Open your heart and find a place to belong. . .
Shared Friendship features inspiring devotionals from female Christian authors past and present—including Hannah Whitall Smith, Fanny Crosby, Corrie ten Boom, and Sheila Walsh.
The writings, especially chosen by the Circle of Friends organization, will encourage your heart and strengthen your faith through stories, insights, biblical applications, and refreshing honesty.
Circle of Friends is a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging women to find and follow Christ.
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Inspiration for a Woman's Soul
By Barbour Publishing
Barbour Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved.
What Is a True Friend?
There are "friends" who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24 NLT
In today's world we use the term friend loosely. Unable to describe a hypothetical, indefinable somebody, we often say, "I have a friend who ..." The person usually is a distant acquaintance, but because we are unable to determine what to call them, we clump them into the multifaceted category of friend.
An ancient proverb, however, captures the essence and beauty of true friendship. It says, "Ah, the beauty of being at peace with another, neither having to weigh thoughts or measure words, but spilling them out just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will keep what is worth keeping and, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away."
Friends find the good in us and dismiss the rest. We can be ourselves in their presence and not worry about misunderstandings or saying the wrong thing.
Jesus is that kind of friend. He sticks close by us at our most undesirable, least lovable moments. We can tell Him anything and He understands. In fact, He knows everything about us and loves us anyway. Like a true friend, Jesus enhances our good qualities and, with a breath of kindness, blows the rest away.
Tina Krause Whispers of Wisdom for Busy WomenCHAPTER 2
My intercessor is my friend.
Job 16:20 NIV
It is wonderful to be called to be intercessors. Anyone can do it! ...Intercession is important work. Do you know that Isaiah 59:16 says that God was amazed that there was no intercessor? I remember that my sister Betsie and I were once in a Dutch concentration camp in Vught. We were there because we had rescued Jews. One day we thought that we were being called to be released, but, instead, we found ourselves standing in the middle of the concentration camp in front of a bunker that was being used as the jail. Standing to our right and left were prisoners. As we stood there, we realized that we might all be killed.
Suddenly, we noticed that there were no longer any guards. One of the prisoners shouted out, "Is there anyone here who can pray?" Betsie answered, "Yes, I can pray and I will." And she prayed! She prayed for herself, she prayed for the men next to her, she prayed for me, and she thanked the Lord that, even if we were killed, the best was yet to come for those who belonged to the Lord Jesus. She asked the Lord to take our hand if we were about to pass through the valley of the shadow of death. I can't remember what else she prayed, but it was a wonderful prayer. How marvelous it is to intercede.
Corrie Ten Boom Reflections of God's GloryCHAPTER 3
Friends in Glory
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
1 Thessalonians 4:14 KJV
Dr. Lowry's health began to fail and we watched him with growing anxiety. I shall always recall our last meeting at his home in Plainfield, New Jersey, with tender emotions. We talked together of many of the events of thirty years, and finally he said, "Fanny, I am going to join those who have gone before, for my work is now done." I could not speak with him concerning the parting without betraying my grief, so I simply took his hand in mine and said quietly, "I thank you, Dr. Lowry, for all that you have done for me; good night, until we meet in the morning." Then I silently went down the stairs, with the impression on my mind that the good man would soon be at rest from his labors, and so indeed it proved.
A little while to weep for those we cherish,
As one by one they near the river's brink;
A little while to catch their sweet assurance,
That we in heaven shall find each missing link;
A little while and then the glorious dawning
Of that fair morn beyond the swelling tide,
When we shall wake and in our Saviour's likeness,
Perfect and pure, we shall be satisfied.
Fanny Crosby Memories of Eighty YearsCHAPTER 4
What Friends Are For
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
Ecclesiastes 4:9–10 NIV
Did you ever notice that there are certain tasks that are simply hard to get motivated to do? And have you also noticed that if a friend is part of the equation, it makes it much easier? Physical exercise, as well as wallpapering and painting, are tasks that challenge me. Frankly, so was reading through the Bible back when I realized it was something I needed to do on a regular basis. But today I cannot imagine a day without God's Word!
I don't know if I would have persevered without my accountability group encouraging and motivating me to read God's Word every day. It was a spiritual exercise that I tried to do regularly but other things caught my attention, and typically the loudest "voice" always caught me first. God seldom chooses to yell at us—He just patiently waits, and allows people in our lives who will encourage and motivate us along the way. Perhaps that is why He says in His Word that "two are better than one." He knew that relationships and the accountability they offer are just what we need!
Beth Beechy Circle of FriendsCHAPTER 5
A Godly Guest List
"But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
Luke 14:13–14 NIV
You may not host banquets, but what about barbeques? Dinner parties? Pizza and movie nights? Now we're talking.
It is tempting to carefully select a few people to invite to a dinner party. You know the routine—a close girl friend, a guy she thinks is attractive, a guy you are interested in, and then a couple of "fillers" just so that the plot is not obvious.
The Bible admonishes us to get more creative with our guest lists. You may read the words crippled and lame and think they sound like old-fashioned Bible words. In actuality, there are those all around us with physical limitations. Their eyes, ears, or legs that don't work properly do not make them any different on the inside.
Expanding our guest lists requires us to consider others, not just ourselves. Reaching out to someone who looks or seems a bit different from you will feel good. Likely you will notice that you have more in common than you'd imagined.
There is certainly reward in heaven for believers who demonstrate this type of kindness. The reward on earth is sweet as well. It may provide you with an unexpected new friend.
Emily Biggers Daily Encouragement for Single WomenCHAPTER 6
The Power of Connection
A friend loves at all times.
Proverbs 17:17 NIV
What would we do without friends? They encourage and inspire us. They listen as if they really care—because they do. Good friends seek to understand and empathize with us. Even when they can't relate, they care about us anyway.
Like snowflakes, no two friendships are the same; each brings a unique beauty and joy to our lives. We have acquaintances, casual friends, close friends, and "heart" friends, that handful of women with whom we share our deepest selves. Jesus had different circles of friends, too. He ministered to the crowds, He spent significant time with the twelve disciples, and He was closest to three men: Peter, James, and John. He was companion to tax collectors and sinners (Mark 2:15–17), as well as to His dearly loved friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (John 11:20–32).
Today each of us can have the joy of knowing Jesus as our friend (John 15:15). In the quiet solitude of prayer, we can pour out our deepest fears and desires. We can take pleasure in enjoying God—in just being in His company.
When we fellowship with God in prayer, we can then pray powerfully for our earthly friends. We can pray for them and with them in Jesus' name.
That's perhaps one of the best ways we can show a friend we care. Maybe we should stop to thank God for the wonderful women in our lives—those women who've given us the gift of friendship—and ask Him how we can be a better friend to others.
Jackie M. Johnson Power Prayers for WomenCHAPTER 7
Choose Your Friends Carefully
My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.
Proverbs 1:10 KJV
My dear friend, choose your friends carefully, and keep them loyal. While you are kind to those who have fallen, remember that it is not for you, a young girl, to raise them up by seeking their company. You are too easily drawn away yourself. Let your friends be chosen from among those whom you can admire and emulate, that is, those whose conversation and deportment will lead you up instead of down. Keep in mind, of course, the two classes of friends, that outward group to whom you are always sociable and friendly and the inner group with whom you become really intimate. One should be friends with those who need friendship even if they are not so desirable, but no girl can become intimate with people of low standards and morals without becoming contaminated. If you are a young Christian, seek out friends among those who are longer in the service and keep out of the company of those who draw your mind away from things that are right.
Mabel Hale Beautiful GirlhoodCHAPTER 8
He said to them, "Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don't you put it on its stand?"
Mark 4:21 NIV
You keep to yourself, not going out of your way to risk friendship with anybody. They've hurt you, and you aren't going to let them ever do it again. I know the pain is unbearable and sometimes you don't want to go on, but there is a way around it, a way through it. Follow me close here: People will treat you the way you expect to be treated. If you expect people to be friendly and treat you well, you just may find that they are willing to do that if you give them a chance.
I know it's hard to be shy, believe me, but I also know that you can overcome your shy tendencies with a little effort and faith. All my life I have been terribly shy. I feel weak in large groups. I am at a loss for words. I am uncomfortable and scared. But I know that God is stronger than all that, and I know that He calls me to love my neighbor, so I do what I can do to care for people. People are shocked to hear that I'm shy when they see me speaking in front of twenty thousand women and talking to thousands of them one-on-one through my book lines, but I can do it only because I trust God and know He will give me the words. You can do it, too. I believe in you. You can find ways to cover up your shyness and obey God's Word in the face of your fear.
Hayley Dimarco Mean Girls All Grown UpCHAPTER 9
As iron sharpens iron, so a sharpens the countenance of his friend.
Proverbs 27:17 NKJV
Maybe you're familiar with the biblical expression "iron sharpens iron." But what does it mean? In order to keep things like knives sharp, they have to be rubbed against something equally as hard—something that can shape them into effective tools.
Godly friends will sharpen us. They won't let us grow dull in our relationship with God or with others. They will keep us on our toes and will work with the Lord to shape us into the most effective people we can be. Rubbing against them won't always be fun. In fact, we might feel the friction at times and wish we could run in the opposite direction. But don't run! Allow God to do the work He longs to do.
Take a good look at the friends God has placed in your life. Are there some who don't sharpen you? Perhaps you've been put in their lives to sharpen them. Are there a few who diligently participate in your life, growing you into a better, stronger person? Do they rub you the wrong way at times? Praise God! He's shaping and sharpening you into the person you are meant to be.
Janice Hanna Daily Encouragement for Single WomenCHAPTER 10
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy.
Philippians 1:3–4 KJV
Have you worked with some wonderful people? You spend so much time on the job, chances are that you've made some work friendships. Maybe you rarely see these folks outside of work, but they still hold a treasured place in your heart.
If a coworker moves on to a new job, relocates to another state, or retires, those fond memories remain with you. As you look back, you may feel thankful, as Paul did when he thought of the Philippian church. But do you also thank God and pray for that person?
As a caring Christian who believes God can work through prayer, even when people are far distant, why not lift a special workplace friend up to Him? Thank Him for that friendship. If you still keep in touch, pray specifically for that friend's joys and needs. Even if you don't see each other, always pray for his or her well-being.
You may not see your friend this side of heaven, but when you meet again in eternity, the blessings of those prayers will touch you both.
Pamela L. Mcquade Daily Wisdom for the WorkplaceCHAPTER 11
Easily Improve Your Relationships
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people.
Ephesians 6:18 NIV
When you pray for anyone you tend to modify your personal attitude toward him. You thereby lift the relationship to a higher level" (Norman Vincent Peale). One of the most practical steps you can take to improve any relationship is simply to begin praying for the other person. It is almost impossible to remain angry, bitter, or indifferent toward someone when you are actively praying for his or her welfare. It is difficult to treat someone cruelly while asking God to bring about the best in his or her life. And it is much easier to forgive an offense as you pray for someone and begin to see that person broken at the foot of the cross—or in need of a Savior.
Begin praying for everyone you meet. Even total strangers! One way to move people from your list of acquaintances to your list of friends is to inquire how you can pray for them. Then pray for them each day, asking for updates on a routine basis. Soon you will know this person's nearest concerns and they will know you truly care!
Donna Partow Becoming the Woman I Want to BeCHAPTER 12
Wisdom Comes from God
He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?"
Matthew 13:54 NASB
The toughest critics you'll ever encounter are family and friends. The reason is simple: They know you best. When vulnerability swings your trapeze with such speed that your grip loosens, they watch as you fall. At that moment you can stand there gazing at your flattened imprint in the dirt or climb up the ladder and try again.
Yes, some will continue to stare, waiting for you to stumble once again, but there will be new faces in your crowd of onlookers. They believe you can reach your goals and make a difference in our world. They do not see a little girl living next door; they see you as you are now.
Jesus encountered these same narrow-minded pessimists, those who claimed they knew Him from way back. Ridiculing Him, they said, "Isn't He just a carpenter's son?" Yes, He surely was, but that carpenter was the Master Builder! For Jesus wasn't Joseph's son, but God's Son.
He came from God, full of wisdom. Those who stood with Him during His earthly ministry had true wisdom and understanding from God. They made up His true family of believers. Today, you obtain wisdom through a personal knowledge of Christ and by studying His Word. For only then can God's Spirit fill you with the wisdom you'll need to find and live out your God-given purpose.
Carol L. Fitzpatrick Daily Wisdom for Women
Excerpted from Shared Friendship by Barbour Publishing. Copyright © 2011 Barbour Publishing, Inc.. 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.
Table of Contents
What Is a True Friend?,
Friends in Glory,
What Friends are For,
A Godly Guest List,
The Power of Connection,
Choose Your Friends Carefully,
Easily Improve Your Relationships,
Wisdom Comes from God,
I Am a Friend of God,
Walk and Pray,
A Winning Look,
Keeping in Touch,
The Blessing of Friendship,
God's Gift Bearers,
Friends Bring Happiness,
How to Know if You're in Love,
Sharing God's Truth,
Take it from the Dogs,
Handling Loneliness with Grace,
To Follow Those Who Teach Us,
The Power of Active Faith,
Working for a Friend,
A Surprise in the Closet,
Be Humble, Admit Mistakes,
Turn and Strengthen Your Brothers,
Happiness = Health,
Learning to Love,
Are You Willing?,
Give Thanks for Personal Talents,
Love and Friendship,
God of All Comfort,
A Hospitable Heart,
I Have Planned Ahead for You,
Putting Out the Welcome Mat,
Love God, Love People,
Spread the Joy!,
I Love You Even in the Hard Times,
Love, Friendship, and Faith,
Loneliness and Happiness Don't Mix,
Lend a Hand to Others,
The Blessing of Encouragement,
Sisters in Christ,
"Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful",
In This Together,
The Moustache-Waxing Moments of Life,
Service with a Smile,
There Is No "I" in Team,
The Confidence to Serve,
The Freedom of Forgiveness,
Lonely No More,
Moments of Heavenly Humor,
Paul's Prayer for the Jews,
Catching Up with God,
Gossip Doesn't Pay,
Friendships Take Time,
Strength in Numbers,
Birth of a Friendship,
Honey to the Soul,
Glimpsing the Image of Christ,
Kindness: A Way of Life,
Above All Else, Love,
Freedom to Love,
What Is Circle of Friends?,