Saturday, July 16, 2011

Daily Devotional Saturday 16th July

“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” James 1:21 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out."
Leviticus 6:13

Keep the altar of private prayer burning. This is the very life of all piety. The sanctuary and family altars borrow their fires here, therefore let this burn well. Secret devotion is the very essence, evidence, and barometer, of vital and experimental religion.

Burn here the fat of your sacrifices. Let your closet seasons be, if possible, regular, frequent, and undisturbed. Effectual prayer availeth much. Have you nothing to pray for? Let us suggest the Church, the ministry, your own soul, your children, your relations, your neighbours, your country, and the cause of God and truth throughout the world. Let us examine ourselves on this important matter. Do we engage with lukewarmness in private devotion? Is the fire of devotion burning dimly in our hearts? Do the chariot wheels drag heavily? If so, let us be alarmed at this sign of decay. Let us go with weeping, and ask for the Spirit of grace and of supplications. Let us set apart special seasons for extraordinary prayer. For if this fire should be smothered beneath the ashes of a worldly conformity, it will dim the fire on the family altar, and lessen our influence both in the Church and in the world.

The text will also apply to the altar of the heart. This is a golden altar indeed. God loves to see the hearts of his people glowing towards himself. Let us give to God our hearts, all blazing with love, and seek his grace, that the fire may never be quenched; for it will not burn if the Lord does not keep it burning. Many foes will attempt to extinguish it; but if the unseen hand behind the wall pour thereon the sacred oil, it will blaze higher and higher. Let us use texts of Scripture as fuel for our heart's fire, they are live coals; let us attend sermons, but above all, let us be much alone with Jesus.

Evening

"He appeared first to Mary Magdalene."
Mark 16:9

Jesus "appeared first to Mary Magdalene," probably not only on account of her great love and persevering seeking, but because, as the context intimates,she had been a special trophy of Christ's delivering power. Learn from this, that the greatness of our sin before conversion should not make us imagine that we may not be specially favoured with the very highest grade of fellowship. She was one who had left all to become a constant attendant on the Saviour. He was her first, her chief object. Many who were on Christ's side did not take up Christ's cross; she did. She spent her substance in relieving his wants. If we would see much of Christ, let us serve him. Tell me who they are that sit oftenest under the banner of his love, and drink deepest draughts from the cup of communion, and I am sure they will be those who give most, who serve best, and who abide closest to the bleeding heart of their dear Lord. But notice how Christ revealed himself to this sorrowing one--by a word, "Mary." It needed but one word in his voice, and at once she knew him, and her heart owned allegiance by another word, her heart was too full to say more. That one word would naturally be the most fitting for the occasion. It implies obedience. She said, "Master." There is no state of mind in which this confession of allegiance will be too cold. No, when your spirit glows most with the heavenly fire, then you will say, "I am thy servant, thou hast loosed my bonds." If you can say, "Master," if you feel that his will is your will, then you stand in a happy, holy place. He must have said, "Mary," or else you could not have said, "Rabboni." See, then, from all this, how Christ honours those who honour him, how love draws our Beloved, how it needs but one word of his to turn our weeping to rejoicing, how his presence makes the heart's sunshine.

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Today's reading: Psalm 13-15, Acts 19:21-41 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Psalm 13-15

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

1 How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Acts 19:21-41

21 After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. "After I have been there," he said, "I must visit Rome also." 22 He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer.

The Riot in Ephesus

23 About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. 24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there. 25 He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said: "You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business. 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all. 27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty."

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Stephen

[Stē'phen] - wreath or crown. One of the seven primitive disciples chosen to serve tables. Stephen was the most prominent of these. Although called to supervise benevolences, he overleaped the limitations of his task and became a powerful preacher. He was also the first martyr of the Christian Church, being stoned to death by the Jews (Acts 6:5-9; 7:59; 11:19; 22:20).

The Man with an Angel Face

The remarkable defense of Stephen in which he summarized Old Testament teachings provoked the Jewish leaders so much that they cast him out of the city and brutally stoned him to death. God, however, can make the wrath of man to praise Him, thus the prominent fruit of Stephen's martyrdom was the conviction and conversion of Saul of Tarsus, who witnessed Stephen's illegal murder, unsanctioned by Roman law. Stephen's character is worthy of emulation. He was a man:

Full of Faith - no room for doubt or fear in his heart (Acts 6:5).

Full of Grace - a gift from God proving itself in graciousness (Acts 6:8 RV).

Full of Power - the ability of God to do things (Acts 6:8).

Full of Light - the Holy Spirit within gave him the face of an angel (Acts 6:15).

Full of Scripture - Stephen covered history from Abraham to Christ (Acts 7).

Full of Wisdom (Acts 6:3, 10), wisdom from above ( Jas. 1:5).

Full of Courage - the face and fear of man did not trouble Stephen (Acts 7:51-56).

Full of Love - the stones broke Stephen's head but not his heart. Grace was his to forgive his murderers (Acts 7:60).

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July 15, 2011

The To-Do List Abyss
Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

Proverbs 31:17 (NIV) "She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks."

Friend To Friend

Many of us check off neatly penciled boxes. Some draw lines through the tasks we've finished. A select few of us even addtasks that we've already completed to our list so that we've got accurate accomplishment records at the end of the day! (Present company included!) Some of us keep track of what we need to do each day in our heads, while others track progress of daily goals electronically.

There are days I fluff up my list. Instead of simply writing, "Do three loads of laundry," I'll create twelve list items to check off that read:


  • Wash whites
  • Dry whites
  • Fold/hang whites
  • Put away whites
  • Wash colors
  • Dry colors
  • Fold/hang colors
  • Put away colors
  • Wash darks
  • Dry darks
  • Fold/hang darks
  • Put away darks

Oh, how I love to check boxes! Why? I want to be a productive woman. I want my work to matter. It's pretty much a daily struggle for me. As an eternal optimist, I wake up anticipating that the seconds, minutes, and hours of each day will bend to cooperate with the demands of my list.

Yeah, right.

I'm such a dreamer. It just never seems to work out that simply or efficiently.

I'm guessing that you are in this daily struggle with me. Right? No matter what it looks like, thinks like, or prints off like, many of us feel overwhelmed by the abyss of a rarely satisfied to-do list. We face constant demands that call to us and vie for our attention. We sift through the essentials and the fire drills, then we go to bed, wake up, and do it all again. The abyss of a to-do list can be so exhausting!

The good news is that we don't need to face our lists alone. God offers to come along side of us daily to provide the strength, perspective, and wisdom we need. He helps us prioritize our days when we turn to Him in prayer. In the Bible, we read of a woman who approached each day with God-power and God-perspective:

"She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks" (Proverbs 31:17, NIV).

Though this is an impressive statement about her work ethic and though it seems this fictional woman dominates her daily to-do list, it's important to consider the source of her strength: God. At the end of the chapter, Scripture shows us that she"...fears the Lord..." (Proverbs 31:30, NIV). Her source of strength is rooted in faith and in her dependence on God. Ours should be, too.

Your list looks different from mine. We all have unique ministries, friendships, jobs, responsibilities, and families. Whether you are in the work force, unemployed, or retired or a stay-at-home mom, a single mom, or an empty nester - a wife, a widow, a single woman, or a divorcee - God can and will give you strength for each day when you prioritize Him and fear Him.

Consider the following verses:

"Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" (Galatians 3:3, NIV).

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:28-31, NIV).

God longs to strengthen your arms for the tasks on your to-do list today. Place time with Him as your first priority. Check your God-box. Go to Him now. Pray. Listen. Call on Him for direction, wisdom, renewal, and strength. Strong arms await you, girlfriend!

Let's Pray

God, I was created by You and for You. Please forgive me when I rush into a day without calling on You for my strength. I need you, Lord. Please prioritize my heart and my list today.

In Jesus' Name I pray,
Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Read Proverbs 31:25-26: "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue."

How closely do you relate to the above verse?

What steps need to be taken in your life to move toward a deeper dependence on God's strength verses your own? Are you willing to go there? Take a moment to talk to God about it.

More From The Girlfriends

Hey friend, God is all over me about this subject right now. His Spirit is constantly reminding me of the importance of operating in God-strength and not Gwen-strength. I think we all struggle with this one. BUT GOD - He loves to give us strength where we struggle. The title track of my latest CD is calledUncluttered. Since we've gone there devotionally, I'd really like to go deeper by exploring this topic musically. Please join me on my Facebook page right now and take a watch the music video to Uncluttered . I'd love to hear stories from you about where you are with this. Then write a few thoughts on my wall about where God is directing you in all of this. (www.facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic)

SILLY-DIZZY? Check out Gwen's new CD, Uncluttered. The songs of Uncluttered are purposed to sweep you away from life-noise and to focus your heart and mind on the one thing that matters: your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Seeking God?

Click here to find out more about

how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God

P.O. Box 725

Matthews, NC 28106

info@girlfriendsingod.com
www.girlfriendsingod.com

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T. Suzanne Eller

July 15, 2011

Gathering Peace
T. Suzanne Eller

"Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7 (NLT)

We were on a road trip and my husband started it. He sang the chorus to an old hymn, one I hadn't heard in years.

"Peace, peace, wonderful peace. Coming down from the Father above...."

The words came back and we started singing together. Sounds beautiful, doesn't it? It wasn't. Neither of us are singers, but we belted out the old tune as we drove down the road. It was a silly moment, and one I wouldn't want anyone to see (or hear!), but when I think about it, those words are powerful.

The chorus about peace was more than words. There was a time when I had no answers; yet peace pervaded and showed us how to hold tight to His promise that He was enough. When I was diagnosed with cancer, peace wrapped us close as we wept and prayed together.

Peace. Peace. Wonderful peace. Doesn't that sound inviting in a chaotic world? What would happen if peace, peace, wonderful peace covered my marriage, my relationships with my children, or my thought life?

Where is that peace found?

Just as we stopped on that road trip several times for necessary food or a bottle of cold water, God designed us to continually need Him. We gather peace throughout the day. We can ask for His peace to show us which way to turn when our instinct is to go down a dark road of sadness. We can seek His peace to cover our thought life when we want to get even or when unhealthy emotions try to take root.

His peace creates stability even if everything around us is topsy-turvey.

He's the Source of peace. There will be times when your peace quota is low. Maybe today is one of those days. Rather than worry, what might happen if you went to the Source instead? Tell Him what you need rather than carry it alone.

Thank Him for all He has done so that you can see the blessings as well as the challenges. Ask Him to give you sufficient peace for the moment. Just to carry you through the feelings to the Truth.

He offers peace, peace, wonderful peace without ever exhausting His resources at all. There is enough peace for you today, and you can find more in Him tomorrow.

Dear Lord, thank You that I don't have to live on a drop of peace, or make a cup of peace last through tomorrow. You offer me a river of peace today, and tomorrow, and continually. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Visit Suzie's blog for a giveaway!

It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know by Rachel Olsen

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

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:
Have you ever lost weight and was surprised at how you carried those extra pounds around? Often we do the same thing with worry. As we fill up with God's peace, the burdens were never meant to weigh us down are set aside. Write down the burden you have been carrying. Ask God to take it from you, then give it to Him.

Reflections:
"When God created us he put a vacuum in our hearts which can only be filled by himself." Helen Kooiman

Power Verses:
Philippians 4:19, "And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus." (NLT)

Isaiah 53:5b, "He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed." (NLT)

© 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
Investigating Faith, Summer Break Edition

LeeheadshotInvestigating Faith is taking a short summer break. We'll be back with a new issue in two weeks. In the meantime, here are some of the best articles from past issues. If you missed them the first time, or if you're newly subscribed to Investigating Faith, take a look at these "greatest hits!"
  • Forged? New Testament professor Michael R. Licona offers an in-depth response to agnostic scholar Bart Ehrman's latest broadside against the Bible.
  • The Reason Why: A classic work of apologetics has been updated and recast for today's readers. But will it gain an audience among a new generation?
  • What about those who've never heard? The Bible is clear that Jesus is the only way to the Father. So what about people who live and die without ever hearing the Gospel?
  • How do Christianity and Islam differ? Do they worship the same God?
  • The State of Apologetics: A review of the current apologetics scene-the good, the bad, and the ugly-with Brian Auten
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