Friday, June 24, 2016

Night Light for Couples - Our Night of Magic

by Charlotte Carpenter

A slow but steady rain came down all that wintry morning and froze where it fell—on the ground, the trees, the buildings. By mid-afternoon the rain had stopped, and we looked on a crystal world. We were accustomed to the white hoarfrost of winter, but this was something else—a hard, clear coating of solid ice. Our five children, ages five to sixteen, returned from school exclaiming about how good the sledding would be on the steep hill in our pasture.

They took out at once, but they never reached their destination, for between home and hill lay a gently rolling, treeless meadow. Here they found that their sleds would speed over the ice from fence to fence with only the weight of their bodies to keep them going. What fun they had. When they came home to chores and supper, they were so excited. “Mom and Dad, you’ve got to come with us down to the pasture tonight,” they said. They had never seen ice so slippery that they didn’t need a hill for coasting on their sleds.

Why should fortyish parents risk life and limb by going out on a dangerously slick night? They begged until we simply could not refuse them.

Gingerly we made our way to the meadow. Even with rubber footgear, we found it hard to walk. The sleds we pulled kept sliding into the backs of our legs. It was very cold, and my husband, the practical one, carried an armload of wood to build a fire.

We will never forget the unbelievably beautiful sight that met our eyes when we reached the meadow. The moon and stars, shining brilliantly as they do only on clear, cold nights, turned the meadow into a lake of glass. We built our fire at the top of a slight incline. The ice reflected us, and the leaping flames danced on the ice.

Again and again the children and sleds flew over the ground. If two rode together, the sled went faster—so fast the riders could barely turn in time to avoid crashing into the fence. The littlest ones rode back to the starting point, easily pulled by older brothers. We parents envied them—the hardest part for us was walking back after the ride. We left most of the sledding to our children and stayed near the fire, absorbed in the dreamlike magic of the night.

We all felt so good when we started back that we hardly noticed our cold feet and tired bodies.

“Will the ice still be here tomorrow?” one of the children asked.

“Probably not if the sun shines,” I answered. And sure enough, by midmorning the ice was gone, leaving only an expanse of brown grass.

To this day, when we’re in the meadow, whether it’s covered with the luxuriant green of summer or the white snow of winter, we remember the wonder of that night. Despite six other witnesses I harbor a slight doubt that it was real, for the experience seems like something we must have imagined.

My husband and I learned several things that night: to enjoy an interlude of joy when it comes; not to put off our children when they find something wonderful and so unusual that it may never happen again; and not to say, “We’re too busy now. It will have to wait.” We go with them to see a new calf, a robin on the lawn, a butterfly or bug. We share their excitement over a ballgame, a school play, or graduation. For now we know this: Refuse to take the time, and you will miss something precious to hold in memory. A magical sledding on glass in the starlight may happen only once in a lifetime.

Looking ahead…

Young children view the world with a unique blend of awe and urgency. Everything, from a rainbow to a chocolate sundae, is new and exciting to them. And everything needs to be experienced right now!

We sometimes get impatient with this perspective—yet we could learn from it. For as we plow through our endless list of chores and responsibilities, postponing time with our loved ones, life hurtles by— like a sled in a meadow of ice. Before we know it, we’re standing before heaven’s gates, wondering how we got there so fast. Don’t miss the precious nights of magic on the way.

- James C Dobson

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
“Our Night of Magic” by Charlotte Carpenter. © 1993. Excerpted from Legacies, ed. Maury Leibovitz and Linda Solomon, published by HarperCollins. Reprinted with permission.

Men of the Bible - Elisha

His name means: "My God Saves"

His work: Elisha was Elijah's successor. A prophet and miracle worker active in the northern kingdom from 850-800 BC, his ministry involved rebuking Israel's unfaithful kings, inaugurating a new royal line, and helping to sustain the faith of all those in Israel who believed in God.
His character: Elisha renounced the life he could have had as the son of a wealthy man to live as a prophet. His single-hearted devotion to the Lord made him a spiritual leader whose integrity, vision, and courage helped sustain the people's faith in God.
His sorrow: He wept when given a vision of how much Israel would suffer at the hands of the king of Syria.
His triumph: Elisha asked to inherit a double portion of Elijah's spirit, the portion reserved for the eldest son, and received it.
Key Scriptures: 1 Kings 19:19-21; 2 Kings 2:1-14; 4:1-7; 6:8-23; 13:21

A Look at the Man

Elisha was a man who was never deceived by appearances. Perhaps this is what it means to be a prophet—to have a vision that extends beyond what is merely apparent, to be able to penetrate a set of circumstances to perceive what is really going on. Because of his relationship with God, Elisha was able to live with a keen awareness of both the natural and supernatural aspects of life. He understood that what happens in heaven affects life on earth and that what we do on earth has ramifications in heaven.

When Elisha learned that his city was surrounded, he showed no sign of terror as an ordinary man might have. Instead, he looked up and saw the hills covered with horses and chariots of fire; the army of heaven stood ready to protect him. In the midst of what looked like certain defeat, his ability to perceive reality enabled him to remain calm and confident. Rather than cowering or despairing, he was able to encourage his servant with the truth, saying, "Don't be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them."

Elisha's enemies, on the other hand, were at a keen disadvantage. Blinded by an act of God, they became fools—prisoners of the man they had meant to take captive. The truth about their ridiculous predicament only became apparent once Elisha asked God to open their eyes again.

Seeing and not seeing—believing and not believing—these are the connections that determine our understanding of the world around us. As we wait for understanding concerning our own difficulties or for the grace to endure without fully understanding them, we can recall Elisha's words: "Don't be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them."

Reflect On: 2 Kings 2:5–15
Praise God: For speaking to us through his prophets.
Offer Thanks: For the ways God has challenged you through others.
Confess: Any failure to respond to God’s corrective word.
Ask God: For a greater sense of what it means to live every day for his kingdom.

Today's reading is a brief excerpt from Men of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Men in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Robert Wolgemuth (Zondervan). © 2010 by Ann Spangler. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Enjoy the complete book by purchasing your own copy at the Bible Gateway Store. The book's title must be included when sharing the above content on social media.

His Princess Every Day - His Direction

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

My Daughter,

Many times your ways may appear to be better than Mine, at least in your own mind. What I ask may at times feel uncomfortable or sacrificial, but I would rather you be in discomfort than experience the destruction of living your own way. I’m asking you to trust Me, even when it’s hard to do what I ask of you. When you obey, honor, and respect Me as your heavenly Father, I will give you so much more than what you willingly give up for Me. In the end, you will stay strong in your faith, and your heart will remain at peace regardless of any trials this life brings. My ways are not your ways, My beloved. They are higher and they are greater. My rules are effective, but they are not easy. It is in your righteous discomfort that you will remain safe and secure under My wing.

Your God of comfort

Pride goes before destruction,
and haughtiness before a fall. - Proverbs 16:18

Treasure of Truth

Discomfort is far better than destruction.

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 - Fruitful Desert

We hope you are enjoying the Girlfriends in God daily devotions. We (Mary, Sharon, and Gwen) would like to introduce you to some of our special friends. From time-to-time, the Friday devotions will be written by one of our friends in ministry. We call them our Friday Friends. So grab your Bible and a fresh cup of coffee and drink in the words from our Friday Friend,
Jennifer Kennedy Dean.

Today’s Truth 

The LORD your God has blessed you in everything you have done. He has watched your every step through this great wilderness. During these forty years, the LORD your God has been with you, and you have lacked nothing (Deuteronomy 2: 7).

Friend to Friend

Desert times are fruitful times. Though they seem barren, lush fruit is being produced in our lives when we walk through the desert.
“The LORD your God has blessed you in everything you have done. He has watched your every step through this great wilderness. During these forty years, the LORD your God has been with you, and you have lacked nothing” (Deuteronomy 2: 7).
As we see in this verse, God shows us who He is by what He does. We see His promises worked out in the lives of His people and know that the same God is working in our lives.
Moses is reminding God’s people of the ways God has been faithful and of how His hand has been on them every step of their forty-year journey in the wilderness. Can you relate to a wilderness journey? Life’s path takes all of us into desert territory from time to time. Sometimes the terrain is brutal and the sun scorching. We feel parched and desperate for a relief that seems not to come. And just like the Israelites, we can see God’s hand most clearly in retrospect.
When we are in the middle of a desert trek, God’s hand seems absent, blinded as we are by the glaring circumstances. But when we emerge from that leg of the journey, we can look back and see that God has watched over our every step. The journey was hard and went on longer than we thought we could bear. But here we stand. All the way through the desert, just when we thought we couldn’t last another day, God’s mercy met us in some observable way: a kind word, an unexpected provision, or a “chance” encounter. The assurance of His presence always came.
The desert has things to teach us. We learn things there that we can’t learn anywhere else. We see the careful provision of our Father in a different light. His love stands out in stark relief against the background of the desert’s barren landscape. In the wilderness, we come to the end of ourselves. We learn in new and deeper ways to cling to Him and wait for Him. When we come out of the desert, the desert lessons stay with us. We take them with us into the next stretch. We remember the God who led us through the desert, and we know that He is with us still.
The Lord will sanctify your desert times and make them to be fruitful in your life. 

Let’s Pray
Dear Lord, I know that wherever I am, You are with me—guiding, protecting, providing. You make a mountain into a way; You make streams flow in the desert; You cause a root to grow out of dry ground. Thank You for giving me the opportunity to see You work when all hope seems lost.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

Looking back, what do you now know of God that you would not know if you had never walked through a desert?

Are you in a desert now? Can you see glimpses of God’s provision?

If you are in a desert right now, name the things you fear. “I fear _______________.” Then recognize that is a lie the enemy is trying to make you believe. He is feeding you this lie to rob you of faith. Name the fear and then choose to believe the opposite.

*All Scripture references are taken from the NIV unless otherwise noted.

More from the Girlfriends

I have been thinking, studying, teaching and writing on prayer since I was 20 years old. Forty-plus years. From the beginning, my quest has been to know the difference between a prayer life and a praying life. I want to know how to hear God’s present voice in His living Word, and I want to live and move in a present-tense relationship with the Living Jesus. My books The One Year Praying the Promises of God and Conversations With the Most High come out of those twin desires.

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 - HOLY SPIRIT CALLING

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. John 16:13

Johnny Li of Nexus ministry shares today the story of his “calling” by God’s Holy Spirit:

“Your son asked me to come and visit you!” As I spoke these words to the elderly man in front of me, I could see the utter surprise and even confusion in his eyes. Suddenly the man grabbed me and quickly jerked me inside the small room.

My mind began to retrace my steps and all the events that had led to this: first meeting young Brother Wang in Hong Kong after his daring escape from China; then the challenging request from my pastor to take Bibles to the family of Brother Wang in China; then the daring and dangerous expedition that led me here.

Mrs. Wang quickly excused herself and I spent the next hour bringing greetings and love from Brother Wang as well as all the other believers from our small church in Hong Kong. Curious about the sudden disappearance of Mrs. Wang I enquired where she went. “She is in the room next door praying for our safety,” Brother Wang’s father replied.

After memorable fellowship, the final words of Brother Wang Sr. pierced my heart. “You must come again,” he pleaded.

I smiled politely but in my heart I knew I would not likely return. The trip was much too risky and dangerous for my liking. Being Chinese I knew that my destiny would be prison if I were caught. “You must come again and bring more Bibles,” old Brother Wang pleaded as if he could read my troubled mind. I gave the only correct answer I could think of. “I will pray about it.”

In a daze I walked to the train station and boarded the first train home to safety. My heart was torn because this was the country responsible for arresting my mother and causing me to grow up as an orphan. I decided I would not return! Then I heard the unmistakable voice of the Holy Spirit, “Do you need a calling, Johnny?”

“Lord what do you mean,” I asked? “You have seen the need. You have heard my voice. Why do you need a ‘calling’ to respond?” I knew I had no choice. The Lord had spoken. I knew this was the way for me.

This was thirty years ago and Johnny Li has been an immense blessing in assisting the fast-growing church in China. He’s been responsible for producing the first Chinese Children’s Bible in modern Chinese and has delivered thousands of Bibles and other Christian literature into China. Today he trains Chinese missionaries committed to take the Gospel to the Muslim world.

RESPONSE: Today I will listen to the Spirit’s voice before making decisions and plans.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to listen to Your Spirit’s direction in my life since He will direct my steps.

Verse of the Day - June 24, 2016

2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NIV) But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

Read all of 2 Thessalonians 3