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TOPIC: Devotion

Devotion 3 months 6 days ago #278

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www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends...d-april-10-2017.html

April 10, 2017
I Hear You!
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak (James 1:19, NIV).

Friend to Friend

Every relationship begins with listening. Listening is hard work and something we are not prone to do. I tend to use listening time as time to prepare the eloquent things I am going to say when the other person stops talking. President Franklin D. Roosevelt got tired of smiling that big smile he was known for and saying the usual things he said at the White House receptions. One evening he decided to find out if anyone was really listening to what he was saying. As each person came up to him to shake his hand, he flashed his big smile and said, "I murdered my grandmother this morning."

People automatically responded with comments such as "How lovely" or "Keep up the great work, Mr. President."

Nobody listened to what he was saying except for one foreign diplomat. When the president said, "I murdered my grandmother this morning," the diplomat softly responded, “I’m sure she had it coming, Mr. President.”

There is a reason God created us with two ears and one mouth. We need to listen twice as much as we speak. Listening should always take precedence over speaking. Proverbs 18:13 (NIV) “To answer before listening that is folly and shame.”

Listening is the first step we should take to act out Scriptural truth. Jesus modeled this principle in a powerful way. If anyone had all the answers if anyone had the right to do all the talking it was Jesus. But if you read the gospels, you will find His conversations were always saturated with questions. Remember when Jesus was just a boy and was accidentally left behind by His parents when they went to Jerusalem for Passover?

Where was He found?

In the temple. “After three days they found Him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46).

Jesus knew how to ask questions. In the gospel of Mark there are 67 conversations. In those 67 conversations, Jesus asked 50 questions. Jesus asked questions and then He listened. Why?

People listen to people who listen. Jesus had way of listening to people that reached into their heart and soul. Jesus knew how to prime the pump. When we take the time to ask questions and then really listen to the answers people give, we are priming the pump of their hearts. What is inside will come pouring out. Listening doesn’t require that we fix anything or even that we arrive at a solution. Listening sends the message, “I’m here for you. I want to understand your pain.I’m willing to share your pain.”

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about unless you are willing to listen. When our two children were young, we had a set bedtime routine. After dinner, they played for about an hour before taking a bath and brushing their teeth. I then asked them to choose a book to read before going to sleep. We would then snuggle under a blanket while reading the book. We all prayed together and I tucked them in. Ba-da-beem. Ba-da-boom. Right?

In a perfect world, maybe, but we all know this world is far from perfect. One night, Dan was out of town and needed to study, so I was trying to hurry up the bedtime routine. Our son was easy, but our daughter not so much. When I walked into her room and lay down beside her on her bed, she took one look at me and immediately turned away. “Honey, what’s wrong?” I asked.

Nothing. “Danna, please talk to me,” I persisted.

She finally turned back to me and said, “You’re not here, Mama.”

I was incredulous. “Honey, I am right here. Ready to read a book with you and tuck you in.” Danna turned back to me and softly but surely drove home the truth, “Mama, you’re not here on the inside.”

I run headlong through each twenty-four hours from the minute my feet hit the floor until I crawl into bed each night. It is in those quiet moments before sleep that I hear Him ask, “Did you make a difference today?

Did you recognize that “intruder” or “interruption” as a divine appointment from Me instead of an inconvenience?

Jesus would have done things differently. With every breath, He was aware of the hurting and wounded, pursuing the broken people instead of avoiding them. Jesus carefully and deliberately invested every moment of His time on earth. He listened then and He listens now. And there has never been a life that has made such a difference or mattered so much!
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Devotion 2 months 1 week ago #279

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www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends...d-april-12-2017.html

April 12, 2017
What Kind of Impact Are You Making?
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border…” (1 Chronicles 4:10 ESV)

Friend to Friend

Years ago I worked with a woman in Nashville named Cindy. She was a no-nonsense publisher for a major music company. Each month she listened to the songs I wrote and gave honest, constructive feedback that required this songwriter-chick to have thick skin and wear big-girl-panties. She was salt and light to me in the work place, but not in ways that I expected or necessarily appreciated at the time. I didn’t always love what she had to say. Total honesty?

She. Scared. Me. Silly. I wrestled with her strong, bristly opinions while at the same time grew from the pruning of her wise, professional words. She challenged me toward greater excellence and she wasn’t afraid to speak difficult words of truth. One thing I will never forget: as she listened to the new songs I wrote, she regularly insisted that I was a “worship leader/worship writer” instead of a Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) writer/artist. Drove me bananas because I was SURE I was a CCM writer/artist. Over the years, Cindy and I became friends and eventually, I came to realize that she was right. I am a worship leader and worship writer. And it’s not only who I am, it’s who I always was. Even when I didn’t know it and insisted otherwise. Cindy died in her early fifties. Cancer stole her from us. A few nights before she went on to be with the Lord, a large group of Nashville’s finest songwriters gathered at her bedside to celebrate her life that was salty and bright for Jesus. To thank her for her impact, share stories, and sacredly sing her to the other side of glory. A knot held my throat captive as I watched the gathering online via video. What a legacy. Cindy poured wisdom into so many people, she said and did things that caused others to think big thoughts about God, and spurred them on toward excellence. She lived a life of influence because she was intentional about being salt and light in my life and in the lives of many others. I want to die like that. I want to live like that. Don’t you?

In the Bible, a man named Jabez asked God for all the influence God would give him. Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked” (1 Chronicles 4:10).

Jabez wanted to live with impact to the max. He pleaded to be a difference maker. I’m right there with him. We all have influence. The question is will we use our influence to sway our friends toward an awesome movie or will we influence them toward our awesome God?

Will we choose to live in a way that causes our unbelieving neighbor or co-worker to want to hear more about Jesus?

Will we teach a young wife to understand how to respect her husband, or help a young mom realize that God is honored when she nurtures her demanding, thankless children?

Will we help the weary parent of a prodigal see that her child’s rebellion is not her failure and not her child’s final faith chapter?

It all begins with a choice. If we want to be women of impact, we need to live with our eyes wide open to God-opportunities. We need to get beyond our own agendas and move in the direction of HIS agenda. It is not about doing more of what you are already doing it is about listening to the whispers of Jesus in the middle of the grocery store, or at the nail salon, or in your cubicle, in the next pew, in your living room, or classroom. Being a woman of impact is not about doing more each day, it’s about living to be led by Jesus with the days you are given. It all begins with a choice. If we want to be women of impact, we need to live with our eyes wide open to God-opportunities. We need to get beyond our own agendas and ask God what HIS agenda is. Let’s ask God to bless us and enlarge the borders of our influence for Him today!
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Devotion 2 months 1 week ago #280

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www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends...d-april-17-2017.html

April 17, 2017
You’ve Been Pre-Approved!
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV).

Friend to Friend

I don’t know about you, but I get tired of junk mail from credit card companies that tell me I’ve been “pre-approved” for a line of credit. But here’s something I’ll never get tired of: God telling me that I’ve been pre-approved to be His child. Just before Jesus began his earthly ministry, He traveled to the Jordan to be baptized by his cousin John. As soon as He came up out of the water, the heavens opened, the Spirit descended, and God spoke. “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Just think about that. Before Jesus even performed the first miracle, preached the first sermon, or called the first disciple, God made sure that His identity was clear. He was accepted, approved, and completely loved. And so are you. So many Christians are trying to earn an acceptance and approval that Jesus has already earned for them. God’s acceptance of you is not based on your performance. That doesn’t mean that we stop trying to do our best to live a God-honoring life. But it does mean that we stop trying to earn acceptance we already have. You have nothing to prove because you have already been approved through the finished work of Jesus on the cross and His presence in you. The devil will do anything and everything he can to keep you from believing that truth. Make no mistake about it, he knows that you are a chosen, holy, dearly loved child of God who has been created to fulfill a great purpose that God has planned for you. He knows it, and he hates it. His goal is to keep you from believing it. And if he can keep you from believing the truth about your new identity, then he has won. True confidence comes when the words God speaks about you become more real to you than the lies you’ve believed all your life. We will always have a choice to believe the God who made us (fearfully and wonderfully, I might add) or believe the deceiver who wants to hold us hostage in the “less than” mentality. Change always begins with a choice. The voice you believe will determine your destiny, whether you remain in the land of in-between (saved from Egypt but never quite making it to your Promised Land) or venture toward the land of milk and honey the exciting, adventurous life in Christ that is fraught with miracles, wonders, and life to the full. Identity always comes before activity. Before you can effectively do what God has called you to do, you must take hold of who God has called you to be. We need to learn how to overpower the lies of the enemy with the promises of God, and we’re going to start right here, right now, by believing the truth about your new born-again identity. Many of us are driven by a scarcity mentality and see ourselves through the lens of our pre-Christ, spiritually dead existence rather than our born-again, spiritually alive and empowered identity. We are held hostage to the idea that we will never be good enough, when Jesus clearly tells us that through Him, we already are. So here’s what I want you to do today: allow God to baptize you in the affirmation of your true identity. You are His daughter. Whom He loves. With you He is well pleased.
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Devotion 2 months 1 week ago #281

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www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends...d-april-18-2017.html

April 18, 2017
When You Feel Like God is Hiding
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)

Friend to Friend

“Preston! We give up! Come out from where you are hiding!”

My kids were playing hide and seek several years ago while my husband and I were upstairs packing for a trip. Hunter and Kennedy had looked everywhere they could think of for their sly older brother, but couldn’t find him. After a while they gave up. As I packed, I checked some choice spots in my walk-in closet to see if I could catch a glimpse of the victorious hider. Nothing. Several minutes later, as I was loading toiletries into my travel case, the cabinet door beneath my husband’s sink slowly opened. My contortionist son quietly and carefully crawled out from underneath the bathroom sink. He glanced my way, and with a twinkle in his eye said, “Hey mom.”

“Honey!” I replied. “Your brother and sister asked you to show yourself 10 minutes ago. Why did you stay in there so long?”

“I didn’t want them to know where my favorite hiding spot was!” He said in a hushed tone.

I have to admit, I was impressed with his hiding strategy. Seemed pretty savvy for a 10 year-old. He didn’t want to be found and didn’t want to give up his best hiding spot. Sometimes it can seem like God doesn’t want to be found. We can feel as if He’s unreachable, hiding on the other side of the cosmos watching Netflix with a DO NOT DISTURB sign on His door. In Psalm 10, the psalmist expressed His frustration to God. “Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1 NIV)

In the ashes of despair Job asked God a similar question. “Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy?” (Job 13:24)

Even thought the psalmist and Jobfelt this way, it’s important for us to understand this Biblical truth: God never hides. To the contrary, the Bible tells us that He wants to be found. That He is always with us and always sees us. That we are fearfully and wonderfully made by the hands of One who knows everything about us and cherishes us. God created us to know and to find Him. And let’s be honest girls, deep inside we all want to be known and loved. In Psalm 139, David painted an amazing picture of God’s stubborn presence in our lives: “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139: 7-10)

Have you ever felt hidden from God?

Be assured today: you are not. He sees you and you’re not alone. No matter where you are. No matter what you’ve been through. No matter what you’re going through. God’s not hiding and He’s not playing childish games. He loves you. He wants to be found by you. He said to the prophet Jeremiah, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

The same is true for us. Each time we search for the Lord, we can find Him and in finding Him we find peace.
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Devotion 2 months 1 week ago #282

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www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends...d-april-19-2017.html

April 19 2017
Angels and Prayer
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV).

Friend to Friend

From the smallest concern to the biggest problem in our lives, God cares. If it is big enough to concern you, it is big enough to concern Him. Author, speaker Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom told of a remarkable experience at the horrific Nazi Ravensbruck prison camp. Together we entered the terrifying building. At a table were women who took away all our possessions. Everyone had to undress completely and then go to a room where her hair was checked. I asked a woman who was busy checking the new arrivals if I might use the bathroom. She pointed to a door, and I discovered that the convenience was nothing more than a hole in the shower room floor. Betsie stayed close beside me all the time. Suddenly I had an inspiration. “Quick, take off your woolen underwear,” I whispered to her. I rolled it up with mine and laid the bundle in a corner with my Bible. The spot was alive with cockroaches, but I didn’t worry about that. I felt wonderfully relieved and happy. “The Lord is busy answering our prayers, Betsie,” I whispered. “We shall not have to make the sacrifice of all our clothes.”

We hurried back to the row of women waiting to be undressed. A little later, after we had our showers and put on our shirts and shabby dresses, I hid the roll of underwear and my Bible under my dress. It bulged out obviously through my dress; but I prayed, “Lord, cause now Your angels to surround me; and let them not be transparent today, for the guards must not see me.”

I felt perfect peace. Calmly I passed the guards. Everyone was checked, from the front, the sides, and the back. Not a bulge escaped the eye of the guard. The woman just in front of me had hidden a woolen vest under her dress; it was taken from her. They let me pass, for they did not see me. Betsie, right behind me, was searched. But outside awaited another danger. On each side of the door were women who looked everyone over for a second time. They felt over the body of each one who passed. I knew they would not see me, for the angels were still surrounding me. I was not even surprised when they passed me by; but within me rose the victorious cry, “O Lord, if You answer such prayer, I can face even Ravensbruck unafraid.”

God answers prayer. Sometimes He uses His angels to do so, but I believe the most important thing about prayer is that we pray! Jesus longs for times of heart conversation with His children, dream sessions where we pour out all that we are and hope to be to the One who can make those dreams a reality. Every problem, every concern is important to God. If it is important to me, it is important to Him. God is always waiting, ready to turn His heart toward the voice of His child as surely as a mother hears her baby’s cry above all others. To think that God wants to talk with me, to hear my voice and listen to my deepest heart longings is an amazing thought. But it is a true thought. Prayer is simply conversation with God, but it is in those intimate conversations that battles are won and strength is gained. In Biblical times, the high priest was the communication link between God and man. However, today, Jesus is our high priest, our communication link with God. God sent His son Jesus Christ, the greatest communicator ever to walk the earth, so that He could make a way to reach us. The birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ make it possible for us to have an intimate relationship with Him, to communicate with God, right where we are. I just know that our Father loves it absolutely loves it when we, His children, stop in the middle of our busy lives for no other reason than the fact that we love Him and just need to talk with Him. When I pray, I picture His head turning toward me, to the sound of my voice. He smiles, knowing that “Mary wants to talk with Me.”

Yes, He is concerned with every ordinary detail of every ordinary day, but I suspect His greatest pleasure is found in the fact that we just need to talk to the One we love.
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Devotion 1 month 3 days ago #287

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www.ibelieve.com/devotionals/girlfriends...god-june-8-2017.html June 8, 2017

Here’s What You Should Do
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth

Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same. (Luke 3:11)

Friend to Friend

Luke 3 tells the story of John the Baptist as he began his ministry. His job?

Prepare the way of the Lord. (Luke 3:4) Many royal rulers and powerful leaders of the land are listed at the beginning of the chapter to set the stage and give us historical context, yet it is a normal guy, born to older parents, in an off the map of all places important rural village that the Lord called to be the forerunner for Jesus. (Doesn’t it encourage you that God uses normal people from ordinary places to shout the fame of Jesus? Me too.) The Lord spoke to John when he was in the wilderness and told him what to do (Luke 3:2). Then John walked his sandals to the dusty country trails around the Jordan and got himself busy for Jesus. He preached what the Bible calls “a baptism of repentance” for the forgiveness of sins, and he challenged the people of Israel to live lives that produced fruit in keeping with repentance. (Luke 3:3,8) His message was two-fold, but simple: turn from sin and turn toward God. The people wanted John to help them understand. They wanted to know what that should look like in their lives.

“What should we do then?” the crowd asked. (Luke 3:10)

That same question was shouted from people of different backgrounds, careers, ages, and responsibilities from people with different challenges and different experiences. What should we do?

John answered them. And in doing so he painted a picture of what it should look like for every follower of Jesus to produce fruit in keeping with repentance. Look at what he said. John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”

“Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.

Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely be content with your pay.” (Luke 3:11-14)

The Bible goes on to say that John spent time with the people, exhorted them, and told them the good news that God had sent him to share. (Luke 3:18) As I consider the illustrations that John used to describe what a fruit-producing life looks like, I reflect. Am I asking God that question?

What should I do, Lord?

Thankful for this fresh heart-burden, I decide to summarize what John told the people and apply the principles to my life. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it is a great starting point. Here are the things that John said we should do in order to be fruit-bearers.

#1. Share – Live out your faith beyond yourself and beyond your stuff. Be generous.

#2. Be honest – Do your job. Don’t take what’s not yours, and tell the truth.

#3. Live with integrity – Don't do what you shouldn’t do, even if you can, and treat others well.

#4. Be content – Stop reaching and straining for stuff that doesn’t really matter in light of eternity. Be thankful for what you have.

As I look over this list, I wonder. What changes can I make in the way I do things that will produce more fruit?

How willing am I to share?

Am I honest?

Who am I when others aren’t looking?

Do my choices honor God?

Am I content?

James 2:14-26 says that faith without deeds is dead. I want my life to give evidence of my faith to shout the fame of Jesus, just like John the Baptist. I want to be a woman who produces fruit in keeping with repentance fruit that bears evidence of my turning from sin toward God. Yes. Yes. Yes! So I determine that this list is a great place to start.
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