Thursday, June 16, 2011

Daily Devotional Thursday 16th June

“The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.” Proverbs 23:24 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me."
Genesis 21:6

It was far above the power of nature, and even contrary to its laws, that the aged Sarah should be honoured with a son; and even so it is beyond all ordinary rules that I, a poor, helpless, undone sinner, should find grace to bear about in my soul the indwelling Spirit of the Lord Jesus. I, who once despaired, as well I might, for my nature was as dry, and withered, and barren, and accursed as a howling wilderness, even I have been made to bring forth fruit unto holiness. Well may my mouth be filled with joyous laughter, because of the singular, surprising grace which I have received of the Lord, for I have found Jesus, the promised seed, and he is mine forever. This day will I lift up psalms of triumph unto the Lord who has remembered my low estate, for "my heart rejoiceth in the Lord; mine horn is exalted in the Lord; my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies, because I rejoice in thy salvation."

I would have all those that hear of my great deliverance from hell, and my most blessed visitation from on high, laugh for joy with me. I would surprise my family with my abundant peace; I would delight my friends with my ever-increasing happiness; I would edify the Church with my grateful confessions; and even impress the world with the cheerfulness of my daily conversation. Bunyan tells us that Mercy laughed in her sleep, and no wonder when she dreamed of Jesus; my joy shall not stop short of hers while my Beloved is the theme of my daily thoughts. The Lord Jesus is a deep sea of joy: my soul shall dive therein, shall be swallowed up in the delights of his society. Sarah looked on her Isaac, and laughed with excess of rapture, and all her friends laughed with her; and thou, my soul, look on thy Jesus, and bid heaven and earth unite in thy joy unspeakable.

Evening

"He openeth, and no man shutteth."
Revelation 3:7

Jesus is the keeper of the gates of paradise and before every believing soul he setteth an open door, which no man or devil shall be able to close against it. What joy it will be to find that faith in him is the golden key to the everlasting doors. My soul, dost thou carry this key in thy bosom, or art thou trusting to some deceitful pick-lock, which will fail thee at last? Hear this parable of the preacher, and remember it. The great King has made a banquet, and he has proclaimed to all the world that none shall enter but those who bring with them the fairest flower that blooms. The spirits of men advance to the gate by thousands, and they bring each one the flower which he esteems the queen of the garden; but in crowds they are driven from the royal presence, and enter not into the festive halls. Some bear in their hand the deadly nightshade of superstition, or the flaunting poppies of Rome, or the hemlock of self- righteousness, but these are not dear to the King, the bearers are shut out of the pearly gates. My soul, hast thou gathered the rose of Sharon? Dost thou wear the lily of the valley in thy bosom constantly? If so, when thou comest up to the gates of heaven thou wilt know its value, for thou hast only to show this choicest of flowers, and the Porter will open: not for a moment will he deny thee admission, for to that rose the Porter openeth ever. Thou shalt find thy way with the rose of Sharon in thy hand up to the throne of God himself, for heaven itself possesses nothing that excels its radiant beauty, and of all the flowers that bloom in paradise there is none that can rival the lily of the valley. My soul, get Calvary's blood-red rose into thy hand by faith, by love wear it, by communion preserve it, by daily watchfulness make it thine all in all, and thou shalt be blessed beyond all bliss, happy beyond a dream. Jesus, be mine forever, my God, my heaven, my all.

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Barnabas

[Bär'nabăs] - son of prophecy orconsolation. Surname of Joses, Paul's companion in several of his missionary journeys (Acts 4:36; 9:27).

The Man Renowned for His Winsomeness

The features of this lovable man stand out in bold relief.

I. His magnificent generosity. The first recorded deed of this Levite of Cyprus was the selling of his property and the grateful sacrifice of the money secured to the common fund of the first Christian community ( Acts. 4:36). The Church has many on her ancient roll who knew what it was to be baptized with the baptism of Barnabas. His exuberant generosity inspired them to surrender their all.

II. His impressive personality. The Lycaonians named Barnabas Jupiter, the name of the emperor of gods in Grecian mythology (Acts 14:12 ). Evidently this "son of comfort" had a commanding, dignified, venerable appearance and his physical nobility added to his influence. The culture and consecration of a commendable physical personality is not to be despised. Also mentally and morally, Barnabas was a man among men.

III. His innate goodness. What triple grace this man possessed! "A good man and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith" (Acts 11:24 ). God-possessed, Barnabas was full of love, sympathy and faith. Vision and allegiance were his. Spirit-filled, he exuded the comfort of the Spirit. Dean Church says that Barnabas was "an earthly reflection of the Paraclete."

IV. His notable ministry. Barnabas had an inspiring influence (Acts 11:25, 26), was trustworthy (Acts 11:29, 30), was adapted to missionary work (Acts 13:2), encouraged converts (Acts 11:23 ), was a son of Christian prophecy in that he uttered God's messages, was a devoted toiler and self-supporting (1 Cor. 9:6).

V. His lamentable contention. It is sad to realize that such a captivating man as Barnabas was a party to a quarrel. How true it is that there are "surprises of sin in holiest histories." The doleful story of the sharp contention between Paul and Barnabas is told in Acts 15:36-39 . Perhaps both good men were wrong. Paul proposed to Barnabas that they should visit the brethren in every city where they had labored. Barnabas agreed and wanted to take Mark, his nephew, with them. Paul felt that Mark, having left them once, was not fit to accompany them, so they parted. Had Paul been too resentful against Mark? Had Barnabas been too eager to urge the claims of his relative? Was one too stern, the other too easy? It is good to know that they were afterwards reconciled.

There are also hints of a certain lack of firmness in Barnabas'otherwise strong character. Writing of dissembling Jews, Paul had to say that even "Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation" (Gal. 2:13). Barnabas, like the rest of us, had some defective qualities. There has only been one perfect Man on earth - the Saviour Barnabas loved and rejoiced to preach about.

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Today's reading: Nehemiah 1-3, Acts 2:1-21 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Nehemiah 1-3

Nehemiah's Prayer

1 The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah:

In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.

3 They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire."

4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Acts 2:1-21

The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost

1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them....

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P31Header
LeAnn Rice

June 15, 2011

Sharing Grace
LeAnn Rice

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

Five years ago I took a spiritual gifts test and failed! Well, in my mind, I failed.

I had high hopes that the test would confirm that I have the spiritual gift of wisdom, discernment, evangelism or mercy. You know...a good, useful gift. A change-the-world kind of gift. I was crushed to discover that I do not possess any of what I perceived as "good" gifts.

Since I was sure I knew myself better than this silly test, I took it again. I ended up taking the spiritual gifts test five times! Sadly, each one confirmed that I was stuck with the frivolous gift of hospitality. Seriously? I wanted to be a wise sage and soul-winning evangelist, not a hostess!

Shortly after my testing marathon I read today's key verse. Reading it a second time, my eyes lingered over the words "whatever gift." It doesn't say, "Only those with the gift of leadership or evangelism go and serve." As I pondered this verse I realized that as a body of Christians we could not accomplish nearly as much if we all had the same gifts. I embraced my gift of hospitality and God showed me He could use my ability to create a fancy meal or decorate a beautiful table to make others feel special. I can administer God's grace through what I thought was fluff!

What gift(s) has God given you? If you haven't yet determined your spiritual gift(s), spend some time thinking about what you do well, what hidden talent you may have, and what you have a passion for. Ask your friends what they think your talents are.

Then ask God how you can use these gifts to share His grace with others. If you are a musician, consider playing at a local retirement center or soup kitchen. If you love to scrapbook, consider organizing memories for someone who is unable to do so. If you have great computer skills, consider helping women at a shelter put together resumes or teach computer skills to help them secure a job.

I have learned that my "frivolous" gift of hospitality is not so frivolous after all. Extending hospitality, simple or extravagant, is a tangible way to share God's love and His grace with family, friends, co-workers, and strangers. My prayer is that every day God will provide me with new opportunities to use the gifts He has bestowed upon me for His kingdom and for His glory.

Dear Lord, thank You that You have gifted each of us differently. Help me discover the gifts You have given me so I may use them to administer Your grace to everyone around me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit LeAnn's amazing She Cooks site today for an awesome giveaway and to see how LeAnn is using her gift of hospitality to reach others with the grace of God. Come for recipes, menus, and special event planning, and stay for much more! LeAnn is looking forward to spending time cooking together.

Do You Know Jesus?

Sharing Grace: Recipes - Family Traditions - Gift Ideas(e-book) by LeAnn Rice

Shaped with Purpose Workbook and CD: Discovering Your God-given Gifts, Passions, Personality and Abilities by Renee Swope

A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We wish we could, but we simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you!

Application Steps:
How can I purposefully use my spiritual gifts to share God's love and grace with those around me?

Reflections:
Reflect on 1 Peter 4:9-11, "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ." (NIV)

Am I truly being a good steward of the gifts entrusted to me by the Holy Spirit, using them to serve others and to glorify Christ and not merely for my own personal gain or enjoyment?

Power Verses:
Romans 12:4-6, "Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us." (NIV)

1 Corinthians 12:4-6, "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men." (NIV)

© 2011 by LeAnn Rice. All rights reserved.

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



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