Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Night Light for Couples - Word Pictures

“Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.’” Matthew 22:1–2

Another extremely useful communication technique is the word picture, described by Gary Smalley and John Trent in their book The Language of Love. In one of their examples, a high school teacher and football coach named Jim came home each evening too tired to even talk to his wife, Susan, leaving her frustrated and angry. Finally, Susan told Jim a story about a man who went to breakfast with his fellow coaches. The man ate his favorite omelet, then gathered up some crumbs and put them in a bag. Then he went to lunch with more friends and ate a turkey tenderloin pie and a huge salad. Again, he put a few crumbs in a doggie bag to take with him. When he came home that night, he handed his wife and their two boys the little bags of leftovers.

“That’s the way I feel when you come home with nothing left to give,” Susan said. “All we get are leftovers. I’m waiting to enjoy a meal with you, hoping for time to talk and laugh and get to know you, longing to communicate with you the way you do every day with the guys. But all we get are doggie bags. Honey, don’t you see? We don’t need leftovers. We need you.”

Susan’s word picture brought tears to Jim’s eyes and led to positive changes in their marriage. You, too, may find that a graphic word picture is more effective at getting your mate’s attention than a torrent of hostile words.

Just between us…
  • Why are word pictures often effective?
  • Jesus often used word pictures to make a point (e.g., “I am the Good Shepherd”). What word picture describes your feelings about us?
Lord, teach us to share our inner selves with our spouse. Remind us of the great value of this intimate exchange between married lovers. Amen.

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
Word picture illustration from The Language of Love by Gary Smalley and John Trent (Pomona, Calif.: Focus on the Family Publishing, 1988).

The Daily Readings for August 3, 2016

Judges 7:19-8:12
So Gideon and the hundred who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just set the watch; and they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. So the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars, holding in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow; and they cried, "A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!" Every man stood in his place all around the camp, and all the men in camp ran; they cried out and fled. When they blew the three hundred trumpets, the LORD set every man's sword against his fellow and against all the army; and the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath. And the men of Israel were called out from Naphtali and from Asher and from all Manasseh, and they pursued after the Midianites. Then Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim, saying, "Come down against the Midianites and seize the waters against them, as far as Beth-barah, and also the Jordan." So all the men of Ephraim were called out, and they seized the waters as far as Beth-barah, and also the Jordan. They captured the two captains of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb; they killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb they killed at the wine press of Zeeb, as they pursued the Midianites. They brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon beyond the Jordan. Then the Ephraimites said to him, "What have you done to us, not to call us when you went to fight against the Midianites?" And they upbraided him violently. So he said to them, "What have I done now in comparison with you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? God has given into your hands the captains of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb; what have I been able to do in comparison with you?" When he said this, their anger against him subsided. Then Gideon came to the Jordan and crossed over, he and the three hundred who were with him, exhausted and famished. So he said to the people of Succoth, "Please give some loaves of bread to my followers, for they are exhausted, and I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian." But the officials of Succoth said, "Do you already have in your possession the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna, that we should give bread to your army?" Gideon replied, "Well then, when the LORD has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, I will trample your flesh on the thorns of the wilderness and on briers." From there he went up to Penuel, and made the same request of them; and the people of Penuel answered him as the people of Succoth had answered. So he said to the people of Penuel, "When I come back victorious, I will break down this tower." Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with their army, about fifteen thousand men, all who were left of all the army of the people of the east; for one hundred twenty thousand men bearing arms had fallen. So Gideon went up by the caravan route east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and attacked the army; for the army was off its guard. Zebah and Zalmunna fled; and he pursued them and took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and threw all the army into a panic.

Acts 3:12-26
When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, "You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you. "And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus, who must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets. Moses said, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you from your own people a prophet like me. You must listen to whatever he tells you. And it will be that everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be utterly rooted out of the people.' And all the prophets, as many as have spoken, from Samuel and those after him, also predicted these days. You are the descendants of the prophets and of the covenant that God gave to your ancestors, saying to Abraham, 'And in your descendants all the families of the earth shall be blessed.' When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you, to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways."

John 1:29-42
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, "Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.' I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel." And John testified, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God." The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!" The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter).

Morning Psalms

Psalm 119: Mem Quomodo dilexi!
97   Oh, how I love your law! all the day long it is in my mind.
98   Your commandment has made me wiser than my enemies, and it is always with me.
99   I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your decrees are my study.
100   I am wiser than the elders, because I observe your commandments.
101   I restrain my feet from every evil way, that I may keep your word.
102   I do not shrink from your judgments, because you yourself have taught me.
103   How sweet are your words to my taste! they are sweeter than honey to my mouth.
104   Through your commandments I gain understanding; therefore I hate every lying way.

Psalm 119: Nun Lucerna pedibus meis
105   Your word is a lantern to my feet and a light upon my path.
106   I have sworn and am determined to keep your righteous judgments.
107   I am deeply troubled; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your word.
108   Accept, O LORD, the willing tribute of my lips, and teach me your judgments.
109   My life is always in my hand, yet I do not forget your law.
110   The wicked have set a trap for me, but I have not strayed from your commandments.
111   Your decrees are my inheritance for ever; truly, they are the joy of my heart.
112   I have applied my heart to fulfill your statutes for ever and to the end.

Psalm 119: Samekh Iniquos odio habui
113   I hate those who have a divided heart, but your law do I love.
114   You are my refuge and shield; my hope is in your word.
115   Away from me, you wicked! I will keep the commandments of my God.
116   Sustain me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be disappointed in my hope.
117   Hold me up, and I shall be safe, and my delight shall be ever in your statutes.
118   You spurn all who stray from your statutes; their deceitfulness is in vain.
119   In your sight all the wicked of the earth are but dross; therefore I love your decrees.
120   My flesh trembles with dread of you; I am afraid of your judgments.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 81 Exultate Deo
1   Sing with joy to God our strength and raise a loud shout to the God of Jacob.
2   Raise a song and sound the timbrel, the merry harp, and the lyre.
3   Blow the ram's-horn at the new moon, and at the full moon, the day of our feast.
4   For this is a statute for Israel, a law of the God of Jacob.
5   He laid it as a solemn charge upon Joseph, when he came out of the land of Egypt.
6   I heard an unfamiliar voice saying, "I eased his shoulder from the burden; his hands were set free from bearing the load."
7   You called on me in trouble, and I saved you; I answered you from the secret place of thunder and tested you at the waters of Meribah.
8   Hear, O my people, and I will admonish you: O Israel, if you would but listen to me!
9   There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not worship a foreign god.
10   I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and said, "Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it."
11   And yet my people did not hear my voice, and Israel would not obey me.
12   So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their hearts, to follow their own devices.
13   Oh, that my people would listen to me! that Israel would walk in my ways!
14   I should soon subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes.
15   Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him, and their punishment would last for ever.
16   But Israel would I feed with the finest wheat and satisfy him with honey from the rock.

Psalm 82 Deus stetit
1   God takes his stand in the council of heaven; he gives judgment in the midst of the gods:
2   How long will you judge unjustly, and show favor to the wicked?
3   Save the weak and the orphan; defend the humble and needy;
4   Rescue the weak and the poor; deliver them from the power of the wicked.
5   They do not know, neither do they understand; they go about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
6   Now I say to you, 'You are gods, and all of you children of the Most High;
7   Nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince.'"
8   Arise, O God, and rule the earth, for you shall take all nations for your own.

The Forward Day by Day Meditation for August 3, 2016

From Forward Day By Day

John 1:39 ( NRSV) He said to them, “Come and see.”

I am originally from East Tennessee where we use the expression “fixin’ to get ready” to imply that someone is thinking about doing something but not actually doing anything yet. She or he is lollygagging, sitting on the fence, trying to decide whether to “fish or cut bait.” Jesus seems to spend quite a bit of time telling us to get with the program, commit to a course of action, and follow him.

The writers of the gospels show us over and over that Jesus’ call to action is urgent. This particular passage seems to indicate to the followers of John that the time is now. The whole world is waking up to the idea that God is dwelling among us. And that is changing the entire game, the entire course of human history. I can almost see John’s followers struggling to keep up with this whirlwind of truth and courage, this insistence that all things, at this very moment, are being made new and right.

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His Princess Every Day - Rescue Mission

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

My Princess Warrior,

If you will refresh others, you will find yourself refreshed. Yes, my beloved, you are called to rescue those who are hurting--but I will go with you and prepare their hearts to receive my love through you. Your heart for the hurting is a reflection of My love for the world. If you look into the eyes of a lost soul, you will see Me. When you feed the hungry, you are feeding me, your Lord. Remember this, beloved: I did not come for the healthy, I came for the sick and needy. Know this, My Princess: while you are out on the battlefield serving those who cannot serve themselves, I am providing all you need and more!

Your King who rescues you 

For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. - Matthew 25:35 

A Prayer for Rescue

Mighty Rescuer! I pray that you may be blessed with eyes that can see people’s needs, and that you will be compelled to meet them for the Kingdom’s sake. May you not turn and look the other way when someone is hurting and needs a helping hand. Your acts of love can save lives. I pray that you will be full of love. May our Lord will take care of you as you take care of others. May you be blessed abundantly for your love and kind actions and love.

This is what the LORD says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent!Jeremiah 22:3 (NLT)

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

Standing Strong Through the Storm - ENDURING PERSECUTION

“I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Acts 9:16

These are the words of Jesus to Ananias when Saul of Tarsus had an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Though Saul, who became the Apostle Paul, resorted to flight several times in his missionary work, he did not try to avoid persecution as a life style practice. Indeed in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, Paul outlines and describes the repeated persecution he had endured for Christ.

The Bible and history are replete with examples of those who in the will of God refused to flee but stayed and endured the persecution to the point of self-sacrifice and even martyrdom.

A few years ago I was in Thailand for some organizational meetings. One of my colleagues brought a Vietnamese pastor to meet me who was in great anguish. His story touched me deeply.

Pastor Vin was at home in Vietnam one earlier evening when a parishioner knocked on the door. He had just met a sizable group of North Korean refugees who had trekked through China and become lost in the Vietnamese jungle. They were emaciated, ragged and fearful.

The Pastor invited the refugees to his home where they were fed and his people brought them adequate clothing. But what now? If discovered by the Vietnamese authorities, they would be repatriated to North Korea to certain death or life in labor camp. Their only hope was to seek asylum in neighboring Cambodia which did not have an extradition agreement with North Korea.

Then came a second knock on the door. It was the parishioner again. The Vietnamese authorities had been tipped off that North Korean refugees were in the area and were actively searching for them.

Pastor Vin knew the jungle route to Cambodia and knew what he had to do. Bidding his family farewell, he set off with the group of refugees and led them safely through the jungle to the capital of Cambodia where they successfully sought asylum as refugees.

But the Vietnamese authorities soon became aware of what the pastor had done. They notified his wife that he would be arrested and imprisoned immediately upon his arrival home. He fled further west to neighboring Thailand for safety.

The night I met him in Thailand he was in tears. His wife was scheduled for surgery the next day in the hospital back home in Vietnam. She so wanted him to be there with her during this trying time. Yet he could not safely return home. He was in a quandary. We prayed together that God would be with his wife in her medical emergency and give him wisdom to know what to do.

Later I heard from our colleague that Mrs. Vin’s surgery was successful and that Pastor Vin, knowing what he would face, returned home to Vietnam. He was immediately arrested and placed under house detention. But he used his time at home discipling new believers.

Fleeing is not the only option when persecution strikes. There are times when God’s will is for us to stay and face the music!

RESPONSE: Today I will stay in tune with God’s Spirit so that I will know what responses He wants me to make.

PRAYER: Help me Lord to be aware of Your purposes in the events and challenges of my life.

Girlfriends in God - Let Go and Trust God

Today's Truth

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’ (Psalm 91:1-2, NIV).

Friend to Friend

Babies fascinate me. They are so fresh from God. And have so much to learn! Think about it. Babies come into this world knowing nothing. For starters, they have to learn how to roll over, how to sit up, and eventually the biggie – learning to walk.

I had forgotten just how amazing the process of learning to walk really is until our grandson Justus reminded me. Justus was a speed crawler who could scoot along the floor almost as fast as I could walk. For the first 12 months of his life, Justus seemed content to explore the bottoms of tables and chairs, play with doorstops or inspect food crumbs on the floor.

But the day came when he was no longer satisfied to explore his world from the vantage point of his two little hands and knees, and began pulling up on various pieces of furniture. Evidently he liked what he saw, because he quickly graduated to the "One Step" method of walking.

Justus carefully pulled himself up on the living room sofa. Next came what I like to call The Toddler Shuffle as he tentatively positioned his stout and very determined little thirteen-month-old body between the sofa and loveseat. Pausing to catch his breath and gather his courage, Justus longingly stared at his goal, the armrest of the loveseat. His big brown eyes seemed to measure the size of the step needed to reach his final destination.

Justus eventually let go of the sofa cushion, took "a step" and quickly grabbed hold of the loveseat. Most of the time he then looked over his shoulder at whoever happened to be watching, a huge grin lighting up his face and the room. That was the cue for applause. And we always applauded.

The One Step Method of walking served Justus well - until he decided that what he wanted was not anywhere near the sofa or loveseat - and a new strategy was required.

I can imagine his little heart beating with excitement as he realized the profound ramifications of his next move. He had to completely let go of that sofa and loveseat and walk into unchartered territory.

And then it happened.

Justus did let go and took a step ... then another and another! Time seemed to stop as we watched this special little boy actually walk for the very first time in his life.

When Justus wobbled and fell, our daughter instinctively reached out to catch her precious child. He didn't see her at first, but when he looked up ... there she was. She had been nearby, watching the whole time. Justus looked into her eyes. Danna squealed with joy, grabbed Justus in a fierce hug and twirled him around the room, laughing and yelling, "Good job! You did it! You walked, buddy!" My husband and I joined in the celebration, clapping and cheering along with our daughter. Justus decided that his accomplishment must be monumental because he fell to the floor, kicking, laughing and clapping. It was both hilarious and profound.

Have you ever felt like you have taken the step God wanted you to take only to find yourself dangling in thin air with no safety net in sight?

I have.

I don't like it.

I want to know what is ahead and see what is around the next corner of life. It frightens me to take risks. I wonder if God really will come through for me the way He says He will in the Bible.

Can I really do what God is asking me to do?

Will He be pleased by my seemingly insignificant step of faith?

And what happens if I fall? Falling is painful and something I try to avoid whenever possible.

I have great news for you, girlfriend! God is near. His eyes are fixed on you, and His heart delights in your very existence as His daughter.

If you listen carefully, you just might hear Him applauding that one tiny step of faith you were willing to take as you walked straight through your fear. God is fully aware of where you are and what you need. Heaven is not in a panic.

And when you fall, you can rest assured your Father will be there to hold you in His arms of love and strengthen you for every step of your journey.

Let's Pray

Lord Jesus, I want to see and know You as the loving and caring Father You are. Thank You for Your faithfulness in my life. Thank You for Your unconditional love and unshakable faithfulness. Today, I celebrate the truth that I am Your child and that when I fall, You will be there.
In Jesus' name,

Now It's Your Turn

What step of faith do you need to take today? Record that step on an index card and place it where you will see it often. Ask God to strengthen you to step out in faith.

More from the Girlfriends

If you need help learning how to trust God, get Mary’s new book, 10-Day Trust Adventure, now available in hard copy. Perfect for personal or small group study, this book addresses the decisions you have to make in every area of life and teaches you how to make those decisions as you step out in faith and trust God.

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Verse of the Day - August 03, 2016

1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV) But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Read all of 1 Samuel 16