Looking for “a place to belong”? Find it in God’s love! Shared Hope provides 90 devotional readings from female writers, guaranteed to provide a spiritual boost. This brand-new compilation focuses on the true Source of Hope and all the good things He provides. Entries from writers past and present, provide encouragement to see hope in all areas of daily life, jobs, friendships, and family. With well-known contributors like Sheila Walsh, Beth Moore, Corrie ten Boom, Hannah Whitall Smith, and Frances Ridley Havergal, Shared Hope also includes heartfelt entries from women of the Circle of Friends Ministry based in Ohio’s Amish country.
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Inspirational for a Woman's Soul
By Barbour Publishing
Barbour Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Hope in Suffering
"But I have this against you, that you have left your first love."
Revelation 2:4 NASB
One of my favorite questions to ask couples over dinner is "How did you meet?" Each story invariably presents a set of impossible circumstances that had to be orchestrated in order to bring this man and woman together. As these details are relayed, a glow begins to come back into the eyes of those remembering. There is nothing to compare with that "first bloom of love."
This is the kind of love which God desires from us. That on-fire, totally consuming, single focus of our attention. His call to the church at Ephesus then was that they remember their first love—and rekindle their purpose to seek Him first.
His message, however, to the church at Smyrna was very different. "'I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich).... Do not fear what you are about to suffer.... Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life'" (Revelation 2:9–10 NASB).
Throughout history, God's church has suffered persecution. But here is a message of hope to all for whom cruelty is a constant companion: "Remain faithful, God's reward is at hand."
Carol L. Fitzpatrick Daily Wisdom for Women
Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."
John 21:16 NIV
A beautiful young woman stumbled into the airplane obviously exhausted. She was dressed in skintight jeans, a distracting, low-cut T-shirt, and sunglasses that hid something ... but I wasn't sure what.
"They messed up my ticket, and I don't have a seat," she complained to the flight attendant.
"This one's empty," I offered, pointing to the seat next to me.
I pulled out my book, Your Scars Are Beautiful to God, to prepare for an upcoming interview, but I sensed God saying, Put down the book and talk to this girl.
God, she doesn't want to talk, I argued. Put down the book and talk to this girl.
I put down my book and turned to my fellow passenger.
"Where are you headed?" I asked.
"A small town I'm sure you've never heard of." Then she glanced down at the book in my lap.
"Scars. Well, I've certainly got a lot of those."
"So do I," I said. "That's why I wrote the book."
"You wrote it?" She was surprised.
For the next hour and a half, this young girl poured out her heart to me. She had been abandoned, sexually abused, and misused. As I prayed for her, tears spilled down her cheeks to wash away the years of regret.
We parted ways, but the memory lingered. God allowed me to apply His healing salve to the wounds of one of His little lambs.
There was no mix-up in her airline ticket; she had a divine seat assignment made by God.
Sharon Jaynes Extraordinary Moments with God
A New Song
Sing a new song to the LORD, for he has done wonderful deeds. His right hand has won a mighty victory; his holy arm has shown his saving power!
Psalm 98:1 NLT
Who needs a new song? Do you ever get tired of the old tune? I do! A new song! Spiritually, many of us need a new song to sing. Some of us are sung out, tired of singing solo or of being lost in a big choir where no one notices our contribution! God can give us a new song to sing. It will start when we meet with God and tune in to the vibrations of heaven. Songs you've never sung before have a fresh, sweet, winsome sound that alerts those around you to the state of your soul. God gave me a new song when my children got married, when my husband had to be away a lot, and when I got sick and had to have a scary operation. They were new songs because I'd never been in those situations, and new situations require new songs. They were not always happy songs, but who says all songs are happy ones? A minor key can be just as pretty as a major one.
The important thing is to sing a song—a new song of faith and hope, of self-discovery or God-discovery, at every turn of the road, every station, every resting place. Just today I asked Him to help me find something to sing about as I washed up a pile of dirty dishes. He helped me to compose a new song over the kitchen sink. God is never stuck for a tune. New songs are the Spirit's business—ask Him to give you one.
Jill Briscoe The One Year Book of Devotions for Women
Hope of Better Things
Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family."
Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."
Luke 9:61–62 NIV
Jesus had "resolutely set out for Jerusalem" (verse 51) but several of His followers failed to count the cost of discipleship. Jesus knew this man who wanted to first "go back" to his family had a longing for his old life. No one can move in two directions at once. It is impossible to go forward when you are looking to the past. A man who plows a field looking over his shoulder plows a crooked furrow, which means disaster for the whole field.
Jesus calls us to set our minds, our wills, and our hearts to follow Him. If we live with a divided mind or heart, longing for the things of this world, we will end up like the rich man in Luke 18:22 who "went away sorrowful." He loved his life of wealth more than he loved the Lord and could not commit to following Him.
To be fit for His service, to join the fellowship of His followers, we must first let go of anything we hold in more esteem than our Savior. When our fists are tightly clutched around our own plans and longings, we lose out on what God wants to give us. We need to open our hand, release everything, and allow God to fill our lives with something better—His plan for us.
Missy Horsfall Circle of Friends
The King's Prosperity
A King shall reign and prosper.
Jeremiah 23:5 KJV
If we are really interested, heart and soul, in a person, how delighted we are to have positive assurance of his prosperity, and how extremely interested and pleased we feel at hearing anything about it! Is not this a test of our love to our King? Are we both interested and happy in the short, grand, positive words which are given us about His certain prosperity? If so, the pulse of our gladness is beating true to the very heart of God.
If we could get one glimpse of our King in His present glory and joy, how we who love Him would rejoice for Him and with Him! And if we could get one great view of the wide but hidden prosperity of His kingdom at this moment, where would be our discouragement and faint-heartedness! Many Christians nowadays are foregoing an immense amount of cheer, because they do not take the trouble to inquire, or read, or go where they can hear about the present prosperity of His kingdom. Those who do not care much can hardly be loving much or helping much.
But we do care about it; and so how jubilantly the promises of His increasing prosperity ring out to us!
Frances Ridley Havergal Daily Thoughts for the King's Children
A Think I Can
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13 NIV
Remember the Little Golden Book about the little engine that could? You know the story. He tries really hard—against many odds—chugging along and puffing, "I think I can, I think I can" until he proves everyone wrong and reaches his goal. I've always loved that little book. You know why? Because it's packed with powerful teaching. If we can keep a can-do attitude, we can achieve many things.
My eleven-year-old daughter, Abby, is a great gymnast. In fact, she is a member of a competitive gymnastics team. When Abby is preparing for her tumbling pass, I can always tell if she's going to do well just by the look on her face. If she approaches the mat with a can-do facial expression, I know she's going to nail it. But if she shows fear on her face, I know she's not going to give her best performance. It's all in the attitude.
Maybe you have a goal that seems impossible to reach—sort of like the little engine that could. Well, God says that you can do all things through Him, so go for it! Keep a can-do attitude, and watch your dreams become a reality!
Michelle Medlock Adams Daily Wisdom for Working Women
The Nature of Comfort
My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.
Psalm 119:50 NIV
Comfort, whether human or divine, is pure and simple comfort and is nothing else. We none of us care for pious phrases. We want realities; and the reality of being comforted and comfortable seems to me almost more delightful than any other thing in life. We all know what it is. When as little children we have cuddled up into our mother's lap after a fall or a misfortune, and have felt her dear arms around us, and her soft kisses on our hair, we have had comfort. When as grown-up people after a hard day's work we have put on our slippers and seated ourselves by the fire, in an easy chair with a book, we have had comfort. When after a painful illness we have begun to recover and have been able to stretch our limbs and open our eyes without pain, we have had comfort. When someone whom we dearly love has been ill almost unto death and has been restored to us in health again, we have had comfort. A thousand times in our lives probably have we said, with a sigh of relief, as of toil over or burdens laid off, "Well this is comfortable," and in that word comfortable there has been comprised more of rest, and relief, and satisfaction, and pleasure, than any other word glory of the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He was anointed to comfort "all that mourn." The "God of all comfort" sent His Son to be the comforter of a mourning world. And all through His life on earth He fulfilled His divine mission. The God of all Comfort enfolds life's trials and pains in an all-embracing peace.
Hannah Whitall Smith The God of All Comfort
A Grand Promise
Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope.
Psalm 119:116 NRSV
Perhaps there is no point in which expectation has been so limited by experience as this. We believe God is able to do for us just so much as He has already done, and no more. We take it for granted a line must be drawn somewhere; and so we choose to draw it where experience ends, and faith would have to begin. Even if we have trusted and proved Him as to keeping our members and our minds, faith fails when we would go deeper and say, "Keep my will!" And the result of this, as of every other faithless conclusion, is either discouragement and depression, or, still worse, acquiescence in an unyielded will, as something that can't be helped.
Now let us turn from our thoughts to God's thoughts. Verily, they are not as ours! He says He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. Apply this here.
We ask Him to take our wills and make them His. Does He or does He not mean what He says? And if He does, should we not trust Him to do this thing that we have asked and longed for, and not less, but more? Is anything too hard for the Lord? Hath He said, and shall He not do it? Does He mock our longing by acting as I have seen an older person act to a child, by accepting some trifling gift of no intrinsic value, just to please the little one, and then throwing it away as soon as the child's attention is diverted? We give Him no opportunity (so to speak) of proving His faithfulness to this great promise, but we will not fulfill the condition of reception, believing it.
It is most comforting to remember that the grand promise, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power," is made by the Father to Christ Himself. The Lord Jesus holds this promise, and God will fulfill it to Him. He will make us willing because He has promised Jesus He will do so.
Frances Ridley Havergal Kept for the Master's Use
Hope in Purpose
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
We all need to have a sense of why we are here. We all need to know we were created for a purpose. We will never find fulfillment and happiness until we are doing the thing for which we were created. But God won't move us into the big things He has called us to unless we have been proven faithful in the small things He has given us. So if you are doing what you deem to be small things right now, rejoice! God's getting you ready for big things ahead.
Don't think for a moment that if you haven't moved into the purposes God has for you by now that it's too late. It is never too late. I did everything late. I didn't come to the Lord until I was twenty-eight. I got married late, had children late, and I didn't even start writing professionally until I was over forty. My whole ministry happened when I was in my forties and most of it in my fifties. Trust me, if you are still breathing, God has a purpose for you. He has something for you to do now.
The Power of a Praying Woman
I will bless you [with abundant increase of favors] ... and you will be a blessing [dispensing good to others].
Genesis 12:2 AMP
The Bible is full of God's blessings for our lives, full of positive words, promises granted to those who choose to follow Him, who choose to believe in His assurances. Hebrews 11:8 tells us that "by faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance" and that "he went out, not knowing where he was going" (NKJV). And when Abraham arrived at his destination, God met him there and gave him a brand-new promise: "I will bless you ... and you will be a blessing" (Genesis 12:2AMP). As sons and daughters of Abraham (see Galatians 3:7), we share in this promise! We can be filled with assurance that wherever we go, God will bless us. He is even going before us, ready to greet us with a word of encouragement when we get there.
Is your faith strong enough and your mind open enough to make room for God's bounty of blessings? Or is your faith too little, your mind too closed? Perhaps you feel you are undeserving. If so, plant the words of Hebrews 11:6 in your heart: "Without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]" (AMP). Claim the promise of 1 John 5:14–15: "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him" (NKJV). It's not a matter of deserving but of firm faith, great expectation, and sincere seeking.
Donna K. Maltese Power Prayers to Start Your Day
Hope in Song
"Hear, O kings; give ear, O rulers! I—to the Lord, I will sing, I will sing praise to the Lord, the God of Israel."
Judges 5:3 NASB
If you only knew, dear hesitating friends, what strength and gladness the Master gives when we loyally sing forth the honor of His name, you would not forego it! Oh, if you only knew the difficulties it saves! For when you sing "always and only for your King," you will not get much entangled by the King's enemies. Singing an out-and-out sacred song often clears one's path at a stroke as to many other things. If you only knew the rewards He gives, very often then and there, the recognition that you are one of the King's friends by some lonely and timid one; the openings which you quite naturally gain of speaking a word for Jesus to hearts which, without the song, would never have given you the chance! If you only knew the joy of believing that His sure promise, "My Word shall not return unto Me void" will be fulfilled as you sing that word for Him! If you only tasted the solemn happiness of knowing that you have indeed a royal audience, that the King Himself is listening as you sing! If you only knew and why should you not know? Shall not the time past of your life suffice you for the miserable, double-hearted, calculating service? Let Him have the whole use of your voice at any cost, and see if He does not put many a totally unexpected new song into your mouth!
I am not writing all this to great and finished singers, but to everybody who can sing at all. Those who think they have only a very small talent, are often most tempted not to trade with it for their Lord. Whether you have much or little natural voice, there is reason for its cultivation and room for its use. Place it at your Lord's disposal, and He will show you how to make the most of it for Him; for not seldom His multiplying power is brought to bear on a consecrated voice.
Frances Ridley Havergal Kept for the Master's Use
Excerpted from Shared Hope by Barbour Publishing. Copyright © 2011 Barbour Publishing, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
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