Friday, October 21, 2011

Daily Devotional Friday 21st October

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Psalm 51:12 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Grow up into him in all things."
Ephesians 4:15

Many Christians remain stunted and dwarfed in spiritual things, so as to present the same appearance year after year. No up-springing of advanced and refined feeling is manifest in them. They exist but do not "grow up into him in all things." But should we rest content with being in the "green blade," when we might advance to "the ear," and eventually ripen into the "full corn in the ear?" Should we be satisfied to believe in Christ, and to say, "I am safe," without wishing to know in our own experience more of the fulness which is to be found in him. It should not be so; we should, as good traders in heaven's market, covet to be enriched in the knowledge of Jesus. It is all very well to keep other men's vineyards, but we must not neglect our own spiritual growth and ripening. Why should it always be winter time in our hearts? We must have our seed time, it is true, but O for a spring time--yea, a summer season, which shall give promise of an early harvest. If we would ripen in grace, we must live near to Jesus--in his presence--ripened by the sunshine of his smiles. We must hold sweet communion with him. We must leave the distant view of his face and come near, as John did, and pillow our head on his breast; then shall we find ourselves advancing in holiness, in love, in faith, in hope--yea, in every precious gift. As the sun rises first on mountain-tops and gilds them with his light, and presents one of the most charming sights to the eye of the traveller; so is it one of the most delightful contemplations in the world to mark the glow of the Spirit's light on the head of some saint, who has risen up in spiritual stature, like Saul, above his fellows, till, like a mighty Alp, snow-capped, he reflects first among the chosen, the beams of the Sun of Righteousness, and bears the sheen of his effulgence high aloft for all to see, and seeing it, to glorify his Father which is in heaven.

Evening

"Keep not back."
Isaiah 43:6

Although this message was sent to the south, and referred to the seed of Israel, it may profitably be a summons to ourselves. Backward we are naturally to all good things, and it is a lesson of grace to learn to go forward in the ways of God. Reader, are you unconverted, but do you desire to trust in the Lord Jesus? Then keep not back. Love invites you, the promises secure you success, the precious blood prepares the way. Let not sins or fears hinder you, but come to Jesus just as you are. Do you long to pray? Would you pour out your heart before the Lord? Keep not back. The mercy-seat is prepared for such as need mercy; a sinner's cries will prevail with God. You are invited, nay, you are commanded to pray; come therefore with boldness to the throne of grace.

Dear friend, are you already saved? Then keep not back from union with the Lord's people. Neglect not the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper. You may be of a timid disposition, but you must strive against it, lest it lead you into disobedience. There is a sweet promise made to those who confess Christ--by no means miss it, lest you come under the condemnation of those who deny him. If you have talents keep not back from using them. Hoard not your wealth, waste not your time; let not your abilities rust or your influence be unused. Jesus kept not back; imitate him by being foremost in self-denials and self-sacrifices. Keep not back from close communion with God, from boldly appropriating covenant blessings, from advancing in the divine life, from prying into the precious mysteries of the love of Christ. Neither, beloved friend, be guilty of keeping others back by your coldness, harshness, or suspicions. For Jesus' sake go forward yourself, and encourage others to do the like. Hell and the leaguered bands of superstition and infidelity are forward to the fight. O soldiers of the cross, keep not back.

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Today's reading: Isaiah 59-61, 2 Thessalonians 3 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Isaiah 59-61

Sin, Confession and Redemption

1 Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
2 But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear.
3 For your hands are stained with blood,
your fingers with guilt.
Your lips have spoken falsely,
and your tongue mutters wicked things.
4 No one calls for justice;
no one pleads a case with integrity.
They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies;
they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.
5 They hatch the eggs of vipers
and spin a spider’s web.
Whoever eats their eggs will die,
and when one is broken, an adder is hatched.
6 Their cobwebs are useless for clothing;
they cannot cover themselves with what they make.
Their deeds are evil deeds,
and acts of violence are in their hands.
7 Their feet rush into sin;
they are swift to shed innocent blood.
They pursue evil schemes;
acts of violence mark their ways.
8 The way of peace they do not know;
there is no justice in their paths.
They have turned them into crooked roads;
no one who walks along them will know peace....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 2 Thessalonians 3

Request for Prayer

1 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. 2 And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. 5May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

Warning Against Idleness

6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat....”

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Samuel

[Săm'uel] - heard, asked of god, offering of god or appointed by god.

The Man Who Had God's Ear

Samuel was the earliest of the Hebrew prophets after Moses and the last of the Judges. He was the son of Elkanah of Ephraim (1 Sam. 1:1), and of Hannah, Elkanah's other wife. Samuel was her first-born and possibly saw the light of day at Ramah (1 Sam. 2:11; 7:17). Hannah bore Elkanah five other children ( 1 Sam. 2:21). There are many points of resemblance between Hannah and Mary, the mother of our Lord (1 Sam. 2:1-11 with Luke 1:46-56).

Samuel was a Nazarite (1 Sam. 1:11), the character of the vow being:

Abstinence from intoxicating drinks; self-denial and separation from sensual indulgence.

Free growth of hair, indicating the complete dedication of all the power of the head to God.

Avoidance of contact with a dead body as a token of absolute purity of life (Num. 6).

Samuel's call to service came when weaned and dedicated to God by his mother (1 Sam. 1:24-28; 3:1-18). When Samuel was around twelve years of age he received his first revelation of the Lord, which was a clear message of doom against Eli's guilty house (1 Sam. 3:11-14).

Samuel's ministry was of a fourfold nature. We see him:

I. As a prophet. As a prophet of the Lord ( 1 Sam. 2:27-35; 3:19-21; 8:22), his faithfulness was a rebuke to the unfaithfulness of Eli. To the end of his days Samuel exercised the office of prophet and his ministry was not in vain. Under the impact of his courageous pronouncements Israel renounced her idolatry and shook off the yoke of the Philistines.

II. As an intercessor. Samuel was born in answer to prayer and his name constantly reminded him of the power of prayer and of the necessity of maintaining holy intimacy with God. Samuel deemed it a sin not to pray for others ( 1 Sam. 7:5-8; 8:6; 12:17, 19, 23; 15:11).

III. As a priest. Although Samuel was only a Levite and not a priest by descent, the words, "I will raise up," imply an extraordinary office (1 Sam. 2:35; 7:9, 10; 13:8-10; Judg. 2:16). The exercises of priestly functions are proved by the following:

By intercession (1 Sam. 7:9).

By offering sacrifices (1 Sam. 7:9, 10).

By benediction ( 1 Sam. 10:17, 25).

By anointing kings (1 Sam. 10:1; 16:13).

IV. As a judge. Of Samuel it is said that he "judged Israel all the days of his life." Even after the government of Israel had changed from that of a theocracy to a monarchy, Samuel still acted as a circuit judge, going from place to place giving divine judgment upon moral and spiritual questions, and maintaining in the hearts and lives of the people the law and authority of Jehovah (1 Sam. 7:15-17 ). The appointment of his own sons as Judges to succeed him (1 Sam. 8:1) was a parental mistake, for their wickedness gave the people reason for demanding a king (1 Sam. 8:5).

The universal reverence and love the nation had for Samuel is proven by the grief manifested at his death. "All Israel lamented him" (1 Sam. 25:1; 28:3). His passing as one of the great heroes of Hebrew history makes impressive reading. Faith was the animating principle of his honored life and labors ( Heb. 11:32).

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October 20, 2011

I Love it When a Plan Comes Together!

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare (Psalm 40:5, NIV).

Friend to Friend

Family vacations always begin with "the plan." Before packing one sock or booking one hotel room, the Southerland family is summoned to a family meeting with one item on the agenda - a discussion of the vacation plan. Everyone has the opportunity to make suggestions and share ideas. My husband Dan and I then pool those ideas and make a final decision. Once the destination is chosen, Dan goes to work, charting every stop, logging the number of miles between stops, booking hotel rooms when we can't take any more stops and locating favorite restaurants along the way. When our children were young and still living at home, we fell into a lovely rut as far as vacation spots go. Our favorite vacation spot tended to be nestled somewhere in the smoky mountains of North Carolina. Dan couldn't wait to pack up our faithful old van, plug in the country music and hit the road! He claimed that just this side of the North Carolina state line he could actually begin to smell those mountains.

Over the years, every family member discovered a different reason for loving North Carolina. I was drawn to the quaint little towns filled with antique stores and smiling people. Dan loved the winding mountain roads and slower pace of life while our two children clamored to stop and play in the icy mountain water of every stream or creek they saw. However, their all-time favorite spot was Sliding Rock, a gigantic boulder that has been transformed into a huge water slide by the powerful falls above it.

Our first experience at Sliding Rock - when our son, Jered, was five and our daughter, Danna, was two - proved to be quite an event. Wiggling out of my arms, Jered ran straight to the rock, hurriedly plopped down, squealing with delight as the chilly rushing water carried him over the frozen slab and into the icy pool at the bottom. Danna just watched; her big brown eyes wide with questioning fear as she witnessed her brother's disappearance down the mountain. When Jered's curly head popped out of the water, Danna's face flooded with relief as she clapped and cheered for "Bubba." Dan was next, whooping and hollering Texas style as he catapulted down the watery slide. Coming up for air he held out his arms and shouted, "Danna! Come with me!"

Now my daughter did not fully comprehend what was being asked of her but she undoubtedly did recognize who was asking - her daddy. To my amazement our usually tentative and fearful daughter rushed into the outstretched and familiar arms of her father, tightly clutching his neck as he positioned her in his frozen lap. Down they went! I waited and wondered at the outcome. When they popped up out of the frigid pool, Danna was laughing and sputtering and begging, "We do it again, Daddy! We do it again!" Danna did not understand the plan but she knew and trusted the "plan maker".

We can do the same.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT).

God has a unique plan for each one of us that is beyond human understanding or expectation. It is called His will. God has been making His will known from the very beginning of time. In the Garden of Eden, God revealed to Adam and Eve His will or plan for their lives. It is important to note that with the revealed plan He also gave them the choice to obey because He is a loving Father and a gracious God. Knowing that His way was right, God still allowed Adam and Eve to choose the wrong way. They blew it by making the wrong choice - but He still loved them and forgave them. He will do the same for you.

The Bible promises that God's plan is the best plan; the one for which we were created. Psalm 32:8 "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life." God agrees to not only show us the plan, but He promises to provide all of the strength and resources needed to carry out that plan. His sufficient and constant power is unleashed by our choice to accept and follow His blueprint for victorious living.

We were created by the One who knows us best and loves us most. There are no accidents with God. He never has to say, "Oops!" Before we were ever conceived in the heart and mind of man we were conceived in the heart and mind of God - wanted, loved and planned since before the world began. He had a plan in mind and lovingly, purposefully created us in response to that plan.

I know that there are days when the will of God seems completely wrong and we simply do not understand. Every moment is pregnant with darkness and our hearts are numb, paralyzed by fear and doubt. We are treading water in the storm tossed sea of life, desperately longing to see Him walking on the treacherous waves toward us, rescue in His hand. It is in those shadowed moments that we must choose to trust the Plan Maker even though our faith is small and we cannot understand the plan. His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. And one day, every one of our question marks will be yanked into exclamation points as we see that high plan as He sees it - perfect!

Girlfriend, set aside your meager agenda. Lay down your limited life arrangement and look for God to meet you at the point of surrender - power and victory in His hands. Now that is a great plan!

Let's Pray

Lord, I want everything you have for me in this life! I don't want to settle for anything less than Your best. Teach me how to seek and follow You with my whole heart and how to fully trust You to direct my steps. Thank You for Your love and grace that completes me and fills my life with hope.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Read Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."

These verses contain three steps we must take in order to experience one promise that God will make our paths straight. Grab your journal and in your own words, explain what each step requires and what you think God means when He says that He will make our paths straight.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart_________________________________________

Lean not on your own understanding_________________________________________

In all your ways submit to him_______________________________________________

He will make your paths straight_____________________________________________

More from the Girlfriends

Want to be successful in your work? Check out Mary's four-week study, Take This Job and Love It, to discover six principles from the life of the Proverbs 31 woman that will help you be successful in your work, no matter where you work or what your job may be. Study guide included.

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Lysa TerKeurst

October 20, 2011

Vanished
Lysa TerKeurst

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe." Hebrews 12:28(NIV)

I don't have a lot of nice jewelry. Usually, you'll only find me wearing my wedding ring and another ring Art gave me for our 15th wedding anniversary.

Other than those two rings, I only have some other simple things that have been given to me over the years. Little treasures. Not that they are worth a lot of money but special because they hold a lot of memories.

A child's ring my stepdad gave me the day he asked my mom to marry him.

A bracelet my mom gave me for Christmas several years ago. And another bracelet Art gave me for Valentine's Day this year.

A legacy ring given to me the day my first daughter was born.

A baby's signet ring - with the faint initials of my Dad that left and never came back.

Simple, but special.

A week ago I noticed the bracelet Art gave me wasn't where I thought I left it. I spent several days searching and wondering where I'd put it. Convinced I'd simply misplaced it and would find it soon, I wasn't too worried.

On the third day, it dawned on me that maybe I'd put it in a drawer where I kept my other jewelry.

When I opened the drawer it took my brain a moment to catch up with the sinking feeling in my heart. Everything was gone. The rings. The bracelets. The one possession in this world I had of my biological father. Little things that held big memories.

My first reaction was to grab both of my ring fingers. Much to my relief I'd worn my wedding and anniversary rings that day. They were safe.

But everything else had vanished as if I'd never had them. But I did. And now I don't.

I stared at the open drawer, sat down on a little stool in my bathroom and willed my tired mind to start making a mental list of reasons to be...thankful.

Strange I know.

Trust me there were many other lists begging to take up the mental real estate in my brain. Lists of suspects. Lists of all that was missing. Lists of memories and how irreplaceable those pieces were. Lists of when this might have happened and how. Okay, let's be honest, I wanted to come completely unglued and kick into aggressive figure-it-out mode.

But sometimes refusing the pull to come unglued is the only way to prove to ourselves it is possible to have a different kind of reaction. So, I willed those other lists aside. After all, I'd already had enough taken from me in that moment. I didn't need to freely hand over my heart as well.

For in my heart I trust, "...we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken..." And because I know, I know, I know that to be true, I can choose to... "be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe." (Hebrews 12:28)

I am thankful for my children who are here and not taken.

I am thankful for my husband who will let me stick my cold feet underneath his legs tonight.

I am thankful for today's sun that shines and the moon whose light will dance with tonight's shadows.

I am thankful for the steady breaths I take thousands of a day and never have to think about.

I am thankful for memories that flicker and ignite on command.

I am thankful to still be able to retrieve those memories.

And on and on I went. Until I could close the drawer and ask God for just one thing. Okay two things.

"First, Lord, the person that took these things of mine, wrap Your hope about them right now and show them another way. They must be in a really bad spot right now. Lord, come near them. And secondly, if possible, might they just return that one thing. Lord, you know what that one thing is. If possible...and if not...thank You still a hundred times over."

For even in the midst of things stolen, I have been given the great gift of remembering all I still have.

Dear Lord, help me to remember who You are today. In the midst of life's hard spots, I will thank You and respond to Your goodness. For You always see, know and are in control of all things. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Lysa will be speaking in more than 40 cities this year.Click here to see her schedule. She would be honored to meet you.

If you enjoy Lysa's devotions, be sure to sign up for notes of encouragement she sends out from her blog by clicking here. They are free and great for passing along to friends.

Come see the downloadable Freebies on Lysa's website! Encouraging articles to help you process everyday situations according to Biblical principles that you can print and share with a friend! www.LysaTerKeurst.com

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you!

Application Steps:
Maybe you're going through something right now where things aren't what you wish they were. Try listing today 3 things that are right today.

Reflections:
Even in the midst of things stolen, I have been given the great gift of remembering all I still have.

Power Verses:
Psalm 107:1 "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever." (NIV)

1 Timothy 2:1, "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone." (NIV 1984)

© 2011 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

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Tactics for the Thirsty Soul

This week's reading: Psalm 42:1-11

Isn't it amazing how the Bible talks about the soul? Scripture not only portrays what the successful, victorious and satisfied life feels like, but God's Word also offers many examples of people who battle for their faith and grow weary.

In this psalm the songwriter longs deeply for God. Taunted by his enemies, his soul knows deep despair and turmoil. But rather than caving in to the flood of adversity, the desperate follower cries out to God. How does he wage this battle?

First, the songwriter honestly expresses his feelings to God. Rather than denying his pain, he pours out his soul (see Psalm 42:4) and brings his frustration and sense of abandonment to God (see verse 9). Second, he engages his own memory. The songwriter recalls blessed times of worship with the people of God (see verse 4), and-more significantly-he remembers God himself (see verse 6). Third, the songwriter talks to himself. Or, perhaps more accurately, he addresses his own soul. He repeats the refrain: "Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God" (Psalm 42:11). Although his adversaries taunt him and continually tell him lies, the psalmist aggressively counters their negative slurs with his own message of hope in God.

Finally, note that the songwriter wrote about his struggles. The fact that his words still exist today indicates that he battled for his soul by giving expression to his grief and hope.

If you're engaged in a battle to make your faith real and are growing tired of the conflict, don't give up the fight. Long for God. Thirst for him. If you feel comfortable doing so, record your struggles on paper or in a file on your computer. When you pursue God, Scripture promises that you'll find him. Pray for God to flood your soul with relief. And don't forget to challenge yourself in the same manner of the psalmist in Psalm 42:6 and11.

To Take Away

  • Do you ever long for God so much that you feel yourself dying of thirst to experience his presence and refreshment?
  • Have you ever "preached" to your own soul? If you were to do so now, what would you say to yourself?
  • When have you sensed relief from your thirst for God? How can you repeat that experience?
Recommended Reading: Psalm 63:1-11; Luke 22:39-46

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Paul and Old Testament prophecy

Today's reading: Romans 15:1-13

In Romans 15:12, Paul refers to Isaiah 11:10 to reinforce his claim that Jesus is the Messiah. Isaiah's prophecy includes three major characteristics of the Messiah: his family line, his position of power over all the nations and the hope he would bring to the Gentiles.

First, the prophecy predicts that the Messiah would be a descendant of David's father, Jesse. Jesus was indeed born into the royal line of David, the son of Jesse (see Matthew 1:1-16). This fulfilled the covenant God made with David (see 2 Samuel 7:5-16) as well as the promise God made to Abraham (see Genesis 12:2-3).

Second, the prophecy states that the "Root of Jesse" would rule over all nations. Although Jesus rejected earthly positions of authority while on Earth, he now reigns over a spiritual kingdom (see John 18:36) and will one day reign over all, for "the kingdom of the world [will] become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah" (Revelation 11:15; see also Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:9-11).

Third, the prophecy predicts that the Gentiles would hope in him. Jesus fulfilled this final part of the prophecy by welcoming Gentiles into his kingdom. Paul points out that "Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreoever, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy" (Romans 15:8-9). Paul then quotes several Old Testament passages to illustrate this truth. Paul's calling to proclaim Jesus to the Gentiles (see Acts 9:15) confirms that Jesus offers hope not only to the Jews but also to the entire world.

Through Jesus' royal bloodline, his eternal reign and his inclusive kingdom, he fulfills each of the three prophecies highlighted in Isaiah 11:10.

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