Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Night Light for Couples - Breaking Out

“God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Breaking out of comfortable routines can be beneficial for us, but it isn’t always as easy as it sounds. My (jcd’s) father, for example, hated automatic transmissions on automobiles because he had learned to drive with stick shifts. I’ve fallen into similar patterns. Until 1992 I wrote books on yellow pads with pencils. I worked that way for years despite the availability of word processors. The twentieth century was almost over before I decided to join it.

Rigidity and the force of habit can cause us to do things that make no sense. Yet when we stop learning and growing, we fail to reach our potential. To look at it another way, which companies would you say are more successful in today’s fast‐changing marketplace: those whose motto is “We’ve always done it this way,” or those that continually evaluate their methods and seek improvements?

Some of what succeeds in business also makes sense in marriage. You might ask yourself if any outdated routines and pointless—or even costly—habits are holding you back.

Just between us…
  • Am I stuck in any habits that no longer make sense?
  • How are those who are unwilling to change like the Pharisees of Scripture? (See Luke 11:37–44.)
  • Do you enjoy learning?
  • How can I encourage you to get out of old ruts or discard outdated habits?
Lord, we can become so comfortable in our old ways, but comfort can lead to stagnation and retreat. Inspire us by Your Spirit “of power, of love and of self-discipline” to reach for Your creative best. Thank You for the gift of new life we can enjoy together every day. Amen.

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

The Good Fight!

by Sheri Rose Shepherd
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. — Exodus 14:14
Watch this week's video by clicking on the image below.

I know life can hit us so hard that there isn’t any fight left inside our soul; even on the best of days, we find ourselves in the midst of a battle that attempts to steal our peace. Our Daddy in Heaven understands the spiritual heat his daughters experience. He is aware of how hard it is to keep fighting when we are worn out and don’t see the fruits of our efforts and energy. It’s very tempting to walk off the battlefield, and just give in to the weakness of our weary souls. However, when life is over, and all is said and done, there will be no better way to exit this earth into Heaven than the way Paul did—fighting the good fight so the next generation has a faith to stand on.

Look at it this way: if we give up now, it is like planting a beautiful fruit tree and chopping it down before it is ready to bear fruit we can see and taste. The Word of God promises a crown for those who finish their race, I can think of no better reward, than to know our lives led many to the king of Kings, and our fight brought victory for our children and grandchildren.

I know you want to finish strong, so be encouraged with this truth. It’s never too late to get up and finish your faith and plant your feet in God's word, which will produce great fruit in the next generation. Even if you are too weak to fight today, You can take the first step and stand; if you’re too weak to stand, then kneel and call out to your Daddy in Heaven. He loves you and is your faithful God.

God's Letter to You

My Princess Warrior,

When you are too weak to fight, My beloved Warrior, I want you to simply stand. When the spiritual warfare around you becomes great and you are in the heat of a faith battle and don’t know what to do, I want you to stand! Yes, stand on My promises. Stand for what you know to be right! Stand in the gap for those who can’t stand on their own!

Yes, My love, evil days will come, but you have My Spirit inside you, and in My power you can and will stand! It is your confidence in Me that will give others the strength to stand with you. Once you have done everything you can, you will still be standing! 

Your King Who Fights For You

Treasure of Truth

So put on all of God’s armor. Evil days will come. But you will be able to stand up to anything. And after you have done everything you can, you will still be standing. — Ephesians 6:13

My Prayer For You

I pray for you to find the strength in Christ alone to stand. I ask our God to give to you an eternal picture of your life lived only for him. In Jesus' name I pray for His peace and His promises to become the foundation of your faith; and may the joy of your salvation become your strength. You will be victorious in the name of Jesus over every evil thing that comes against you, and you will not stay down—you were designed to be a conqueror and to finish strong! In Jesus' name, Amen.

For more about Sheri Rose's ministry, visit HisPrincess.com.

The Forward Day by Day Meditation for June 21, 2016

Matthew 19:23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.” 

The burden of wealth can be heavy to the spirit. Many in my culture are starting to understand this, but embracing this teaching of Jesus is a very slow process. The deceptive nature of wealth has deep roots.

We confuse material riches with spiritual blessings. It is hard for us to shake the notion that God will reward wealth to good, hardworking Christians. Whole institutions have been built on the theology of prosperity. Yet we have these words of Jesus, that maddening teacher of paradox and parable, who keeps flipping the paradigm. In this strange kingdom of Jesus, the losers rule.

What hold does money have in your life? Examine your spirit, be attentive to the way that money influences your desires and dictates the way you spend your time. The kingdom that Jesus taught is the way of liberation. It was meant to set us free.

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His Princess Every Day - I Will Heal Your Heart

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

Don’t get discouraged, My beloved; pain is a part of life. But I promise you that I will turn every tear you’ve cried into joy, and I will use your deep pain for a divine purpose. Don’t try to hide your hurts from Me. I know everything about you. You are Mine, My beloved! I’m the only one who can handle your heart and restore you to health and wholeness again. I, too, have felt great pain, rejection, and anger. But we can go through every trial together. Hand in hand I will lead you back to My place of peace and joy after the storm. The sun will shine on you again, and your heart will be healed. I promise you, My Princess, that when you go through deep waters of great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression you will not be burned.

Your King and your Healer

"Be strong and courageous!
Do not be afraid of them!
The Lord your God will go
ahead of you. He will neither
fail you nor forsake you." - Deuteronomy 31:6

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

Chocolate For Your Soul with Sheri Rose Shepherd - One Choice Away

by Sheri Rose Shepherd

Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! — Deuteronomy 30:19

I used to feel angry with God for allowing me to grow up in such a dysfunctional home. Why hadn’t He put me in a family that lived together peacefully? Why did He let me cry myself to sleep at night while my parents screamed at each other in the other room? Why did other little girls have parents who loved each other and got along?

I don’t think it was God’s will that my parents fought or that their marriage ended in divorce. But today I realize that my past pain and my parents’ marital problems do not have to determine my future. If everything in my life had gone the way I wanted it to, I might not have such passion for my God-given call as a Christian speaker and author. I might not have compassion for those who have walked through similar trials in this life.

He has used my painful past to make me passionate for peace in my own family now. He has used my parents’ divorce to compel me to stay married when I was tempted to give up in tough times. He has used my poor choices to take drugs by giving me courage to speak to young people about how to live for God. My battle with bulimia drove me to write a bestselling book, that helps girls and women break free from that bondage.

I know many times life does not seem fair or just. I wish I could give you a reason for every sad and awful thing that happens on this earth. I wish I could pray away all the pain this life brings. What I do know, according to the Word of God, is that we are in a spiritual war and there are souls to be won!

Our God can take any part of our lives, good or bad, and use it for his Glory. We can be a trophy of His grace, forgiveness, and mercy for the world to see.

Today is a perfect day for your new life to begin, you are only one choice away from a beautiful break through!

God's Letter to You

I believe if The Lord was going to write you a personal letter about battles this life brings it may read like this....

My Princess Warrior,

I will make you a Hero of the faith if you chose to live for me. Every tough choice you make to obey Me will become a foundation of faith your family.. Your commitment to my call will crave character in the next generation. Every prayer you pray will become a blessing passed down.

Your and courage will continue to bring comfort to many during their difficult times. Your trust in Me will remain in others who watched you walk in peace. I, your God, declare on this day that your children’s children will be forever blessed because you lived your life for an audience of One . . . Me!

Your King Who Gives You Life

Treasure of Truth

Happy are those who delight in doing what he commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will never be forgotten. — Psalm 112:1–3

Girlfriends in God - Practice Makes Progress

Today’s Truth

In the night, LORD, I remember your name, that I may keep your law. This has been my practice: I obey your precepts. You are my portion, LORD; I have promised to obey your words. (Psalm 119:55-57)

Friend to Friend

I’ve always been an athlete. As an adult, I enjoy power walking and keeping fit. Growing up, I played on different sports teams all year round, but volleyball has always been my jam.

I played volleyball in college and now I help coach my daughter’s high school team. I’ve been around this game for more than thirty years and I’ve spent more time on the court, on the sand, and on the grass playing and practicing than most people ever will.

You’d think that after all the hours invested I’d have the game perfected by now, right?

Not hardly.

There are still times when I shank a pass and have spike attempts that send the ball into the net instead of over the net. There are still times when I miss a serve.

Each mistake frustrates me. Seriously. I’m competitive and I hate to lose. No matter how much I’ve grown as a player, I’ve come to realize that when I step on the volleyball court mistakes are going to happen and there will always be opportunities for me to grow and progress in my skills. Simple as that.

And you know what? I’ve found the same to be true in my prayer life.

Do you remember that old saying “practice makes perfect?” Well, I think it’s a bunch of beans! I recently heard a phrase that better represents the reality of growth and development: practice makes progress.

Whether we’re talking about our development as athletes, as students, as a wives, as employees, or simply as women of faith – specifically, as women of prayer – we are all purposed for growth until we die.

The truth that the apostle Paul wrote about in Romans 7 still remains: we don’t do what we should do and we do what we shouldn’t. So true. Prayer, I'm afraid, is one of the “don't dos” for many of us. We all seem to KNOW how important it is to trust God with our burdens, but many of us neglect to put this important discipline into practice.

Do you ever go the phone before you go to the throne?

Yeah. Me too.

There are times when I don’t trust God the way I should. And though I’ve been faith-walking with Him a long time, there are still a million ways that I need to grow. There will always be ways for us to grow and there will always be mistakes for us to work through.

My relationship with God grows when I pray. Yours does too.

Similarly, our trust in God grows as our relationships with Him grow.

Jesus said this, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

Jesus counts us as his “friends.” That blows my mind! Yet, how many of us would talk to our close friends as infrequently as we talk to Jesus, our Creator and Redeemer?

Of course, it's not like we can ignore the world around us and pray 24/7. Right? We’re still going to go to work and spend time with friends and family, but in the midst of it all, Scripture instructs us to: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

The practice of a praying life will increase our progress in faith and in trusting God.

This can translate into prayers of thankfulness and petition during power walks, time in the carpool line, while we wash laundry, and take lunch breaks. We can redeem these moments to thank God, and to pray for our children, careers, futures, frustrations, marriages, trials, and our challenges.

When we “do life” with God by exercising the spiritual discipline of prayer our faith grows.

It helps us to trust Him more.

A strong volleyball team is one that relies on each other in the game. As Christians, we have the advantage. We have God on our team. And with God on our team, we cannot fail. If God is for us, who can stand against us? We just need to talk to Him and trust him, rather than trying to play the game of life on our own.

Practice makes progress.

We will learn to trust God more as we go to Him in prayer.

Let’s Pray

Dear God, That You would choose to call me friend is simply amazing! Thank you that though I’m not perfect, your grace allows me to progress in faith! Please forgive me for the times when I go about my day and “do life” without You. Help me to continuously pray and to trust You with my burdens.
In Jesus’s Name I pray,

Now It’s Your Turn

How would you rate your prayer life on a scale from 1-10? Where would you like your prayer life to rank on that same scale? Are you willing to do anything about it? If so, what? If not, why?

Add 10 GiG Challenge: For one week, I challenge you to add 10 minutes of prayer each day to your normal prayer routine? Will you do it? Yes? Make it public! Leave a comment/commitment on my blog or my Facebook page saying, “I’m in for plus ten!"

More from the Girlfriends

Gwen Smith’s new book, I WANT IT ALL, is a passionate call to follow God with great expectation for the impact, the challenge—and the blessing—that comes from dreaming big dreams and believing that God keeps his promises. I WANT IT ALLwill help you to experience more faith, more power, and more impact. More of Jesus. All of Jesus. Everything that God has for you. Order yours today from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or ChristianBook.com.

Stay up with Gwen on her blog, and connect with her on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest.

Today’s devotion is an excerpt from Trusting God, A Girlfriends in God Faith Adventure by Sharon Jaynes, Gwen Smith and Mary Southerland.

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Standing Strong Through the Storm - IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25

Jesus said He would not leave us alone but would give us a Helper to be with us forever (John 14: 16-18). He taught us that the Holy Spirit would be our Counselor (John 14: 26). Jesus also called Him the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17).

Two sisters in southern China came to Christ in a house church meeting. Twenty months later a friend from Hong Kong visited them and asked what they had been doing since their conversion. “Starting home meetings,” was their timid response.

“How many home meetings?” “Only thirty,” was their halting reply.

“How many attend your meetings?” was the next nonchalant question. “Well, at the smallest one about two hundred and eighty!”

Now the questioner was totally involved and quickly continued, “How many attend your largest meeting?”

“Not even 5000, only about four thousand nine hundred!”

The Hong Kong Christian was flabbergasted. And in his excitement quickly asked, “How do you ladies—both new Christians—know what to do?”

They simply replied, “We pray. And after we pray, the Holy Spirit tells us what to do!” 

It is also obvious that these two ladies were then obedient to the Holy Spirit’s direction. The goal of all Christians should be to live so completely under the control of the Holy Spirit that it can be said we are walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). As Paul reminded the Galatian Christians, they began their Christian lives by a miracle work of God, new birth in Jesus, and they could only expect to continue it by God’s power. This fact is even more evident in a hostile environment.

RESPONSE: The Holy Spirit wants to be my guide and counselor today. I will be obedient to His leading.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to walk this day in the power of Your Holy Spirit. May I also keep in step!

Verse of the Day - June 21, 2016

Psalm 91:1 (NIV) Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Read all of Psalm 91