Saturday, August 20, 2011

Daily Devotional Saturday 20th August

“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:12 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"He shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord."
Micah 5:4

Christ's reign in his Church is that of a shepherd-king. He has supremacy, but it is the superiority of a wise and tender shepherd over his needy and loving flock; he commands and receives obedience, but it is the willing obedience of the well-cared-for sheep, rendered joyfully to their beloved Shepherd, whose voice they know so well. He rules by the force of love and the energy of goodness.

His reign is practical in its character. It is said, "He shall stand and feed." The great Head of the Church is actively engaged in providing for his people. He does not sit down upon the throne in empty state, or hold a sceptre without wielding it in government. No, he stands and feeds. The expression "feed," in the original, is like an analogous one in the Greek, which means to shepherdize, to do everything expected of a shepherd: to guide, to watch, to preserve, to restore, to tend, as well as to feed.

His reign is continual in its duration. It is said, "He shall stand and feed;" not "He shall feed now and then, and leave his position;" not, "He shall one day grant a revival, and then next day leave his Church to barrenness." His eyes never slumber, and his hands never rest; his heart never ceases to beat with love, and his shoulders are never weary of carrying his people's burdens.

His reign is effectually powerful in its action; "He shall feed in the strength of Jehovah." Wherever Christ is, there is God; and whatever Christ does is the act of the Most High. Oh! it is a joyful truth to consider that he who stands today representing the interests of his people is very God of very God, to whom every knee shall bow. Happy are we who belong to such a shepherd, whose humanity communes with us, and whose divinity protects us. Let us worship and bow down before him as the people of his pasture.

Evening

"Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength."
Psalm 31:4

Our spiritual foes are of the serpent's brood, and seek to ensnare us by subtlety. The prayer before us supposes the possibility of the believer being caught like a bird. So deftly does the fowler do his work, that simple ones are soon surrounded by the net. The text asks that even out of Satan's meshes the captive one may be delivered; this is a proper petition, and one which can be granted: from between the jaws of the lion, and out of the belly of hell, can eternal love rescue the saint. It may need a sharp pull to save a soul from the net of temptations, and a mighty pull to extricate a man from the snares of malicious cunning, but the Lord is equal to every emergency, and the most skilfully placed nets of the hunter shall never be able to hold his chosen ones. Woe unto those who are so clever at net laying; they who tempt others shall be destroyed themselves.

"For thou art my strength." What an inexpressible sweetness is to be found in these few words! How joyfully may we encounter toils, and how cheerfully may we endure sufferings, when we can lay hold upon celestial strength. Divine power will rend asunder all the toils of our enemies, confound their politics, and frustrate their knavish tricks; he is a happy man who has such matchless might engaged upon his side. Our own strength would be of little service when embarrassed in the nets of base cunning, but the Lord's strength is ever available; we have but to invoke it, and we shall find it near at hand. If by faith we are depending alone upon the strength of the mighty God of Israel, we may use our holy reliance as a plea in supplication.

"Lord, evermore thy face we seek:

Tempted we are, and poor, and weak;

Keep us with lowly hearts, and meek.

Let us not fall. Let us not fall."

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Today's reading: Psalm 103-104, 1 Corinthians 2 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Psalm 103-104

1 Praise the LORD, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

6 The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.

7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 1 Corinthians 2

1 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God's power.

God's Wisdom Revealed by the Spirit
6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God's wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory....

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Haman

[Hā'man] - well disposed. The son of Hammedatha, the chief minister of king Ahasuerus, who is called the Agagite because of his Amalekitish descent (Esther 3:1-5).

The Man Who Hated Jews

Haman, an oriental despot's favorite, had an innate passion for elevation. He never considered principle when seeking the king's honor. But Mordecai pricked Haman's bubble and would not bow to him. How could he honor an Amalekite whom God had cursed ( Exod. 17:14-16)! All of Haman's tragedy is condensed in the arrestive designation - he was the Jews'enemy. As the first great anti-semite, he came to prove that they who curse the Jews are cursed of God.

Haman, the vain and fussy courtier, the vulgar and unwise upstart, the cruel enemy of the Jews, the villain of the plot, is a name still hated by the Jews. Long ago at The Feast of Purim , it was customary to hang an effigy of Haman; but as the gibbet was sometimes made in the form of a cross, riots between Jews and Christians were the result, and a warning against insults to the Christian faith was issued by the Emporer Theodosius II. The Jews, however, in The Feast of Purim still celebrate their victory from annihilation by Haman.

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August 19, 2011

Are You Free?

Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV)

Friend To Friend

I've loved God since I was just a kid. I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior in Mr. Dunn's Sunday school class when I was just nine years old. As a teenager, I served God and grew in faith. I said "no" to the crowd and "yes" to the cross. I was a girl with convictions, a girl of strong disciplines, and a girl of high moral standards who walked the straight and narrow. Then...I went away to college and entered a veiled season of compromise.

I never meant to stray from my values. It was a new chapter in my life, and I naively thought I could handle it on my own. My rebellion was a subtle, gradual thing. I was still the same Gwen, just a compromised version of me.

During that time, secrets and compromise became comfortable to me. I wore them like a pair of faded jeans. My friends considered me to be a good Christian girl, and I wasn't about to burst their bubble with the truth that I was sliding into sinful ways. Oh, how my plastic smile served me well in those days! I could turn on the fake charm like water from a faucet.

Eventually, the compromises and choices that I'd made caught up with me and resulted in great brokenness. I couldn't reconcile what I had done with who I was, or with who I was supposed to be. My heart was broken. I felt hopeless and was horribly ashamed.

The dark days turned into weeks, which turned into months. All the while, the voice of the Accuser screamed loudly in my head. "You've messed up too much this time! You're not a Christian. God would never want someone like you. He can't forgive what you've done!" At the same time, the Holy Spirit whispered to my soul, "You are God's daughter. He's waiting for you to come home. Turn back! He loves you! Call on Jesus. Confess your sins. Forgiveness and grace await."

God chased me with His love. He caught me when I wept bitterly at His feet in raw repentance and collapsed into arms of mercy. Then, as the psalmist experienced, "He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God." (Psalm 40:2-3) Although I didn't deserve His mercy, Jesus forgave me. My forgiveness was immediate and complete, but the healing took time. And He sure did give me a new song.

I've been forgiven and transformed by the unconditional love of God. I was dead in my sins, but am now alive in Christ! I am free and it is my privilege to encourage you toward that same freedom in Christ.

Are you free? Free of guilt? Free of shame? Free from past mistakes?

Jesus came that we would have life abundantly. (John 10:10) Not because of anything that we've done to deserve it, but because of what He has done. His grace is sufficient. The guilt, pain, and shame of our past tell us that we are disqualified to move on, to serve God, to be free, and to know peace. But to believe this lie is to believe that your sin is outside the scope of God's grace. Nothing could be further from the truth. You have purpose in this life. And though you may have gone through a season of hurt, rejection, or pain, God can and will pick you up and place you back on track. I'm living proof!

"Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame." Psalm 34:5

There is no condemnation for those in Christ. While the enemy loves to cast false guilt, our Lord loves to extend grace and forgiveness, which is the remedy that restores all your broken pieces. He longs for you to experience His freedom today. Don't hold onto those pieces of brokenness. Don't hide them behind a plastic smile. Bring them into the light, lay them at the feet of Jesus, and let go. God delights in transforming lives ... even your own.

Let's Pray

Holy Father, today I come to You with the broken pieces in my life that I have been hesitant to deal with. Take my hand and lead as I walk past my fears and doubts to the refuge of Your forgiving arms. Please take what is broken and transform it into beautiful. Please free me from lies that shackle. Help me to trust that You can redeem and restore every area of my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Now It's Your Turn

I co-wrote a song called "Broken Into Beautiful" that ultimately is my testimony in a song. Please take a moment right now to watch the music video to "Broken into Beautiful" that is posted on my Facebook page and allow it to minister to your heart and spur you on toward His: www.facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic.

The Bible assures us that our hope has never been about what we have done; it has always been about what Christ has done! "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) Take a few moments right now to thank God for sending Jesus to reconcile your heart to His.

More From The Girlfriends

Friend, I know that when we talk about hurts and secrets of our pasts, fresh wounds can surface ...especially if the pain and shame has not been dealt with. I also know that the burden of carrying old wounds is a very heavy load. I've been there. Sharon and Mary have, too. Allow today to become your personal "freedom day" by taking your troubles to the heart of God in prayer. He loves you perfectly and completely...no matter what. Forgiveness awaits you. Freedom awaits you! Go now.

Today's devotion is an excerpt from Gwen's book Broken Into Beautiful. To order Broken Into Beautiful, go to Amazon or, for a signed copy, visit Gwen's website: www.gwensmith.net.

Gwen's song "Broken Into Beautiful" is featured on both herBecause CD and her Unsearchable Live CD. Both can be ordered from her website or downloaded from iTunes.

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
Tracie Miles

August 19, 2011

I Fully Intended To...
Tracie Miles

"However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."Ephesians 5:33 (NIV)

When I married my husband over twenty years ago, I fully intended to unconditionally love, respect and admire him. I had great intentions of being the perfect wife, offering kind words, a romantic kiss and dinner on the table every evening.

But then careers took off, bills increased, children were born, laundry piles grew, and life became chaotic. Along the way I subconsciously created a measuring stick of expectations for whether my husband actually deserved my love and respect.

When marriage doesn't meet those unrealistic expectations we had before the wedding, and real life kicks in, it's easy to fall into the habit of tearing down our husbands and our marriages as well.

In fact, the longer couples are together, the easier it is to not only see each other's flaws, but to mercilessly criticize them. This eventually leads to short tempers, less tolerance, minimal patience, and a lack of marital bliss.

As a result, those gifts of unconditional love, respect and admiration that we fully intended to offer become gifts we are not so willing to give.

A few years ago I picked up a book for wives written by my friend and author Rick Johnson. I was hoping to rekindle some passion in my marriage. Little did I know, God would use truths shared in that book to get my attention and help me make some inward changes.

As I read, God convicted my heart about things I had said to my husband just days earlier. I recalled critical comments that rolled off my tongue so easily, which I now regretted deeply. Although I had fully intended to be my husband's biggest encourager, I had become one of his worst critics.

Over time, God helped me see the powerful influence I have on my husband and my marriage when I choose words that build up. Words that encourage instead of discourage.

As women, we have the power to build up or tear down our husbands every day, merely by the respect we give and the amount of faith we let him know we have in him.

Respect and admiration are two of the most powerful tools a wife has to influence her husband. When I realized I had fallen short in giving those two precious gifts to my man, I asked God to help me control my tongue. I asked Him to fill my heart and mouth with words that would make my husband feel admired, respected and loved, regardless of whether I felt he deserved it.

I wanted His help following through on what I intended to do from the beginning, so I asked Him to convict my heart when critical thoughts crept into my mind, and help me avoid the temptation to say them out loud.

Within just a few weeks, I saw a change - in me, in my husband's demeanor, and in our relationship. A change that rekindled unconditional love, respect and admiration. A change that reflected what I set out to give him all along.

Through our words of respect, and admiration, we can help our husbands become the great men God created them to be, and in turn, have the marriages we fully intended to build.

Dear Lord, help me to tame my tongue and focus on building up my man. Help me break free of the habit to criticize, even when warranted. Open my eyes to the positive, not the negative. Draw us closer, and help us both nurture a strong and loving marriage. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Tracie's blog and sign up to receive her free e-book "14 Days to a Happier Marriage."

Taming Your Tongue by Deborah Smith Pegues

Capture His Heart by Lysa TerKeurst

What a Husband Needs from His Wife and/or What a Wife Needs from Her Husband by Melanie Chitwood

Application Steps:
Think about how important your husband's love is to you and consider how your respect means just as much to him.

If your marriage seems strained right now, think about conversations with your husband lately. Have your comments been encouraging and uplifting, or discouraging and destructive?

Reflections:
Am I in the habit of tearing down my husband? How can I make sure our daily conversations leave him feeling respected and admired?

Power Verses:
Genesis 2:24, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." (NIV)

1 Corinthians 13:2-7, "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (ESV)

James 3:5b-6a, "Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body." (NIV)

© 2011 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

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