Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Daily Devotional Wednesday 21st September

“Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.” Joel 2:23 NIV
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Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening

Morning

"The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon."
Judges 7:20

Gideon ordered his men to do two things: covering up a torch in an earthen pitcher, he bade them, at an appointed signal, break the pitcher and let the light shine, and then sound with the trumpet, crying, "The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon! the sword of the Lord, and of Gideon!" This is precisely what all Christians must do. First, you must shine; break the pitcher which conceals your light; throw aside the bushel which has been hiding your candle, and shine. Let your light shine before men; let your good works be such, that when men look upon you, they shall know that you have been with Jesus. Then there must be the sound, the blowing of the trumpet. There must be active exertions for the ingathering of sinners by proclaiming Christ crucified. Take the gospel to them; carry it to their door; put it in their way; do not suffer them to escape it; blow the trumpet right against their ears. Remember that the true war-cry of the Church is Gideon's watchword, "The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon!" God must do it, it is his own work. But we are not to be idle; instrumentality is to be used--"The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon!" If we only cry, "The sword of the Lord!" we shall be guilty of an idle presumption; and if we shout, "The sword of Gideon!" alone, we shall manifest idolatrous reliance on an arm of flesh: we must blend the two in practical harmony, "The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon!" We can do nothing of ourselves, but we can do everything by the help of our God; let us, therefore, in his name determine to go out personally and serve with our flaming torch of holy example, and with our trumpet tones of earnest declaration and testimony, and God shall be with us, and Midian shall be put to confusion, and the Lord of hosts shall reign forever and ever.

Evening

"In the evening withhold not thy hand."
Ecclesiastes 11:6

In the evening of the day opportunities are plentiful: men return from their labour, and the zealous soul-winner finds time to tell abroad the love of Jesus. Have I no evening work for Jesus? If I have not, let me no longer withhold my hand from a service which requires abundant labour. Sinners are perishing for lack of knowledge; he who loiters may find his skirts crimson with the blood of souls. Jesus gave both his hands to the nails, how can I keep back one of mine from his blessed work? Night and day he toiled and prayed for me, how can I give a single hour to the pampering of my flesh with luxurious ease? Up, idle heart; stretch out thy hand to work, or uplift it to pray; heaven and hell are in earnest, let me be so, and this evening sow good seed for the Lord my God.

The evening of life has also its calls. Life is so short that a morning of manhood's vigour, and an evening of decay, make the whole of it. To some it seems long, but a four-pence is a great sum of money to a poor man. Life is so brief that no man can afford to lose a day. It has been well said that if a great king should bring us a great heap of gold, and bid us take as much as we could count in a day, we should make a long day of it; we should begin early in the morning, and in the evening we should not withhold our hand; but to win souls is far nobler work, how is it that we so soon withdraw from it? Some are spared to a long evening of green old age; if such be my case, let me use such talents as I still retain, and to the last hour serve my blessed and faithful Lord. By his grace I will die in harness, and lay down my charge only when I lay down my body. Age may instruct the young, cheer the faint, and encourage the desponding; if eventide has less of vigorous heat, it should have more of calm wisdom, therefore in the evening I will not withhold my hand.

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 4-6, 2 Corinthians 12 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Ecclesiastes 4-6

Oppression, Toil, Friendlessness

1 Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:

I saw the tears of the oppressed—
and they have no comforter;
power was on the side of their oppressors—
and they have no comforter.
2 And I declared that the dead,
who had already died,
are happier than the living,
who are still alive.
3 But better than both
is the one who has never been born,
who has not seen the evil
that is done under the sun.

4 And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 2 Corinthians 12

Paul’s Vision and His Thorn

1 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong....

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Jephthah, Jephthae

[Jĕph'thah,Jĕph'tha ē] - he doth openor set free. A Gileadite, illegitimate child expelled by his brother from the paternal abode. He became a Judge in Israel and delivered the people from the Ammonites. He judged Israel for six years (Judg. 11; Heb. 11:32).

The Man Who Made a Vow

While Jephthah is described as a "mighty man of valour" and one upon whom "the Spirit of the Lord" descended, he is conspicuous as a man who in all sincerity made a rash vow. He vowed a vow to be fulfilled if the Lord would deliver the Ammonites to him. As a thanksgiving to God, he said he would offer up whatever came out of his house at his return from battle. Jephthah defeated the Ammonites, and on his return, his daughter, an only child, came out to meet him. He told her of his vow and declared he could not go back upon his word. The daughter begged for two months'respite in order to go away and bewail her virginity. On her return, her father fulfilled the vow.

In those twilight, uncivilized times there was the practice of the sacrifice of human beings at times of special stress, but whether Jephthah offered up his daughter as a human sacrifice or surrendered her to perpetual virginity in fulfillment of his vow may be debatable. We do know that it was the custom for the daughters of Israel to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite for four days every year. And we can imagine how they would return softened, sobered and sanctified as the result of their act of remembrance.

For the preacher these aspects can be developed: Jephthah was an outcast (Judg. 11:1, 2 ); rose to leadership (Judg. 11:4-10); was moved by the Spirit (Judg. 11:29); made a rash vow (Judg. 11:30, 31); saved Israel from his foes (Judg. 11:33); kept his vow (Judg. 11:39).

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September 20, 2011

Battered and Bruised

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us" (2 Corinthians 4:7NIV).

Friend to Friend

The speaker came out onto the stage. He pulled out a one-hundred dollar bill.

"Who would like this one-hundred dollar bill?" he asked.

Hands shot up all around the room.

Then he crumpled the paper, threw it on the floor and ground the dirt into it with his foot. Holding up the dirty, crumpled and tattered money, he then asked, "Now, who wants this one-hundred dollar bill?"

The same hands went into the air.

"And that is why God still wants you," he continued. "You may be battered and bruised. You may be tattered and torn. You may be crumpled and creased. But that does not change your value to God any more than what I have done changes the value of this one-hundred dollar bill. You are still precious and valuable to the God who chose you, redeemed you, and loves you as His own."

"He knows how we are formed; he remembers that we are dust" (Psalm 103:14). God understands that we are fatally flawed creatures, yet deems us immeasurably valuable no matter how crumpled and soiled we are.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us" (2 Corinthians 4:7). In Paul's day, it was customary to store treasure in clay jars. The common container disguised its contents and didn't draw attention to the treasure within. You and I might not look like much on the outside. We may appear as common as jars of clay, but inside are hidden incredible treasures. Inside these old cracked pots reside the most incredible treasure of all...Jesus Christ. And that makes us valuable.

In Louisa May Alcott's book, Little Women, she includes a conversation from Mrs. March to her three girls, Meg, Jo, and Amy. "I only care what you think of yourself. If you feel your value lies in being merely decorative, I fear that someday you might find yourself believing that's all you really are. Time erodes all such beauty. But what it cannot diminish is the wonderful workings of your mind - your humor, your kindness, and your moral courage. These are things I so cherish in you."

Our culture places an ungodly amount of significance on a woman's appearance. Outward trappings of appearance are simply that...trappings. But God sees us as simple jars of clay containing valuable treasure...and that makes us beautiful to Him.

Let's Pray

Dear Lord, even though I am battered and bruised, I know that I am still valuable to You. Thank You for loving me so much that You sent Your Son, Jesus, to die for my sins. Thank You for making a way for me to have eternal life through Jesus' sacrifice. Thank You for seeing me as Your priceless treasure.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Don't you love the teacher's illustration of the crumpled dollar bill? Today, consider using that illustration with a friend or a child who feels knocked down by life.

Did the illustration touch you in a particular way? If so, I'd love to hear about it. You can share your thoughts on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes.

More from the Girlfriends

Today's devotion was taken from Sharon's book, I'm Not Good Enough and Other Lies Women Tell Themselves. If you feel battered and bruised by life, if you have been believing lies that you are worthless, then join Sharon in learning to see yourself as God sees you - a valuable treasure -as a chosen, dearly loved child of the King.

Seeking God?

Click here to find out more about

how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God

P.O. Box 725

Matthews, NC 28106

info@girlfriendsingod.com
www.girlfriendsingod.com

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P31Header
Marybeth Whalen

September 20, 2011

Back to Fishing
Marybeth Whalen

"'I'm going out to fish,' Simon Peter told them, and they said, 'We'll go with you.' So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing." John 21:3 (NIV)

Have you ever found yourself in a place where all your hopes and dreams have fallen apart? What did you do?

Jesus' disciple Peter had betrayed his Lord, and watched Him die. Now Jesus was gone. So what did he do? In John 21, we see Peter going back to what he was doing before he met Him. I sometimes wonder what he must've been thinking as he sat aboard the fishing boat and scanned the horizon.

Did he wonder if it was all just a dream? Did he worry about the future? He had been at a spiritual pinnacle-walking with Jesus, hearing from Jesus, planning for a future that included Jesus. But in the blink of an eye, he and his comrades were back to their old pursuits as though nothing had happened at all.

God was still at work, but during this time He let Peter and the other disciples go back to fishing. He let them have those days of wondering and worrying. He allowed them to scan the horizon looking for Him-and find nothing. For a time He allowed them to feel alone and even forsaken.

When we feel that way, we tend to go back to what we knew before. We might go back to old habits or old friends who weren't necessarily the best for us. We might go back to old pursuits or old crutches that once propped us up. We might be like Peter and find ourselves sitting in a place we never thought we'd see again.

And yet, this time, something is different. This time there is that glimmer of hope that-while we might have gone back-we don't have to stay back.

I love that this story ends with Jesus on the beach waiting for Peter and his friends to stop fishing and come to Him. And, when Peter saw Jesus, he jumped out of the boat to get to Him.

Perhaps you've walked away from your own dreams and returned to what is familiar. Maybe disappointment or failure has left you wondering where God is. I hope you will cling to this story today. I hope that as you scan your horizon, you will see God waiting for you to return to Him. And when you do, you will run towards Him as fast as you can.

He may have let you go through an alone time. He may have allowed you to wonder if He was still there. But in that time, I pray that the flicker of hope did not die out for you. You may have gone back to "fishing," but He doesn't want you to stay there. He's got so much more for you to do. He is still at work. His plans involve going forward, not going back.

Dear Lord, I have felt alone and forgotten. I have wondered if any of my spiritual experiences were real. I've gone back to what's familiar because it was all I knew to do. But I know You don't want to leave me there. I want to see You when I scan the horizon. And when I do, help me to have the courage to run toward You as fast as I can. I trust that You still have a plan for me. And that plan involves going forward, not going back. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

The Reason We Speak General Editor Marybeth Whalen

She Makes It Look Easy by Marybeth Whalen

Visit Marybeth's blog or click here for more resources from Marybeth.

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 John 21 today and write down some of the verses that speak to you directly. Spend some time journaling what this passage has made you think about.

Reflections:
Am I in the boat like Peter was? Am I looking for Jesus to appear? Will I be ready to swim for Him when He does?

Power Verses:
John 21:4, "Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus." (NIV)

Luke 5:11, "So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him." (NIV)

© 2011 by Marybeth Whalen. All rights reserved.

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

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Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional

WHAT FREQUENCY ARE YOU TUNED INTO?

Revelation is God himself speaking loudly and clearly about who he is and how he views the world; it is our responsibility to listen clearly. He speaks because he wants to be known. Imagine that–God wants to be known! A god who is just an energy force in the universe has no such desire–in fact, has no desire at all; an impersonal deity is uninteresting in the extreme because it is uninterested. If there were many gods, maybe a million or more, there’s not much of a chance one god would have the desire to be known by the human race. And even if he or she or it did, would we really care?

But a personal and infinite God knows and relates, and so God speaks–and he speaks clearly. We need to make sure we are listening, not as astronomers do with the massive radio telescope dishes that sweep the sky listening for a faint pulse in the universe. If those scientists did hear the faintest sign that there was some intelligent life out in space, it would be revolutionary. Even finding a fossil on Mars, with no intelligence, no knowledge, and no voice, would generate massive enthusiasm. It would be deemed another Copernican revolution. So when believers appear to be stunned with delight that a message has come from the greatest being in the universe–not one message, but thousands of messages–nobody should be surprised that they become fanatically spiritual. What else is the appropriate reaction to beholding what God himself slowly and deliberately uncovers?

Skeptics think that if there is a God, then he must be deaf and mute, because God is not broadcasting on the frequency they are tuned into. But who should determine the frequency, the greater being or the lesser? Should we really make the main issue why God chose one frequency over another, instead of just responding awestruck by the fact that messages from the Creator are coming through? Because of who God is, and because God knows who we are, he chooses the methods by which he speaks to us.

The biblical view is that God has spoken through chosen representatives, prophets and apostles, and preeminently, in his Son, Jesus Christ. These are God’s chosen frequencies for broadcasting his truth. This is revelation, and it is a different manner of speaking than any we are used to.

We’d love to have you join us on Facebook or follow on Twitter.

Resources

About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for thirty years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, the most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement.
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Change a Life, Give a Bible - Muslim Converts Plead for Bibles

Hello,

When a Muslim comes to faith in Jesus Christ, the one thing they plead for is a Bible.

And now we have been offered a $10,000 Challenge Grant to provide these desperately needed Bibles! But we needyour help to meet this challenge!

Sadly, Bibles are scarce in most Islamic countries where it's illegal to be a Christian. Which is why we have set a goal to deliver at least 4,000 Bibles to our suffering brothers and sisters in these countries over the next four months.

And now... if we meet this $10,000 Challenge Grant... we can meet this goal! But we need your help... which is why I'm asking you to give an online gift to Open Doors today.

Through your gift, you'll not only help meet the challenge... but help deliver Bibles to Muslim converts who risk their lives every day to follow Christ. You'll be giving strength, hope, and encouragement to those who so desperately need it!

So thank you for your gift. And thank you for standing with those who are suffering the most for their faith.

Carl A. Moeller Signature

ECFA A higher standard. A higher purpose.

Picture of girlJust $5 will send one desperately needed Bible
to a Muslim convert.

Send a Bible!

"Fifty years of serving and strengthening persecuted Christians worldwide - that is the legacy of Open Doors.

An important part of that legacy has beenOpen Doors' passion for motivating, mobilizing, and educating the
body of Christ in the West to reach out to our suffering brothers and sisters."

- Rick Warren, Author of
"The Purpose Driven Life"

Open Doors Serving persecuted Christians Worldwide Click here to give Bibles.



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Why do details sometimes differ from one Gospel account to another?

This week's reading: Mark 1:12-13

Mark omits many details that Matthew and Luke include in their accounts of Jesus' temptation. Just as various witnesses have individual perspectives on an event, the Gospel writers draw on their own backgrounds and write from their own viewpoints for their particular audience.

Of greater concern than the amount of coverage are the apparent discrepancies in the accounts themselves. For instance, Matthew and Luke seem to rearrange the sequence of these events. Matthew says Jesus was tempted: (1) to turn stones into bread; (2) to leap from the temple; and (3) to worship the devil so all the kingdoms of the world would be given to him. Luke changes the order of the second and third temptation.

Ancient cultures did not feel compelled to relate events in chronological sequence. Some think Matthew may have listed the temptations in chronological order while Luke listed them in order of significance. Though the details vary according to individual Gospel writers, the essence of the information is consistent. There is no real contradiction between these accounts.

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


This unique Bible addresses the common, uncommon, and perplexing questions people ask about Scripture.


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