Thursday, September 15, 2011

Daily Devotional Thursday 15th September

"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” Philippians 2:1-2 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"There were also with him other little ships."
Mark 4:36

Jesus was the Lord High Admiral of the sea that night, and his presence preserved the whole convoy. It is well to sail with Jesus, even though it be in a little ship. When we sail in Christ's company, we may not make sure of fair weather, for great storms may toss the vessel which carries the Lord himself, and we must not expect to find the sea less boisterous around our little boat. If we go with Jesus we must be content to fare as he fares; and when the waves are rough to him, they will be rough to us. It is by tempest and tossing that we shall come to land, as he did before us.

When the storm swept over Galilee's dark lake all faces gathered blackness, and all hearts dreaded shipwreck. When all creature help was useless, the slumbering Saviour arose, and with a word, transformed the riot of the tempest into the deep quiet of a calm; then were the little vessels at rest as well as that which carried the Lord. Jesus is the star of the sea; and though there be sorrow upon the sea, when Jesus is on it there is joy too. May our hearts make Jesus their anchor, their rudder, their lighthouse, their life-boat, and their harbour. His Church is the Admiral's flagship, let us attend her movements, and cheer her officers with our presence. He himself is the great attraction; let us follow ever in his wake, mark his signals, steer by his chart, and never fear while he is within hail. Not one ship in the convoy shall suffer wreck; the great Commodore will steer every barque in safety to the desired haven. By faith we will slip our cable for another day's cruise, and sail forth with Jesus into a sea of tribulation. Winds and waves will not spare us, but they all obey him; and, therefore, whatever squalls may occur without, faith shall feel a blessed calm within. He is ever in the centre of the weather-beaten company: let us rejoice in him. His vessel has reached the haven, and so shall ours.

Evening

"I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin."
Psalm 32:5

David's grief for sin was bitter. Its effects were visible upon his outward frame: "his bones waxed old"; "his moisture was turned into the drought of summer." No remedy could he find, until he made a full confession before the throne of the heavenly grace. He tells us that for a time he kept silence, and his heart became more and more filled with grief: like a mountain tarn whose outlet is blocked up, his soul was swollen with torrents of sorrow. He fashioned excuses; he endeavoured to divert his thoughts, but it was all to no purpose; like a festering sore his anguish gathered, and as he would not use the lancet of confession, his spirit was full of torment, and knew no rest. At last it came to this, that he must return unto his God in humble penitence, or die outright; so he hastened to the mercy-seat, and there unrolled the volume of his iniquities before the all-seeing One, acknowledging all the evil of his ways in language such as you read in the fifty-first and other penitential Psalms. Having done this, a work so simple and yet so difficult to pride, he received at once the token of divine forgiveness; the bones which had been broken were made to rejoice, and he came forth from his closet to sing the blessedness of the man whose transgression is forgiven. See the value of a grace-wrought confession of sin! It is to be prized above all price, for in every case where there is a genuine, gracious confession, mercy is freely given, not because the repentance and confession deserve mercy, but for Christ's sake. Blessed be God, there is always healing for the broken heart; the fountain is ever flowing to cleanse us from our sins. Truly, O Lord, thou art a God "ready to pardon!" Therefore will we acknowledge our iniquities.

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Today's reading: Proverbs 19-21, 2 Corinthians 7 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Proverbs 19-21

1 Better the poor whose walk is blameless
than a fool whose lips are perverse.

2 Desire without knowledge is not good—
how much more will hasty feet miss the way!

3 A person’s own folly leads to their ruin,
yet their heart rages against the LORD.

4 Wealth attracts many friends,
but even the closest friend of the poor person deserts them.

5 A false witness will not go unpunished,
and whoever pours out lies will not go free.

6 Many curry favor with a ruler,
and everyone is the friend of one who gives gifts....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 2 Corinthians 7

1 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

Paul’s Joy Over the Church’s Repentance

2 Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. 3 I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. 4 I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.

5 For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. 6 But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever....

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Elkanah

[Ĕl'kănah] - god hath created or is jealous, possessing.

  1. A Levite of the family of Kohath and brother of Assir and Abiasaph (Exod. 6:24; 1 Chron. 6:23).
  2. The father of the prophet Samuel, and a descendant of No. 1 in the fifth generation (1 Sam. 1:1-23; 2:11, 20; 1 Chron. 6:27, 34).
  3. A descendant of Levi through Kohath ( 1 Chron. 6:25, 36).
  4. A descendant of Kohath (1 Chron. 6:26, 35). Perhaps the same person as No. 3.
  5. An ancestor of Netophathite villagers (1 Chron. 9:16).
  6. A Korhite who joined David at Ziklag (1 Chron. 12:6).
  7. A Levite, doorkeeper of the Ark (1 Chron. 15:23). Perhaps the same as No. 6.
  8. An officer in king Ahaz'household and second only to the king, who was slain when Pekah invaded Judah (2 Chron. 28:7).
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September 14, 2011

Greed is Contagious

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give generously to those in need; always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of real life" (1 Timothy 6:17-19, NLT).

Friend to Friend

It was a holiday weekend and I was determined to find the best sale in town - so I headed to the mall. Evidently, everyone else had the same idea because the mall parking lot was crammed full. Horns were honking. People were racing into various entrances, an anxious look on their faces. I wanted to cruise the mall, roll down my window and shout, "Seriously? It is only a sale, people!" As I drove on, I thought about the harried scene I had just witnessed and my thoughts turned to the ugly subject of greed. Greed is contagious. If we spend time with people who are prone to jealousy and greed, it will be easier for us to be jealous and greedy as well.

When anyone in my house gets sick, they know what is coming. War! I immediately launch an all-out battle against sickness and germs. I head to the store in order to stock up on necessary supplies. The list is usually the same; juice, soup, crackers, yogurt, throat lozenges, tissues, cold medicine and last, but certainly not least, several cans of Lysol. I then implement my battle plan. The "sickie" is confined to their quarters. They are allotted one bathroom, one sofa and one bedroom for the duration of their illness. The ailing one is not to enter any other area of the barracks ... uh, house ... without my permission. I then go room to room; spraying every surface that they may have touched or even thought about touching. While the patient is allowed to continue breathing, I tend to follow the feeble one around, spraying the air that borders those breaths. This procedure continues until the patient is completely well. I know. I am obnoxious but I am also successful more times than not. I do not want to catch their disease and feel it is my personal responsibility to quarantine the sick ones in order to halt the progression of the illness.

Greed is a noxious disease, one that demands immediate and fierce spiritual quarantine. We must be careful that we do notcatch the spirit of greed and steer clear of those people who are carriers of this deadly disease.

Greed is an inside job, invading our thoughts and then taking up residence in a discontented heart as it opens the door for other deadly sins. Proverbs 4:23 issues a clear warning when it says: "Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do" (NLT). Greed and honesty cannot exist in the same heart and God wants us to give with an honest heart.

"I know, my God, that you test people's hearts. You are happy when people do what is right. I was happy to give all these things. I gave with an honest heart" (1 Chronicles 29:17, NCV).

In this verse "honest" literally means "with integrity." To give with integrity is to give the right thing at the right time, to the right person for the right reason. The reason for giving should always originate in love - God's love - a love that has been given to us in order for us to give it away in His name. The circle of giving is a circle of love and it all started with God when He gave His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.

We are loved, so we give love and because we give love, we receive more love. Matthew 7:2 says "the amount you give to others will be given to you" (NCV). Luke 6:38 offers a clear picture of God's giving plan. "Give and you will receive. You will be given much. Pressed down, shaken together, and running over, it will spill into your lap.The way you give to others is the way God will give to you" (NCV). What and how we give determines what and how much we receive.

We simply cannot out-give God! I have heard it said that the Lord loves a cheerful giver but that He will even accept it from a grouch. I have also heard it said that plenty of people are willing to give God credit but few are willing to give Him cash. The truth is that the Father looks past the gift and examines the heart behind the gift. The motive of the heart determines the acceptability of the gift.

Let's Pray

Father, my heart and life are so often filled with greed and discontent. Right now, I choose to take my eyes off of "things" and focus on what You want for my life. Thank You for all that You have given to me and for what You have done in my heart. I praise You, knowing that in You I have everything I need. Please teach me how to give in a way that pleases and honors You.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now it's Your Turn

Read and meditate on Paul's words in Philippians 4:12-13: "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." What impact do these verses have on an attitude of greed?

We need to understand that greed will destroy our peace and contentment. Examine your life, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal every area of greed. Confess your greed as sin and choose against it while looking for ways to practice "Kingdom" giving. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What areas of my life are most affected by greed?
  • What are my idols?
  • What "things" or "desires" do I need to give up so that greed will have no grip on my life?
  • What specific ways can I begin to practice "Kingdom" giving?
  • What is the first step I should take in order to guard against greed?

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.

Come As You Are is Mary's NEW Online Bible Study that begins September 26! The most common invitation offered by Jesus Christ is simply to "come." He doesn't ask us to fix what is wrong or expect us to clean up our lives. That is His responsibility. Jesus loves us just as we are and when we come to Him with a "yes" in our hearts, He lovingly transforms the broken places into beautiful scars of healing and new life. Enroll before October 1 and 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

Matthews, NC 28106

info@girlfriendsingod.com
www.girlfriendsingod.com

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P31Header
Melissa Taylor

September 14, 2011

My Thoughts vs. God's Word
Melissa Taylor

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." John 10:10 (NKJV)

Do you ever question if you are good enough? Are you more likely to dwell on what's wrong with you than what's right with you?

One day I realized I was scrutinizing myself to find out what my problem was. The more I picked myself apart, the more it dawned on me another voice was egging me on; the voice of the enemy, Satan. As I listened to his lies, my sense or worth and security were zapped.

For a long time I didn't even recognize him for who he was. The negative thoughts and deceitful suggestions simply sounded like my own voice.

The Bible opens with a serpent slithering into the lives of Adam and Eve. He filled their heads with lies they believed which separated them from God. Jesus, too, was tempted by this liar. He was ready though, with the Word of God, to defeat the evil one.

We too can have this weapon in our arsenal. As we fill our hearts and minds with Truth, we can defeat the lies we tell ourselves and the lies Satan whispers to our hearts.

When I compare my negative thoughts to God's Word, the differences amaze me:

My thoughts: I want to give up.
God's Word: Be committed. Matthew 5:33-37

My thoughts: I'll feel lost.
God's Word: He watches my paths and establishes my ways. Proverbs 5:21, 4:26

My thoughts: No one loves me.
God's Word: He loves me more than life. John 3:16

My thoughts: I'm ugly.
God's Word: I'm wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

My thoughts: I'm all alone and no one understands me.
God's Word: He will never leave me. He has plans for my life. Deuteronomy 31:6, Jeremiah 29:11

My thoughts: I'm just not good enough.
God's Word: I was created in His image. Genesis 1:26

Are you ready to replace lies with God's truth, so when the enemy tries to slither back in with false accusations, you'll be ready to combat him with what God's Word says about you?

To get started, evaluate your thoughts and pray for wisdom to distinguish the voice of the enemy. Condemning thoughts that steal your confidence of who you are in Christ aren't from God. Let's commit today to renew our mind with the Word of God each day, and replace those worn-out, deceitful lies with Truth.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your life-giving truth. Please fill me with Your Word so that I can live in freedom and confidence! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Dive into God's Word with Melissa's Online Bible study ofA Confident Heart by Renee Swope. Click here to be a part of this powerful study and community!

You won't want to miss the dynamic A Confident HeartConference Call Series either! To purchase the seriesclick here.

What others are saying about A Confident Heart:

• This book pierced my heart, as no other reading, hearing, or experience has.

• This is so what I need! I love how you remind us to pray God's Word. His truth is only what makes a difference with toxic thoughts.

• I felt like you were writing about me. I find myself not doing things that would bring joy because of not being good enough. This book describes how I have felt all my life.

We invite you to join thousands of others participating in Melissa's Online Bible Study! Visit her blog to sign up and also enter to win a free Conference Call Series for you and a friend!

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 the verses in this devotion and write down what God's Word says.

Reflections:
Are my thoughts reflective of who God's Word says I am?

If not, what are one or two I will begin to change by memorizing some of the verses above?

Power Verses:
Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things." (1984 NIV)

Romans 8:1, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

© 2011 by Melissa Taylor. All rights reserved.

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

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“What are social games?” you might ask. You’ve almost certainly heard them spoken of before; they’re easily accessible games that are played over social networks like Facebook and smart phones like iPhones. Their easy access and ubiquity has allowed social gaming to rise dramatically in popularity in recent years.

For most players, social games are a pleasant and momentary diversion from the rigors of daily life. Social games can also function as a low-stress, low-cost, and low-maintenance means of interacting with friends and family. Their subject matters may vary greatly, but, by and large, social games have historically provided rather light fare as far as content is concerned, exploring simple themes like farming and cooking or exploiting tired tropes like gangsters and vampires.

But, what if a social game could be more than just a fleeting distraction? What if a social game could carry a positive message, one that was driven by values and a sense of morality?

Noah’s Ark is a new Facebook game that allows players to experience firsthand one of the best-known stories from the Old Testament. To assist Noah in his preparations for the great flood, players collect animals, gather resources and work towards building the Ark. Players interact with friends and help each other out, building relationships and enriching the game experience with positive social interaction. There’s also a daily trivia feature that teaches and tests your knowledge about the story of Noah, his family, and the building of the Ark.

The Noah’s Ark game is designed to be played by all audiences and can be played for free.

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A Sense of God's Timing

Today's reading: 1 Samuel 24

Two leaders locked in a death struggle-with one refusing to fight

1 Samuel 24:11-12 "I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. May the LORD judge between you and me."

In the winter of 1777, America had two armies. One lived in comfortable homes in Philadelphia. The other camped in the snow in the hills to the northwest, at a place called Valley Forge. One showed impeccable discipline. The other tried desperately to keep its untrained recruits from deserting. One was supplied by ship with every luxury. The other fought frostbite because its soldiers had no boots.

In sum, one army had everything it could want to weather a cold winter and a war, while the other hung by a thread. Who could have thought, seeing the two, that within three years the army with nothing would defeat the army with everything?

The impoverished American army could never go head-on against the crack British forces. But it could always outwait them. George Washington's army had the support of the American people, while the British army, for all its strength, was far from home. The British had to win decisively, putting an end to the rebellion. The Americans merely had to survive and outlast them.

Washington was a military genius not at battle tactics, but at a more fundamental necessity: encouraging his men to fight on. One-quarter of them died of cold and disease that bitter winter at Valley Forge. Only his personal strength held the miserable army together. That was the key to victory.

Two Kings in Israel

David and his followers lived in a similar situation. Saul was the right and proper king, living in luxury. David had been secretly anointed as his replacement, but he lived in the desert, scrabbling to survive. Saul had a professional army, David a small band composed of family members and an assortment of outlaws.

Twice Saul accidentally fell into David's hands, but David refused to kill him. He felt that would violate God's will. He would not use his sword to become king. He fought not to win but to survive.

Survival was not easy. You can read between the lines of 1 Samuel 21-31 and see a great drama unfolding. Saul is clearly deteriorating. Can David hold on long enough to outlast him?

At first David ran from one place to another, alone and completely vulnerable. Then, after a few hundred supporters joined him, the local people turned the rebels in twice (see 1 Samuel 23:19; 26:1). Perhaps they feared that Saul would slaughter them the way he had the Nob priests (see 1 Samuel 22:6-23).

David survived and managed to keep his army intact. He even built popular support by providing military protection to his neighbors. But eventually he saw that his position was impossible. "One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul," he thought (1 Samuel 27:1). He left Israel and became, with his army, a hired soldier for one of the Philistine kings.

Sooner or later David's double-agent act would have been found out. In fact, when the Philistines planned a major military effort against Israel, David barely escaped having to fight his own people.

Time on His Side

David believed God's promise even when his situation looked very bad. He would wait for God's timing. God had anointed him king, and he trusted God to vindicate him.

A sense of timing, people say, is essential to leadership. You must know when to act boldly and when to wait patiently; when to bend and when to stand firm. David had that critical sense of timing because he trusted God's control of events.

Life Question

  • What makes you impatient? What can you learn about patience from David's life?

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