Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Stay the Course

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Mark 10:14 

If we believe that the eternal souls of our children hang in the balance, why would we take a casual approach to parenting? If our eyes are fully opened to this awesome assignment, why would we ignore and neglect so great an opportunity? The Good News provides the only satisfactory explanation for why we’re here and where we’re going. When we accept our spiritual responsibility as parents, our entire family is likely to follow our example into eternity: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (Acts 16:31).

Are you the parents of young children or a houseful of teenagers? We understand how difficult it is for you to keep this eternal perspective in mind as you race through your days. We encourage you not to let yourselves become discouraged with the responsibility of parenting. Yes, it is incredibly difficult, and at times you’ll feel like throwing in the towel. But we beg you to stay the course! Get on your knees before the Lord and ask for His strength and wisdom. Finish the job to which He has called you!

There is no more important task in this life.

Just between us…
  • Can we be more intentional in introducing our children to Jesus Christ?
  • How can we keep eternal priorities foremost in our minds?
  • Is there a pressing need we can pray about together tonight? 
Lord, nothing will count more in eternity than that we’ve been faithful parents who have helped usher our children into Your presence. Give us strength and wisdom for this task. By Your Spirit, draw our children to You. Amen. 

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

Bede, the Venerable, Priest, and Monk of Jarrow

Today the church remembers Bede, the Venerable, Priest, and Monk of Jarrow, 735.

When the monks of Jarrow sang, "Lord, leave us not as orphans," it is said that Bede would often weep. As a child he was left orphaned in a dark, hostile, and dangerous land. He was cared for and reared by kindly monks. When he was but a youngster, plague struck the monastery, almost wiping it out. The only surviving souls were Bede and the old abbot. Bede naturally had a strong sense of the importance of community, of the fine line between life and death, and of our utter dependence upon the Creator.

He rarely ventured outside the walls of Jarrow monastery, yet his knowledge of theology, geography, and language was worthy of the most sophisticated of his time in Western Europe. He wrote a number of excellent books on various subjects, but he is best remembered for his Ecclesiastical History of the English People. This work has justly earned for him the title "Father of English History." Unlike some of the careless historians of his day, he was meticulous in listing his authorities and sources. He took care to separate known fact from hearsay, but his descriptions are lively and dramatic.

Bede thought of himself as a teacher, and he seems to have built most of his teaching around the Divine Offices which the monks read daily. It is altogether fitting that he was pronounced a "Doctor of the Church" by Pope Leo XIII. Bede's remains rest in Durham.

May the riches of Bede's scholarship inspire us to fill our minds with the story of your work among us, O God. Amen.

Read the Wikipedia article here.

Heavenly Father, you called your servant Bede, while still a child, to devote his life to your service in the disciplines of religion and scholarship; Grant that as he labored in the Spirit to bring riches of your truth to his generation, so we, in our various vocations, may strive to make you known in all the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Daily Readings for May 25, 2016

Proverbs 17:1-20
Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife. A slave who deals wisely will rule over a child who acts shamefully, and will share the inheritance as one of the family. The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, but the LORD tests the heart. An evildoer listens to wicked lips; and a liar gives heed to a mischievous tongue. Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who are glad at calamity will not go unpunished. Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their parents. Fine speech is not becoming to a fool; still less is false speech to a ruler. A bribe is like a magic stone in the eyes of those who give it; wherever they turn they prosper. One who forgives an affront fosters friendship, but one who dwells on disputes will alienate a friend. A rebuke strikes deeper into a discerning person than a hundred blows into a fool. Evil people seek only rebellion, but a cruel messenger will be sent against them. Better to meet a she-bear robbed of its cubs than to confront a fool immersed in folly. Evil will not depart from the house of one who returns evil for good. The beginning of strife is like letting out water; so stop before the quarrel breaks out. One who justifies the wicked and one who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD. Why should fools have a price in hand to buy wisdom, when they have no mind to learn? A friend loves at all times, and kinsfolk are born to share adversity. It is senseless to give a pledge, to become surety for a neighbor. One who loves transgression loves strife; one who builds a high threshold invites broken bones. The crooked of mind do not prosper, and the perverse of tongue fall into calamity.

1 Timothy 3:1-16
The saying is sure: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task. Now a bishop must be above reproach, married only once, temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way-- for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil. Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not indulging in much wine, not greedy for money; they must hold fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them first be tested; then, if they prove themselves blameless, let them serve as deacons. Women likewise must be serious, not slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be married only once, and let them manage their children and their households well; for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great: He was revealed in flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory.

Matthew 12:43-50
"When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but it finds none. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' When it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So will it be also with this evil generation." While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, "Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you." But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" And pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."

Morning Psalms

Psalm 38 Domine, ne in furore
1   O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger; do not punish me in your wrath.
2   For your arrows have already pierced me, and your hand presses hard upon me.
3   There is no health in my flesh, because of your indignation; there is no soundness in my body, because of my sin.
4   For my iniquities overwhelm me; like a heavy burden they are too much for me to bear.
5   My wounds stink and fester by reason of my foolishness.
6   I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; I go about in mourning all the day long.
7   My loins are filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body.
8   I am utterly numb and crushed; I wail, because of the groaning of my heart.
9   O Lord, you know all my desires, and my sighing is not hidden from you.
10   My heart is pounding, my strength has failed me, and the brightness of my eyes is gone from me.
11   My friends and companions draw back from my affliction; my neighbors stand afar off.
12   Those who seek after my life lay snares for me; those who strive to hurt me speak of my ruin and plot treachery all the day long.
13   But I am like the deaf who do not hear, like those who are mute and who do not open their mouth.
14   I have become like one who does not hear and from whose mouth comes no defense.
15   For in you, O LORD, have I fixed my hope; you will answer me, O Lord my God.
16   For I said, "Do not let them rejoice at my expense, those who gloat over me when my foot slips."
17   Truly, I am on the verge of falling, and my pain is always with me.
18   I will confess my iniquity and be sorry for my sin.
19   Those who are my enemies without cause are mighty, and many in number are those who wrongfully hate me.
20   Those who repay evil for good slander me, because I follow the course that is right.
21   O LORD, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God.
22   Make haste to help me, O Lord of my salvation.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 119: Daleth Adhæsit pavimento
25    My soul cleaves to the dust; give me life according to your word.
26   I have confessed my ways, and you answered me; instruct me in your statutes.
27   Make me understand the way of your commandments, that I may meditate on your marvelous works.
28   My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.
29   Take from me the way of lying; let me find grace through your law.
30   I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set your judgments before me.
31   I hold fast to your decrees; O LORD, let me not be put to shame.
32   I will run the way of your commandments, for you have set my heart at liberty.

Psalm 119: He Legem pone
33   Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end.
34   Give me understanding, and I shall keep your law; I shall keep it with all my heart.
35   Make me go in the path of your commandments, for that is my desire.
36   Incline my heart to your decrees and not to unjust gain.
37   Turn my eyes from watching what is worthless; give me life in your ways.
38   Fulfill your promise to your servant, which you make to those who fear you.
39   Turn away the reproach which I dread, because your judgments are good.
40   Behold, I long for your commandments; in your righteousness preserve my life.

Psalm 119: Waw Et veniat super me
41   Let your loving-kindness come to me, O LORD, and your salvation, according to your promise.
42   Then shall I have a word for those who taunt me, because I trust in your words.
43   Do not take the word of truth out of my mouth, for my hope is in your judgments.
44   I shall continue to keep your law; I shall keep it for ever and ever.
45   I will walk at liberty, because I study your commandments.
46   I will tell of your decrees before kings and will not be ashamed.
47   I delight in your commandments, which I have always loved.
48   I will lift up my hands to your commandments, and I will meditate on your statutes.

Forward Day by Day Meditation for Wednesday, May 25, 2016

1 Timothy 3:8-9 Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not indulging in much wine, not greedy for money; they must hold fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.

I’ve read entries in one church register from the 1880s recording multiple burials over several weeks from yellow fever. Another church register in the 1980s shows multiple burials over several months from AIDS. I’ve read letters from priests and bishops expressing concern about pending schisms over theological differences that could have been written yesterday or a thousand years ago.

Reading the concerns and hopes of faith communities from across the ages reminds me how little has changed for us. The particulars of the issues may be different, but the sameness of human experience echoes across millennia. We struggle with differences, we feel grief, we strive for hospitality, and we long to contribute. We hope for unity in diversity. And we want to know we are loved by each other and by God.

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Girlfriends in God - You Were Not Meant for Third Gear

Today’s Truth

[Jesus said], “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12 NIV). 

Friend to Friend

When my husband and I were first married, we purchased a five-speed Honda Civic. It was a snappy silver stick shift with high gas mileage and low horsepower. The conundrum was that I didn’t know how to drive a stick shift. Steve gave me a lesson on driving a car with a manual transmission, but I was scared to death to change gears. Step on the clutch. Slowly release while slipping the stick into first gear. Step on the clutch again. Slowly release while slipping the stick into second gear. It was just too much for me to remember.

We lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, at the time. The primary word being hill. There were lots of hills. When I pulled up to a stop sign at the top of one of those hills and had to do the clutch-gear trick, I panicked. I feared that I would roll backwards into the car behind me before I could move forward. I was a mess. That was on a Saturday.

The following Monday I had to drive the car to work all by myself. I made it out of the neighborhood and all the way to third gear. However, when I pulled out on the highway with commuters whizzing by, I was too afraid to let off the gas, push in the clutch, and shift into fourth.

First gear. Second gear. Third gear. Even though I knew there were two more gears to go, I was afraid to engage. Third was enough for me. So I drove the poor little Civic twenty miles at highway speed in third gear. It was not good for the car. It was not good for me. When I confessed my wicked ways to Steve, he was not pleased.

Are you driving through life in third gear? I daresay some never get out of first. Some walk the aisle, raise the hand, or perhaps fill out a commitment card. But then putter along in first gear when their spiritual lives are meant to be driven in fifth. No wonder our engines wear out.

Now listen, we are not meant to slide along in neutral either. Relying on the power of the Holy Spirit does not mean we sit back and do nothing. We have to take hold—to engage the power of the Holy Spirit to do all that God has called us to do and be all that God has intended us to be.

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth,” (don’t you just love it when He says that?) “anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). Now that is a commission to live bold if I’ve ever heard one. But how? How do we do that? We do it by relying on the power of the Holy Spirit working in us and through us.

Take a glove, for example. A glove is powerless sitting on a bedside table. But put your hand in the glove and it can do many things: play the piano, paint a picture, scrub a floor, or plant a garden. But is that the glove or the hand in the glove doing the work? Of course, it is the latter.

You and I are nothing more than gloves—powerless on our own, yet powerful when filled with the Spirit. The glove can’t do anything if it is merely near the hand. It must be filled with the hand—controlled by the hand. And it is the same for us. We have power to do everything God has called for us to do when we are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul prayed that we would believe in and take hold of the truth that we have great power as a child of God and co-heir with Christ. He calls it “incomparably great power”

(Ephesians 1:19). Immeasurable. Unlimited. Inexhaustible. He doesn’t pray that you will have more power, but that you will realize the power that you already have. But we must engage the gears to experience that power.

So what do you say? Let’s get out of third gear in our Christian faith and be about the business of living life to the full…the life Jesus came to give!

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me spiritual gifts. Thank You for giving me everything I need to lead a godly life. Lord, I pray that You will help me to see when I am functioning on my own power, and driving through life in third gear. And when I see that I’m not accessing the power You have given me, help me to take hold of all that You supply.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

God can use whatever you have . . . but you’ve got to use what you have.
  • David just had a handful of rocks, but what did he do with those rocks? (1 Samuel 17:49)
  • Shamgar just had an oxgoad, but what did he do with the rod? (Judges 3:31)
  • Moses just had a big stick, but what did he do with the staff? (Exodus 14:16, 21)
What is God calling you to use, that you’ve already got? A measure of faith? A measure of courage? A measure of boldness?

If you’re ready to get out of neutral, first gear, second gear, and even third…if you are ready to get into high gear and live the adventurous faith…click over to my Facebook page and say, “I’m ready to live bold!” Let’s do this together!

More from the Girlfriends

Today’s devotion was taken from my new book, Take Hold of the Faith you Long For: Let Go, Move Forward, Live Bold. A mediocre, mundane faith is not what you were made for! In Take Hold of the Faith You Long For, I reveal the most common reasons we get stuck in our Christian faith, living less than what we had hoped. I show you how to break free of all that holds you back, move forward with all that God promises, and live the adventurous faith of bold believing. It’s time to leave behind feelings of inferiority, insecurity, and inadequacy that hold you hostage and take hold of the mountain-moving faith God intends. Let’s uncover untapped sources of confidence and courage, and see how to move from simply knowing the truth to actually living it out boldly. It’s time to TAKE HOLD of all that Jesus has already taken hold of for you and placed in you! Click on the book cover to download a sample chapter and view a quick video. And if you’re looking for a new study for your women’s group or individual study, Take Hold includes a Bible Study guide in the back. Also, you’ll find out about some free gifts with each purchase.

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Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 1311
Huntersville, NC 28070


For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3 

Kefa Sempangi was pastor of the large Redeemed Church of Uganda. Easter Sunday 1973 was his first serious brush with death at the hands of Idi Amin's goons. After an all-day worship service he went exhausted to the vestry to change clothes—too exhausted to notice the five strangers (government secret police goons) following him into the room:

They stood between me and the door, pointing their rifles at my face. For a long moment no one said anything. Then the tallest man, obviously the leader, spoke. “We are going to kill you,” he said. “If you have something to say, say it before you die.” He spoke quietly but his face was twisted with hatred.

I could only stare at him. For a sickening moment I felt the full weight of his rage. We had never met before but his deepest desire was to tear me to pieces. My mouth felt heavy and my limbs began to shake.

Everything left my control. They will not need to kill me, I thought to myself. I am just going to fall over dead and I will never see my family again.

From far away I heard a voice, and I was astonished to realize that it was my own. “I do not need to plead my own cause,” I heard myself saying. “I am a dead man already. My life is dead and hidden in Christ. It is your lives that are in danger; you are dead in your sins. I will pray to God that after you have killed me, He will spare you from eternal destruction.”

The tall one took a step towards me and then stopped. In an instant, his face was changed. His hatred had turned to curiosity. He lowered his gun and motioned to the others to do the same. They stared at him in amazement but they took their guns from my face.

Then the tall one spoke again. "Will you pray for us now?" he asked. I thought my ears were playing a trick. I looked at him and then at the others. My mind was completely paralyzed. “Father in heaven,” I prayed, “You who have forgiven men in the past, forgive these men also. Do not let them perish in their sins but bring them into yourself.”[1] 

RESPONSE: Realizing I am dead in Christ brings boldness to proclaim truth even in fearful situations.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to trust You in times of fear and challenge and allow Your Spirit to take control of every situation. 

1. F. Kefa Sempangi, A Distant Grief, Glendale, CA: G/L Publications, 1979, pp.119-120.

His Princess Every Day - Tears

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

My Daughter,

I hear your heart-felt tears from Heaven. Never forget that I am here for you in the dark hours of the night, my daughter. When you are in need of a daddy to hold you, I will reach down from heaven and you will feel my spirit uplifting you. When you pour your heart out to me, I will wash away the pain that is keeping you down. My mighty hand will wipe away every tear you have cried and not a single drop will be wasted. I know what you need, and your tears will be turned into joy very soon.

Your King Who wipes away your tears 

But in my distress I cried out to the Lord;
Yes, I prayed to my God for help.
He heard me from his sanctuary;
My cry to him reached his ears. - Psalm 18:6 (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.

Verse of the Day - May 25, 2016

James 1:19 (NIV) [ Listening and Doing ] My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

Read all of James 1