Saturday, July 23, 2011

Daily Devotional Saturday 23rd July

““But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”” Matthew 16:15-16 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"I am married unto you."
Jeremiah 3:14

Christ Jesus is joined unto his people in marriage-union. In love he espoused his Church as a chaste virgin, long before she fell under the yoke of bondage. Full of burning affection he toiled, like Jacob for Rachel, until the whole of her purchase-money had been paid, and now, having sought her by his Spirit, and brought her to know and love him, he awaits the glorious hour when their mutual bliss shall be consummated at the marriage-supper of the Lamb. Not yet hath the glorious Bridegroom presented his betrothed, perfected and complete, before the Majesty of heaven; not yet hath she actually entered upon the enjoyment of her dignities as his wife and queen: she is as yet a wanderer in a world of woe, a dweller in the tents of Kedar; but she is even now the bride, the spouse of Jesus, dear to his heart, precious in his sight, written on his hands, and united with his person. On earth he exercises towards her all the affectionate offices of Husband. He makes rich provision for her wants, pays all her debts, allows her to assume his name, and to share in all his wealth. Nor will he ever act otherwise to her. The word divorce he will never mention, for "He hateth putting away." Death must sever the conjugal tie between the most loving mortals, but it cannot divide the links of this immortal marriage. In heaven they marry not, but are as the angels of God; yet there is this one marvellous exception to the rule, for in Heaven Christ and his Church shall celebrate their joyous nuptials. This affinity as it is more lasting, so is it more near than earthly wedlock. Let the love of husband be never so pure and fervent, it is but a faint picture of the flame which burns in the heart of Jesus. Passing all human union is that mystical cleaving unto the Church, for which Christ left his Father, and became one flesh with her.

Evening

"Behold the man!"
John 19:5

If there be one place where our Lord Jesus most fully becomes the joy and comfort of his people, it is where he plunged deepest into the depths of woe. Come hither, gracious souls, and behold the man in the garden of Gethsemane; behold his heart so brimming with love that he cannot hold it in--so full of sorrow that it must find a vent. Behold the bloody sweat as it distils from every pore of his body, and falls upon the ground. Behold the man as they drive the nails into his hands and feet. Look up, repenting sinners, and see the sorrowful image of your suffering Lord. Mark him, as the ruby drops stand on the thorn-crown, and adorn with priceless gems the diadem of the King of Misery. Behold the man when all his bones are out of joint, and he is poured out like water and brought into the dust of death; God hath forsaken him, and hell compasseth him about. Behold and see, was there ever sorrow like unto his sorrow that is done unto him? All ye that pass by draw near and look upon this spectacle of grief, unique, unparalleled, a wonder to men and angels, a prodigy unmatched. Behold the Emperor of Woe who had no equal or rival in his agonies! Gaze upon him, ye mourners, for if there be not consolation in a crucified Christ there is no joy in earth or heaven. If in the ransom price of his blood there be not hope, ye harps of heaven, there is no joy in you, and the right hand of God shall know no pleasures for evermore. We have only to sit more continually at the cross foot to be less troubled with our doubts and woes. We have but to see his sorrows, and our sorrows we shall be ashamed to mention. We have but to gaze into his wounds and heal our own. If we would live aright it must be by the contemplation of his death; if we would rise to dignity, it must be by considering his humiliation and his sorrow.

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Today's reading: Psalm 31-32, Acts 23:16-35 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Psalm 31-32

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

1 In you, LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.
2 Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.
3 Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
4 Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hands I commit my spirit;
deliver me, LORD, my faithful God.

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Acts 23:16-35

16 But when the son of Paul's sister heard of this plot, he went into the barracks and told Paul.

17 Then Paul called one of the centurions and said, "Take this young man to the commander; he has something to tell him." 18 So he took him to the commander.

The centurion said, "Paul, the prisoner, sent for me and asked me to bring this young man to you because he has something to tell you."

19 The commander took the young man by the hand, drew him aside and asked, "What is it you want to tell me?"

20 He said: "Some Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul before the Sanhedrin tomorrow on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about him. 21 Don't give in to them, because more than forty of them are waiting in ambush for him. They have taken an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are ready now, waiting for your consent to their request."

22 The commander dismissed the young man with this warning: "Don't tell anyone that you have reported this to me."

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Ittai

[Ĭt'ta ī] - plowman or living.

  1. The Gittite leader who, with six hundred Philistines, attached himself to David at the outbreak of Absalom's rebellion. This inhabitant of Gath was determined to follow David in all his trials. How admirable was the affirmation of his loyalty to the fugitive king: "As the Lord liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be" (2 Sam. 15:21 ). Although a stranger and not of Israel, Ittai was more faithful than many who were Israelites by birth. His fidelity brought him a position of great trust (2 Sam. 18:2).
  2. A Benjamite, son of Ribai, who was one of David's heroes (2 Sam. 23:29). He is called Ithai in 1 Chronicles 11:31.
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July 22, 2011

Who Defines Your Worth?
Gwen Smith


Today's Truth

You are precious and honored in my sight... (Isaiah 43:4a, NIV).

Friend To Friend
Last winter, I bought my daughter a really cute jacket at the mall. It's a hoodie that's made of a cuddly fabric with cream, lavender, and mint green horizontal stripes. The jacket zips up in the front and is well crafted, stylish, and simply adorable.

When I bought it, I felt like the price on the tag was a fair one, so I gladly pulled out my wallet and paid the retail amount. I was a kid in a candy store on the way home. I fully anticipated a shriek of happiness from my little bag of beans when I gave it to her. Delightfully, I wasn't disappointed. Kennedy loved her new coat, and I was pleased with my purchase. Happy dances all around - until a week later, when I saw the same jacket in the same store at a greatly reduced price. Are you tensing up with me? Suddenly, I felt schnookered! Ripped off. Taken advantage of. As soon as I saw the red line on the price tag of the unsold coats, everything changed - Kennedy's jacket wasn't worth what I paid for it.

When we speak of the worth of something, we often consider it to be a relative term. One that has shifting factors. For example, last week the cute jacket was thirty-nine dollars, and now it's nineteen ninety-nine. The jacket didn't change, but its perceived worth did.

Now, consider the worth of a woman. Are the factors that determine her value based upon variable, shifting factors or are they based upon fixed factors? Seems to be a silly question, doesn't it? Fixed, of course! But, if the answer is so glaringly obvious, why do we struggle so much as women with feeling worthless? Why do we walk around feeling like that red lined jacket? I think it's because we often allow variable earthly factors to define our worth.

What kind of variable factors?

There are so many reasons why women feel worthless:

  • Because they've been abused (raped, molested, physically abused, verbally abused...)
  • Because they've been told that they're worthless (by a parent, spouse, sibling, teenage child, or another...)
  • Because of choices they've made (divorce, infidelity, abortion, promiscuity, eating disorders, addictions, uncontrolled anger...)
  • Because they've been cheated on (infidelity, internet affair, pornography...)
  • Because they're co-dependent (conclude their value based upon other people - "If my husband isn't okay, I'm not okay.")
  • Because they don't collect a paycheck (stay at home moms that have left the work force, laid off employees, displaced employees, those on disability...)
  • Because they've battled an illness (unable to care for family, perform basic home duties, participate in ministry or Bible study like they once did, can't drive, cook...)

Unfortunately, the variable factors that we use to define our worth are endless. Many of us feel worthless. Why? We've felt ignored, invisible, insignificant, useless, undesired, ugly, unloved, or forgotten. We girls are emotional, broken in many ways. Great portions of our identity and of our personal value are wrapped into combustible packages of emotion - how wefeel about this or that. The truth is, our worth has nothing to do with our feelings.

Trust me, I'm not going to try to convince you that I know everything there is to know about feeling like a woman of worth. Or about being a woman of worth. I am in the trenches with you. I struggle with normal woman things. I don't live a fancy schmancy, rose-colored wonder-life. I hit the snooze button several times each morning. I pack lunches for my kids. I spend countless hours of my life each year sitting in the car pool line. It's a never-ending struggle for me to keep the laundry done and my kids often have to fish for a matching pair of socks in the clean-clothes basket. My husband is my soul mate, but is far from perfect. For that matter, Brad should win a lifetime achievement award for enduring the drama of me! And my kids bring me both great joy and great frustration on a daily basis.

Is this sounding at all familiar to you?

See - I'm just like you, and I'm walking this faith journey right beside you. In fact, the more I know God, the less inclined I am to pretend to have life or faith figured out. Amen? I'm constantly tempted to define my worth with activities, emotions, and accomplishments. I've come to realize, however, that way of thinking is a spiritual dead end road. Scripture tells us that anything we do in our own strength or of our own goodness is of no value to God. "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6a, emphasis mine).

What I do know is this: because of Jesus Christ, I'm a woman of highest worth. Not because of anything else. I'm a grace girl. Not perfect by a long stretch. I've been changed by the unconditional love of God and restored to perfect beauty through the shed blood of Jesus. Because of love, we are His daughters, precious in His sight. In light of this, we need to set aside feelings that diminish our value, and embrace our proper identity: Child of the King of Kings.

Hear this, friend: feelings of worthlessness are from Satan himself. It burns me up that the enemy has such a strong grip on God's daughters in this area. We need to associate the wordworthless with the word lie. That's exactly what it is, a big, fat lie! I talk to women all the time who bend a knee to negative feelings and live defeated lives because they don't quite know how to overcome their sense of worthlessness. God wants every one of us to experience healing and have an appropriate sense of self-worth.

So let's go back to Kennedy's new coat for just a moment. Imagine walking into God's department store. There on the rack, you spy a coat that is just plain fabulous - I mean stop-you-in-your-tracks fabulous! One-size fits all, the tag reads.Yeah, right, you whisper under your breath. Then you flip over the price tag and it's crazy expensive. Way beyond what you could ever dream of paying. Like, if you added up every dollar that ever passed through your hands - then multiplied that by ten thousand - that kind of expensive. Then imagine the storeowner walking over to you, slipping the coat off the rack and onto your shoulders.

"It's a perfect fit," He smiles.

"Sir," you manage with a whisper, "I could never afford such a coat. This is meant for royalty and I'm, well, just an ordinary girl."

"Oh precious woman, this coat is made especially for you, and the price has already been paid in full."

As the owner straightens the sleeves on your arms and adjusts the collar around your neck, you notice his hands - nail pierced hands. And suddenly you realize that this is the covering you were meant to wear all along.

You see, the Bible tells us that because of what Jesus did on the cross, we can be clothed with the "robe of righteousness." The apostle Paul tells us that when we are reconciled to God, we become His righteousness. "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21 ). There's no way we could ever afford or earn such a robe but Jesus gave His life for us - He earned it for us. He paid the price and we receive the gift. Why? Because you're worth it. You are precious and highly valuable in the eyes of the One who sees. And you never, never, never have to worry about being on anyone's bargain rack again.

Let's Pray
Holy Father, I'm humbled at the very thought that I could be viewed as precious in Your eyes. Thank You for taking on my sin so that I could take on your righteousness. Please help me to see myself as You see me. Help me to thrive in Your beauty!

In Jesus' Name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn
What came to your mind as you read today's devotion? Grab your journal and write about it.

Are you held captive by feelings of worthlessness? Spend a few moments in prayer and ask God to reveal truth to your heart about how He sees you.

Print or write out this verse: "I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands" (Isaiah 49:15-16, NASB). Set it to memory and allow it to serve as a reminder that you are precious to God.

More From The Girlfriends
I wish I could reach through my computer screen, grab your hands, and pray with you right now. I don't know what you are going through, but our loving Father is keenly aware of your circumstances, your feelings, and your needs. Please take heart in knowing that Mary, Sharon, and I are praying for you.

Today's devotion is from Gwen's book, Broken into Beautiful. Gwen's full testimony is featured in her book, along with Scriptural truths and stories of how God has brought restoration the hearts of many other women who had painful life wounds. God delights to transform lives ... including your own. Experience God's healing and hope in your life today as you read Broken Into Beautiful! To order the book, go to Amazonor, for a signed copy, visit Gwen's website:www.gwensmith.net.

NEED PRAYER? Visit Gwen's facebook page atwww.Facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic. Today Gwen will designate her Facebook wall to prayer, so swing by and post a prayer need, then while you are there, pray for the needs posted by other GiGs.

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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P31Header
Marybeth Whalen

July 22, 2011

Friends in Action
Marybeth Whalen

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13 (NIV)

What makes a good friend? Someone who runs errands for you when you're sick? Who takes your kids off your hands when you need a break? Who sits with you over a cup of coffee and listens? Someone you can count on to see the latest chick flicks with you? Someone who challenges you to be a better wife, mother, and follower of God?

In each of these examples, we see friendship taking an active form. As I have studied the Bible, I see three instances of friendship in action. Job 2:11-13 shows us how Job's friends came to help him as he faced hardship. Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar dropped everything to go comfort their friend - even if it was just to sit silently beside him. They knew that just their presence and willingness to listen would comfort him.

Acts 28:15 gives us a glimpse into how just the sight of trusted friends can encourage us. Paul's friends heard he was coming so they traveled a great distance to greet him. For Paul this was a huge blessing. Sometimes just knowing someone is willing to make an effort on your behalf will put wind in your sails. I love that Paul first thanked God for his friends. I want to remember, like he did, that friends are a gift from God.

Acts 12:12-19 tells us how Peter's friends couldn't be with him because he was imprisoned. But that didn't stop them from doing what they could. They gathered together to pray. The King James Version of Acts 12:5 says that they were literally praying "without ceasing." These friends knew that corporate prayer was an action they could take on behalf of their friend who needed them.

Whether we physically go to our friend's side or spiritually partner with them in prayer, we can look to these examples from the Bible as to how to be friends in action.

In a society that is more and more driven to social media, texting, and emailing as a way to stay connected, we cannot overlook what taking physical action in real time can mean. We can be active in faith, in love, in joy, in kindness. We choose to act because we understand that we are God's hands and feet to those He puts in our lives. Yes, it takes extra effort, time, and even money to be an active friend. But the blessings outweigh the effort as we live according to the examples God has given us.

Dear Lord, help me to be a friend who takes action. When You lay someone on my heart, help me to feel a sense of urgency to move on their behalf. Help me to follow these Biblical examples and be a friend in action, not just in thought. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Listen to Today's P31 Radio Show

She Makes It Look Easy by Marybeth Whalen.

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

Application Steps:
Look up the passages that were discussed in today's devotion and read them for yourself. Jot down any thoughts in your journal about the kind of friend you would like to have, and the kind of friend you would like to be.

Reflections:
Is God asking me to be a friend to someone that takes more effort than I want to give? How will I respond?

I'll continue praying for my good friend and won't give up! Today I'll persevere in prayer that God will provide for that special friend.

Power Verses:
Acts 24:23, "He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs." (NIV)

Job 42:10, "After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before." (NIV)

© 2011 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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

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