Thursday, August 4, 2016

Night Light for Couples - Too Much Honesty

“Let your conversation be always full of grace.” Colossians 4:6

Most marriage counselors emphasize communication as a foundation for a healthy relationship: Nothing should be withheld from the marital partner. There is wisdom in that advice, provided it’s applied with common sense. It may be honest for a man to tell his wife that he hates her fat legs, her varicose veins, or the way she cooks. It’s honest for a woman to dump her anger on her husband and constantly berate him for his shortcomings and failures. But honesty that does not have the best interest of the other person at heart is really a cruel form of selfishness.

Some couples, in their determination to share every thought and opinion, systematically destroy the sweet spark of romance that once drew them together. They’ve lost any sense of mystique in the relationship.

So how does one express intimate feelings while avoiding too much honesty? Paul’s advice to all Christians works especially well for married partners: “Let your conversation be always full of grace.”

Just between us…
  • Am I sometimes so honest with you that my words are hurtful?
  • Do you think there should be exceptions to telling “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” in marriage?
  • We know that God honors truthfulness, so how do we apply this to marital communication?
  • In what areas could we use more honesty and in what areas, more grace?
Heavenly Father, we know that truthfulness is Your will for our lives—but please give us the wisdom to know when to speak the truth and when to keep it to ourselves. Amen.

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

The Daily Readings for August 4, 2016

Judges 8:22-35
Then the Israelites said to Gideon, "Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also; for you have delivered us out of the hand of Midian." Gideon said to them, "I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the LORD will rule over you." Then Gideon said to them, "Let me make a request of you; each of you give me an earring he has taken as booty." (For the enemy had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) "We will willingly give them," they answered. So they spread a garment, and each threw into it an earring he had taken as booty. The weight of the golden earrings that he requested was one thousand seven hundred shekels of gold (apart from the crescents and the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian, and the collars that were on the necks of their camels). Gideon made an ephod of it and put it in his town, in Ophrah; and all Israel prostituted themselves to it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family. So Midian was subdued before the Israelites, and they lifted up their heads no more. So the land had rest forty years in the days of Gideon. Jerubbaal son of Joash went to live in his own house. Now Gideon had seventy sons, his own offspring, for he had many wives. His concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech. Then Gideon son of Joash died at a good old age, and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash at Ophrah of the Abiezrites. As soon as Gideon died, the Israelites relapsed and prostituted themselves with the Baals, making Baal-berith their god. The Israelites did not remember the LORD their God, who had rescued them from the hand of all their enemies on every side; and they did not exhibit loyalty to the house of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) in return for all the good that he had done to Israel.

Acts 4:1-12
While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand. The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, "By what power or by what name did you do this?" Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is 'the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.' There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved."

John 1:43-51
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!" Nathanael asked him, "Where did you get to know me?" Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you." Nathanael replied, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these." And he said to him, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

Morning Psalms

Psalm 83 Deus, quis similis?
1   O God, do not be silent; do not keep still nor hold your peace, O God;
2   For your enemies are in tumult, and those who hate you have lifted up their heads.
3   They take secret counsel against your people and plot against those whom you protect.
4   They have said, "Come, let us wipe them out from among the nations; let the name of Israel be remembered no more."
5   They have conspired together; they have made an alliance against you:
6   The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; the Moabites and the Hagarenes;
7   Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines and those who dwell in Tyre.
8   The Assyrians also have joined them, and have come to help the people of Lot.
9   Do to them as you did to Midian, to Sisera, and to Jabin at the river of Kishon:
10   They were destroyed at Endor; they became like dung upon the ground.
11   Make their leaders like Oreb and Zeëb, and all their commanders like Zebah and Zalmunna,
12   Who said, "Let us take for ourselves the fields of God as our possession."
13   O my God, make them like whirling dust and like chaff before the wind;
14   Like fire that burns down a forest, like the flame that sets mountains ablaze.
15   Drive them with your tempest and terrify them with your storm;
16   Cover their faces with shame, O LORD, that they may seek your Name.
17   Let them be disgraced and terrified for ever; let them be put to confusion and perish.
18   Let them know that you, whose Name is YAHWEH, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 85 Benedixisti, Domine
1   You have been gracious to your land, O LORD, you have restored the good fortune of Jacob.
2   You have forgiven the iniquity of your people and blotted out all their sins.
3   You have withdrawn all your fury and turned yourself from your wrathful indignation.
4   Restore us then, O God our Savior; let your anger depart from us.
5   Will you be displeased with us for ever? will you prolong your anger from age to age?
6   Will you not give us life again, that your people may rejoice in you?
7   Show us your mercy, O LORD, and grant us your salvation.
8   I will listen to what the LORD God is saying, for he is speaking peace to his faithful people and to those who turn their hearts to him.
9   Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.
10   Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
11   Truth shall spring up from the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
12   The LORD will indeed grant prosperity, and our land will yield its increase.
13   Righteousness shall go before him, and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.

Psalm 86 Inclina, Domine
1   Bow down your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and in misery.
2   Keep watch over my life, for I am faithful; save your servant who puts his trust in you.
3   Be merciful to me, O LORD, for you are my God; I call upon you all the day long.
4   Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
5   For you, O LORD, are good and forgiving, and great is your love toward all who call upon you.
6   Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer, and attend to the voice of my supplications.
7   In the time of my trouble I will call upon you, for you will answer me.
8   Among the gods there is none like you, O LORD, nor anything like your works.
9   All the nations you have made will come and worship you, O LORD, and glorify your Name.
10   For you are great; you do wondrous things; and you alone are God.
11   Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; knit my heart to you that I may fear your Name.
12   I will thank you, O LORD my God, with all my heart, and glorify your Name for evermore.
13   For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the nethermost Pit.
14   The arrogant rise up against me, O God, and a band of violent men seeks my life; they have not set you before their eyes.
15   But you, O LORD, are gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger, and full of kindness and truth.
16   Turn to me and have mercy upon me; give your strength to your servant; and save the child of your handmaid.
17   Show me a sign of your favor, so that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed; because you, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me.

The Forward Day by Day Meditation for August 4, 2016

From Forward Day By Day

Acts 4:12 (NRSV) There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.

Here goes Peter…again. He and John have just spent the night in jail for teaching that “in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead” to the Sadducees (who didn’t believe in resurrection of any sort, much less through Jesus). Peter stands up in front of the high priest and assembled rulers, elders, and scribes and proclaims that Jesus is the way to salvation—and the only way. I imagine the Sadducees were upset, cringing and angry at hearing such a proclamation—such blasphemy—from this rough and uneducated fisherman.

But Peter is not about to let the audience dictate his message. Not anymore. His soul was crushed the night he denied his Lord, the very night Jesus was arrested. Now, being filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter fearlessly makes bold proclamations. Peter, who makes mistakes—lots of them—but bounces back stronger because of them, inspires me. I pray that I might be so bold a witness with my life—concerned less about doing things right and more about doing the right thing.

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Standing Strong Through the Storm - APPEALING TO LEGAL RIGHTS

As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?” Acts 22:25

The scriptures illustrate responses to persecution in three primary ways. On the one hand is the command of Jesus to flee when it occurs and on the other, the stalwart example of those who stayed and endured, persevering through the challenges. In between is the example of the Apostle Paul (whose life responses exhibited both extremes also). When arrested in a mob violence scene in Acts 22, he appeals to his legal rights for protection from a needless beating. In Acts 25, he escapes almost certain death at the hands of the Jews by appealing to Caesar, again a right of his citizenship.

Pastor Abdias Tovilla studied law in order to help his indigenous people of Chiapas in southern Mexico who have been expelled from their homes simply because of their evangelical faith. He is following the model of the Apostle Paul who used whatever means possible to stand up to persecution.

You could say Abdias Tovilla practices two vocations—law and grace. Ordained as a pastor of the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico in 1981, Tovilla enrolled in the School of Law of the National Autonomous University of Chiapas the same year. He passed the bar exam in 1988 to become a licensed attorney and represent persecuted Christians. He resigned his pastorate in 1992 to be the Executive Secretary and Legal Advisor to the State Committee of Evangelical Defense for Chiapas (CEDECH), but is still a voting member of the Chiapas Presbyterian Synod and preaches on many Sundays at the invitation of local churches.

Abdias Tovilla has a concern for justice—especially for others. Dealing with injustice is also part of our Christian calling. Pastor Tovilla knows that those who speak out to denounce injustice are on the very front line of persecution themselves. He has gained some support from Mexico’s southernmost state Bishop who has appealed for an end to the violent and prolonged persecution of evangelical Christians by “traditionalist” Catholics. Bishop Felipe Arizmendi called for “no more expulsions nor divisions on the basis of religion” and asked that “there be no more destruction nor house-burnings, nor skirmishes, nor the shedding of blood due to religious, political, cultural or economic differences.”

Over the past 30 years, religious intolerance has triggered the forced expulsion of some 35,000 evangelicals from ancestral lands in Chamula and other districts. Despite the unrelenting pressure, evangelical Christianity has grown steadily throughout Chiapas. Today, thirty-five per cent of the state population adheres to evangelicalism, according to census figures. Since the early 1980s, Open Doors has been working in Bible distribution, training and community development with a vision to contribute to reconciliation in the area.

RESPONSE: Today I will speak out against injustice and discrimination of brothers wherever it occurs.

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for brave brothers, like Abdias Tovilla, who stand for justice and truth.

His Princess Every Day - His Move

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

My Daughter,

When you’re in trouble, you may have no idea what to do. In such times, I need you to do nothing but be still and let me fight whatever battle you are facing. I know it’s difficult for you to remain at rest when you want to act or when you feel anxious. However, if you react based on what you feel, you will lose. When you can’t calm down, call to Me and I will soothe your fearful heart. You may not see the storm on the outside coming to an end, but the storm inside your soul will end in My presence. I can give you the peace that passes all understanding as I work on your behalf. Simply wait in a quiet place under My wing. Hear Me whisper even now: “Be still and know that I am the God who has taken control of what you cannot.”

Your King

Be still, and know that I am God! - Psalm 46:10

Treasure of Truth

When you have no idea what to do... do nothing but wait on God!

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 - Is Your Faith One of Duty or Desire?

Today’s Truth

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV).

Friend to Friend

My ministry is primarily with women, and often the subject of marriage comes up. And for those brave souls who dare ask the hard questions, sex surfaces as one of the top three areas of marital tension. Questions brim from frustration and sometimes my answers are not what they want to hear. Frequency? What is acceptable and unacceptable? What is required?

Required? Do women really ask that? Yep. Required. That’s the word they use. Far too many women, Christians included, approach the marriage bed with a sense of duty rather than desire. And you know what? A husband always knows the difference. He can tell the difference. It is not the melody his heart longs for—a song in which his wife desires him, enjoys him and looks forward to their moments of intimacy.

And guess what? God knows the difference, too. I’m not talking about sexual intimacy here. I’m talking about spiritual intimacy. God can tell when we are serving Him out of duty and when we are serving Him out of an overflow of our great love. He knows when our time with Him is simply a number on our to-do list and when it is our heart’s greatest desire.

We dutifully work and we strive and we study and we push and we push and we push. If we stop all this bustling about to become good Christians, we just might fall in love with Jesus all over again.

David sang, “In your presence is fullness of joy!” (Psalm 16:11 NKJV). In Your presence… The Hebrew word for “joy” used here is simchah and means glee, gladness, intense joy, pleasure, rejoicing, an outward expression. It is not simply an outward emotion but an inner soul.

Serving God out of duty will leave you drained emotionally and spiritually. Ramping up religious duties may cause people to give more money, time and resources without giving what God longs for most…the heart.

Serving God out of desire may leave you tired physically, but you will not be drained. Sometimes serving God out of desire, out of the overflow of a relationship with Him, can make you downright giddy.

Paul wrote: “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9).

Inexpressible joy! We can’t even describe it with words. Glorious joy! Joy that is full of heaven and a reflection of the very face of God. Even in our most difficult circumstances, we can still experience “inexpressible and glorious joy."

The word joy comes from a word that means, “making merry.” I am taken back to C. S. Lewis musing that Christians lack “merriment.” Could it be that one of the reasons we lack merriment, that we lack joy, is that we are not acknowledging His presence as we live and move and have our being in Christ? Could it be that we falsely think that we are on this journey basically alone with little visits from God every now and then?

Our freedom, our passion, our joy that comes from intimacy with God spilling out will always unnerve those confined by the limits of law and driven by duty. They will attempt to rein us in, calm us down, and shush our praise. Some call it reverence. I call it sad.

The sophisticated churchgoer looks on with disdain as the winsome worshipper raises her hands and sings with reckless abandonment. But secretly, in her heart of hearts, I wonder if she longs for that same freedom? What if she muses before commonsense pushes the wonderings aside?

The world is watching. Is there a smile on your face that stirs others to want to join in and experience those moments of sudden glory? Or is there a scowl on your brows that make others turn away because the Christian life appears too hard?

I think of Olympic runner, Eric Liddell’s words: “I run because when I do, I feel God’s pleasure.” I live and move and have my being in Him because it brings me joy.

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, in Your presence is fullness of joy. I mean the kind of joy that runs over and spills onto those around me! I lift my hands and praise You today! I clap my hands in thanksgiving to You today! I give a shout for joy because of You today! May merriment be on my tongue and joy be on my lips. I pray others will want to know what I have to be so happy about!
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

Read Psalm 150. I don’t know about you, but I think the person who wrote that was chock full of merriment!

If someone held up a DVD cover titled How to Use a Sewing Machine Step-by-Step and a DVD cover titled Rafting Down the Amazon River, which one would reflect your Christian life the best? Why?

That’s a fun question. Click over to my Facebook page and share you answer.

More from the Girlfriends

Do want more merriment in your Christian life? Are you ready for it to be a great adventure rather than a “how-to” faith? Do you long for something more in your relationship with God? Do you hunger to experience God’s presence on a daily basis? The good new is that God wants that even more than you do. Right smack dab in the spin of the laundry and the sizzle of the bacon—as you live and more and have your being in Him. This summer, take some time to “be still and know”—to hear His still small voice—to dust for His fingerprints on the pages of your everyday life. My book, A Sudden Glory: God’s Lavish Response to Your Ache for Something More will show you how. It also includes a study guide and free online Bible study videos. And while you’re on my website, check out the Praying Wives app for smart devices.

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Girlfriends in God
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Verse of the Day - August 04, 2016

Jeremiah 33:2-3 (NIV) “This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

Read all of Jeremiah 33