Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Daily Devotional Wednesday 6th July

“In that day you will say: “Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.” Isaiah 12:4 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Called to be saints."
Romans 1:7

We are very apt to regard the apostolic saints as if they were "saints" in a more especial manner than the other children of God. All are "saints" whom God has called by His grace, and sanctified by His Spirit; but we are apt to look upon the apostles as extraordinary beings, scarcely subject to the same weaknesses and temptations as ourselves. Yet in so doing we are forgetful of this truth, that the nearer a man lives to God the more intensely has he to mourn over his own evil heart; and the more his Master honours him in his service, the more also doth the evil of the flesh vex and tease him day by day. The fact is, if we had seen the apostle Paul, we should have thought him remarkably like the rest of the chosen family: and if we had talked with him, we should have said, "We find that his experience and ours are much the same. He is more faithful, more holy, and more deeply taught than we are, but he has the selfsame trials to endure. Nay, in some respects he is more sorely tried than ourselves." Do not, then, look upon the ancient saints as being exempt either from infirmities or sins; and do not regard them with that mystic reverence which will almost make us idolaters. Their holiness is attainable even by us. We are "called to be saints" by that same voice which constrained them to their high vocation. It is a Christian's duty to force his way into the inner circle of saintship; and if these saints were superior to us in their attainments, as they certainly were, let us follow them; let us emulate their ardour and holiness. We have the same light that they had, the same grace is accessible to us, and why should we rest satisfied until we have equalled them in heavenly character? They lived with Jesus, they lived for Jesus, therefore they grew like Jesus. Let us live by the same Spirit as they did, "looking unto Jesus," and our saintship will soon be apparent.

Evening

"Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength."
Isaiah 26:4

Seeing that we have such a God to trust to, let us rest upon him with all our weight; let us resolutely drive out all unbelief, and endeavour to get rid of doubts and fears, which so much mar our comfort; since there is no excuse for fear where God is the foundation of our trust. A loving parent would be sorely grieved if his child could not trust him; and how ungenerous, how unkind is our conduct when we put so little confidence in our heavenly Father who has never failed us, and who never will. It were well if doubting were banished from the household of God; but it is to be feared that old Unbelief is as nimble nowadays as when the psalmist asked, "Is his mercy clean gone forever? Will he be favourable no more?" David had not made any very lengthy trial of the mighty sword of the giant Goliath, and yet he said, "There is none like it." He had tried it once in the hour of his youthful victory, and it had proved itself to be of the right metal, and therefore he praised it ever afterwards; even so should we speak well of our God, there is none like unto him in the heaven above or the earth beneath; "To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One." There is no rock like unto the rock of Jacob, our enemies themselves being judges. So far from suffering doubts to live in our hearts, we will take the whole detestable crew, as Elijah did the prophets of Baal, and slay them over the brook; and for a stream to kill them at, we will select the sacred torrent which wells forth from our Saviour's wounded side. We have been in many trials, but we have never yet been cast where we could not find in our God all that we needed. Let us then be encouraged to trust in the Lord forever, assured that his ever lasting strength will be, as it has been, our succour and stay.

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Edom

[Ē'dom] - red earth. The elder son of Isaac, and so named in memory of the red color of the lentil pottage for which he sold his birthright to his twin brother Jacob (Gen. 25:30; 36:1, 8, 19). See ESAU. Name is also used to describe those descended from Esau, the Edomites (Gen. 36:9).
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Today's reading: Job 30-31, Acts 13:26-52 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Job 30-31

1 "But now they mock me,
men younger than I,
whose fathers I would have disdained
to put with my sheep dogs.
2 Of what use was the strength of their hands to me,
since their vigor had gone from them?
3 Haggard from want and hunger,
they roamed the parched land
in desolate wastelands at night.
4 In the brush they gathered salt herbs,
and their food was the root of the broom bush.
5 They were banished from human society,
shouted at as if they were thieves.
6 They were forced to live in the dry stream beds,
among the rocks and in holes in the ground.
7 They brayed among the bushes
and huddled in the undergrowth.
8 A base and nameless brood,
they were driven out of the land....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Acts 13:26-52

26 "Fellow children of Abraham and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. 27 The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people...."

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July 5, 2011

The Potter and the Clay

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

But LORD, you are our father. We are like clay, and you are the potter; your hands made us all (Isaiah 64:8, NCV).

Friend To Friend

When our daughter was in pre-school, one of her favorite activities was playing with clay. Danna often pulled her little step stool over to the closet where the clay was stored and pulled out the boxes of brightly colored clay. With great concentration and effort, Danna's little fingers would then pry them open and she would begin to work.

For hours at a time, Danna would pound, mold, stretch and create her own clay world. Animals, people, flowers and aliens would emerge from the lumps of clay. Her work done, she called me to "put them up." That meant it was time to exhibit her clay masterpieces for her brother and father to see when they came home.

Danna's creations would remain on display until they grew hard and brittle. We would then break them apart, sprinkle them with water and put them back into their containers, allowing the clay to grow soft again.

When it comes to spiritual matters - God is the Potter, the Creator, and we are the clay. The world says we should never give up our rights because if we do, we will lose everything. God says that if we surrender to Him, we will gain everything that is important.

In order for God to make us into what He wants us to be, we have to become pliable and willing - like clay. We must come to Him, placing ourselves in His hands, the Potter's hands. Total surrender demands that we come with no agenda, no pre-set conditions - giving Him permission to bend us, break us and change us. We sometimes come to God, with a hardened heart and brittle spirit. Life has broken and damaged us and the wrong hands have molded us. Remember, how we come to Him is not nearly as important as the fact that we come. As we give up control to Him, like a Master Craftsman, He begins to work patiently and lovingly, with a specific plan and one-of-a-kind design in mind. He works through circumstances as well as people, through joy and pain, victory and defeat. He filters every part of life through His plan for us and uses it to create a life of worth and meaning.

Oh, we have tried to live life with our own agenda and plan and have experienced discontentment and frustration. Our soul longs for more and our heart cries out, "Is this all there is?" The truth is that nothing and no one but God can bring us the peace and joy for which we are searching. Are you ready to become the clay, surrendering your broken life to the Potter's loving and purpose-filled hands? Today is the day!

Let's Pray

Lord, I am tired of trying to live life in my own power. Right now, I give up and surrender my life completely to You. I choose Your plan over mine. I give You permission to mold me and make me what You want me to be. I will wait before You and seek Your direction.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

What has been the plan - according to you - for your life up to this point?

What kind of results has that plan produced?

Write a prayer of surrender to God and record it in your journal. Be sure to include the following steps:

  • Recognize that you have been trying to live life according to your plan - your agenda.
  • Admit that your refusal to surrender your life to God has brought only frustration and emptiness.
  • Right now - surrender to God.
  • What one of the following actions do you need to take in order to obey God?

_____Join a local church

_____Get involved in a small group

_____Read the Bible daily

_____Pray constantly

_____Seek God in everything I do

More From The Girlfriends

I have to admit I am not very good at giving up and even flinch at the very thought of "surrender." I was taught never to give up; to be strong and to depend on no one but myself. In fact, the very thought of surrender seems like a weakness to me and is completely opposite to my human strength and will. Exactly! Did you know that my name, Mary, literally meansbitter, but when broken, sweet? Unless I am in a constant state of surrender to God, I will surely become bitter, brittle and broken.

Need help? Get Mary's MP3 download, The Powerful Woman. And be sure to check out Mary's new weekly Online Bible Study beginning July 18: Stress Management 101. Enroll now and have access to all 2011 lessons. Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.

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
She Reads

July 5, 2011

Bad Boats
Lisa Wingate, She Reads Featured Author

"Immediately, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. 'You of little faith,' he said, 'why did you doubt?'"Matthew 14:31 (NIV)

If you could step away from one thing that is dragging you under, what would you leave behind?

Years ago, we moved into someone else's dream house. We purchased it from the bank after it had languished empty - built with great hope but then sadly abandoned. Soon, we began hearing stories about the place. There were whispers of substance abuse, violent fights, young children in foster care, a father in jail.

While I repaired damaged walls, my boys explored their new territory. One evening, they brought in a treasure they'd found outside. Holding the weathered Ziploc baggie, I studied the contents - two small clay pipes and seeds of a sort that undoubtedly shouldn't go to show-and-tell when the drug dog sweeps the school.

There are those moments when the world as it is collides with the world as you wish it were. It's hard to explain to little boys that their treasure must be disposed of in the nearest dumpster before someone gets arrested.

The lost treasure was still on their minds at bedtime.

"That's too bad about those people," my older son observed. "I'll never touch drugs. Drugs are stupid."

"It is sad," I agreed.

His brows wrinkled. "Why didn't they just quit before somebody took their house?"

"I don't know," I admitted. "Sometimes, things that aren't good for us feel good in the moment. Sometimes people don't see the damage they're doing."

My younger son turned our way. "It's like they're on a boat."

His brother responded with an eye roll. "We're talking about drugs, not fishing. Hello."

"Uh-huh," the little brother remained uncharacteristically serious. "It's a really bad boat, and it's sinking, and they won't get off - like in my Bible story, where the man was too scared of the water to walk to Jesus. It's like that, huh Mama?"

A lump rose in my throat. "You're right," I whispered, thinking about the bad boats in life - destructive habits, painful relationships, defeating self-talk, debt, lust, jealousy, a reliance on food, drink, or shopping. There are so many.

My new novel, Dandelion Summer is a story about bad boats - the sort that trap women into unhealthy choices to gain approval from men, and the sort that can pull the elderly into grief, isolation, and anger toward God. It's so easy for my characters, Norman and Epie, to see each other's bad boats, but they're blind to their own.

I see myself in both of them. So often, I find myself riding out the storm, clinging to the boat, when the truth is that Jesus is just an arm's length away. He's unperturbed by the waves, unshaken by the currents, waiting to help me conquer the storm, if only I'll focus my eyes on Him instead of the ocean.

Are you in a boat that is sinking? A relationship that is unhealthy? A habit that is destructive? Ask Jesus to help you get out of that boat and walk to Him.

Dear Lord, help me recognize the bad boats in my life, whatever they are. Help me to stop looking at the water, feeling trapped, and saying "I can't." Help me to gather the courage to reach for Your hand - to know that no matter where I am, no matter what the storm, my security isn't in the boat, but in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

Lisa's sixteenth novel, Dandelion Summer is a story for every person who has ever felt trapped or alone and found a friend in an unlikely place. Visit She Reads and enter to win the "Dandelion Summer Kindle-n-Bling Giveaway" gift package, featuring a Kindle e-reader, a bit of bling, and an autographed copy of Dandelion Summer!

She Reads ~ where we're discovering great fiction together!

A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself and Live in the Security of God's Promises by Renee Swope

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you!

Application Steps:
Is there a bad boat you'd like to leave behind? List steps you could take (even small ones) to move away. Consider sharing your plan with a supportive friend. Pick one item from your list and commit to it each day.

Reflections:
How will my life be better, how will I be more of what God wants me to be, when I've left this boat behind?

Who could I talk to about it? Who would be a prayer partner?

Does this require outside intervention? Where can I find resources?

Power Verses:
Mark 9:23, "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." (KJV)

Isaiah 43:2a, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you" (ESV)

© 2011 by Lisa Wingate. All rights reserved.

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

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Get a Complimentary Copy of Tortured for Christ!
The Voice of the Martyrs invites you to request a complimentary copy of
Richard Wurmbrand's international bestseller, Tortured for Christ.
Learn more!


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Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional

GOD PUTS THINGS TOGETHER

When we relate the pieces of life back to God as source, and believe that the pieces are there for him and his purposes, we can see the sense in it all.

Regarding the human race, broken into so many pieces, Colossians 1:18-20 says: “[Christ] is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

When one head coordinates and directs a small human community, all the pieces of a new society and a new family-real human beings-should come together. And they do come together because Christ’s reconciliation, peace, and blood are real. At the moment of Jesus’ crucifixion, when it seemed as if the whole world were falling apart, when he who is good and right was resolutely rejected, then humiliated, then murdered, the reconstruction began. The earth shook and rocks split, and in the temple the curtain was torn from top to bottom in two pieces, signifying that the division between God and humanity was coming down, that a new way was opening for heaven to rejoin earth.

Are you looking to make repairs in your life, or to start some foundational construction? God helps us with both: putting pieces together, and putting pieces back together. One person attempts to fit together a brand new marriage in the process of courtship; another attempts to fix a broken marriage. Fit and fix. Pieces put together or pieces put back together. Someone in the first week on a new job tries to navigate new territory; someone else has been twenty years on the job and that same week attempts to repair something to avoid getting fired. A new believer reads the gospel of John for the first time, fitting Jesus’ statements there with other passages about Jesus; a long-time believer shuffles through well-worn pages, scanning for a passage that may build up a discouraged friend. A college freshman is confronted for the first time in philosophy class with the problem of evil; a policeman stands at the scene of a sniper shooting, shaking his head in disbelief.

Is there any question that we need a God who can put our lives back together?

Excerpt from Putting the Pieces Back Together: How Real Life and Real Faith Connect. Free DVD available now.

Resources

About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for thirty years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, the most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement.
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