Friday, August 12, 2011

Daily Devotional Friday 12th August

“I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.” Psalm 119:14 NIV
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Morning

"Oh that I were as in months past."
Job 29:2

Numbers of Christians can view the past with pleasure, but regard the present with dissatisfaction; they look back upon the days which they have passed in communing with the Lord as being the sweetest and the best they have ever known, but as to the present, it is clad in a sable garb of gloom and dreariness. Once they lived near to Jesus, but now they feel that they have wandered from him, and they say, "O that I were as in months past!" They complain that they have lost their evidences, or that they have not present peace of mind, or that they have no enjoyment in the means of grace, or that conscience is not so tender, or that they have not so much zeal for God's glory. The causes of this mournful state of things are manifold. It may arise through a comparative neglect of prayer, for a neglected closet is the beginning of all spiritual decline. Or it may be the result of idolatry. The heart has been occupied with something else, more than with God; the affections have been set on the things of earth, instead of the things of heaven. A jealous God will not be content with a divided heart; he must be loved first and best. He will withdraw the sunshine of his presence from a cold, wandering heart. Or the cause may be found in self-confidence and self-righteousness. Pride is busy in the heart, and self is exalted instead of lying low at the foot of the cross. Christian, if you are not now as you "were in months past," do not rest satisfied with wishing for a return of former happiness, but go at once to seek your Master, and tell him your sad state. Ask his grace and strength to help you to walk more closely with him; humble yourself before him, and he will lift you up, and give you yet again to enjoy the light of his countenance. Do not sit down to sigh and lament; while the beloved Physician lives there is hope, nay there is a certainty of recovery for the worst cases.

Evening

"Everlasting consolation."
2 Thessalonians 2:16

"Consolation." There is music in the word: like David's harp, it charms away the evil spirit of melancholy. It was a distinguished honour to Barnabas to be called "the son of consolation"; nay, it is one of the illustrious names of a greater than Barnabas, for the Lord Jesus is "the consolation of Israel." "Everlasting consolation"--here is the cream of all, for the eternity of comfort is the crown and glory of it. What is this "everlasting consolation"? It includes a sense of pardoned sin. A Christian man has received in his heart the witness of the Spirit that his iniquities are put away like a cloud, and his transgressions like a thick cloud. If sin be pardoned, is not that an everlasting consolation? Next, the Lord gives his people an abiding sense of acceptance in Christ. The Christian knows that God looks upon him as standing in union with Jesus. Union to the risen Lord is a consolation of the most abiding order; it is, in fact, everlasting. Let sickness prostrate us, have we not seen hundreds of believers as happy in the weakness of disease as they would have been in the strength of hale and blooming health? Let death's arrows pierce us to the heart, our comfort dies not, for have not our ears full often heard the songs of saints as they have rejoiced because the living love of God was shed abroad in their hearts in dying moments? Yes, a sense of acceptance in the Beloved is an everlasting consolation. Moreover, the Christian has a conviction of his security. God has promised to save those who trust in Christ: the Christian does trust in Christ, and he believes that God will be as good as his word, and will save him. He feels that he is safe by virtue of his being bound up with the person and work of Jesus.

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Today's reading: Psalm 81-83, Romans 11:19-36 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Psalm 81-82

For the director of music. According to gittith. Of Asaph.

1 Sing for joy to God our strength;
shout aloud to the God of Jacob!
2 Begin the music, strike the timbrel,
play the melodious harp and lyre.

3 Sound the ram's horn at the New Moon,
and when the moon is full, on the day of our festival;
4 this is a decree for Israel,
an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
5 When God went out against Egypt,
he established it as a statute for Joseph....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Romans 11:19-36

19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

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Levi

[Lē'vī] - joined or adhesion.

  1. Another name for Matthew, the one-time Roman tax-gatherer (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27, 29). See MATTHEW.
  2. An ancestor of Jesus Christ(Luke 3:24).
  3. Another ancestor of Jesus Christ (Luke 3:29).
  4. The third son of Jacob by Leah. Levi had three sons, and died in Egypt at the age of 137 (Gen. 29:34; 46:11; Exod. 6:16). His descendants, the Levites, had care of the sanctuary. The Book of Leviticus describes their ministry.

The Man of Isolation

Isolation is a feature in the history of Levi, quite as much as it characterizes Simeon, with whom he is paired. The capacity to stand alone made Simeon and Levi conspicuous among their brethren in their attack upon the Shechemites, and proved a valuable instrument for the work of the Lord. The tribe of Levi was fitted by the discipline of trial to discharge a most important duty in Israel - a duty which made Levi second in importance to none but Judah, whose forerunner and counterpart he was formed to be. Levi stands before Judah in the prophecies of Jacob - Judah before Levi in the blessings of Moses, the man of God.

"The true Levites," says Dr. C. H. Waller, "are the men who have been made lonely among their brethren that they may live alone with Jehovah, and so dwell as the families of others that they may unite them to the family of God."

Levi came under the ban of Jacob, who, in his prophecy set Simeon and Levi under a "curse." To the patriarch they were bad brothers.

Dr. Dinsdale Young has a telling chapter on Simeon and Levi in which he elaborates on these features:

I. They constituted an unholy brotherhood - they had a common disposition (Gen. 49:5).

II. They had unhallowed belongings ( Gen. 49:5) - sinful homes and perverted instruments.

III. They drew from their father a heart-felt prayer (Gen. 49:6). Reviewing their sinful courses, the dying father prays for them.

IV. Their father uttered a righteous imprecation upon their sin. Jacob did not curse them, but their sin (Gen. 49:7).

V. A just judgment was pronounced upon them, "I will divide them" (Gen. 49:7 ). Though divided and scattered, they were not cut off from the promised land. Theirs was not the abundant entrance of others, yet they were privileged to enter.

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P31Header
Lysa TerKeurst

August 11, 2011

The Slippery Slope
Lysa TerKeurst

"...to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God..." Acts 26:18(NIV)

Have you ever felt yourself pulled into a forbidden but exciting situation? You sense red flags but convince yourself you can handle it. "I'm just having a little fun. This won't ever amount to anything. It just gives me a little something to look forward to."

That's the way a friend of mine felt when a nice guy at work started paying attention to her. Her marriage was hard and she was tired of trying so much. She found herself putting extra effort into getting dressed in the morning and being more than willing to work late.

She felt a spark in her heart every time he came near. Soon, they were talking in secret. Texting in secret. Meeting in secret. And down the slippery slope she went.

The slippery slope has one major tell tale sign-things are done in secret.

The minute we start hiding things from those who love us, doing things in a sneaky way, lying or telling half-truths, and figuring out ways to cover up evidence of our activities-we're on the slippery slope. And we're headed downhill fast.

Satan is the master of darkness. As long as he can keep us operating in our dark secrets, we are deceived. In the Message, Acts 26:17-18 we are reminded:

"'I'm sending you off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I'm sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me.'"

Oh sweet friend, we need to see the difference between dark and light and choose light. We need to bring our choices out into the light of Jesus so He can expose the truth. Only then can we truly discern the difference between being led by Jesus or deceived by Satan.

Things done in secret are an indication of being led by Satan. That's a strong statement but one worth really considering.

Satan keeps dangers off our radar screen and blinds us to the harsh realities coming our way. My friend was blinded. And when she finally woke up to the deception, the devastation horrified her.

If you're keeping secrets today, bring them out into the light:

• Find a trusted Christian friend and ask them to help you hold your choices up to the truth.

• Get honest with people who love you.

• Build accountability measures in your life.

• Ask Jesus for help, forgiveness, and a clear understanding of how to put on the brakes and throw things in reverse. Let His truth speak louder than the feelings that are begging you to keep things hidden. Like the end of verse 18 says, "begin real living by believing in me."

The path to real living-the living that will sustain you and lead you to a true discovery of real love, real provision and real satisfaction-is found only by following Jesus.

Dear Lord, protect me from the darkness of Satan today. Help me to bring my choices into Your light, because only You can expose the truth. You are the only way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
If you are tempted to hide your struggles with food, or other pleasures that pull you away from God, don't miss Lysa's book: Made to Crave. Also, you'll want to consider doing the 6 week Bible study using this DVD set: Made to Crave DVD by Lysa TerKeurst

If you enjoy Lysa's devotions, be sure to sign up for notes of encouragement she sends out from her blog by clicking here. They are free and great for passing along to friends.

Lysa will be speaking in more than 40 cities this year.Click here to see her schedule. She would be honored to meet you.

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:
If you're keeping secrets today, bring them out into the light. Find a trusted Christian friend and ask them to help you hold your choices up to the truth. Get honest with people who love you. This can be the beginning of lasting change for you.

Reflections:
Jesus can resurrect everything brought down by Satan. He is the lifter of my head, the redeemer of my circumstances, and the One who can set me back in flight.

Power Verses:
1 Peter 2:9, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (NIV, 1984)

John 3:19, "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil." (NIV)

Ephesians 5:8, "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light." (NIV)

© 2011 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

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August 11, 2011

Thriving or Surviving?

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

God will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy (Job 8:21, NCV).

Friend To Friend

One Saturday morning a little boy and his father took a long awaited trip to the local pet store in search of a new puppy. The dad had been promising the trip for weeks and finally, the day had come. For weeks, the little boy had been reading books about dogs, surveying the pets of his friends, asking countless questions and waiting for this day, ready to make his choice.

When father and son walked into the pet store the dad immediately realized that this task was going to be much harder than he had thought it would be. There were so many adorable puppies from which to choose. But with determination in his heart and confidence in his step, the little boy began his search. Suddenly, he stopped in his tracks, eyes and heart locked on the perfect dog. Staring at the little boy from the wired confines of a small crate was an undersized and fairly unimpressive but hopeful black puppy. Following his son's gaze, the dad cringed as he realized that the first puppy he had eliminated as a possibility was the very one his son was watching.

The father attempted to re-direct the interest of his son toward a more suitable dog. It was not to be. Each time the little boy returned to his first choice, the black puppy who was grinning at the boy, eagerly pawing at the cage door and wagging his tail with great enthusiasm. The dad finally asked, "Son, which one do you want?" The little boy immediately pointed at the dog with the furiously wiggling tail and announced with great certainty, "I want that one, Daddy! I want the one with the happy ending."

We all want a life filled with happy endings, but we seem to be living lives that could well be described as "joy-less." Every day is lived at the mercy of the world. We are like Charlie Brown who admits, "I have a new philosophy. I'm only going to dread one day at a time."

God promises that if you know Him you will know true joy. Joy is not merely happiness but rather an unshakable confidence that God is in control. Therefore, He is our one and only source of joy and stands ready and waiting to saturate every circumstance with His presence. As His children, joy is ours to claim. If so, then where is it and why do we not experience a sense of confident celebration as we go through each day?

Maybe it is because of the Joy Stealers who lurk in the shadows, waiting to crush joy wherever they find it. I have great news for you, my friend. Nothing and no one can take your joy without your permission. So, don't give it! Choose joy instead.

Choosing joy requires us to identify and eliminate the "joy stealers" in life. You may be allowing a person to take your joy. Maybe some painful experience from a shadowed yesterday is an obstacle of joy in your life today. Perhaps a fearful circumstance or a broken dream is the culprit. I know life can be painful. I know it is often hard and unfair. I also know that God is in control. So if God really is God (and He definitely is) then we should be people of joy. I have read the final chapter of the Book and we win! Now that, my friend, is what I call the happiest ending of all.

Let's Pray

Lord, remind me to live each day against the backdrop of eternity. I pray that, in every circumstance, I would choose joy, knowing that You are in control.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Recognize that real joy is found only in God. Make a list of the people or circumstances that you would classify as "joy stealers." Pray for wisdom in dealing with each person and circumstance. Choose now what your response will be when someone tries to steal your joy.

  • What has been my personal definition of "joy" up until now?
  • What have I been counting on in my life to produce joy?
  • How does a personal relationship with God change my perspective of joy?
  • What are the steps to take in order to eliminate the "joy stealers" in my life?
  • How do my feelings influence my joy level?
  • In what way do trials and problems affect my joy level?

More From The Girlfriends

I can still remember the words of the song I often sang as a child:

"If you want joy, real joy, wonderful joy

Let Jesus come into your heart."

Life seemed so simple back then. Today, I have traveled quite a few miles and been through some very tough times. And God's truth remains the same. If we want to experience joy, we must experience God. We look in a lot of wrong places for joy but the only right place is in a personal relationship with God. How about you? Are you thriving or just surviving?

For a good dose of laughter, I encourage to check out my CD,Laugh More ... Live Better. Looking for a Bible Study that is both practical and powerful? Check out Mary's E-Book Bible Studies. Each one includes a study guide that you can download for your personal use or for a small group study.

Be sure to check out Mary's weekly Online Bible Study: 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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Greetings from Bible Gateway! This week we've made a major addition to our online library and have a brand new devotional to announce. Here's the scoop:

Dictionary of Bible Themes Now Available on Bible Gateway

We're pleased to announce the addition of a major new resource to Bible Gateway's library: the Dictionary of Bible Themes!

The Dictionary of Bible Themes is a massive compilation of themes and topics in the Bible (over 2,000), carefully organized to make it as easy as possible to find the specific subject you're interested in. It's extremely helpful for assembling a Bible study, researching Biblical teachings on a particular person or topic, or just exploring the Bible for your own benefit.

It's easy to get started using the Dictionary--we've written a tutorial that shows you how to access the Dictionary alongside your Bible reading , along with some example Dictionary entries. No matter how obscure the topic, the Dictionary will show you what the Bible has to say about it. We hope you'll find this a valuable help in your Bible reading and study!

We're very grateful to Martin H. Manser for making this resource available on Bible Gateway. If you find the Dictionary useful, be sure to check out the many other useful Christian books and resources written and edited by Manser.

New Devotional on Stewardship: Discovering God's Design

What do you think of when you read the term "Biblical stewardship?" Most of us think of saving money and caring for the environment. But true Biblical stewardship goes far beyond just those two topics--and a new email devotional at Bible Gateway can help you learn how.

Discovering God's Design is a weekly devotional that explores the different facets of stewardship and how they apply to your everyday life. Money and the environment are two big topics, but you'll read about things you might never have thought of as elements of stewardship--things like relationships, community, and worship.

Discovering God's Design is drawn from the NIV Stewardship Study Bible . Each weekly devotional is written not to be draining and guilt-inducing, but rather motivating, empowering and uplifting. Through this devotional, you'll learn how to be a manager entrusted with the resources of God.

The first installment of Discovering God's Design goes out on Saturday, so sign up now to make sure you don't miss out!

That's all for this week. Thanks, as always, for your continued support of Bible Gateway!

Sincerely,
the Bible Gateway team
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Trashed Potential

Read Judges 16:1-31

You knew that guy in high school-the guy with all the money, the looks, the clothes and the fastest car. He was the popular one, the guy everyone liked to hang out with, the one who was a lock for being voted "Most Likely to Succeed." But instead of taking advantage of all these advantages, he decided to spend his time chasing girls and partying, to the dismay of his parents and the ruin of his GPA.

Trust Fund Babies. College playboys. Frat-house social committee chairmen. To direct these terms at other guys is to accuse them of riding Daddy's coattails and to call into question their work ethic and the seriousness with which they take life. Those who have less in the world can only scratch their heads and wonder what they could do with the same perks.

Now, this is a stereotype, to be sure. A few bad apples don't spoil the whole barrel in this case. But as we can't think back on that one guy and not wonder what happened, so also we can't read the story of Samson and not wonder what went haywire.

Mighty Samson, who has never lost a battle, is captured by a woman, tortured by his enemies and enslaved until his death. The mighty warrior who has killed scores of his enemies with rudimentary tools and with his bare hands trips up on the most obvious of ploys. The one who was to be dedicated to God's service for the purpose of saving his people ends up in bondage to the very people he was intended to conquer.

What was he thinking? How could he have subjected himself to this kind of trickery? Didn't Delilah ask him repeatedly about the secret of his strength, and couldn't he see where this was leading? Did he forget that the Philistines had come into her house and tried to capture him on a number of occasions? Or did he just enjoy playing this game, knowing he couldn't lose?

The sad fact is that Samson was just as human as you and I. He allowed his eyes to lead him astray, and he allowed his pride to strategize for him. In some sense he was a victim of his own success-and he learned the hard way that even a slugger with a perfect batting average can strike out when it matters most.

So what can we learn from Samson's story today? Were you the one in high school who squandered your advantages and made foolish choices? Can you think back on times when you deliberately disobeyed what you knew to be God's will for your life-and paid the price? If so, gain encouragement from the end of Samson's story. God gave him a second chance to show that he was God's man, and Samson struck a crippling blow to his enemies. God also gives us more chances than we can count to return to him and rededicate ourselves to his mission in the world.

To Take Away

  • Why was it so easy for Samson to ignore his greatest weaknesses?
  • How would you describe your greatest weakness?
  • How could God help you turn your weakness into a quality he can use in his great strength?
Recommended Reading: Proverbs 29:23; Romans 6:12-14; Ephesians 6:11-18


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New Men's Devotional Bible
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How Is Jesus' Death Foretold in Deuteronomy 21:23?

Read Deuteronomy 21:22-23.

Hidden in Deuteronomy is yet another prophecy about the Messiah; it predicts the way in which the Savior would die and the length of time he would remain on the cross.

Deuteronomy 21:22-23 says that God cursed any man executed for breaking one of God's commands. His body hanging on a pole was a public display of judgment. Jesus took on this curse for all of humanity when he died on the "cross" (1 Peter 2:24), fulfilling the prophecy in Deuteronomy 21:23. The apostle Paul reiterates this concept in Galatians 3:13.

Deuteronomy 21:23 also commanded that the offender's body not be left on the pole overnight, and as we know from the Gospels, Jesus' body was taken down and placed into the tomb before nightfall (see Matthew 27:57-60; Mark 15:42-46).

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Today's reading is from the
The Case for Christ Study Bible
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Investigate the Bible's most compelling claims: the existence of a compassionate God and the promise of eternal life through His Son, Jesus.


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