Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Daily Devotional Tuesday 24th May

“Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.” - Romans 15:2
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me."
Psalm 138:8

Most manifestly the confidence which the Psalmist here expressed was a divine confidence. He did not say, "I have grace enough to perfect that which concerneth me--my faith is so steady that it will not stagger--my love is so warm that it will never grow cold--my resolution is so firm that nothing can move it"; no, his dependence was on the Lord alone. If we indulge in any confidence which is not grounded on the Rock of Ages, our confidence is worse than a dream, it will fall upon us, and cover us with its ruins, to our sorrow and confusion. All that Nature spins time will unravel, to the eternal confusion of all who are clothed therein. The Psalmist was wise, he rested upon nothing short of the Lord's work. It is the Lord who has begun the good work within us; it is he who has carried it on; and if he does not finish it, it never will be complete. If there be one stitch in the celestial garment of our righteousness which we are to insert ourselves, then we are lost; but this is our confidence, the Lord who began will perfect. He has done it all, must do it all, and will do it all. Our confidence must not be in what we have done, nor in what we have resolved to do, but entirely in what the Lord will do. Unbelief insinuates--"You will never be able to stand. Look at the evil of your heart, you can never conquer sin; remember the sinful pleasures and temptations of the world that beset you, you will be certainly allured by them and led astray." Ah! yes, we should indeed perish if left to our own strength. If we had alone to navigate our frail vessels over so rough a sea, we might well give up the voyage in despair; but, thanks be to God, he will perfect that which concerneth us, and bring us to the desired haven. We can never be too confident when we confide in him alone, and never too much concerned to have such a trust.

Evening

"Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money."
Isaiah 43:24

Worshippers at the temple were wont to bring presents of sweet perfumes to be burned upon the altar of God: but Israel, in the time of her backsliding, became ungenerous, and made but few votive offerings to her Lord: this was an evidence of coldness of heart towards God and his house. Reader, does this never occur with you? Might not the complaint of the text be occasionally, if not frequently, brought against you? Those who are poor in pocket, if rich in faith, will be accepted none the less because their gifts are small; but, poor reader, do you give in fair proportion to the Lord, or is the widow's mite kept back from the sacred treasury? The rich believer should be thankful for the talent entrusted to him, but should not forget his large responsibility, for where much is given much will be required; but, rich reader, are you mindful of your obligations, and rendering to the Lord according to the benefit received? Jesus gave his blood for us, what shall we give to him? We are his, and all that we have, for he has purchased us unto himself--can we act as if we were our own? O for more consecration! and to this end, O for more love! Blessed Jesus, how good it is of thee to accept our sweet cane bought with money! nothing is too costly as a tribute to thine unrivalled love, and yet thou dost receive with favour the smallest sincere token of affection! Thou dost receive our poor forget-me-nots and love-tokens as though they were intrinsically precious, though indeed they are but as the bunch of wild flowers which the child brings to its mother. Never may we grow niggardly towards thee, and from this hour never may we hear thee complain of us again for withholding the gifts of our love. We will give thee the first fruits of our increase, and pay thee tithes of all, and then we will confess "of thine own have we given thee."

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Balaam

[Bā'laam] - a pilgrim, devouring or lord of the people. A diviner, son of Beor and resident of the town of Pethor (Num. 22; 23; 24; Deut. 23:4).

The Man Who Heard an Ass Speak

Peter, Jude and John deal with Balaam as a historical presence (2 Pet. 2:15; Jude 11; Rev. 2:14).

In Balaam we have a fitting yet tragic illustration of our Lord's teaching about the light in us being darkness. Balaam had ahead full of light but a heart that was dark - and great was the darkness! This man of Mesopotamia, counted a prophet, yet followed the unholy practice of Eastern soothsayers.

Balak the king, greatly alarmed because of the Israelites swarming the Plains of Moab, sent for Balaam to pronounce a curse upon the people of God so that he would have nothing more to fear. Balaam refused and declared that all who blessed Israel would be blessed. Balak sent for Balaam again and again, tempting him with bribes but Balaam remained firm. In a further approach of Balak, Balaam was more cautious in his refusal. Instead of saying with Daniel, "Thy gifts be to thyself and give thy rewards to another," Balaam caught the bait held out and proved that he loved the wages of unrighteousness.

Balak's messengers were not immediately dismissed. Balaam asked for time to consult God as to what he should do. The line of duty, however, was perfectly clear. There was no need to pray. God allowed Balaam to go, but he did not carry divine approval with him. Sometimes God punishes us by allowing us to have our own way. Thus Balaam started to Balak but did not reach him. Suddenly the ass he was riding stopped and could not be induced to proceed. God's angel was before him although Balaam could not see him standing in the way with his drawn sword. Then the ass, the most stupid of all beasts, was made to speak and reprove one of the wisest of men. Awestruck at what had happened and trembling with fear, Balaam confessed, "I have sinned." Balaam must have known that his whole conduct was displeasing to God and that he had been wilfully blind.

Back Balaam went and with a great parade built seven altars and offered bullocks and rams on every altar. But God was not pleased with such offerings. Yet God employed Balaam for His own purposes, for He put into his mouth some of the most blessed and glorious words spoken concerning His people Israel. With his heart turned towards the eternal world Balaam wanted to die the death of a righteous man, but his end was far from righteous. He died in a general massacre and we have no record of his repentance. He died in his sins.

Clearly evident are the lessons to be learned from this renowned man who was self-willed (Num. 22:5-22); saved from death by a beast (Num. 22:33); double-minded in that he was eloquent in prophecy but presumptuous in seeking to alter the divine plan (Num. 23; 24); a failure in his mission (Num. 24:10); an evil counselor (Num. 31:16); overcome by the besetting sin of avarice ( 2 Pet. 2:13):

The clearest knowledge without grace is worthless.

The presence of any sin is ruinous, especially covetousness.

The most pious wishes are sometimes vain. The road to hell can be paved with good resolutions.

To die well one must live well.

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Elisabeth

The Woman Who Bore a Son in Her Old Age

Scripture Reference-Luke 1:5-80

Name Meaning -Elisabeth means "God is my oath" that is, "a worshiper of God." In his hymn of praise, uttered soon after the birth of his son John, Zacharias alludes to the significance of his wife's name when he said, "the oath which God swore to Abraham." The son was called John by divine command, and means "the mercy or favor of God."

Family Connections-Luke describes Elisabeth as "one of the daughters of Aaron" which means she came of an honored priestly line (Exodus 6:23 ). She was the wife of a priest, Zacharias, of the course of Abia, that is one of the sets of priests who ministered in the Temple from Sabbath to Sabbath (1 Chronicles 24:10). There was thus a priestly descent on both sides. Priests were allowed to marry pious women (Leviticus 21:7). Elisabeth became the mother of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ. Assessing the life and character of Elisabeth we know that she was prominent as-

A Godly Woman

It is said of both Elisabeth and Zacharias that they were "righteous before God, walking in all the commandments of the Lord blameless." What a coveted commendation! The priestly wife was a woman of unusual piety, strong faith and spiritual gifts. All through her life she preserved the blessed traditions of Aaron and his descendants.

A Childless Woman

Righteous toward God and most faithful to her husband we yet have five words containing a world of heartbreak and disappointment, "And they had no child." For years they had both prayed and longed for a child; now they were both well-stricken in years and the prospect of natural childbearing was past. A childless state, more so for the daughter of a priest and the wife of a priest, was humiliating, for in Israel it was the dream of every woman that it might be her privilege to be the mother of the Messiah, promised to Eve, earth's first mother.

A Privileged Woman

For this beloved wife with a pious heart and cultivated intellect, God performed a miracle, as He did for Mary her cousin. "She conceived a son in her old age." It was while Zacharias was exercising his holy office in the sanctuary that the angelic messenger appeared and said, "Thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John." Although beyond the age when the birth of a child was possible, did Zacharias and his wife believe that God was able to do the impossible, and even at their advanced age remove their "reproach among men"? Well, the miracle happened. God gave Elisabeth conception, and after six months of her pregnancy, another miracle happened when without cohabitation Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Zacharias, who had been struck dumb as a sign that God would fulfill His word and grant him a son, had his speech restored when John was born. He hailed John's birth with a God-glorifying song in which he said of the God-given child, "Thou shalt be called the prophet of the highest." This famous son, who came to prepare the way of the Lord, was privileged to have such godly parents to teach him ineffaceable lessons. But John was also directly nurtured by God in the deserts where he lived "till the day of his shewing unto Israel." Thus, as Donald Davidson reminds us in Mothers of the Bible-

It was not at his mother's knee that John learned the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but out on the lonely desert where in the silence and the solitude he found close fellowship with God, and came to know the secrets of His will.

Because of their old age when their son was born, we can assume that Zacharias and Elisabeth both died years before their godly son was cruelly murdered by Herod.

But Elisabeth was a privileged woman in another way in that she was the first woman to confess Jesus in the flesh. When she was six months with child she was visited by her cousin Mary and as soon as the Virgin entered the home, the babe leaped in Elisabeth's womb, as if to welcome the One whom Mary was to bear. Both mother and child were affected by the Holy Spirit, and Elisabeth gave Mary the most honorable of names, "The mother of my Lord." Elisabeth knew the Messiah was come and she prayed to Him and confessed Him. All Messianic hopes were about to be fulfilled for, "There, beneath that woman's clothes, my Saviour is concealed." It was her Spirit-filled greeting which prompted Mary to reply in a song called, The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-56; compare 1 Samuel 2:1-10).

For queens and females of all walks of life Elisabeth has been a favorite name, evidenced by the fact that in America alone there are almost two million females bearing such an honored name. If only all who bear this name would be "righteous before God" and blameless in character, what a mighty spiritual force they would be in the life of the nation of which they are a part. The present sovereign of Great Britain is Queen Elizabeth II, who seeks to live a life beyond reproach, and who manifests deep interest in Dr. Billy Graham's work.

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Today's reading: 1 Chronicles 19-21, John 8:1-27 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: 1 Chronicles 19-21

David Defeats the Ammonites

1 In the course of time, Nahash king of the Ammonites died, and his son succeeded him as king. 2 David thought, "I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me." So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: John 8:1-27

Dispute Over Jesus' Testimony

12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

13 The Pharisees challenged him, "Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid."

14 Jesus answered, "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going...."

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P31Header
Zoe Elmore

May 23, 2011

Divine Delays
Zoe Elmore

"The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them." Psalm 145:18-19(NIV)

My schedule was tight and I was out of make-up, so I planned to pick up my favorite foundation at the local mall, leaving room to still arrive on time for my friend's annual Christmas tea. As I prepared to leave, the Lord whispered to my heart, Don't go to the mall; go to the make-up store near your home.

But Lord, I argued, I have my friend's Christmas tea and the mall is on the way. What You're asking me to do isn't convenient. I will have to go out of my way and I will be late for the tea. And You know how important punctuality is to me!

After more arguing, I reluctantly obeyed and went into the corner make-up store.

I knew the young woman working. She's not only pleasant, but quick and efficient with her customers. Lord, maybe this inconvenience won't interrupt my schedule too much after all. As I entered the store, the familiar woman greeted me and offered to help with my purchase. I told her what I needed and added that I was in quite a hurry to be on time for my Christmas tea.

Quickly and efficiently she found the needed product and walked me to the register to check out.

This was easier than I thought, I said to myself as she handed me my purchase. Then it happened... the reason I had been led to go out of my way.

"I know you're in a hurry, and I will only keep you one more moment." The young woman shared. "I'd like to ask that you pray for me and my struggling marriage as you drive to your Christmas tea. I don't think my marriage can be saved."

In that moment I sensed the Lord, This is why I wanted to interrupt your busy schedule.

I placed my purchase on the counter, held her hands and prayed. As the Lord guided my words, the young woman began to sob, her tears landing softly on my hands. When I said "Amen," she hugged me tightly and whispered, "Of all the people I've asked to pray for me, you're the first one to stop and do so. Thank you. I've been very discouraged, and had thought no one would ever respond to my request. In fact, I had given up all hope that God even heard my cries for help."

I reminded her of today's key verse, "The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them." (Psalm 145:18-19, NIV)

She thanked me for my time, adding that she would begin to dig into God's Word for more strength and encouragement. The store began to fill with customers. There was one more hug and an exchange of phone numbers as I left for the tea. Since that day we have talked and prayed together on several occasions and we plan to continue. Each time she and I talk, it's a reminder that when I listen and obey the Lord's promptings, I experience the joy of His presence in a powerful way.

God's divine delay taught me that being used by the Lord for His glory in the life of others far outweighs arriving on time.

Dear Lord, thank You for loving me enough to use me for Your purposes and glory. Teach me to listen and obey without reservation or hesitation. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Zoe's blog for more encouragement today.

Desperate Prayers, Divine Answers, a free online article from P31 Woman magazine

His Princess: Prayers to My King by Sheri Rose Shepherd

What to do in the W.A.I.T. message on CD by Wendy Pope who shares how we can find contentment in God's pauses and plans.

Application Steps:
Examine your relationship with the Lord; are you allowing the busyness of life to crowd out His small quiet voice?

Reflections:
Am I listening to and obeying the Lord's promptings in my life?

Do I tend to ignore God's whispers when they might inconvenience me?

Power Verses:
Deuteronomy 31:6, 8, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." (NIV)

Luke 12:6-7, "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows." (ESV)

© 2011 by Zoe Elmore. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org


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