Inspiring Women Every Day
One-year devotional by women for women
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Copyright © CWR 2013 The readings in this compilation were originally published 2009 by CWR as bimonthly Bible-reading notes Inspiring Women Every Day as January/February, March/April, May/June, July/August, September/October, November/December 2009. First published in this format 2013 by CWR, Waverley Abbey House, Waverley Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU9 8EP, UK. Tel: 01252 784700 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Registered Charity No. 294387. Registered Limited Company No. 1990308. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission in writing of CWR. For a list of National Distributors visit www.cwr.org.uk/distributors Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from the Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV), Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica (formerly International Bible Society). Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica (formerly International Bible Society). UK trademark number 1448790. Other versions used: Amplified: Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (www.Lockman. org) RSV: Revised Standard Version , © 1965, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. NKJV: New King James Version , ©1982, Thomas Nelson Inc. NLT: Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. Message: Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. Phillips: J.B. Phillips The New Testament in Modern English , © 1960, 1972, J.B. Phillips, Fount Paperbacks. New Revised Standard Version Bible: (NRSV) copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Concept development, editing, design and production by CWR Cover image: Getty/altrendo images Printed in Croatia by Zrinski ISBN: 978-1-85345-997-9
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The hands of the Lord
Longing for more Beverley Shepherd
Resting in God Sheila Jacobs
Esther 87 Celia Bowring
2 Timothy â€“ suffering for the gospel Beryl Adamsbaum
Joy in the midst of disappointment Abidemi Sanusi
Old Testament Prayers Christine Orme
Reflections from Philippians Heather Coupland
2 Chronicles â€“ lessons for life Priscilla Reid
The beauty of worship Gill Beard
The wonder of the Word Helena Wilkinson
The power of the tongue Jeanette Henderson
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115 141 169 197 225 253 281 309
INTRODUCTION Welcome to this wonderful collection of devotional writings from women with as vast a variety of life-experience as those of you picking it up. Whoever you are, wherever you are in the world, and whenever you are commencing this compilation, I know you will be all the better for reading Godâ€™s Word daily. We focus on themes such as worship, joy, disappointment and longing for more, and get to know some Bible characters too â€“ including the amazing Esther. As you allow the Word of God to dwell in you richly, I pray you will draw ever closer to the Lord who loves you unconditionally, passionately and extravagantly, and from that secure place of knowing how much the Father lavishes His love upon you, you will step out to love and serve those around you.
Lynette Brooks Director of Publishing See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1)
The hands of the Lord Lyn Gitchel
Lyn Gitchel has taught Bible studies for many years and has much experience in establishing firmly committed Christians. Born and educated in England, Lyn worked as part of the team for the first Billy Graham Crusade in England in 1954. Ordained to the ministry in 1964, she worked with CWR in England before moving to the United States. Lyn and her husband pastored churches in America until his death in 1997.
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WEEK 1 Mon
Isaiah 48:12–15 ‘My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens …’ (v.13)
For prayer and reflection Father, help me to grasp the truth that I am held firmly in Your hands. Teach me to rest in this and to live my life secure in this knowledge.
The hands of the Lord
hat a boundless God we have! Imagine His greatness. To Him, the Bible says, the nations are simply ‘a drop in a bucket’ and all the dust contained on this earth He has weighed in His balances. Imagine how small the earth is to Him. If God’s hand is larger than the expanse of space itself – and that is billions and trillions of miles beyond our comprehension – then see how small the world is to Him. It is less than a speck of dust and, when He takes it in His hand, it quivers as His breath blows upon it. Maybe that is what causes the world to turn – the breath of God! But what is far more wonderful and beyond our understanding is that this great, great God could care so much about those minute beings of His creation upon this speck we call earth; that He should have stepped down and become involved with them. What a stoop was that! What condescension! And now, having bought for us freedom from the power of evil through the blood of Jesus, He watches over us – each one of us – to be sure we have everything His love could shower upon us. We have hundreds of wonderful promises, hundreds of reassurances, hundreds of tokens of His love and care. He has never failed. That boundless God, whose hand is big enough to span eternity and space, has you and me snug in the palm of His great hand. As we begin a new year, walk with us on a search through the Scriptures as we look at those hands, the hands of God. Learn anew the wonder of being held by Him and see afresh the security it offers. Learn to rest on this fact: we are in His hands.
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God’s hands overshadow us
ometimes we hit a spot in our lives when we are tempted to feel that God has forgotten about us. If we listen to our own thinking, it seems to us that we are of no use and that He cannot possibly be bothered with us. We long to be out working for Him yet duties and trials, from which we are unable to break free, keep us shackled. We tend not to look on home-style duties as ‘His work’ and we despair of ever being really useful to Him. God has to draw near and change our thinking here, for caring for needs in our own home can often become one of the greatest fields of service we will ever have. It is at times like these that He will whisper in your ear, ‘In the shadow of My hand I am keeping you because I am making you a polished arrow for Me. I am using you, even now. You may not feel it, but I am.’ With some of us it is a case of time. If God sent you out too soon you would not be ready. Rust would eat into your soul and tarnish destroy your witness. Time must be taken to make sure that the arrow is polished before putting it into use. Only then will it fly with certainty to its intended goal. Even Jesus, perfect as He was, had to wait 30 years before it was time for Him to begin His ministry. He wanted to begin at the age of 12, but it was not the right time; at that age it was the custom for a Jewish boy to go into partnership with his father in his business. Jesus knew that His Father was God and was anxious to start working with Him. You would have thought that the sooner He began, the more He could have accomplished – but no, it was not the time. Like us, He had to wait until it was God’s perfect time.
WEEK 1 Tues
Isaiah 49:1–4 ‘… in the shadow of his hand he hid me …’ (v.2)
For prayer and reflection Father, please teach me patience. You know how I love You and want to serve You. Help me to understand what working for You means. 7
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WEEK 1 Wed
God has forgiving hands
or many years, this verse didn’t make any sense to me. I wondered what was so Isaiah 40:1–9 wonderful about receiving double for our sins – as if we had to pay a double penalty or something ‘… she has received from similar. If God was promising that double would have the L ord’s hand to be paid for the sins of the people, why would Isaiah double for all have been thrilled about this? her sins.’ (v.2) Then, one day, an old rabbi (whose name I have forgotten) explained the verse to me. This Jewish religious leader had become a follower of Jesus, so he fully understood what it meant to have sins forgiven. The rabbi told me about an ancient Hebrew custom. If a man was deeply in debt and unable to pay, he would write the sum of the total owed on a piece of parchment and pin it up outside his tent door. There it would stay until a passing nobleman who was charitably inclined took pity on the poor man. Taking the piece of parchment down, the benefactor would then fold it – double it – and place it back on the nail, thus signifying that he was prepared to pay the debt in full on behalf For prayer and reflection of the man. This custom was known as ‘receiving the double’ – and it is to this that Isaiah refers. But more than this: Isaiah is, in fact, referring here Father, write the reality of this truth to the redemption of the nation and of all mankind. In on my heart. Help Colossians 2:14 we find the same image again. There, me to understand Jesus takes down the list of our sins and nails it to His cross, paying the price and cancelling the debt against fully that the us forever. Never will we have to pay for our sins and death of Jesus on failures. They are nailed to His cross and, through His the cross for me death, we have ‘received the double’. has completely wiped out every trace of my sin. All of it! 8
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God has merciful hands
ou might think that King David would have said these words after Nathan the prophet had pointed out his sin. David had fallen for Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, sleeping with her in his absence. She became pregnant and went to King David with the news. After failing to succeed in getting Uriah to sleep with his wife (and so cover up the pregnancy), David dealt with the situation by having him killed – in a discrete and roundabout way, of course. But he’d nevertheless committed murder – and it was sin. This sin was in addition to his previous sin of taking Bathsheba – and one wrong added to another will never make a right. The prophet Nathan was sent by God to discipline David. When he pointed out that David had offended God by his actions, David admitted his sin – expecting God to punish him. God did punish David – but indirectly. He did not allow the child of the illicit relationship to live. King David accepted this – and mourned the loss of his child. Sometimes, when we’ve turned aside from God and done something we feel really badly about, it’s hard to forgive ourselves. It’s sometimes easier to receive forgiveness from God than to forgive ourselves. I think that’s why God dealt with David in this way – so that the child’s presence would not always remind him of his wrongdoing. And notice how God’s forgiveness is later shown. David and Bathsheba had another child, Solomon, who became the greatest among the kings of that nation. Solomon was also the king who built the Temple for the worship of God – yet he was the son of that same couple, David and Bathsheba. That’s truly God’s forgiveness.
WEEK 1 Thurs
2 Samuel 11:2–5; 12:7–14; 24:14 ‘… Let us fall into the hands of the L ord, for his mercy is great …’ (24:14)
For prayer and reflection Father, sometimes I find it hard to forgive myself. I know You have forgiven me; help me also to forgive myself and others, so that my sin is completely wiped out. 9
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WEEK 1 Fri
Jeremiah 18:1–6 ‘But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands …’ (v.4)
For prayer and reflection Thank You, heavenly Father, for encouraging me that You do not discard vessels that become marred, but You work on them until they become what You want.
God has moulding hands
lay is so very cheap that it really need not be used again – after all, it’s basically just a certain kind of soil dug up from the ground. When a vessel goes wrong in the making on the potter’s wheel, it might just as well be discarded and fresh clay taken to enable the potter to begin again. If a vessel is broken, it can be ground down to powder, then water added again to make fresh clay. But why do that when clay is cheap? In this passage of Scripture God was demonstrating to Jeremiah the lesson of the potter: nothing is too much bother for Him! God does not have to remake a marred vessel any more than He had to tolerate humanity after the Fall. He could have wiped out Adam and Eve and started again with another perfect pair, but He did not. Why? The reason is simply this: it would have been wonderful if mankind had passed from innocence to perfection through testing and temptation, and if Adam and Eve had resisted every advance of the devil. But things didn’t happen that way. So, because God is God, He did something greater. Instead of discarding the faulty vessels, His plan of redemption intends to make us, in the end, something greater than we could ever have been if we’d never been part of a fallen race. It’s far more wonderful for man to pass from guilt, through redemption, to holiness! This should be such an encouragement to those who are depressed because, to them, it seems that they fail constantly. Take heart! God is not dismayed. He takes marred vessels in His hands and remakes them, sometimes over and over again, until they become something greater than was possible any other way.
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g ch d er
weekend God has reviving hands
For reflection: 1 Kings 18:41–46 ‘A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.’ (v.44)
od’s people had strayed far from Him and heathen worship was taking place everywhere throughout the land. An evil king, Ahab, was ruling the nation – and his wife, Jezebel, was even more wicked. As a result, God had caused a three-year famine in the land and the people were suffering for lack of food and water. This was the setting for the event described in our passage. Elijah called the nation together at Mount Carmel, denounced their apostate worship of Baal and presented a challenge to prove who was the true God. In competition with the heathen priests, Elijah called down fire from God. It consumed the sacrifice and demonstrated who was the real, living God. After this triumph, Elijah told King Ahab to hurry home – as rain was on its way. He then went to pray for that rain to arrive. And rain it did. Not right away, but as Elijah prayed the rain clouds began to appear. His servant saw the first rain cloud in the shape of a hand – the hand of God. They needed rain so badly – and here was God’s answer. Optional further reading Read the whole story, beginning in 1 Kings 16:29 and continuing through to the end of chapter 18. It’s an exciting one! A once-only-in-history happening!
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