Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Night Light for Couples - Newlywed Nonsense

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.

“Where is the respect due me?” Malachi 1:6

Some years ago as I (jcd) was flipping through the TV channels, I paused momentarily to watch a “newlywed” show. It was a bad decision. The host posed a series of dumb questions to a lineup of brides whose husbands were “sequestered backstage in a soundproof room.”

The host challenged the women to predict their husband’s responses to inquiries that went something like this: “Using the TV terms ‘first run,’ ‘rerun,’ or ‘cancelled,’ how would you describe the first time you and your husband made ‘whoopee’?” Without the least hesitation, the women blurted out frank answers to this and other intimate questions. A few minutes later the men were given the same opportunity to humiliate their wives. Of course, they grabbed it.

It has been said that television programming reflects the values of the society it serves. Heaven help us if that is true. In this instance, the newlyweds revealed their immaturity, selfishness, hostility, vulnerability, and sense of inadequacy. Rather than treat their sexual relationships— and each other—with the privacy and respect they deserved, these young marrieds aired every intimate detail to a national television audience without a second thought.

Intimacy will never be achieved in the bedroom, or in any part of the marriage, when the relationship is handled in so cavalier a manner. Some facts about your life together are best kept between you and your mate. 

Just between us…
  • Do you feel I respect our sexual relationship?
  • Do I ever reveal details about our sex life you wish I didn’t?
  • How can the behavior described above damage a relationship?
Lord, thank You for the intimacy that we share. May we be quick to recognize and reject popular values that offend You and our marriage commitment. Amen.
  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Daily Readings for September 7, 2016

Job 29:1-1, 30:1-31
Job again took up his discourse and said: "But now they make sport of me, those who are younger than I, whose fathers I would have disdained to set with the dogs of my flock. What could I gain from the strength of their hands? All their vigor is gone. Through want and hard hunger they gnaw the dry and desolate ground, they pick mallow and the leaves of bushes, and to warm themselves the roots of broom. They are driven out from society; people shout after them as after a thief. In the gullies of wadis they must live, in holes in the ground, and in the rocks. Among the bushes they bray; under the nettles they huddle together. A senseless, disreputable brood, they have been whipped out of the land. "And now they mock me in song; I am a byword to them. They abhor me, they keep aloof from me; they do not hesitate to spit at the sight of me. Because God has loosed my bowstring and humbled me, they have cast off restraint in my presence. On my right hand the rabble rise up; they send me sprawling, and build roads for my ruin. They break up my path, they promote my calamity; no one restrains them. As through a wide breach they come; amid the crash they roll on. Terrors are turned upon me; my honor is pursued as by the wind, and my prosperity has passed away like a cloud. "And now my soul is poured out within me; days of affliction have taken hold of me. The night racks my bones, and the pain that gnaws me takes no rest. With violence he seizes my garment; he grasps me by the collar of my tunic. He has cast me into the mire, and I have become like dust and ashes. I cry to you and you do not answer me; I stand, and you merely look at me. You have turned cruel to me; with the might of your hand you persecute me. You lift me up on the wind, you make me ride on it, and you toss me about in the roar of the storm. I know that you will bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living. "Surely one does not turn against the needy, when in disaster they cry for help. Did I not weep for those whose day was hard? Was not my soul grieved for the poor? But when I looked for good, evil came; and when I waited for light, darkness came. My inward parts are in turmoil, and are never still; days of affliction come to meet me. I go about in sunless gloom; I stand up in the assembly and cry for help. I am a brother of jackals, and a companion of ostriches. My skin turns black and falls from me, and my bones burn with heat. My lyre is turned to mourning, and my pipe to the voice of those who weep.

Acts 14:19-28
But Jews came there from Antioch and Iconium and won over the crowds. Then they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the city. The next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, then on to Iconium and Antioch. There they strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, "It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God." And after they had appointed elders for them in each church, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe. Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. When they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had completed. When they arrived, they called the church together and related all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles. And they stayed there with the disciples for some time.

John 11:1-16
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, "Lord, he whom you love is ill." But when Jesus heard it, he said, "This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God's glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it." Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again." The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?" Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them." After saying this, he told them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him." The disciples said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right." Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."

Morning Psalms

Psalm 119:49-56 Zayin Memor esto verbi tui
49   Remember your word to your servant, because you have given me hope.
50   This is my comfort in my trouble, that your promise gives me life.
51   The proud have derided me cruelly, but I have not turned from your law.
52   When I remember your judgments of old, O LORD, I take great comfort.
53   I am filled with a burning rage, because of the wicked who forsake your law.
54   Your statutes have been like songs to me wherever I have lived as a stranger.
55   I remember your Name in the night, O LORD, and dwell upon your law.
56   This is how it has been with me, because I have kept your commandments.

Psalm 119:57-64 Heth Portio mea, Domine
57   You only are my portion, O LORD; I have promised to keep your words.
58   I entreat you with all my heart, be merciful to me according to your promise.
59   I have considered my ways and turned my feet toward your decrees.
60   I hasten and do not tarry to keep your commandments.
61   Though the cords of the wicked entangle me, I do not forget your law.
62   At midnight I will rise to give you thanks, because of your righteous judgments.
63   I am a companion of all who fear you and of those who keep your commandments.
64   The earth, O LORD, is full of your love; instruct me in your statutes.

Psalm 119:65-72 Teth Bonitatem fecisti
65   O LORD, you have dealt graciously with your servant, according to your word.
66   Teach me discernment and knowledge, for I have believed in your commandments.
67   Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.
68   You are good and you bring forth good; instruct me in your statutes.
69   The proud have smeared me with lies, but I will keep your commandments with my whole heart.
70   Their heart is gross and fat, but my delight is in your law.
71   It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.
72   The law of your mouth is dearer to me than thousands in gold and silver.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 49 Audite haec, omnes
1   Hear this, all you peoples; hearken, all you who dwell in the world, you of high degree and low, rich and poor together.
2   My mouth shall speak of wisdom, and my heart shall meditate on understanding.
3   I will incline my ear to a proverb and set forth my riddle upon the harp.
4   Why should I be afraid in evil days, when the wickedness of those at my heels surrounds me,
5   The wickedness of those who put their trust in their goods, and boast of their great riches?
6   We can never ransom ourselves, or deliver to God the price of our life;
7   For the ransom of our life is so great, that we should never have enough to pay it,
8   In order to live for ever and ever, and never see the grave.
9   For we see that the wise die also; like the dull and stupid they perish and leave their wealth to those who come after them.
10   Their graves shall be their homes for ever, their dwelling places from generation to generation, though they call the lands after their own names.
11   Even though honored, they cannot live for ever; they are like the beasts that perish.
12   Such is the way of those who foolishly trust in themselves, and the end of those who delight in their own words.
13   Like a flock of sheep they are destined to die; Death is their shepherd; they go down straightway to the grave.
14   Their form shall waste away, and the land of the dead shall be their home.
15   But God will ransom my life; he will snatch me from the grasp of death.
16   Do not be envious when some become rich, or when the grandeur of their house increases;
17   For they will carry nothing away at their death, nor will their grandeur follow them.
18   Though they thought highly of themselves while they lived, and were praised for their success,
19   They shall join the company of their forebears, who will never see the light again.
20   Those who are honored, but have no understanding, are like the beasts that perish.

Psalm 53 Dixit insipiens
1   The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." All are corrupt and commit abominable acts; there is none who does any good.
2   God looks down from heaven upon us all, to see if there is any who is wise, if there is one who seeks after God.
3   Every one has proved faithless; all alike have turned bad; there is none who does good; no, not one.
4   Have they no knowledge, those evildoers who eat up my people like bread and do not call upon God?
5   See how greatly they tremble, such trembling as never was; for God has scattered the bones of the enemy; they are put to shame, because God has rejected them.
6   Oh, that Israel's deliverance would come out of Zion! when God restores the fortunes of his people Jacob will rejoice and Israel be glad.

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 7, 2016

From Forward Day By Day
Written by Jonathan Melton

Psalm 49:16-17 (NRSV) Do not be envious when some become rich, or when the grandeur of their house increases; for they will carry nothing away at their death, nor will their grandeur follow them.

The grace in the psalmist’s exhortation to refrain from envy or fear when “some become rich” is found in naming an uncomfortable truth—we worry about the wealth of others. Indeed, the corrupting influences of wealth and power appear to validate our fears. Still, it is hard to know whether we fear the wealthy or simply wish we were walking around in their fancy, custom-fit shoes! The psalmist confronts us with the sin of ambition. After all, it is not just the ones we call rich who “carry nothing away.” The same is true of all of us.

Every day I find myself motivated by things I cannot carry away. Rather than despise those moments, I have come to thank God for the opportunity to refocus my heart. It is true grace to be called back to the goodness of God. Saint Augustine liked to say that even our awareness that we have wandered off the path is a gift we could not have possessed without God. May we find and thank God for such awareness today.

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His Princess Every Day - You Have Beautiful Hands

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

Your hands are beautiful because they are blessed by Me. I want you to raise your hands to heaven and praise Me. Ask Me, and I will anoint your hands to heal those who are hurting and help those who are in need. I have given you those beautiful hands to touch others with My love, and when you use your hands to work for My kingdom, I will bless all that you do. It is a privilege, My princess, to have that kind of power in your possession. I can do amazing things through you when you faithfully hold on to My promises. Be assured that while you are using your hands to help others, I, your King, will move My mighty hand in all areas of your life. So keep reaching out to the world, My love, and help them to know that I am real. Hold on to My hand, and know that I will never let you go.

Your King and the One who holds your hand

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. - Colossians 3:16-17 (NIV)

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.


“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:43-45

The literal meaning of the word “forgiveness” in the New Testament is “to release; to hurl away; to free yourself.” The only way to break the chain or cycle of hurtfulness is to stop and ask forgiveness. This allows a relationship to start over and begin anew. The Russian writer, Solzhenitsyn, believed forgiveness is what truly makes us different from animals. Only humans can perform the most unnatural act of forgiveness that transcends the relentless law of nature.

A young Iranian lady, we’ll call Fatima, was full of hatred towards her mother-in-law. For fifteen years her mother-in law was her enemy and there was a great deal of enmity in the family.

Several times Fatima had even tried to kill her mother-in-law. Once she put poison in her soup hoping to kill her. The mother-in-law felt very sick after that and was taken to the hospital. The doctors took the poison out of her stomach and were able to save her life. On another occasion she had beaten her mother-in-law so badly that the ambulance took her to the hospital and again her life was saved. Other times she tried to kill her mother-in-law, but every time her life was saved miraculously.

The main reason for the hatred between Fatima and her mother-in-law was Fatima’s marriage to her son. The mother-in-law had even gone so far as to contact different witches in order to bring a curse on the life of Fatima.

One day Fatima got hold of the JESUS DVD and watched it. The love of Jesus had a great impact on her life. When she heard one of Jesus’ teachings that says: “Love your enemies and bless those who curse you,” she was deeply moved. She was especially touched by the fact that Jesus died on the cross for the sake of His enemies and even asked God to forgive them. At that moment Fatima fell on her knees and asked Jesus to come into her heart and change her. She turned over her entire life to Jesus. After that she sensed this deep love in her heart towards her mother-in-law.

After that experience, Fatima visited her mother-in-law taking flowers and sweets for her. She fell on her knees in front of her and asked for her forgiveness for all the bad things she had done against her. Fatima told her that her life was changed and Jesus had created a new love in her heart towards her. The mother-in-law in turn asked Fatima to forgive her for all the curses she had tried to bring into her life. She also gave her life to Jesus as the result of her daughter-in-law’s evangelism. They entered into a beautiful relationship with one another from that moment onwards.

RESPONSE: Today I will ask forgiveness—as Jesus said—of people I have hated and treated poorly.

PRAYER: Thank You Father for Your example in loving the just and the unjust.. Help me to practice this as Your son or daughter.

Girlfriends in God - When Life Doesn’t Turn Out Like You Thought It Would

Today’s Truth

“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:10 NIV).

Friend to Friend

My bags were packed. My passport was up to date. My feet were itching to get started.

For more than a year, my husband and I had planned a trip to Italy, Greece, and Turkey with six of our closest friends. We had plotted our course, prepared our travel, and saved our pennies. This was a big deal for us—for me. I was going to stand on the very mount in Athens where Paul preached one of my favorite verses: “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). We were going to explore the catacombs where some of our very first brothers and sisters in Christ were buried and walk the very steps of Paul in Ephesus.

When the day finally arrived, we flew to Rome to spend three days before setting sail to Greece. Rome did not disappoint: the Coliseum, the Appian Way, the aqueducts, and the catacombs. I had to pinch myself to make sure I was really there.

The night before boarding the ship, I celebrated by eating some local fish that was a little too fishy. In the wee hours of the morning my body commenced rejecting the contents of my digestive system in every unpleasant way possible. I’d experienced this before. I knew what it was. Food poisoning.

Being a good trooper, I crawled into the shuttle van the next morning with our band of explorers, closed my eyes, and proceeded to the ship terminal for the next leg of our journey. We arrived at the dock and joined the throng of other vacationers being herded through the roped check-in lanes. One of the attendants handed me a short form to complete for admittance. And there it was. The question.

“Have you experienced vomiting in the past 48 hours?”

I looked at the paper.

I looked at my carefree expectant friends.

I looked at the beckoning ship with my name on it.

I looked at my wary husband—questioning without a word.

I took a deep breath.

I checked “yes.”

When I handed my boarding papers to the customer service representative, she took one look at the box checked “yes,” and spoke through a forced smile. “Ma’am, please step aside,” she said with a thick Italian accent. “I’ll be back in a moment.”

A few minutes later, the ship nurse appeared. She took my temperature, and asked me to please move to another area of the terminal. I explained to her about the fishy fish, the food poisoning, and the dehydration that caused my temperature to be elevated one-degree. She just nodded, took a few notes, and then disappeared into the belly of the ship.

After twenty minutes or so, she returned. “I’m sorry, ma’am” she began, “you cannot board this ship. You have been denied passage. You are not fit to sail. We cannot take the risk that you will infect the other passengers. You need to go home.”

Let that sink in for just a moment. You are not “fit to sail.” You have been “denied passage.” You need to “go home.”

Steve and I were crushed as our broken-hearted friends walked across the gangplank, disappeared into the ship’s hull, and sailed away without us.

Have you ever been in a similar situation? Maybe not being denied passage on the trip of a lifetime, but perhaps being rejected by an employer, a project manager or a publisher. A broken engagement. A crumbled marriage. A wayward child. A negative pregnancy test. A sudden death. A shattered dream.

Perhaps you’ve prepared, planned and prayed. You can almost reach out and touch your ship, almost taste the salty air of success, almost feel the gentle sway of passage. But then, someone whose opinion matters shows up and declares that you are not “fit to sail.” They deny you passage on the ship you know was meant for you, and tell you to “go home.” They decide, “It’s over.”

Perhaps you’ve felt the gut-wrenching disappointment of rejection. The heart-crushing discouragement of apparent failure. The realization that life has just not turned out like you thought it would. If so, you’re not alone.

I’m going to share the rest of this story tomorrow, but for now, let’s just ponder this thought. When things don’t go as you had hoped, does that mean you just give up? Pick up your marbles and go home? Or do you press on and try again?

No matter what you’re going through here’s a truth to hang your hat on: “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you” Psalm 9:10 NIV

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, sometimes life does not turn out like I thought it would and I get mad, hurt, or discouraged. When things don’t go my way, help me to take a deep breath, pray to stay calm, and take the next step. Help me not to lose hope in seemingly hopeless situations.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

Can you think of a time in your life when your plans fell through in a big way?

How do you think the disciples felt when Jesus was dead and buried?

I’m not talking about just being sad. What did this event do to their hopes and dreams?

How did God surprise them and surpass their dreams?

Here are some power verses to hang onto when you feel like you’re hanging on to a thread.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

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Un Dia a la Vez - Una nueva oportunidad: Testimonio de sanidad (primera parte)

En mi angustia invoqué al Señor; clamé a mi Dios, y él me escuchó desde su templo; ¡mi clamor llegó a sus oídos! Salmo 18:6

El mes de septiembre quedó marcado para siempre en mí, pues en un mes como este Dios me sanó de una grave enfermedad. Durante esa prueba, mi vida estuvo al borde de la muerte y pude comprender muchas cosas que vivo ahora: Disfrutar mi familia día a día, ser consciente que mi vida está en manos de Dios, que todo puede cambiar en un abrir y cerrar de ojos y que hoy estoy bien y mañana quizá no lo esté.

Esto nunca pasó por mi mente. Ni siquiera consideré que estaría casi cinco meses fuera de mi trabajo. Mis princesas tampoco se imaginaron jamás que una operación de colon se convirtiera en una pesadilla al ver a su mamá en una condición tan crítica por un mes y medio en el hospital, con ocho recaídas que significaron ocho veces más en el hospital y dos años de recuperación.

Hoy agradezco a mi Dios por sus cuidados. Mis hijas también valoran más a su mami y testifican que, a pesar de lo traumático que vivieron, saben que Dios me sanó y cuidó de ellas en esos días sombríos.

Además, pude experimentar el poder de la oración. Así que, debido a la oportunidad que tengo de escribir este libro, puedo agradecerles a cada uno de mis oyentes y familiares que alzaron una voz de clamor… ¡Gracias!

Cada prueba que vivas te hace crecer como persona. Maduras y aprendes una lección de vida. Por eso quiero repetirte la frase que aprendí de mi cuñado, el pastor Fernando García: «Dios es bueno todo el tiempo, todo el tiempo bueno es Dios».

Daily Devotional by John Piper - God-Given Foes and Faith

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ . . . not frightened in anything by your opponents. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake. (Philippians 1:27–29)
Paul told the Philippians that living worthy of the gospel of Christ meant fearlessness before enemies. Then he gave the logic of fearlessness.

The logic is this: God has given you two gifts, not just one — faith and suffering. That’s what verse 29 says.

In this context that means: Both your faith in the face of suffering, and your suffering are gifts of God. When Paul says, don’t be frightened by your opponents he had two reasons in his mind why they don’t need to be frightened:
  1. One reason is that the opponents are in the hand of God. Their opposition is a gift from God. He governs it. That’s the first point of verse 29.
  2. And the other reason not to be afraid is that your fearlessness, that is, your faith, is also in the hand of God. It too is a gift. That is the other point of verse 29.
So the logic of fearlessness in the face of adversity is this double truth: Both your adversity and your faith in the face of adversity are gifts of God.

Why is this called “living worthy of the gospel of Christ”? Because the gospel is the good news that Christ’s blood of the covenant infallibly obtained for all his people the sovereign working of God to give us faith and to govern our enemies — always for our eternal good.

Therefore, fear not. Your adversaries can do no more than God grants. And he will grant you the faith you need. These promises are blood bought and sealed. Gospel promises.

Verse of the Day - September 07, 2016

Colossians 1:28 (NIV) He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.

Read all of Colossians 1