Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Daily Devotional Tuesday 2nd August

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:114 NIV
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Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening

Morning

"Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn."
Ruth 2:2

Downcast and troubled Christian, come and glean today in the broad field of promise. Here are abundance of precious promises, which exactly meet thy wants. Take this one: "He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax." Doth not that suit thy case? A reed, helpless, insignificant, and weak, a bruised reed, out of which no music can come; weaker than weakness itself; a reed, and that reed bruised, yet, he will not break thee; but on the contrary, will restore and strengthen thee. Thou art like the smoking flax: no light, no warmth, can come from thee; but he will not quench thee; he will blow with his sweet breath of mercy till he fans thee to a flame. Wouldst thou glean another ear? "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." What soft words! Thy heart is tender, and the Master knows it, and therefore he speaketh so gently to thee. Wilt thou not obey him, and come to him even now? Take another ear of corn: "Fear not, thou worm Jacob, I will help thee, saith the Lord and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel." How canst thou fear with such a wonderful assurance as this? Thou mayest gather ten thousand such golden ears as these! "I have blotted out thy sins like a cloud, and like a thick cloud thy transgressions." Or this, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Or this, "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come, and let him that is athirst come, and whosoever will let him take the water of life freely." Our Master's field is very rich; behold the handfuls. See, there they lie before thee, poor timid believer! Gather them up, make them thine own, for Jesus bids thee take them. Be not afraid, only believe! Grasp these sweet promises, thresh them out by meditation and feed on them with joy.

Evening

"Thou crownest the year with thy goodness."
Psalm 65:11

All the year round, every hour of every day, God is richly blessing us; both when we sleep and when we wake his mercy waits upon us. The sun may leave us a legacy of darkness, but our God never ceases to shine upon his children with beams of love. Like a river, his lovingkindness is always flowing, with a fulness inexhaustible as his own nature. Like the atmosphere which constantly surrounds the earth, and is always ready to support the life of man, the benevolence of God surrounds all his creatures; in it, as in their element, they live, and move, and have their being. Yet as the sun on summer days gladdens us with beams more warm and bright than at other times, and as rivers are at certain seasons swollen by the rain, and as the atmosphere itself is sometimes fraught with more fresh, more bracing, or more balmy influences than heretofore, so is it with the mercy of God; it hath its golden hours; its days of overflow, when the Lord magnifieth his grace before the sons of men. Amongst the blessings of the nether springs, the joyous days of harvest are a special season of excessive favour. It is the glory of autumn that the ripe gifts of providence are then abundantly bestowed; it is the mellow season of realization, whereas all before was but hope and expectation. Great is the joy of harvest. Happy are the reapers who fill their arms with the liberality of heaven. The Psalmist tells us that the harvest is the crowning of the year. Surely these crowning mercies call for crowning thanksgiving! Let us render it by the inward emotions of gratitude. Let our hearts be warmed; let our spirits remember, meditate, and think upon this goodness of the Lord. Then let us praise him with our lips, and laud and magnify his name from whose bounty all this goodness flows. Let us glorify God by yielding our gifts to his cause. A practical proof of our gratitude is a special thank-offering to the Lord of the harvest.

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Today's reading: Psalm 57-59, Romans 4 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Psalm 57-59

For the director of music. To the tune of "Do Not Destroy." Of David. A miktam. When he had fled from Saul into the cave.

1 Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.

2 I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who vindicates me.
3 He sends from heaven and saves me,
rebuking those who hotly pursue me-
God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Romans 4

Abraham Justified by Faith

1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about-but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."

4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

7 "Blessed are those
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
8 Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord will never count against them."

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Lydia

Anna

The Woman Who Became the First Christian Missionary

Scripture Reference - Luke 2:36-38

Name Meaning - Favor, or Grace. Anna is the same with Hannah of the Old Testament, and was the Phoenician name used by Virgil for the sister of Dido, queen of Carthage.

Family Connection - Anna was the daughter of Phanuel, a name identical with Penuel, and meaning, "The face, or appearance of God." The name of her husband who died young is not given. Like Anna, he, too, doubtlessly waited for the salvation of God. Her father was of the tribe of Asher - one of the so-called "lost tribes." This is all we know of the ancestry of Anna, who, although her biography is one of the briefest in Bible history, lived a life that is still fragrant. Her name is a popular one for girls. Elsdon C. Smith in The Story of Our Names says that there are over half-a-million girls and women in America alone who have the name of Anna.

In our exposition of this most renowned of Bible widows we deem it best to take her record as given by the beloved physician, Luke, who says of her that -

She Was a Prophetess

Jezebel, the self-styled and false prophetess is the only other one in the New Testament (Revelation 2:20) to bear this designation. Philip's four daughters also prophesied (Acts 21:9). The narrative does not tell us why she was known as a prophetess. It may be that her long departed husband had been a prophet, or because under divine inspiration she herself told future events, or spent her time celebrating the praises of God (1 Samuel 10:5; 1 Chronicles 25:1-3). To prophesy simply means to proclaim a divine message, and Anna was one to whom it was given to know events before and after, and one through whom God spoke to others. Anna must be included in that continuous line of prophets and prophetesses who had heralded the coming of the Messiah through succeeding generations. As she gazed upon the face of the Babe of Bethlehem Anna knew that the past predictions of Him were fulfilled. Through her long, godly life her mind had become saturated with Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of the seed of the woman to bruise the serpent's head. Waiting unceasingly for Christ she believed, along with Simeon, that Mary's first-born Son was indeed the rod out of the stem of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1; Micah 5:2).

She Was of a Great Age

Anna was married for only seven years, and remained a widow for eighty-four years. All of this means that she must have been over one hundred years old when her failing eyes beheld the Saviour she had longingly expected. She had grown old in the service of the sanctuary, and having seen, with Simeon, God's Salvation, was ready to depart in peace. How encouraging it is to meet those who through a long life have remained true to the Lord and whose gray hairs are honorable because of a life lived in the divine will, and who, when they pass away, are ready for glory.

She Was a Widow

Paul exhorted young Timothy to "honour widows who are widows indeed," and Anna, a worthy widow, all should certainly honor. In fact, we wonder if the Apostle had the aged Anna before his mind's eye when he gave Timothy this thought -

She that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplication and prayers night and day (1 Timothy 5:3, 5).

Anna was desolate, that is, alone, or solitary. A widow can know what it is to face a long, lonely and cheerless life, and a solitude made more acute because of the remembrance of happier days. But it was not so with Anna. When as a young, motherless wife, God withdrew from her the earthly love she rejoiced in, she did not bury her hope in a grave. In the place of what God took, He gave her more of Himself, and she became devoted to Him who had promised to be as a Husband to the widow, and through her long widowhood was unwearying in devotion to Him. She "trusted in God," and her hoary head was a crown of glory ( Proverbs 16:31). Repose of soul was hers for eighty-five years because the one thing she desired was to have God's house as her dwelling place all the days of her life.

She Departed Not From the Temple

When death ravaged her own home, Anna turned from all legitimate concerns to join the band of holy women who devoted themselves to continual attendance at the "night and day services of the Temple." She was no occasional attender or dead member, but a constant, devout worshiper. Her seat in the Temple was always occupied. What an inspiration worshipers of this sort are to a faithful pastor who feels he can minister more freely when they are present because of their prayer support! When their seat is empty in the church, he knows there must be something unusual accounting for their absence.

She Served God With Fastings and Prayers

Without doubt, Anna was one of God's own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, and who was heard in that she feared. It was not in some retired nook of the Temple she prayed, or in a corner where females only supplicated God. She would join with others openly in the presence of the congregation and pour out her soul audibly in the Temple. The One to whose birth she witnessed was to say that praying and fasting are necessary requisites in a God-used life, and Anna not only prayed but also fasted. She was willing to miss a meal in order to spend more time before God. Hers was a life of godly self-control. She had learned how to crucify the flesh in order to serve God more acceptably.

She Gave Thanks Likewise Unto the Lord

Anna's prayers were paired with praises. How arrestive is the phrase, "she coming in that instant." This was no mere coincidence. Through her long pilgrimage, day after day, she went to the Temple to pray for the coming of the Messiah, and although He seemed to tarry she waited for Him, believing that He would come. Then one day the miracle happened, for as she entered the Temple she heard sounds of exultation and joy proceeding from the inner court, and then from the lips of the venerable Simeon she heard the words, "Now, Lord, lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation." Gazing upon the Holy Child who was none other than her long-looked-for Messiah, Anna, too, was ready to depart in peace and be joined with her husband above.

She Spake of Him to All

Anna not only prayed and praised, but went out to proclaim the glad tidings to those who had shared her hope and faith. Note, again, the glimpse we have of Anna in her brief record. We see her, first of all, as -

A Daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher - a somewhat interesting fact seeing that she is the only one of note mentioned in the Bible of the tribe of Asher, even though the name means blessedness.

A Widow of a great age.

A Devout Worshiper of the living God.

A Prophetess proclaiming the prophetic word.

Now she assumes another role. Old though she is, she goes forth to become -

A Missionary . Anna was one of the godly remnant in Israel who, through centuries, even in the darkest days before Christ came, looked for the Dayspring from on high. Thus, as she heard Simeon's praise for prophecy fulfilled, she went out to her godly intimates to declare the glad tidings. Faith, through her long years of waiting, was rewarded and she became the first female herald of the Incarnation to all who looked for the Redeemer in Jerusalem. In Anna we have "a sample of an aged female's waiting faith, as Simeon is of an aged man's." Blessed are all those who patiently and prayerfully await Christ's second appearance ( Hebrews 9:28).

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Hophni

[Hŏph'nī] - strong. A son of Eli, the high priest and judge who proved unworthy of his sacred offices (1 Sam. 1:3; 2:34; 4:4, 11, 17). Hophni is always associated with his brother Phinehas. The two were partners in evil practices and brought a twice-pronounced curse upon their heads (1 Sam. 2:34; 3 ). Both were slain at the battle of Aphek, and this coupled with the loss of the Ark, caused the death of Eli. Both sons disgraced their priestly office in a twofold way:

I. In claiming and appropriating more than their due of the sacrifices (1 Sam. 2:13-17).

II. In their immoral actions in the Tabernacle (2:22; Amos 2:7, 8).

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August 1, 2011

Don't Do It

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

"Flee from sexual immorality...Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God. You are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body" (1 Corinthians 6:18,19-20 NIV).

Friend To Friend

Can I talk girlfriend to girlfriend for just a moment? It's about a very uncomfortable subject, and honestly, one most of us would rather pretend does not exist in "Christian circles." It's sexual sin.

In my last devotion, we stood road-side and looked at the story of the woman caught in adultery, and Jesus who set her free. Even though she wasn't behind prison bars, she was in bondage to a sinful lifestyle. Sexual sin is highly addictive and the search for love in all the wrong places, insatiable. It is a drink that never satisfies the soul and leaves the partaker only thirsty for more.

A woman is enticed by a syrupy word from a co-worker, an e-mail from an old boyfriend, an invitation on Facebook, or an alluring smile at a neighborhood gathering. Loneliness fills the room and passion comes knocking at the door. But when the smoke clears, loneliness returns with new hunger pangs laced with regret.

Sex outside of marriage can lead to many things: unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, divorce, mistrust, regret, shame, loss of family and a whole list of undesirable dominos that tumble in succession. But in Jesus' day, a woman caught in the act of adultery faced possible execution. In some parts of the world it is still enforced today. So why would the woman we meet in John Chapter 8 who was caught in the act of adultery take the risk? Was it worth it? No. The answer is always no.

There is no greater longing in the heart of a woman than to be loved, cherished, and cared for. It can cause the strongest to break a resolve and succumb to the tempter's lure. Adultery has been the cause for church leaders to crumble, ministries to meltdown, and families to falter. Sexual sin has caused the most sensible to act like a fool, the most moral to march into madness, the most devout to be devoured by desire. The desire to love and be loved can sometimes scream over the din of reason.

The yearning for love gnaws at the heart. And then the brush of a hand, the glimpse of the eyes, or the stirring of a comment blows on a spark and sets it ablaze. Loneliness echoes in the hollow soul just as passion comes scratching at the door. Never doubt this, my friend: Satan is an opportunist who takes advantage of the lonely heart (Luke 4:13).

To be loved is one of the strongest desires of the human heart. God planned it that way because He longs for us to have that longing filled by a relationship with Him. But so many settle for a sip from the rusty tin cup when God offers an everlasting stream.

A woman can risk it all for a few moments of passion. She can lie to herself that a sexual relationship or liaison is love. Then after the brief pleasure lies exposed by the morning sun, she realizes what felt like love was tainted with the poison of shame. It can happen. It does happen. It did happen to the woman standing before Jesus with an angry mob of rock holding Pharisees gathered around. It has happened to many women who e-mail me every day.

I sat in a movie theater with a friend who had succumbed to sexual temptation. She had lost her husband, her family, and many of her "friends." During a preview for another movie, the film showed a woman contemplating an affair with a suave Frenchman. Martha (not her real name) spoke a bit too loudly for the moviegoers sitting in the darkened theater. "Don't do it," she cried aloud. The words came out of her mouth before she could stop them. Martha was living the devastation of yielding to sexual temptation, and her audible cry was the overflow of her pain-filled heart.

Can I shout with Martha for just a moment? "Don't do it!"

I know this devotion is not for everybody. But if there is one woman out of the 200,000 or so that receive our Girlfriends in God devotions every day...just one woman who will turn away from the temptation that is knocking on her door today, then it is worth it.

Don't do it. Turn to God and allow Him to fill the emptiness in your heart today. He's waiting with open arms.

Let's Pray

Dear God, I pray that I will be alert to the devil's schemes today. Help me to see when and where he is tempting me to sin against You. Give me the strength to flee temptation and run straight into Your arms. I cannot do this on my own. I need the power of Your Holy Spirit to empower me to do what is right and good in Your sight. Thank You for being all that I need.

In Jesus' Name,

Amen

Now It's Your Turn

Have you been contemplating a sexual relationship outside of marriage? What is God telling you today?

Are you in a sexual relationship outside of marriage right now? What is God telling you today?

If neither one of these application questions apply to you, would you please join me in praying for our dear sisters who are fighting the temptation to enter into such a relationship or struggling to get out of one? Let's hit our knees for our girlfriends in God who desperately need our loving intercession.

If this devotion was for you, I'd love to pray for you. You can email me privately at Sharon@sharonajaynes.com. I may not be able to email everyone a response, but be assured, I will pray for you by name.

More From The Girlfriends

Check out Sharon's latest book: What God Really Thinks about Women: Finding Your Significance through the Women Jesus Encountered.We tend to read the gospels with our twenty-first century eyes. But when we understand how oppressive the culture Jesus stepped into was against women, we begin to understand just how radical Jesus' ministry, messages, and miracles were at setting women free. He risked His reputation to save theirs...and yours. To order this life-changing book, visit www.sharonjaynes.com. You'll fall in love with Jesus all over again.

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

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P31Header
Marybeth Whalen

August 1, 2011

Finish Like You Started
Marybeth Whalen

"Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?"Galatians 3:3 (NIV1984)

If you've ever felt God call you to something, you know the sheer excitement - and sheer terror - of stepping out in response to His call. You know what it means to walk in faith, to follow Him into the unknown. You know the huge spiritual growth that can take place when you say yes to Him and learn to trust Him implicitly.

Even though these "yes" times in our lives can be taxing and frightening, they can also be exhilarating. I've never felt closer to Him than when I've stepped out in faith and set my sights on a goal He has provided for me: a goal that is bigger than me, that is clearly God-designed.

And then time goes by. The first tremors of excitement fade into the daily monotony of continuing to walk forward, sometimes doing the smallest of tasks along the way. The big goal that seemed so paramount begins to shrink the closer we get to it. We feel our excitement give way to apathy.

And, too often, we get out of step with the Spirit and start trying to do things ourselves.

The less afraid we are, the more we try to do things on our own. We start feeling capable - and our capability makes us less reliant on the very One who called us.

When I read today's key verse I literally gasped in conviction. My answer to both of the questions Paul was asking was yes. I was being foolish. I was trying to attain my goals by human effort.

What had happened to that daily reliance, that absolute need for God to work through me? I realized I had become stronger, more confident, and less needy. My flesh had taken over and all but silenced the Spirit within me.

Maybe you've found yourself in a situation where - somehow - you've taken over. Your capability has made you complacent like mine did.

I don't ever want to be complacent. I want to stoke the fire, stay on the edge, be ever-mindful of my own inadequacy in whatever place God has me.

After I read Galatians 3:3, I wrote it down on an index card and laid it on my nightstand so I would see it often. And every time I saw it, I asked God to make me mindful of His Spirit within me, to keep me from getting in my own way, to help me realign my goals with His. Even if it takes humbling me. Even if it takes giving me a new calling so I am out of my comfort zone again. Even if it means starting all over. I began with the Spirit, and I want to finish still holding tightly to Him.

I imagine you do, too.

Dear Lord, I began with the Spirit and I want to stay in step with the Spirit. Help me to rely on You and not my own effort. When I am capable, allow me to be reminded of my own inadequacy so that I would never try to do things by human effort, but always through Yours. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Visit Marybeth's blog where she will be talking about ways to align yourself with the Spirit again. Stop by and share your ideas!

Becoming a Woman of Influence (CD) by Marybeth Whalen

She Makes It Look Easy by Marybeth Whalen.

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:
Spend today getting back in touch with the call God has on your life. Redefine what He's asked of you, and pray specifically for new challenges that will make your more dependent on the Spirit and not do anything by human effort.

Reflections:
Am I trying to attain my goals by human effort? What do I need to do to get back in step with the Spirit?

Power Verses:
Romans 4:2, "If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about - but not before God." (NIV1984)

I Corinthians 1:26a, "Brothers, think of what you were when you were called." (NIV1984)

I Thessalonians 5:19, "Do not put out the Spirit's fire." (NIV 1984)

© 2011 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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

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