Monday, June 20, 2016

Failure of Religion

by A. W. Tozer (April 21, 1897 – May 12, 1963)

Millions of men and women refuse to face up to the fact that religion, in and of itself, is not enough for the sinner's need. It is amazing how many things religious people want to do to you. They can start with infant baptism and end up with the last rites when you are 108 years old-and all of that time they will manipulate you, maul you and sweet-message your soul. When it is all done you are just what you were. You are just a decorated and massaged sinner-a sinner who did not eat meat, or on the other hand, a sinner who did eat fish! When religion has done all it can, you are still a sinner who either went to church or did not go to church. Religion can put us on the roll and educate us and train us and instruct us. But after all that, there is still something within our beings that cries, "Eternity is in my heart and I have not found anything to satisfy it!" Only our Lord Jesus Christ is enough to satisfy the eternal longing in our souls.

Night Light for Couples - On Target

“Get a new heart and a new spirit.” Ezekiel 18:31

Maybe you heard the story about the day Lisa finally had enough. Her husband, Greg, loved to shoot. An expert marksman, he traveled widely to compete against other enthusiasts, and occasionally he brought home a trophy. But Lisa had no interest in marksmanship. In fact, she didn’t like guns—period. To make matters worse, she missed her husband terribly while he was away pursuing his hobby.

One day it dawned on her that their relationship was in trouble. That was the day Lisa finally had enough. Lisa asked Greg to teach her how to shoot a rifle, then joined him in his travels. Soon she decided to compete at the shooting events. To Lisa’s surprise, she liked firing a rifle. And to her husband’s surprise, Lisa was a very good shot. She even started bringing home more trophies than he did. But of the prizes they brought home, one stood out above all the rest: Their marriage seemed reborn. The time they spent together at their newfound common interest helped them develop a closeness that simply hadn’t existed before.

Lisa’s story is a good reminder that what seems like an obstacle might really be an opportunity. Creative, committed couples discover this secret everyday. Just ask a husband who’s learned to love ballroom dancing or a wife who’s gotten hooked on fly fishing. That’s because the best times always seem to come in pairs.

Just between us…
  • When was the last time we tried a new activity together?
  • Did you enjoy it? Why or why not?
  • Are there activities keeping us apart that we could do together?
Dear God, we ask for fresh determination to explore new interests and activities together. Where our marriage would be strengthened by playing together, help us let go of the old habits and assumptions that keep us apart. Amen.

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

Wishing Them Well

Jonah 3:1–10

Have you ever had a friend or acquaintance who made a wrong choice for every right choice you made, yet in the end your friend seemed to face none of the consequences you faced? It’s hard to take, watching someone come out smelling like roses when you know the stinky stuff they’ve been rooted in.

If you can relate, then you can empathize with Jonah when God told him to go to Nineveh. Now, that was not just any field of service for the ancient prophet. It was Israel’s greatest national enemy. The Ninevites were citizens of Assyria, a brutal nation to the east, and Israel’s greatest threat.

It’s no wonder that when the people of Nineveh did clean up their act (for a while anyway), Jonah was distressed. How could God sanction the redemption of a country like that? It didn’t seem fair. And in truth, at least from Jonah’s perspective, it probably wasn’t.

It’s tough to just do what’s asked of you and leave the fairness issue to God, isn’t it? It’s hard to see people receive good things when they’ve caused you (or someone you love) pain. Like when your ex-son-in-law remarries or when the disloyal secretary down the hall gets a promotion you deserved. It’s even harder to facilitate their good fortune, like Jonah did. Jesus said to love our enemies, but when it comes right down to it, we’d rather not.

How do we get past our feelings and wish our enemies well? We grace them with the same kind of mercy with which God graced us without expectation of getting anything back in return (see Luke 6:35–36). We focus on God and on the good things he has given us and done for us. The key to countering the envy of another’s fortune is to be grateful for our own. And when we do that, we let go of the part of God’s job that we’d like to do—the finger-pointing. It’s just too hard to do our own work and God’s too. And he does it so much better! Since we don’t have his insight into the hearts and minds of those people we’d like to judge and condemn, it’s better for us to push aside our limited understanding of justice and just trust him instead.

  1. Think about the feelings you have toward people who live under a completely different set of values than you do. How do your feelings for them compare to the love God has for them?
  2. When it comes to people you dislike, why is it difficult to “wish them well”?
  3. What keeps you from being able to leave that person solely accountable to God? Fear? Anger? Jealousy?
Jonah 3:1–2 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”

Related Readings

Psalm 3:1–8; Matthew 5:43–47; 20:1–16

His Princess Every Day - I Will Calm the Storm

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

My beloved,

I alone see the secret fears of your heart, my love. When you are fearful of the storms that rage in this life, hear Me whisper, “be still and know that I am with you.” Close your eyes and call out to Me, for I am your Prince of Peace. I will calm the storm inside your soul. Every time you allow me to navigate your life, you will be reminded that I am your captain. You can count on me. I made the seas, and I am your lighthouse when you need hope.

Your Prince and Savior

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. - Psalm 107:29 (NIV)

Prayer to my Prince

My Prince,

Although I know you are always there, I must admit that too many times I have allowed your truth to be drowned out by the storm I am in. I need you to help me trust you when I feel like I am drowning. May my spirit be so connected to yours that I hear you whisper “I am here to save you.” I love knowing that I have a mighty savior that can and will save me from any and all storms. Thank you for being my lifesaver.

Your Princess who loves being saved by you

For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. - Zephaniah 3:17 (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.

Girlfriends in God - Jump Into Abba’s Arms

Today’s Truth

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see,” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV).

Friend to Friend

One night a family was startled from sleep by the piercing blare of their smoke detector. The house was on fire and smoke swirled up the wooden staircase. The father bolted from his bed and ran to his children’s room. He grabbed his eighteen-month-old baby out of his crib, and dragged his four-year-old son by the hand. They were half-way down the stairs when the little boy remembered his favorite teddy bear in his room and broke away to go back and get it. In the mayhem and confusion, the father didn’t realize his son wasn’t with him until he reached the front yard.

By the time the little boy found his teddy bear, the flames had filled his room and trapped him inside. Smoke burned his lungs as he coughed and cried out the open window.

“Daddy! Daddy!” he cried. “Help me!

His dad called up to the lad, “I’m right here, son. Jump and I’ll catch you.”

“But Daddy,” the boy cried, “I can’t see you!”

“That’s OK, son,” he called. “I can see you! Now jump!”

The boy blindly jumped from the open window and landed safely in his father’s arms.

I love that story. It is my story.

So many times my Heavenly Father calls me to jump. Sometimes He tells me to jump out of a situation, and sometimes he calls me to jump into an opportunity. Either way, I usually baulk at the idea…at least a little.

“But God, I can’t see You,” I cry.

“That’s OK,” He replies. “I can see you. Now jump!”

And so I jump. And He is there every time.

What about you? Is God calling you to jump out of a fiery situation? Is God calling you into a new opportunity? Well sister, if He is, jump. You might not be able to see Him, but He can see you. And that is all that matters.

Let’s Pray

Father, thank You for always being there for me. Help me to have the courage and the faith to jump out of any fiery situation that could singe my character, char my faith, or leave me smelling of smoke. Help me to have the courage and the faith to jump into any blessed opportunity that could increase my faith, build my character, and leave me wearing the fragrance of Christ.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

All through the Bible God called men and women to take a leap of faith. Every time God promised that He would be right there with him or her.

Read Exodus 3:12 and 4:12 and notice what God told Moses.
Read Joshua 1:5 and 1:9 and notice what God told Joshua.
Read Judges 6:16 and notice what God told Gideon.
If you really want to gas up your faith tank, read all of Hebrews 11.

Go back to today’s truth. How does it relate to today’s story?

If you are ready to take a leap of faith today, click over to my blog post and say, “Ok God, here I come!”

More from the Girlfriends

God is the Ancient of Days…and you can trust Him. If you enjoy these online devotions, then you’ll love our GiG book, Trusting God. It has 12 weeks of devotions dedicated to Trusting God in every situation. Click here to take a peek.

Seeking God?Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 1311Huntersville, NC 28070

Women of the Bible - The Queen of Sheba

Her character: Though a pagan queen like Jezebel, she prized wisdom above power. She appears to have been intellectually gifted, with a good head for business and diplomacy.
Her joy: That her quest for wisdom was rewarded beyond her expectations.
Key Scriptures: 1 Kings 10:1-13; Matthew 12:42

Her Story

Sheba was a fragrant land, famous for its perfumes and spices. Located on the southwestern tip of Arabia, bordering the Red Sea, it traded precious commodities like gold, frankincense, and myrrh to kingdoms in Africa, India, and the Mediterranean. Little wonder that passing caravans brought news of the wide world to Sheba's queen.

Lately, the queen had heard marvelous stories of Solomon, the son of Bathsheba and David, now Israel's third king. At his birth, a prophet had named him "Beloved of the Lord." Some said he was the wisest man alive.

The queen smiled as she recalled the tale of the two prostitutes. Both had claimed to be mother to the same infant. How could the king possibly know who was telling the truth and who a lie? But Solomon merely ordered the baby cut in half, to be divided equally between the two women. He knew the real mother would relinquish her rights rather than let her child perish. Indeed, the king's cleverness had quickly revealed the truth, reuniting the heartbroken mother and her child.

The queen had also heard of the fabulous temple and palace Solomon had built in Jerusalem. Such a ruler, she realized, would have little trouble controlling the international trade routes crisscrossing his kingdom.
Though Jerusalem lay fifteen hundred miles to the north, the queen was determined to see for herself whether Solomon measured up to even half the tales told of him. Hoping to establish a trade agreement with Israel, she assembled a caravan of camels and loaded them with precious spices, gems, and four and a half tons of gold. Her entrance into Jerusalem would have created an unforgettable spectacle, adding to Solomon's growing fame.

Day after day, the queen pounded Solomon with hard questions. But nothing was too difficult for the king to explain. Overawed, the queen exclaimed: "The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard. How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord's eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness."

Then the queen gave Solomon all the gold and spices she had brought with her, perhaps foreshadowing the Magi's gift of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ child nearly a thousand years later. In fact, Jesus himself referred to the Queen of Sheba when he replied to the Pharisees who had demanded from him a miraculous sign: "The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here" (Matthew 12:42).

Though ruler of a pagan nation, the Queen of Sheba was so drawn to the wisdom of God that she made an arduous and dangerous journey, traveling three thousand miles round-trip in order to meet the world's wisest man.

Her Promise

The Queen of Sheba was a wealthy and influential ruler whose nation dominated commercial trading in the Middle East at that time. She must have had a certain measure of wisdom, or at least intelligence, to rule such a country. Still, she had questions, many of them, and she sought out the region's famed King Solomon, depending on his wisdom for answers. Solomon didn't disappoint her; she went away satisfied.

Do you have any questions that need answers? Questions about yourself? About things that have happened in your life? About the will of God? About God's love for you? If you do, go to the source of all wisdom, God himself, for answers. When you diligently seek him, he doesn't always give clear answers, but he will give peace. And you will go away satisfied. He promises.

Salt and Light - June 20, 2016

Standing Strong Through the Storm - PROJECT PEARL PERFUME BIBLES

They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. Psalm 19:10

In 1977, Peter Xu became the leader of the Born-Again Movement—a large house church network today in China. Ten years ago he was visiting in the United States and shared a devotional at the Open Doors-USA office. When he saw a sample of a Project Pearl Bible on the shelf, he became very animated. Then a long story developed:

After Project Pearl Bibles were stored in depositories in southern China in the early 1980s, Peter Xu sent three men every month by train to the depository contacts to bring back about 1,000 Bibles per trip for his growing house church movement. One month the three men were discovered with their Bible load by the local police of the depository city. The police threw the 1,000 Project Pearl Bibles into the cesspool of the public latrine and the three men were interrogated and jailed for the weekend.

Monday they were released and commanded to return straight home and never return. Instead they waited inside the latrine until darkness fell. Then they climbed down into the filthy cesspool of human waste carefully retrieving each of the foul smelling books. They washed them off under the local water tap and carried them home. There they dried them out, sprayed them with perfume and circulated them through their network. Such was the hunger and importance of every copy of God’s Word.

Project Pearl certainly had an impact on the future printing of Bibles inside China which continues today. Shortly after the project was completed, China’s Three Self Patriotic Movement announced the first official printing of Bibles inside the country. Noted author and China watcher, David Aikman, wrote in his book, Jesus in Beijing, “[Project] Pearl had a major long-term impact on the overall availability of Bibles in China.”

But more important are the personal evaluations from Chinese believers: “These gifts are more precious than gold!”

RESPONSE: Today I will treasure God’s Word as more valuable than any precious metal or gem.

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord that Your precious Word is being made available in countries where it is not valued by those in authority.

Verse of the Day - June 20, 2016

Mark 8:36 (NIV) What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

Read all of Mark 8