Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Daily Devotional Tuesday 20th September

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"The liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free."
Galatians 5:1

This "liberty" makes us free to heaven's charter--the Bible. Here is a choice passage, believer, "When thou passest through the rivers, I will be with thee." You are free to that. Here is another: "The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee"; you are free to that. You are a welcome guest at the table of the promises. Scripture is a never-failing treasury filled with boundless stores of grace. It is the bank of heaven; you may draw from it as much as you please, without let or hindrance. Come in faith and you are welcome to all covenant blessings. There is not a promise in the Word which shall be withheld. In the depths of tribulations let this freedom comfort you; amidst waves of distress let it cheer you; when sorrows surround thee let it be thy solace. This is thy Father's love-token; thou art free to it at all times. Thou art also free to the throne of grace. It is the believer's privilege to have access at all times to his heavenly Father. Whatever our desires, our difficulties, our wants, we are at liberty to spread all before him. It matters not how much we may have sinned, we may ask and expect pardon. It signifies nothing how poor we are, we may plead his promise that he will provide all things needful. We have permission to approach his throne at all times--in midnight's darkest hour, or in noontide's most burning heat. Exercise thy right, O believer, and live up to thy privilege. Thou art free to all that is treasured up in Christ--wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. It matters not what thy need is, for there is fulness of supply in Christ, and it is there for thee. O what a "freedom" is thine! freedom from condemnation, freedom to the promises, freedom to the throne of grace, and at last freedom to enter heaven!

Evening

"For this child I prayed."
1 Samuel 1:27

Devout souls delight to look upon those mercies which they have obtained in answer to supplication, for they can see God's especial love in them. When we can name our blessings Samuel, that is, "asked of God," they will be as dear to us as her child was to Hannah. Peninnah had many children, but they came as common blessings unsought in prayer: Hannah's one heaven-given child was dearer far, because he was the fruit of earnest pleadings. How sweet was that water to Samson which he found at "the well of him that prayed!" Quassia cups turn all waters bitter, but the cup of prayer puts a sweetness into the draughts it brings. Did we pray for the conversion of our children? How doubly sweet, when they are saved, to see in them our own petitions fulfilled! Better to rejoice over them as the fruit of our pleadings than as the fruit of our bodies. Have we sought of the Lord some choice spiritual gift? When it comes to us it will be wrapped up in the gold cloth of God's faithfulness and truth, and so be doubly precious. Have we petitioned for success in the Lord's work? How joyful is the prosperity which comes flying upon the wings of prayer! It is always best to get blessings into our house in the legitimate way, by the door of prayer; then they are blessings indeed, and not temptations. Even when prayer speeds not, the blessings grow all the richer for the delay; the child Jesus was all the more lovely in the eyes of Mary when she found him after having sought him sorrowing. That which we win by prayer we should dedicate to God, as Hannah dedicated Samuel. The gift came from heaven, let it go to heaven. Prayer brought it, gratitude sang over it, let devotion consecrate it. Here will be a special occasion for saying, "Of thine own have I given unto thee." Reader, is prayer your element or your weariness? Which?

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 1-3, 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Ecclesiastes 1-3

Everything Is Meaningless

1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:

2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

3 What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
7 All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

Paul Boasts About His Sufferings

16 I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then tolerate me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. 17 In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. 18 Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. 19 You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. 21 To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!

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Ephraim

[Ē'phrăĭm] - doubly fruitful. The second son of Joseph by Asenath and founder of a tribal family (Gen. 41:52; Num. 1:10). Also the name of a town (2 Sam. 13:23), a city (John 11:54), a gate of Jerusalem (2 Kings 14:13), and a wood (2 Sam. 18:6).

The Man Who Represented Fruitful Pruning

In Jacob's prophetic blessing of his sons the prominent feature of Joseph's portion was that of fruitfulness, a prophecy receiving its fulfilment in the double tribe springing from Joseph, namely, Ephraim and Manasseh, like two branches out of the parent stem. Joseph himself was "a fruitful bough" because he had been so well pruned. The sharp knife of adversity led to the sweet fruit, and the fruitful bough ran over the wall. Ephraim and Manasseh were the heads of most fruitful tribes. The Book of Hosea, however, reveals how the blessings showered upon these tribes were ill requited.

Joseph named his second son Ephraim because as he said "God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction." Here Joseph, although a Hebrew, speaks as a Gentile. Ephraim was the fruitfulness of his father in the land of Egypt as a Gentile prince, and Jacob rightly calls his seed "the fulness of the Gentiles," when he adopts him on his dying bed.

The representative man of the tribe of Ephraim is Joshua. No other like him arose afterwards in this tribe. Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, founder of the kingdom of Ephraim, was the exact opposite to Joshua in faith and conduct.

The significance of Ephraim's name must not be lost upon us. What Joseph said of him indicated that God had brought good out of evil, privilege out of pain, triumph out of tragedy. In spite of any affliction that may be ours, do we remain fruitful in every good work? To Joseph the birth of Ephraim came as luscious fruit after the severe pruning of ill-treatment, slavery and prison. See John 15:1-8.

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Priscilla

The Woman Who Was Foremost in Service

Scripture References - Acts 18:2, 18,26; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19

Name Meaning - Priscilla is the diminutive of Prisca, feminine of Prisca meaning "primitive," hence, "worthy, or venerable," as belonging to the good old time. This name is also found as a family name in the earliest Roman annals, and appears in the form "Prisca" in Paul's Second Epistle to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:19 ). Cruden says Priscilla means "ancient, old-fashioned simplicity." It is also interesting to note that Aquila, Priscilla's husband, had the family name of the commander of a legion, for it means "eagle" - emblem of the Roman army. Both names are Roman. From the prominence given in Roman inscriptions and legends to the name Prisca it is concluded that she belonged to a distinguished Roman family.

Family Connections - Of Priscilla's background and parentage Scripture is silent. Doubtless, like her husband, she was born in Pontus. Both were Jews of Asia-Minor, and as such were expelled by Claudius from Rome, and in Corinth, Priscilla and Aquila became the honored and much-loved friends of Paul. In fact, they were the most distinguished among his fellow-helpers in the cause of Christ.

As Priscilla is always paired with her husband, Aquila, it is difficult to separate her and place her on a pedestal of her own. Their two hearts beat as one. Harmoniously, they labored together in the service of the church. They walked as one for they had mutually agreed to put Christ first. In the six references where both are mentioned, the name of Priscilla comes first in three instances, and Aquila first in the other three. They are never mentioned apart. Is there any significance attached to the fact that Aquila is not named first every time, but equally shares mention with his wife? A number of conjectures have been put forth why Priscilla comes first at all in the references to them both. Some writers suggest that she was the more energetic of the two, and perhaps had the stronger character. Dinsdale Young thinks that Priscilla may have been a believer before her husband, and that she won him for the Lord by her "chaste conversation," or that perhaps hers was a primacy of character and service, or a more conspicuous intellectual ability, or that she may have been of nobler birth and social quality than Aquila.

Personally, we see no reason at all for Priscilla's name coming first in half of the Scripture references to her, even though she may recall the wonderful prominence of women in early Christianity, and in martyrdom and service for Christ. If, in any way, Priscilla outshone Aquila, he must have praised God for such a precious gifted wife. Charles Kingsley makes one of his characters in Westward Ho! say, "In her he had found a treasure and knew what he had found." This must have been Aquila's sentiment also. Let us now look at the many fascinating facets of the union existing between these two old-time saints.

They Were One in Marital Bliss

What romance, love and blending of personalities are associated with such an ordinary phrase as "Aquila ... with his wife Priscilla." How interesting it would be to know where and how they met, fell in love with each other and married! As nothing is said about any children that through the years came to grace their lovely home, we can take it that Priscilla was childless. From the record we have of Aquila and Priscilla their story is a beautiful idyll of home life. Together from the time of their marriage they are always named together, and were inseparable. What a pleasant picture of wedded love they present! To these two, wedlock was a divine ordinance and indissoluble union, and one which halved their sorrows and doubled their joys. They were not unequally yoked together but joined in the Lord.

In the truest sense, Aquila and Priscilla were "no more twain but one flesh," and all that they covenanted to accomplish together from the hour of their marriage vows was realized as the result of the perfect unity of the spiritual, nature of purpose, and of aim. As twin stars, Aquila and Priscilla were "bright with borrowed rays divine." They moved in one orbit and were united in all their labors as well as in their love. With Nabal and Abigail we have a sad illustration of husband and wife who had nothing in common, who were diametrically opposed to each other in character, and in whom sordidness and sublimity were associated. But with Aquila and Priscilla it was so different, for like Zacharias and Elisabeth they, too, were "both righteous" and like them, manifested a union, idyllic in its full-orbed loveliness and charm. Because the Bible is everybody's Book, it is the married people's Book revealing how the Aquilas and Priscillas can live happily together.

They Were One in the Lord

Further, this Christian couple were one in their experience of God's saving power, and so became one in their holy zeal for the Saviour, and in their service for His church. They were partners in faithful endeavors, not only to present Christ by lip, but also in the excellency of their walk and conversation. The supreme need of our critical time is not for more preachers, but for more lay workers like Aquila and Priscilla ready to exemplify Christ in the common round of life. Paul first discovered this godly pair when he came to Corinth from Athens where they had been driven by the edict of Claudius against the Jews. What an arrestive phrase that is, "Paul found a certain Jew named Aquila ... with his wife Priscilla" (Acts 18:2). What a find that was! Fewer, grander discoveries have ever been made. "Paul was a wonderful discoverer. He was always finding, now a truth, now a grace, now a personality. He was ever finding because he was ever seeking." How many have we found for the Lord?

Just when Aquila and Priscilla became the Lord's, Scripture does not say. Had they been unconverted when Paul found them it would have been impossible for them to remain so, with Paul living in their home for eighteen months, and their contact with the Apostle's constant teaching of the Word of God in the nearby synagogue. The inference is that when Paul met them they were firmly established in the Christian faith, and that in them he found two saintly souls after his own heart. Both Aquila and Priscilla as Hebrews were drenched in Old Testament Scriptures and had found in the promised Messiah, their Saviour and Lord, and were thus able to enter into Paul's remarkable ministry during his stay in Corinth. With honored Paul as their guest, what times the three of them must have had together in prayer and meditation upon the Word. What spiritual knowledge Aquila and Priscilla must have acquired from the Early Church's greatest Bible teacher. Theirs must have been a thorough theological course.

They Were One in Secular Occupation

Luke informs us that "by their occupation they were tentmakers" (Acts 18:3 ). This must have added to Paul's delight in living with Aquila and Priscilla for he was of the same craft, and at times supported himself in this way (Acts 20:34; 1Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8 ). When not preaching and teaching we can imagine Paul, Aquila and Priscilla sitting together in Aquila's shop as they plied their needles and fashioned or repaired tents. Aquila and Priscilla shared the duties of their workshop. They were not ashamed of manual toil. Proud of their craft, we can believe that the product of their joint labors was known for its excellent quality. The tents from their establishment made of honest goat's hair, sewn with honest thread, seamed and disposed of at an honest price, gave Aquila and Priscilla a wide reputation. They were in the tent business first of all, for the glory of God.

As Jews, Paul, Aquila and Priscilla were taught the tent trade when they were young, for the teaching of rabbis was that the father who failed to teach his son a trade educated him to be a thief. Jesus Himself was taught a trade and was thus known not only as "the carpenter's son" but also as, "the Carpenter." We are thus shown the dignity of labor. The craft of Aquila and Priscilla may have been a common one, but it was approached in an uncommon spirit. Their toil was honorable and they honored God in their toil, even as Jesus did when for long years He worked at the bench. Do we turn our particular craft to good account for the Lord? "A particular craft will throw one into association with a particular class of persons, and if one is alert and always about the Master's business, he may find in his particular calling a special opportunity for testimony from which others, not of the same craft, are circumstantially excluded."

They Were One in Their Friendship for Paul

As we read the references to Aquila and Priscilla we cannot fail to be impressed with the affection they had for Paul, and of the way he held them in high esteem. Of all the Apostle's co-workers none were to prove themselves as loyal and helpful as these two. As a lonely man, and in constant need of friendship and comfort, none cared for Paul as that home-making couple provided for him. Their oneness in spiritual things made Aquila and Priscilla so precious to the heart of Paul who designated them "my fellow-workers in Christ Jesus" (Romans 16:3, asv). They were workers not shirkers in the divine vineyard, and their labors with and for the Apostle were not in vain, seeing they wrought "in Christ Jesus." They shared Paul's itinerant ministry. They went to Ephesus and to Rome assisting their friend in every way. As missionaries they scattered the good seed of the Gospel wherever they went (Acts 18:18; Romans 16:3; 2Timothy 4:19).

This is why Paul was generous in his recognition and acknowledgment of indebtedness to these godly souls, who, for love of Christ labored with him so devotedly in the Gospel. When Paul left Corinth after a residence of a year and a half in the home of Priscilla and Aquila, they left with him for Ephesus. After some time he "left them there," and sailed to Jerusalem. Being "left there" was in the providence of God as we shall see when we come to their contact with Apollos there. In the furtherance of the Gospel Paul tells us that Priscilla and Aquila laid down their own necks for his sake, earning thereby not only his heartfelt gratitude, but also that of all the Gentile churches which Paul had founded. Moule translates this passage, "For my life's sake submitted their own throats to the knife" (Romans 16:3, 4) - referring to some stern crisis otherwise utterly unknown to us but well-known in heaven. In some way or another, possibly during the great Ephesian riots, they had saved the man whom the Lord consecrated to the service of the Gentile world.

The way Paul describes their readiness to sacrifice themselves on his behalf conveys the thought that they had been exposed to martyrdom for his sake. He never forgot the self-sacrifice of Priscilla and Aquila who, for the most part of their lives worked at their trade as tentmakers but who were capable of noble deeds equal to the occasion. In perilous circumstances they exhibited a martyr-like self-sacrifice, and thereby emulated the example of the Master whom they so faithfully served. Can we say that we are ready to lay down our necks for apostolic causes? Must we not confess with shame our effort to save our necks as much as possible.

While the last mention of Aquila and Priscilla is to be found in Paul's Second Epistle to Timothy where they were back at Ephesus about the year a.d. 66 (2 Timothy 4:19 ), there is a tradition to the effect that they ultimately laid down their lives for Christ's sake. The 8th of July is the day set apart for them in the martyrology of the Roman Church when it is said the faithful couple were led out beyond the walls and beheaded. If this is so it is not difficult to fill in the details of the pathetic picture. Aquila and Priscilla had loved each other through the years, and together had served the Lord so loyally. Now with eyes so full of unfading love, as if to say to each other "Farewell, fear not!" they were ready for the flash of the blade that sent them home to God, and to eternal fellowship with Paul, Apollos, and others they had so signally helped.

They Were One in Their Profound Knowledge of Scripture

One of the most impressive aspects of the spiritual influence of Priscilla and Aquila was the way in which these two simple souls with a deep knowledge of Christian truth were used to open the eyes of a great Alexandrian divine to the reality of the Gospel. The eloquent and fervent Apollos with all his brilliance and power suffered a sorry limitation as a preacher. He knew only "the baptism of John" (Acts 18:25, 26). He knew nothing of salvation through the cross and the accompaniments of salvation. The larger truths of the Gospel of Redemption were as yet unknown to him. Priscilla and Aquila followed the crowds who went to hear this most popular and persuasive preacher.

As they listened, Priscilla and her husband detected the negative defects of the preaching of Apollos. He taught no positive error, denied no essential of the faith. What he preached was true as far as it went. Apollos knew the truth, but not all the truth, and so in the quiet way, with all humility, Priscilla and Aquila set about correcting the apparent deficiency of Apollos. Inviting him to their home they passed no word of criticism on what they had heard him preach but with consummate tact instructed him Biblically in the truth of the crucified, risen and glorified Saviour. "They expounded unto him the way of God more carefully" ( asv)

What was the result of that Bible course which Apollos received from those two godly, Spirit-enlightened believers? Why, Apollos became so mighty in the Gospel that he was called an apostle. In fact, he became so effective as a true gospel preacher that some of the Corinthians put him before Peter and Paul. But all that Apollos became he owed, under God, to the quiet instruction of Priscilla and Aquila. In Apollos, Christ gained a preacher whose spiritual influence was second only to Paul himself. Says Alexander Whyte in his chapter dealing with Aquila, Priscilla and Apollos -

I admire all the three so much, that I really do not know which to admire the most; Aquila and Priscilla in their quite extraordinary wisdom and tact and courage, and especially love; or Apollos in his still more extraordinary humility, modesty, and mind of Christ.

If we cannot be great, by God's grace we may be the means of making others great. Quiet, unobtrusive Andrew little knew when he brought his brother Peter to Christ that he would become the mighty Apostle to the Jews. As husband and wife, and humble tentmakers, Aquila and Priscilla greatly enriched the ministries of Paul and Apollos whom God, in turn, used to establish churches.

They Were One in the Service of the Church

Paul gives us a still fuller insight into the passionate desire of Aquila and Priscilla to bind the saints together in fellowship. To the Corinthians he wrote, "Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church in their house." In Romans, the Apostle sent his greetings to them and to "the church that is in their house." At stated times they gathered the followers of Christ for worship, meditation and remembrance at the Family Altar, and thereby invested "the domestic circle with a peculiar sanctity as the germ of that great organism which we call the Church of God."

In those apostolic days, poverty and persecution made separate buildings for worship almost impracticable, and so private, sanctified homes became the house of God. Aquila and Priscilla consecrated their home to God, as a gathering place for the saints. Because of this they became doubly sanctified by the Word of God and prayer. If such a dedicated home is "the masterpiece of the applied Gospel," should we not be careful that nothing enters our home to "unchurch" it? Perhaps the church of God could become a mightier spiritual force in the world if she could return to upper chambers and churches in the home.

As we take farewell of Aquila and Priscilla we remind ourselves that in the history of Christianity the truly great characters have always been simple and humble men and women. The God who made the mountains also made the valleys, and both are needed. Paul, ever conscious of his indebtedness to inconspicuous persons, paid just tribute to Aquila and Priscilla. Whether we are prominent or otherwise, may we be found serving God to the limit of our ability. How much we owe to the quiet and useful lives of the world's Aquilas and Priscillas, as well as its more conspicuous saints we shall never know this side of heaven! The humble tentmakers we have thought of are, "a bracing and cheering study for Christians of every type and condition. They are especially a pertinent ensample for Christian husbands and wives. It will be a true loss if we neglect to contemplate this spiritually-minded pair who walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless."

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September 19, 2011

Do it now!

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

To one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him, it is sin (James 4:17, NASB).

Friend to Friend

Procrastination is one of the greatest sources of stress in life. I once heard a preacher tell the old story of three demons who were arguing over the best way to destroy the Christian movement. The first demon had it all figured out. "Let's tell all the Christians that there is no heaven. If we take away the reward incentive, their movement will collapse." The second demon responded with, "No, I have a better idea. Let's tell all of the Christians that there really is no hell. If we take away their fear of punishment, their movement will collapse." The third demon offered, "Both of those are great ideas, but there is a better way. Let's tell all the Christians that there is no hurry." The other demons applauded in delight! "That's it!" they said. "Our best weapon of all is procrastination."

Procrastination is understandable and normal - humanly speaking - but procrastination is not part of God's best plan for our lives. We don't often view procrastination as sin, but it is. Sin is not merely doing wrong. It is failing to do what you know you should do - when you know you should do it. Knowledge equals responsibility. Procrastination and disobedience are just opposite sides of the same coin.

Sin usually brings pleasure for at least the moment. If you are on a diet and want to have just one bite of a chocolate candy bar - but end up eating three chocolate candy bars - it is because you wanted more of that chocolate pleasure and simply could not make yourself stop at one bite - right? Or maybe you go shopping with a set amount you can spend on a new pair of shoes and end up buying three pairs of shoes only to realize that you need a dress to go with them, and a new purse to go with the dress, and new jewelry to match the shoes, purse and dress and ... well, you get the idea. It is easy to understand how we get caught up in sins like gluttony, lust and greed because they all bring momentary pleasure.


Procrastination is different in that it helps us avoid doing the things we don't want to do - the tasks that require personal discipline and a commitment to godly goals. Wasting time often creates a restless feeling that produces a sense of failure. When the deadline we were supposed to meet has come and gone or the dreaded task we keep putting off spirals out ofcontrol - guilt sets in. We try to rationalize it away when the simple truth is that we have sinned.

The key to dealing with procrastination begins with a commitment to obey God and exercise His wisdom. Joyce Meyer once said, "Wisdom always chooses to do now what it will be satisfied with later on." We can choose to be led by wisdom rather than our momentary feelings. We can choose to make right choices. We can learn to be good stewards of the time God has given us.

I once attended a leadership conference that changed my life in many ways. The speakers did not talk about money or success. They focused on the fact that God created each one of us in response to His unique plan for our lives. One of the simplest but most powerful mottos I came away from that conference with was: "Do it now!" Do you realize that it takes as much energy to avoid a task as it does to do it? Procrastination drains energy while action produces energy. God empowers us to do what He calls us to do.

Matthew 6:33 (NCV) "The thing you should want most is God's kingdom and doing what God wants. Then all these other things you need will be given to you."

Truth is for now. God is not impressed with good intentions. Obedience today is the greatest preparation for every tomorrow. So do what you know to do today! The Proverbs 31 woman did. In fact, Scripture tells us she could "laugh at the days to come" (Proverbs 31:25). In other words, this woman fully lived in the present but carefully planned and prepared for the future. Proverbs 31:19 indicates that she made thread with her hands and weaved her own cloth: "In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers." Notice she only made thread and cloth - not the finished product of clothes. That was a task for the future. She was simply getting ready today to meet the needs of tomorrow. The result was a life filled with hope and lived out in purpose.

Let's Pray

Father, please forgive me for putting off what I know You want me to do. Help me to be more disciplined with my time. Teach me how to find and live by Your priorities for my life. I want to do what You created me to do, Lord. Show me how to live a life of power and purpose.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Procrastination is really about loving self and pleasing self above others. Romans 12:10 tells us that we should love each other deeply and honor others more than ourselves. The moments God give us really do matter now and eternally. We are responsible for how we spend them. Each moment in time represents an eternal opportunity. Evaluate your life in light of these truths. How well do you invest your time? What one change can you make this week to overcome procrastination? Ask a friend or family member to hold you accountable to make that change.

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. Time: Friend or Foe will help you learn how to manage time and set goals.

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 have access to all 2011 lessons. Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebook or throughemail.

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P31Header
Micca Campbell

September 19, 2011

The First Desperate Housewife
Micca Monda Campbell

"And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, 'Lie with me.'" Genesis 39:7 (KJV)

I admit it. I used to be a soap opera fan when I was a teenager. Lured by the romance and drama, I assumed real life as an adult would play out in the same fashion. Boy was I wrong! While there's plenty of drama in my life, romance is something that has to be scheduled most of the time.

Real life isn't like what we see on TV or read about in romance novels. In fact, these images can be dangerous to both single and married people alike. When our ideas about life leave us dissatisfied, we can easily be tempted to look at other options. Soap operas, pornography and romance novels encourage risky behavior that can lead to sin.

Often married people convince themselves that just looking or dreaming about being with someone other than their spouse is okay as long as they don't actually do anything about it. Likewise, some single people feel that they can lust after another as long as they remain "physically pure." Jesus said, "'But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.'" (Matthew 5:28, NIV) That goes for us gals, too.

I imagine Potiphar's wife, referenced in today's key verse, could be described as the "first desperate housewife." She didn't have TV to watch or a romance novel to read. She had something in real life to fill her eyes and mind: Joseph. He was the head workman in charge who conveniently lived in her home and was pleasing to her sight. Unknown to Joseph, he was about to become the prey of a desperate housewife.

This Egyptian woman didn't happen to just notice Joseph one day and then on the spur of the moment, ask Joseph to lie down with her. No. Our key verse tells us she "cast her eyes upon Joseph." In other words, she watched him with her eyes which led to sinful thoughts which gave way to action. With the lust in her heart, she was daring and shameless in her sin.

How do we keep from falling into such sin? Perhaps we should follow Job's example. "'I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl [or boy]'" (Job 31:1, NIV 1984). We too have a great need and responsibility to make a covenant with our eyes to not look at others with lust. Remember that children's song often sang in Sunday school, "Be careful little eyes what you see? Oh, be careful little eyes what you see. For the Father up above is looking down in love. Oh, be careful little eyes what you see."

We can protect our eyes by choosing not to watch movies, pornography or TV shows that glamorize sexuality and lead us into temptation. If we're married, we can ask our husband to make a covenant with us and pray for each other asking God to protect us from looking at others. And it'd be good to remember, the grass is not always greener on the other side. I guarantee that guy doesn't clip his toe nails regularly either.

I realize we are human and make mistakes. No one is perfect this side of heaven. That's why it's so important to be watchful. Another way to safe guard ourselves is to commit to taking hold of any lustful thoughts and quickly cast them out of our minds. Temptation is not a sin. It's when we dwell on the temptation that we are led to sinful actions. Let's not be like Potiphar's wife. Instead, let's ask God to give us pure "eyes" set on Him and if we're married, set on the spouse we have.

Dear Lord, forgive me for where I have fallen short. I commit to You today to take every lustful thought captive so that it doesn't lead me into sin. May all my thoughts be pleasing to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Learn more of God's truths in Micca's book, An Untroubled Heart

Micca would love to pray for you. Please visit Micca's blogto leave your prayer request. She's also giving away a copy of her message on CD, Cultivating a Heart of Contentment.

Confessions of an Adulterous Christian Woman: Lies that got me there, Truths that brought me back by Lyndell Hetrick Holtz

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:
If you are having trouble in this area, find a trustworthy accountability partner who you can share honestly with about your struggles. Agree to hold each other accountable to God's truths and to pray for one another. When these thoughts enter your mind, turn to God's Word, prayer and your accountability partner.

Reflections:
In what ways can I protect my eyes from lustful images?

Practice thinking on what is true, right and pure.

Am I addicted to soap operas or romance novels? If so, what steps will I take today to move away from this stronghold in my life?

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 10:5, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (NIV)

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." (NIV 1984)

© 2011 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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

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Personal Development: Obedience to God

Read 1 Samuel 15:1-23

Along with the costs of leadership come many opportunities-some positive, some negative. Many leaders have access to information or financial resources that they could use to their personal advantage. Others travel widely and almost anonymously, and have ample opportunity to compromise their purity. Still others use their position to unethically crush the competition-whether internal or external. Whether the temptation is money, sex or power, many leaders sell themselves out. We read about the higher profile cases on the newspaper headlines every day.

Every leader should periodically ask, "Do I have a price?" A godly leader's commitment to God should be such that he or she will obey him no matter what he or she is of fered to compromise. Unfortunately, Saul-the leader who had everything a nation could want-lacked such commitment. When the pressure was on, instead of obeying God's command to completely destroy the Amalekites, Saul spared the king and the best of the livestock (v. 9). That was Saul's price-a defeated king to gloat over and expanded wealth through owning animals, one of the major contemporary wealth indicators. Later, when Samuel confronted the king, Saul feebly explained that he had saved the best for the Lord. Instead of owning his sin, he rationalized it.

How did God respond? He said, "To obey is better than sacrifice" (v. 22). God doesn't want ours, he wants us. Why? Because when God has us, he also has ours. King Saul rejected the Lord, and the Lord rejected him as king over Israel. So ask yourself, "What's my price? What would it take for me to disobey God?" Hopefully, your commitment is nonnegotiable. Such commitment is a crucial element in the character of a leader. Reread this tragic story of Saul's disobedience to God and think through the tragic consequences of his failure.

Obedience to God and Who God Is

A brief overview of Israel's history shows that the fundamental problem of God's covenant people was their repeated failure to obey God's commands. God always blessed their obedience, but their habitual disobedience was the cause of their misery and their eventual downfall. Clearly, there is a basic principle here that applies to our own lives as well. Turn toDeuteronomy 10:12-13 to see God's loving requirements for his people.

This Week's Verse to Memorize

Passage to memorize this week: Psalm 119:97-101 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.


Obedience to God and Who I Am

According to Scripture, a fundamental factor of the quality of this life and of the next is our response to God's initiatives and claims on the choices we make. Response is unavoidable; we may ignore, resist or reject God's initiatives and requirements, or we may respond in positive obedience. Turn to the note on 1 John 5:3 for a Biblical perspective on God's commands.

Obedience to God and How It Works

When obedience to God is costly, why be obedient? All of us had better have an answer to that question before we find ourselves in the vise of a tough decision. Three young men put their lives on the line rather than disobey God. We see why in Daniel 3:16-18 and its accompanying study note.

Obedience to God and What I Do

There will be times when obedience to God means saying no to our personal desires. Jesus modeled such obedience in the Garden of Gethsemane. Author Vernon Grounds helps us appreciate the mindset that enabled Jesus to obey his Father even when it meant going to the cross. Turn to the note on Matthew 26:39 for today's reading.


handbookleadership

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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NIV Devotions for Moms

You Look Like God!

This week's reading: Genesis 1:26-31

A mother tends to define herself most easily in terms of externals. I am what I do. I am what others need me to be. I am what I accomplish.

While these descriptions are true, they are incomplete. They overlook the vital fact that we are made, inside and out, by God. We are shaped after his image.

When we gaze into the mirror of God's Word, we find that God has stamped on our being a reflection of his character, his essence, his being. That is not to say we are mini-gods in any sense. But just as children reflect the physical, mental and personality traits of their parents and even adopted children share the mannerisms and habits of their adopted families, so we who are fashioned by God manifest elements of his character in our beings.

Who are you, Mom? You are a unique being fashioned after the God of the universe--inside and out!

Additional recommended Scripture readings: Psalm 139:13-14; Colossians 3:10

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Today's reading is from the
Mom's Devotional Bible
by Zondervan


Mom, you don't have to go it alone! The Mom's Devotional Bible is a trusted source of wisdom to help you along the path of mothering.



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