Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Daily Devotional Tuesday 5th July

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.”Psalm 33:12 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Sanctify them through thy truth."
John 17:17

Sanctification begins in regeneration. The Spirit of God infuses into man that new living principle by which he becomes "a new creature" in Christ Jesus. This work, which begins in the new birth, is carried on in two ways--mortification, whereby the lusts of the flesh are subdued and kept under; and vivification, by which the life which God has put within us is made to be a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. This is carried on every day in what is called "perseverance," by which the Christian is preserved and continued in a gracious state, and is made to abound in good works unto the praise and glory of God; and it culminates or comes to perfection, in "glory," when the soul, being thoroughly purged, is caught up to dwell with holy beings at the right hand of the Majesty on high. But while the Spirit of God is thus the author of sanctification, yet there is a visible agency employed which must not be forgotten. "Sanctify them," said Jesus, "through thy truth: thy word is truth." The passages of Scripture which prove that the instrument of our sanctification is the Word of God are very many. The Spirit of God brings to our minds the precepts and doctrines of truth, and applies them with power. These are heard in the ear, and being received in the heart, they work in us to will and to do of God's good pleasure. The truth is the sanctifier, and if we do not hear or read the truth, we shall not grow in sanctification. We only progress in sound living as we progress in sound understanding. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." Do not say of any error, "It is a mere matter of opinion." No man indulges an error of judgment, without sooner or later tolerating an error in practice. Hold fast the truth, for by so holding the truth shall you be sanctified by the Spirit of God.

Evening

"He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully."
Psalm 24:4

Outward practical holiness is a very precious mark of grace. It is to be feared that many professors have perverted the doctrine of justification by faith in such a way as to treat good works with contempt; if so, they will receive everlasting contempt at the last great day. If our hands are not clean, let us wash them in Jesus' precious blood, and so let us lift up pure hands unto God. But "clean hands" will not suffice, unless they are connected with "a pure heart." True religion is heart-work. We may wash the outside of the cup and the platter as long as we please, but if the inward parts be filthy, we are filthy altogether in the sight of God, for our hearts are more truly ourselves than our hands are; the very life of our being lies in the inner nature, and hence the imperative need of purity within. The pure in heart shall see God, all others are but blind bats.

The man who is born for heaven "hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity." All men have their joys, by which their souls are lifted up; the worldling lifts up his soul in carnal delights, which are mere empty vanities; but the saint loves more substantial things; like Jehoshaphat, he is lifted up in the ways of the Lord. He who is content with husks, will be reckoned with the swine. Does the world satisfy thee? Then thou hast thy reward and portion in this life; make much of it, for thou shalt know no other joy.

"Nor sworn deceitfully." The saints are men of honour still. The Christian man's word is his only oath; but that is as good as twenty oaths of other men. False speaking will shut any man out of heaven, for a liar shall not enter into God's house, whatever may be his professions or doings. Reader, does the text before us condemn thee, or dost thou hope to ascend into the hill of the Lord?

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Vashti

The Woman Who Exalted Modesty

Scripture References - Esther 1; 2:1; 4:17

Name Meaning - Vashti corresponded to the significance of her name, "beautiful woman." She must have been one of the loveliest women in the realm of King Ahasuerus who thought so much of his wife's physical charms that at a drinking debauchery he wanted to exhibit her beauty for she "was fair to look upon."

Family Connections - Bullinger identifies this Persian beauty as the daughter of Alyattes, King of Lydia, but the only authentic record of Vashti is what we have in her brief appearance in Scripture as the queen of the court of Ahasuerus, or Artaxerxes. It would be interesting to know what became of the noble wife after her disgrace and divorce by her unworthy, wine-soaked husband.

While the Book of Esther holds a high place in the sacred literature of the Jews, it yet has no mention of God or of the Holy Land, and contains no definite religious teaching. Martin Luther is said to have tossed the book into the river Elbe, saying that he wished it did not exist for "it has too much of Judaism and a great deal of heathenish imagination." The book contains a genuine strain of human interest, but it is also heavy with the air of divine providence (compare Esther ). Although the story of Vashti only covers a few paragraphs in the book, yet in the setting of oriental grandeur we have the elements of imperishable drama. While the bulk of the book revolves around Esther, from our point of view the shining character in the story is the queenly Vashti, who was driven out because she refused to display her lovely face and figure before the lustful eyes of a drunken court.

By birth Vashti was a Persian princess, possessing along with her regal bearing, an extraordinary, fragile beauty. Although her husband was a king "who reigned from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces," her self-respect and high character meant more to her than her husband's vast realm. Rather than cater to the vanity and sensuality of drunkards, she courageously sacrificed a kingdom. Rather than lower the white banner of womanly modesty, Vashti accepted disgrace and dismissal. The only true ruler in that drunken court was the woman who refused to exhibit herself, even at the king's command.

The Demand

An impressive banquet was to be held in Susa the capital of Persia, lasting for seven days, with the king and his dignitaries joining with hundreds of invited guests in an unceasing whirl of festivities during which wine flowed freely. Both great and small were to be found "in the court of the garden of the palace." Then came the crowning touch of a drunken tyrant's caprice. When "the heart of the king was merry with wine" he commanded that Vashti, his royal consort, appear before the guests. For a week, inflamed with wine and adulation, he had displayed the magnificent wealth and power of his kingdom and the princes had poured flattery upon him. Now for the climax! Let all the half-drunken guests see his most lovely possession, Queen Vashti, who was probably the most beautiful woman in his kingdom. He wanted the intoxicated jubilant lords to feast their eyes on her. The Bible plainly declares that Ahasuerus summoned his wife to the feast simply "to show her beauty."

Had the king been sober he would not have considered such a breach of custom, for he knew that Eastern women lived in seclusion and that such a request as he made in his drunken condition amounted to a gross insult. "For Vashti to appear in the banquet hall, though dressed in her royal robes and crowned, would be almost as degrading as for a modern woman of our modern world to go naked into a man's party." What Ahasuerus demanded was a surrender of womanly honor, and Vashti, who was neither vain nor wanton, was unwilling to comply. Plutarch reminds us that it was the habit of a Persian king to have his queen beside him at a banquet, but when he wished to riot and drink, he sent his queen away and called in the wives of inferior rank - his concubines. Perhaps that is the historic clue to Vashti's indignant refusal for she knew only too well that Persian custom dictated that a queen be secluded during the feasts where rare wines flowed freely.

The Disobedience

To Vashti, the command of the king - her husband, who alone had the right to gaze upon her beautiful form - was most revolting to her sense of propriety, and knowing what the consequences of her refusal to appear before the half-drunken company would entail, refused in no uncertain terms to comply with the king's demand. She stood strong in womanly self-respect and "refused to come at the king's commandment." Her noble scorn at her threatened indignity deserves finer recognition. What the king sought would have infringed upon her noble, feminine modesty, therefore she had every right to disobey her wine-soaked husband. A wife need not and may not obey her husband in what opposes God's laws and the laws of feminine honor and decency. All praise to the heroic Vashti for her decent disobedience.

The Deposition

Vashti's disobedience excited the king to madness. No one, especially a woman, had ever dared to humiliate such a despot whose word was law in all his realm. Such a slight had but one issue, for forth went the decree, "that Vashti come no more before King Ahasuerus." This degradation also meant divorce, not only from her husband, but also from the life and luxury she had been used to. Thus amid the tragic darkness Queen Vashti - never more queenly than in her refusal - disappears like a shining shadow. The wise men, court astrologers and princes agreed with the king that banishment from the palace was the only fit punishment for such a crime. They knew that Vashti's bold stand might incite other Persian ladies to disobey their liege lords, and so the warrant, silly as it was royal, was enacted that "Every man be master in his own house, and that all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small!"

As a Persian law once made could never be revoked, Ahasuerus, now sober, and likely regretful of his impulsive anger could not reinstate Vashti, thus Esther was chosen to succeed her as queen. It is quite probable that "Vashti continued to live in the royal household, stripped of the insignia of royalty, but with her own integrity clothed in purple." Surrendering the diadem of Persia, Vashti put on a crown which was beyond the power of a despot king to give or take away, namely, the crown of exalted womanhood. How apropos are the lines of Tennyson as we think of the fine character of Vashti, the pagan Persian -

Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control,

These three alone lead life to sovereign power.

Yet not for power (power by herself

Would come uncalled for), but to live by law,

Acting the law we live without fear;

And, because right is right, to follow right

Were wisdom in the scorn of consequence.

Vashti chose deposition rather than dishonor with a mortifying refusal to obey. Her refusal to exhibit herself was visited with "a punishment severe enough to reestablish the supremacy which it threatened to overthrow," but to Vashti, conscience and personal dignity occupied a higher supremacy and for this ideal she was dethroned. Allied to her beauty and regal charm were courage and heroism, securing her character from the rot of power. Vashti had a soul of her own, and preserved its integrity; and if women today fail to honor their life they will never win the best God has for them. It is to be regretted that in our modern world many women are not as careful as Vashti the pagan was in guarding the dignity of the body. Fashion and popularity are a poor price to pay for the loss of one's self-respect. Christian ideals in womanhood may be deemed old-fashioned and in conflict with the trend of the times, but divine favor rests upon those who have courage to be ridiculed for such high ideals. Any woman is one after God's own heart when, as Mary Hallet puts it, she determines by His grace -

To remain refined in speech and action, when it is the style to appear "hard-boiled" -

To be dignified when everyone else pretends to be "wild" -

To maintain a true perspective, a real sense of values, in an irresponsible age.

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Achbor

[Ăch'bôr] - a mouse.

  1. Father of Baal-hanan and king of Edom (Gen. 36:38, 39; 1 Chron. 1:49).
  2. Son of Michaiah and one of Josiah's messengers (2 Kings 22:12, 14). Called Abdon in 2 Chronicles 34:20.
  3. A Jew, whose son Elnathanwas sent by Jehoiakim to bring back Urijah the prophet from Egypt ( Jer. 26:22; 36:12).
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July 4, 2011

The Guestbook

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody

(2 Corinthians 3:2 NIV).

Friend To Friend

Just before leaving our rented condominium after a week of sun, sand, and surf, at Hilton Head Island, SC, we found a treasure tucked under some old magazines on the coffee table. It was a 6 X 8 inch white guest book, signed by previous vacationers who had also shared a relaxing week away from home.

Feeling somewhat like a "peeping Tom" craning to peer into someone's window, we cracked open the book and stole a glimpse into the personalities of our fellow travelers. With each entry, we visualized what the guests looked like, decided if we would like to invite them over for dinner, and surmised whether they had an enjoyable vacation together.

Have a look for yourself and decide with whom you would like to share a cup of coffee or would like to have as your neighbor:

  • "Thank you very much for the use of your condo. We thoroughly enjoyed our first, but not last visit to S.C."
  • "Had a great time. Enjoyed your villa very much! However, you need to have the springs in the couch repaired. Very uncomfortable to sit on. Thank you."
  • "We have decided that this is where we'd love to live. It's a golfer's dream. Your courses are beautiful. The girls loved the beach, parasailing, bike rides, horseback riding, shopping! I love my tan. We will be back to visit! If you are ever in Arkansas, come to Stuttgart. We are 50 miles east of Little Rock. Stuttgart hosts the World Championship Duck Calling Contest every year during Thanksgiving weekend. We are known as the "Rice and Duck Capital of the World." Riceland Rice comes from our little town and the ducks feed off of the rice fields during the winter after harvest. It is some of the best duck hunting anywhere. Thank you for the use of your condo. We've had a great week here."
  • "We really enjoyed your villa, but we won't be staying here again. We just booked another villa at Colonnade for next year a couple of doors down for almost $300 less."
  • "Hello. My name is Amanda and I got here yesterday. So far we are having a good time. I'm eleven-years-old and I came here with my mother, grandmother, and my Aunt Loretta. She got here at the same time we did, but she is leaving tomorrow. We came all the way from Lake Wylie, S. C. I love it here and might be back next year.
  • "It has been a fabulous time. This villa is bigger than our home! My niece is sure she saw a whale at the Old Oyster Factory, but we are sure she saw a buoy. Greg and Dad played golf together and we all played mini-golf. We went bike riding and "gator chasing." The ocean is breathtaking. I've never seen it before, so I'm still in awe!
  • ""When we first came, the keys wouldn't fit, you forgot to give us a pass, and we almost ran over a biker. Get better service! Two grandmas were with us! Sixth time here - never happened before."

The Bible tells us that we are simply visitors here on earth (1 Chronicles 29:15). The words we speak are also our entries in the Guestbook of Life.

What entries am I writing with my attitudes, actions and words for all the world to see? Will they think that I was a crabby old lady who wanted better service? Will they think I savored each day here with my wonderful family? Will they think that I would have preferred another life just a few doors down? Or will they think that I so enjoyed my time here that I wanted to share it with anyone and everyone who was passing through?


Do you want to know what we wrote in the Guestbook before we left?

"Thank you for the use of your beach home. July fourth is a time to celebrate our great country with its many freedoms. Our hope for all who follow us here is that you will know the freedom which comes from knowing the Truth that sets us all free (John 8:32)." Steve, Sharon and Steven Jaynes

Matthews, NC

Let's Pray

Dear Heavenly Father, Your Word tells me that I am a letter being read by everyone. I pray that I won't be junk mail today. I pray that I won't be like a bill making people feel like they owe me. I pray that I will be a love letter, a thank you note, and an invitation to celebrate life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

What are you leaving in the guestbook of life for all to read?

What would you like to be leaving in the guestbook of life for all to read?

Go ahead, write it down?

Now, live this day as if you were a walking, talking letter from God to everyone you come in contact with!

Here's your chance to start today. Come by my Facebook page for a visit. Sign in and tell me one thing you have loved about this day! www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes

More From The Girlfriends

We are walking, talking letters to the world, telling them and showing them about what Jesus is like. Yikes! The Bible calls us Ambassadors. If you need to improve the quality of your letter, you might want to read The Power of a Woman's Wordsto learn about the people we impact, the power we possess, and the potential to change. Just click on the link or go towww.sharonjaynes.com .

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 4, 2011

Little i
Marybeth Whalen

"He must become greater; I must become less." John 3:30 (NIV)

My husband and i were at an event where words to the worship music were placed on a screen for all to see. But this night i noticed something: every time they used the word "I" on the screen, it wasn't capitalized. My editor's eye was drawn to this glaring error, and i spent much of the time that i was supposed to be singing trying to discern why they had done this. Oversight? Trying to be cute? It bugged me.

Then i felt God's whisper to my heart, causing me to go a bit deeper. "Why are you stressing about capitalizing the i?" I sensed Him asking me, "Why does it need to be capitalized? Who decided that? Maybe these folks recognize that 'i' am not important - but I AM is."

While I am not proposing a little i revolution - shaking up tradition and causing a crisis in the grammar world - i am wondering, what does a little i life look like?

Sacrifice?

Surrender?

Slaying self?

Setting apart?

Seeking Him?

Serving others instead of doing what i want?

This little i thing could catch on. It should catch on, because it's the life Jesus called us to. We don't need to be capitalized. We need to be small, insignificant - just a jot and a tittle, the littlest marks in the alphabet. Instead of a capital letter that announces our importance.

At least, that's what i am learning these days - and trying to live out. Sacrifice, surrender and servanthood are hard. But i know that's what God calls us to do; laying down our wants, needs and desires and straining towards His.

Dear Lord, I want to make Your name famous and mine unimportant. Help me to be mindful of my tendency to make things about me. And help me Lord to keep the focus on You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Marybeth's blog

She Makes It Look Easy by Marybeth Whalen. A novel for every woman who has looked at another woman's life and said, "I want what she has." She Makes It Look Easyreminds us of the danger of pedestals and the beauty of authentic friendship.

i am not but i know I AM by Louie Giglio

Application Steps:
While not capitalizing your "i's" might not be practical, journal some ways that you can consciously choose to make Him become greater and you become less in your daily life.

Reflections:
Do you struggle with taking the focus off God and putting it on yourself? Are there certain times or situations when this happens for you? What can you do to change your response when this happens?

Power Verses:
John 3:31, "The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all." (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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Today's reading: Job 28-29, Acts 13:1-25 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Job 28-29

Interlude: Where Wisdom Is Found

1 There is a mine for silver
and a place where gold is refined.
2 Iron is taken from the earth,
and copper is smelted from ore.
3 Mortals put an end to the darkness;
they search out the farthest recesses
for ore in the blackest darkness.
4 Far from human dwellings they cut a shaft,
in places untouched by human feet;
far from other people they dangle and sway.
5 The earth, from which food comes,
is transformed below as by fire;
6 lapis lazuli comes from its rocks,
and its dust contains nuggets of gold.
7 No bird of prey knows that hidden path,
no falcon's eye has seen it.
8 Proud beasts do not set foot on it,
and no lion prowls there.
9 People assault the flinty rock with their hands
and lay bare the roots of the mountains.
10 They tunnel through the rock;
their eyes see all its treasures.
11 They search the sources of the rivers
and bring hidden things to light....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Acts 13:1-25

1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off....


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