Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Daily Devotional Wednesday 22nd June

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”Psalm 91:1 NIV
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon


"Thou art fairer than the children of men."
Psalm 45:2

The entire person of Jesus is but as one gem, and his life is all along but one impression of the seal. He is altogether complete; not only in his several parts, but as a gracious all-glorious whole. His character is not a mass of fair colours mixed confusedly, nor a heap of precious stones laid carelessly one upon another; he is a picture of beauty and a breastplate of glory. In him, all the "things of good repute" are in their proper places, and assist in adorning each other. Not one feature in his glorious person attracts attention at the expense of others; but he is perfectly and altogether lovely.

Oh, Jesus! thy power, thy grace, thy justice, thy tenderness, thy truth, thy majesty, and thine immutability make up such a man, or rather such a God-man, as neither heaven nor earth hath seen elsewhere. Thy infancy, thy eternity, thy sufferings, thy triumphs, thy death, and thine immortality, are all woven in one gorgeous tapestry, without seam or rent. Thou art music without discord; thou art many, and yet not divided; thou art all things, and yet not diverse. As all the colours blend into one resplendent rainbow, so all the glories of heaven and earth meet in thee, and unite so wondrously, that there is none like thee in all things; nay, if all the virtues of the most excellent were bound in one bundle, they could not rival thee, thou mirror of all perfection. Thou hast been anointed with the holy oil of myrrh and cassia, which thy God hath reserved for thee alone; and as for thy fragrance, it is as the holy perfume, the like of which none other can ever mingle, even with the art of the apothecary; each spice is fragrant, but the compound is divine.

"Oh, sacred symmetry! oh, rare connection

Of many perfects, to make one perfection!

Oh, heavenly music, where all parts do meet

In one sweet strain, to make one perfect sweet!"


"The foundation of God standeth sure."
2 Timothy 2:19

The foundation upon which our faith rests is this, that "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." The great fact on which genuine faith relies is, that "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us," and that "Christ also hath suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God"; "Who himself bare our sins in his own body on the tree"; "For the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed." In one word, the great pillar of the Christian's hope is substitution. The vicarious sacrifice of Christ for the guilty, Christ being made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, Christ offering up a true and proper expiatory and substitutionary sacrifice in the room, place, and stead of as many as the Father gave him, who are known to God by name, and are recognized in their own hearts by their trusting in Jesus--this is the cardinal fact of the gospel. If this foundation were removed, what could we do? But it standeth firm as the throne of God. We know it; we rest on it; we rejoice in it; and our delight is to hold it, to meditate upon it, and to proclaim it, while we desire to be actuated and moved by gratitude for it in every part of our life and conversation. In these days a direct attack is made upon the doctrine of the atonement. Men cannot bear substitution. They gnash their teeth at the thought of the Lamb of God bearing the sin of man. But we, who know by experience the preciousness of this truth, will proclaim it in defiance of them confidently and unceasingly. We will neither dilute it nor change it, nor fritter it away in any shape or fashion. It shall still be Christ, a positive substitute, bearing human guilt and suffering in the stead of men. We cannot, dare not, give it up, for it is our life, and despite every controversy we feel that "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure."


Today's reading: Esther 3-5, Acts 5:22-42 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Esther 3-5

Haman's Plot to Destroy the Jews

1 After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles. 2 All the royal officials at the king's gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.

3 Then the royal officials at the king's gate asked Mordecai, "Why do you disobey the king's command?" 4 Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai's behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew.... the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Acts 5:22-42

22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 "We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside." 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to.

25 Then someone came and said, "Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people." 26 At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them....


[Ărĭstär'chus] - the best ruler. A Macedonian of Thessalonica and one of Paul's travel-companions. This convert from Judaism is spoken of as Paul's "fellow-prisoner," implying imprisonment for the Gospel's sake (Acts 19:29; 20:4; 27:2; Col. 4:10; Philem. 24).
Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional


Against the gray clouds and darkness across the human race stands one distinctive life-a brilliant, even blinding light. Jesus the Messiah, called many things, is also known uniquely as “him who had no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ). Because the glory of God shines directly from him, and because it is undiminished even by his true human nature, Jesus is the answer to the problem of sin. Darkness doesn’t stand a chance against the light. And considering he who was called “the light of the world” and “the light that shines in the darkness,” we have always before us a brilliantly illuminated life, the way human life was supposed to be.

But we also have to take the time to understand the seriousness of our plight without God.

This is how serious our plight is: the father who received back the prodigal son said, “He was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” It is one of Jesus’ most beloved stories, the story of a son who snatched his inheritance and squandered it in reckless living. When he found himself eating with the pigs, he wondered if maybe his father would hire him as a manual laborer, and trudged toward home. There he found a waiting father.

“Was dead, is alive.”

How else could we describe living life utterly separated from God? “You were dead in your transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). That makes the forgiveness and love that comes from God in Christ all the more remarkable. God “made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions” (Ephesians 2:5). Jesus himself said that those who believe in him have “crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).

Christian faith holds that this brokenness of our humanity has affected every faculty we possess. The heart is easily given to deceit (Jeremiah 17:9). The mind is darkened (Ephesians 4:18). Even the conscience, that moral watchdog that is supposed to warn us when we stray, is corrupted (Titus 1:5 ). Does this mean that we are incapable of thinking good and doing good? No. Does it mean that these faculties we possess are as corrupt as they can possibly be? No. Does it mean that every person sins in every way that is possible to sin? Obviously not.

Not everyone commits murder. Or adultery. Or theft. But we would make a major spiritual mistake to take refuge in the fact that there’s always someone else we can point to who seems to have been guilty of graver moral errors than ourselves.

Hitler’s deeds make none of us angels by comparison.

There are two things true of every human being we share the planet with today: we all belong to a race created in the image of God, and we have all become broken, twisted, and corrupted. It is not that we are sinners because we commit sins. This brokenness is so universal and so constant that the only way of understanding it is that we sin because we are sinners.

Are all sins the same? Of course not. Murder is a distinctly worse offense than shoplifting. The commonality among us is not in the sameness of what we do wrong, it is the fact that we all share the same status of belonging to a race of fallen, broken creatures. Jesus as easily forgives a criminal who seeks his mercy as he does someone who cheats on his taxes or cheats on his spouse, or who tends toward a bit of a gossip–is we have faith in him.

No wonder Jesus called himself “the light of the world.”

Excerpt from Putting the Pieces Back Together: How Real Life and Real Faith Connect. Free DVD available now.


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.

June 21, 2011

A Great Plan

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

The LORD is my strength, my shield from every danger. I trust in him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy" (Psalm 28:7).

Friend To Friend

I love the story of a tourist visiting the Grand Canyon. As he gazed in wonder at the sight before him, the tourist got too close to the edge, lost his footing and fell over the side. Just before he went out of sight, the man grabbed a scrubby bush and held on for dear life. Filled with terror, he called out toward heaven, "Is anyone up there?" A calm powerful voice came out of the sky, "Yes, there is." The tourist pleaded, "Can you help me?" The calm voice replied, "I'm sure I can. What seems to be the problem?" The man explained, "I fell over the edge of the canyon and am now dangling in space, holding onto a bush that's about to come loose. Please help me!" The voice said, "I will. Do you have faith?" The terrified man replied, "Yes! I have strong faith!" The voice said, "Then just let go. Everything will be fine." There was a tense pause. The tourist then yelled, "Is there anyone else up there?"

The first time I heard that story, I laughed and thought, "How ridiculous!" My next thought was that I have more in common with the tourist than I care to admit.

How often do I edge my way toward a dangerous cliff of disobedience and find myself giving in to temptation? How many times have I cried out to God to rescue me from some self-made pit into which I have fallen, but dictated how I wanted to be rescued? I can't begin to count the number of times when I have foolishly chosen to follow my plan instead of God's plan for my life. Now that's ridiculous.

Max Lucado tells the story of buying a new bicycle for his oldest daughter. It was her first "real" bike because it had no training wheels. After watching her sister ride the new bicycle, his younger daughter wanted a new bike, too. Max Lucado explained, "Your sister is older. She doesn't need training wheels anymore." His young daughter was not buying his story and kept badgering him for a new bike. In frustration, Max Lucado finally said, "Honey, I am your dad. You are just going to have to trust me this time." His daughter thought for a moment before responding, "No. I'm just gonna get me a different daddy."

God has a unique plan for each one of us that is beyond human understanding or expectation. It is called His will. God has been making His will known from the very beginning of time. In the Garden of Eden God revealed to Adam and Eve His will or plan for their lives. It is important to note that with the revealed plan He also gave them the choice to obey because He is a loving Father and a gracious God. Knowing that His way was right, God still allowed Adam and Eve to choose the wrong way. They made the wrong choice - but He still loved them and forgave them. He will do the same for you.

The Bible promises that God's plan is the best plan; the one for which we were created. Psalm 32:8 "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life." God agrees to not only show us the plan, He promises to provide all of the strength and resources needed to carry out that plan. His sufficient and constant power is unleashed by our choice to accept and follow His blueprint for victorious living.

We were created by the One who knows us best and loves us most. There are no accidents with God. He never has to say, "Oops!" Before we were ever conceived in the heart and mind of man we were conceived in the heart and mind of God. Wanted, loved and planned since before the world began. He had a plan in mind and lovingly, purposefully created us in response to that plan.

I know that there are days when the will of God seems completely wrong and we simply do not understand. Every moment is pregnant with darkness and our hearts are numb, paralyzed by fear and doubt. We are treading water in the storm tossed sea of life, desperately longing to see Him walking on the treacherous waves toward us, rescue in His hand. It is in those shadowed moments that we must choose to trust the Plan Maker even though our faith is small and we cannot understand the plan. His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. And one day, every one of our question marks will be yanked into exclamation points as we see that high plan as He sees it - perfect.

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT).

Today, my friend set aside your meager agenda. Lay down your limited life arrangement and look for God to meet you at the point of surrender - power and victory in His hands. Nowthat is a great plan.

Let's Pray

Father, please forgive me when I stubbornly choose to ignore Your plan for my life. Thank You for always being there for me, ready to rescue me from my own selfish desires and decisions. Help me to remember that Your plan is the highest plan for my life and give me the strength to follow that plan. I want to honor and please You, Lord.

In Jesus' Name,


Now It's Your Turn

What things or people besides Jesus are you tempted to place your trust in during a crisis?

What keeps you from fully trusting the words of Jesus?

How would your life be different if you chose to place your trust in Jesus alone?

Read Matthew 7:24-28. How do these verses relate to your faith in God and the results of trusting Him?

"Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won't collapse, because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn't obey is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash. When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching." (Matthew 7:24-28).

More From The Girlfriends

I know that plans are rampant in your life - but the only plan that really matters is the one God has for you. Don't settle for anything less. Need help dealing with temptation? Check out Mary's Bible Study (E-Book download), Winning the War with Temptation. Don't miss Mary's NEW weekly Online Bible StudyUnder the Influence...of Love. 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.

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Glynnis Whitwer

June 21, 2011

I Don't Read Owner's Manuals
Glynnis Whitwer

"The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting." Psalm 119:160(NAS)

I don't read owner's manuals. Never have. Perhaps I should clarify that statement and say I don't read owner's manuals... until I have a problem. By then, I'm usually in trouble.

A perfect example is a new vacuum/steam cleaner combo I just purchased. It promised to do away with messy buckets, chemicals and mops when cleaning tile floors. That promise appealed to me because with three dogs and five children at home, my floors need lots of cleaning and sanitation.

The first time I used the steam-cleaning component it worked great. The second time it worked ok. The third time it barely worked. And the fourth time I just dragged a dry machine around the tile. Then I read the owner's manual. Seems I should have used distilled water to protect from clogging.

I don't know too many people who make a habit of reading owner's manuals before they need them. In fact, the most popular time to read the owner's manual of a car is when there's a flat tire or a weird light pops up on the dashboard.

There was a time when I treated my Bible like the owner's manual of my car and steam cleaner: only read when necessary. My reading of it was limited to a few verses printed in my church bulletin, or an occasional flurry of interest. That approach proved ineffective when faced with the challenges of college and early-married life.

I wasn't equipped to deal with the self-sacrifice needed in marriage, or the allure of finding my identity in work. I frantically juggled all the demands on my time before I read that God had good advice on how to order my priorities.

By the time I looked in the Bible for answers, something in my life needed repair. Some days it was a broken relationship; other days it was a bitter attitude or bad decision I had made. Eventually I realized I had to stop using my Bible like a reference book and start using it like a life manual.

I started reading the Bible to prepare me for life, rather than rescue me from it.

I joined small groups to study with others what God's Word said. What a difference that approach made! I discovered God really does know how to navigate this thing called life.

Bit by bit, God's guidelines for living have become a part of my everyday thinking. While I may not become an expert in repairing steam cleaners, I'm trying to be a life-long student of God's Word. My floors aren't any cleaner, but my life makes a lot more sense following the ultimate "owner's manual."

Dear Lord, thank You for giving us comprehensive and helpful owner's manual. Help develop in me a hunger for Your Word. I ask for wisdom to understand the hard things, and strength to live out Your commands. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know the One who wrote our life's manual?

6 Habits of Highly Effective Christians by Brian T. Anderson & Glynnis Whitwer

One Year Chronological Bible Also, you can join Proverbs 31 Ministries' speaker Wendy Pope as she leads women through the Chronological Bible this year.

Visit Glynnis' blog to read a list of her favorite, life-changing Scripture verses.

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:
Set aside time each morning to read God's word and ask Him to use what you read to prepare you for that day. Consider joining Wendy Pope as she leads women through the One Year Chronological Bible. Visit her blog to join in. It's never too late.

What has been the biggest benefit to me personally when reading the Bible?

What is my biggest challenge in reading the Bible?

Power Verses:
2 Timothy 3:16-17, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (NAS)

John 8:31-32, "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'" (NIV 2011)

© 2011 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
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Matthews, NC 28105

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