Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Daily Devotional Tuesday 6th September

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.””Matthew 28:18-20 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar."
Psalm 120:5

As a Christian you have to live in the midst of an ungodly world, and it is of little use for you to cry "Woe is me." Jesus did not pray that you should be taken out of the world, and what he did not pray for, you need not desire. Better far in the Lord's strength to meet the difficulty, and glorify him in it. The enemy is ever on the watch to detect inconsistency in your conduct; be therefore very holy. Remember that the eyes of all are upon you, and that more is expected from you than from other men. Strive to give no occasion for blame. Let your goodness be the only fault they can discover in you. Like Daniel, compel them to say of you, "We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God." Seek to be useful as well as consistent. Perhaps you think, "If I were in a more favourable position I might serve the Lord's cause, but I cannot do any good where I am"; but the worse the people are among whom you live, the more need have they of your exertions; if they be crooked, the more necessity that you should set them straight; and if they be perverse, the more need have you to turn their proud hearts to the truth. Where should the physician be but where there are many sick? Where is honour to be won by the soldier but in the hottest fire of the battle? And when weary of the strife and sin that meets you on every hand, consider that all the saints have endured the same trial. They were not carried on beds of down to heaven, and you must not expect to travel more easily than they. They had to hazard their lives unto the death in the high places of the field, and you will not be crowned till you also have endured hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Therefore, "stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong."

Evening

"Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea?"
Job 38:16

Some things in nature must remain a mystery to the most intelligent and enterprising investigators. Human knowledge has bounds beyond which it cannot pass. Universal knowledge is for God alone. If this be so in the things which are seen and temporal, I may rest assured that it is even more so in matters spiritual and eternal. Why, then, have I been torturing my brain with speculations as to destiny and will, fixed fate, and human responsibility? These deep and dark truths I am no more able to comprehend than to find out the depth which coucheth beneath, from which old ocean draws her watery stores. Why am I so curious to know the reason of my Lord's providences, the motive of his actions, the design of his visitations? Shall I ever be able to clasp the sun in my fist, and hold the universe in my palm? yet these are as a drop of a bucket compared with the Lord my God. Let me not strive to understand the infinite, but spend my strength in love. What I cannot gain by intellect I can possess by affection, and let that suffice me. I cannot penetrate the heart of the sea, but I can enjoy the healthful breezes which sweep over its bosom, and I can sail over its blue waves with propitious winds. If I could enter the springs of the sea, the feat would serve no useful purpose either to myself or to others, it would not save the sinking bark, or give back the drowned mariner to his weeping wife and children; neither would my solving deep mysteries avail me a single whit, for the least love to God, and the simplest act of obedience to him, are better than the profoundest knowledge. My Lord, I leave the infinite to thee, and pray thee to put far from me such a love for the tree of knowledge as might keep me from the tree of life.

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Today's reading: Psalm 146-147, 1 Corinthians 15:1-28 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Psalm 146-147

1 Praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD, my soul.

2 I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD their God.

6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them-
he remains faithful forever.
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 1 Corinthians 15:1-28

The Resurrection of Christ

1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born....

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Dorcas

The Woman Whose Dressmaking Made Her Famous

Scripture Reference - Acts 9:36-43

Name Meaning - Dorcas implies "the female of a roebuck," "a gazelle" - an emblem of beauty. Dorcas is the first Greek name of a female in the New Testament, its Hebrew equivalent being Tabitha which is the Syro-Chaldaic form of the Hebrew Zibiah, or Tsibiah , the name of a princess of Judah, the mother of King Joash. Wilkinson says that "the Greek equivalent for her Syriac name may be accounted for by her residence at Joppa, a seaport much frequented, and no doubt partially inhabited by foreigners speaking chiefly the Greek language."

Family Connections - The Bible is silent concerning the parentage and genealogy of Dorcas. In the seaport town of Joppa she became known for her acts of charity and is the namesake for a charitable group named the Dorcas Society. Here was a woman "who with her needle embroidered her name ineffaceably into the beneficence of the world." Where did she learn to sew, make garments for the poor and become notable for her charitable works? It could possibly have been in a godly home that she was taught how to use her fingers and her funds for the comfort and relief of the needy. Dorcas must have been a woman of means to serve humanity as freely as she did. We have five glimpses of her witness and work in the historical account Luke gives us.

She Was a Christian

She is called, "a certain disciple," and is thus included among the numerous disciples mentioned in the New Testament. Through the Spirit-empowered ministry of Philip the evangelist, a Christian Church was established at Joppa - now known as Jaffa - and from an early date the church was not only a center of fervent evangelism but also of a well-organized social service. Possibly Dorcas came to know Christ as her Saviour in this church, and there caught the vision of how she could serve Christ with her money and her needle. Dorcas knew what it was to have a regenerated heart and this was the source of her unselfish life and charitable acts. Behind her sewing of garments was a saved soul. Giving of alms, and the making of garments in themselves gain no merit with God who, first of all, claims our hearts before our talents. It was only when Mary Magdalene was recovered from her stained past, that Christ accepted her desire to minister to His wants.

In our churches and also in commendable societies there are many public-spirited women who, with humanitarian ideals, are engaged in various relief activities, and whose sole object is to do good. But they are not actuated by Christ. Trying to emulate Dorcas, they lack her Christian discipleship, forgetting that caring for widows and others in need springs from "pure religion" which also reveals itself in keeping oneself unspotted from the world (James 1:26, 27 ). When Luke says that Dorcas was full of good works, he meant the word "full" to refer primarily to her inward grace, which prompted the outward deeds. "Good works are only genuine and Christian when the soul of the performer is imbued with them." The cup of cold water to be acceptable must be given in His name. With Dorcas, then, being good meant doing good. Her manifold good works flowed from a heart grateful to God for His saving grace.

Lange the commentator says that "The gazelle is distinguished for its slender and beautiful form, its graceful movements and its soft but brilliant eyes; it is frequently introduced by the Hebrews and other Oriental nations as an image of female loveliness, and the name was often employed as a proper name, in the case of females." Whether Dorcas, whose name means "gazelle," was a beautiful woman or not we are not told. She certainly lived a lovely life, and had eyes reflecting the compassion of the Master whom she so faithfully served. All whom she influenced and helped saw in her the beauty of Jesus. As a disciple she certainly had faith in the One who had called her, but she came to see that faith without works is dead. She also knew that works without faith gained no merit with God, and so the hands that dispensed alms and made garments were inwardly inspired by Him whose hands were nailed to a tree.

She Was a Philanthropist

Dorcas the believer was likewise Dorcas the benefactress. "This woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did ." How significant are these last three words! Too many well-meaning people sit around and talk about charitable works they never do. Sometimes they propose these works and leave others to execute them. Dorcas not only thought up ways of relieving the needy, but she also carried out her plans. Which she did! She knew what she could do, and did it. Studying the female characters of Scripture it is interesting to discover how several of them are conspicuous for one grace or work of mercy, or for another.

Rizpah we remember because of her loving care of the dead.

The widow of Zarephath for giving bread to the hungry.

Anna the prophetess for her fastings and prayers day and night.

Martha, as the queen of gracious hospitality.

Mary for her box of fragrant ointment.

Joanna, and her ministering unto Jesus.

Dorcas, for her care of widows and clothing the poor.

Further, a few Bible characters have inspired profitable institutions for the welfare of human society -

Mary Magdalene - home for wayward and lost girls.

Lazarus - whose name has been given to hospitals caring for the sick and poor.

Dorcas - source and inspiration of Dorcas Societies all over the world.

Among her good works was that of fashioning coats and garments for widows and the needy of her church and community with her own loving hands. The practical, unselfish service of this Christian philanthropist has filled the world with fragrance, for there flowed out of that little city of Joppa a multitude of benevolent and charitable organizations in which women have been prominent. The question came to Dorcas as it did to Moses when he felt he was not the man to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage, "What is that in thine hand?" And Moses answered, "A rod" (Exodus 4:2 ). And that rod became the symbol of delegated divine power. "What is that in thine hand?" the Lord asked Dorcas. She said, "A needle," and He took what she had and she stitched for Christ's sake. All praise, then, to the needle that represented practical benevolence among the needy. The garments Dorcas cut out and sewed represented Christian faith in action. "I was naked and ye clothed me," said Jesus of those who clothed His poor and destitute children.

She Was Mourned and Missed

It was a sad day for the church at Joppa when one of its most beloved and devoted members died in the midst of her works of charity. "Death loves a shining mark, a signal blow," and death certainly found such a mark in the bountiful Dorcas whose passing was a blow to the community. The vessel containing the costly ointment was broken, and the odor filled the house as never before. Kind hands washed the corpse and placed it in the upper chamber, with feelings expressed by the poet -

Sister, thou wast mild and lovely,

Gentle as the summer breeze,

Pleasant as the air of morning

When it floats among the trees.

While Dorcas doubtless owned her home, she seemed to have no relatives to mourn her going. The widows she had clothed and to whom she had been a friend laid her out; and great grief prevailed. Although so diligent on behalf of others, Dorcas died in the midst of a useful life. The writer had a preacher-friend who always said that he would like to die with his boots on - and he did, one Sunday morning, while preaching the Gospel. Is it possible that Dorcas had a sudden call with her needle in hand? What a grand way to go!

She Was Raised From the Dead

Her fellow disciples at the church where she had worshiped, learning that Peter was nearby, sent two members to beseech the apostle to visit the grief-stricken company. They knew that he had exercised supernatural power, and doubtless entertained the hope that their greatly-loved benefactress might live again. Like the faithful minister that he was, Peter did not delay in accompanying the two men to the death chamber at Joppa where the weeping widows were assembled. The apostle must have been moved as they reverently exhibited the coats and garments Dorcas had made for them. Then after Christ's example at the raising of Jairus' daughter, "Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed" (see John 11:41, 42). When he felt his request had been received, Peter spake the word of power and authority, "Tabitha, arise," and life returned. Dorcas sat up, and Peter presented her alive to the saints and widows (compare Matthew 9:25; Mark 5:40, 41).

What a moving scene that must have been! What joy must have prevailed among her fellow-saints and the widows, now that their much-loved Dorcas was alive again, and in her resurrected life, with fuller dedication to the service of the Master, was willing to take up her needle again. Her return from death must have been a great gain to her church. Her only pang was that she would have to sicken again and for the second time enter the gates of death.

She Was the Cause of Revival

The resurrection of Dorcas had a twofold effect. First of all, the miracle comforted the mourners for she had returned to her life of good works and almsdeeds. This miracle was thus like our Lord's miracles - one of mercy. The second effect was to convince all of the truth of the Christian faith attested as it was by miraculous power. Throughout Joppa the message rang, "Dorcas is alive again," and "many believed in the Lord." The miracle in that upper chamber, then, was not a miracle for the sake of a miracle. Dorcas raised from physical death became the cause of the resurrection of many from their graves of sin and unbelief. How the church at Joppa must have increased its membership through the many who were saved as the result of the return of Dorcas from the realm of death. After the resurrection of Lazarus we read that many of the Jews believed on Jesus. Is not the same true in a spiritual resurrection? A transformed life attracts others to the Saviour. We read that after the miracle, Peter stayed in Joppa for many days, and we can assume that his ministry greatly helped the church there in the establishment of the new converts. Peter stayed with Simon the tanner, a saint who prepared skins for leather to the glory of God, just as Dorcas made up her garments with consecrated hands.

A lesson to bear in mind as we part with our saintly benefactress is that she was unconscious of the magnificent work she was doing and of its far-reaching consequences. Dorcas did not aspire to be a leader, but was content to stay in her own home and try to do all she could in all the ways she could. Thus, in spite of herself, she became a great leader in an almost universal philanthropic cause, just as "The Lady of the Lamp," Florence Nightingale, did when she went to Crimea to care for the wounded, dying soldiers on the field of battle. May grace be ours to do whatever our hands find to do, as unto the Lord!

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Rehoboam, Roboam

[Rēhōbō'am,Rōbō'am] - freer of the people or the people is enlarged. The son of Solomon by Naamah, an Ammonitess (1 Kings 11:43; 14:21).

At the revolt he was left with only two tribes.

The Man Who Scorned Good Advice

Although Rehoboam was the son of a wise father, he himself had a small mind. From the fifty references to this man, who scorned wise counsel, we can learn a great many facts. Although named as an ancestor of Christ (Matt. 1:7), he was unworthy of such an honor for three reasons.

I. He was dominated by a false principle. Rehoboam entertained an erroneous idea of the relation between a sovereign and his subjects. He was obsessed with the false premise that the subjects existed for the sovereign and not the sovereign for the subjects. Daily surrounded by unscrupulous flatterers who fed his self-importance, Rehoboam came to accept the nonsensical fiction of "the divine right of kings," that led him to treat his subjects as mere puppets to be manipulated for the benefit of his reigning house.

Whether this outlook was the result of a perverse disposition or wrong training may be hard to decide. Rehoboam had been brought up under the autocratic rule of his father, Solomon, to whom subjects were synonymous to slaves. When the people appealed, it was more against Solomon than Rehoboam, who had not had the opportunity of proving his quality as a king. So the first appeal to Rehoboam was, "Thy father made our yoke grievous," and the son sought to copy the defect of his father. Lamentable failure, however, overtook this feeble son of an illustrious father.

II. He followed the wrong advice. Alexander Whyte introduces his homily on Rehoboam with the sentence: "Just by one insolent and swaggering word, King Rehoboam lost for ever the ten tribes of Israel. And all Rehoboam's insane and suicidal history is written in our Bible for the admonition and instruction of all hot-blooded, ill-natured, and insolent-spoken men among ourselves."

What a different history of the Jews would have been written had Rehoboam not followed the advice of reckless counselors. When he went to Shechem, the rallying center of the northern tribes, to be formally crowned as king in succession to Solomon, the people were willing to accept Rehoboam on one condition, namely that he should lighten the burdens imposed upon them by Solomon. This reasonable request, which should have been acceded to without any hesitation, was met with the cautious reply: "Come again to me after three days." But Rehoboam lost a golden opportunity of healing the sores of fears and of preserving the unity of God's ancient people.

First of all, the king sought the advice of the old men who had been counselors of his father and whose ripe experience qualified them to guide Rehoboam. They urged the king to be kind and considerate. "Speak good words unto them, and they will be thy servants forever." But with his mind already made up, he rejected the counsel of the old men, and consulting the opinion of his young, rash companions who had always fed his vanity, he followed their advice and, assuming a haughty attitude, announced that he would add to the yoke of the people. "My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions."

The effect was instantaneous, and a long-suffering people, smarting for so long under a sense of wrong, refused to be cowed, like the brave Hungarian people, by empty boastings. Thus the slumbering embers of revolt burst into a flame, and the kingdom was rent in twain and Israel's greatness destroyed.

III. He failed to give God the first place. If Rehoboam had consulted the Supreme King of Nations before seeking the advice of old and young men, how beneficial the monarchy would have been. While at the first he posed as the defender of the faith of his fathers and maintained the Temple services with signal fidelity, he failed to render God an undivided homage. The last years of Solomon's brilliant reign were darkened by the recognition of heathen gods and their degrading cults which, along with the fact that Rehoboam was the son of a heathen woman, helped to explain his apostasy. So attempting the impossible, he sought to please God and worship idols at the same time. But said Rehoboam's perfect Descendant: "No man can serve two masters."

At first pious (2 Chron. 12:1) Rehoboam fell into such iniquity that an Egyptian scourge came upon the king and the two tribes he ruled. Brief penitence stayed vengeance, but the rot had set in (2 Chron. 12:5, 8). So we leave Rehoboam, who went astray in a threefold direction, ruining himself and the people he sought to govern. He lost the best part of his kingdom and reduced Israel as a whole to a subordinate rank among nations.

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September 5, 2011

I Need a Friend

Part 4

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

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

Friend to Friend

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

Key one: Time

Key two: Risk

Key three: Transparency

Key four: Touch

Key five: Correction

Key six: Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a spiritual truth and principle that, as Christians, we teach, preach and encourage. Forgiveness is also easier said than done. Yet, the very foundation for godly life is integrity. If we cannot forgive, we have no spiritual integrity.

Naomi was Ruth's mother-in-law and after a close examination of their circumstances, you can imagine the potential for conflict in their relationship. Naomi was a godly woman whose son had married Ruth, a woman who did not worship God. Yet, they loved each other. Forgiveness had to be part of their friendship. Forgiveness has to be part of every friendship. The first step taken in the process of forgiveness is always our responsibility while the outcome and the healing are God's responsibility. Paul writes in Colossians 3:13 that we must "bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." To "bear with" means to "put up with" and "grievances" means "complaints." In other words, we are to put up with any complaints we have with each other without retaliation or revenge. There's more. The verse goes on to tell us to forgive like Jesus did - which means taking the initiative in forgiving as well as being quick to give and receive forgiveness.

We often make the mistake of thinking forgiveness depends upon feelings, rights, justification or a variety of other man-made excuses. Forgiveness is a deliberate choice, a chosen attitude and a discipline of the heart and will. In fact, forgiveness is a choice that leads to an action that may or may not result in a feeling. A friend of Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, once reminded her of an especially cruel act that someone had done to her years before, but Miss Barton seemed not to recall it. "Don't you remember?" her friend asked. "No," replied Clara Barton. "I distinctly remember forgetting it." Healthy friendships practice forgiveness.

Key seven: Freedom

Healthy friendships are relationships where each person gives the other room to grow and change. Instead of possessing their friends, they encourage them to grow and change. Paul says it simply and clearly, "Love is not possessive" (I Corinthians 13:4). The friendship of Ruth and Naomi certainly demonstrates this kind of freedom. Naomi was willing to let Ruth start a whole new life that did not even include her. Naomi gave Ruth the gift of freedom and, as a result, gained a friendship beyond measure. Neither Ruth nor Naomi was sure of the future, but they both knew there would be changes. They also knew that their friendship was secure enough to withstand those changes. Notice that Naomi gave Orpah freedom to leave and did not condemn her when she left. Naomi gave Orpah the gift of freedom as well, with different but right results.

When a person changes, their relationships will also change. If friendship falters when one friend changes, the relationship is likely built upon the wrong foundation and operates with erroneous motives. The heart of every healthy friendship has a thread of elastic running through it. Without the freedom to change and grow, friendship becomes a prime target for jealousy. Jealousy can ruin and has ruined many friendships because jealousy feeds on unrealistic expectations and is the result of overloading one relationship with emotional needs that only God can satisfy. True friends give each other freedom. It is from that freedom that a deeper friendship, a healthier relationship will grow.

I am acutely aware of those who want to be my friend because of what they believe they can gain from a relationship with the pastor's wife - access to ministry "secrets", a sense of importance, admission into "the inner circle." I am constantly amazed by this ridiculous mindset and fully believe it is an affront to the Kingdom and the very heart of God. I have the solution. Have a "Pedestal Burning Party." It doesn't matter who put that pedestal in place. Pedestals are stages on which pride, self-importance and sin perform their greatest works. Burn every pedestal in sight, ladies! Oh, and while you are at it, throw in all of those masks you have worn for so long! When you walk in humility, authenticity and transparency, you will be a better friend and find true friendship.

Let's Pray

Father, please forgive me when I allow jealousy to have a place in my heart. Teach me how to celebrate with my friends as they grow and change and succeed. Help me remember how Your forgiveness covers my sin and empowers me to forgive others. I lay down every grudge and resentment in my heart. I choose to forgive those who have hurt me and commit to seek the forgiveness of those I have hurt. Thank You for the love and grace I can only find in knowing You.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Make a list of the sins in your life that need the forgiveness of God. Ask God to forgive you for each one. If you have sinned against someone else, take the first step of reconciliation. If someone has sinned against you, forgive them and go to them in love, seeking restoration.

  • What are the rewards of forgiveness?
  • What are the barriers to forgiveness in your heart?
  • What are the things for which you cannot forgive yourself?
  • What does that indicate about your understanding of true forgiveness?
  • Celebrate right now the power of forgiveness in your life.

More from the Girlfriends

Don't miss the Dollar Days Sale going on in Mary's online store right now! Looking for a Bible Study that is both practical and powerful? Check out Mary's E-Book Bible Studies. Each one includes a study guide that you can download for your personal use or for a small group study. I Need a Friend is also available in Bible Study format.

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

Seeking God?

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LeadershipBible-Header-550

Personal Development: Integrity

Read 1 Samuel 12:1-4

After surveying thousands of people around the world and performing more than four hundred written case studies, James Kouzes and Barry Posner identified those characteristics most desired in a leader. In virtually every survey, honesty or integrity was identified more frequently than any other trait (Kouzes, James M., and Posner, Barry Z. Credibility: How leaders gain and lose it, why people demand it. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993).

That makes sense, doesn't it? If people are going to follow someone, whether into battle or in business or ministry, they want assurance that their leader can be trusted. They want to know that he or she will keep promises and follow through with commitments.

In light of this research, Israel's high regard for Samuel comes as no surprise. During his farewell speech, after having led Israel for decades, Samuel promised to repay anything he had unjustly taken from anyone. What a promise! Even more impressive was the people's response: Not one person rose up to make a claim against Samuel.

Samuel's honesty and personal integrity permeated every area of his life. These two characteristics directed how he regarded his possessions, his business dealings and his treatment of those who were weaker than himself. Samuel held himself accountable to the people he led. He opened himself up to the scrutiny of everyone with whom he had ever had dealings. As a result of this practice, Samuel's leadership has become legendary as this story has been told and retold throughout the centuries.

Samuel's example calls each of us to hold to this same standard of integrity. Whatever your leadership responsibilities, whether you're in charge of a multi-million-dollar business or a two-year-old child, manage your affairs with honesty. Let your personal commitment to integrity show in what you do during the day, every day. As you do so, you'll become a leader whom others will eagerly follow.

Integrity and Who God

Is Is there anyone we can trust? People let us down again and again, because there is of ten a discrepancy between what they claim and what they live. But God will never let us down, because he never changes. His promises are as good as his unchanging character. Turn toHebrews 13:8 and its accompanying study note to read about God's perfect integrity.

This Week's Verse to Memorize

James 2:18: Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

Integrity and Who I Am People

Sometimes tell us one thing but live another. The Biblical virtue of integrity points to a consistency between what is inside and what is outside, between belief and behavior, our words and our ways, our attitudes and our actions, our values and our practice. Turn to the note on Isaiah 6:1-7 to learn more about the meaning of integrity.

Integrity and How It Works

Integrity-character-ethics-morality. We tend to use these words interchangeably and consequently blur some essential distinctives. Just what is integrity? How is it different from ethics or morality? Jesus provided clarity with regard to these critical concepts in Matthew 23:1-39. Turn to page 1150 for today's reading.

Integrity and What I Do

How does a leader actually demonstrate integrity? Paul gave Timothy some instruction about leadership that will be helpful to all of us, and Howard and Bill Hendricks of fer a telling illustration of integrity in action. You'll find today's reading at 1 Timothy 4:15-16.


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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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sarahjio

September 5, 2011

Beauty and Meaning in Unlikely Places
Sarah Jio
She Reads Featured Author

"Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls forth each of them by name." Isaiah 40:26a (NIV)

If you told me I'd find something of beauty in the middle of a patch of weeds in my backyard, I'd doubt you. But that's what happened one overcast spring morning in my Seattle garden.

Newly pregnant with my third baby and experiencing extreme first-trimester exhaustion, a sweet older gentleman came over to tackle the weeds threatening to overtake the garden. Randy-in his oversized straw hat-asked me to come outside and inspect something he'd found while weeding in my yard.

"Look," he said, pointing to a patch of weeds.

"What are they?"

"They're wood violets," he replied.

I marveled at the sight: little clusters of light purple flowers encircled by dark green heart-shaped leaves. "They're wild," he continued. "They pop up where you least expect them. Some people don't care for them, but they're kind of pretty." He paused and looked at me. "Do you want me to leave them?"

How stunning their lavender petals looked against the backdrop of weeds. Their sight caused something inside me to stir.

I'd been struggling with pregnancy-induced nausea for weeks. Plus, I was neck-deep in a major revision of my novel-all while taking care of my two rambunctious little boys and juggling deadlines for my "day job" at the magazine. Life felt like a grueling marathon-and I was running out of steam.

As I stood in my garden that morning, I realized that I'd been so intent on running the race, I'd forgotten to stop and smell the roses-or rather, notice the violets. Was God trying to get my attention? Could something as small and delicate as a violet pushing up out of the ground, unannounced and uninvited, have significant meaning for me?

Goosebumps covered my arms. "Yes," I said to Randy. "Please keep them!"

That afternoon, with my eyes now open to God's creation, I noticed another patch of wood violets growing like a carpet along the roadside. I vaguely remembered passing them before, but I hadn't truly noticed until that moment.What else had I been missing?

As I continued to work on my novel, I couldn't get the wood violets out of my head. I realized that my story needed these fragile, yet bold petals. They soon became a key symbol of redemption, forgiveness and reconciliation in the story.

Weeds often distract us from the things of beauty and joy in our own lives. Our problems and schedules pull our eyes from the starry hosts and the One who made them. In my life, they became a needed reminder to simply be present instead of always pushing ahead to the next task. A reminder to look for God, especially in His creation.

Elements of the natural world-from wildflowers to birds-are frequently used in the Bible to illustrate larger points.Matthew 6:28, for example: "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin."

God has sprinkled treasures in our lives-gifts just waiting to be noticed. I wonder, what things have you and I missed while too busy to look?

Notice the beauty of God's creation today-from the tiniest star in the distant sky to the vibrant blue shade of dragonflies' wings. Raise your eyes to the heavens and take in the starry hosts. For sometimes God infuses seemingly insignificant things with great beauty and meaning.

Dear Lord, thank You for the beauty of Your creation. Help me to open my eyes, to be present, and to hear Your voice even in the small, seemingly insignificant moments. I pray that I will never be too busy to notice the beautiful and meaningful things You place in my path to guide me and delight me. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio is the story of a woman whose life has unraveled. When her career plummets and her marriage fails, she packs her bags and travels to Bainbridge Island, to the home of her great aunt hoping to regroup, heal, and let the saltwater ease her pain. She finds a diary from 1943 hidden in the home-a diary filled with secrets that have the power to change her life, and her family's. It is a story of loss and healing, enduring love, and how the choices we make can haunt us for a lifetime.

Visit She Reads this week to learn more and enter to win a bag of books from the publisher, as well as a gift basket filled with Northwest treats.

Application Steps:
Pray for someone you know is too hurried or overburdened to notice the sweet ways God is communicating to them.

Choose five things from the natural world that inspire you or make you smile-thank God for these.

Join the She Reads online fiction book club as we discuss the themes of emotional infidelity, family secrets, and reconciliation found in the novel The Violets of March.

Reflections:
Do I need to press the pause button and be still so I can hear God's voice and see the beauty of His creation?

Power Verses:
Matthew 6:26a, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or stow away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them." (NIV)

Isaiah 6:3b, "The whole earth is full of his glory." (NIV)

Psalm 65:12-13 66:1, "The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing. Shout for joy to God, all the earth!" (NIV)

© 2011 by Sarah Jio. All rights reserved.

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

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