Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Daily Devotional Wednesday 31st August

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,”Ephesians 2:19 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Wait on the Lord."
Psalm 27:14

It may seem an easy thing to wait, but it is one of the postures which a Christian soldier learns not without years of teaching. Marching and quick-marching are much easier to God's warriors than standing still. There are hours of perplexity when the most willing spirit, anxiously desirous to serve the Lord, knows not what part to take. Then what shall it do? Vex itself by despair? Fly back in cowardice, turn to the right hand in fear, or rush forward in presumption? No, but simply wait. Wait in prayer, however. Call upon God, and spread the case before him; tell him your difficulty, and plead his promise of aid. In dilemmas between one duty and another, it is sweet to be humble as a child, and wait with simplicity of soul upon the Lord. It is sure to be well with us when we feel and know our own folly, and are heartily willing to be guided by the will of God. But wait in faith. Express your unstaggering confidence in him; for unfaithful, untrusting waiting, is but an insult to the Lord. Believe that if he keep you tarrying even till midnight, yet he will come at the right time; the vision shall come and shall not tarry. Wait in quiet patience, not rebelling because you are under the affliction, but blessing your God for it. Never murmur against the second cause, as the children of Israel did against Moses; never wish you could go back to the world again, but accept the case as it is, and put it as it stands, simply and with your whole heart, without any self-will, into the hand of your covenant God, saying, "Now, Lord, not my will, but thine be done. I know not what to do; I am brought to extremities, but I will wait until thou shalt cleave the floods, or drive back my foes. I will wait, if thou keep me many a day, for my heart is fixed upon thee alone, O God, and my spirit waiteth for thee in the full conviction that thou wilt yet be my joy and my salvation, my refuge and my strong tower."

Evening

"Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed."
Jeremiah 17:14

"I have seen his ways, and will heal him."

Isaiah 57:18

It is the sole prerogative of God to remove spiritual disease. Natural disease may be instrumentally healed by men, but even then the honour is to be given to God who giveth virtue unto medicine, and bestoweth power unto the human frame to cast off disease. As for spiritual sicknesses, these remain with the great Physician alone; he claims it as his prerogative, "I kill and I make alive, I wound and I heal;" and one of the Lord's choice titles is Jehovah-Rophi, the Lord that healeth thee. "I will heal thee of thy wounds," is a promise which could not come from the lip of man, but only from the mouth of the eternal God. On this account the psalmist cried unto the Lord, "O Lord, heal me, for my bones are sore vexed," and again, "Heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee." For this, also, the godly praise the name of the Lord, saying, "He healeth all our diseases." He who made man can restore man; he who was at first the creator of our nature can new create it. What a transcendent comfort it is that in the person of Jesus "dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily!" My soul, whatever thy disease may be, this great Physician can heal thee. If he be God, there can be no limit to his power. Come then with the blind eye of darkened understanding, come with the limping foot of wasted energy, come with the maimed hand of weak faith, the fever of an angry temper, or the ague of shivering despondency, come just as thou art, for he who is God can certainly restore thee of thy plague. None shall restrain the healing virtue which proceeds from Jesus our Lord. Legions of devils have been made to own the power of the beloved Physician, and never once has he been baffled. All his patients have been cured in the past and shall be in the future, and thou shalt be one among them, my friend, if thou wilt but rest thyself in him this night.

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Today's reading: Psalm 129-131, 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Psalm 129-131

A song of ascents.

1 "They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,"
let Israel say;
2 "they have greatly oppressed me from my youth,
but they have not gained the victory over me.
3 Plowmen have plowed my back
and made their furrows long.
4 But the LORD is righteous;
he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked."

5 May all who hate Zion
be turned back in shame.
6 May they be like grass on the roof,
which withers before it can grow;
7 a reaper cannot fill his hands with it,
nor one who gathers fill his arms.
8 May those who pass by not say to them,
"The blessing of the LORD be on you;
we bless you in the name of the LORD."

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 1 Corinthians 11:1-16

1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
On Covering the Head in Worship

2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head-it is the same as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head....

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Abinadab

[Ăbĭn'adăb] - father or source of liberality.

  1. An Israelite of the tribe of Judah in whose house the Ark rested after its return by the Philistines (1 Sam. 7:1; 2 Sam. 6:3, 4; 1 Chron. 13:7).
  2. The second son of Jesse, the father of David (1 Sam. 16:8; 17:13; 1 Chron. 2:13).
  3. A son of King Saul ( 1 Sam. 31:2; 1 Chron. 8:33; 9:39; 10:2). He was slain along with his father and his brother Jonathan at Gilboa.
  4. The father of one of Solomon's officers (1 Kings 4:11).
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August 30, 2011

I Need a Friend

Part 2

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her (Ruth 1:16-18, NIV).

Friendship is the catalyst for every other love and the foundation of every healthy relationship. God created us to need each other. We need friends and we need to be a friend. Over the next few days, we will continue to uncover nine keys to healthy friendships.

Key two: Risk

The emotional demands on women are vast. One of the ways God replenishes the emotional drains we experience is through friendships. Many women are convinced that the risk of having close friends outweighs the rewards. I disagree. There is no love without risk. Every friendship must contain the element of risk if it is to grow and mature, reaching its full potential. Ruth was willing to risk her very future for the sake of her friendship with Naomi. John 15:13 says it well. "Greater love has no one than this; that one lay down his life for his friends." When we choose to lay down our life, we automatically take a chance on being hurt, rejected, betrayed or misunderstood.

Anyone who knows me also knows that living foliage is doomed to die a premature death if left in my care for any length of time. I have even been known to kill a plant without touching it. In fact, the only hope any plant of mine has to live past its purchase date is for me to ignore its existence with great diligence. I am certain you can understand why I am in awe of anyone who gardens and is actually capable of growing green things.

I once had a neighbor who was known for her green thumb. In fact, everyone in our small Mississippi town knew that the most beautiful roses were found in Joyce's back yard. It was in that same yard where I learned an important lesson about friendship.

Every afternoon, after their nap time, I took our two children, Jered and Danna, outside to play in our fenced-in back yard. While the kids enjoyed the fresh air, neighborhood friends and their swing set, I enjoyed visiting with Joyce. Most of our conversations took place over the vine-covered fence and her dazzling rose garden. After weeks of watching Joyce plant, prune, water, feed, talk to and even sing to her "Rose Babies." I noticed that Joyce never handled the roses without wearing thick gloves to protect her hands from thorns. One day, our conversation abruptly halted when she yanked her hand into the air and yelled, "Ouch!" When I asked her why she insisted on growing roses instead of some safer and less prickly foliage, her answer was profound. "The beauty of the roses is worth the occasional wound they inflict," she replied. Joyce had learned to handle the roses with respect and in such a way that her wounds were few. Friendships are much the same.

Friends will hurt you. Friends will wound you. We would be wise to don thick emotional gloves when it comes to handling friendships. It is a fatal mistake to assign the responsibility for our happiness to friends. In reality, depending on a friend to make us happy sets that friend up for failure in the relationship and positions that friendship for inevitable destruction. For example, I have a friend who simply cannot keep a secret. She would do anything in the world for me - except keep her mouth closed. Because I love her and don't want to write her off as a friend, I have simply chosen to be cautious about what I share with her. Every friendship has a price tag of some kind attached. We just need to get to the place where love covers the cost.

The words of 1 Peter 4:8 say it well, "Love covers a multitude of sins." In this verse, "cover" literally means to "hide" or "overlook" the faults. Friendship knows the weaknesses are there, but chooses to love anyway. Friendship is always costly but always well worth the cost.

Key three: Transparency

In verse 16, Ruth offers an amazing display of transparency. "Where you go I will go. Where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God, my God." Openness and honesty nourish friendship. We are naturally drawn to transparent people because transparency produces authenticity. In fact, one of the most winsome aspects of Jesus was the fact that He was so transparent and lived an authentic life. He did not remain aloof from His disciples. He lived among them, sharing every part of their lives. He ate with them, prayed with them, ministered with them, cried with them and laughed with them. Jesus repeatedly opened Himself up to the disciples.

John 15:15 "I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father."

Jesus made a deliberate choice to be transparent, modeling friendship at its best. He was hurt, betrayed and rejected by those He called friends. Still today, He waits for you and for me, longing to be the most transparent and authentic friend we have. Life can be a very lonely place. Jesus knows. Friendships are not only an important source of encouragement to us as women, but a valuable source of strength as well. I am convinced that if we built fewer relationship walls, we would have more friends and be a better friend.

Let's Pray

Father, I have to admit that it is sometimes easier to be lonely than it is to be authentic and real with others. Forgive me for letting fear keep me from reaching out to someone in friendship. I am willing to risk being hurt. I am willing to be transparent in order to be a better friend. I lay every friendship at Your feet as an offering of praise for the Friend You are to me.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Think of a time when you were hurt by someone you thought was a friend. How did you respond? Answer the following questions in light of that response.

  • Would you change your response if you could? How?
  • Did your response make the friendship stronger or weaker? In what way(s)?
  • Have you let go of the hurt and forgiven the person who hurt you?
  • Read Colossians 1:13-14. How do these verses influence the way you forgive the friends who have hurt you?

More From The Girlfriends

Looking for a Bible Study that is both practical and powerful? Check out Mary's E-Book Bible Studies. Each one includes a study guide that you can download for your personal use or for a small group study. I Need a Friend is also available in Bible Study format.

Be sure to check out Mary's weekly Online Bible Study: Stress Management 101. Enroll now and have access to all 2011 lessons. Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.

Seeking God?

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how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God

P.O. Box 725

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info@girlfriendsingod.com
www.girlfriendsingod.com

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P31Header
Glynnis Whitwer

August 30, 2011

A Ram is on the Way
Glynnis Whitwer

"So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, 'On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.'" Genesis 22:14 (NIV)

Have you ever been in a situation so desperate that it looked hopeless?

Have you ever sat at the kitchen table wondering how you were going to pay the electric bill? Have you ever stood at a door that's been slammed in your face by an angry teenager and despaired at having a relationship with him again? Have you ever had your heart broken so deeply that you wondered if you would feel whole again?

Sadly, we live in a broken world where desperate situations happen every day. I know someone reading this devotion is wondering how she will make it through the day because her situation looks hopeless. If that is you, I encourage you to keep reading. I believe God has a message of hope for you today.

That message is found in the Bible, in the story of a man who was dealing with his own desperate situation. His name was Abraham and he faced the greatest testing of his life. After longing for a son for many years, God finally gave Abraham a boy, whom he named Isaac. Abraham never imagined God would test his faith by asking him to sacrifice his son. But it happened.

It had to have been the darkest day of Abraham's life as he trudged up the mountain, with firewood strapped to his son's back. Every step took Abraham closer to what he believed to be the sad ending of a hopeless situation-the death of his son. Yet in spite of his sorrow, Abraham trusted God. His heart wasn't soaring with joy. He wasn't dancing up the mountain. But he put one foot in front of the other. Walking through the darkness of the situation; obeying His God's commands.

Unbeknownst to Abraham, something else was walking up that mountain. Quietly. Out of sight. On the other side of the mountain. Something else was putting one foot in front of the other. Only Abraham couldn't see it.

For every step Abraham took, a ram on the other side of the mountain took a step.

All Abraham saw that day was his solitary journey of pain. As he got closer to the top of the mountain, his dread must have increased. I wonder if he asked himself any questions. I would have. I would have wondered why hadn't God intervened? Why hadn't God stopped this testing? Couldn't God see that Abraham was a man of faith? Why test him in this way?

But there was no answer. There was no voice from heaven. And so Abraham kept obeying his God's command. He put Isaac on an altar and prepared to sacrifice his one and only son.

And just at that very moment, at the very last second, when it looked like the end had come, God spoke, stopping the sacrifice. Abraham looked up and there caught in the thicket was a ram. Abraham took his son off the altar, replaced him with the ram, and offered the sacrifice to God.

Abraham named that place "Yahweh-Yireh" or "The Lord Will Provide." And the story was written down for generations of God-followers to read. It was written so that you and I today would read it as we face our own hopeless situations. It was captured in print so that you and I would know that God is already planning for our provision. We don't see it. We don't hear it. But we can trust that our God is at work. On your behalf, and on mine.

I choose to trust God today. A ram is on the way.

Dear Lord, You know how desperate I am today. You know that my faith has wavered. Although I want to trust You, I'm having trouble doing so. I ask for Your intervention in my situation, and for an increase of my faith while I wait. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
The Character of God: Understanding His Heart for Us by Brian T. Anderson & Glynnis Whitwer

A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God's Promises.

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Visit Glynnis on her blog for more encouragement and enter to win a copy of Renee Swope's new book, A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God's Promises.

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:
Read Psalm 91. List the promises God has for those who love Him.

Reflections:
God's timing is not our timing. What are some reasons God might wait to answer our prayers?

Read the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22. What are some of the things Abraham did right that I can apply to my situation?

Power Verses:
Psalm 91:14, "'Because he loves me,' says the LORD, 'I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.'" (NIV)

Psalm 22:5, "They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed." (NIV)

© 2011 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

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Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional

DO NOT WORRY

Here’s a word from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount that we would do well to ponder within the first waking hour of every day: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.” It doesn’t get any more practical than that. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made some of the preeminent statements in Scripture about the providence of God. He was addressing one of the universal pressing questions we all ask: Who is going to take care of me?

The answer?

“Your heavenly Father knows you need them,” so don’t get caught in the rat race or, we might say, the pagan chase (“the pagans run after all these things”). There is a better alternative, in other words, to living a life of hoarding. As someone said, the problem with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat. Our security does not come from the bank statement telling us how much we’ve saved up, or from the number of suits in the closet. Food in the pantry is a good thing. But no matter how much any of us have to eat or drink or wear or drive or shelve, we will never know security until we see the face of providence: the God who clothes the lilies of the field and who tends to the birds of the air. And he knows. He knows what we have and what we need. He knows those days when we have less than we think we need, too.

Sparrows fly, but they also fall. But not one of them falls to the ground apart from the will of the Father (Matthew 10:29). This year may be a time for any of us to feed and fly and travel far, or it may be the year of a broken wing-or that final plummet. And that is where providence figures in more powerfully than anywhere else.

The fact of pain and loss and even overt evil does not nullify the reality of providence. While we try to explain the dark, the greater reality will always be the light. The only reasonable explanation for the way things work is that the Creator of all things keeps it all going day by day.

There are a thousand things that could go wrong with my body right now, but at the moment it seems to be working just fine. My breakfast if being converted from fuel to energy and the oxygen my lungs are sucking in is making bluish blood turn red and rich. My brain is sending thousands of commands a second, and my heart muscle is relentlessly contracting like a fist, pushing lifeblood to every external and internal cell. I’m not amazed that I can so easily get sick or injured. I’m astonished that my body works as well as it does. And there is only one explanation: a continual divine care.

Hearts don’t always work right, and sooner or later they all stop. Some pregnancies end in miscarriage. At the moment there are at least a dozen wars going on in the world. There are crimes against property and person, and unspeakable things that go on behind closed doors. But the incidents where things don’t work well are set against the backdrop of so many healthy days, and good relationships and proper exchanges. Generosity, forgiveness, forbearance, support, patience, kindness: these are among the many gifts given every day. And there is only one explanation for this: a divine governance.

The proof of providence is the fact that it never stops raining permanently, living things keep growing, and the human race keeps reaching out for hope and life. In so many ways the creation keeps asserting itself. It is irrepressibly alive, even though pieces of it keep dying. But more importantly, the Creator keeps asserting himself. God keeps saying, I’ve made what I’ve made. And I will keep it going and growing, and recreate when I need to.

Excerpt from Putting the Pieces Back Together: How Real Life and Real Faith Connect. Complimentary DVDavailable now.

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Resources

About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for thirty years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, the most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement.
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Can the Bible exaggerate and still be true?

This week's reading: 2 Chronicles 1:9-15

In a word, yes. When Solomon said the people were "as numerous as the dust of the earth" (v. 9), he didn't have an exact figure in mind. Solomon was using a figure of speech called hyperbole-an exaggeration not meant to be interpreted literally. He simply meant that there were a lot of people!

The writers of the Bible's 66 books used all the richness and variety of human language to communicate God's message. To understand the Bible accurately, its various literary devices and figures of speech must be seen for what they are. Interpret them at face value and the intended meaning may be missed completely.

The writer of Chronicles reports in verse 15 that Solomon "made silver and gold as common ... as stones, and cedar [a rare and costly wood] as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees [a commonplace tree]". His point was not to be exact, but to indicate great wealth-numbers that would boggle the mind.

There are many passages-especially in 1 and 2 Chronicles-where the Bible offers precise information. But when God promises Abraham as many children as there are stars or grains of sand (see Ge 15:5; 22:17), or when Mark says that all the people of Jerusalem went out to see John the Baptist (seeMk 1:5), or even when Paul claims to be the worst of sinners (see 1Ti 1:15), the context and language indicate a meaning beneath the surface. Instead of being frustrated by the lack of precision in such statements, we should be thankful that God reveals himself in the richness of human language.


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