Encouraging Devotions for Women of Excellence
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By Gail Rodgers
The evening news brings vivid pictures of new destruction in people's lives.
"Lord, where is the hope?" I silently asked.
Immediately a parade of faces flashed through my memory. People I knew; people who had found God to be their anchor and strength in times of great distress and personal loss. They were people who put their trust in God in spite of severe hardship. I had witnessed the peace and comfort they received from Him when they were shaken to the core.
Did they face it without tears or fear or moments of losing it? No. Yet their eyes always turned back to the God they knew. They choose to run to Him and not from Him in their pain. He was there. He is there. For every breaking heart and every hopeless situation He is still there ... today...for you and me.
The words in Psalm 13 echo our own thoughts as David laments over the agony of his life. He cries out to God with anguished questions. "How long, O Lord, will you forget me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and everyday have sorrow in my heart?"
Having spent himself he then makes a decision. "But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord for he has been good to me."
God is big enough for us to beat on His chest and cry out our questions. If we let Him, He will encompass us with His love and quiet our hearts and bring rest to our body and soul. He will remind us of blessings we still have in spite of loss.
When all we have put our security in is shaken, God is still there. He offers hope.
Determine to trust Him. Ask Him for guidance and stability every step of your journey. He can navigate you through the maze and steady you even in the midst of turbulent surroundings.
~ Father God,
I am tired and spent from the cares of my life and the circumstances that are overwhelming me. My own resources are not enough. I need Your strength and Your wisdom to help me know the next step. I want to trust in You. Increase my faith and help me walk daily with You. Comfort me, reassure me of Your love and take my life into Your hands. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.
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Why is God allowing disasters like the destructive hurricanes? http://www.thelife.com/disaster/cares.html
UNDERSTANDING WHO YOU ARE!
By Gail Rodgers
It’s important to accept what God says about who we are. All too often we live with feelings of deep inadequacy. We may regret the past or fear the future. In life's crazy pace it’s easy to forget to schedule in time with our Lord and to ask ourselves, “Am I growing or eroding in who I am becoming?”
A wise woman grows in understanding who she is.
A woman who knows how God sees her is confident in her identity. She knows God made her just the way she is and for specific tasks. She does not compare the inside of herself with the outside of another woman.
She makes the effort to grow in her knowledge of the truth of what God says about her. A woman who understands who she is in God’s sight knows she is:
* Accepted (Ephesians 1:5)
* Secure (Philippians 1:6)
* Significant (John 15:16)
Her identity is not bound up in what she has, how she looks or what she wears. Her identity is secured in who she is as a beloved child of God.
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
Read Psalm 139 and ask God to fill your heart with the knowledge of just how treasured you are to Him. Ask Him to help you grow in your understanding of who you really are!
Sometimes it’s hard for me to think of myself as a piece of Your artwork, created to be just who I am. Help me to embrace the knowledge of who You say I am! I know all too well the weaknesses in me. I invite You to use these very things that I dislike about myself to be the entry point of Your strength and power in my Iife. I know You have things for me to do that go beyond this “to do” list of mine. Help me to be ready to give a kind word or a hug to someone today. Show me who You want to touch through me. Help me to live as an accepted, secure and significant child of the Almighty God today by the power of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Being Bold for Christ
... but the righteous are as bold as lions. Proverbs 28:1
There has been some things on my mind as of late. I have been thinking on where to start. I don't know if this is a devotion or an expression, but it is something I think needs to be said. I was at work last week, and I was talking with a young lady about her beliefs on Christ and the church, and she is very confused on many issues. An older lady then made a comment, that we can only worry about ourselves. She knew Christ, and of coarse if someone asked, she would share, but who is she to force Him on someone.
Well, my problem with that is this. To BOLDLY proclaim Christ isn't forcing Him on anyone. If it makes someone feel uncomfortable, that may very well be a good thing. My goal isn't to turn anyone away for sure. But in this day and age, we can't afford to set idley by and wait for someone to ask us about Christ. It just isn't going to happen. If we don't proclaim HIM from the mountain tops, as loud as we can, then we are going to lose those, who may be confused, to world. There is so much negativity in this world. It is on every street corner, every newspaper ad, every television show, every restaurant, every court house, every school yard, and even in the churches. We have got to let our light so shine before men, so brightly that when they come close to those rocks in the night they will know that JESUS Christ is the LIGHT in the light house leading them to safety. When it is all said and done He is the only thing that is left that hasn't been contaminated by human kind. Many have tried. But He is true. His word is true. Yesterday, Today, and Forever more. AMEN!! We have to stop worrying about what others are going to think of us, and start worrying about what our Father in Heaven thinks of us, and if what we say is pleasing in His sight. My belief is this, we have lost so many to the boldness of the world. When are we going to be bold for Jesus, and be proud, that we are blood bought, born again, and going to live with the KING. That is nothing to be ashamed of!!!!!
There was once a lady who invited her sister for a turkey dinner. She had raised the turkeys on her farm. The sister sat and carved the turkey, and their plates where filled. As they began to fill their mouths with turkey, they could not keep it in their mouths. For there was a foul taste of decayed shrimp. The brother-in-law had used the left overs from the shrimp market to fertilize the ground. The turkeys has evidently eaten the decayed shrimp, and the taste had went all through them. There it was lovely, looking turkey, but it was useless.
In being a Christian, what we feed on, is what others will taste. We as Christians are to be examples for the rest of the world to see and know Christ. Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven. If we are feasting on self righteousness, indignation, and ways of the world, then when the world looks at us, that is what they see. That is not how Christ wants to be represented. In Matthew 11:29 Christ says; Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart. That is how he wants us to be. Let’s look at those words, meek, and lowly.
Meek- Gently, kind, not easily provoked, ready to yield rather than cause trouble.
Humble- Not proud or assertive
These are characteristics of Christ, and as long as we are feeding on His word, and seeking Him in every area of our life, then when others seek to have a taste it will be sweeter than honey.
Prayer for today;
Father, Help me to be all that you would have me to be. Help me to be a light in dark places, and to represent you in all aspects of my life. Teach me thy ways, and give me the desire to seek, and learn more of You. Strengthen me in areas, that I am weak, that you may always receive the glory. In Jesus name, we ask these things. Amen
A Thorn In the Flesh
II Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made
perfect in weakness"
When all of the Epistles of Saint Paul along with the book of Acts by the Apostle Luke are taken together, it becomes abundantly clear that Paul the Apostle, the greatest missionary of the first century, suffered more for Jesus Christ than any other man. It would be difficult to find anyone who drank so deeply at the fountain of Calvary than this man Paul. He who was once the persecutor became himself persecuted. The risen Lord mentioned this to Ananias when He said of Paul: "For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake" (Acts 9:16).
And suffer Paul did! He was subjected to every pain, every distress, every injury that makes war upon our bodies. He was brutally beaten by stones. He was shipwrecked three times at sea. He was savagely slashed by whippings. He faced danger and death times without number. He experienced pain, exhaustion, hunger, loneliness most of his life.
And throughout all of this Paul experienced God's sufficiency for every problem he faced. His God was big enough, and strong enough, and adequate enough to meet every difficulty and hardship he was called upon to go through. This is the truth he desires for each one of us. When we pass through the fire, when our faith is severely being tested, when we are under siege by Satan, it is in these circumstances that we must not lose heart, but rest in the confidence that God will bring us through them.
Fanny Crosby, the blind songwriter, who never once saw the beauty of nature nor the face of friends, was born in New York State in 1820. She died in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1915 at the age of ninety-five. Let me share with you something about her own personal thorn that God did not remove, but used it to touch the hearts of millions of people. After being born with normal vision, when she was only six weeks old she caught a cold. The family doctor was away so they had to use another doctor. Through the faulty medical advice of this country physician she became totally blind.
But Fanny Crosby did not permit revenge or hatred to corrode her soul. Her affliction failed to dampen her cheerful outlook on life. Once when a minister sympathetically remarked, "I think it is a great pity that the Master did not give you sight when he showered so many other gifts upon you." She quickly replied: "Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I should be born blind?" "Why?" asked the surprised minister. "Because when I get to Heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior!" Imagine what it must have been like when Fanny Crosby passed from this life to the next.
Fanny Crosby immediately started to use her blindness for the glory of God. At fifteen she entered the New York Institute for the Blind and spent the next thirty-five years at the school as a student and as a teacher. But her lasting contribution was in the seven thousand hymns she wrote which have been sung in churches throughout the world. Hymns such as Safe in the Arms of Jesus, Rescue the Perishing, and the words of the hymn found on her headstone in Bridgeport: "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine." You see, the purpose of her physical blindness was to bring spiritual brightness to others.
None can fully appreciate what a blessing a thorn can become except those mature Christians who have gone through some pain or suffering. As Ralph Erskine, that grand old preacher of England, as he was laid aside with wasting illness, pointed out when he said: "I have known more of God since I came to this bed than through all my life." How gloriously true!
You see, people are still being weighted down with all kinds of thorns today - separated years from Paul! And still we find God using these trials to bring honor and glory to Himself, plus bringing spiritual maturity and giving a special ministry to those of us like Paul with thorns. This, I say, is the profit which comes from pain and the blessings which come from burdens.
I beg of you, like Fanny Crosby of long ago, like the Apostle Paul of the first century, in this hour of your thorn, lean upon God's grace, draw upon His strength, and rest in His wisdom that He knows what is best for you. If you do, then you will be like Paul of whom Dr. Harold J. Ockenga called, "the man who smiled through it all".
One fashion magazine says hemlines are up, another says hemlines are down. One designer tells us the layered look is in for fall, but another insists the bulky look is obsolete. One fashion line shows neutral shades and another promotes bold color for the upcoming season. What's a girl to do?
There's one style that never changes. God tells us to clothe ourselves with His armor. It never rusts and it is always the perfect covering for whatever the day holds. Let's take a closer look at Ephesians 6:10-18, the passage that describes our spiritual dress code.
The Living Bible reminds us of the reason we are to wear God's protective armor: "So that you will be able to stand safe against all strategies and tricks of Satan. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies--the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world." Whew! That's good enough reason for me! I want to put on every piece of that armor, don't you?
The first piece is the girdle of truth, or the belt of truth, depending on which Bible translation you use. I like to think of it as the truth of God's power encompassing me, surrounding me with God's promises and holding me in place. In other words, I trust God to hold me together throughout the day. I will not become unraveled or torn apart by stress. His Word promises, "My God will meet all [my] needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). When I need peace or security, I just remind myself of that verse. Another favorite is Hebrews 13:6, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid."
Next, we are to put on the breastplate of righteousness, our Wonder Bra. For isn't it a wonder that we are made righteous through Jesus? His act of obedience, dying on the cross on our behalf, puts us in right standing before God, cleansed and forgiven of sin. Ephesians 1:4 explains that we are "Holy in his eyes, without a single fault. We who stand before him, covered with his love" (TLB).
Then we are to put on our shoes. The King James version says, "feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace." The Living Bible says, "Wear shoes that are able to speed you on as you preach the Good News of peace with God." So let's put on our Nikes and "Just do it!" We should always be ready to share the Good News of the gospel whenever possible and wherever God leads us.
We are given the "shield of faith" to stop the fiery arrows aimed at us by Satan. I like to imagine that my shield has the family crest on it. It tells the world that I belong to the family of God. The design of my family crest has been drawn in the blood of Jesus. Satan cannot penetrate that shield, as long as I hold it up before him.
Now that our bodies are protected, we need to protect our heads, too. We are told to put on the helmet of salvation. Funny thing about helmets, some of us don't want to wear one. We think it will make us look funny. And we don't want to get our hair messed up. We think if we're careful, we can go through the day without falling down and getting hurt, so we don't really need a helmet. But the whole suit of armor isn't complete without the helmet of salvation. In fact, it is the most important part. None of the other pieces will work unless the helmet is in place. Faith in Jesus is our total covering.
This is our dress code for the day. But it isn't a defensive dress only. Oh no, for now God puts in our hands the "sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." I like to think of it as a big, powerful sword, with jewels encrusted in the handle. With this in my hand, I go on the offense and drive the enemy out. When Satan tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness, Jesus defeated him by answering him with Scripture. We can follow His example by arming ourselves with verses like "Resist the enemy and he will flee from you" (James 4:7) and "Greater is he who is in me than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).
God encourages us to put on our armor daily with this promise from Ephesians 6:13 (TLB): "So use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will still be standing up." Victorious! And victory is always in fashion.
Clothed in Grace
Do you remember a time in your life when you were feeling particularly uncomfortable about yourself? Perhaps it was something you had done or said. Or just 'one of those days' when there seemed to be something about you that just wasn't right. Your 'body language' said . . . 'I'm a mess." And anyone who cared to notice would have easily known you were not a happy camper.
Unexpectedly, you ran into a good friend. The first thing she said was, "I have always loved that dress. It makes you look just terrific!" Terrific? Me? Her words, so full of friendship, made you stand a little taller. She was happy to see you. Just being with her made you feel better . . . and when you walked on, your mood and your day had changed.
God is like that friend. Grace is the dress that makes you 'look terrific'. You cannot put on that dress, unless you choose to go into your closet and take it from the hanger. Slip it on. And go out into the world clothed in grace. We've been in the dark places. We've worn the shabby, torn garments of sin. And then one day, a package arrived – Special Delivery! For me? You tore into it and there it was . . . the most beautiful garment you've ever seen. Just exactly your size. Perfect for you in every way. The enclosed card said . . . Paid in full. Nothing is due.
I love you, God.
That is GRACE. It's tailor-made just for you. It covers all of your 'sinful lumps and bumps' – and you have never felt or looked as good. There is no other one like it, for it is yours. Each day it is renewed . . . as fresh as the day it arrived. Clothed in its beauty, you walk continuously in grace. Forgiven completely. The rag-tag garments of sin no longer are stuffed into the dark recesses of your closet.
If you are tempted to buy something 'On Sale' . . . you only need to think of how it will look hanging next to the 'garment of grace.'
Like me, do you keep far too many things that no longer fit? What keeps us from tossing them away? Could we be thinking that one day we might again want to put them on? Oh, I do hope not.
Note to self: Today, clean closet!
Standing in the middle of the room, I glance around and take in the décor. The hardwood floor is polished brightly, bringing out its rich maple coloring. The sofa has light shades of brown with cream highlights. A delicate wooden side table displays a thin brass lamp set to the lowest lighting and a well used leather Bible. A roaring fire blazes in the brick fireplace. Above the mantel is a Thomas Kinkade painting of a cozy cottage nestled in the woods. A soft instrumental song gently pours through the flat wall speakers. The room is so inviting. It calls out to me, "Come rest here."
This is the ideal place for me to be with my Father, to be broken before Him. No busy noise, no responsibilities. Just beauty, peace, and comfort. An inviting environment. This is where I can be broken before the Lord and give Him all that I am. However, this room is in my mind. Now let's look at a different room, the one that is actually in my home.
Standing in my living room, I glance around at the mess. I see the stains of coffee and juice in the rug along with the cookie crumbs my son crushed into the corners. Toys are scattered everywhere. Color crayons, toys, and socks are shoved in between the cushions of the sofa. The sofa is neither fancy nor elegant, but durable enough to withstand three children. Homework, backpacks, and shoes trail from one room to the next—evidence the older children are home from school.
I usually find myself broken before the Lord, not in the beautiful places, but in the middle of the mess. Don't get me wrong. I love my home and all that comes with it. Nevertheless, I am acutely aware of the fact that no matter how much I clean and polish the entire room in the morning, it will inevitably end up the same disastrous mess by the afternoon. That's life. And that's where I meet God.
I have an ideal place in my mind where I could best meet God. I tell myself, Once I get there, then I can be broken before Him. However, the ideal places rarely come to me. Maybe the point isn't the where and when; maybe it's about being broken.
The woman with the alabaster box (Mark 14:3) could not wait for the ideal location or time to break it open and anoint Jesus. She had to pour it out, right at the dining room table; I'm sure she would have preferred to be alone with Jesus. Perhaps taking a walk by the lake without others to criticize or judge her. However, she obviously reached a point where she needed Jesus more than anything and she was not going to wait any longer. She broke what she had and gave it to her Master.
Psalm 146:8 says, "The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down." As you are broken before the Lord in the middle of your daily life, He will lift you up and say, "Let Me create a masterpiece from these broken pieces. Being broken before the Lord—surrendering the real you, the one with toys and dirty socks lying around—is what He is waiting for. Do not fear being broken before the Lord, for in the midst of your brokenness He is with you.
By Monica Cane
Privileged to Pray
Have you ever been reluctant to pray? Either you were to busy, to upset, or just to tired. I think we all have at some point. The thing is, do we let the reluctance stop us from communication with our father. Or do we press on in spite of. God waits to bestow His blessings on us, and we are to busy. The Angels in Heaven are probably amazed at us. Their greatest desire and joy comes from communicating with God. So why should we, sons and daughters of the most high God, be reluctant to humble ourselves before Him, and express our wants, and needs. Don't you know prayer is the key to unlocking Heaven's storehouse. All God wants is for us to talk with Him. Letting Him know that no matter how tired I am, or how busy I am, I will always acknowlege Him, and put Him first. How do we do that? PRAYER. We have to have an open line of communication with God. Matthew 5:6 says, Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteouness, for they shall be filled. That says it all. Pray in spite of how you fill, and you will be filled.
If we don't pray without ceasing we are in danger of growing careless, and swaying from that narrow path. Unceasing prayer is the unbroken union of the soul with God. In which the spirit of God flows into us to strengthen us. I'm not talking about "Now I lay me down to sleep," that was ok when we were 7, but when we became adults we put away childish things. I am talking about pouring you heart out to God, humbling yourself before Him, and waiting on an answer. This is where most of our strength comes from, communing with God. We need to seek every opportunity to pray: the prayer meeting, family prayer, in the bathroom at work, while driving your car, or (my favorite) washing dishes. These silent prayers rise like preciouse incense before the throne of God. It is our privilege to keep so near to God that in every unexpected trial our thoughts will turn to God, as the flower naturally turns to the sun.
Prayer is a privilege not a right. Make time to enjoy this privilege.
In His Love, Angie
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