Friday, August 19, 2011

Daily Devotional Friday 19th August

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Strangers are come into the sanctuaries of the Lord's house."
Jeremiah 51:51

In this account the faces of the Lord's people were covered with shame, for it was a terrible thing that men should intrude into the Holy Place reserved for the priests alone. Everywhere about us we see like cause for sorrow. How many ungodly men are now educating with the view of entering into the ministry! What a crying sin is that solemn lie by which our whole population is nominally comprehended in a National Church! How fearful it is that ordinances should be pressed upon the unconverted, and that among the more enlightened churches of our land there should be such laxity of discipline. If the thousands who will read this portion shall all take this matter before the Lord Jesus this day, he will interfere and avert the evil which else will come upon his Church. To adulterate the Church is to pollute a well, to pour water upon fire, to sow a fertile field with stones. May we all have grace to maintain in our own proper way the purity of the Church, as being an assembly of believers, and not a nation, an unsaved community of unconverted men.

Our zeal must, however, begin at home. Let us examine ourselves as to our right to eat at the Lord's table. Let us see to it that we have on our wedding garment, lest we ourselves be intruders in the Lord's sanctuaries. Many are called, but few are chosen; the way is narrow, and the gate is strait. O for grace to come to Jesus aright, with the faith of God's elect. He who smote Uzzah for touching the ark is very jealous of his two ordinances; as a true believer I may approach them freely, as an alien I must not touch them lest I die. Heart searching is the duty of all who are baptized or come to the Lord's table. "Search me, O God, and know my way, try me and know my heart."

Evening

"And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not."
Mark 15:23

A golden truth is couched in the fact that the Saviour put the myrrhed wine-cup from his lips. On the heights of heaven the Son of God stood of old, and as he looked down upon our globe he measured the long descent to the utmost depths of human misery; he cast up the sum total of all the agonies which expiation would require, and abated not a jot. He solemnly determined that to offer a sufficient atoning sacrifice he must go the whole way, from the highest to the lowest, from the throne of highest glory to the cross of deepest woe. This myrrhed cup, with its soporific influence, would have stayed him within a little of the utmost limit of misery, therefore he refused it. He would not stop short of all he had undertaken to suffer for his people. Ah, how many of us have pined after reliefs to our grief which would have been injurious to us! Reader, did you never pray for a discharge from hard service or suffering with a petulant and wilful eagerness? Providence has taken from you the desire of your eyes with a stroke. Say, Christian, if it had been said, "If you so desire it, that loved one of yours shall live, but God will be dishonoured," could you have put away the temptation, and said, "Thy will be done"? Oh, it is sweet to be able to say, "My Lord, if for other reasons I need not suffer, yet if I can honour thee more by suffering, and if the loss of my earthly all will bring thee glory, then so let it be. I refuse the comfort, if it comes in the way of thine honour." O that we thus walked more in the footsteps of our Lord, cheerfully enduring trial for his sake, promptly and willingly putting away the thought of self and comfort when it would interfere with our finishing the work which he has given us to do. Great grace is needed, but great grace is provided.

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Today's reading: Psalm 100-102, 1 Corinthians 1 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Psalm 100-102

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 1 Corinthians 1

1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,

2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ-their Lord and ours:

3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving

4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way-with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge- 6God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord...

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Ishmael

[Ĭsh'mael] - god heareth.

1. The son of Abraham, by Hagar, Sarah's Egyptian maid. Ishmael was born when Abraham was eighty-six years of age, and was circumcised when he was thirteen years of age, along with his father and his servants. He received the divine promise that he would beget twelve princes and become a great nation. He died at the age of 137 (Gen. 16:11-16; 17:18-26; 25:9-17; 28:9; 36:3). Ishmael was the founder of the tribal family called Ishmaelites, sometimes referred to as Midianites ( Gen. 37:25-28).

The Man Who Became an Outcast

Ishmael, who was some fourteen years older than Isaac, was not his father's heir and did not share his father's property. Abraham was tenderly attached to Ishmael (Gen. 17:18), and the casting out of the boy and his mother by Sarah was a great grief to Abraham. Such a hard transaction was necessary to keep the inheritance unbroken for Isaac's possession. "To thee will I give it" (Gal. 3:16; 4:30 ). Ishmael's name is a monument of God's goodness in answering prayer. "God shall hear." What did He hear? He heard the moaning of Hagar's broken heart. God said concerning Ishmael: "I will make him a great nation" (Gen. 21:18).

The names of Ishmael's twelve sons have been preserved but there is no record of any good they achieved (Gen. 25:13-16).

Paul tells us that the record of Hagar and Ishmael is an allegory (Gal. 4:24 ). Hagar and Sarah represent two covenants - Jewish and Christian. Hagar represents the law, and Ishmael, because he was born of the bond woman, typifies those who are under the law. Isaac, because of his super-natural birth, represents those born anew by the Spirit of God.

The casting out of Ishmael has been productive of bitter fruit, surviving in the religion of Mohammed. The wild hearts beat on in the bosoms of those who form the Arab world. Little did Sarah know, when she persuaded Abraham to take Hagar that she was originating a rivalry which has run in the keenest strife through the ages, and which oceans of blood have not stopped.

The Moslem Arabs claim descent from Ishmael. Ishmael's mother and wife were Egyptian, which differentiates them from pure Hebrew. Arabian tribes springing from Ishmael are scattered throughout the Arabian peninsula. When Ishmael received his name, the Lord said that he would be "a wild man," or "a wild-ass man" as the Hebrew expresses it.

2. An ancestor of Zebadiah who was one of Jehoshaphat's judicial officers (2 Chron. 19:11).

3. A Son of Azer and a descendant of Saul through Jonathan (1 Chron. 8:38; 9:44).

4. A son of Jehohanan and one of the military officers associated with Jehoiada in the revolution to raise Joash to the throne (2 Chron. 23:1).

5. A son of Pashbur and one of the priests persuaded by Ezra to put away his foreign wife (Ezra 10:22).

6. A son of Nethaniah, a member of the royal house of David who took part in the murder of Gedaliah. His vile conduct and character are fully described by Jeremiah (40:8-16; 41).

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August 18, 2011

Charge It!

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

He (God) is so rich in kindness that he purchased our freedom through the blood of his Son, and our sins are forgiven(Ephesians 1:7, NLT).

Friend To Friend

Several years ago an interesting cartoon appeared in the Saturday Review of Literature. Little George Washington is standing with an ax in his hand. In front of him, lying on the ground is the famous cherry tree. He has already made his smug admission that he did it because, after all, he "cannot tell a lie." However, his frustrated father is standing beside him saying, "All right, so you admit it! You always admit it! The question is when are you going to stop doing it?"

That is the question at hand, girlfriend. We often soothe our bothered conscience with admissions of sin. We then present them to the Father as obedience to the spiritual principle that we must confess our sin. There is, however, an element of true confession that goes a step farther and results in a change in lifestyle and behavior. It is called repentance.

I once associated the command to repent with old-fashioned gospel meetings and screaming preachers on television. In reality, repentance is the very cornerstone of genuine forgiveness and gives credibility to the very act of confessing sin. To repent simply means to "turn away from." When we choose to turn from our sin and turn to God and His ways, we are practicing true repentance.

2 Chronicles 7:14 "Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land."

What does it mean to repent? The woman in the book of Luke knew. She models repentance for us and illustrates beautifully the truth that if we want to experience worship we must come to God, seeking forgiveness and being willing to repent of our sin. Forgiveness is our greatest need and God's highest accomplishment, always resulting in worship.

Luke 7:38 "As she stood behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them."

This woman stood behind Jesus like a "caught" child who was ashamed to look her Father in the eyes. I am certain that her guilt and sense of unworthiness prevented her from facing Him. Just being in His presence made her doubt everything about herself but nothing about Him. Standing so close to Him simply transformed her and she began to weep. Jesus was as pure as she was sinful. Every ugly thought, word or deed of her past must have flooded her heart and shattered it.

Tears of sorrow and joy spilled down her face onto the feet of the One - the only One who truly loved her. Those tears were the first prayer of her life. She then let her hair down in total submission, dropped to her feet and began to dry the feet of Jesus with her hair. The social custom of the day demanded that women keep their hair bound up. To let it down was considered a brazen act and could even be grounds for divorce. But this woman was beyond caring about social custom and earthly rules. She was conducting eternal business. She found what she had been searching for in every wrong relationship, every failure and every dead-end choice. She found Jesus!

She began kissing the feet of Jesus while pouring perfume over them, totally oblivious to those watching. The word "kissed" literally means "to kiss again and again." Standing in His presence, she somehow knew that He understood everything she could not say and loved her in spite of her sin. It is very important to notice that Jesus did not move away from her. He did not condemn her or stop her. He knew exactly why she was there and He was thrilled! He saw her heart and received her humble action as an acceptable gift of worship.

Jesus looked past her sin and saw her heart crying out for forgiveness. Notice His response in Luke 7:48: "Then Jesus said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.' " Wow! God always majors in grace and forgiveness. The tense of the verb "forgiven" indicates that this forgiveness of sin was completed in the past, continues through the present and will keep working in the future. The forgiveness of God is complete and eternal.

A little girl was sitting on Santa Claus' lap. She gave him a long list of expensive toys that she wanted for Christmas. Without a word of appreciation she jumped off Santa's lap and started toward her mother who stopped her and asked, "Honey, haven't you forgotten something?" The little girl thought for a moment then said, "Oh, yes." Turning back toward Santa she shouted, "Charge it."

God has already "charged" our sins to His Son and has paid the debt in full. Powerful worship flows from a heart that has repented from every known sin and received the gift of forgiveness that God offers.

Let's Pray

Father, I want to truly worship You and am ready to confess and turn away from my sin. Please search my heart and life. Reveal every wrong attitude and action that is keeping me from truly worshipping You. Lord, I am tired of trying to live life on my own. I am desperate for You. Right now, I surrender everything I am and ever hope to be to You.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Are you ready to turn away from your sin and turn to God? If so, record the following commitment in your journal. Pray through each statement. Sign and date your entry.

  • I understand that forgiveness demands repentance.
  • I choose to admit the sin in my life.
  • I choose to "turn from" the sin in my life.
  • I will destroy any paths that might lead to that same sin.
  • I will trust God for the power to practice repentance.

More From The Girlfriends

One of the most powerful illustrations of God's love and forgiveness is found in the lives of Hosea and Gomer. Read their story in Mary's MP3 download, Love That Never Fails.

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?

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The Upper and Lower Story

Sometimes when we read or study the Bible we get lost in the details - we can't see the forest through the trees. That is why we need to lift ourselves high above the lower story and see the upper story of God and how all the of stories in the Bible are working together to tell the one story of God's relentless pursuit to get us back...

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The Story is helping people everywhere experience Scripture like never before. Carefully selected verses from the Bible are organized chronologically. From Genesis to Revelation, you will come to understand God's story and your story intersect with it.
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Karen Ehman

August 18, 2011

My Triple-Braided Cord
Karen Ehman

"A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken."Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT)

I've been embattled in a knock-down, drag-out fight for over a quarter-century now. Sometimes, I feel the little daily battles that are part of this clash completely defeat me, leaving me helpless and hopeless. And I feel alone in my battle.

What is this battle that consumes me? It is one that many women face. My constant, decades-long skirmish is with food. Or rather with my desire for food. Bad foods. Wrong foods. Or just vast quantities of food.

A few years back, I felt I'd come to the end of my rope. Severely overweight and reeling from seven different medical conditions, I finally determined to do something decisive for fear I might wind up like my aunt. She died unexpectedly of a heart attack when she was only in her early forties. I had just celebrated my 40th birthday, was the same size my aunt had been, and shared many of her medical issues.

So one day with desperate determination, a pair of hand-me-down walking shoes, and my trusty calorie counter in hand, I set off to religiously follow a weight-loss and exercise regimen. And follow it I did - to the T! Eleven months later, I'd dropped over 100 pounds. All my health conditions disappeared without any medication and I felt better than I had in my twenties. I boldly determined that never, EVER again would I let that weight creep back on.

Fast forward three years. One snowy Christmas eve, my husband's company gave him notice of a layoff. It lasted for nearly 9 months. Money was tight. The future looked bleak. I was worried and teetering on the brink of depression. I hate to admit that, sadly, I again turned to food instead of to God. I made it my comfort; my distraction; my friend.

However, this familiar "friend" quickly became my archenemy. Over the course of those 9 months, I gained back over a third of the weight I'd lost! Now entrenched in the thick of the battle again, I was weary and weak; embarrassed and embittered. However, one day God sent me today's key verse. He whispered in my soul's ear that I needed to stop fighting the battle alone. Time to call in the troops!

I phoned my friend Lysa and asked her if she would not only pray for me, but allow me to "weigh-in" with her once a month to let her know if I'd lost or gained. She too has fought the same battle and was gracious and willing to be my second strand, watching my back and enabling me to conquer.

Another friend, who also has fought weight issues, sensed how much my regain was bothering me. On one of my darkest days, she took my chin in her hand, looked me squarely in the eye, and told me I was beautiful and that I needed to stop allowing Satan to beat me up. Shari became my third strand. She committed to pray for me, and I started emailing her each month with a report from the front lines of my battlefield.

Knowing these "I've-been-there" sisters were both rooting, as well as praying, for me has made an immense difference.

Whether it is extra weight on our thighs or excess baggage in our souls, we women all face heated, hard battles. Our key verse today teaches us to decide not to wage war all alone.

God wants us to enlist another strand or two to strengthen one another in the fight to overcome strongholds and worship Him alone. Satan shudders when God's gals band together, with Jesus at the forefront, to courageously face the battle before us.

Dear Lord, forgive me for the times I try to wage war alone. Guide me to someone who will come alongside of me and encourage me not to give up in my quest to glorify You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Karen's blog today to find out more about an opportunity for encouragement, connection and accountability as you face your unique battles.

Made to Crave - Satisfying Your Deepest Desires With God, Not Food by Lysa TerKeurst

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

Share a good laugh and find solid truth with Dear Bathroom Scale

Application Steps:
What areas of battle can you identify where you might need to "call in the troops" for back-up support?

Reflections:
Have there been times in my life when my connection with other women allowed me or a friend to do something that we could never have accomplished alone?

Power Verses:
Matthew 18:19-20, "Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them." (ESV)

© 2011 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

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Resurrection Prophesied

Today's reading: Psalm 16:7-11

When the apostle Peter addressed the crowd on the day of Pentecost he quoted Psalm 16:8-11 , declaring that the psalmist David prophesied of Jesus and his resurrection (seeActs 2:25-28). The Messiah, David's promised Son, would not be abandoned to the grave nor see decay (see Psalm 16:10;Acts 2:29-32). Some skeptics, however, find believing in a bodily resurrection too difficult to accept and point to other theories to explain what happened to Jesus' body.

"I think people who push these alternative theories would admit, 'Yes, our theories are implausible, but they're not as improbable as the idea that the resurrection actually occurred,'" says Dr. William Lane Craig, a philosopher and theologian. "However, at this point the matter is no longer a historical issue; instead it's a philosophical question about whether miracles are possible.

"I would argue that the hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead is not at all improbable. In fact, based on the evidence, it's the best explanation for what happened. What is improbable is the hypothesis that Jesus rose naturally from the dead. That, I would agree, is outlandish. Any hypothesis would be more probable than saying the corpse of Jesus spontaneously came back to life.

"But the hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead doesn't contradict science or any known facts of experience. All it requires is the hypothesis that God exists, and I think there are good independent reasons for believing that he does. As long as the existence of God is even possible, it's possible that he acted in history by raising Jesus from the dead."

Adapted from interview with Dr. William Lane Craig

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Today's reading is from the
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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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Mighty Warriors

Read 1 Samuel 17:1-58

The List of David's mighty warriors in 1 Chronicles 11:22introduces us to Benaiah, whose exploits included overcoming two of Moab's best men. He also killed a lion in a snowy, slippery pit. Perhaps most amazingly, he took on an Egyptian tall enough to be a starting center for the Chicago Bulls. This seven-and-a-half-foot giant wielded a spear with a shaft as sturdy as a lead pipe while Benaiah had only a wooden club.

Even so ... Benaiah "snatched the spear from the Egyptian's hand and killed him with his own spear. Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada ... He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty" (1 Chronicles 11:23-25).

It was not a Ph.D. degree that brought honor to a person in those days. Honor did not necessarily flow to the person with money or leverage or media access. Honor came as a result of doing exploits for the king.

Who is doing exploits for God today? Where is the enemy being driven back? That is the great yearning of all spiritually minded people. They are not enchanted with polished sermons and slick organizational technique. Where are the mighty men and women anointed by God to truly make a difference?

What is it really that stops us from becoming mighty warriors in the Lord? God has not changed. He is still superior to anything the enemy can throw against us.

No personal or church situation is too hopeless for the all-sufficient power of the Holy Spirit. God will be no more eager to act tomorrow than he is right now. He is waiting for us to take his promises seriously and go boldly to the throne of grace. He wants us to meet the enemy at the very point of attack, standing against him in the name of Christ. When we do so, God will back us up with all the resources of heaven.

-Jim Cymbala

To Take Away

  • What keeps people from stepping out in faith for the Lord and the cause of Christ?
  • Do you trust that God is superior to anything the enemy might bring against you? How does this assurance manifest itself in your life?
  • What would it take for you to trust God's promises more fully and thereby become a "mighty warrior in the Lord"?
Recommended Reading: Judges 3:7-31; Philippians 4:13; Colossians 3:23-25


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