Monday, July 4, 2016

Night Light for Couples - “Then You Came”

“Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:8

The young husband was desperate. His wife had abandoned him and their two children weeks before. Though she still called occasionally, he had no idea where she was. On the phone, he pleaded with her to come home and told her how much he and the children loved her, yet she continually rebuffed him. Was it time to give up and move on?

No. The husband used his meager savings to hire a detective, who found his wife living in a third‐rate hotel across the country. The husband borrowed money for a plane ticket. Soon he was on her doorstep saying, “We love you so much. Won’t you come home?” She fell apart in his arms, and they went home together.

Weeks later he asked why she hadn’t come when he expressed his love repeatedly on the phone. “Because,” she answered, “those were only words before. But then you came.”

True love is more than words. It may involve flying across the country, even when it costs you your last nickel, to bring your spouse home.

Just between us…
  • How have I shown you my love this week?
  • If “actions speak louder than words,” are my deeds shouting or whispering my love for you?
  • What can I do this week to show my love for you?
  • How, specifically, did Jesus show us His love?
Dear Lord Jesus, we want both our words and our actions to say “love” in personal, powerful, and positive ways. Show us new ways to “honor one another above ourselves.” Amen.

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
Illustration from Jumping Hurdles, Hitting Glitches, overcoming Setbacks by Steve Brown (Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress Publishing Group, 1992).

A prayer for Independence Day

Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

NIV Devotions for Women - Bullies

Nahum 1:1–15

Every schoolyard has them. They’re the nemesis of every 43-pound weakling and pig-tailed girl with lunch money. They are the menaces of the playground. It seems they never get caught—and there are very few who can or will stand up to them.

At this time in history, the biggest bullies on Israel’s block were the Assyrians. The Ninevites, who lived in the capital city of Assyria, were vicious and arrogant. Hearing their name made the Israelites cringe and whimper. One hundred years earlier, Jonah had tried to run away from them, and for good reason. Their war crimes were legendary.

And dear Nahum, whose name means, “comfort,” brings Israel some good news: The big bully is finally going to get his due. And who will avenge them? God himself. Jonah had demonstrated God’s compassion toward the bullies and had given them a chance to change. Now, a century after their short-lived revival, Nahum lets them have it.

Nahum draws a terrifying cosmic portrait of the God who can make short work of any bully, no matter how big and pushy. God is slow to anger; he is not impulsive. But when he has waited with infinite patience for the guilty to change, watch out! The most powerful forces of nature—the whirlwind, the storm, the earthquake and the flood—are but a shadow of God’s awesome power; they are his tools, as a hammer is the tool of a worker. The real force is the strength behind the hammer. And this worker, Israel’s God, has declared of the bullies, “They will be destroyed and pass away” (verse 12).

But Nahum’s portrait is a study in contrasts and mystery: God is also “good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him” (verse 7). God is both stern and kind, just and loving.

The world is full of bullies. Maybe they’ve never looked at Nahum’s portrait of God. The sight should strike as much terror in their hearts as looking up into the eye of a whirlwind. But as for you, keep Nahum’s portrait in mind the next time you face a bully. God sees injustice and, in his time, will avenge the helpless and the innocent. If Jonah’s story reminds us that their day may not be today, then Nahum assures us that their day will certainly come.

  1. Do you have experience with being “bullied”? Describe what it feels like.
  2. Describe what it is like to finally have someone stick up for you.
  3. Who are the “big bullies” in your present circumstances? Ask God to deal with them and be your “refuge in times of trouble.”

Nahum 1:3 The LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.

Related Readings

Psalms 62:11–12; 77:14–20; Jonah 1:1–3; Nahum 3:1–3, 10.

Women of the Bible - The Widow of Zarephath

Her character: A Phoenician woman, she showed extraordinary hospitality to one of God's prophets, providing a safe harbor for him during a period of famine.
Her sorrow: To suffer extreme poverty, famine, and the loss of husband and son.
Her joy: To experience repeated miracles of God's provision.
Key Scriptures: 1 Kings 17:8-24; Luke 4:25-26

Her Story

Her arms were spindly and rough, like the dry twigs she had gathered for kindling. Her body shook as she stood over the fire, greedily sipping and sucking the steam from the pan, as though the smell of frying bread could fill her belly and soothe her fears. She had lived her life a stone's throw from the Mediterranean, at Zarephath, seven miles south of Sidon, in a territory ruled by Jezebel's father. She had always loved the sea, but now its watery abundance seemed only to mock her, reminding her of all she lacked.

Tears escaped her eyes, try as she might to blink them back. How hard it was to suffer her fears alone, to wake in the night with no one to warm her, no one to whisper sweet lies about tomorrow. If only her husband were alive to squeeze a harvest from the fields. But he had died before the drought, leaving her with a small son, a house, and little else. Every night she hoped for rain, but every morning she woke to a brilliant sky.

Though she starved herself to feed her child, his distended belly accused her. His need condemned her. She had failed in the most basic ways a mother could, unable to protect, nurture, and provide. These days she stood with shoulders hunched as though to hide her breasts. Today she had scraped the last bit of flour from the barrel and poured the last drop of oil from the jug. She began to prepare for a final supper for herself and her child.

But then a stranger had called to her: "Woman, would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?"

Graciously, she had gone to fetch it, only to have him call after her, "And bring me, please, a piece of bread."

Is the man mad? she wondered. He might as well ask me to snap my fingers and produce a cow to feast on.

She turned on her heel and replied, "As surely as the Lord your God lives, I don't have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die."

But the man had persisted. "Don't be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.' "

Instead of cursing the stranger for his callousness, as we might expect, the woman did exactly as he had requested, feeding him the food she had reserved for herself and her son.

The woman from Zarephath wasn't a Jew, but a Phoenician. She had no idea that the stranger was Elijah, a prophet who had the gall to inform King Ahab that God was withholding rain to punish Israel's idolatry. She would have been astonished to learn that this same God had instructed Elijah to "go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food."

The widow of Zarephath had felt utterly alone, not knowing God had his eye on her. Yet for some reason she believed Elijah and acted accordingly, giving him everything she had.

After that, every time she dipped her hand into the flour, every time she poured oil from the jug, the widow saw another miracle unfold, another sign of favor, additional evidence of God's provision. Just as Elijah had promised, the supply of flour and oil lasted day after day, month after month, never failing until at last the rains came and revived the land.

How like God to construct a parable of grace during a time of judgment, to display his mercy and power in the midst of weakness and need. The widow's faith saved not only her son and herself but actually provided a refuge for Elijah, who may have wondered why God chose such flimsy protection—a destitute woman who lived in the territory of his worst enemy, Jezebel.

Later, the widow's faith would again be tested when her young son died. But she would also be the first woman to witness God's power to raise the dead, which he did in response to Elijah's repeated prayers on behalf of her child. As a woman who endured extreme difficulties, her story reveals God's power to provide what we need the most—a commodity of the heart called faith.

Her Promise

God doesn't ignore the needs of those who cannot help themselves. He doesn't urge them to pick themselves up and get going when they have no resources to do so. He doesn't pat them on the back and say he's sorry life is so tough. Instead, he sometimes intervenes by miraculous understatement, in this case by making sure that a little bit of oil and flour—just enough for a small loaf—didn't run out.

An unexpected check comes just when you need it. Another mother gives you her kids' outgrown clothing so you can clothe your own children. God uses something or someone to change your husband's heart just when you thought he didn't love you anymore. Our God is still a miraculous provider, granting what we need sometimes in the most unexpected ways.

Girlfriends in God - Why Worn Ways Win

Today’s Truth

‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ (Matthew 3:3b, NIV)

Friend to Friend

John the Baptist told God’s people to “prepare the way for the Lord” … to purify their hearts and get ready for Jesus to come, redeem, restore, heal, love, challenge, and change the world. (Matthew 3:3)

I read this and smile because I like preparing things. I like to cook. I love hosting gatherings, planning party details, and preparing for guests. My son recently graduated from high school and I spent countless hours prepping for the celebration we had in his honor. It was wonderful.

When presidents, dignitaries, and heads of state are going to visit a particular town they often send people ahead of them to make sure the area is made ready for their visit. This is a different type of preparation than my domestic kind. They are serious to vet out each location regarding security. They vet out the people that will be in attendance and in charge. They prepare the way for those to whom they are in service.

John the Baptist “prepared the way” for Jesus much like this. He went to Jerusalem, all of Judea, and to the whole region of the Jordan telling the people of Israel to repent and prepare the way for Jesus by “making straight paths for Him.” (Matthew 3:6)

Prepare the way. Make straight paths.

Since these are not modern things to say, it is a smidge confusing, right?

I wondered about it, so I investigated a bit further. Here’s what I found out. The Strong’s Bible Concordance tells us that the word for “paths” in this verse is the Greek word tribos, which means, “a worn way.” (Strong’s Number G5147)



When I think of things that are worn I think of things that are familiar. Known. Broken in. Comfortable.

I love my worn jeans and the well-worn path I walk on in the woods by my house. I love my worn leather shoes and my worn Bible.

As I think about this phrase further, a few thoughts cross my mind about a “worn way.”

When a path is worn it is easy to follow. Natural.

When a path is worn, it leads to a specific destination.

These observations cause me to reflect. Have I worn a path for my heart, soul, and mind to welcome and prioritize Jesus today? Do my thought patterns, spiritual disciplines, and behaviors pave a worn path to truth and grace? Do my actions “prepare the way” for others to encounter and wonder about Jesus?

Every life points somewhere. Mine will either point others toward Jesus or away from Him. Yours will too.

I want to be a worn-path-to-Jesus woman… but how?

I make straight paths for others to see Jesus when I am kind, when I am slow to anger, when I am quick to forgive and quick to listen. When I am compassionate, faithful, and humble.

I make straight paths for others to see Jesus when I am accessible and honest. When I choose His peace over my impatience and His joy over my frustrations.

I become the worn way for my loved ones, my co-workers, and community to see Jesus when I am influenced by and responsive to the ways He loves, shows compassion, and grace freely.

What a beautiful reminder that you and I have the opportunity each day to influence others toward Jesus.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, Please purify my heart. Lead me in Your ways and make me a worn path to You!
In Jesus’s Name I pray,

Now It’s Your Turn

What is one thing you can do today to prepare the way for your family, your work place and your community to see Jesus?

Let’s pray together today! Click over to my Facebook page, post a prayer request and pray for a few other posted prayer needs.

More from the Girlfriends

Gwen Smith is a speaker, worship leader, songwriter, and author of the new book, I Want I ALL, who wants to help you think big thoughts about God – and inspire you toward His grace and truth. Her website is filled with videos, posts, songs and resources that will be a deep well of encouragement to you. Click here to visit her site. (Get a FREE downloadable “I Want It All” COLORING and JOURNAL e-book when you sign up to receive her blog!)

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Salt and Light - July 04, 2016


These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised… Hebrews 11:39

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

It was early 1980’s in a village in Czechoslovakia, and I had just given the pastor of a rural church a Bible in his own tongue. It was leather bound, with a gold zipper, and was the first complete Bible he had held. I remember him sniffing it, marveling at the leather smell, playing with the zip and being almost afraid to touch the thin precious pages. Then he began to talk to the members of the church. Pointing at me he said, “This gentleman is your heroic spiritual ancestor. Every time the Bible comes into a culture, it is a threat, and is opposed. So it takes men and women to risk all to bring it to us. This man has taken such a risk.”

I was embarrassed, but he went on to say to me, “The Bible also came into your culture. It was also a threat. Tell me, who are your heroic spiritual ancestors?” I am ashamed to say I did not have a clear idea of who these men were in my country of the United Kingdom.

So I returned to my country with his challenge ringing in my ears, “Find out the story of how your Bible came to you, and you will discover your heroic spiritual ancestors.”

What a dramatic story I uncovered. Full of spies, deaths and power politics. I learned so much about John Wycliffe, the first man to translate the Bible into English in the world of the 1300’s, when most clergy could not even recite the Ten Commandments. He formed a cadre of guerilla preachers to comb the country, with hand copied versions of the Bible, a book banned by Parliament. Wycliffe died of a stroke from the strain.

In the 1500’s, William Tyndale benefited from the invention of the printing press. He had to leave England to accomplish the task, never to return. At age twenty-nine in 1524, he settled in Cologne, and by 1526 was ready to smuggle 6000 copies of the Bible in English into Britain. The whole British naval fleet was put on alert, and boats were stopped and searched. First tens and then hundreds of the Bibles got through. The bishop of London tried another tack. He sought to buy the entire print run through an intermediary. His intention was to burn them all. Tyndale got wind of it, and approved the sale, saying, “Oh he will burn them. Well, I am the gladder, for I shall get the money from these books, and the whole world shall cry out upon the burning of God’s Word.” And so it was. He burned them, and Tyndale used the money to improve the translation and print more…at the church’s expense.

Tyndale was captured by assassins and then strangled and burned in August 1536 for “heresy.” His last words were, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.” This prayer was swiftly answered, and the English reformation was quickly fueled by a spate of translations. What a story it was. And what heroism from my spiritual ancestors!

RESPONSE: Today I will thank God for my spiritual ancestors who brought God’s Word to my land.

PRAYER: Ask God if you may somehow, someday, be used to bring His Word to needy people.

His Princess Every Day - Dream With Me

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

My beloved,

Stop for a moment and close your eyes. Dream with me. Think about that great and glorious day when we will finally see each other face to face. Imagine the talks we might have as we walk along the crystal sea and the songs we will sing as we celebrate eternity together. Imagine standing on the streets of gold I paved for your feet. Be still, my precious one, and let me renew the eternal hope in your heart today. Heaven is not just a dream, my beloved: for you, heaven is reality.

Your Prince who loves dreaming about you

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." - 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV)

Prayer to my Prince

My Lord,

When I get discouraged in the days to come, remind me by your Holy Spirit to close my eyes and dream of heavenly things to come. How my heart longs for the day I am dressed as your beautiful bride. What it will feel like to finally see you face to face! How awesome it will be to walk with you in a place with no more pain! Thank you for reminding me of what is to come. Yes, I will dream with you!

Your princess who loves to dream

And I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. - Revelation 21:2

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 - July 04, 2016

Psalm 33:12 (NIV) Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.

Read all of Psalm 33