Thursday, June 23, 2016

Night Light for Couples - Beautiful Music

“Lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

I can’t tell you the number of times, especially during our early years together, that the requirements of being a godly wife and mother have seemed to be completely out of reach for me.

Perhaps you face similar feelings tonight. You want to keep growing, trying, getting better, but you’re not sure if you can hope for success. If so, I want to share one of my favorite stories with you. It reminds me how the Lord can turn our small, sincere efforts into a masterpiece….

Wishing to encourage her young son’s progress on the piano, a mother took her small boy to a Paderewski concert. After they were seated, the mother spotted a friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her. The little boy seized the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall. After wandering a while, he eventually made his way through a door marked “No Admittance.”

Then the house lights dimmed. The mother returned to her seat for the beginning of the concert only to discover that her son was missing. Before she could start her search, the curtains parted and the spotlights shone on the impressive Steinway grand piano on stage. There, innocently picking out “Chopsticks,” sat her little boy. The mother froze in horror. The audience began to murmur with irritation. Meanwhile backstage, the great piano master overheard the childish playing and the rumblings from the audience. Quickly he donned his jacket and made his entrance. Moving to the piano, he whispered in the boy’s ear, “Don’t quit. Keep playing!” Then Paderewski leaned over, reached around both sides of the boy, and began to improvise a countermelody to harmonize with the boy’s rendition of “Chopsticks.”

Music—at once childlike and mellow, simple and profound—filled the auditorium. Everyone sat mesmerized, none more so than the boy’s awestruck mother….

Do your efforts to grow and flourish in your marriage feel inadequate, timid, unpromising? You’re not in this alone! Remember that the Lord’s loving arms are around you. Lean on His strength and guidance. You’ll grow in ways you never thought possible and make music together more wonderful than you ever imagined.

Our encouragement to you is simple: “Don’t quit. Keep playing!” With the blessing of the Master, your efforts together will become something beautiful and unforgettable.

- Shirley M Dobson

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
Illustration by Charles Swindoll from Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life (Zondervan, 1983). Reprinted in Stories for the Heart, comp. Alice Gray (Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 1996).

Girlfriends in God - Believing God in the Hard Times

by  Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’ (John 5:1-6, NIV).

Friend to Friend

A mess is the perfect setting for a miracle. Our helplessness can be our most powerful offering - if we are willing to be honest and transparent. Sometimes it is a lot easier to just stay in the darkness than it is to struggle toward the light.

Not everyone really wants to be healed or rescued. Why?

Because their infirmity has become their identity or because their crisis now defines who they are and forms the familiar parameters of their life. Some people use their weaknesses to get the attention they crave or to keep from assuming any responsibility in their own lives.

Take the man at the pool of Bethesda for example.

The pool of Bethesda was the gathering place for anyone in need of healing. Many people believed that the first person in the pool after the water moved would be healed from whatever disease or illness they had. Since the pool was fed by springs, it is safe to assume that the water was stirred fairly often.

Jesus saw the man lying there and asked what some might consider an unusual question, “Do you want to get well?” The question was a valid one.

Was the man comfortable in his pain or was he willing to pay the price that healing requires? Was he ready and willing to do whatever Jesus asked him to do in order to be healed? Jesus wanted to know. He wanted to know if the man was helpless enough.

The man had been an invalid, unable to walk or stand, for thirty-eight years. The pool of Bethesda may have been his last hope. Scripture doesn’t tell us exactly how long the man had been at the pool … but it was long enough.

“I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred,” the man replied. “While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me."

That was all Jesus needed to hear.

“Get up! Pick up your mat and walk,” Jesus said, and the man was immediately healed.

Notice that Jesus did not offer to carry the man to the pool. Jesus told the man to do what he had been unable to do for thirty-eight years – stand up and then walk. And the man had a choice to make. Every time we ask God for help, we have to make the same choice.

Are we helpless enough?
Are we ready to believe God and do what we have been unable to do on our own?
Are we willing to obey Him?

The man at the pool of Bethesda was healed the moment he looked into the eyes of Jesus and chose to receive the healing he saw waiting there.

There were many people at the pool that day – people who were paralyzed, people who were blind or sick or lame. But Jesus healed only one of them. He did not empty the five porches around the pool, healing everyone. He could have, but Jesus looked out over the crowd and chose to heal the most helpless man – the man who was honest about his pain, the man who was willing to believe God in the hard times.

Can you see yourself in this man? Have you been paralyzed by the pain of loss or rejection? Have friends betrayed you and left you lying by a pool of crushed hopes and dreams?

Jesus sees your helplessness. He knows your heart and hears your desperate cry. Today is the day.

Do you want to be healed?

Let’s Pray

Father, I come to You today with a faith that seems so small. I want to believe You, Lord. I want to walk by faith, knowing that You will keep every promise You have ever made. Help my unbelief, Lord.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

Read Psalm 86:15 (NIV) “But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”

What is the first step of faith you need to take today? Are you willing to take that step right now? Record your commitment in your journal and share it with a friend.

More from the Girlfriends

An unshakable faith is the foundation for the abundant life Jesus came to provide for each one of us. In Mary’s powerful message, 4 Steps to an Unshakable Faith, she shares the four steps we can take to cultivate an unshakable faith.

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
P.O. Box 1311
Huntersville, NC 28070

Standing Strong Through the Storm - STRENGTH FROM THE BIBLE

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105

In Eritrea, the government restricts the freedom of religion of faith groups. The only groupings permitted are the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church and Islam. Everyone who is caught at a meeting of believers outside these four official religious groups, even in a private house, can be arrested, tortured and put under pressure to renounce his faith.

Thousands of Christians are being held at police stations, in containers, at military bases and in prisons. Even though many of them have been held for years, none of them has had a trial. In many cases, Christians are also beaten or abused in some other way.

Isaac is one of these prisoners. He heard about God’s love from soldiers in the military unit in which he was fighting during the war with Ethiopia. On the basis of their testimony, he decided to become a Christian and was secretly slipped a Bible. He buried it in the sand and when he had the opportunity, he read the Word of God somewhere outside the army camp. He tried to do so as inconspicuously as possible, but one day he was discovered.

Almost from his first day as a Christian, he was persecuted. He was tortured and even left out in the burning sun, but he refused to renounce his faith. God’s love and God’s Word had become too important for him. In the end, he was locked up, just like other Christian prisoners in Eritrea. He has become a living legend, because he has held on to his faith.

A number of Christian prisoners, who are being held in containers, have been given Bibles in secret. They have divided them into portions, and in this way, each believer has a small part of the Bible. When the container is closed, it is too dark to read. But as soon as the doors are opened to let in some air or to hand out food, something amazing happens. The prisoners do not immediately run outside for fresh air or to eat. First they inconspicuously hold their portions of the Bible to the light in order quickly to be able to read a few verses and to be strengthened by God’s Word.

RESPONSE: Today I will treasure my freedom to read and meditate on God’s Word.

PRAYER: Lord, I pray Your Spirit of Peace upon my brothers and sisters in prison today in Eritrea. May they be encouraged by Your Word!

His Princess Every Day - The Trust Factor

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

My Princess Warrior,

It’s time, My warrior, to surrender your fears, your insecurities, your pain, and your loved ones completely to Me. I want your whole heart and mind and soul to be worry-free. I want your complete trust so you can focus on your faith and be free of the spirit of fear controlling you. Give up the fight of trying to figure it all out. Don’t let your circumstances hold your heart hostage or cause you to lose your confidence in Me. I am asking you on this day to answer this one question: In whom do you place your trust?

Your trustworthy King

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. - Hebrews 10:35–36 (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.

Verse of the Day - June 23, 2016

Isaiah 40:31 (NIV) but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Read all of Isaiah 40