Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Night Light for Couples - Quick Listening

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19

The ability to listen well is harder than it seems. You may recall this old party game: A girl whispers to the boy next to her a sentence such as “Three cows crossed the road to drink from the stream.” The boy then whispers the sentence to another boy sitting next to him, and on the message goes in a circle. By the time the sentence gets back to the person who started it, it’s transformed into “Trees grow crusty toadstools to think about steam.”

Communication between husband and wife can become equally muddled unless we follow the scriptural wisdom offered in James 1:19: Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Author‐counselors Chuck and Barb Snyder recommend a “quick listening” technique based on this verse. Following a disagreement, a husband and wife sit down together and fully explain their feelings about the issue. The catch is that the other spouse can’t interrupt. Partners may try this and still disagree, but by giving their opinion and listening to their mate’s, they’ll increase their chances of understanding each other… and of staying best friends.

Just between us…
  • Do you sometimes feel that you tell me one thing and I hear something else?
  • Do either of us tend to interrupt before the other can fully express himself or herself?
  • If we tried “quick listening” after all our disagreements, how might it change our marriage?
Father, we want to put Your truths about listening, speaking, and controlling anger to work in our marriage. We ask You to give us Your grace and strength. Help us to stick with it—and help us to notice the good results! Amen.

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
“Quick Listening,” in Incompatibility: Still Grounds for a Great Marriage by Chuck and Barb Snyder (Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah Publishers, Inc. 1999).

Chocolate For Your Soul - Eliminate Approval Addiction

by Sheri Rose Shepherd
Click on the image below to watch this week's video devotional.

We all want approval, but why exhaust ourselves performing for a world that does not want to praise us? Let’s choose to live for God’s approval and free ourselves from others controlling our confidence.

What I discovered is that losing weight, buying new clothes, and winning a beauty title were not enough to make me feel good about myself. Somehow it didn’t feel the way I dreamed it would. As a matter of fact, I began to live for the words of praise about my new look. It felt good when I was getting attention, but I could never seem to get enough (kind of like chocolate). I became obsessed with doing whatever I had to do to get one more compliment. No amount of praise could eliminate my approval addiction.

Now I know I am talking about high school, but what about when we become adult women? Is there a magical age at which we feel free from needing the approval of others? I have seen very few women of God who do not fight daily for the approval of others. Maybe we’re not as obvious about our approval addiction as we were in high school, but we do some crazy things as adult women to find our worth. If you think about it, it is the approval of man that keeps us from living for God—the one who pre-approved us even before we were born. We need only to look to our Maker for acceptance.

God's Letter to You
My Beloved Daughter,

Today I am asking you to search your heart and ask this question: Whose approval do you seek? Are you living your life for the approval and praise of people, or of Me? I want to save you from exhausting yourself by performing for a world that does not want to praise you. I designed you to desire Me and Me alone. When you choose to live for Me; you will never again be thirsty for attention, because you will be hydrated in My love and adoration for you. Now let Me ask you again, My beloved daughter: Whose praise do you seek?

Your God Who Adores You

A Prayer to Live for God’s Approval
Princess Warrior! I pray that you will find the thrill of knowing your Father in Heaven adores you and loves to shower you with praise. I pray you will be forever free from the bondage of the praise of people. May your empty cup be filled up daily with God’s love. May you be able to pour out His love on others because you are full. May you never forget how much the Lord loves you and how precious you are to Him. May you be forever free from the opinion of other’s and look to your Heavenly Father for His approval. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

For more about Sheri Rose's ministry, visit HisPrincess.com.

The Daily Readings for August 2, 2016

Judges 7:1-18
Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the troops that were with him rose early and encamped beside the spring of Harod; and the camp of Midian was north of them, below the hill of Moreh, in the valley. The LORD said to Gideon, "The troops with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand. Israel would only take the credit away from me, saying, 'My own hand has delivered me.' Now therefore proclaim this in the hearing of the troops, 'Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home.'" Thus Gideon sifted them out; twenty-two thousand returned, and ten thousand remained. Then the LORD said to Gideon, "The troops are still too many; take them down to the water and I will sift them out for you there. When I say, 'This one shall go with you,' he shall go with you; and when I say, 'This one shall not go with you,' he shall not go." So he brought the troops down to the water; and the LORD said to Gideon, "All those who lap the water with their tongues, as a dog laps, you shall put to one side; all those who kneel down to drink, putting their hands to their mouths, you shall put to the other side." The number of those that lapped was three hundred; but all the rest of the troops knelt down to drink water. Then the LORD said to Gideon, "With the three hundred that lapped I will deliver you, and give the Midianites into your hand. Let all the others go to their homes." So he took the jars of the troops from their hands, and their trumpets; and he sent all the rest of Israel back to their own tents, but retained the three hundred. The camp of Midian was below him in the valley. That same night the LORD said to him, "Get up, attack the camp; for I have given it into your hand. But if you fear to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah; and you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to attack the camp." Then he went down with his servant Purah to the outposts of the armed men that were in the camp. The Midianites and the Amalekites and all the people of the east lay along the valley as thick as locusts; and their camels were without number, countless as the sand on the seashore. When Gideon arrived, there was a man telling a dream to his comrade; and he said, "I had a dream, and in it a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian, and came to the tent, and struck it so that it fell; it turned upside down, and the tent collapsed." And his comrade answered, "This is no other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, a man of Israel; into his hand God has given Midian and all the army." When Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped; and he returned to the camp of Israel, and said, "Get up; for the LORD has given the army of Midian into your hand." After he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and put trumpets into the hands of all of them, and empty jars, with torches inside the jars, he said to them, "Look at me, and do the same; when I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then you also blow the trumpets around the whole camp, and shout, 'For the LORD and for Gideon!'"

Acts 3:1-11
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o'clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, "Look at us." And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, "I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk." And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon's Portico, utterly astonished.

John 1:19-28
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, "I am not the Messiah." And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the prophet?" He answered, "No." Then they said to him, "Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?" He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,'" as the prophet Isaiah said. Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, "Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?" John answered them, "I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal." This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

Morning Psalms

Psalm 78: Part I Attendite, popule
1   Hear my teaching, O my people; incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
2   I will open my mouth in a parable; I will declare the mysteries of ancient times.
3   That which we have heard and known, and what our forefathers have told us, we will not hide from their children.
4   We will recount to generations to come the praiseworthy deeds and the power of the LORD, and the wonderful works he has done.
5   He gave his decrees to Jacob and established a law for Israel, which he commanded them to teach their children;
6   That the generations to come might know, and the children yet unborn; that they in their turn might tell it to their children;
7   So that they might put their trust in God, and not forget the deeds of God, but keep his commandments;
8   And not be like their forefathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, and whose spirit was not faithful to God.
9   The people of Ephraim, armed with the bow, turned back in the day of battle;
10   They did not keep the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law;
11   They forgot what he had done, and the wonders he had shown them.
12   He worked marvels in the sight of their forefathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
13   He split open the sea and let them pass through; he made the waters stand up like walls.
14   He led them with a cloud by day, and all the night through with a glow of fire.
15   He split the hard rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink as from the great deep.
16   He brought streams out of the cliff, and the waters gushed out like rivers.
17   But they went on sinning against him, rebelling in the desert against the Most High.
18   They tested God in their hearts, demanding food for their craving.
19   They railed against God and said, "Can God set a table in the wilderness?
20   True, he struck the rock, the waters gushed out, and the gullies overflowed; but is he able to give bread or to provide meat for his people?"
21   When the LORD heard this, he was full of wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob, and his anger mounted against Israel;
22   For they had no faith in God, nor did they put their trust in his saving power.
23   So he commanded the clouds above and opened the doors of heaven.
24   He rained down manna upon them to eat and gave them grain from heaven.
25   So mortals ate the bread of angels; he provided for them food enough.
26   He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens and led out the south wind by his might.
27   He rained down flesh upon them like dust and wingéd birds like the sand of the sea.
28   He let it fall in the midst of their camp and round about their dwellings.
29   So they ate and were well filled, for he gave them what they craved.
30   But they did not stop their craving, though the food was still in their mouths.
31   So God's anger mounted against them; he slew their strongest men and laid low the youth of Israel.
32   In spite of all this, they went on sinning and had no faith in his wonderful works.
33   So he brought their days to an end like a breath and their years in sudden terror.
34   Whenever he slew them, they would seek him, and repent, and diligently search for God.
35   They would remember that God was their rock, and the Most High God their redeemer.
36   But they flattered him with their mouths and lied to him with their tongues.
37   Their heart was not steadfast toward him, and they were not faithful to his covenant.
38   But he was so merciful that he forgave their sins and did not destroy them; many times he held back his anger and did not permit his wrath to be roused.
39   For he remembered that they were but flesh, a breath that goes forth and does not return.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 78: Part II Quoties exacerbaverunt
40   How often the people disobeyed him in the wilderness and offended him in the desert!
41   Again and again they tempted God and provoked the Holy One of Israel.
42   They did not remember his power in the day when he ransomed them from the enemy;
43   How he wrought his signs in Egypt and his omens in the field of Zoan.
44   He turned their rivers into blood, so that they could not drink of their streams.
45   He sent swarms of flies among them, which ate them up, and frogs, which destroyed them.
46   He gave their crops to the caterpillar, the fruit of their toil to the locust.
47   He killed their vines with hail and their sycamores with frost.
48   He delivered their cattle to hailstones and their livestock to hot thunderbolts.
49   He poured out upon them his blazing anger: fury, indignation, and distress, a troop of destroying angels.
50   He gave full rein to his anger; he did not spare their souls from death; but delivered their lives to the plague.
51   He struck down all the firstborn of Egypt, the flower of manhood in the dwellings of Ham.
52   He led out his people like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
53   He led them to safety, and they were not afraid; but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
54   He brought them to his holy land, the mountain his right hand had won.
55   He drove out the Canaanites before them and apportioned an inheritance to them by lot; he made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents.
56   But they tested the Most High God, and defied him, and did not keep his commandments.
57   They turned away and were disloyal like their fathers; they were undependable like a warped bow.
58   They grieved him with their hill-altars they provoked his displeasure with their idols.
59   When God heard this, he was angry and utterly rejected Israel.
60   He forsook the shrine at Shiloh, the tabernacle where he had lived among his people.
61   He delivered the ark into captivity, his glory into the adversary's hand.
62   He gave his people to the sword and was angered against his inheritance.
63   The fire consumed their young men; there were no wedding songs for their maidens.
64   Their priests fell by the sword, and their widows made no lamentation.
65   Then the LORD woke as though from sleep, like a warrior refreshed with wine.
66   He struck his enemies on the backside and put them to perpetual shame.
67   He rejected the tent of Joseph and did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;
68   He chose instead the tribe of Judah and Mount Zion, which he loved.
69   He built his sanctuary like the heights of heaven, like the earth which he founded for ever.
70   He chose David his servant, and took him away from the sheepfolds.
71   He brought him from following the ewes, to be a shepherd over Jacob his people and over Israel his inheritance.
72   So he shepherded them with a faithful and true heart and guided them with the skillfulness of his hands.

The Forward Day by Day Meditation for August 2, 2016

From Forward Day By Day

John 1:26b-27 (NRSV) Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.

Can you see Jesus? He’s right there in the crowd—the one you do not know. John the Baptizer knows he’s there somewhere. John has been on center stage, baptizing, preaching repentance, making straight the way of the Lord, performing his key assignment as Messianic forerunner and prophet. But now the time is drawing nigh—John is getting ready to bow out. He has fulfilled his mission.

He has cried out in the wilderness that the Messiah is coming to the neighborhood—no—wait—he’s here! John must empty himself. A few days later, John says, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (3:30). And he exits, stage left.

What is true for John is true for us. If we are to receive the Messiah, we must empty ourselves. We must make room for him in the inn of our hearts. Now that Jesus is here with us, there must be more of him and less of us.

 Join more than a half million readers worldwide who use Forward Day by Day as a resource for daily prayer and Bible study.

His Princess Every Day - Confidence

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

My Princess, 

Who do you say that I am? If I am your great and mighty God, then created in my image you are great and mighty also. If you believe that I am who I say I am, then you can believe that you are who I say you are. You need nothing from this world to prove your worth but a life lived for my glory--not your own. The praise of man is not enough to fill you up; it will leave you hollow and dry and thirsty for something more. I am the one who will give you the self-assurance you're searching for. Take on my Identity and you will walk in a confidence and become completely secure.

Your King who defines you

Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. -Psalm 146:3 (NLT)

This devotional is written by Sheri Rose Shepherd. All content copyright Sheri Rose Shepherd 2015. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Visit HisPrincess.com for devotionals, books, videos, and more from Sheri Rose Shepherd.

Chocolate For Your Soul with Sheri Rose Shepherd - You Are His Beloved Bride

by Sheri Rose Shepherd

The LORD All-Powerful, the Holy God of Israel, rules all the earth. He is your Creator and husband and He will rescue you. — Isaiah 54:5

If you know Jesus as your Savior, then He is your Prince. You are His beloved bride and your glorious day of heavenly ever after is coming when your prince Jesus returns for you.

You are His bride-to-be. Will you be ready to meet Him face-to-face on that majestic day of His return? Are you ready for your Prince? Does the way you live your life today reflect that you are His Bride? Do you need to take the time to fall in love with once again with the One who gave His life for you? Are you ready to discover your "happily ever after”? Do you desire Him to reveal Himself to you in a very real and personal way? Is it your heart’s desire to live a passionate, purposed life? Do you need Him to set you free to live in the complete freedom He has already won for you?

If so, then I invite you to watch today's video and embrace Eternity, because your prince is coming for you!

God's Letter to You

I believe if The Lord was going to write you a personal letter about battles this life brings it may read like this....

My Eternal Bride,

I want to reveal a sacred secret to you my beloved. Although I am your God, I am also your eternal Husband. I will come soon to carry you over the threshold into eternity. My desire is to lift the veil from your eyes that you might see who you really are, My Princess, My Bride. I am the lover of your soul and I long to get close enough to give you a glimpse of my eternal love for you. If you will seek me with all your heart, I will reveal myself to you in extraordinary ways. If you will come before me and ask I will give you a new hope in your heart that will change your view of me and the world around you forever.

Your Creator and Husband

Treasure of Truth

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him. — 1 Corinthians 2:9

Girlfriends in God - One Thing You Can’t Do

Today’s Truth

A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25, NIV)

Friend to Friend

I pretty much consider myself to have a black thumb. Charcoal, even. I like plants and genuinely try to keep them healthy and thriving, but fail at it a lot more than I succeed. So a few years ago when my BFF brought me a baby aloe plant, my heart was torn between girlfriend-gratitude and feelings of sorrow for the innocent little aloe.

A few weeks after she gave me the plant gift, my friend told me a story. She confessed that she struggles to share things and said that she had two aloe plants for a long time. One day she felt a heart-nudge to give one of them to me and she decided that she would give me the small aloe baby. (Bless her heart! She obviously knows nothing of said black thumb!)

For weeks she had meant to act on that heart-nudge and give me the aloe plant, but just never got around to it. She’d think about bringing me the aloe plant when she wasn’t home or remember late at night when it was too late to run it by my house. In the back of her mind she thought that one of her plants would surely have an aloe baby offspring … reasoning that she could just give me that one instead of one of her two plants.

Finally, she remembered.

She brought me the cute little healing plant and gave it to me with a smile. We threw down a happy plant-dance that morning as we shared a cup of coffee and our hearts in conversation.

As we sat at my kitchen table again, coffee mugs in hands, she finished her story by excitedly saying, “The most amazing thing happened this week, Gwen! When I walked past the aloe plant that I’d kept for myself, I noticed that a baby aloe plant had sprung up in the pot! It was almost like a little present from God reminding me that I can’t out-give Him. That when I trust Him and obey His nudges, He blesses me right back.”

I nodded and smiled. That’s what is referred to a boomerang blessing. You throw out a blessing, and then one comes right back around to you.

In the Bible God calls us to be generous, and He promises to bless us when we are. God’s Word has a lot to say about the connection between generous giving and blessings.

“Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice” (Psalm 112:5).

“A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25).

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19, NIV).

God calls His children to generous living, no matter what we have, who we are, or where we live. Even the poorest among us are called to live generously. And let’s not confuse the matter: it’s not about our bank accounts – it’s about our hearts, our time, our talents, and our treasures. We are to be generous, willing to share, and rich in good deeds for the glory of God.

Here’s the promise: blessings follow generosity.

Of course, this will look different to each of us, but we are ALL called to give as we live. I was blessed when my friend gave me that baby aloe plant. She was blessed too. God made sure of it. He always does. We can’t out-give God.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, You are so generous. Thank You for the abundance of Your grace, mercy, love, and truth. Help me to live generously and to give open-handedly just as You do with me.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now it’s Your Turn

Where does this promise and prompting find you today? Have you been nudged lately to do something? Do you struggle to share things, both tangible and intangible? Maybe the thing you need to give is forgiveness to someone or to yourself – or encouragement – or kindness. Got a family member, neighbor, or friend in need? What will your response be?

I would love to hear about it. Click over to my blog today to let me know that you “will give as you live,” or to share a boomerang blessing story.

More from the Girlfriends

Gwen Smith’s new book, I Want It ALL, is filled with practical help, Biblical depth and applicable lessons. And it includes a Bible Study Guide right in the back. No extra purchases required! READY TO PEEK INSIDE THE PAGES? Download a FREE sample chapter at iwantitallbook.com. Or order yours today from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook.com or your favorite retailer. For a signed copy, click here to order yours from our web store.

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 - FLEEING PERSECUTION

When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Matthew 10:23a

One of the clear biblical responses to persecution is to flee. But it is not the only response. Thus it is imperative that the persecuted believer is sure that his running away is in the will of God. History is full of examples of Christians who relocated because of religious persecution.

The early Christians in Jerusalem were not obeying Jesus’ orders in Acts 1:8 (evangelize to the ends of the earth) so God allowed an Acts 8:1 (persecution) to send them on their way. The original text indicates the persecution accomplished the will of God for as they scattered abroad, they went “gossiping” the gospel (Acts 8:4). The first meaning of the word “gossip” was “to chat” or “rehearse.” The early Christians, when scattered by persecution, could not help but repeat the glorious message of the gospel to everyone they met.

The Apostle Paul left Damascus over the wall in a basket when a life threat was discovered early in his ministry. He was not just trying to avoid persecution, but he knew it was not yet God’s timing for his life and ministry to end. That occurred years later in Rome.

Today an Egyptian Christian leader is in hiding because he has the highest price on his head—four times more than Osama Bin Laden ever had. Zakaria Botross’ entire life story is that of defying death. The total price for his elimination (a fatwa), at last report, was one hundred million dollars. This is because his ministry to Muslims is so challenging, effective and productive. If his arguments cannot be countered then his voice must be silenced.

He was one of the most striking figures of the Coptic Orthodox Church. In 1964 he had a conversion experience which changed the direction of his ministry to thousands of people. Not only did Father Zakaria preach for conversions to Christ and to strengthen believers, he also effectively rebutted accusations against Christianity made by Islamic leaders. He is a scholar of ancient Arabic and knows the Koran and the Hadith (Islamic traditions) so thoroughly that Islamic scholars find it difficult to refute his teaching or counter his challenges.

His zealous activities could not help but attract the notice of the authorities of the State. He was removed from his church. Twice he experienced imprisonment for ministering to Muslims and leading them to faith in Jesus. He was accused of the ultimate crime, evangelizing Muslims and thereby inciting religious factionalism. Then he was deported and exiled from Egypt. His subsequent ministry in Australia and the UK was successful but not with everyone’s approval.

Today as an elderly senior, he lives in hiding in the West because more than sixty million people—most are Muslims—watch his satellite TV programs and visit his website. Countless millions across the Arabic speaking world are turning to Christ annually because of his ministry.

Like the Apostle Paul, Father Zakaria runs and hides, not because he is afraid of dying, but by defying death has been able to have the most effective ministry in the world to Muslim people.

RESPONSE: Today I will resolve to only run from persecution when I know it is the will of God.

PRAYER: Pray for leaders like Zakaria Botross who have to live in hiding because of their effective ministry for the Lord and His church.

Verse of the Day - August 02, 2016

James 1:22 (NIV) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Read all of James 1