Sunday, September 04, 2011

Daily Devotional Sunday 4th September

“This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”Isaiah 48:17 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Thou whom my soul loveth."
Song of Solomon 1:7

It is well to be able, without any "if" or "but," to say of the Lord Jesus--"Thou whom my soul loveth." Many can only say of Jesus that they hope they love him; they trust they love him; but only a poor and shallow experience will be content to stay here. No one ought to give any rest to his spirit till he feels quite sure about a matter of such vital importance. We ought not to be satisfied with a superficial hope that Jesus loves us, and with a bare trust that we love him. The old saints did not generally speak with "buts," and "ifs," and "hopes," and "trusts," but they spoke positively and plainly. "I know whom I have believed," saith Paul. "I know that my Redeemer liveth," saith Job. Get positive knowledge of your love of Jesus, and be not satisfied till you can speak of your interest in him as a reality, which you have made sure by having received the witness of the Holy Spirit, and his seal upon your soul by faith.

True love to Christ is in every case the Holy Spirit's work, and must be wrought in the heart by him. He is the efficient cause of it; but the logical reason why we love Jesus lies in himself. Why do we love Jesus? Because he first loved us. Why do we love Jesus? Because he "gave himself for us." We have life through his death; we have peace through his blood. Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor. Why do we love Jesus? Because of the excellency of his person. We are filled with a sense of his beauty! an admiration of his charms! a consciousness of his infinite perfection! His greatness, goodness, and loveliness, in one resplendent ray, combine to enchant the soul till it is so ravished that it exclaims, "Yea, he is altogether lovely." Blessed love this--a love which binds the heart with chains more soft than silk, and yet more firm than adamant!

Evening

"The Lord trieth the righteous."
Psalm 11:5

All events are under the control of Providence; consequently all the trials of our outward life are traceable at once to the great First Cause. Out of the golden gate of God's ordinance the armies of trial march forth in array, clad in their iron armour, and armed with weapons of war. All providences are doors to trial. Even our mercies, like roses, have their thorns. Men may be drowned in seas of prosperity as well as in rivers of affliction. Our mountains are not too high, and our valleys are not too low for temptations: trials lurk on all roads. Everywhere, above and beneath, we are beset and surrounded with dangers. Yet no shower falls unpermitted from the threatening cloud; every drop has its order ere it hastens to the earth. The trials which come from God are sent to prove and strengthen our graces, and so at once to illustrate the power of divine grace, to test the genuineness of our virtues, and to add to their energy. Our Lord in his infinite wisdom and superabundant love, sets so high a value upon his people's faith that he will not screen them from those trials by which faith is strengthened. You would never have possessed the precious faith which now supports you if the trial of your faith had not been like unto fire. You are a tree that never would have rooted so well if the wind had not rocked you to and fro, and made you take firm hold upon the precious truths of the covenant grace. Worldly ease is a great foe to faith; it loosens the joints of holy valour, and snaps the sinews of sacred courage. The balloon never rises until the cords are cut; affliction doth this sharp service for believing souls. While the wheat sleeps comfortably in the husk it is useless to man, it must be threshed out of its resting place before its value can be known. Thus it is well that Jehovah trieth the righteous, for it causeth them to grow rich towards God.

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Today's reading: Psalm 140-142, 1 Corinthians 14:1-20 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Psalm 140-142

1 Rescue me, LORD, from evildoers;
protect me from the violent,
2 who devise evil plans in their hearts
and stir up war every day.
3 They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent's;
the poison of vipers is on their lips.

4 Keep me safe, LORD, from the hands of the wicked;
protect me from the violent,
who devise ways to trip my feet.
5 The arrogant have hidden a snare for me;
they have spread out the cords of their net
and have set traps for me along my path....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 1 Corinthians 14:1-20

Intelligibility in Worship

1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.

6 Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church....

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Reconciling the Symbols

This week's reading: Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

Christian environmental educators Loren and Mary Ruth Wilkinson reflect on two important symbols:

The most powerful symbol in our time is the picture of the earth from space ... But that image of the planet seems to hold for many today their only hope of wholeness. Individual life, they say, is meaningless; what counts is the health of the planet ...

Christians too are moved by these pictures of our planet, but are not convinced that our only hope is in the planet's health ... Our hope is centered on another symbol, the cross. The cross expresses God's good news to men and women.

Is the cross good news for the rest of creation as well? Can the two symbols-of the earth (a circle) and the cross-be reconciled? Can there be such a thing as a "Christian environmentalist?" We are convinced the answer to these questions is yes ... But first we need to think a little more about what is implied by these two symbols, circle and cross, and the relationships and tensions between them ...

The earth is round, and it is full of cycles. Living things die and rot into soil, which nourishes more living things. Rain falls on mountains, where it drains into rivers, which flow into the sea, which evaporates into clouds, which carry rain again to the mountains. The carbon dioxide we exhale is taken in by plants, which expire oxygen, which we inhale and then exhale as carbon dioxide. For all these cycles the circle is a good symbol.

Christian thinking is centered on the cross. Geometrically, the cross is the intersection of two straight lines, a horizontal and a vertical. Instead of one line, turning again and again in a circle, the Christian sees that the earth is not eternal. For another line intersects ours from outside. The cross refers to the place where God's perspective has intersected ours most clearly. The execution of one man at a particular place and time is the midpoint, the crux: the intersection of eternal and temporal, God's time and ours.

Many environmentalists are understandably suspicious of this Christian view of time and of the Christian conviction that there is another reality intersecting ours. They say that it has made Christians other-worldly, neglectful of the needs of the earth, too likely to use the earth only as a backdrop for the human drama of eternal salvation ...

The biblical view recognizes the reality of the cycles of nature ...

We are not satisfied with the cycles. For all the beauty of the earth and its circling life, it does not bring its own meaning with it ...

Creation itself is neither meaningless nor empty, but it lacks a center: The center provided by recognizing that creation is not just "nature" or "resources" or "the environment." The writer of Ecclesiastes both concludes and answers his lament with words particularly well-suited for our time: "Remember your Creator."

Think About It

  • How do you view the two symbols mentioned in this note?
  • In what ways do the two symbols interconnect?
  • Are there ways in which you are both a Christian and an environmentalist?

Pray About It

God and Creator, I know that without you everything is meaningless. As I work to steward your creation properly, help me to keep you at the center of my actions.


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Today's reading is from the
NIV Stewardship Study Bible
by Zondervan


Discover the remarkable privilege we have as stewards of God's design for life through the study of Scripture.


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