Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Daily Devotional Tuesday 12th July

““Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” Jeremiah 32:17 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"After that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."
1 Peter 5:10

You have seen the arch of heaven as it spans the plain: glorious are its colours, and rare its hues. It is beautiful, but, alas, it passes away, and lo, it is not. The fair colours give way to the fleecy clouds, and the sky is no longer brilliant with the tints of heaven. It is not established. How can it be? A glorious show made up of transitory sun-beams and passing rain-drops, how can it abide? The graces of the Christian character must not resemble the rainbow in its transitory beauty, but, on the contrary, must be stablished, settled, abiding. Seek, O believer, that every good thing you have may be an abiding thing. May your character not be a writing upon the sand, but an inscription upon the rock! May your faith be no "baseless fabric of a vision," but may it be builded of material able to endure that awful fire which shall consume the wood, hay, and stubble of the hypocrite. May you be rooted and grounded in love. May your convictions be deep, your love real, your desires earnest. May your whole life be so settled and established, that all the blasts of hell, and all the storms of earth shall never be able to remove you. But notice how this blessing of being "stablished in the faith" is gained. The apostle's words point us to suffering as the means employed--"After that ye have suffered awhile." It is of no use to hope that we shall be well rooted if no rough winds pass over us. Those old gnarlings on the root of the oak tree, and those strange twistings of the branches, all tell of the many storms that have swept over it, and they are also indicators of the depth into which the roots have forced their way. So the Christian is made strong, and firmly rooted by all the trials and storms of life. Shrink not then from the tempestuous winds of trial, but take comfort, believing that by their rough discipline God is fulfilling this benediction to you.

Evening

"Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation."
Joel 1:3

In this simple way, by God's grace, a living testimony for truth is always to be kept alive in the land--the beloved of the Lord are to hand down their witness for the gospel, and the covenant to their heirs, and these again to their next descendants. This is our first duty, we are to begin at the family hearth: he is a bad preacher who does not commence his ministry at home. The heathen are to be sought by all means, and the highways and hedges are to be searched, but home has a prior claim, and woe unto those who reverse the order of the Lord's arrangements. To teach our children is a personal duty; we cannot delegate it to Sunday school teachers, or other friendly aids; these can assist us, but cannot deliver us from the sacred obligation; proxies and sponsors are wicked devices in this case: mothers and fathers must, like Abraham, command their households in the fear of God, and talk with their offspring concerning the wondrous works of the Most High. Parental teaching is a natural duty--who so fit to look to the child's well-being as those who are the authors of his actual being? To neglect the instruction of our offspring is worse than brutish. Family religion is necessary for the nation, for the family itself, and for the church of God. By a thousand plots Popery is covertly advancing in our land, and one of the most effectual means for resisting its inroads is left almost neglected, namely, the instruction of children in the faith. Would that parents would awaken to a sense of the importance of this matter. It is a pleasant duty to talk of Jesus to our sons and daughters, and the more so because it has often proved to be an accepted work, for God has saved the children through the parents' prayers and admonitions. May every house into which this volume shall come honour the Lord and receive his smile.

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Esther

The Woman Who Saved Her Nation From Genocide

Scripture Reference - The Book of Esther

Name Meaning - Esther was the Persian name of this descendant of Benjamin and is from "aster" meaning "a star" and implies, like Venus, that of "good fortune." We refer to "the star of hope" - "the star of joy" - "the star of superiority," and Esther was all these to her people for in "the splendid galaxy of Hebrew women of the olden time, no name stands more prominent or shines with a richer lustre." Rabbi Jehudah affirms that Esther is "sether," meaning "to hide," because she was hidden in her guardian's home and because her nationality was concealed (Esther 2:7 ). Mordecai had made the girl promise that she would not reveal her nationality to the king - which she did not until the opportune moment came. Hadassah, signifying "myrtle" was Esther's original name. The change of name from Hadassah to Esther may indicate the style of beauty for which this once captive, now a Persian queen, was famous for. She is revealed as "a woman of clear judgment, of magnificent self-control and capable of the noblest self-sacrifice." The lines of Byron can be fittingly applied to Esther -

She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that's best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes.

Family Connections - This last woman of the Old Testament of whom we intimately know nothing, was related to a family carried away captive with Jeremiah, about 600 b.c. and was born of this family preferring to remain in the land of captivity rather than return to Jerusalem. Esther was the daughter of Abihail who lived at Shushan, the Persian royal city. When her parents died she came under the guardian care of Mordecai, a palace official, to whom she was related by marriage. Mordecai had a deep affection for her and reared her as his own daughter. Esther was always obedient to her uncle and even when she became queen, sought his practical advice. She trusted this gentle Jew as her father. As Alexander Whyte expresses it, "Mordecai brought Esther up, and his one love in his whole life, after his love for Israel and for the God of Israel, was his love for his little adopted daughter.... He stood by and watched his sister's child lifted up in a moment from her exile and poverty, and actually made the queen of the greatest empire then standing on the face of the earth."

The story of Esther as we have it in the book bearing her name is a romance of captivity in Persia, for a king set at nought Persian law and prejudice to make her his queen. The marriage of Ahasuerus to Esther, a Jewess, was against Persian law which held that one of the royal line must marry a wife belonging to the seven great Persian families. What Esther did and how she did it is described in ten intensely vivid chapters, and her story is one of great dramatic power in which "incident after incident is related until the climax of difficulty is reached and the knot is so tied that it seems impossible to escape. Then it is untied with wonderful dexterity."

A peculiar feature of the Book of Esther is that, with the Song of Solomon, it shares the distinction of not mentioning God or any divine name once throughout its pages. Yet the fast-moving action in this drama is eloquent with the overruling providence of God in bringing Esther to the throne for such a time. At times, God may appear as if He is hiding Himself, but seen or unseen He ever accomplishes that which is according to His will. Because of her beauty Esther became an inmate of the palace, and when courageous Queen Vashti was deposed, Esther was chosen to succeed her. The combined wisdom of Mordecai and Esther's courage became the means of lightening the load of the Jews under Persian rule. With Mordecai, Esther shared faith in the high destiny of Israel as a nation.

Haman, the chief court favorite, was the Jews' enemy - the Old Testament Adolph Hitler - and conceived a plan to massacre the Jews en bloc . Exhorted by Mordecai, Esther revealed her Jewish nationality to the king, and this courageous action brought about a complete reversal of the decree. Haman was executed, Mordecai was honored by the king, and Esther's position as Queen was considerably strengthened. It is because she saved the Jews from destruction that the Book of Esther is read every year by Jews at the Feast of Purim, held on the 14th day of Adar. We cannot but agree with the summary of Esther, as one of the most attractive women in the Old Testament that -

As an historical character, Esther is the supreme heroine who delivers her nation from disaster: as a woman, she is that rare individual, a mixture of charm, strength and guile: a human being whose character is secure from the rot of wealth, prosperity and power.

That Esther had great personal beauty goes without saying. Her dark, exotic features marked her out, and she was thus chosen as a candidate for the king's favor who, when he saw her for the first time must have been captivated by her physical charms. But through her beauty there shone a radiance of personality and character which enhanced her beauty and gave it distinction in the eyes of Ahasuerus who chose her as his queen. Kuyper, who does not have anything good to say about Esther's character when he deals with her in his Women of the Old Testament , confesses that Ahasuerus reckoned her to be the most beautiful of the maidens presented to him when seeking a successor to Vashti. The one thing about Esther we cannot understand was the way she exhibited the vindictiveness of the age and the country in her request that Haman's ten sons should be hanged, and a day set apart when the Jews could take vengeance on the enemies who had sought to kill them. She had not learned to love her enemies. She lived on the other side of the cross and therefore was ignorant of its cry for the forgiveness of enemies.

What are some of the lessons to be gleaned from the fascinating story of Esther? First of all, her record abides because she was one who kept her pledge. May such allegiance be ours! She dutifully obeyed her foster father. Having no natural father or mother to honor, she loved and was loyal to her guardian parent. How commendable it is when young people revere their parents and obey them in the Lord! Further, Esther loved and clung to (although she concealed) her despised but honorable descent. She was a true patriot and in the hour of crisis was not ashamed to own her race. The lesson to learn from the dramatic moment when she revealed her identity as a Jewess has been applied by H. V. Morton in this way -

When a person has gone up in the world and has achieved a position of power and eminence, it requires strength and beauty of character for that person still to love and remember the simple people from whom he, or she, sprang. Humble girls have often married rich men and have forgotten their origin. They have, in fact, been ashamed of anything that might remind them of it.

Witnessing to the rock from which she had been hewn, Esther dared to risk death for her people and so escaped dying with them. By her patriotism she won for her nation a great deliverance and God used her as an instrument of His providence for the working out of a glorious purpose. There had been preparations of humiliation and prayer and when the king held out his scepter and she approached to make her plea the cry was in her heart, "How can I endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people? or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?" How national life sorely needs godly patriots after this order? You may be tempted to sigh and say, "If only I were like Esther with great opportunities what would I not do to glorify God." Realize that all around you, no matter how mean your environment may be, there are magnificent and unparalleled opportunities of serving God and a needy world that angels envy. Serve the Master to the limit of your ability where in His Providence He has placed you, and thus prepare yourself for a larger circle of service if such be His will.

Leaders of women's groups could elaborate on the following points while dealing with the story of Esther, the strong-minded woman of ancient history -

From her character we learn -
1. To seek divine guidance in times of difficulty (Esther 4:15-17).
2. To obtain a knowledge of human nature, so that we may know how to take advantage of any circumstances which may favor our cause if it be a proper one.
3. When there is a necessity, to be ready to renounce self and exert ourselves for the good of others.
4. To value and seek the cooperation of fellow-believers.

Dealing with the ultimate safety of the Jews which Esther secured, we learn -
1. To have unbounded confidence in God's Providence - not to undervalue small things.
2. To acknowledge God as the Author of all mercies.

Thinking of the reversal of fortune of Haman, which Esther brought about, we further learn -
1. There is such a thing as righteous retribution. Haman himself received what he had proposed for others. He was paid back in his own coin.
2. The transitory nature of earthly grandeur and the end of all ill-gotten earthly power and possessions.

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Elihu

[Ĕlī'hū] - he is god himself.

  1. The father of Jeroham and great-grandfather of Samuel the prophet, who also has the name of Eliel (1 Sam. 1:1; 1 Chron. 6:34).
  2. A man of Manasseh who joined David at Ziklag (1 Chron. 12:20).
  3. A Kohathite of the family of Korah, and a Tabernacle porter in David's time (1 Chron. 26:7).
  4. A brother of David , who became ruler over Judah (1 Chron. 27:18). Also known as Eliab.
  5. The youngest of Job's friends, the son of Barachel, a Buzite (Job 32:2-6; 34:1; 35:1; 36:1).

The Man Who Was a Self-Assertive Dogmatist

The lineage of Elihu, the fourth speaker in Job's dialogue, is given in fuller detail. He was the son of Barachel the Buzite, the kindred of Ram (Job 32:2). Buz was the brother of Uz and son of Nahor ( Gen. 22:21). Buz is also mentioned along with Tema and the Arab tribes (Jer. 25:23).

Elihu's name, "God is Lord," suggests his desire to exalt the Almighty. One writer has described him as "the forerunner of Jehovah." This youthful, somewhat self-assertive speaker reaches a high level and has "a far juster and more spiritual conception" in dealing with the problem that has confronted Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. But he gives only half the truth, and his appeal, although so lofty and eloquent, is marred by a self-assertiveness evident from his sayings, "Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment" (Job 32:9) and, "My words shall be the uprightness of my heart" ( Job 33:3).

It is interesting to observe that Job did not reply to Elihu as he did to the other three, "Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?" This was Jehovah's word to Elihu, in which He lays the very charge at his feet which he had sought to bring against His servant Job (Job 34:35; 35:16).

Elihu's vindication appears to be along three lines:

I. He first of all condemns Job for his self-justification (Job 32:2; 33:8, 9).

II. He sets out to modify the doctrine of the three friends by affirming that affliction is as much a judgment upon sin as a warning of judgment to come (Job 34:10, 11).

III. He then unveils in a way completely overmastering the mind, the majesty and glory of God, the climax of which is inJob 37:5.

Elihu claimed inspiration for his presence and message (Job 32:8). Eagerness was his to speak before he did, but youth and modesty kept him back ( Job 32:4-8, 18, 19). What Elihu seemed to forget was, trial can overtake the saintliest of men (1 Pet. 1:7).

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Today's reading: Psalm 1-3, Acts 17:1-15 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Psalm 1-3

BOOK I
Psalms 1-41

1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither--
whatever they do prospers....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Acts 17:1-15

In Thessalonica

1 When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. "This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah," he said. 4Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women....

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July 11, 2011

The Purpose of Prayer

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9-10 NIV).

Friend To Friend

Prayer is not meant to change God's mind, but to change ours. Prayer aligns our thinking with God's will. When we begin our prayer with praise, we take the focus off of ourselves and put it on God. When we pray for God's will to be done, we take the focus off of our desires and put it on God's desires for our lives.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." For those who recite what we've come to know as the Lord's Prayer on a regular basis, it is very important that we never take those words for granted or say them flippantly. It is the cornerstone, the focus, and the ultimate purpose of prayer. Jesus himself prayed for God's will to be done. In the Garden of Gethsemane, just before his arrest, Jesus prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me." His prayer was so intense, capillaries burst and droplets of blood trickled down his forehead. And yet, as much as He would have welcomed redemption in any other way than the cross, Jesus prayed, "yet, not my will, but yours be done," (Luke 22:42).

I am so thankful that God has not answered each of my requests with a "yes." My life would be much different than it is today - and I don't mean for the better. How thankful I am for my Heavenly Father Who knows what's best for me! He has plans that are "above and beyond all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20) and in order to hear God speak through prayer, we must allow ourselves to think beyond our limited knowledge, to see beyond our limited vision, and to believe beyond our limited understanding.

Prayer turns our focus toward God and allows Him to rearrange our priorities and set our agenda. It is more than unloading our burdens and enumerating our desires. Prayer is more than telling God what we want. It is asking God what He wants.

Let's Pray

Dear Lord, I don't know what is best for me, but I know You do. Thank You that You don't give me everything I want, but You do give me everything I need. Lord, help me to recognize when my desires do not line up with Your plans. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Today, many cars come with a GPS (Global Positioning System). How would your day look if God was you GPS navigational system?

How are prayer and Bible study like a GPS for life?

Explain how ignoring a car's GPS and ignoring God's GPS in the Bible might have similar results.

More From The Girlfriends

I want to be a woman who hears God's still small voice every day! To learn more about how to sense His presence in your life, see my book, Becoming a Woman Who Listen's to God.

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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Lynn Cowell

July 11, 2011

More for My Girl
Lynn Cowell

"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe..."Ephesians 1:18-19 (NIV)

More. More than the empty promises from boys. More than the masked protection of makeup. More than the false assurance of outfits.

More. It's what she wants for her daughter. She wants her girl to grow up with courageous confidence and without raw regret.

Even though my friend practically grew up under a steeple, during her teen years the truth that Jesus was crazy about her slipped through the cracks of her low self-worth. She turned to easy choices laid out by friends and gave away so much of herself in hopes of finding love.

But the more my friend gave, the emptier she felt. Eventually she lost hope and wondered, "Is there such a thing as lasting love?"

This is the opposite of what she wants for her own daughter. Yet, she sees things in her girl's life similar to her own teen years. Chasing after attention. Wearing layers of makeup. Flirtatious outfits that draw others' eyes. Her daughter is turning to everything and everyone to fill the hole that only God's love can.

I want God's best for my girl, too. And if you have a daughter, I bet you do as well.

The question is: how do we give our girl the assurance she needs? How can we help her find the confidence to make wise choices that lead to God's best for her?

I've found that it's important to start by praying verses like today's key verse, asking God to enlighten the eyes of ourhearts. Then we will see the hope Jesus calls us to and we can share it with our daughter.

You see, as we possess the confidence that comes from knowing we are loved and accepted by the Lord, our daughter will take notice. When she sees her mom live out of the hope and love of Jesus, our girl will discover that she too can make choices based on His love for her and seek the hope only He can give.

When we need to make hard decisions, we can turn to Jesus for understanding and courage, modeling an example of confidence for our daughters. As moms, we can take them further on this journey of growth by asking them to pray with us, read His Word with us and speak hope to others with us. They will see how to transition from simply reading the Word of God to applying it and living out its truths. They'll witness firsthand what it means to view this world, themselves and others from His perspective.

When our girl sees His incomparably great power working in us, filling our hearts, it makes God's promises believable. As we find our fulfillment in God's love for us, instead of looking to someone or something else to fill us, our daughter will see a life that blossoms with purpose.

It may not be immediate. In fact, it could possibly take years for her to want what we have. But we can trust in the goodness of our God. He wants more for our girl, too!

Dear Jesus, I am desperate to see my girl walk in the freedom that comes when her heart is filled by You. Fill my heart, Lord, so I can model this fulfillment. Help me turn to You. May my daughter see me run to You first and may she run to You too! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

His Revolutionary Love Bundle by Lynn Cowell - Purchase this phenomenal bundle (t-shirt, book and CD) today! You may also like the DVD!

Visit Lynn's blog to hear some of the ways that she fills her own heart with truth each day. She's also giving away a signed copy of His Revolutionary Love for you to give to the teen girl in your life and offering something special for you too!

A Confident Heart by Renee Swope

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:
Take an inventory in your own life today. What things do you run to instead of Jesus? Husband, food, best friend, FaceBook? Tomorrow, when you see this same pattern, make a deliberate choice to pray. Invite Jesus to fill that spot instead.

Reflections:
What would my daughter say she sees me run to when I feel anxious, fearful or rejected?

What changes would have to take place in my life for me to find my confidence and hope in Jesus instead?

Power Verses:
Ephesians 3:17a, 18-19, "And I pray that you...may have power, together with all the Lord's people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (NIV)

© 2011 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

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