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Daily Devotions for Women: Inspiration from the Lives of Classic Christian Women

Daily Devotions for Women: Inspiration from the Lives of Classic Christian Women

by Jewell Johnson

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What can we learn from great women of the faith?


They lived in different times and places. They faced a wide range of obstacles and opportunities. They were married, single, and widowed. . .with and without children. . .healthy and frail. What ties them all together is their deep faith in God.



What can we learn from great women of the faith?


They lived in different times and places. They faced a wide range of obstacles and opportunities. They were married, single, and widowed. . .with and without children. . .healthy and frail. What ties them all together is their deep faith in God.

     Meet your Christian sisters of history, both the well known and less familiar, in Daily Devotions for Women. Every day for an entire year, you’ll read a brief biographical sketch of a missionary or martyr, author or hymn writer, educator, nurse, or wife of a church leader—and you’ll see how one faithful woman can advance God’s causes on earth.

     Their stories will encourage and challenge, inspiring you to follow in their footsteps.

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Daily Devotions for Women

By Jewell Johnson

Barbour Publishing, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Jewell Johnson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-61626-509-0


Day 1

Gladys Aylward

Missionary 1902–1970

Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 124:8 NIV

"Your qualifications are too slight, your education limited. The Chinese language would be far too difficult for you to learn," the mission board director told young Gladys Aylward in 1932 when she applied for a missionary appointment to China.

Convinced God had called her, Gladys determined that if the mission board wouldn't send her, she would send herself. Using money she earned as a parlor maid, she paid her own fare to travel overland by rail to China.

Without support, money was scarce as Gladys began her work. But when the Central Government decreed that the binding of women's feet must cease, the mandarin (governor) of the province needed a foot inspector. "You are the only woman in the province with big feet," he told Gladys. "You must take the job."

Gladys traveled from one remote village to another. During the day she inspected feet, but at night, at first in halting Chinese, she told the people about Jesus. The woman who was told she could not learn the Chinese language ended up mastering six Chinese dialects.

What difficult task are you called to do? Like Gladys Aylward, God may be asking you to learn a skill that seems beyond your ability. The One who made heaven and earth is your Helper. With Him, you will accomplish the impossible.

Day 2

Lillian Trasher

Missionary 1887–1961

But Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children." And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them."

Matthew 19:14–15 NLT

As a young girl, Lillian Trasher moved with her family to Georgia. There a Christian neighbor told Lillian, who was not a believer, she could know Jesus and be a friend of God. Lillian believed the neighbor and prayed, "Lord, I want to be Your little girl. If ever I can do anything for You, let me know and I'll do it."

Later, when God led Lillian, now a young woman, to work in a faith-owned orphanage, she said, "Yes." When she heard God's call to be a missionary, in spite of no financial support, she again answered, "Yes." And when God told her to begin an orphanage for Egypt's neglected children, Lillian did it without pledged support.

At her death, Lillian's orphanage had cared for over eight thousand children, and she had earned the title "Mother of the Nile." This all started when one little girl said, "God, let me know if I can do anything for You."

As children show an interest in God, His church, or the Bible, bless them, support them, and encourage them. You cannot imagine the marvelous feats God will do through the dedication of even one child.

Day 3

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Author, Hymn Writer 1811–1896

Nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life.... Our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow ... nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38–39 NLT

Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, was raised in a religious home. Her father was an outstanding Puritan preacher in New England. As a child she had memorized over twenty-five hymns and long passages from the Bible.

For all her religious heritage, as an adult Harriet began to have conflicts of faith. Her doubts increased when her child died of cholera in 1849. Then her husband, suffering with depression, was taken to a sanitarium, and Harriet was left to make a living for their large family.

Under these conditions, it is easy to understand why Harriet had a lapse of faith. However, she did renew her trust as seen in this hymn she wrote.

Still, still with Thee, when purple morning breaketh,
When the bird waketh, and the shadows flee;
Fairer than morning, lovelier than the daylight
Dawns the sweet consciousness, I am with Thee!

It is no shame if you, like Harriet, are tempted at times to doubt God's ways. Most Christians deal with confusing doubts now and then. However, Jesus does not leave you in these times, nor do your doubts separate you from God. Even when you don't sense His presence, Jesus' hand remains firm in yours.

Day 4

Hannah Whitall Smith

Author 1832–1911

For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.

2 Corinthians 4:17–18 NLT

It was a drastic move when Hannah and Robert Smith decided to leave the Quaker faith they had been raised in. Hannah's parents, usually good-natured, declared their daughter a renegade and said, "Thou shalt leave this house!"

Hannah wrote of that time: "... like an outcast from my earthly father's house. But not from my heavenly Father's house."

No one can decide who was right in this situation. However, the move may have been necessary for Hannah, who in 1875 wrote of her struggles in The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life and other books. For decades these writings, translated into several languages, have helped troubled, confused believers.

Metal is heated, beaten, and plunged into cold water as part of the process to make a strong piece of steel. In the same way, trials are necessary to develop a strong Christian.

Do you feel beaten by testing? Allow these trials to drive you to Christ. Though not pleasant now, in years to come you will see these as necessary to build your Christian character.

Day 5

Ida Scudder

Medical Missionary 1870–1960

"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."

Luke 22:42 NIV

"I know one thing I will not do," young Ida Scudder said. "I will not be a missionary in India like my parents and fifteen other Scudders have been. I'm going to do something exciting."

Later in 1890, Ida returned to India to care for her ill mother. During her stay, a Brahman man came to the Scudder home asking for help for his fourteen-year-old wife, who was having a difficult time in childbirth. Because his religion prohibited men from attending women, the man begged Ida to help. The same night two other men came with the same request. With no medical training, Ida was unable to help the women. In the morning the tom-toms tolled the death for all three women.

That day Ida told her parents, "I'm going to America to study to be a doctor so I can help the women of India."

Dr. Ida Scudder returned to India in 1899, and over the next sixty years, she founded a hospital, established roadside clinics, branch hospitals, and eye camps. This happened when one woman said, "Your will be done."

Like Ida, you may have your future mapped out. Have you talked to God about it? He could have other ideas. When you say "Not my will," you will be led away from good plans to better ones—plans that help others and give you a more fulfilled life.

Day 6

Mary Slessor

Missionary 1848–1915

"The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side."

Luke 16:22–23 NIV

While growing up in the slums of Dundee, Scotland, Mary Slessor described herself as a "wild lassie." An old widow used to watch the children running wild on the streets and, in her anxiety for their souls, one cold day she invited the children to sit by her fire.

Suddenly the woman pointed to the flames. "Do you see that?" she said to them. "If ye dinna repent and believe on the Lord Jesus, your soul will burn in the lowin bleezin' fire for ever and ever!"

The words struck terror in Mary's young heart. Images of hellfire kept her awake at night. Tormenting fears drove her to repent of her sin and move into Christ's forgiveness.

Jesus told the story of the rich man and Lazarus to help us understand the worlds beyond. Hell is a place of torment reserved for the devil, his angels, and those who follow him. Heaven, on the other hand, is a place of happiness beyond imagination, the dwelling place of God and those who have accepted His Son. Jesus put heaven's welcome mat out for all peoples when He said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary" (Matthew 11:28 NLT).

Like Mary Slessor and multitudes of others have done, choose Jesus, His love—and heaven.

Day 7

Grace Livingstone Hill

Author 1865–1947

God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Colossians 1:27 NIV

"Take the gospel out of your books," an editor advised Grace Livingstone Hill when she submitted her novel for publication. She refused, and instead dedicated her writings to communicate the unshakable fundamentals of Christian living.

When Grace's husband died in 1899, leaving her the sole support of their two daughters, she assessed her talents and decided to be a writer. There was no question what kind of novels she would write. She said, "I am not writing to be writing. I am attempting to convey a message." Her books are romance novels with the underlying message of hope in Christ.

During World War II, Grace wrote of a soldier's struggle to regain lost hope, and letters poured into her desk from men who saw themselves in Grace's story. People evidently needed the message, because her one hundred novels have sold more than four million copies.

Jesus opened the way for every human being to have hope. Place your trust in Him for your day-to-day existence and heaven after death. Either way, Christ in you is the sure hope of your soul.

Day 8

Pandita Ramabai

Educator, Author 1858–1922

The woman said, "I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us." Then Jesus told her, "I A? the Messiah!"

John 4:25–26 NLT

"After reading the fourth chapter of St. John's Gospel, that Christ was truly the Divine Savior, my heart was drawn to the religion of Christ," said Pandita Ramabai.

Raised in the Hindu religion in India, Pandita married a man of a lower caste. A missionary gave her husband a Bengali Gospel of Luke, and the couple eventually came to faith in Christ. As a Christian, Pandita dedicated herself to alleviating the oppression of women, especially the widows.

When Pandita's own husband died after only eighteen months of marriage, she refused to accept the fate of widows who were expected to disappear from society for the remainder of their lives. Rather, she traveled throughout India, rescuing temple prostitutes. Later she established a community especially for women in need.

But Pandita also experienced doubts. Eight years after she was baptized in water, she truthfully wrote, "I have the Christian religion ... but I had not found Christ, Who is the Life of the religion." Thus, she began her quest to discover the Christ of the Bible.

Perhaps you, too, have accepted a Christian lifestyle, but you can't say you know the person of Jesus. You can know Him. Christ is revealed in the pages of the Bible and by heartfelt communion with Him in prayer.

Day 9

Elizabeth Payson Prentiss

Hymn Writer, Author 1818–1878

Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you.

2 Corinthians 1:6 NLT

Sorrow! Pain! Loss! Elizabeth Prentiss and her husband experienced all these emotions and more when they lost their oldest child. Their grief intensified further when another child died. One day when the parents came home after placing flowers on the children's graves, Elizabeth cried, "I don't think I can stand living for another moment, much less a lifetime."

In her anguish, Elizabeth turned to her hymnbook. After reading Sarah Adams's hymn, "Nearer My God to Thee," Elizabeth felt a measure of peace return. As she prayed, the words came to her, "More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee."

Elizabeth was helped by Mrs. Adams's hymn, and God gave her a poem to share with other hurting people. Thirteen years later, Elizabeth printed the verses in a leaflet, and eventually the words were set to music.

More love to Thee, O Christ! More love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make, on bended knee;
This is my earnest plea, more love, O Christ to Thee,
More love to Thee! More love to Thee!

As you have been comforted, pass on the comfort you have received. Whether you write a hymn, send a card, or speak a kind word, it's all part of God's plan for alleviating pain in a world overwrought with grief.

Day 10

Hannah Marshman

Missionary 1767–1847

As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: "A voice of one calling in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'"

Luke 3:4 NIV

A young English couple, Hannah and Joshua Marshman, read about William Carey's missionary work in India and offered to work in the Serampore mission. Hannah adapted well to the new situation as the missionaries lived as a community, took meals together, and shared household duties.

A pioneer in every sense of the word, Hannah, who arrived at the mission with her husband in 1799, was one of the first women to leave England for missionary work in India. She helped produce the first editions of the New Testament in thirty Oriental languages and dialects. She was one of the first missionaries to insist that India's caste system be excluded from the church. She also helped establish and teach in the first school for India's children.

Hannah walked where no one had previously walked. She made a way where there was no way. John Marshman later said that his mother was "a woman of feeling, piety and good sense, of strong mind ... nothing was ever known to have ruffled her temper."

Someone has to be first, to trample down the bushes and make a way so others can walk a smooth path. By the way you conduct your life, by your speech, you make "straight paths" for others to follow Jesus.

Day 11

Mrs. Meredith

First Sunday School Teacher 18th Century

All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do.

Galatians 2:10 NIV

"I can't handle these ragamuffins anymore," Mrs. Meredith told Gloucester's newspaper editor, Robert Raikes, in 1780. "They're dirty and ill-behaved. They shout profanities and muddy my floors."

Gloucester's poor boys and girls worked twelve hours a day, six days a week, in a pin factory. Sunday, their day off, they ran wild in the streets. Robert Raikes believed the conduct of the children could be improved by Christian education. That's where Mrs. Meredith came in: raikes hired her to teach them in her kitchen.

The first Sunday, ninety boys came at Mr. Raikes's invitation. The class met for six hours and was instructed in reading, the catechism, and Isaac Watts's hymns. After a few weeks Mrs. Meredith saw that the job was too much for her. Yet to her goes the honor of teaching the first Sunday school class.

Mr. Raikes was not easily discouraged, and he hired May Critchley to instruct the classes. Girls soon joined in, and, from that simple beginning, Sunday school has evolved until today it embraces both children and adults, the rich and poor.

Helping a poor child, the homeless family, or a frail aged person is not a suggestion in the Bible, but a command Christ's followers take seriously. The command carries with it a promise: God's blessing rests upon that person (Psalm 41:1–3).

Day 12

Helen Barrett Montgomery

Church Leader, Author, Translator 1861–1934

"If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it."

Matthew 10:39 NLT

"The only way to keep money, or land, or talent, or happiness is to give it away," Helen Barrett Montgomery wrote to her sister. "If only everyone had studied the divine arithmetic, what a world it would be."

Helen had money, talent, and happiness, and she shared it with the world. After a happy childhood, she married successful businessman William A. Montgomery. Together they dedicated themselves to God's work. Helen taught a Sunday school class in the same church for forty-four years. She received a license to preach and traveled in the cause of missions. At age forty-nine she became the president of the Northern Baptist Convention, the first woman to hold such a post.


Excerpted from Daily Devotions for Women by Jewell Johnson. Copyright © 2007 Jewell Johnson. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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