Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Daily Devotional Tuesday 30th August

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Have mercy upon me, O God."
Psalm 51:1

When Dr. Carey was suffering from a dangerous illness, the enquiry was made, "If this sickness should prove fatal, what passage would you select as the text for your funeral sermon?" He replied, "Oh, I feel that such a poor sinful creature is unworthy to have anything said about him; but if a funeral sermon must be preached, let it be from the words, Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness; according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.'" In the same spirit of humility he directed in his will that the following inscription and nothing more should be cut on his gravestone:--

William Carey, Born August 17th, 1761: Died - -

"A wretched, poor, and helpless worm

On thy kind arms I fall."

Only on the footing of free grace can the most experienced and most honoured of the saints approach their God. The best of men are conscious above all others that they are men at the best. Empty boats float high, but heavily laden vessels are low in the water; mere professors can boast, but true children of God cry for mercy upon their unprofitableness. We have need that the Lord should have mercy upon our good works, our prayers, our preachings, our alms-givings, and our holiest things. The blood was not only sprinkled upon the doorposts of Israel's dwelling houses, but upon the sanctuary, the mercy-seat, and the altar, because as sin intrudes into our holiest things, the blood of Jesus is needed to purify them from defilement. If mercy be needed to be exercised towards our duties, what shall be said of our sins? How sweet the remembrance that inexhaustible mercy is waiting to be gracious to us, to restore our backslidings, and make our broken bones rejoice!

Evening

"All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk."
Numbers 6:4

Nazarites had taken, among other vows, one which debarred them from the use of wine. In order that they might not violate the obligation, they were forbidden to drink the vinegar of wine or strong liquors, and to make the rule still more clear, they were not to touch the unfermented juice of grapes, nor even to eat the fruit either fresh or dried. In order, altogether, to secure the integrity of the vow, they were not even allowed anything that had to do with the vine; they were, in fact, to avoid the appearance of evil. Surely this is a lesson to the Lord's separated ones, teaching them to come away from sin in every form, to avoid not merely its grosser shapes, but even its spirit and similitude. Strict walking is much despised in these days, but rest assured, dear reader, it is both the safest and the happiest. He who yields a point or two to the world is in fearful peril; he who eats the grapes of Sodom will soon drink the wine of Gomorrah. A little crevice in the sea-bank in Holland lets in the sea, and the gap speedily swells till a province is drowned. Worldly conformity, in any degree, is a snare to the soul, and makes it more and more liable to presumptuous sins. Moreover, as the Nazarite who drank grape juice could not be quite sure whether it might not have endured a degree of fermentation, and consequently could not be clear in heart that his vow was intact, so the yielding, temporizing Christian cannot wear a conscience void of offence, but must feel that the inward monitor is in doubt of him. Things doubtful we need not doubt about; they are wrong to us. Things tempting we must not dally with, but flee from them with speed. Better be sneered at as a Puritan than be despised as a hypocrite. Careful walking may involve much self-denial, but it has pleasures of its own which are more than a sufficient recompense.

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Today's reading: Psalm 126-128, 1 Corinthians 10:19-33 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Psalm 126-128

A song of ascents.

1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."
3 The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.

4 Restore our fortunes, LORD,
like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 1 Corinthians 10:19-33

19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons. 22 Are we trying to arouse the Lord's jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
The Believer's Freedom

23 "I have the right to do anything," you say-but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything"-but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others....

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Isaiah, Esaias

[Īzā'iah,Ī za'ias] - jehovah is helper orsalvation is of the lord. The name of the greatest of the Assyrian group of prophets is synonymous with Joshua or Jesus and symbolic of his message. Little is known of this gospel prophet, often severe in tone. He is described as the son of Amoz, not Amos the prophet (Isa. 1:1; 2:1; 6:1; 7:3; 13:1 ). Some scholars suggest that Amoz was the uncle of Uzziah which, if true, would make Isaiah the king's cousin. Evidently Isaiah was of good family and education.

The Man of Many Parts

Isaiah's home and the scene of his labors was Jerusalem. His wife was a prophetess (Isa. 8:3) and bore the prophet two sons, whose names were symbolic of those aspects of the nation's history which Isaiah enforced in his prophecies:

Shear-jashub, meaning, "a remnant shall return" (Isa. 7:3).

Maher-shalal-hash-baz , implying, "Haste ye, speed to the spoil" (Isa. 8:1-4). Often names were given for signs and wonders in Israel.

Isaiah's original call to service is unrecorded, but in chapter six we have his vision and commission. A prophet of Judah, Isaiah ministered during the reign of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahab and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. He comes before us as a man of many parts - a man eminently gifted and called of God as the first and chief of Israel's prophets and poets.

I. The Writer. Isaiah wrote a history of the reign of Uzziah and Ahaz (2 Chron. 26:22; 32:32 ). No other Old Testament writer uses so many beautiful and picturesque illustrations, epigrams and metaphors as Isaiah, who was also a poet of no mean order (Isa. 1:13; 5:18; 12:1-6; 13:3).

The book bearing his name is made up of sixty-six chapters, and is a miniature Bible with its sixty-six books.

II. The Statesman. Isaiah was an ardent patriot, loving God and his nation. He was a bold, true statesman, seeking no court favor. How strongly he denounced all foreign alliances, (Isa. 7:5; 37:22 )! It is Isaiah who gives us the earliest recorded vision of world-wide peace (Isa. 2:1-4).

III. The reformer. Like Noah, Isaiah was also a preacher of righteousness, and exposed formalism as a bad substitute for spiritual life and conduct (Isa. 36-39). Yet, like all the greatest contributors to moral uplift, Isaiah, amid all his rebukes and denunciations of evil, was truly optimistic.

IV. The Prophet. In no uncertain language Isaiah foretold the future of Israel and Judah, and the downfall of Gentile nations. Many of his predictions in regard to ancient nations have been fulfilled. Then Isaiah was The Christ-Harbinger, prophesying the coming of the Messianic King and Suffering Saviour. Chapter fifty-three of his prophecy drips with the ruby blood of the Redeemer. No wonder Jerome described Isaiah as "The Evangelical Prophet."

V. The Teacher. To perpetuate his message and influence, Isaiah formed a group of disciples to whose teaching and training he devoted himself when his public ministry seemed useless. He was not only a counselor of kings and princes, but an instructor of those who were eager for his vision. He was an orator without peer - Jerome likened him to Demosthenes. This trait must have made an impact upon those he sought to train.

VI. The Theologian. This dreamer and poet, architect and builder, prophet and statesman was also a theologian able to discourse upon the sovereignty and holiness of God with utmost clarity. What an artist with words Isaiah was! Every word from him stirs and strikes, as he expounds the lordship of Jehovah - the need of all men for cleansing - the forgiving grace of God. The prophet insisted upon reverence for God whose usual title he gave as "The Holy One of Israel." Sometimes stern in tone, he could also be tender and compassionate (Isa. 15:5; 16:9).

The time of his death is unknown. Legend has it that he was placed inside a hollow tree and sawn asunder at the command of Manasseh (Heb. 11:37).

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Jael

The Woman Who Killed a Man While He Slept

Scripture References-Judges 4:17-22; 5:6, 24-27

Name Meaning-Jael means “wild or mountain goat” or “gazelle,” and as Dean Stanley expresses it, “a fit name for a Bedouin’s wife-especially for one whose family had come from the rocks of Engedi, the spring of the wild goat or chamois.”

Family Connections-The only association given of this woman who sprang from obscurity by a single deed which, because of its nature, hardly deserved fame, is that she was the wife of Heber, the Kenite. In those days everything connected with a tent was a woman’s job and the women became expert in all the phases of making, pitching and striking tents. This was why Jael was able to turn her skill to good account, as with a tent pin in one hand and with a maul in the other, she drove the pin home through the skull of Sisera as he slept-a deed not allotted to divine leading although the victory over Sisera was ( Judges 5:10).

How can we explain or justify such an act deemed treacherous according to the morals of Jael’s own time? “Hospitality was one of the most strictly adhered to, of all desert obligations, and was a matter of honor among the Hebrews,” says Mary Hallet. “In betraying Sisera, Jael broke this code of hers; but to us that is more easily understood than the revolting cruelty of her method of murder!” “So Sisera died”-and Jael’s treachery was forgotten in the more important fact of her courage. The circumstances occasioning such an act have already been touched upon. Israel chafed under the severe rule of Jabin, king of the Canaanites, and Deborah arose and with Barak went out against the armed force of Jabin. God intervened, and unleashing the powers of nature completely disorganized Jabin’s army. Sisera, captain of the host, and Israel’s cruel oppressor escaped and fell into the hands of a woman (4:9).

Sisera fled to the tent of Heber the Kenite, whose wife Jael met Sisera and urged him not to be afraid but to turn in and rest. Seeing how worn and weary Sisera was, Jael covered him with a mantle, and when he asked for water to slake his thirst she opened a bottle of milk for him to drink. Then, assuring him that she would shield him from any searchers, she watched him as he fell asleep. Going softly to his side, Jael drove the tent nail through his head and pinned it to the ground. Shakespeare says of woman that “she can smile and smile and be a villain.” Jael was not a crude or coarse woman, or a tiger of a woman. But with a husband who had allied himself with the enemy, she was caught in the politics of Israel and felt that she had to defend herself She resorted to trickery, for although she met Sisera with a beaming face, there was murder in her heart. Had Sisera attempted to rape Jael, and in defense of her honor she had killed him, that would have been another matter, but to kill him as an assassin kills a victim was something different. Her murder of Sisera reminds us of Judith of Behulia, who drove a sword through Olopernes' throat as he slept.

While divine judgment fell upon Sisera, Jael erred in that she did not allow God to designate the means of punishment. Perhaps she felt an irresistible impulse to slay the persistent enemy of God’s people, but she remains forever censurable for the cruel way she killed Sisera, even though Deborah gloated over the act and praised it in poetic form. When Deborah said, “Blessed above women shall be Jael,” perhaps she was only praising her faith and not her treachery. Any woman killing the country’s enemy must be the friend of Israel, and so the method of Sisera’s death mattered little to Deborah who doubtless thought that all was fair in time of war. What atrocious crimes have been committed in the name of patriotism! Jael had no conception that she was the one person at the opportune moment to render “stern justice on an enemy of God.” Knowing that the tide of battle had turned against the Canaanites she realized that Sisera would be captured and killed, therefore she acted as the executioner herself, thereby cementing a friendship with Deborah, the conqueror, who thought Jael worthy of praise because of her love for Israel.

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August 29, 2011

Woe is You. Woe is Me!

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.'...The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean' (Matthew 15:11,18, NIV).

Friend To Friend

All through the Bible we have accounts of God sending men and women out into the world with a message. Whether it is a message of repentance, judgment, deliverance or hope, God made sure the messengers were placed in strategic moments in time to make an impact on those around them. But God doesn't send the messenger out unprepared. He trains them as only He can do...and it usually has something to do with their words.

Let's look at two messengers and how God prepared them to impact the world: Isaiah and Jeremiah.

Isaiah was called to prophesy to Jerusalem 740 years before Christ. In the first five chapters, the overriding theme is impending judgment. "Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field...Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks...Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit and wickedness as with cart ropes...Woe to those who call evil good and good evil...Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight...Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and champions at mixing drinks..." But then something happens to Isaiah as he sees his own life reflected in God's magnificent glory.

Isaiah had a vision.

I saw the Lord seated on a throne high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." At the sound of their voices the doorposts and threshold shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

"Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." (Isaiah 6:1-5)

I imagine Isaiah was feeling pretty good about himself, being called by God to prophesy to this irksome people. But just when he got out the sixth woe, God decided to hold up the mirror of His holiness in which Isaiah saw his own sin. And where did the sin manifest itself? His words.

God doesn't convict us of our sin to condemn us. He reveals our sin to bring us to repentance and change. Just as Isaiah was lamenting his own foul tongue, a seraph (brightly shimmering heavenly beings whose name means' burning ones') picked up a live coal with tongs from the altar of atonement and touched it to the prophet's lips. Just as God sent the Holy Spirit to the believers at Pentecost in the form of flaming tongues, He sent a coal to set Isaiah's tongue afire with cleansing power. The seraph touched Isaiah's tongue with the burning coal and then announced that his guilt was taken away.

Now Isaiah was ready to go out into the world and proclaim God's message to His people and his "woe is me" was transformed into "Here am I send me."

Isaiah didn't need to change his eating or drinking habits, he didn't need to alter his outward appearance, or take extra classes at the local seminary. Isaiah needed to have his words purified and fortified so God could be properly glorified.

If God thought it necessary to deal with Isaiah's tongue before he embarked on his heavenly assignment then we should not think it would be any different for you and for me. But did you notice it was God who did the cleansing? It takes more than washing our mouths out with soap to be a woman of clean lips. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit and the touch of God. Our part is to cooperate with Him, submit our words to Him, fill our lives with Him, and live our lives through Him.

Now It's Your Turn

Unlike Isaiah, Jeremiah didn't begin prophesying until God touched his mouth first. Like Isaiah, Jeremiah was called to be a prophet to the Hebrew nation. However, he was very reluctant to heed the call. "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child," he argued. But God reprimanded Jeremiah, "Do not say, 'I am only a child'...Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you."

Then God reached out his hand and touched Jeremiah's mouth and said, "Now, I have put my words in your mouth." God called this young man to be strong and courageous and assured him that He would be with him wherever he went.

Today, pull out your Bible and read Jeremiah chapter one. Turn the words into a prayer for your own life and pray that God will use your words and your life to make a positive impact for the gospel today.

More From The Girlfriends

The Bible tells us that death and life are in the power of the tongue. If you would like to learn more about how to use your words to speak life into those around you, you'll want to readThe Power of a Woman's Words by Sharon Jaynes. And for a more in-depth look at what God's Word has to say about our words, see The Power of a Woman's Words Bible Study Guide.

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
Wendy Blight

August 29, 2011

A Dying Faith Revived
Wendy Blight

"Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." Romans 10:17 (NIV)

Law school. Two words that scare some and impress others.

I gave three years of my life to the study of law...compiling facts, reading case law, applying that law, and making arguments. I spent hour after hour in the law library. Researching, studying, and writing consumed my every day. My hard work paid off when I made law review.

It paid off again when I passed the bar.

It paid off again upon graduation when I walked through the doors to begin my first day at one of the largest, most prestigious firms in downtown Dallas.

It should have been the best time of my life, but instead it felt empty, without purpose. I found no joy, no satisfaction in what I did every day. I spent so much time and invested so much money to get to this place. Something was missing.

What I felt in the depths of my soul was the cry of a dying faith...hunger pangs of a weary soul. I had filled myself full of worldly knowledge, yet I had starved myself of spiritual knowledge.

Friend, do you feel that way as you read my words? Do you feel empty, dry, and weary? Faith feeds on the Word of God. Without a steady intake of God's Word in our lives, we grow weaker and weaker. I tried to feed my faith on a two minute devotional in the morning...maybe a few times a week...if that.

When we starve our faith, we move farther and farther from our Father's heart. We find it hard to trust Him. Sometimes we avoid worshiping Him. We feel guilty. We feel alone. Listen to words from our Father's heart:

• "Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." Romans 10:17 (NIV)

• "Jesus answered, 'It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Matthew 4:4 (NIV)

• Blessed is the one whose "delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law [she] meditates day and night. [She] is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever [she] does prospers." Psalm 1:2-3 (NIV)

Faith feeds on the Word of God. Our faith has no life apart from what we receive from the Word. I came to the realization that I needed to alter my diet. I needed to feed on something other than case law and legal memoranda.

God drew you to this devotional today. Ask Him why. Has the Lord pricked your heart? Does my story strike a chord with you? With all my heart, I encourage you to not ignore His Word to you today.

Let's be like the blessed one in Psalm 1 who meditates on God's Word day and night. Will you commit with me today to memorize one scripture? To start, find a verse, maybe one from this devotional, and memorize it. You will be putting "faith food" into your heart and mind. Throughout the next few days, feed on that verse, speak that verse, and share that verse. Watch what God will do.

God will bless your obedience. Your obedience will bear fruit. You will prosper.

Wait and watch and see!

Dear Lord, today I feel weary, empty, and so very far away from You. Please come near, feed me with Your Word, revive my dying faith. Make me like the tree planted by streams of water, yielding fruit and prospering in all I do. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Visit Wendy's blog and share your memory verse with her. She would love to pray for you. Also, be sure to sign up for her next on-line Bible Study on the book of Hebrews that will begin in October.

Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner: The Transforming Power of God's Story by Wendy Blight

All Things Wise and Wonderful: Applying God's Wisdom in Everyday Life (E-Book) by Wendy Blight

Proverbs 31 Ministries offers many Bible studies! Shop online today for one that fits 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:
Pick a verse from the devotional or your own verse and commit to memorize it this week. Please stop by my blogand share your verse with me. I would be honored to pray for you as you take this step.

Reflections:
What is it that takes my time and keeps me from being in God's Word on a consistent basis?

What one step can I take to spend more time with God in His Word? I'll commit to take that step.

Power Verses:
Matthew 4:4, "Jesus answered, 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (NIV)

© 2011 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

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

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LeadershipBible-Header-550

Skills: The Learning Organization

Read Judges 2:1-11

Following a smashing success, it's easy to kick back and rest, to assume that current knowledge and achievements will assure future success. That's a dangerous attitude. Unfortunately, it's the one that the ancient Israelites adopted after the death of Joshua and his generation. Joshua had led the Israelites in the conquest of the promised land. His generation had personally witnessed God damming up the Jordan River and orchestrating the fall of the walls of Jericho (Joshua 3, 6).

The next generation "knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel" (Judges 2:10 ). What a tragic and scathing statement. An entire generation had failed to learn in any life-changing way about God or his deeds. The void left by their ignorance allowed room in their hearts and minds to embrace idols and pagan peoples. Ultimately, it led them into sin and brought down the anger of the Lord upon them. They knew the stories of their predecessors' successes and failures, but they didn't learn from them.

When nations, organizations or teams stop learning, they're setting themselves up for failure. "Those who don't learn from history are destined to repeat it" summarizes succinctly the situation of the Israelites as portrayed in Judges, as well as the situation faced by teams who haven't learned from past experiences. Effective leaders know this. They do their best to create an atmosphere that encourages learning within their organizations and teams. They remember the principles gleaned through past experiences, and they help their people to apply them to new situations.

What are you currently doing to open yourself up to new ideas? What structures does your present organization have in place to stimulate learning? What structures could it put in place?

The Learning Organization and Who God Is

We do not assign the reading of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment to kindergarten children, nor do we teach advanced engineering mathematics to first graders. A lengthy process of development and learning is necessary before people are ready to tackle these more sophisticated subjects. In a similar way, God gives us greater amounts of illumination as we respond to the light we have already received. Turn to the note on 1Peter 1:10-12 for insight into the important phenomenon of progressive revelation.

This Week's Verse to Memorize

Psalm 86:9-12: All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name. For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God. Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.

The Learning Organization and Who I Am

Reading the Old Testament can be a frustrating experience. We find ourselves wishing that the stubborn Israelites would just obey God and turn away from idolatry, but they continue to ruin their own lives by refusing to learn from their experiences. Then we come to the realization that they remind us of ourselves. Turn to Zechariah 1:2-6 to listen to God's Word to the remnant who had returned to the land following the exile.

The Learning Organization and How It Works

Continuous improvement requires continuous learning. Only the learning organization will, over the long haul, continue to grow. Paul provided the Colossian church with a marvelous insight into the concept of growth through learning. That same insight can work for any enterprise and is well worth our consideration. Discover it in Colossians 1:9-10.

The Learning Organization and What I Do

God used Josiah to bring about a radical reform. How did this happen? As we find out, we'll also discover a crucial principle from Nevis, DiBella and Gould that facilitates learning in an organization. Turn to the note on 2Chronicles 34:1-35:27.


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Handbook to Leadership: Leadership in the Image of God

by Kenneth Boa
Buy the Handbook!
All the features of The Leadership Bible created by Kenneth Boa, Sid Buzzell, and Bill Perkins have been combined in this attractive and compact black leather volume. Handbook to Leadership has four parts: 52-Week Leadership Guide, Topical Leadership Guide, Leadership Character Studies, and Books of the Bible Leadership Guide.



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