Friday, July 1, 2016

Men of the Bible - Naaman

His name means: "Pleasantness"

His work: Naaman was the commander of Syria's army.
His character: A brave man lauded for his military victories, his position would have guaranteed considerable respect in both Syria (known as Aram) and Israel. He would have been accustomed to getting his way, especially with social inferiors, which is what he may have considered Elisha and most everyone else in Israel. His no-nonsense approach made it difficult for him to follow Elisha's instructions.
His sorrow: Naaman suffered from leprosy, not the illness we call Hansen's Disease, but a skin disorder so serious that he left his country to seek healing in Israel.
His triumph: To have received not only the healing he asked for, but a relationship with the one true God.
Key Scriptures: 2 Kings 5; Luke 4:27

A Look at the Man

Naaman, a man whose success as a military commander placed him close to the king of Syria, was faced with a choice. Listen to his wife's servant girl, to the lowly messenger of a prophet, and to one of his own servants, and obey. Or return home with his dignity intact but without the healing he longed for. It wasn't an easy choice for a proud man to make. Give up your sense of how things should go, of how people should treat you, of how you should conduct yourself for the chance—not the certainty—of being healed.

Naaman nearly made the mistake of cherishing his pride at the cost of the miracle he desired. Yet something inside him asserted itself, some hope that perhaps the prophet's crazy instructions were not as crazy as they seemed. So he took a chance, deciding to let go of his own ideas of how his healing should be accomplished, deciding to let go of his own perceptions of how the universe should be ordered.

Naaman's obedience would have felt uncomfortable. How much easier it would have been to play it safe and do what came naturally—to nurse his anger and preserve his dignity. Instead, Naaman did exactly as he was told, and his obedience opened his heart to a greater miracle than the one for which he longed. Instead of a proud man, he became a humble one. Instead of a man incapable of knowing God, he became a man who knew and celebrated the fact that in all the earth there is only one God, the God who loved him and made him whole.

Reflect On: 2 Kings 5:15–17
Praise God: For offering salvation as a free gift to all.
Offer Thanks: For God’s gift of salvation to you.
Confess: Any tendency you may have to think that God cannot or will not work in the lives of certain individuals, groups, or nations.
Ask God: To give you a heart as loving as his for those who are far from him.

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 Light

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

My Daughter,

There will be times when I seem to be allowing you to walk in the darkness. You never have to worry when it is dark because I am your light. As your faithful Father, I don’t want you to wander away from Me. If it takes darkness to make you desperate for My light, then it’s worth losing your sight so you can see Me clearly. When you feel lost, don’t look to others for the light; get on your knees and call out to Me. I will come to your rescue every time. Your faith will soar when you let go of what you see in the natural light. As long as you let My Word and My instruction illuminate where you walk, you will not stumble or fear what you cannot see. My desire for you, My daughter, is that you no longer be controlled by what you see but live by what you know to be true about Me. From this day forward, may you choose to never again doubt in the darkness what you know to be true in the light!

Your faithful Father

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. - 2 Corinthians 4:6

Treasure of Truth

Your Father sees perfectly what you cannot. He will remove any obstacle in the way of His will.

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 - Whose Voice Do You Hear?

Today’s Truth

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10, NIV).

Friend to Friend

I taught third grade for several years while my husband Dan attended Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. I was fortunate to be assigned to one of the largest and best elementary schools in town. My class was one of seven third-grade classes.

Anyone who has ever taught school knows that the first few days of school are always chaotic.

The PE teacher was a welcome sight when she appeared at my door to take the students out to the playground. After PE it was the responsibility of each teacher to pick up her students. Seven teachers trying to get the attention of over 200 students was especially interesting on the first or second day of school when the teachers did not know their students and the students did not know their teachers.

But an amazing thing happened every year. After the first few days of school, all of the third grade teachers lined up to gather their children from the playground. It took only a word or two for the kids to come running. They quickly learned to recognize the voice of their new teacher because they listened to her voice all day long in the classroom.

We must do the same.

In every circumstance and situation, we need to listen for His voice ... above all the other voices in our lives.
And we must spend time with Him in order to recognize His voice.

Being wrapped up in God’s work can easily become a shabby substitute for being wrapped up in His presence. The paradox is that we can only be wrapped up in God’s presence when we stop and learn how to wait on Him.

While I absolutely hate to wait on anyone or for anything, I am learning that there is a divine purpose and sacred power made available to us in every waiting room of life.

Waiting robs me of control. I am forced to face the unknown. Waiting on God may well provide the catalyst that will change my very life course. In each waiting room, He is at work preparing me for the circumstance and preparing the circumstance for me.

“Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5:3 nlt).

From those still, quiet moments of waiting and seeking comes a sacred balance that takes root and grows. It is through the choice to wait on God that a seeking heart finds every need met and light in the darkness.
We not only must stop and be still in order to sit at the feet of Jesus, we must learn to listen. Deuteronomy 30:19-20 instructs us with these words: “Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life."

I know there are many voices that clamor for our attention. The key to a balanced life is to train our hearts toward God and teach our spiritual ears to listen for His voice above all the others.

Sitting at the feet of Jesus resets our life focus. It is in those moments when we have stopped long enough to hear Him speak that the battle for balance is won. It is after we have been still before Him that we are empowered to embrace a life of balance.

Let’s Pray

Father, I desperately need Your guidance in setting the priorities and goals in my life. I want to please You and do what You alone have created me to do. Please help me see and do Your plan.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn 
  • Set aside 30 minutes this week to spend alone with God.
  • Examine your life for areas that are out of balance.
  • Surrender that imbalance to God and ask Him to show you how to abide in Him instead of relying upon yourself and your own strength.

More from the Girlfriends

The reality is that a perfectly balanced life was lived only once on this earth – by Jesus Christ. My chances of doing so are slim. It would be so easy to just throw my hands in the air or dive back under the covers and pray that the world will just go away and leave me alone. Been there? You are not alone, girlfriend. We are all in different seasons of life, but the struggle is the same – learning to put God first and then allowing Him to set the agenda for each day. Need help? My book, Escaping the Stress Trap is a verse-by-verse study of Psalm 23 and a great guide for learning how to abide in God. Check it out!

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 - OUR SACRIFICES, NOT OUR ACHIEVEMENTS

…now God is building you, as living stones into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are God’s holy priests, who offer the spiritual sacrifices that please him because of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5

Our Open Doors colleague, Ron Boyd-MacMillan, shares the following insight from his teaching, “Why I Need to Encounter the Persecuted Church.”

When I lived in Los Angeles, I was always stressed about one key question—am I fulfilling my potential? Everywhere I drove, I was surrounded by advertisements telling me that I was not earning enough, that I needed to have an “attitude transplant.” I worried about whether I should take more courses in the elusive search for more success. My friends were actors and actresses desperate to attract the attention of some film producer, and working a couple of part-time jobs in the vain hope that someday, they will be discovered. I too always felt unfulfilled.

But is the purpose of my life really to maximize my potential? A visit to the persecuted soon cured me of that idea. This fact becomes clear—fulfilling one’s potential cannot possibly be the purpose to life because so few actually get the opportunity to do so!

Look at the millions of Christians in China’s house churches. All of them live lives in which—for want of a better term—they are trapped. They do not have choices. Because of their Christianity, many are denied access to education, or are barred from developing promising careers. I sat in a house church of seventy peasant Christians, and wondered, how many great scientists, violin players, or philosophers could be in here, but they and the world will never know, because they never had the chance to study, learn algebra, or hold a musical instrument.

Would God really make a world where only a tiny minority could fulfill their life’s purpose, and doom the rest of us to a lifetime of frustration?

We were studying 1st Peter one night, and suddenly I had an insight while reading chapter 2 verse 5. It struck me: God makes each life that is yielded to him a living stone in building his temple. That’s why we are alive. That’s the purpose of it all. We are all made to become a stone in his spiritual temple, his eternal kingdom. And everybody gets the opportunity to become a “living stone” just by virtue of giving our lives to him. We are priests because we offer a sacrifice. That sacrifice is the only one we can make—that of our lives. And so we find the purpose for which God made the world—to build a kingdom of worshippers for Himself. That old man in the house church whose back is bent double from a life in the rice paddies is a living stone. That woman whose baby was taken away during the Cultural Revolution because she was a Christian is also a living stone. No one wastes their life who gives it to Jesus. They are placed into an eternal structure—the kingdom of God, and will rejoice forever in that status.

No one goes unfulfilled because God builds his kingdom on our sacrifices, not on our achievements.

RESPONSE: Today I will be fulfilled as a “living stone” for God and offer Him the sacrifice of my life.

PRAYER: Thank You Lord that I don’t need to spend my life seeking fulfillment other than in You!

Verse of the Day - July 01, 2016

Romans 12:3 (NIV) [ Humble Service in the Body of Christ ] For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Read all of Romans 12