Friday, August 05, 2011

Daily Devotional Friday 5th August

““This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it—the LORD is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’”Jeremiah 33:2-3 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"The people that do know their God shall be strong."
Daniel 11:32

Every believer understands that to know God is the highest and best form of knowledge; and this spiritual knowledge is a source of strength to the Christian. It strengthens his faith. Believers are constantly spoken of in the Scriptures as being persons who are enlightened and taught of the Lord; they are said to "have an unction from the Holy One," and it is the Spirit's peculiar office to lead them into all truth, and all this for the increase and the fostering of their faith. Knowledge strengthens love, as well as faith. Knowledge opens the door, and then through that door we see our Saviour. Or, to use another similitude, knowledge paints the portrait of Jesus, and when we see that portrait then we love him, we cannot love a Christ whom we do not know, at least, in some degree. If we know but little of the excellences of Jesus, what he has done for us, and what he is doing now, we cannot love him much; but the more we know him, the more we shall love him. Knowledge also strengthens hope. How can we hope for a thing if we do not know of its existence? Hope may be the telescope, but till we receive instruction, our ignorance stands in the front of the glass, and we can see nothing whatever; knowledge removes the interposing object, and when we look through the bright optic glass we discern the glory to be revealed, and anticipate it with joyous confidence. Knowledge supplies us reasons for patience. How shall we have patience unless we know something of the sympathy of Christ, and understand the good which is to come out of the correction which our heavenly Father sends us? Nor is there one single grace of the Christian which, under God, will not be fostered and brought to perfection by holy knowledge. How important, then, is it that we should grow not only in grace, but in the "knowledge" of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Evening

"I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands."
Haggai 2:17

How destructive is the hail to the standing crops, beating out the precious grain upon the ground! How grateful ought we to be when the corn is spared so terrible a ruin! Let us offer unto the Lord thanksgiving. Even more to be dreaded are those mysterious destroyers--smut, bunt, rust, and mildew. These turn the ear into a mass of soot, or render it putrid, or dry up the grain, and all in a manner so beyond all human control that the farmer is compelled to cry, "This is the finger of God." Innumerable minute fungi cause the mischief, and were it not for the goodness of God, the rider on the black horse would soon scatter famine over the land. Infinite mercy spares the food of men, but in view of the active agents which are ready to destroy the harvest, right wisely are we taught to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." The curse is abroad; we have constant need of the blessing. When blight and mildew come they are chastisements from heaven, and men must learn to bear the rod, and him that hath appointed it.

Spiritually, mildew is no uncommon evil. When our work is most promising this blight appears. We hoped for many conversions, and lo! a general apathy, an abounding worldliness, or a cruel hardness of heart! There may be no open sin in those for whom we are labouring, but there is a deficiency of sincerity and decision sadly disappointing our desires. We learn from this our dependence upon the Lord, and the need of prayer that no blight may fall upon our work. Spiritual pride or sloth will soon bring upon us the dreadful evil, and only the Lord of the harvest can remove it. Mildew may even attack our own hearts, and shrivel our prayers and religious exercises. May it please the great Husbandman to avert so serious a calamity. Shine, blessed Sun of Righteousness, and drive the blights away.

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Today's reading: Psalm 66-67, Romans 7 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Psalm 66-67

For the director of music. A song. A psalm.

1
Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
2 Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious.
3 Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power
that your enemies cringe before you.
4 All the earth bows down to you;
they sing praise to you,
they sing the praises of your name."

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Romans 7

Released From the Law, Bound to Christ

1 Do you not know, brothers and sisters-for I am speaking to those who know the law-that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? 2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. 3 So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man.

4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5 For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code....

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Uriah, Urijah, Urias

[Ūrī'ah,U rī'jah, U rī'as] - jehovah is light.

  1. A high priest in Jerusalem, who built an altar according to the pattern provided by King Ahaz (2 Kings 16:10-16).
  2. A priest, father of Meremoth, who helped rebuild the wall of Jerusalem (Ezra 8:33; Neh. 3:4, 21).
  3. A priest who stood with Ezra as he read the law and addressed the people (Neh. 8:4).
  4. A priest whom Isaiah deemed worthy to act as a witness. He is described as "a faithful witness" (Isa. 8:2). See Revelation 1:4; 2:13.
  5. A prophet, the son of Shemaiah of Kirjath-jearim, whom Jehoiakin sent for into Egypt and slew him (Jer. 26:20-23).
  6. Uriah, or Urias (Matt. 1:6) was also the name of the Hittite, husband of Bath-sheba, and one of David's thirty heroes ( 2 Sam. 11; 12:9-15; 23:39; 1 Kings 15:5; 1 Chron. 11:41).

As David's general, Uriah distinguished himself by his loyalty and bravery in the army of the king. Alas, Uriah was barbarously, even murderously treated by the monarch he served! Failing to use Uriah as a shield for his sin against Uriah and Bath-sheba his wife, David had him killed in battle.

Thomas Goodwin points out that it was the "matter of Uriah," even more than the matter of Bath-sheba, that awakened the anger of the Lord against David. That is to say, it was David's sin of deliberation and determination, rather than his sin of sudden and intoxicating passion. But both sins matter and earn the judgment of God. Uriah had every right to disobey David in his deceitful commands. Through Nathan, the adulterer and murderer was brought back to God and wrote his confession in a penitential psalm (Ps. 51).

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Nothing but a Number

Read Joshua 13:1-7

Japanese mountain climber Yuichiro Miura reached the summit of Mount Everest at age 70. George Brunstad was also 70 when he swam the English Channel. Naval officer Grace Hopper became the first female rear admiral of the United States Navy when she was 79. Margaret Haggerty completed her quest to run a marathon on each of the seven continents when she was 84.

If stories like these teach us anything, it's that senior adults are capable of amazing things.

That was certainly true of Joshua. Even though he was probably nearing the century mark, God had a plan for him. Age didn't matter to God. Rather than telling Joshua to rest, retire or step aside for a younger replacement, God instructed him to get to work.

Perhaps we should take a cue from God in our attitude toward older adults. From an early age most of us were taught to respect our elders. However, too often we confuse politeness for respect. What's the difference? Politeness might include offering a hand to senior adults when they struggle with steps or making awkward small talk with aging relatives at family gatherings. Respect, however, would include realizing that with their years of challenges and experiences these adults are a rich, God-given resource.

In this age of politically correct labels, perhaps a better name for senior citizens is "ultra-experienced adults." God entrusted Joshua with an important duty a quarter century after Joshua reached retirement age because of his vast military experience and knowledge.

Think of the older adults you know. How does God want to use them in your life? What experiences of theirs might benefit you? What life lessons have they learned that might keep you from making a bad decision? And what might you be able to learn from hearing their stories and asking for their advice?

To Take Away

  • How would you describe your attitude toward senior adults?
  • Think of two or three seniors you know. What might getting to know them better add to your life?
  • What steps can you take this week to build a mutually beneficial relationship with an older adult?
Recommended Reading: Genesis 6:5-9:17 (especially 7:6); Luke 2:36-38


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August 4, 2011

Party On!

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over (Psalm 23:5, NKJV).

Friend To Friend

Many life battles are lost because our confidence and faith in God are eroded under the persistent battering of daily stressful situations. We often fail to recognize and embrace the truth that God defines and refines us through each battle in life. If the battle truly belongs to God, we win! We win before the first shot is fired. We win before one step of the battle plan is taken.

I would naturally assume that a victory banquet would be heldafter the victory was won. However, the Hebrew people blew that idea right out of the water when they held victory banquets before the battle even began. If I had been there, I would have surmised that the Hebrews were either ridiculously arrogant or people of great faith. The truth is that there was an anointing on their lives, a sign of being chosen by God. And because they were a chosen people, their faith grew strong and freed them to stand on the undeniable truth that they could count on their God. Celebrating the battle's outcome was simply a matter of celebrating God, acknowledging His power on their lives, and walking by faith in the victory provided before the battle was even fought.

We, too, are a chosen people, created by the hand of God. We can sit down at the table of victory every moment of every day because no matter what happens, if God is for us - we win! The battle really is for our good.

I believe our faith is measured by how we handle each battle that comes our way. It may be a skirmish to carry out God's holy vision, a war against those who seek to undermine God's calling, or the age-old conflict of good versus evil. The battlefield is not nearly as important as our choice to align ourselves with God's plan and step out in faith of the battle already won - which brings us to the powerful stress-buster of praise.

My friend, Michelle, is the consummate hostess. She makes entertaining look so easy. To her, a dinner party for 50 guests is a simple feat. Just shoot me now! One of her favorite preparations is the dinner table. When I'm expecting company, the first guests to arrive often have the honor of setting the table with whatever they can find in the way of tablecloths, silverware, glasses, and...you get the idea. Not Michelle. I've seen her table completely and beautifully arranged days before the anticipated dinner party or holiday meal. When I asked her why she went to such elaborate lengths her answer made me stop and think: "It is part of the celebration for me. I love having the table set early because every time I walk past it, I think of the people who will sit in those chairs and pray for them. I think of their favorite dishes and look forward to preparing each one. I guess you could say that I enjoy the party long before it begins." That is the idea behind praise.

We can praise God for what He will do long before He does it. We can prepare a victory table before the battle begins, knowing that the battle belongs to our God. And don't you know that a pre-battle victory party irritates the fire out of the enemy? I love that!

It is said that in Africa a tree produces the "taste berry," a unique fruit that literally alters taste buds so that everything that's eaten after eating the berry tastes good and sweet. Praise is the "taste berry" of the Christian's life. When our hearts are filled with praise, when we choose to praise God, no matter what, stress fades into the background of a battle won before it begins, life is sweet, and all is good. Party on, girlfriend!

Let's Pray

Father, I come to You today, praising You for Your presence in my life. Right now, I celebrate the victory You have already won in every battle I am facing. I choose against my human fear and tendency to demand proof of Your presence in my life and Your power at work. I am stepping out in faith and praising You for who You are.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

What battle are you facing in your life today? Set aside time to spend with God, praising Him for the victory He promises. Share that promised victory with at least one girlfriend today. Don't wait until you feel like it. Step out in faith and praise Him!

Read Psalm 100:4-5 (NLT). "Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation."

Now write those verses in your own words and make them your own prayer of praise to your God. (For example: "I will enter Your gates with thanksgiving, Lord. I will go into Your courts with praise...")

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P31Header
Lysa TerKeurst

August 4, 2011

The Moment
Lysa TerKeurst

"And now I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol."1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:1 (NIV)

So familiar can some of our relationships be, we forget. We rush. We assume. We feel like we have forever.

And feeling like we have forever cheapens the right now feelings.

Each morning I have a routine with my man. It's simple. Nothing profound. Nothing for which we'd ever stop and snap a picture.

It's just a moment.

He asks me to help him pick a tie. He then goes away to fuss with this fixture of his professional job. Soon, he returns with a flipped up collar and a pressed down, knotted tie. He needs gentle hands to fold the collar over. No, he doesn't need. He wants gentle hands to fold the collar over.

And I do.

It's just a moment.

But it's a moment we follow the excellent way mentioned in the verses above. And in the intersection of this moment we're establishing once again, "I love you. I love you too."

Now, please don't get an overly idyllic picture in your head of our marriage. Heavens, no. We have plenty of those "growth opportunity" moments too.

But this moment with the tie, it's like a spot of glue ever tightening the bond between us day by day. It's so simple and yet something I would miss with the deepest ache imaginable if today was the last of the moments.

If today.

Tears slip as I think about this. Dear God, help me think about this. Let me snap a hundred of these moments with the lens of my heart to be stored and appreciated and thought of as the great treasure they are.

Let my mind park there.

Let my heart relish there.

Let my mouth dare to whisper what a joy this is. "I love you. I love us. I love this moment each day."

No, our relationship isn't perfect. No relationship is perfect. We're two very strong willed people with vastly different approaches to life. And oh how easy it would be to list out all the differences. He likes the towel hanging in the same spot. I am more creative. But I stop the list here.

I stop because great love isn't two people finding the perfect match in one another.

Great love is two people making the choice to be a match.

A decision.

To fold his collar and snap the heart lens and find myself grateful to the point of tears.

Tears of relishing today are so much better than tears of what was missed.

It's just a moment.

Or is it?

Dear Lord, help me to appreciate each moment given to me. I want to park my mind on my daily moments I so often take for granted. Thank you for this joy so simple but so sweet. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
If you enjoy Lysa's devotions, you can sign up to receive daily notes of encouragement from her by clicking here. Just fill in your email address in the blue box on the right side of your screen.

Want more simple tips to improve your marriage? You'll want to read the marriage books Lysa has written -Capture His Heart (for wives to read) and Capture Her Heart (for husbands to read).

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:
What are your 'if today' moments? Discuss them with your spouse, family, and friends, and relish these occasions together.

Reflections:
Dear God, help me think about the teachings in this devotion. Let me snap a hundred of my moments with the lens of my heart to be stored and appreciated and thought of as the great treasure they are. Great love is two people making the choice to be a match.

Power Verses:
1 Peter 4:8, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." (NIV)

Hebrews 13:4a, "Marriage should be honored by all..." (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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