Oaks of Righteousness

Oaks of Righteousness
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2, by Os Hillman

"They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor" (Isa. 61:3).

It was the worst time in my life. Feeling betrayed by God, I stormed out of the door and walked up the heavily wooded hill behind my house. Reaching the hilltop, I raged at God. "God!" I shouted, "Is this how you treat someone who is faithful to You?! I've waited and waited. I've worked and prayed. And for what? For this?" My lungs hurt and my throat was raw - but I had one more thing to say to God. "I hate You, God! I hate You!"
I sat down on an old oak tree that had broken at the base and was lying on the ground. For the next three hours, I sobbed uncontrollably, unable to speak, unable to pray. I wondered how God could abandon me. I wondered if He even existed. Maybe I had wasted my life believing in a myth.

Finally, I got up to leave. When I looked over at the fallen oak that I had sat on, I noticed something interesting. The fallen tree was pointed toward the base of another oak tree - a tree that stood strong and tall with wide spreading branches. At that moment, I heard a quiet voice inside me say, Today, like this broken oak tree, you are a broken man. But this brokenness was needed in order for you to become like the large, strong oak tree that stands before you.

Years later, I would look back and know that God Himself had spoken to me out of my period of darkness and silence.

Even when I raged at God and told Him I hated Him, God was faithful and forgiving. Today, He has replaced the ashes of my despair with the oil of gladness. He has planted me firmly like a strong and sturdy oak tree, and I live my life in gratitude for His mercy.

Do you find yourself in a dark place? Share your true feelings with God. You'll be surprised how well He is willing to listen.

Today God Is First (TGIF) devotional message, Copyright by Os Hillman, Marketplace Leaders.

June 1
A Compass for Life’s Journey
Dr. Charles Stanley

Proverbs 3:1-6

If you’ve ever been lost in the woods, you know the concerns, confusion, and panic this situation causes. Now think what a difference it would have made to know that a compass was in your pocket.

Spiritually speaking, we have such a compass—God’s Word. But it does no good unless we let it guide us. Yet at times, we may fail to follow its direction because of . . .

1. Neglect. Sometimes we are so busy walking through life that we forget to look at God’s compass to make sure we’re headed in the right direction.

2. Pride. Oftentimes we want to determine the destiny ourselves. Relying on our own strength, understanding, and abilities, we plan our own route.

3. Distractions. God’s path of obedience isn’t always easy. In fact, sometimes it can be extremely challenging. Satan offers other trails that promise pleasure and ease if we will just ignore the compass and follow him. Although these trails seem pleasant at first, they lead to heartbreak and discouragement.

4. Difficulties. Whenever obstacles appear on the trail, our natural tendency is to try and find a way around them. But by ignoring God’s compass and stepping off the path, we’ll miss the blessings He wants to give us through the rough patches—strong faith and godly character.

Why should we wander when the Lord’s compass is available? Let Scripture be your guide on life’s journey. God promises to give you productive days and fruitful years if you follow His path. He’ll direct each step of your way, and His peace will sustain you, even during the difficult times.

For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit http://www.intouch.org/.

June 1, 2011
The Beatitudes of Anger Management - Part 2
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
“In your anger, do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26).

Friend To Friend
A minister was making a wooden trellis to support a climbing vine. As he was pounding away, he noticed a little boy watching him. The youngster didn't say a word so the preacher kept on working, thinking the boy would leave – but he didn’t. Pleased at the thought that his work was being admire, the pastor finally asked, “Trying to pick up some pointers on gardening?” The little boy said, “Nope. I’m just waiting to hear what a preacher says when he hits his thumb with a hammer.”

The people around us want to see what happens when life pushes our buttons and anger puts the squeeze on our emotions. While God created us with the capacity for strong emotions, it is our responsibility to control them instead of allowing them to control us. Yesterday, we looked at four ways to manage anger. Here are four more:

Be focused.
Psalm 37:8 “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.”

I witnessed the utter strength and beauty of our daughter-in-law as she went through hours of labor during the birth of our twin grandchildren. The pain was excruciating, but Jodi worked through each contraction by doing two things: controlling her breathing and choosing a focus point. We need to do the same when we are angry. Take a deep breath and focus on the peace of God.

Be understanding.
James 1:19 “Everyone should be quick to listen.”

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—to listen twice as much as we speak. When you find yourself getting angry with someone, take time to listen to what the other person has to say. Make sure you understand their viewpoint. In fact, it might be a good idea for you to repeat it back to make sure you do get the real point. Only then, when you have processed that information and reigned in your emotions, should you offer a reply. Listening for the purpose of understanding plays a significant role in anger management.

Be kind.
Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

It had been one of “those” mornings and I was behind schedule in preparing to teach the women’s Tuesday morning Bible study at our church. I am fairly certain I did not exude peace and joy as I rushed around. Finally, it looked like everything was ready – everything except my heart. I knew I needed to spend some time alone with God before standing to teach His Word, so I found a quiet room where I could escape for a few minutes of solitude. As I began to pray, the door flew open and crashed against the wall behind it as the husband of one of our group leaders burst into the room. I could tell by the look on his face that he was not happy and that whatever was wrong was definitely my fault. In a very loud and very angry voice, the man began to explain the problem, ending his tirade with the question, "And just what are you going to do about it?" I knew what I wanted to say to the man. I also knew God didn't want me to say it. In a rare moment of wisdom, I faced my accuser with a smile and whispered, "I'll tell you exactly what I am going to do. I am going to do whatever it takes to make you happy."

I was completely unprepared for the man's reaction. His mouth fell open, his eyes widened in surprise - no, make that shock - and he stumbled backwards as if I had hit him. We stared at each other for what seemed like an hour before he finally whispered back, "Thank you." Without another word, the man turned and literally ran out of the room. The most amazing part of this story is that from that day on, he has been one of my strongest encouragers.

The next time someone makes you angry, put a smile on your face. It is hard to stay upset when you are smiling. Smiling is one of the best anger management tips because you can do it anytime, almost anywhere, and to pretty much anyone. The next time you are angry, choose to give a friendly smile of understanding, appreciation, or patience as you listen to the other side of the story.

Be ready.
1 Peter 5:8 “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

The best way to manage anger is to prevent it in the first place. How? Balance your schedule and priorities so that you will not live in a constant state of frustration and exhaustion. Avoid spending time with angry people. Proverbs 22:24 says, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man; do not associate with one easily angered.” We really do become like the people with whom we spend the most time. Pray constantly, asking the Holy Spirit to help you cultivate the habits that encourage peace – not anger. Memorize Scripture. The Word of God is a powerful weapon in dealing with and managing our emotions.

Anger is today’s emotional epidemic. What does it take to make you angry? Do you have a short fuse or a long one? How many relationships in your life have been damaged by your anger? Remember … more important than the way you were and more important than the way you are … is the way you can be. Right now, surrender your anger to God and thank Him for a new beginning.

Let’s Pray
Father, I need Your power and strength to help me control my anger. Forgive me for the damage and pain my anger has caused the people in my life. I want my emotional health to honor and please You.
In Jesus’ name,


Now It’s Your Turn
Review all of the anger management tips we have explored. How can you plug these tips into your daily life? I encourage you to recruit a girlfriend who will hold you accountable for the way you handle anger. Check in with her once a week. Be honest and open about your anger level. Journal your thoughts … the truths God gives you … the progress you make.

More From The Girlfriends
Learning how to control our emotions is an important step in our spiritual maturity. If you need help in controlling anger, check out Mary’s E-Bible Study, Anger Management 911.

Don’t miss Mary’s NEW weekly Online Bible Study Under the Influence…of Love beginning June 6. Learn five powerful steps you can take to forgive and love your enemies. Enroll now and have access to all 2011 lessons. Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.

Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 725
Matthews, NC 28106

Prophecy in the News: Melon Size Hail

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