Monday, June 27, 2016

Night Light for Couples - Christmas Memories

“I thank my God every time I remember you.” Philippians 1:3

Some of my (jcd’s) favorite memories are from the Christmas season. I remember the year my father returned from the bank with twenty crisp, new one‐dollar bills. Those were the days when a dollar would buy a meal. He attached a Merry Christmas note to each bill and handed one to the newsboy, the shoeshine man, the postman, and seventeen others. He was simply thanking them for being his friends.

Another memory was made years later when Shirley, the kids, and I flew to Kansas City to spend the holidays with my parents. When I stepped off the plane and into the terminal, I caught sight of my father. He had a twinkle in his eyes and a smile on his face; Mom also was aglow with excitement. Their family had come home. I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.

Every season offers opportunities for unforgettable moments to share with your spouse and family. Seize them—and savor them.

Just between us…
  • What is your favorite holiday? Why?
  • What is your fondest memory of a holiday season we’ve spent together?
  • What can we do to keep alive the memory of all our special moments?
  • How can we make our faith a more central part of our family celebrations?
Lord, thank You for giving us “the heritage of those who fear Your name.” Thank You for the many special times You have given us and for the wonderful memories that go with them. May we recognize and cherish these gifts and pass them on to our children. Amen.

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

NIV Devotions for Women - God‘s Better Way

Micah 4:1–13

Things weren’t going Luci’s way at work. She worked longer and harder than ever without recognition and with no promotion in sight.

Even though she didn’t like change, she started looking for another job. The one most intriguing to her seemed like a long shot—way out of her league. However, just as she was getting ready to accept another offer, the long shot came in. She was the company’s top pick.

It was a perfect match. Luci couldn’t have dreamed of a better job. Looking back, she realized she would never have sought the job if things at her old company hadn’t become difficult. She wouldn’t have chosen to have things turn sour so she would want to leave. At the time, the thought of moving to a new job seemed impossible. And scary.

But God wanted her to experience more. He wanted the best for her. And she would never have found his best if she hadn’t experienced trouble at work. God allowed the problems and ultimately used them for her good, even though at the time it had been a mystery to her. She did not “know the thoughts of the LORD” (Micah 4:12). Many times, neither do we.

Micah spoke of a future time when Jerusalem would experience peace . . . a time when war would end. At the time, it seemed like a crazy message. Things were more than uncomfortable; they were downright horrible. The armies of Babylon had destroyed the temple, killed people and tortured many more. Yet Micah said peace was coming. It didn’t seem possible.

Sometimes, the things God promises for our future don’t seem at all likely in light of what we’re experiencing today. From our limited perspective, we don’t see the big picture, only a tiny thumbnail print. Like Luci, we may be experiencing something difficult or uncomfortable that will result in something better. It’s important to remember that sometimes our troubles are only a momentary detour leading us to God’s best for us.

  1. How has God used a difficult situation in your past for your good?
  2. Is there a situation in your life right now that you can look at from a fresh perspective?
  3. How can you share your experiences with someone else who needs encouragement today? 
Micah 4:12  But they do not know the thoughts of the LORD; they do not understand his plan, that he has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor.

Related Readings

Psalms 92:4–5; 94:11; Isaiah 55:8–9; 1 Corinthians 3:18–20

His Princess Every Day - I Will Give You New Sight

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

My beloved,

Let me settle something in your mind and soul, once and for all, my bride. I don’t see you as you see yourself. You see your sin and I see a forgiven princess. You see who you were and I see who you will become as I crown you in My Glory. You give yourself guilt and I give you grace. You hold yourself hostage to your past; I give you the key to freedom in me. You are lovely in my eyes and nothing you could say or do will change this truth. Now let me open your eyes to all I've done for you, that you may have a new view of you!

Your Prince and new Life

"Come now, let’s settle this," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool." - Isaiah 1:18

Prayer to my Prince

My Gracious Lord,

Thank you, Lord, for being the prince of peace and a place of rest for my restless soul. You are right, Lord--I struggle to let go of guilt and receive your grace. I need you to open my eyes to your truth. May I leave the prison of my past forever, and place my life in your hands from this day forward.

Your Princess who now sees clearly

This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” - Romans 1:17

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.

Women of the Bible - Jezebel

Her name means: "Where Is the Prince?"

Her character: A religious woman, she spread idolatry throughout Israel. Powerful, cunning, and arrogant, she actively opposed God, even in the face of indisputable proofs of his sovereignty.
Her triumph: To have enhanced her own power at the expense of others.
Her tragedy: Her arrogance led to a shameless death.
Key Scriptures: 1 Kings 16:29-33; 18:1-19:2; 21:1-25; 2 Kings 9

Her Story

Jezebel was a Phoenician princess, daughter of the priest-king of Sidon. Married to King Ahab, she reigned as queen in northern Israel one hundred years after David's death and sixty years after Israel split into northern and southern kingdoms just after Solomon's death.

A woman of great conviction and unwavering devotion, Jezebel's ardent worship was directed not to the God of Israel but to the pagan fertility god Baal, thought to control the rain and hence the harvest. So determined was she to convert Israel to her own religion that she hunted down and killed all the prophets she could lay hands on, replacing them with 850 of her own.

Despite Jezebel's efforts, one prophet had escaped her, and he was the most annoying of all. His name was Elijah, which meant "My God Is Yahweh." By contrast, Jezebel meant "Where Is the Prince (Baal)?" or "The Prince (Baal) Exists." Inevitably, the two squared off.

By pushing Baal worship, Jezebel was spreading idolatry across Israel, but her brand of worship wasn't producing the desired results for the fields remained barren. The fertility gods, it seemed, had gone AWOL or else they were impotent.

Elijah, meanwhile, warned King Ahab: "As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word."

After three-and-a-half years of drought and famine, Elijah challenged the king to assemble the prophets of Baal and Asherah to compete in a lopsided contest—850 to 1. Two bulls were prepared for sacrifice, but the fire for sacrifice was not lit. Instead, the true God would prove himself by sending fire from heaven.

From morning until noon Baal's prophets danced and shouted, "O Baal, answer us!" But the god of the storm was silent.

Relishing the spectacle, Elijah couldn't resist a few well-aimed taunts: "Shout louder! Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened." Elijah's sarcasm spurred the prophets of Baal to more frenzied efforts, but that day Baal, the god of fire, couldn't even light a match.

Then Elijah's turn came. To dramatize the difficulty of his task, he drenched the sacrifice with water not once but three times, praying: "O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command."

Immediately, fire burned up the sacrifice. Rallying the people, Elijah then slaughtered Jezebel's 850 prophets.

Enraged at the news, the queen sent a messenger to Elijah, vowing to kill him. But he fled south, beyond her grasp.

Still, Jezebel kept busy, managing to find other targets for her schemes. One day she discovered her husband, Ahab, in a childish rage. Pouting, Ahab confided his troubles to her. Naboth, his near neighbor, had a lovely vineyard that the king desired. It would make such a nice vegetable garden. Yet his stingy subject refused to sell it.

"Is this how you act as king over Israel?" Jezebel challenged. "Get up and eat! Cheer up. I'll get you the vineyard."

Jezebel wrote a letter in Ahab's name and sent it to the elders of the town instructing them to produce witnesses to testify falsely that Naboth had cursed both God and the king, offenses punishable by death.

Ahab felt better when he heard the news that Naboth had been stoned to death as a traitor. Now his table would be laden with delicious vegetables straight from the garden. But then who should show up but Elijah, interrupting the king's leisurely stroll through his new garden.

"So you have found me, my enemy," the king greeted him.

"I have found you," Elijah replied, "because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord. I am going to bring disaster on you. I will consume your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. And also, concerning Jezebel, the Lord says: 'Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.' "

Elijah's words came true. Ahab eventually died in battle, the dogs licking the blood from his chariot. Jezebel, however, survived him by at least ten years. Then one day, a man called Jehu came riding into Jezreel to carry out the last half of Elijah's prophecy.

Tough as nails, Jezebel stood proudly at the window of her palace. Never one to back away from a challenge, Jezebel seized the initiative, shouting at Jehu: "Have you come in peace, Zimri (the name of a traitor), you murderer of your master?"

But Jehu simply ignored her, challenging those who stood near her. "Who is on my side? Throw her down!" Quickly, Jezebel's servants shoved her through the window. The palace walls were splattered a bloody red as horses trampled her body and the palace dogs finished the job. A powerful figure while she lived, hardly anything of her remained just shortly after her death.

Paired with Israel's worst king, Jezebel was the nation's worst queen and one of the Bible's most infamous women. How different her story would have been had she harnessed her power, her drive, and her devotion. A strong character, Jezebel could have been a female apostle Paul, whose misguided zeal was redirected toward the kingdom of God. Instead, unlike many biblical figures who are depicted with a mixture of good and bad traits, she stands out as someone purely evil, whose moral character is one-dimensional. Totally devoted to her gods, she reflected their image completely. Despite obvious miracles and repeated warnings, she was a woman who chose to harden her heart and suffer the consequences.

Her Promise

Jezebel's end (2 Kings 9:33-37) is exactly what Elijah had earlier prophesied for her (1 Kings 21:23). No doubt judgment for her wicked life was swift and sure. It's hard to reconcile this aspect of our God with our image of him as loving and compassionate, yet he is a God who hates evil and will surely punish it. If, however, we come to him for forgiveness and reconciliation, he is also a God who loves to show mercy.

Standing Strong Through the Storm - PRISON PRAYER MIRACLE

So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. Acts 12:5

Nadia was in a prison in the Middle East for some months because she was a believer from Muslim background. She told the prison officials that she would not give them any information about the people she knew or about her husband, only about herself. This led her to being placed in an isolation cell for four days. The cell was small and extremely cold. There was no toilet or washing facilities at all.

“At one point,” Nadia reported, “I was feeling very cold and found the whole experience tough. Suddenly though, I felt warm air blowing in my face. So warm, in fact, that when I breathed in and the air hit my lungs I had to cough.”

She had no idea where the warmth was coming from and at the same time she became very joyful. This sense of joy overwhelmed her so much that she began to dance in the cell. Yet, at the same time, she also felt confused. How could she feel warm and joyful in a cold prison cell, she asked herself?

“Then I heard a voice,” said Nadia. She emphasized that it wasn’t an internal voice but audible, “as if someone in the cell was saying, ‘That is because people are praying for you. This is the Spirit of happiness that has come upon you. Receive it.’”

Later on, after her release, Nadia shared her amazing experience in the cell with her sister. Asking when it had happened, Nadia’s sister mentioned the same exact day and time when thirty-two believers had met to pray for Nadia and another believer in prison. Two of the participants had been appointed to represent Nadia and the other Christian. The remaining thirty believers gathered around them to ask God to comfort them, to fill them with joy and send His Spirit of happiness upon them.” They were deeply encouraged to hear Nadia’s experience.

Pastor Gambo Boka from northern Nigeria was falsely accused and sentenced by the Islamic court to three years of imprisonment. When he was put in prison, together with five other falsely accused Christians, he said, “God has a purpose in all of this. My soul is at rest.”

Though he lost weight and became weak, his faith became increasingly strong. He shared the Gospel with many fellow prisoners, who were almost all Muslims. “I experience comfort in this terrible place.” said Gambo. “I know that God’s promises are true.”

The Islamic court gave Pastor Gambo thirty days to appeal. While members of Pastor Gambo’s church prayed, God performed a miracle. Gambo and the other five Christians were acquitted by an Islamic court because of a lack of evidence. “This is God’s grace,” said one of the church members. “Our prayers have been heard and my faith has been strengthened. God’s promises are so special!”

Pastor Gambo and the other five Christians left the court singing, thanking God for His intervention.

RESPONSE: Today I will remember that God’s promises are true and He still performs miracles.

PRAYER: Pray earnestly today for Christians around the world in prison for their faith.

Girlfriends in God - Choose Peace Over Worry

by Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

Give all your worries to Him, because He cares about you (1 Peter 5:7, NIV).

Friend to Friend

My husband often says there are two kinds of people in the world. Some people have ulcers, and some people give them. Can you relate? I certainly can.

Sandpaper people are definitely ulcer giving people unless we learn to choose peace over worry when dealing with them. Getting along with people who rub you the wrong way is difficult at best and can sometimes make peace seem impossible to find. That is only true if peace is dependent on outer circumstances.

It isn’t.

Peace is an inside job and comes only from God. Nothing can take the place of peace, and it is impossible to counterfeit.

Sandpaper people are not peaceful people. One of the very reasons they are rough around the edges is because they are not at rest – with God, with themselves or with others. They may not know God. If they do have a personal relationship with Him, they may not understand who they are in Him and who He wants to be to them.

Sandpaper people continually arrange the circumstances of their lives to set themselves up for failure, proving to everyone, including God and even their own heart, that what everyone believes about them is true – they are worthless. We must not be fooled by their temper tantrums, their boisterous antics, or their brooding silences – all traps of their own making that sooner or later will imprison them in disappointment and defeat. Worry is their jailor ... and can imprison each one of us unless we learn to deal with worry and anxiety.

Worry is a control issue. It is playing God, foolishly thinking we can handle difficult relationships on our own. Every time we choose to worry, we are choosing not to trust God.

Isaiah 26:3 “You, LORD, give true peace to those who depend on You, because they trust You.”

Have you ever noticed that the sandpaper people thrive on drama? Everything is a big deal! Drama flows freely through the veins of every sandpaper person I have ever met. Under the spotlight of opportunity, everything, no matter how insignificant it may seem, escalates into a major crisis filled with worry, distorting what is real.

In 1 Peter 5:7 we discover the secret of handling worry - by casting every care on Him. “Give all your worries to Him, because He cares about you.” I love this verse because in essence it is saying God has volunteered to be the dumping ground for every fear, every worry, and every difficult relationship. We must learn to take those difficult people to God and leave them there, in the palm of His hand. I know they will come crawling back into your peace, but stand firm in your resolve to keep taking them back to the place of wholeness.

Queen Esther is an amazing example of a woman who learned how to choose peace over worry. She was confronted with a frightening set of circumstances and had every right to worry:
  • She was taken from her home for the second time since birth.
  • She was thrust into the overwhelming role of queen.
  • She was the wife of a king.
  • She faced her foremost sandpaper person, an evil man named Haman who plotted to kill her and her people.
  • She was responsible for the future of a whole nation.
Talk about the perfect chance to work up a huge mountain of worry! Instead, Esther chose to trust God. After fasting and praying, she threw every fear on God, including her fear of Haman. Because she chose peace over worry, Esther’s problem was resolved and peace reigned in her heart.

I think we sometimes miss the solution to handling our sandpaper people because we have allowed worry to take us hostage. Right now, choose peace and “do not worry about anything. But pray and ask God for everything you need. And when you pray, always give thanks. And God's peace will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. The peace that God gives is so great that we cannot understand it” (Philippians 4:6-7 ICB).

When we choose peace, we are paving the way for difficult people to encounter the Prince of Peace Himself. Choose peace over worry!

Let’s Pray

Father, please forgive me when I give in to fear and worry instead of stepping out in faith and believing You. Help me learn how to capture my thoughts and train them to focus on You. I want to become a woman who trusts You – no matter how difficult some of the people in my life may be. My faith is small, but I now choose to place it in You.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

Think about the most difficult relationship in your life. How has worry about that relationship affected your life?

What step do you need to take that will help you choose peace over worry in this relationship? What is keeping you from taking that step? Choose now to relinquish that person to God.

More from the Girlfriends

Need help learning how to love and deal with the difficult people in your life? Get Mary’s book, Sandpaper People. Perfect for personal and small group study. A chapter-by-chapter study guide included.
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

Salt and Light - June 27, 2016

Verse of the Day - June 27, 2016

Matthew 16:25 (NIV) For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

Read all of Matthew 16