Thursday, September 22, 2011

Daily Devotional Thursday 22nd September

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"I will rejoice over them to do them good."
Jeremiah 32:41

How heart-cheering to the believer is the delight which God has in his saints! We cannot see any reason in ourselves why the Lord should take pleasure in us; we cannot take delight in ourselves, for we often have to groan, being burdened; conscious of our sinfulness, and deploring our unfaithfulness; and we fear that God's people cannot take much delight in us, for they must perceive so much of our imperfections and our follies, that they may rather lament our infirmities than admire our graces. But we love to dwell upon this transcendent truth, this glorious mystery: that as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so does the Lord rejoice over us. We do not read anywhere that God delighteth in the cloud-capped mountains, or the sparkling stars, but we do read that he delighteth in the habitable parts of the earth, and that his delights are with the sons of men. We do not find it written that even angels give his soul delight; nor doth he say, concerning cherubim and seraphim, "Thou shalt be called Hephzibah, for the Lord delighteth in thee"; but he does say all that to poor fallen creatures like ourselves, debased and depraved by sin, but saved, exalted, and glorified by his grace. In what strong language he expresses his delight in his people! Who could have conceived of the eternal One as bursting forth into a song? Yet it is written, "He will rejoice over thee with joy, he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing." As he looked upon the world he had made, he said, "It is very good"; but when he beheld those who are the purchase of Jesus' blood, his own chosen ones, it seemed as if the great heart of the Infinite could restrain itself no longer, but overflowed in divine exclamations of joy. Should not we utter our grateful response to such a marvellous declaration of his love, and sing, "I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation?"

Evening

"Gather not my soul with sinners."
Psalm 26:9

Fear made David pray thus, for something whispered, "Perhaps, after all, thou mayst be gathered with the wicked." That fear, although marred by unbelief, springs, in the main, from holy anxiety, arising from the recollection of past sin. Even the pardoned man will enquire, "What if at the end my sins should be remembered, and I should be left out of the catalogue of the saved?" He recollects his present unfruitfulness--so little grace, so little love, so little holiness, and looking forward to the future, he considers his weakness and the many temptations which beset him, and he fears that he may fall, and become a prey to the enemy. A sense of sin and present evil, and his prevailing corruptions, compel him to pray, in fear and trembling, "Gather not my soul with sinners." Reader, if you have prayed this prayer, and if your character be rightly described in the Psalm from which it is taken, you need not be afraid that you shall be gathered with sinners. Have you the two virtues which David had--the outward walking in integrity, and the inward trusting in the Lord? Are you resting upon Christ's sacrifice, and can you compass the altar of God with humble hope? If so, rest assured, with the wicked you never shall be gathered, for that calamity is impossible. The gathering at the judgment is like to like. "Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn." If, then, thou art like God's people, thou shalt be with God's people. You cannot be gathered with the wicked, for you are too dearly bought. Redeemed by the blood of Christ, you are his forever, and where he is, there must his people be. You are loved too much to be cast away with reprobates. Shall one dear to Christ perish? Impossible! Hell cannot hold thee! Heaven claims thee! Trust in thy Surety and fear not!

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Today's reading: Ecclesiastes 7-9, 2 Corinthians 13 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Ecclesiastes 7-9

Wisdom

1 A good name is better than fine perfume,
and the day of death better than the day of birth.
2 It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of everyone;
the living should take this to heart.
3 Frustration is better than laughter,
because a sad face is good for the heart.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
5 It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person
than to listen to the song of fools.
6 Like the crackling of thorns under the pot,
so is the laughter of fools.
This too is meaningless....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 2 Corinthians 13

Final Warnings

1 This will be my third visit to you. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” 2 I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, 3 since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. 4 For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you.

5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 6 And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. 7 Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong—not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. 8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is that you may be fully restored. 10 This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down....

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Joshua, Jehoshua, Jehoshuah, Jeshua, Jesus

[Jŏsh'uă, Jēhŏsh'u ă, Jĕsh'u ă, Jē'sus] - jehovah is salvation.

1. The son of Nun and successor of Moses and author of the book bearing his name. He is also called Hoshea (Num. 13:8, 16; Deut. 32:44).

The Man Who Was a Soldier-Saint

Joshua has been rightly called, "The first soldier consecrated by sacred history." A profitable way of studying his profile is to think of him in the following roles:

As a Son . Joshua was the son of Nun - a name meaning "prosperity, durable" - and of the tribe of Ephraim. Nothing is known of his mother. One usually finds, however, a good and gracious woman in the background of a man who reaches a position of influence and honor. Without doubt, Joshua's parents feared the God of Israel, and he continued their godly influence.

As a Slave . Born during the weary years of bondage his nation suffered in Egypt under Pharaoh, Joshua knew something of the lash of the whip, the almost impossible task in the brick-fields, and the deep sigh of liberty. But little did he realize that although a slave, he would rise to become Israel's supreme leader and commander. He had witnessed the moral and social degradation of his countrymen brought about by the terrible idolatries of that time. Thus, when he came to the position of leadership, his solemn commands were colored by early experience (Josh. 24:15).

As a Soldier . Joshua was pre-eminent as a military leader who knew how to plan campaigns, discipline his forces, use spies, but above all, pray and trust in God. Many a general has closely studied Joshua's conquest of Canaan and followed his strategy. Read how he discomfited Amalek (Exod. 17:9-16)! He never stooped to pilfering and plunder. It was as true of him as of Sir Henry Havelock, of whom it was said, "He was every inch a soldier, and every inch a Christian." Joshua was first of all a good soldier of the Lord whom he encountered and obeyed as Captain of the Lord's host ( Josh. 5:13-15).

As a Servant. Joshua's victory over Amalek gave him the open door of further usefulness and responsibility. That he was prepared for the responsibilities of leadership is evidenced by the fact that because of his unswerving loyalty and devotion, he is called "the servant of Moses" (Num. 11:28; Josh. 1:1).

As a Spy. Joshua, along with eleven others, was chosen to search the land of Canaan (Num. 13:1-16 ). It was at this time that Moses changed his servant's name from Oshea or Hoshea, meaning "help" to Joshua, meaning "God's help" or "salvation." The changed name indicated the desire of Moses to lift the thoughts of the people Godward, and to lead them from reliance upon leaders to God's help. Along with Caleb, Joshua brought back a faithful report of the land, which the people rejected, and wandered thereby for forty years in the wilderness. But Joshua profited by such an experience (Josh. 2:1, 2).

As a Saviour . Moses, representing the Law, brought the people to the border of the land, but it took a Joshua (God's salvation) to take them into the land. Divinely commissioned for such a task, he was probably about eighty-five years of age when he assumed command at Shittim. What a saviour he was! How marvelously was he helped to roll away Israel's reproach and to lead them to possess their possessions! His conquests and victories are typical of all the Lord has made possible for His own.

As a Statesman . What magnanimity and unselfish statesmanship Joshua revealed! Once the division of the land was completed, he carried through the setting up of the Tabernacle, the appointing of the cities of refuge, the arrangement of the Levitical order and service, with the same precision and thoroughness that characterized his other work as Israel's Premier and leader.

As a Saint. Joshua's saintliness marked him out as Moses'successor (Deut. 34:9). What a soldier-saint he was!

He was filled with the Spirit of God (Deut. 34:9).

He enjoyed the presence of God (Josh. 1:5; 6:27).

He was indwelt by the word of God (Josh. 1:8).

He was ever obedient to the will of God (Num. 32:12; Josh. 5:14).

No wonder his death at 110 years of age was deeply mourned and his eminent service universally acknowledged! The brief but noble epitaph of the historian is eloquent with meaning, "before Joshua, the servant of the Lord." Dead, he could yet speak, for the nation continued to serve the Lord all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua (Josh. 24:3).

2. A Beth-shemite, and owner of a field in the days of Eli (1 Sam. 6:14, 18).

3. The Governor of Jerusalem in the days of Josiah ( 2 Kings 23:8).

4. The son of Josedech and high priest at the time of the rebuilding of the Temple (Hag. 1:1; 2:4; Zech. 3; 6:11).

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September 21, 2011

Put that burden down!

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

Then Jesus said, Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28, NASB).

Friend to Friend

Our air conditioner was just not getting the job done. It only partially cooled the house, running night and day, doubling our already exorbitant electric bill. I called John, our friendly air conditioning repairman, with a desperate plea for help. When he came to the house, the first thing he did was remove the filter from the vent. It was filthy, completely covered by some nasty gray gunk! Changing the air filter had never been one of my top priorities, as evidenced by the dirt and hair-caked object in front of me.

With a disapproving scowl wrinkling his weathered face, John continued working, muttering under his breath. I pretended not to hear. He then removed the coil which proved to be the last straw for him. With a sigh of exasperation, John dramatically thrust the offensive coil in front of my face, pointed at the almost unrecognizable object and asked, "What is this?" My response was classic. "John, how am I supposed to know what that is? You're the air conditioning expert." He did not think the comment was funny.

In an attempt to avoid his scathing glare, I stepped forward and began to closely examine the obviously faulty coil. It was covered with layers of dog hair, compliments of our West Highland terrier and Australian cattle dog; cat hair, compliments of Sassy, Chocolate and Tiger; and dust, compliments of me!

John then proceeded to chastise me for not changing the filter more often and ended his discourse with an ominous explanation, "Mrs. Southerland, this unit was never meant to work under this kind of load. It's working as hard as it can, but it's not strong enough to do something it was never intended to do." John then replaced the air filter, cleaned out the coil along with our bank account, and left the scene of the crime. The electric bill went back down, the house was cooler than it had been in months, and the unit worked like it was supposed to work. I forgave him and learned a thing or two about burdens.

We come to Jesus, asking and trusting Him to save us from the eternal burden of sin, but we find it hard to believe that He can and will carry the burdens we deal with every day. We forget that He is our Shepherd and we are His sheep, totally dependent upon Him for every need - big and small.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters (Psalm 23:1-2).

Notice the words "makes me lie down." They are not a suggestion. The word used in this verse is "rabas," a Hebrew command meaning to rest; lay something down; to lay down in rest - securely and safely. God is commanding us to lay down our burdens and spiritually rest our souls in Him. It is important to note that the place of rest to which Jesus is referring - the Judean landscape - is not naturally a place I would describe as restful or replenishing. It is dry, parched, and sandy. A shepherd has to spend a great deal of time working the land; tilling it, cultivating it and planting it in order to grow the young, tender, green shoots of grass the sheep like best. The sheep graze on the finished work of the shepherd. The Shepherd of our souls wants us to rest in His finished work on the cross. If Jesus can save us, He can certainly handle every burden we will ever have. We simply have to make the choice to release each burden to Him.

Some days are harder than others. There are so many things that can get us down. Long hours at work, difficult relationships, financial difficulties, medical conditions, emotional stress and family responsibilities are just a few of burdens we tend to carry.

Then Jesus said, Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28, NASB).

In Matthew 11:28, the word "rest" literally means "tranquility in the midst of labor." The implication is to be still before Him and choose to release each burden to Him. How? When the kids are screaming and on your last nerve, put on some praise music and dance your stress away. Meditate on His Word when you are confused and afraid. Pray as you do the laundry. List your blessings as you clean house. Look for His hand in every part of every circumstance. Our Father does not intend for us to carry the burdens He alone can shoulder.

Jesus understands the burdens we carry. During His time on earth, Jesus healed the sick and set the captives free. He established the Church, sent the Holy Spirit to teach us and took His rightful place at the right hand of the Father. The church works on His behalf to help us. The Holy Spirit indwells us in order to guide and comfort us and Jesus Himself intercedes for us with the Father. So when Jesus said "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest," He really meant it.

What burden do you have? What is weighing you down? Bring it to Jesus. He will comfort and guide you. He will give you rest. Right now, in the midst of that worry or issue or concern, the God of the universe is asking you to turn it over to Him. Let Him work it out in His timing and His perfect way.

Let's Pray

Lord, I bring my burdens to You, knowing that I can do nothing apart from You and Your power. You know my situation. It is not a surprise to You, Lord. Please fill my heart with Your peace and comfort my soul. Guide me, Father. Give me strength. I give You my burdens; please give me Your rest.
In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Read and memorize Matthew 11:28. Record it in your journal. Identity the areas in your life in which you need peace and rest.

Make a list of burdens that you will lay down at His feet and leave there. When you are tempted to pick up one of those burdens, choose instead to meditate on and walk in the truths of Psalm 23, trusting your Shepherd every step of the way.

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.

Seeking God?

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Renee Swope

September 21, 2011

Finding Hope for My Future Despite the Pain of My Past
Renee Swope

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

"God works all things together for good."

"You were created for a purpose"

"God has a plan for your life."

What do you feel when you read these promises? Do you believe them, or do you sometimes question if they're true for you?

I've doubted, and I've believed.

Soon after I surrendered my life to Christ, I started struggling with painful things from my past that made me doubt God's promises. I wondered: If God loves me, why has He allowed so much pain in my life?

If He loved me, why did God allow my family to be broken by adultery and divorce, shattered by confusion and chaos, shaken by alcohol and drug addictions and so much more? And why didn't He stop me from the pain I brought on myself, or keep me from the darkness of depression?

One afternoon I got the courage to tell my friend Wanda about my doubts and questions. I remember how she didn't give me a pat answer, but looked at me with understanding in her eyes and told me she was sorry. Then she told me her story, which included many disappointments and heartbreaks. Yet, I didn't sense doubt or pain in her words. Instead, I sensed confidence and hope.

Turning the pages of her Bible to Jeremiah 29, Wanda read today's key verse as a promise to me: "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (v. 11)

She then told me God wanted to heal the pain of my past and use what I'd experienced to pave the way to His plans for my future. But I didn't want God to use my pain or my past. How would any of it do anything good for anyone, especially me?

Have you ever felt that way or asked: "If God loves me, then why...?"

These are the kind of questions that can linger in our hearts when we've been wounded and disappointed. And hurts that aren't healed can lead to bitterness and bondage. Yet, in the security of a relationship with Jesus, God invites us to ask hard questions and look for answers that usher us into the depths of His redeeming love and healing power.

Can I whisper some hope into your heart today? If you are living and breathing, your purpose has not yet been fulfilled. No matter what you have done or what has been done to you, God does have a plan for your life.

So, how can you discover those plans? Let's read the premise that follows the promise in Jeremiah 29. After God declares He knows the plans He has for us, He says, "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (v.12-13)

We find God's plans when we surrender ours to Him each day. It's a moment by moment process of coming to Him, talking to Him, believing He listens and letting Him love us into a place of hope and healing.

God's love is not a quick-fix for our wounds, but it has the power to redeem and restore us into confident hope. When we allow the Holy Spirit poured out like Living water to go deep into our pain, He can heal our hearts from the inside out.

As we process the pain of our yesterdays and live through the disappointments of our todays, doubts may still creep up, threatening to steal our hope. But each time that happens, we can stop and seek God in that place. We can ask Him to show us His purpose by revealing what is true about who we are and what we have been through to make us start doubting.

Then we can ask Him to help us re-define our future, not through the filter of our past and pain, but through the power of His life-giving truth. And do you know what happens when we do that moment by moment, day by day, doubt by doubt? God tells us in Jeremiah 29:14, "I will be found by you...and will bring you back from captivity."

We find Him again and again. We find the One who longs to lead us out of captivity to our doubts into a place of freedom and hope. I know this is true because I have walked it, wrestled with it, resisted it and finally surrendered to it.

God's love is not only unfailing, it redeems and restores. His Truth cuts to the core of our struggles, bringing purpose to our pain, redemption from our past and hope for our future!

Lord, heal my hurts and give me hope as I learn to trust the plans You have for me. I'm coming to You and seeking You with all my heart today. Please set me free from my doubts and lead me into a place of confident hope. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Have a Relationship with Jesus?

This devotion is from Chapter 4 of Renee's book, A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God's Promises.

Visit Renee's blog to learn a powerful way to process your pain with Jesus so you can fully experience His healing and hope! And enter to win A Confident Heart book and conference call. Find out more here.

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries,you support the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost.

Application Steps:
Has the pain of your past ever made it hard for you to believe God's promises and plans for your future? What do you sense He wants to change in your perspective?

Reflections:
God's love is not a quick-fix for our wounds, but it has the power to redeem and restore us into confident hope.

Power Verses:
Psalm 71:5, "For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth." (NIV)

© 2011 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

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Wounded Healer: A great victory looks at first like defeat

Today's reading: Isaiah 53

Isaiah 53:3: He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.

In at least ten places, New Testament writers identify Jesus as the suffering servant. In one instance, Philip corrects an Ethiopian official who wonders if the servant refers to an ancient prophet (see Acts 8:26-35). Isaiah 49-55 includes vivid scenes of the servant's sufferings, predictions that find their fulfillment in Jesus' death on the cross.

Indeed this chapter reads almost like an eyewitness account of Jesus' last days on Earth, even though it was composed centuries before Christ's death ... The physical description-the Bible contains no other physical description of Jesus-is shocking. The servant "had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him" (Isaiah 53:2); he was "like one from whom people hide their faces." (Isaiah 53:3).

As this chapter foretells, Jesus did not open his mouth to answer his accusers at his trial. He left no descendants. He was cut off in the prime of life and, thanks to a gracious friend, was buried in a rich man's tomb. But that was not the end; after three days he saw the light of life.

Why the Servant Dies

According to Isaiah, the servant dies for a very specific purpose: "He was pierced for our transgressions" (Isaiah 53:5). He takes on pain for the sake of others, for our sakes. His wounds, an apparent defeat, make possible a great victory. His death seals a future triumph, a time when all that is wrong on Earth will be set right.

Isaiah 53 forms an underlying foundation for much New Testament theology. For example, verse 5 of this chapter claims that the servant's wounds heal us. The apostle Peter explains it this way: When Jesus died on the cross, his suffering and death "healed" us of our sins, enabling us to live for righteousness (see 1 Peter 2:24).

Convincing Proof

In addition, these detailed prophecies, recorded many centuries before Jesus' birth, offer convincing proof that God is revealing his plan for the ages through the ancient prophets. He has not permanently severed his covenant with the Jews. Rather, out of Jewish roots-King David's own stock-he will bring forth a new king, one like no other, to reclaim all the earth.

Life Question

  • Who in your life needs to hear about Jesus, the Messiah prophesied about here in Isaiah?

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Today's reading is from the
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