree. The Bible knows this. Just read the beginning of Matthew. We are part of a long line of saints and sinners who have come before us. However, we have our own story, our own place in the grand story of God.

Perhaps this letter to Timothy reminds Christians to remember we are part of the story of our past but not completely defined by it. What words have you added to the story of your ancestors in the faith?

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Verse of the Day - May 23, 2016

Romans 15:2 (NIV) Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.

Read all of Romans 15