Thursday, July 21, 2011

Daily Devotional Thursday 21st July

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7 NIV
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon


"The earnest of our inheritance."
Ephesians 1:14

Oh! what enlightenment, what joys, what consolation, what delight of heart is experienced by that man who has learned to feed on Jesus, and on Jesus alone. Yet the realization which we have of Christ's preciousness is, in this life, imperfect at the best. As an old writer says, "'Tis but a taste!" We have tasted "that the Lord is gracious," but we do not yet know how good and gracious he is, although what we know of his sweetness makes us long for more. We have enjoyed the firstfruits of the Spirit, and they have set us hungering and thirsting for the fulness of the heavenly vintage. We groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption. Here we are like Israel in the wilderness, who had but one cluster from Eshcol, there we shall be in the vineyard. Here we see the manna falling small, like coriander seed, but there shall we eat the bread of heaven and the old corn of the kingdom. We are but beginners now in spiritual education; for although we have learned the first letters of the alphabet, we cannot read words yet, much less can we put sentences together; but as one says, "He that has been in heaven but five minutes, knows more than the general assembly of divines on earth." We have many ungratified desires at present, but soon every wish shall be satisfied; and all our powers shall find the sweetest employment in that eternal world of joy. O Christian, antedate heaven for a few years. Within a very little time thou shalt be rid of all thy trials and thy troubles. Thine eyes now suffused with tears shall weep no longer. Thou shalt gaze in ineffable rapture upon the splendour of him who sits upon the throne. Nay, more, upon his throne shalt thou sit. The triumph of his glory shall be shared by thee; his crown, his joy, his paradise, these shall be thine, and thou shalt be co-heir with him who is the heir of all things.


"And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor?"
Jeremiah 2:18

By sundry miracles, by divers mercies, by strange deliverances Jehovah had proved himself to be worthy of Israel's trust. Yet they broke down the hedges with which God had enclosed them as a sacred garden; they forsook their own true and living God, and followed after false gods. Constantly did the Lord reprove them for this infatuation, and our text contains one instance of God's expostulating with them, "What hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of the muddy river?"--for so it may be translated. "Why dost thou wander afar and leave thine own cool stream from Lebanon? Why dost thou forsake Jerusalem to turn aside to Noph and to Tahapanes? Why art thou so strangely set on mischief, that thou canst not be content with the good and healthful, but wouldst follow after that which is evil and deceitful?" Is there not here a word of expostulation and warning to the Christian? O true believer, called by grace and washed in the precious blood of Jesus, thou hast tasted of better drink than the muddy river of this world's pleasure can give thee; thou hast had fellowship with Christ; thou hast obtained the joy of seeing Jesus, and leaning thine head upon his bosom. Do the trifles, the songs, the honours, the merriment of this earth content thee after that? Hast thou eaten the bread of angels, and canst thou live on husks? Good Rutherford once said, "I have tasted of Christ's own manna, and it hath put my mouth out of taste for the brown bread of this world's joys." Methinks it should be so with thee. If thou art wandering after the waters of Egypt, O return quickly to the one living fountain: the waters of Sihor may be sweet to the Egyptians, but they will prove only bitterness to thee. What hast thou to do with them? Jesus asks thee this question this evening--what wilt thou answer him?


Today's reading: Psalm 26-28, Acts 22 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Psalm 26-28

Of David.

1 Vindicate me, LORD,
for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the LORD
and have not faltered.
2 Test me, LORD, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind;
3 for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love
and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

4 I do not sit with the deceitful,
nor do I associate with hypocrites.
5 I abhor the assembly of evildoers
and refuse to sit with the wicked.
6 I wash my hands in innocence,
and go about your altar, LORD,
7 proclaiming aloud your praise
and telling of all your wonderful deeds.... the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Acts 22

1 "Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense."

2 When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.

Then Paul said: 3 "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. 4 I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, 5 as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.

6 "About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, 'Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?'


July 20, 2011

Doubting Thomas

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

Thomas fell to his knees and cried, 'My Lord and my God!' (John 20:29 NIV).

Friend To Friend

When Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, there was one who was absent from the motley crew - Thomas. When he came back to the group, they were abuzz telling of Jesus' appearance. But Thomas didn't believe a word they said.

"Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it," he declared.

"A week later his disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus suddenly appeared and stood among them.

"Peace be with you!" he said.

Then Jesus turned to a stunned Thomas and said, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

Thomas fell to his knees and cried, "My Lord and my God!"

The world is full of "Thomases." I was one and perhaps you were one too. And even though I did not run my fingers over Jesus' nail scarred hands or thrust my hand into his sword pierced side, I recognized Jesus through the scars of the men and women who were not afraid to share their stories of healing and redemption...and I believed.

In Revelations 12:11, John wrote, "They overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony." Incredible power is released when we drop the chains of bitterness, fear, and shame to tell our stories. Because Satan knows that our stories are instrumental in his ultimate defeat, he will do anything and everything to convince us to keep the treasures hidden away. Oh dear one, God is calling us to not be ashamed of our scars, for it is by those very scars that others will recognize the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Do you know a "Thomas" who needs to see Jesus' scars ... perhaps in your own life? This week, I encourage you to share your story of redemption with one other person and watch a miracle take place!

Let's Pray

Dear Lord, I am overwhelmed today by the great sacrifice that You made for me on Calvary's Cross. Thank You for the scars You bore for me. Help me to share my scars to help others see the hope and healing You have brought into my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Why do you think Jesus kept His scars?

What helped Thomas believe that Jesus was alive?

How can showing or telling about the scars or your past help others see Jesus in your life?

Is there someone who needs to hear your story?

If you've never shared your story, but would like to today, I'd love to hear it. You can e-mail me

More From The Girlfriends

If you would like to learn more about how God can use your story to help others, then you'll want to read Your Scars are Beautiful to God: Finding Peace and Purpose in the Hurts of Your Past. Your story might be just what someone needs to hear in order to trust in Jesus as Savior, Healer and Lord.

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

Renee Swope

July 20, 2011

Trigger Points
Renee Swope

"'But Lord,' Gideon asked, 'how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.'" Judges 6:15 (NIV)

Wouldn't it be great if becoming a Christian meant that all of our doubts and fears went away? Have you ever wondered why you struggle with insecurities and self-doubts even though you know you are a child of God?

Maybe God is leading you to join or lead a ministry, but doubt has convinced you that you're not smart enough or gifted enough. Perhaps you wanted kids and now you have a family, but question if you have what it takes to be a good mom. Or maybe you've wanted to change jobs and have the opportunity, but you don't want to go because you doubt you'd succeed at something new.

I remember feeling a sense of paralyzing self-doubt about a ministry commitment I'd made. I had begged God to zap me with confidence, but eventually realized it wasn't going to happen. So, I asked Him to show me what caused me to feel so insecure and give me His perspective instead.

I thought of Gideon, a man who was called by God but paralyzed by feelings of inadequacy. From reading his story in Judges 6, I knew Gideon overcame his doubts and fears by focusing on what God thought about him, instead of what he thought about himself.

But first, he processed his doubts with God in a very honest way. Recent conflicts and defeats caused Gideon to doubt God's presence and promises. And when the angel of the Lord called him a warrior and told him to go and defeat the Midianites, Gideon turned to the angel and asked, "'How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest...and I am the least in my family.'" (Judg. 6:15)

His perception of himself made him feel completely inadequate. Damaged emotions and insecurities from our past have a powerful influence over how we see ourselves today.

I knew it was time for me to get honest with God, too. I needed more than a quick fix. I wanted to figure out what triggered my self-doubts and led me into such a yucky place of uncertainty.

A conflict with a friend that week made doubt I should even be in ministry. After all, self-doubt whispered, if I can't maintain healthy relationships at all times in all areas, how can I help others?

I also received feedback on a project that week. One harsh criticism overshadowed several positive comments and consumed my focus. I'd also been comparing my abilities to speakers who'd been booked for an upcoming event with me. Self-doubt convinced me I wasn't as gifted as they were.

What about you? When conflict arises at work or at home, do you ever assume it disqualifies you from other ministries or callings? Does criticism ever paralyze you from believing you can do certain things? Or, has comparison ever convinced you that someone else can do it (whatever "it" is) better than you can?

I used to think insecurity was simply a negative emotion, a lapse of faith, a dip in self-confidence. I wanted God to take it away, but instead He used it to lead me to a place of deeper dependence on Him.

Over time, I've learned to rely on God's power to defeat my insecurities which has empowered me to fulfill His calling on my life. And so can you. When you start feeling uncertain or insecure, try to identify what triggered your thoughts and emotions. Then process that trigger point through the filter of God's perspective and promises.

Ask Him to show you what you can learn from it, and if there are any lies that need to be replaced with His truth. Then ask Him to change the way you think by focusing on His thoughts towards you, instead of your thoughts about yourself.

When we change the way we think, it will change how we feel and eventually transform the way we live.

One thing I know for sure: God wants us to live beyond the shadows our doubts! But it is not always so much what He wants us to do - as much as what He wants to do in us as we learn to completely depend on Him!

Lord, I'm tired of doubting myself and feeling paralyzed by insecurity and uncertainty. Show me what triggers my self-doubt and then help me focus on Your thoughts about me instead of my thoughts about myself. I want to rely on and live in the power of Your promises. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
This devotion is from Renee's new book: A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God's Promises. Renee has a page on her new website where you can download and read Chapter One for free.

Renee recently had a wonderful conversation with Ann Voskamp, New York Time's best-selling author of One Thousand Gifts, about her doubts and fears and how God helped Ann name them so she could then seek His help to overcome them. Visit Renee's website today where she's sharing their conversation via video and giving away 3 signed copies of Ann's book!

Application Steps:
Ask God to show you your most common triggers and help you process them through the filter of His truth.

Take Renee's Doubt Index Analysis. It's a free short quiz to help you identify your most common self-doubts, find out what triggers them and how they may be affecting you.

What triggers my doubts? What negative thoughts paralyze me as a result of them?

How does self-doubt affect my relationships?

Power Verses:
Judges 6:14, 16, "The LORD turned to him and said, 'Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?'...The LORD answered, 'I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.'" (NIV, 1984)

© 2011 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105


What Not to Say to a Hurting Person

Read Job 6

Job's friends only made it worse

Job 6:21: "Now you too have proved to be of no help."

You are sitting in a hospital room, where the faint smell of antiseptic lingers and the sound of lowered voices rustles all around you. The medical prognosis of your friend is bleak. You've listened to your friend's anger and despair, and a jumble of other emotions. Now it's your turn to reply. Everyone in the room waits for your response.

What do you say to a suffering person? The book of Job gives page after page of examples. Job's three friends, finding him in despair, filled the air with high-sounding advice. But unfortunately they offer models of what not to say. Their main argument only made Job feel worse, and at the end God dismissed them all with a scowl.

Who Were Job's Friends?

This book gives few details on time and place, but it presents Job as a very wealthy "sheik" of the Middle East. His three friends, from neighboring lands, were also prosperous and well respected. When they first saw Job, they wept aloud and sat with him on the ground, silent, for seven days and nights, overcome with grief (see Job 2:12-13).

After Job finally broke the silence, each friend delivered a flowery speech on Job's dilemma. There are three cycles of speeches in all, with Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar taking turns, allowing Job to respond to each. Eliphaz, who led off, had strong and noble ideas. Bildad was briefer and slightly less sympathetic. Zophar (who did not speak in the third cycle) showed passion and fire.

The friends seemed to crescendo in emotional intensity. In the first cycle (Job 4-14), they showed hope of winning Job over to their point of view. In the second cycle (Job 15-21), the speeches grew more severe and threatening. And by the time of the concluding speeches (Job 22-25), Job's friends were making direct accusations against him.

A Flawed Theory about Suffering

Job's friends believed in a God of love and fairness; their arguments started from that premise. Surely a just God would not allow an innocent man to suffer so much, they reasoned. Most of their comments boil down to one simple theory: Job must have committed some great crime for which God was punishing him. All three believed that good people prosper and bad people suffer; therefore, suffering must betray some hidden sin.

"Surely God does not reject one who is blameless or strengthen the hands of evildoers," they said to Job (Job 8:20). Repent, they admonished him, and God will forgive and restore you. Their words got this response from Job: "You ... smear me with lies; you are worthless physicians, all of you!" (Job 13:4). Job also believed in a loving God, but he knew he was innocent.

When God finally made his appearance, he dismissed the three friends in one sentence to Eliphaz, "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has" (Job 42:7).

Although the Bible elsewhere gives examples of suffering that resulted from a person's sin, Job clearly shows that such a theory cannot be applied in every case. It is not for us to try to reason out the specific cause of a person's suffering; God reserves that knowledge for himself.

Life Question

What is the most "unfair" thing that has ever happened to you? How did it affect the way you thought about God?
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