Thursday, June 02, 2011

Daily Devotional Thursday 2nd June

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”” Revelation 21: 2-4 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"The evening and the morning were the first day."
Genesis 1:5

Was it so even in the beginning? Did light and darkness divide the realm of time in the first day? Then little wonder is it if I have also changes in my circumstances from the sunshine of prosperity to the midnight of adversity. It will not always be the blaze of noon even in my soul concerns, I must expect at seasons to mourn the absence of my former joys, and seek my Beloved in the night. Nor am I alone in this, for all the Lord's beloved ones have had to sing the mingled song of judgment and of mercy, of trial and deliverance, of mourning and of delight. It is one of the arrangements of Divine providence that day and night shall not cease either in the spiritual or natural creation till we reach the land of which it is written, "there is no night there." What our heavenly Father ordains is wise and good.

What, then, my soul, is it best for thee to do? Learn first to be content with this divine order, and be willing, with Job, to receive evil from the hand of the Lord as well as good. Study next, to make the outgoings of the morning and the evening to rejoice. Praise the Lord for the sun of joy when it rises, and for the gloom of evening as it falls. There is beauty both in sunrise and sunset; sing of it, and glorify the Lord. Like the nightingale, pour forth thy notes at all hours. Believe that the night is as useful as the day. The dews of grace fall heavily in the night of sorrow. The stars of promise shine forth gloriously amid the darkness of grief. Continue thy service under all changes. If in the day thy watchword be labour, at night exchange it for watch. Every hour has its duty, do thou continue in thy calling as the Lord's servant until he shall suddenly appear in his glory. My soul, thine evening of old age and death is drawing near; dread it not, for it is part of the day; and the Lord has said, "I will cover him all the day long."

Evening

"He will make her wilderness like Eden."
Isaiah 51:3

Methinks, I see in vision a howling wilderness, a great and terrible desert, like to the Sahara. I perceive nothing in it to relieve the eye, all around I am wearied with a vision of hot and arid sand, strewn with ten thousand bleaching skeletons of wretched men who have expired in anguish, having lost their way in the pitiless waste. What an appalling sight! How horrible! a sea of sand without a bound, and without an oasis, a cheerless graveyard for a race forlorn! But behold and wonder! Upon a sudden, upspringing from the scorching sand I see a plant of renown; and as it grows it buds, the bud expands--it is a rose, and at its side a lily bows its modest head; and, miracle of miracles! as the fragrance of those flowers is diffused the wilderness is transformed into a fruitful field, and all around it blossoms exceedingly, the glory of Lebanon is given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon. Call it not Sahara, call it Paradise. Speak not of it any longer as the valley of deathshade, for where the skeletons lay bleaching in the sun, behold a resurrection is proclaimed, and up spring the dead, a mighty army, full of life immortal. Jesus is that plant of renown, and his presence makes all things new. Nor is the wonder less in each individual's salvation. Yonder I behold you, dear reader, cast out, an infant, unswathed, unwashed, defiled with your own blood, left to be food for beasts of prey. But lo, a jewel has been thrown into your bosom by a divine hand, and for its sake you have been pitied and tended by divine providence, you are washed and cleansed from your defilement, you are adopted into heaven's family, the fair seal of love is upon your forehead, and the ring of faithfulness is on your hand--you are now a prince unto God, though once an orphan, cast away. O prize exceedingly the matchless power and grace which changes deserts into gardens, and makes the barren heart to sing for joy.

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Jeroham

[Jĕr'ohăm] - loved or he findeth mercy.

  1. The father of Elkanah, and grandfather of Samuel (1 Sam. 1:1; 1 Chron. 6:27, 34).
  2. The head of a Benjamite family dwelling in Jerusalem (1 Chron. 8:27).
  3. A Benjamite and father of Ibneiah. Perhaps the same as No. 2 (1 Chron. 9:8).
  4. A priest, whose son, Adaiah , lived in Jerusalem after the exile, and who was of the house of Malchijah (1 Chron. 9:12; Neh. 11:12).
  5. A Benjamite of Gedor whose two sons joined David at Ziklag (1 Chron. 12:7).
  6. The father of Azareel, prince of Dan in the reign of David (1 Chron. 27:22).
  7. The father of Azariah who aided Jehoiada in putting Joash on the throne (2 Chron. 23:1).
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Today's reading: 2 Chronicles 15-16, John 12:27-50 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: 2 Chronicles 15-16

Asa's Reform

1 The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Oded. 2 He went out to meet Asa and said to him, "Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. 3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. 4But in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them. 5 In those days it was not safe to travel about, for all the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil. 6 One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every kind of distress. 7 But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded...."

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: John 12:27-50

27 "Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!"

Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again." 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him....

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Have you seen the new Bible Gateway?

The
new Bible Gateway launched today! If you haven't yet tried it out, we think you'll be pleased with the many improvements and new features we've added. Here's some of what you'll find:
  • a new design that streamlines the interface while retaining the Bible Gateway experience you're used to
  • easy-to-use parallel (side-by-side) Bible comparison
  • the ability to share verses and devotions with friends on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks
  • an improved Verse of the Day feature
  • ...and many other improvements, many of them suggested by Bible Gateway visitors
We've been walking through each of these features in detail at the Bible Gateway blog. The blog is where we'll post any additional news, updates, and tutorials in the weeks to come.

But rather than talk more about the new Bible Gateway, we invite you to click over and
explore it yourself. Thanks for your continued support of Bible Gateway; we hope the new site is a blessing to you as you read and study God's Word!

Sincerely,

the Bible Gateway team
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P31Header
T. Suzanne Eller

June 1, 2011

What They Didn't Realize
T. Suzanne Eller

"Love is patient. Love is kind." 1 Corinthians 13:4a (NIV)

I knew what it was like to sit on a curb and weep because I wanted to run away. I knew how it felt to be locked in a closet by an older sibling. I knew what it meant to feel fear as a parent grabbed a gun and threatened suicide.

But, when I became a Christian at 15, I didn't know anything about what it meant to live a Christian life.

I didn't understand Jesus or His love. I was far from mature in my faith, but the Christian adults in that small church began to show me what His love looked like. Without knowing my story, they still reached out and touched my life.

I was drawn in to my faith by the presence of God and His spirit, but grew in faith because of caring and well-meaning people. They taught Sunday school and youth group. They shushed us when we talked too loud during service. They herded teens onto the bus every Sunday afternoon so that we could go to the nursing homes and sing and let wrinkled hands rest on our smooth ones.

Looking back, I know I was trying at times. Like the time I kissed the boy on the youth group hayride. Or when I shared my testimony for the first time and I uttered a curse word in the middle. I ran out of the room in embarrassment, but a woman found me outside. "Maybe you could say it a different way next time," she said with a smile. Her hug made me feel safe and accepted.

Maybe there's a behaviorally challenged teen in your world. They act on impulse. They say things that make you cringe. They run after God, but fall just as hard in the process.

And yet you keep loving them, teaching them about God, and showing them that their life matters to God. Maybe their home life is a secret, like mine was. Lots of teens need spiritual moms and dads because, for some, the only way they see Jesus is through you.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit my old church. When I thanked a couple, now in their golden years, for all that they had done, the response was, "We didn't do that much. We just loved you kids."

What they didn't realize is that their love helped that sometimes annoying teen with a very hard home life grow up to be a good mom, a loving wife, and a grandma whose life is wrapped in Jesus. I want them to know that every word I write, every time I speak, every time I kneel and pray with someone to know Christ, it is somehow linked back to that group of faithful adults who loved me right where I was. Their patient example showed me Jesus. It inspired me to work with teens for years and to open our home to teens in crisis.

One day in eternity I know they'll understand. But for now I want them to know that they transformed my life.

I'll always be grateful.

Dear Lord, help me to be faithful to show Your love to a teen or a child who needs it. Help me to be patient and serve as an example. We don't know every story but You do. Thank You that small acts of faithfulness can be multiplied in Your hands. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Visit Suzie's blog for a giveaway of Making It Real (a teaching study guide for teens)

Real Issues, Real Teens: What Every Parent Needs to Know by T. Suzanne Eller

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:
To impact a teen, you can:

• Open your home to your children's friends for a fun night

• Pay a teen's way to youth camp or a mission trip (if parents aren't involved, they normally don't get to go)

• Ask your youth pastor if there is an at-risk teen in the church. Commit to pray for them daily.

Reflections:
How can my faith be a model for future generations?

Power Verses:
1 Timothy 2:1, "I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them." (NLT)

1 Corinthians 13:13, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (NIV)

© 2011 by T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.

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

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LeeStrobel-Newsletter-Header-Final
FORGED?

LeeheadshotBart Ehrman's new book claims the Bible's authors are not who we think they are. Here's an analysis by an expert who has debated him twice.

I asked New Testament professor Michael R. Licona to respond to agnostic scholar Bart Ehrman's latest broadside against the Bible. In his book Forged, Ehrman says approximately 70 percent of the New Testament writings were not written by those to whom they are attributed. Here's the response from Licona, who has debated Ehrman on two occasions in the past:

On March 22, the New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman published his latest iconoclastic book challenging the traditional Christian view. Ehrman is well read on this subject, citing from a number of doctoral dissertations, scholarly monographs, and journal articles in both English and German.

The issue of authorship is discussed at length in most introductions to the New Testament, which are usually written for graduate students. These books provide the pro and con arguments for the traditional authorship of all of the New Testament literature. They also discuss the identity of the original readers to whom the literature was addressed, where they were located, why it was written, and when it was written. For those interested in wrestling with the issue of authorship, it's a good idea to look at a few New Testament Introductions that are written by scholars abiding at differing points on the theological spectrum.

Advertisement
Questions from readers:

  • What about the Jehovah's Witnesses?
  • Discrepancies in the Empty Tomb accounts?

Q. Lee, my parents "converted" to Jehovah's Witnesses around 1970. I remember going to the Kingdom Hall until about 5 years old. Shortly thereafter they were "dis-fellowshipped" for violations, basically smoking. Since that time they have not gone back to church. They have, however, supported my on/off again attempts to get involved with church, regardless of denomination. I have always questioned certain things while in those churches based on my exposure to the Jehovah's Witnesses. For instance, why does the church always talk about Jesus and God as being the same when clearly Jesus references his Father as a separate being ("Forgive them Father for they know not what they do...", "I was with my Father when he created..."). And why then is God's name mentioned as Jehovah and his son as Jesus? They appear to be separate. - Ray

A. Thanks for your email, Ray. You are asking important questions. Thankfully, there are clear answers from God's word, the Bible, whose authority you already rightly acknowledge as the truth (Joshua 1:7-9; Psalm 119;Matthew 5:17-18; 2 Timothy 3:15-17 ). The key involves understanding a couple of important distinctions about what the Bible clearly communicates (and therefore historic Christianity teaches) about who God is, while properly clarifying Jesus.

Read the rest of this answer!

Have a question? Drop me a line atAskLee@Leestrobel.com. We'll answer the ones with the broadest interest in upcoming newsletters. Thanks to Sam Wall, former chief researcher for the Bible Answer Man radio show, who heads the "Ask Lee" response team.

Lee's Notes

• I've been overwhelmed by the response to my first novel,The Ambition, a legal thriller in the John Grisham genre that we launched with a series of speaking engagements and media appearances in Chicago, the site of the story. The reviews have really been encouraging! Even Cathleen Falsani, one of the top religion journalists in the country, included The Ambition on her short list of religion books that people should read over this summer. Said Falsani: "Set in the halls of a flourishing suburban megachurch, the newsroom of a struggling big-city newspaper and the shadowlands of political kingmakers, Strobel proves in this page-turner that he has as much flare for secular intrigue as he does for theological discourse." Why not get a copy for yourself and for your dad for Father's Day? The underlying spiritual themes of the book could provide fodder for some future faith conversations.

• Tomorrow is the big day at www.BibleGateway.com , my partner with this newsletter, as they launch their newly redesigned website. They've made a lot of improvements, many of them suggested over the years by their loyal users. For instance, the Verse of the Day and parallel Bible reading have been updated, and some new features are being launched, including the ability to share verses and content on social networks and to read commentaries alongside scripture. And Rachel Barach, my friend who leads the organization, has taken care to make sure all the most-loved features of the site have been preserved. Check out the new look tomorrow!

• I'm so proud of my kids! My son Kyle received news that a scholarly article he has written has been accepted for publication in the Harvard Theological Review. And my daughter, Alison, and her husband, Dan, just received the SELAH award from the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for their captivating children's bookThat's Where God Is. It's the second award for this unique and colorful exploration of the evidence for God designed to reach toddlers. (Their sequel, That's When I Talk to God, is terrific in helping children understand prayer.)

Has the Bible changed over time?

Picture 11

Dr. Michael Licona discusses how the game of telephone doesn't apply to the transmission of the New Testament over time.


Lee's Links: Suggested articles from the web

Where does morality come from?
Here's the transcript of the debate at Notre Dame University between Christian William Lane Craig and atheist Sam Harris on whether the foundations of morality come from God.

The same old atheism
In this article for The Nation, Jackson Lears offers an insightful critique of the claims by Sam Harris, one of the most prominent of the so-called crop of "New Atheists."
Is Dawkins really a coward?
A fellow British atheist says Richard Dawkins' refusal to debate William Lane Craig, the top defender of Christianity, is a "glaring omission" apt to be interpreted as cowardice.
Without Bible, West will fail
Vishal Mangalwadi, the India-born apologist who wrote The Book That Made Our World, suggests that America will poison the world unless it returns to believing the Bible.
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Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional

DO YOU LOOK LIKE GOD?

To understand how God wants to “make everything new” in the world and in our lives we have to go back to when humanity was new the first time. That is why we are so captivated by the Genesis account. It is why scientists do experiments and create tools that cost literally billions of dollars to peer back in time. To understand the first moments when the universe was born.

Humanity’s newness is described in the account of the creation of the man and the woman in the garden. And there is this one small statement that describes the essence of what it means to be human, what God intended in the first place. God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26-27)

Do you feel like you look like God today?

That may seem like a ridiculous question, but it is a fair question. We were created “in God’s image.” For millennia believers have looked at that statement and pondered what it could mean. Some have thought God must have a physical appearance like ours: two legs, two arms, two eyes, etc. We look the way we do because that is the image of God. Most people dismiss that idea, for good reasons, but we should still realize how easy it is for us to imagine God as a bigger, better human being. A man with big muscles, silver hair, a strong beard, and a deep voice. But that would be to make God in our image.

Others have said that the authority given Adam and Eve to “have dominion over the earth” is how we are like God, or that our ability to have relationships is how we are like God. Still others have said that every way in which human beings are more than the animals must be what it means to be made in the image of God–because “image of God” is only used of human beings in Genesis. Following that line of thinking, we have moral awareness because God is moral, spiritual awareness because God is Spirit. We have the capacity for rational thought, because God has a mind. We can invent or create new things because God creates (although God creates out of nothing–something we will never do). We can act with intentionality and self-awareness because God is like that. The animals just don’t do those things. Their actions never rise higher than instinct and hunger.

In any of these interpretations of Genesis 1:26-27 the implication is clear: human beings were created by God to be something exceptional. More than animal. Less than God. And in that middle ground, vested with dignity and nobility that gives our lives purpose and meaning. So let’s ask the question again: do you feel like you look like God today? If not, that is because of Genesis 3, the fall of the human race into the undignified and ignoble status of sinners. But God has not given up on us. In Jesus Christ we see the perfect image of life, and the specific form of how God is making everything new–in us. (Much more on this in the weeks to come.)

Resources

About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for thirty years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, the most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement.

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