Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Night Light for Couples - Twelve-step Bonding

The challenge of sustaining an intimate, faith-based marriage in today's “hurry-up” society has never been greater. Night Light for Couples, the couples' devotional from Focus on the Family ministry founder Dr. James Dobson and his wife, Shirley, brings spouses together each evening, helping them stay connected with each other and their Lord. Stories that strike an emotional chord, Scripture readings, provocative questions, prayers, and personal commentary from the Dobsons encourage men and women in their homes and spiritual lives. More than just another devotional, Night Light is a practical, uplifting guide for every couple who longs to experience the joyous, intimate, “three-person” marriage covenant God intended.

“Above all, love each other deeply.” 1 Peter 4:8

Do you feel “bonded” to your mate? Bonding refers to the emotional connectedness that links a man and woman together for life and makes them irreplaceable to each other. It is God’s gift of closest companionship to those who have experienced it.

According to Drs. Donald Joy and Desmond Morris, bonding is most likely to occur between those who have moved systematically and slowly through the following twelve steps during their courtship and marriage:

Eye to body. 2) Eye to eye. 3) Voice to voice. 4) Hand to hand. 5) Hand to shoulder. 6) Hand to waist. 7) Face to face. 8) Hand to head. 9) Hand to body. 10) Mouth to breast. 11) Touching below the waist. 12) Intercourse.

The final acts of physical contact should, of course, be reserved for the marital relationship. In the most successful unions, husbands and wives journey through each of the twelve steps regularly. Touching, talking, holding hands, and gazing into one another’s eyes are as important to partners in their midlife years as to twenty‐year‐olds. Indeed, the best way to reinvigorate a tired sex life is to walk through the twelve steps of courtship frequently and with gusto!

Just between us…
  • During our courtship, did we follow this progression of bonding steps?
  • Are we regularly experiencing each level of bonding now?
  • How can we strengthen our physical and emotional bonding in our relationship? 
Dear Father, if we have been careless in the different kinds of relational bonding, forgive us. Help us to become one in body and soul. Amen.
  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
  • Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • Twelve Steps from Intimate Behavior by Desmond Morris (New York, N.Y.: Random House, 1971).

The Daily Readings for September 6, 2016

Job 29:1-20
Job again took up his discourse and said: "Oh, that I were as in the months of old, as in the days when God watched over me; when his lamp shone over my head, and by his light I walked through darkness; when I was in my prime, when the friendship of God was upon my tent; when the Almighty was still with me, when my children were around me; when my steps were washed with milk, and the rock poured out for me streams of oil! When I went out to the gate of the city, when I took my seat in the square, the young men saw me and withdrew, and the aged rose up and stood; the nobles refrained from talking, and laid their hands on their mouths; the voices of princes were hushed, and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths. When the ear heard, it commended me, and when the eye saw, it approved; because I delivered the poor who cried, and the orphan who had no helper. The blessing of the wretched came upon me, and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban. I was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy, and I championed the cause of the stranger. I broke the fangs of the unrighteous, and made them drop their prey from their teeth. Then I thought, 'I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days like the phoenix; my roots spread out to the waters, with the dew all night on my branches; my glory was fresh with me, and my bow ever new in my hand.'

Acts 14:1-18
The same thing occurred in Iconium, where Paul and Barnabas went into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks became believers. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who testified to the word of his grace by granting signs and wonders to be done through them. But the residents of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles. And when an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, the apostles learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country; and there they continued proclaiming the good news. In Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet and had never walked, for he had been crippled from birth. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. And Paul, looking at him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said in a loud voice, "Stand upright on your feet." And the man sprang up and began to walk. When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in human form!" Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates; he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifice. When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, "Friends, why are you doing this? We are mortals just like you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to follow their own ways; yet he has not left himself without a witness in doing good-- giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filling you with food and your hearts with joy." Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.

John 10:31-42
The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus replied, "I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?" The Jews answered, "It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God." Jesus answered, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, you are gods'? If those to whom the word of God came were called 'gods'-- and the scripture cannot be annulled-- can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, 'I am God's Son'? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father." Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands. He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him, and they were saying, "John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true." And many believed in him there.

Morning Psalms

Psalm 45 Eructavit cor meum
1   My heart is stirring with a noble song; let me recite what I have fashioned for the king; my tongue shall be the pen of a skilled writer.
2   You are the fairest of men; grace flows from your lips, because God has blessed you for ever.
3   Strap your sword upon your thigh, O mighty warrior, in your pride and in your majesty.
4   Ride out and conquer in the cause of truth and for the sake of justice.
5   Your right hand will show you marvelous things; your arrows are very sharp, O mighty warrior.
6   The peoples are falling at your feet, and the king's enemies are losing heart.
7   Your throne, O God, endures for ever and ever, a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom; you love righteousness and hate iniquity.
8   Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows.
9   All your garments are fragrant with myrrh, aloes, and cassia, and the music of strings from ivory palaces makes you glad.
10   Kings' daughters stand among the ladies of the court; on your right hand is the queen, adorned with the gold of Ophir.
11   Hear, O daughter; consider and listen closely; forget your people and your father's house.
12   The king will have pleasure in your beauty; he is your master; therefore do him honor.
13   The people of Tyre are here with a gift; the rich among the people seek your favor."
14   All glorious is the princess as she enters; her gown is cloth-of-gold.
15   In embroidered apparel she is brought to the king; after her the bridesmaids follow in procession.
16   With joy and gladness they are brought, and enter into the palace of the king.
17   In place of fathers, O king, you shall have sons; you shall make them princes over all the earth.
18   I will make your name to be remembered from one generation to another; therefore nations will praise you for ever and ever."

Evening Psalms

Psalm 47 Omnes gentes, plaudite
1   Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with a cry of joy.
2   For the LORD Most High is to be feared; he is the great King over all the earth.
3   He subdues the peoples under us, and the nations under our feet.
4   He chooses our inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves.
5   God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of the ram's-horn.
6   Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.
7   For God is King of all the earth; sing praises with all your skill.
8   God reigns over the nations; God sits upon his holy throne.
9   The nobles of the peoples have gathered together with the people of the God of Abraham.
10   The rulers of the earth belong to God, and he is highly exalted.

Psalm 48 Magnus Dominus
1   Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised; in the city of our God is his holy hill.
2   Beautiful and lofty, the joy of all the earth, is the hill of Zion, the very center of the world and the city of the great King.
3   God is in her citadels; he is known to be her sure refuge.
4   Behold, the kings of the earth assembled and marched forward together.
  They looked and were astounded; they retreated and fled in terror.
6   Trembling seized them there; they writhed like a woman in childbirth, like ships of the sea when the east wind shatters them.
7   As we have heard, so have we seen, in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God; God has established her for ever.
8   We have waited in silence on your loving-kindness, O God, in the midst of your temple.
9   Your praise, like your Name, O God, reaches to the world's end; your right hand is full of justice.
10   Let Mount Zion be glad and the cities of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments.
11   Make the circuit of Zion; walk round about her; count the number of her towers.
12   Consider well her bulwarks; examine her strongholds; that you may tell those who come after.
13   This God is our God for ever and ever; he shall be our guide for evermore.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The New Revised Standard Version Bible may be quoted and/or reprinted up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses without express written permission of the publisher, provided the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible or account for fifty percent (50%) of the total work in which they are quoted.

The Forward Day by Day Meditation for September 6, 2016

From Forward Day By Day
Written by Jonathan Melton, Episcopal priest

Acts 14:18 (NRSV) Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.

Paul and Barnabas proclaim the good news, manifest a healing, and are elevated as objects of worship. The people want to make them gods. To our contemporary ears (and toward the end of one doozy of an election in the United States), the truly strange thing about this story is that Paul and Barnabas refuse the people’s worship.

Personally, professionally, and in our communities of faith, the pressure to produce and impress is constant. Who doesn’t want to be compelling, attractive, and relevant? It can be difficult to step back and credit God with any positive gains. The simple act of redirecting praise to its rightful object does not come naturally to us. But this is exactly what Paul and Barnabas do.

Day by day, we are invited to surrender our natural desires to be seen and appreciated (if not worshiped) by others. If we are able to surrender these desires, it is only through the good news that, whether seen or unseen by the eyes of this world, God in Christ has seen and come to us in love. Whether we go noticed or unnoticed by others today, may we point with glad hearts to the God who sees, acts, and loves.

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

Girlfriends in God - But I Don’t Feel Like Praising God

Today's Truth

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7, NIV).

Friend to Friend

I once saw a refrigerator magnet that said, “I know God promises to never give me more than I can handle, but sometimes, I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.” Can you relate?

When trials come and life seems hard, we plead with God to deliver us from the problem when many times His plan is to deliver us in the problem.

Praise does not depend on an understanding of the circumstance or trial. Praise depends on an understanding of who God really is and wants to be in our life, and on our willingness to put our faith in Him.

As humans, we will never fully understand God – this side of heaven. God is holy and without blemish. God is all-powerful and omniscient. He is Creator of the universe and yet lives in you and me at our invitation. He is the only true, living God!

We may understand some of His ways and grasp the reasoning behind some of His plans. We may even come to the place of knowing Him on what I call an intimate level, but a full understanding of God is reserved for heaven. Until then, we walk by faith, not by sight. We praise Him in the darkness, knowing that the light is just ahead. We trust Him for things we cannot see. Honestly, the thought of serving and relying on a God I can understand is not a reassuring thought.

Most people who know me well would describe me as a strong person, someone who can usually handle what life holds. I thought the same thing until I became a powerless prisoner of the darkness as I battled severe clinical depression. It took me two long years to climb out of that dark pit, but in the process I learned many important truths.

I learned that I couldn’t depend on my own strength or my fickle emotions. God often asked me to praise Him when there didn’t seem to be a whole lot to praise him for. I didn’t feel like praising Him.

I began to understand that praise is not a feeling.

Praise is a choice, a step of obedience taken without the assurance of a changed circumstance or the elimination of a trial.

Praise focuses on God, not the circumstance, and fixes its gaze on God’s truth and God’s character instead of on the trial at hand.

We can celebrate the battle before it even begins because the outcome is neither our responsibility nor our goal.

Praise begins and ends with faith in the very nature, personality and integrity of God … and that never changes.

No matter what lies ahead, God is faithful.

No matter how hot the fiery trial may be, God is with us and will deliver us in it or from it.

So praise God!

Thank Him today for every victory tomorrow holds.

Celebrate - knowing that the battle belongs to God, and because of that single truth, success is certain.

Let's Pray

Father, I praise You today for all that You have done in my life. You are faithful even when I am faithless. Your love pursues me even when I am unlovable. Your forgiveness covers my sin and frees me from its penalty. I praise You for your love and faithfulness to me. Your presence in my life changes everything, empowering me to live each moment of every day, content in knowing You are in control. As I face today, Lord, remind me that no matter what happens, I can praise You!
In Jesus' Name,

Now It's Your Turn

Read and answer the following questions:
  • What comes to your mind when you hear the word “praise?"
  • Do you really believe your life can bring God pleasure?
  • Read Psalm 139. According to this psalm, how does God see you?
  • What are the sources of discouragement in your life?
  • What steps do you need to take to eliminate those sources?
Begin your “Joy Journal” by recording the daily blessings He gives you each day this week. Remember to add the “small” miracles as well as the “large” ones. At the end of the week, have a private praise service – just you and God. Thank Him for His presence and power at work in your life.

More from the Girlfriends

NEW BOOK from Mary Southerland! Mary has updated the E-Book, Fit for Life, and released it in a soft cover book. Fit for Life addresses the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual areas of your life and teaches you principles that will empower you to bring each area under God’s control.

Be sure to check out the FREE MP3s on Mary’s website and connect with Mary through email or on Facebook.

Seeking God? Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 1311
Huntersville, NC 28070


Standing Strong Through the Storm - FORGIVENESS IS NOT AN OPTION

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25

Our founder, Brother Andrew, says, “Forgiveness is the very core of the gospel message. I am a Christian only because God forgave me everything. There is no other ground on which to stand…not my repentance, not my praying the sinner’s prayer. Nothing made me a child of God except God forgave. And He did it two thousand years ago through Jesus on the cross. Jesus took all that sin and nailed it to the cross and He says, ‘Now, go, and put it into practice.’”

Poso, Indonesia is a beautiful place on a central island of the country. There we meet an elderly, physically weak, Christian mother who shares through her tears the tragedy that befell her seventeen-year-old daughter Alfita in 2005.

“My daughter Alfita was so beautiful. She loved Jesus, and she loved to sing. She loved spending time with her friends. One day, Alfita and three of her friends were walking to school. They always took a path that went deep into the jungle, far away from our village. Along the path grew beautiful flowers and my daughter loved flowers. That day, she and her friends, Theresia, Yarni, and Noviana stopped to pick flowers for their hair…”

The girls were all from Christian families. Three young Muslim men were waiting on the jungle path and savagely beheaded three of the girls including Alfita. The fourth girl, Noviana, survived her machete wounds.

The three men were tried for murder in the capital, Jakarta. Noviana and the families in question had to make witness statements. However, they first shook the hands of the murderers as a sign of forgiveness. Two years later, the suspects were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment.

The request for forgiveness came from one of the murderers. “It was very difficult to comply with this request,” said the older brother of Noviana. “But we wanted to keep to Jesus’ teaching and because of this, we are able to forgive. We hope that our step will also restore the peace in our town of Poso in Central Sulawesi.”

The family members prefer not to talk about the day itself. During the hearing, Noviana again had to see pictures of her beheaded friends and answer questions by the prosecutors and lawyers.

Alfita’s mother was severely traumatized by the murder of her daughter. She concludes, “All I could do was ask God for His peace, the peace that cannot be explained, that comes from trusting in Him. At the funeral He gave me that peace. Even though Alfita was brutally killed, I knew that she was safe in God’s arms in heaven…After that, when I knew God’s comfort in my heart, I was finally able to do as God commanded…so I let go of my right for revenge. I’m not bitter. I’ve forgiven the murderers and asked God to forgive them. I’ve prayed that they will realize what they’ve done.”

RESPONSE: Today I will confront my own trials and forgive those against whom I am holding anything.

PRAYER: Pray for complete healing of the trauma in the lives of these four families in Indonesia.

His Princess Every Day - I Will Send My Angels

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

My Bride,

There are many things I have to offer you as your eternal husband. I offer you everlasting life; I give you anytime access to me. I give you unspeakable joy, an abundant life and an eternal home. As my bride, your prayers reach the heavens and people's lives are changed forever because I hear your every word whispered to me. But there is more, my beloved, I command my angels to stand guard over you. There are many things you have been spared from without you knowing. Just be blessed in knowing I have you covered wherever you have gone; and I will continue to do so until you are finally home with me once and for always.

Your Prince and soul Provider

Praise the Lord, you angels, you mighty ones who carry out his plans, listening for each of his commands. Yes, praise the Lord, you armies of angels who serve him and do his will! - Psalm 103:20-21 (NLT)

Prayer to my Prince

My Prince,

How can I ever say no to receiving the kind of life you offer me? There is no one in the world that can give me the kind of relationship you provide. To be honest, when I really think about all you do and have done for me, I am almost ashamed about all the times I have taken you for granted. You truly are the lover of my soul and have all I have ever wanted.

Your Princess Who truly loves you

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. - Psalm 91:11 (NIV)

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 - Truth or Dare

by Sheri Rose Shepherd

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.James 4:7

You deserve to walk in the truth because you are His beloved child. Don't set yourself up to be robbed of the abundant life your Heavenly Father longs for you to live!

Our King warns us in His Word that there is an enemy after us who is out to kill, steal, and destroy (1 Corinthians 10:13). He also warns us that if we are not careful, we will help him (the devil) accomplish his mission by what we read, watch, and listen to and who we hang out with.

Actually, Proverbs tells us that those who hang with fools will suffer harm. Unfortunately, many times our curiosity causes us to fall away from our conviction and we take the dare of the devil: just as Eve did in the garden when Satan, the serpent, dared her to doubt God and take a bite of the forbidden fruit. No matter how beautiful that apple was or how pleasing it was to the eye, it certainly wasn't worth the price paid for the temporary pleasure. It's time for us to dare to live the life above and beyond what this world offers! We don't have to allow the devil to destroy our values, our minds, or our children.

So with that said, I want to give you a dare, not one that will weaken your will, but a dare that will wake you up to the amazing goodness of God that you may be missing.

I dare you to go on a "Temptation Fast."

This means fasting off anything, any thoughts, or anyone for seven days that tempts you or weakens your will to follow God or causes you to fall away from the life God longs for you to live.

I am believing God that as you lay down your curiosity and the comforts of this world, you will allow God's word to renew your mind and God's way of living to become a reality for you.

You will taste and see that the Lord is good and nothing this world has to offer you will taste better than His blessing, His peace, and His purpose. All of these blessings lived out will bring more pleasure to your soul in a whole new way. A way that not only effects you, but effects the world around 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 Forgiven Child,

I have walked with you all the days of your life. I’ve seen your past, and I know your future. I have so many plans I want to walk out with you, but as long as you’re looking back, we cannot move forward together. I will stand by you, even if you choose to stand still the rest of your life. But if you will accept My gift of a new beginning, you will find the new life I have to offer. Looking in a rearview mirror will only remind you of all that has gone wrong, but if you choose to let go of what’s behind and fix your eyes on what’s in front of you, you will be able to move forward. Trust me when I say that there’s nothing you have done or that anyone has done to you that must keep you chained to your past. I sent My Son, Jesus, to break every chain so you could be free. But only you can choose to walk out of the prison of your past and walk into the hope of a new future.

Your King who has you covered

Treasure of Truth

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. — 1 Corinthians 10:13

Un Dia a la Vez - Oración por buenas decisiones

El que va por buen camino teme al Señor; el que va por mal camino lo desprecia. Proverbios 14:2

Señor, te queremos dar muchas gracias por tu Palabra. Gracias por dejar entre nosotros ese Manual de Instrucciones que está lleno de recomendaciones y de consejos para que se apliquen a la vida de cada uno de tus hijos.

En estos días reflexionamos acerca de la sabiduría y la necedad y vimos que las dos pueden afectar nuestra vida para bien o para mal.

Por eso, hoy queremos decirte que necesitamos tu ayuda.

Queremos que nos bendigas con una nueva porción de sabiduría, de modo que seamos capaces de hacer tu voluntad y andar como es debido en tus caminos todos los días de nuestra vida.

También te pedimos, mi Dios, que nos ayudes a ser equilibrados y no llegar a los extremos del legalismo ni del libertinaje. Sabemos que los extremos son malos.

Gracias por este nuevo día. Lo dejamos en tus manos y confiamos plenamente en ti.

En el nombre de Jesús oramos, amén y amén.

Daily Devotional by John Piper - Present and Powerful Love

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? (Romans 8:35)
Notice three things in Romans 8:35.

1. Christ is loving us now.

A wife might say of her deceased husband: Nothing will separate me from his love. She might mean that the memory of his love will be sweet and powerful all her life. But that is not what Paul means here.

In Romans 8:34 it says plainly, “Christ Jesus is the one who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” The reason Paul can say that nothing will separate us from the love of Christ is because Christ is alive and is still loving us now.

He is at the right hand of God and is therefore ruling for us. And he is interceding for us, which means he is seeing to it that his finished work of redemption does in fact save us hour by hour and bring us safe to eternal joy. His love is not a memory. It is a moment-by-moment action by the omnipotent, living Son of God, to bring us to everlasting joy.

2. This love of Christ is effective in protecting us from separation, and therefore is not a universal love for all, but a particular love for his people — those who, according to Romans 8:28, love God and are called according to his purpose.

This is the love of Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.” It is Christ’s love for the church, his bride. Christ has a love for all, and he has a special, saving, preserving love for his bride. You know you are part of that bride if you trust Christ. Anyone — no exceptions — anyone who trusts Christ can say, I am part of his bride, his church, his called and chosen ones, the ones who verse 35 says are kept and protected forever no matter what.

3. This omnipotent, effective, protecting love does not spare us from calamities in this life, but brings us safe to everlasting joy with God.

Death will happen to us, but it will not separate us. So when Paul says in verse 35 that the “sword” will not separate us from the love of Christ, he means: even if we are killed we are not separated from the love of Christ.

So the sum of the matter in verse 35 is this: Jesus Christ is mightily loving his people with omnipotent, moment-by-moment love that does not always rescue us from calamity but preserves us for everlasting joy in his presence even through suffering and death.

Verse of the Day - September 06, 2016

John 14:23 (NIV) Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

Read all of John 14