Saturday, September 24, 2011

Daily Devotional Saturday 24th September

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Accepted in the beloved."
Ephesians 1:6

What a state of privilege! It includes our justification before God, but the term "acceptance" in the Greek means more than that. It signifies that we are the objects of divine complacence, nay, even of divine delight. How marvellous that we, worms, mortals, sinners, should be the objects of divine love! But it is only "in the beloved." Some Christians seem to be accepted in their own experience, at least, that is their apprehension. When their spirit is lively, and their hopes bright, they think God accepts them, for they feel so high, so heavenly-minded, so drawn above the earth! But when their souls cleave to the dust, they are the victims of the fear that they are no longer accepted. If they could but see that all their high joys do not exalt them, and all their low despondencies do not really depress them in their Father's sight, but that they stand accepted in One who never alters, in One who is always the beloved of God, always perfect, always without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, how much happier they would be, and how much more they would honour the Saviour! Rejoice then, believer, in this: thou art accepted "in the beloved." Thou lookest within, and thou sayest, "There is nothing acceptable here!" But look at Christ, and see if there is not everything acceptable there. Thy sins trouble thee; but God has cast thy sins behind his back, and thou art accepted in the Righteous One. Thou hast to fight with corruption, and to wrestle with temptation, but thou art already accepted in him who has overcome the powers of evil. The devil tempts thee; be of good cheer, he cannot destroy thee, for thou art accepted in him who has broken Satan's head. Know by full assurance thy glorious standing. Even glorified souls are not more accepted than thou art. They are only accepted in heaven "in the beloved," and thou art even now accepted in Christ after the same manner.

Evening

"Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe."
Mark 9:23

A certain man had a demoniac son, who was afflicted with a dumb spirit. The father, having seen the futility of the endeavours of the disciples to heal his child, had little or no faith in Christ, and therefore, when he was bidden to bring his son to him, he said to Jesus, "If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us." Now there was an "if" in the question, but the poor trembling father had put the "if" in the wrong place: Jesus Christ, therefore, without commanding him to retract the "if," kindly puts it in its legitimate position. "Nay, verily," he seemed to say, "there should be no if' about my power, nor concerning my willingness, the if' lies somewhere else." "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." The man's trust was strengthened, he offered a humble prayer for an increase of faith, and instantly Jesus spoke the word, and the devil was cast out, with an injunction never to return. There is a lesson here which we need to learn. We, like this man, often see that there is an "if" somewhere, but we are perpetually blundering by putting it in the wrong place. "If" Jesus can help me--"if" he can give me grace to overcome temptation--"if" he can give me pardon--"if" he can make me successful? Nay, "if" you can believe, he both can and will. You have misplaced your "if." If you can confidently trust, even as all things are possible to Christ, so shall all things be possible to you. Faith standeth in God's power, and is robed in God's majesty; it weareth the royal apparel, and rideth on the King's horse, for it is the grace which the King delighteth to honour. Girding itself with the glorious might of the all-working Spirit, it becomes, in the omnipotence of God, mighty to do, to dare, and to suffer. All things, without limit, are possible to him that believeth. My soul, canst thou believe thy Lord tonight?

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Today's reading: Song of Solomon 1-3, Galatians 2 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Song of Solomon 1-3

1 Solomon’s Song of Songs.

She

2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.
3 Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the young women love you!
4 Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.

Friends

We rejoice and delight in you;
we will praise your love more than wine....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Galatians 2

Paul Accepted by the Apostles

1 Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2 I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. 3 Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. 4 This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. 5 We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you....

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Hadad

[Hā'dăd] - mighty or fierceness.

  1. A son of Bedad, king of Edom and of the city of Avith (Gen. 36:35, 36; 1 Chron. 1:46, 47).
  2. An Edomite prince of Solomon's time (1 Kings 11:4-25).
  3. Eighth son of Ishmael, and grandson of Abraham (Gen. 25:15; 1 Chron. 1:30). Also called Hadar.
  4. The last of the early kings of Edom ( 1 Chron. 1:50, 51). This is the Hadar of Genesis 36:39 who, as a child, escaped massacre under Joab, David's general.
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P31Header
Glynnis Whitwer

September 23, 2011

I Can't Please Everyone
Glynnis Whitwer

"Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant." Galatians 1:10 (NLT)

I started texting four years ago when we hired Kortney, a 21-year-old, to help with our business. On the way to work one day, she texted me and asked if I wanted a coffee. I received her text, but labored to respond. Before I could finish typing my answer, she texted me a second and then a third time.

Finally I just gave up and called her. "Kortney," I said. "If you would stop texting me I could respond!" We laughed about it for weeks. Actually, I think she was laughing atme, but I enjoyed it too.

In our current culture, people expect us to respond to their requests with increasing speed and efficiency. Whether it's a call, text, email, instant message, or Facebook comment, there's an understanding ... no, an expectation ... that we will respond.

I'll admit I fall into this as well. It appeals to my need to be needed. Someone wants my opinion or my help. At the very least, they want to connect with me. If they are willing to share their lives with me, my desire is to respond. Promptly. With creativity. And a bit of humor, if you please. But honestly, it's exhausting.

Dealing with the expectations of others is especially hard for us as women. It's impossible to meet everyone's needs. There are no firm lines between our private and public lives, and it's turning some of us into people-pleasing maniacs. Sadly, this is self-sabotaging behavior.

Jesus identified a similar people-pleasing tendency in His disciples. They were torn between obligations to others and obedience to Him. They wanted to follow Jesus, but on their terms. Jesus challenged this line of thinking, and called them to a new level of obedience, one that forced them to choose what was most important. Here are some examples:

• "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.'" (Matthew 16:24-25, NIV)

• "Still another said, 'I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.' Jesus replied, 'No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'" (Luke 9:61-62, NIV)

When the demands of others threatened their immediate obedience, Jesus called them back to Himself. He challenged them with the same unspoken question He asks us: Who are you going to please first?

Without settling our hearts on the answer to this question, we end up with an over-whelmed and over-committed life. Our lives operate like a bumper car, crazily racing in one direction, only to crash into an obstacle and wildly turn another direction.

My life has felt that way at times. But my heart gained clarity and direction when I declared Jesus Christ to be my leader. Now, please know that even though I believed those words in my heart and spoke them with my mouth, it took years to bring every area of my life into alignment. It is still a process, and at times I have to check my reality against my intent.

Declaring Jesus as our leader breaks our bondage to the approval of others, and helps clarify our motives. Plus, it reduces stress as we accept the fact that we can't please everyone, and God never expects us to try.

Dear Lord, You alone are worthy of following. Please forgive the times I've chosen to follow others before You. I long to be a woman with an undivided heart. Help me overcome bondage to the approval of others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

I Used to Be So Organized by Glynnis Whitwer

Visit Glynnis' blog for more encouragement on the topic of people-pleasing and a giveaway of her book, I Used to Be So Organized

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:
To bring some simplicity and sanity back into our minds, schedules and homes, we must address the root of the problem. It may take some time to think this through, but start by answering these questions:

1) Who is the master in your life?

2) Who is defining your priorities?

Reflections:
What are some of the negative side effects of people-pleasing? How does it impact my family, church service and work?

Women struggle with people-pleasing tendencies for many reasons. If I struggle with this, can I identify some of my reasons?

Power Verses:
James 4:4, "You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." (NIV)

Matthew 6:1, "Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." (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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September 23, 2011

Be Still
Gwen Smith


Today's Truth

"Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10a).

Friend to Friend
There was a crisp chill slipping through the window as I headed to the couch to get with God before rushing into my day. I filled up my coffee mug, lit a cinnamon bun scented jar candle and nestled into my corner spot. Before I could get comfortable, however, I realized that the combination of the morning breeze and the ceiling fan were a bit much for my shorts-clad legs. I jumped up from the couch and turned the ceiling fan off ... for possibly the first time in five or six months.

As I got back into my comfy prayer corner, I looked up at the fan, now still, and drew a deep breath of surprise. Dirt! All over the blades of my ceiling fan! And when I say that I saw dirt, let me tell you, it wasn't just a smidgeon ... it was a good amount of dirt. Yuck. When did that happen? How did it get there? Note to self: clean fan today.

I brought my Bible and prayer journal to my lap, ready to talk to God and seek His direction for the day, but before I could even lift my pen and open the Word, I heard a soul whisper, "Be still."

"I'm here, Lord! Ready to talk. Ready to pray," my heart responded.

Again...the whisper, "Be still."

"Like the fan, LORD?" I wondered?

Then it hit me: when I slow my soul to still and listen quietly, God gently shows me the dirt on the blades of my heart. You see, I'm an action girl. I love to move and chat and go, go, go. Dust doesn't settle on my days - but - as God reminded me, dirt sure can settle on my heart.

I nod knowingly. "It's Your kindness that leads me to repentance, oh Lord." (Romans 2:4)

When I slow to still and know that He is God, I am face to face with His holiness. In light of His holiness, my wretchedness is revealed. His love and kindness brings revelation that causes my heart to ache for restoration. So I confess. I confess my mess. My heart dirt. And His mercy runs. Before the confessions leave my tongue, the blades of my heart are sparkling. Wiped clean with the righteousness of Grace. Beautiful, far-reaching grace.

"For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him" (2 Chronicles 16:9, ESV).

This grace is for every one of us - and it begins and ends with Jesus Christ. It's for me. It's for you. Whether you are at work, at home, at the hospital or in a jail cell. He's whispering, "Be still." Whether you are struggling with life strains or are in a season of reprieve. "Be still." Whether you have a house full of crazy noise or an apartment filled with ordered quiet. "Be still." Whether the diagnosis is cancer, the sting of betrayal is fresh, the Hope you cling to resounds, or you are weary and unsettled. "Be still." Know that He is God. Know that He is good. He is in control. He loves you. He is able. He is holy. He is worthy. Oh, so worthy.

Then, in the stillness ... respond.

O Lord, you have examined my heart

and know everything about me.

You know when I sit down or stand up.

You know my thoughts even when I'm far away.

You see me when I travel

and when I rest at home.

You know everything I do.

You know what I am going to say

even before I say it, Lord.

You go before me and follow me.

You place your hand of blessing on my head.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

too great for me to understand!

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Point out anything in me that offends you,

and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

(Psalm 139:1-6, 23-24, NLT)

Let's Pray
Dear Lord, I'm here. I'm still. Please reveal my heart dirt. (Pause to listen and reflect.) I confess these sins to You ________________ and I ask that you remove them as far as the east is from the west. Thanks for capturing me with Your grace once again. Help me to know and love You more today.
In Jesus' Name I pray,
Amen.

Now it's Your Turn

  • Read Psalm 139 in its entirety. Pray responsively or journal about the inescapable presence of God.
  • Be still before Him.

More from the Girlfriends
The noise of life can be so loud. I'm right there with you trying to hit the mute button each day. Failing on many days. One way I've found to center my heart on God is to hear stories of His grace. Broken into Beautiful is a book filled with stories - real stories ... gritty and honest, not cleaned up and phony. It's also filled with Scripture that will inspire you toward the life-changing grace of Jesus. To order the book, go to Amazon or, for a signed copy, visit Gwen's website: www.gwensmith.net.

LOVE MUSIC? Check out Gwen's new CD, Uncluttered. The songs of Uncluttered are purposed to sweep you away from life-noise and to focus your heart and mind on the one thing that matters: your relationship with Jesus Christ.

GOT FACEBOOK? Visit Gwen's facebook page (www.facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic). Thousands of GiGs "meet" there daily to connect and spur one another on in faith. Stop by!

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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LeadershipBible-Header

Thomas Cranmer: Theologian and Martyr

art_15_03_cranmer

Quote: Final words of Thomas Cranmer: "And for as much as my hand offended, writing contrary to my heart, my hand shall first be punished therefore; for, may I come to the fire, it shall be first burned."

Considered the premier leader of the English Reformation, Thomas Cranmer (1489 – 1556) ranks alongside Luther in Germany, Calvin in Switzerland, and Knox in Scotland as a national religious figure of the sixteenth century.

Cranmer was born in Nottingham to a landed family, but his future lay outside the ranks of the country gentry. During his time at Cambridge as a university priest, he was introduced to the writings of Martin Luther. Unlike William Tyndale, who, in the 1520s was taking a lead in English Reformation, Cranmer's "conversion" was slow in coming. During this decade, Cranmer was ordained to the priesthood and completed his doctorate of divinity at Cambridge. In 1532, King Henry VII appointed him Archbishop of Canterbury.

Though the king rattled through six wives, Cranmer remained loyal and alive, fearing to speak out against Henry's wickedness. But on other matters Cranmer was his own man. When Henry brought his Six Articles (upholding transubstantiation, clerical celibacy, and other Catholic dogma) before the Parliament, Cranmer initially argued against them. Indeed, he had a very personal stake in the matter of clerical celibacy. The previous year he had married Margaret, the niece of Andreas Osiander, a prominent Lutheran Reformer. She remained in Germany, and the marriage was kept secret — so secret that those who knew he was married joked that he traveled with her in his suitcase. But when Parliament voted to approve Henry's Six Articles, Cranmer backed down. Despite enemies in the court, however, Cranmer managed to remain in the good graces of the king, and he stood at Henry's bedside during his final moments.

With Henry's son Edward VI on the throne, Cranmer enjoyed greater freedom to follow his instincts and develop a more Protestant-oriented liturgy and theology, particularly through the Book of Common Prayer. The first version presented a mild Protestant stance. But three years later, in 1552, the volume demonstrated an even greater separation from Rome. The Forty-two Articles, which would become known as the Thirty-nine Articles, also held an unapologetic Protestant slant. Yet his theology offered a balanced perspective on such issues as predestination, accepting the Augustinian view of God's providence in salvation while adding a warning that it not be used to sanction sin or to despair of being elect.

The future looked bright for Cranmer until Edward's older sister Mary ascended the throne, quickly changing Cranmer's standing in court. A devout Catholic, Mary was determined to reverse the English Reformation and restore the Catholic Church.

When Mary brought back the Old Latin Mass and set aside the Book of Common Prayer , Cranmer strongly protested. He was arrested, tried, and sentenced to death. But executing him was too easy. Mary and the Catholic clerics sought a public recantation. Indeed, so important was his reconversion to Catholicism that clerics visited him regularly to wear him down. The tactics worked, and Cranmer recanted his Protestant faith five times. He signed a six-point document denouncing the tenets of the Reformation. And even though he gave his allegiance to the "Pope and vicar of Christ, to whom all the faithful are bound subject," it was not enough to save him. It was enough, however, to thoroughly humiliate him, which was exactly what his opponents desired. He was sentenced to be burned at the stake.

On March 21, 1556, Cranmer was led out to make a final public confession of his Catholic faith. But perhaps realizing the execution would not be stopped no matter what he said, he confessed his sins — particularly the grave sin of recanting the gospel message that he truly believed. He admitted that the recantations were signed "for fear of death."

With those words, Cranmer became a martyr to the Protestant faith. He was taken to the stake and the fire was lit. Reaching into the flames with his right hand, he confessed, "As my hand offended, writing contrary to my heart, my hand shall first be punished." It was a slow, agonizing death as it had been for others — both Protestant and Catholic — who were sacrificed to the flames of religious intolerance.


If you enjoyed the above article, please take a minute to read about the book that it was adapted from:

ParadeofFaith-Bookcover

Parade of Faith: A Biographical History of the Christian Church

by Ruth A. Tucker
Buy the book!
The story of Christianity centers on people whose lives have been transformed by the resurrected Lord. Tucker puts this front and center in a lively overview peppered with sidebars; historical "what if?" questions; sections on everyday life; drawings and illustrations; bibliographies for further reading.



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