Thursday, August 18, 2011

Daily Devotional Thursday 18th August

“But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” 2 Corinthians 10:17-18 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"The mercy of God."
Psalm 52:8

Meditate a little on this mercy of the Lord. It is tender mercy. With gentle, loving touch, he healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He is as gracious in the manner of his mercy as in the matter of it. It is great mercy. There is nothing little in God; his mercy is like himself--it is infinite. You cannot measure it. His mercy is so great that it forgives great sins to great sinners, after great lengths of time, and then gives great favours and great privileges, and raises us up to great enjoyments in the great heaven of the great God. It is undeserved mercy, as indeed all true mercy must be, for deserved mercy is only a misnomer for justice. There was no right on the sinner's part to the kind consideration of the Most High; had the rebel been doomed at once to eternal fire he would have richly merited the doom, and if delivered from wrath, sovereign love alone has found a cause, for there was none in the sinner himself. It is rich mercy. Some things are great, but have little efficacy in them, but this mercy is a cordial to your drooping spirits; a golden ointment to your bleeding wounds; a heavenly bandage to your broken bones; a royal chariot for your weary feet; a bosom of love for your trembling heart. It is manifold mercy. As Bunyan says, "All the flowers in God's garden are double." There is no single mercy. You may think you have but one mercy, but you shall find it to be a whole cluster of mercies. It is abounding mercy. Millions have received it, yet far from its being exhausted; it is as fresh, as full, and as free as ever. It is unfailing mercy. It will never leave thee. If mercy be thy friend, mercy will be with thee in temptation to keep thee from yielding; with thee in trouble to prevent thee from sinking; with thee living to be the light and life of thy countenance; and with thee dying to be the joy of thy soul when earthly comfort is ebbing fast.

Evening

"This sickness is not unto death."
John 11:4

From our Lord's words we learn that there is a limit to sickness. Here is an "unto" within which its ultimate end is restrained, and beyond which it cannot go. Lazarus might pass through death, but death was not to be the ultimatum of his sickness. In all sickness, the Lord saith to the waves of pain, "Hitherto shall ye go, but no further." His fixed purpose is not the destruction, but the instruction of his people. Wisdom hangs up the thermometer at the furnace mouth, and regulates the heat.

1. The limit is encouragingly comprehensive. The God of providence has limited the time, manner, intensity, repetition, and effects of all our sicknesses; each throb is decreed, each sleepless hour predestinated, each relapse ordained, each depression of spirit foreknown, and each sanctifying result eternally purposed. Nothing great or small escapes the ordaining hand of him who numbers the hairs of our head.

2. This limit is wisely adjusted to our strength, to the end designed, and to the grace apportioned. Affliction comes not at haphazard--the weight of every stroke of the rod is accurately measured. He who made no mistakes in balancing the clouds and meting out the heavens, commits no errors in measuring out the ingredients which compose the medicine of souls. We cannot suffer too much nor be relieved too late.

3. The limit is tenderly appointed. The knife of the heavenly Surgeon never cuts deeper than is absolutely necessary. "He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." A mother's heart cries, "Spare my child;" but no mother is more compassionate than our gracious God. When we consider how hard-mouthed we are, it is a wonder that we are not driven with a sharper bit. The thought is full of consolation, that he who has fixed the bounds of our habitation, has also fixed the bounds of our tribulation.

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Today's reading: Psalm 97-99, Romans 16 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Psalm 97-99

1 The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.
2 Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
3 Fire goes before him
and consumes his foes on every side.
4 His lightning lights up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
5 The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the Lord of all the earth.
6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
and all peoples see his glory.

7 All who worship images are put to shame,
those who boast in idols-
worship him, all you gods!

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Romans 16

Personal Greetings

1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. 2 I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.

3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. 4They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.

5 Greet also the church that meets at their house.

Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.

6 Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you.

7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was....

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Kish, Cis

[Kĭsh,Cĭs] - power or straw.

  1. A. Benjamite, a son of Abiel and father of Saul, Israel's first king (1 Sam. 9:1, 3; 10:11, 21). Called Cis in Acts 13:21.
  2. Son of Abi-gibeon, a Benjamite (1 Chron. 8:30; 9:36).
  3. A Levite in David's time, of the family of Merari and the house of Mahli ( 1 Chron. 23:21, 22; 24:29).
  4. A Levite and a Merarite who assisted in the cleansing of the Temple in Hezekiah's time (2 Chron. 29:12).
  5. A Benjamite, ancestor of Mordecai, the cousin of Queen Esther (Esther 2:5).
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August 17, 2011

Taming the Tongue

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV).

Friend To Friend

Martha is a sweet older woman who is in the intermediate stages of Alzheimer's disease. Perhaps one of the most radical changes in her behavior, besides memory loss, is her inability to control her tongue. Martha has always used her words in a positive way, but in these latter years, her words have become unrestrained. Her ability to keep unkind or hurtful words from escaping her lips is impaired. She can't help it. It is part of the disease that is ravaging her mind. But watching my dear friend has helped me realized the importance of restraining our tongues. It is a sign of physical, spiritual, and emotional health.

When I was young, I loved reading the story of the stately steed, Black Beauty. In my early teens, I enjoyed visiting my friend Cammie and riding horses on her parents' dairy farm. We often clicked our heels and raced through the fields with reckless abandonment.

The horse is a powerful animal, yet with the tug of the reins or the tap of a heel, he will submit to his master's bidding. On the other hand, a wild stallion that has not been brought under the control of a master is of very little use.

In the Bible, we are instructed to have a spirit of gentleness which tempers the words we speak (Galatians 5:23). The Greek word for gentleness is prautes, and suggests a wild horse that has been tamed. Unfortunately, in our modern society, the word gentleness connotes being weak. However, the Greek word means anything but weak. Picture a muscular steed, proudly holding his head, poised to move with speed and power, nostrils flaring, but at the same time, under his master's control. It is the picture of a warhorse under the control of its master. That is a true picture of prautes - gentleness.

The same word, prautes, is translated "meek" in the King James Version. When Jesus said He was "meek and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29), He was saying He was submitted to God - mightily powerful but under God's control. Only when we submit our tongues to God will we have the ability to use our words for good. Meekness isn't weakness; it's power under control. It is taming and training our tongues to be under the submission and control of the Holy Spirit.

Let me give you an example. Oh, I hate to admit this, but I fear many sisters will relate - the dents in my armor attest to it.

Before I became a Christian, I was very "gifted" with a quick sarcastic wit. Have you ever been in an argument and two hours later thought of a great comeback or slam remark? Not me. I could think of them on the spot. I was good - so good. Why, I could have opened up a side business feeding disgruntled wives, employees and friends quick comebacks through earphones during confrontations. However, after I accepted Christ as my Savior, it didn't take the Holy Spirit long to convict me that my tongue was not glorifying God. Sure, it brought some laughs, but Jesus wasn't smiling. So I began the arduous task of taming the tongue.

I memorized Job 40:4, "I put my hand over my mouth" and bit my tongue. It was hard letting all those good sarcastic comments go to waste, but I knew they were only fit for the garbage heap.

That was over thirty years ago. On many occasions, when someone is telling me about a confrontation with a family member or a co-worker, those quick witted remarks still pop up in my mind like a cue card on the stage. When a store clerk offers a snide remark, I can usually think of one snider. So where's the victory? The victory comes when I choose not to let the words out of my mouth. When I lasso the words before they have a chance to run out of the gate. When I offer blessings rather than cursing. When I put on the humility of Christ and take the comments without the retaliation. That, my friend, is choosing to walk in the Spirit instead of choosing to walk in the flesh. It can only happen by the power of the Holy Spirit, and it becomes easier with practice.

Let's Pray

Heavenly Father, I pray that the fruit of the Spirit will grow in my life today. I pray that the evidence of that fruit in my life will be in the words I speak to others. Help my fruit to be sweet today. Show me where I need to clip off unproductive branches that hinder healthy growth.

In Jesus' Name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

OK, girlfriend, I was honest with you today. Are you willing to be honest with someone about an area that you need to change? Accountability is a powerful tool for change. If there is an area in your life that God has convicted you need to change, tell a girlfriend and ask her to hold you accountable. Ask her to pray with you about the desire to change and invite her to ask you about your progress. That's what girlfriends in God are for!

I love hearing from my GiGs. If you would like to comment on today's devotion, visit www.sharonjaynes.com/blog .

More From The Girlfriends

Today's devotion is taken from Sharon's book, The Power of a Woman's Word. In this book, you can explore the power you possess, the people you impact, the potential for change, and the profound possibilities. As you harness this mighty force, you will begin to use words to speak life to those around you. This book also has a companion Bible study guide. Get one for yourself, or gather a group of girlfriends to learn and grow together.

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
Melissa Taylor

August 17, 2011

Is God Enough?
Melissa Taylor

"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19 (NIV 1984)

Is God enough? It's a question that my circumstances bring me back to quite often. Over a lifetime I've concluded not only is God enough, but He has to be enough.

It takes effort on my part to make sure my heart is staying in this truth.

As a young child, I didn't realize my need for God, but I did realize I had a need that was not fulfilled. I was sexually abused when I was seven years old. My dad left our family when I was eleven. Both circumstances left me devastated, and I didn't understand how God could bring healing at that time. I spent many years trying to heal myself and make myself feel better.

Nothing was enough to meet my needs. Nothing worked.

As I grew older, I moved from being a Christian who simply believed to becoming a Christian actively seeking and following Jesus. And my life began to change.

Because I was having direct conversations with God and consistently reading His Word, I was challenged. I learned that when the hard knocks came, and they would, I needed to ask one question in order to move on: "Is God enough?"

When a friend betrays me, is God enough?

When I need to forgive what seems unforgivable, is God enough?

When my child has issues out of my control, is God enough?

When my marriage is on the brink of destruction, is God enough?

When I am not forgiven by another, is God enough?

When my mom is dying of cancer, is God enough?

When others don't recognize my value, is God enough?

When I struggle professionally, is God enough?

When someone I love uses words to hurt me, is God enough?

When I am in debt and don't know how I'll pay my bills, is God enough?

When my past haunts me, is God enough?

When my health declines, is God enough?

When I am let down and disappointed in my life, is God enough?

The last time I asked "Is God enough?" I opened a box of personalized Bible verses someone very special had given me. Reading verse by verse out loud silenced the thoughts paralyzing me with self-doubt.

I discovered the answer I always came to when I asked "Is God enough?" Yes He is.

Nothing here on earth is guaranteed. If I lost everything, I'd be okay because no one can take away my Jesus. Whether I live in a mansion on a hill or a shack in the swamp, I have my Jesus. Whether the world is for me or against me, I have my Jesus. When I am knocked down, I get on my knees and find my Jesus.

When life becomes more than you think you can handle, don't quit. And certainly don't believe the lie God is not enough. Instead, ask yourself, "Is God enough for me? Then plant His Word deep in your heart so you'll always have the ready answer, that yes He is. He is enough for me, for you: "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:19)

Dear Lord, help me to realize and remember the secret to being content in all circumstances is You. Help me to be aware of Your presence in my life at all times. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Melissa's blog to sign up for her free online Bible study! Join Melissa as she leads a community of online friends to learn how to stop doubting ourselves and start living in the security of God's promises based on Renee Swope's new book, A Confident Heart. All are invited!

Enter to win an autographed copy of A Confident Heart, by Renee Swope by clicking here to visit Melissa's blog

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

The Women's Devotional Bible

Application Steps:
Honestly assess if God is enough in your life. Do you find yourself needing or wanting more? Remind yourself that God knows you inside and out. He loves you no matter what and He always will.

Reflections:
What can I do today to remind myself that God is enough?

Is there a situation in my life that I need to turn over to the Lord?

Power Verses:
Psalm 33:4, "For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does." (NIV 1984)

Isaiah 46:3b-4, "You whom I have upheld since your were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." (NIV 1984)

© 2011 by Melissa Taylor. All rights reserved.

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

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Is a War Ever Holy?

Today's reading: Joshua 11

Why did God order a ruthless military campaign?

Joshua 11:6: The LORD said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them, slain, over to Israel."

Holy war. Ironically, the term applies to the most vicious, bloody wars. And often, far too often, Christians have been at the heart of such holy wars.

There is something irrational and even repulsive about a holy war. It harnesses all the best energies of religion for one of the ugliest acts of human nature. And yet anyone who reads the Bible cannot ignore the holy wars in the Old Testament.

Whole books have been written about the problem, and no brief article can begin to cover the issues. But modern readers need some background to help understand why a fierce holy war is presented in such a good light.

A Land Promised to the Israelites

The Israelites' fighting style fit the harsh pattern of warfare in that day. Contemporary Egyptian and Assyrian reports boasted of mass executions, torture and the systematic razing of cities. But God's involvement raises unique questions. He personally ordered the destruction of seven Canaanite nations, with no survivors. Why?

The Old Testament makes clear that the Canaanites were not being uprooted on a sudden whim. God had promised the land to the Israelites over 400 years before Joshua. He had called one man, Abraham, to found a nation of chosen people. He repeated those promises often (see Genesis 12:1-3; 15:5-18;17:2-8; 26:3,23-24; 28:13-14) and finally called the Israelites out of Egypt to take over the promised land. Almost from the beginning Canaan was a vital part of God's plan.

Delayed Punishment

Israel's inheritance, however, meant kicking out the Canaanites. How could innocent people simply be pushed aside, or killed? In answer to this question, the Bible makes clear that the Canaanites were not "innocent." Through their long history of sin, they had forfeited their right to the land.

Four hundred years before Joshua, God had told Abraham that his descendants would not occupy the land until the sin of its inhabitants had "reached its full measure" (Genesis 15:16). Later, just days before the onset of Joshua's campaign, Moses stated, "It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the LORD your God will drive them out before you" (Deuteronomy 9:5).

Historians have uncovered plenty of evidence of this wickedness. Canaanite temples featured prostitutes, orgies and human sacrifice. Relics and plaques of exaggerated sex organs hint at the immorality that characterized Canaan.

Canaanite gods, such as Baal and his wife Anath, delighted in butchery and sadism. Archaeologists have found great numbers of jars containing the tiny bones of children sacrificed to Baal. Families seeking good luck in a new home practiced "foundation sacrifice." They would kill one of their children and seal the body in the mortar of the wall. In many ways, Canaan had become like Sodom and Gomorrah. The Bible records that God has patience with decadent societies for a time, but judgment inevitably follows. For Sodom and Gomorrah it took the form of fire and brimstone. For Canaan it came through Joshua's conquering armies. Later, God let his own chosen people be ravaged by invaders as punishment for their sins. The judgment pronounced on Canaan seems severe, but no more severe than what was later inflicted on Israel itself.

The Contamination Problem

The Israelites could not simply settle down as new neighbors among existing Canaanite cities. From the time when the tribes had made a golden calf while Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 32), Israelites had shown a fatal weakness to infection from outside. They seemed particularly susceptible to sins of sex and idolatry, Canaan's national specialties.

Israel's later history offers a negative proof of why God commanded utter destruction of the Canaanites. The damning phrase in Joshua, "the Israelites did not drive out the people," (Joshua 13:13) hints at trouble to come, and the very next book, Judges, tells of the devastating results. The Israelites slid to one of their lowest levels because they had not fulfilled the original mission of cleansing the land of impure elements.

A Struggle Beyond Nations

Looking back at this period of time, we tend to see the battles of Joshua as national or racial struggles: he Israelites versus the people of Canaan. But the Bible presents the warfare as a wider struggle: one between those who followed God and those who opposed him.

When God judged groups, as he judged the world's inhabitants in Noah's day or those of Sodom and Gomorrah, those few who remained faithful to him found a way of escape. And in Joshua one bright story shines out: the story of Rahab, a non-Israelite. A typical Canaanite who worked as a professional prostitute, she nevertheless learned to fear and then trust the God of Israel. She escaped the fall of Jericho. Furthermore, she went on to marry a leading Israelite and become one of the ancestors of the Messiah himself, Jesus. Rahab claimed that others in her city of Jericho had melted in fear for 40 years, waiting for the judgment of the God of Israel (see Joshua 2:9-11). Yet only she took the further step of seeking help. If others in Canaan had repented and turned to God, they might well have escaped punishment, as Rahab did.

Holy Wars Today

One fact about "holy war" is very clear. We cannot argue from a war specifically commanded by God in Joshua to any national situation today. In the Old Testament, God was dealing primarily with one particular nation, the Israelites, for a stated purpose. When the Messiah finally emerged out of that nation, everything changed.

Jesus' followers all lived in the same territory captured by Joshua, the "promised land." But four times, in his very last words, Jesus commanded his disciples to go out, away from Jerusalem, into all the world (see, for example, Matthew 28:19). Go, he told them, not as conquering armies but rather as bearers of the Good News that applies to all people, all races, all nations.

Anyone who looks to the book of Joshua for rationalization of a "holy war" must also look ahead to Jesus. Although on a holy crusade, he chose against violent means. In fact, he chose suffering and death. Nothing in the New Testament gives consolation to a religious warrior.

Life Question

What arguments have you heard Christians use for or against wars?

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