Friday, October 07, 2011

Daily Devotional Friday 7th October

“Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.”Isaiah 26:4 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst."
John 4:14

He who is a believer in Jesus finds enough in his Lord to satisfy him now, and to content him for evermore. The believer is not the man whose days are weary for want of comfort, and whose nights are long from absence of heart-cheering thought, for he finds in religion such a spring of joy, such a fountain of consolation, that he is content and happy. Put him in a dungeon and he will find good company; place him in a barren wilderness, he will eat the bread of heaven; drive him away from friendship, he will meet the "friend that sticketh closer than a brother." Blast all his gourds, and he will find shadow beneath the Rock of Ages; sap the foundation of his earthly hopes, but his heart will still be fixed, trusting in the Lord. The heart is as insatiable as the grave till Jesus enters it, and then it is a cup full to overflowing. There is such a fulness in Christ that he alone is the believer's all. The true saint is so completely satisfied with the all-sufficiency of Jesus that he thirsts no more--except it be for deeper draughts of the living fountain. In that sweet manner, believer, shalt thou thirst; it shall not be a thirst of pain, but of loving desire; thou wilt find it a sweet thing to be panting after a fuller enjoyment of Jesus' love. One in days of yore said, "I have been sinking my bucket down into the well full often, but now my thirst after Jesus has become so insatiable, that I long to put the well itself to my lips, and drink right on." Is this the feeling of thine heart now, believer? Dost thou feel that all thy desires are satisfied in Jesus, and that thou hast no want now, but to know more of him, and to have closer fellowship with him? Then come continually to the fountain, and take of the water of life freely. Jesus will never think you take too much, but will ever welcome you, saying, "Drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved."

Evening

"He had married an Ethiopian woman."
Numbers 12:1

Strange choice of Moses, but how much more strange the choice of him who is a prophet like unto Moses, and greater than he! Our Lord, who is fair as the lily, has entered into marriage union with one who confesses herself to be black, because the sun has looked upon her. It is the wonder of angels that the love of Jesus should be set upon poor, lost, guilty men. Each believer must, when filled with a sense of Jesus' love, be also overwhelmed with astonishment that such love should be lavished on an object so utterly unworthy of it. Knowing as we do our secret guiltiness, unfaithfulness, and black-heartedness, we are dissolved in grateful admiration of the matchless freeness and sovereignty of grace. Jesus must have found the cause of his love in his own heart, he could not have found it in us, for it is not there. Even since our conversion we have been black, though grace has made us comely. Holy Rutherford said of himself what we must each subscribe to--"His relation to me is, that I am sick, and he is the Physician of whom I stand in need. Alas! how often I play fast and loose with Christ! He bindeth, I loose; he buildeth, I cast down; I quarrel with Christ, and he agreeth with me twenty times a day!" Most tender and faithful Husband of our souls, pursue thy gracious work of conforming us to thine image, till thou shalt present even us poor Ethiopians unto thyself, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Moses met with opposition because of his marriage, and both himself and his spouse were the subjects of an evil eye. Can we wonder if this vain world opposes Jesus and his spouse, and especially when great sinners are converted? for this is ever the Pharisee's ground of objection, "This man receiveth sinners." Still is the old cause of quarrel revived, "Because he had married an Ethiopian woman."

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Today's reading: Isaiah 26-27, Philippians 2 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Isaiah 26-27

A Song of Praise

1 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:

We have a strong city;
God makes salvation
its walls and ramparts.
2 Open the gates
that the righteous nation may enter,
the nation that keeps faith.
3 You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.
4 Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.
5 He humbles those who dwell on high,
he lays the lofty city low;
he levels it to the ground
and casts it down to the dust.
6 Feet trample it down—
the feet of the oppressed,
the footsteps of the poor....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Philippians 2

Imitating Christ’s Humility

1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

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Moses

[Mō'zez] - drawn forth, taken out of the water or a son. The youngest son of Amram and Jochebed, of the family of Kohath (Exod. 2:10-21; Acts 7:20-38; Heb. 11:24, 25).

The Man Who Was God's Friend

The great Hebrew leader and legislator was born at the time the king of Egypt had resolved on the destruction of every newly born male child among the Israelites. The story of his rescue from the water by Pharaoh's daughter, of her adoption of him as her own son and his royal upbringing has charmed our hearts from earliest years.

It would take a volume in itself to fully expound the virtues and vicissitudes of Moses the historian, orator, leader, statesman, legislator and patriot. His greatest honor, however, was the privilege of being known as "the friend of God." What holy intimacy existed between God and this prophet so supernaturally guided and aided in his life and labors! No wonder this mighty leader of Israel was David Livingstone's favorite Bible hero!

Moses lived for 120 years, a period divided into three sections of forty years each:

The first forty years - from his birth until the flight into Midian. As Pharaoh's son, Moses learned how to be somebody.

The second forty years - from the flight into Midian to the Exodus. In desert places he learned how to become a nobody.

The third forty years - from the Exodus to his own exodus. As the leader of God's hosts he learned that god was everybody - the One he could speak to face to face as a man speaks to his friends.

The remarkable life of Moses can be viewed under three more aspects:

I. The moment when he turned fully to God.

II. The moment when he absolutely broke with the world. The refusal and choice of Hebrews 11:24, 25 must be carefully noted. It is not enough to refuse - we must choose. We must back up a negative with a positive.

III. The moment when between himself and God there was the sprinkled blood, the blood of atonement.

Further, Moses, the Law-giver in Israel, supplies us with a fitting type of Christ. Taken together we have these similarities which pastors can develop:

Both were preserved from the perils of infancy (Exod. 2:2-10with Matt. 2:14, 15).

Both were tempted but had mastery over evil ( Exod. 7:11 withMatt. 4:1).

Both knew what it was to fast for forty days (Exod. 34:28 withMatt. 4:2). Solitude was their strength.

Both had power to control the sea (Exod. 14:21 with Matt. 8:26).

Both fed a multitude ( Exod. 16:26 with Matt. 14:20, 21).

Both had a radiant face (Exod. 34:35 with Matt. 17:2).

Both endured murmurings (Exod. 15:24 with Mark 7:2).

Both were discredited at home (Num. 12:1 with John 7:5).

Both were mighty intercessors ( Exod. 32:32 with John 17).

Both spoke as the oracles of God (Deut. 18:18 with John 7:46).

Both had seventy helpers (Num. 11:16, 17 with Luke 10:1).

Both established memorials ( Exod. 12:14 with Luke 22:19).

Both reappeared after death (Matt. 17:3 with Acts 1:3).

Moses gave us the first five books of the Old Testament, known as The Pentateuch . When Jesus said, "Moses wrote of me," He set His seal to the Mosaic authorship of these books. Moses died in the plains of Moab. At the ripe age of 120 years, while yet "his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated," God called His faithful servant to climb Nebo's lonely mountain, where, upon its summit he was kissed to sleep by the angels and God buried him - the only man in the Bible to have God as his undertaker (Deut. 34:6).

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October 6, 2011

I Have a Shepherd

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

Know that the Lord is God. He made us, and we belong to him; we are his people, the sheep he tends.

(Psalm 100:3, NCV)

Friend to Friend

Shepherding was one of the oldest callings in Israel, even before farming. Shepherds traveled from place to place, living in tents while driving their flocks from one pasture to another. The sheep and their shepherd lived together every minute of every day. In fact, they were so intimately bound together that individual sheep, even when mixed with other flocks, could recognize the voice of their own shepherd and would come immediately when called by name.

A shepherd owned and marked his sheep. In some cases, the sheep were even branded, although branding is no longer an accepted method of identification because of the damage it does to the wool. Today, the ears of sheep are pierced with identification tags, but for thousands of years, shepherds around the world marked their sheep by notching their ears with a sharp knife. Each shepherd had his own distinctive notch that indicated identity and ownership.

When we come to Jesus Christ in complete surrender and begin the journey of becoming a fully devoted follower of Christ, we are redeemed by His forgiveness, made whole by His grace and marked with His love through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

You were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, NIV).

For years, I desperately struggled to be a Christian with only head knowledge of who God was and wanted to be in my life. The result was a pitifully shallow existence with stress and frustration as my constant companions. To make things worse, I was up to my neck in ministry at the time.

I grew up in a Christian home, attending church just about every time the doors were open. I sang all of the right songs, spoke all of the right words and did all of the right things in front of all the right people. I fervently prayed that my works would validate my faith and desperately hoped that by following the rules, I would please the Ruler. It was not until middle school that the authentic life and spiritual integrity of a dynamic youth pastor made me hunger and thirst for something more. I wanted to know God - not only as my Lord and King - but as my Shepherd, the one who would lead me, provide for me and love me like no other.

During a special Saturday evening revival service at our small country church, I sat in my usual spot, desperately clutching the back of the pew in front of me while wrestling with God over the condition of my soul and my eternal security. After all, I was a very active church member, a soloist and pianist for our worship services, and even directed a children's choir. I never missed a service unless I was deathly ill. I was a leader in our youth group, rarely failed to attend a youth activity and often brought friends who were lost, unlike me, of course, and needed to know God. How embarrassing to walk down that aisle, admitting to everyone that I had been living a lie. I clung to that pew in sheer arrogance and argued that I was a Christian. I must be - right? Look at all of the good things I had done. I looked like a believer, talked like a believer and even acted like I was fully devoted to God.

Then a startling certainty hit me like a ton of bricks! I knew allabout God but I did not know Him. It wasn't enough for me or for God. I have come to realize that God's perfect love settles for nothing less than an intimate and loving relationship with His children. That night I met Jesus Christ as I surrendered all that I knew about myself to all that I knew about Him.

While the course of my life was changed forever, I quickly discovered I still had to deal with life on a daily basis and still had to face stressful situations. I also discovered who I really am - a sheep - and being a sheep is awesome! When I am afraid, Jesus Christ is there to bring peace. When my heart is broken, the Holy Spirit comforts and restores me. Even when I found myself in a deep, dark pit of clinical depression, Jesus Christ, my Shepherd, led me from the darkness into the light.

I began to understand the incredible truth that Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, has planned my very existence, prepared a plan in response to His love for me, and even made provision for the payment of my past, present and future sin. I am wanted, chosen and marked for God. I no longer have to live life on my own because I have a Shepherd. God's love precedes me, goes before me and surrounds me as I live each day. Knowing we are loved fosters peace in our hearts, and when our hearts are filled with peace, there is little room for stress.

Actually, when you think about it, sheep don't come across as stressed-out creatures. In fact, they seem almost oblivious to danger. Sheep don't seem to worry about where their next meal is coming from, if they will have a place to sleep each night, when the next enemy or thief will attack, or even what the next day holds. When sheep are sick or in need, they simply turn to their Shepherd, instinctively knowing He will take care of them and comfort them until healing comes.

We need to remember and often revisit the fact that we are all sheep and that Jesus Christ really is our Shepherd and nothing else really matters.

Let's Pray

Thank You, Lord, for being so faithful to me - even when my faith is small and my strength is gone. Help me learn how to trust You more and turn to You first when I am in trouble. I surrender my fears to You, Lord. I need Your love and guidance to get me through each day. I need Your protection from people and circumstances that are harmful. You are my Source and my Deliverer. Help me choose to trust You in such a way that brings You glory and honor.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Record the following promises in your journal. Beside each promise, write the words of Psalm 23 that substantiate that promise. I have listed a few to help you get started.

God promises to meet every need in my life. "I shall not want."

God gives me rest and peace. "He leads me beside quiet waters."

God gives my life purpose and direction._________________________________________

God comforts me when my heart is broken. ______________________________________

God promises that He will never leave me._______________________________________

God gives me victory over my enemies. _________________________________________

God promises me eternal life. _________________________________________________

More from the Girlfriends

Need help? Mary's book, Escaping the Stress Trap, is based on Psalm 23 and is a step-by-step plan for dealing with the stress in life and learning to truly trust God.

Come as You Are, Mary's NEW Online Bible Study, has just begun. Enroll before October 15 and have access to all 2011 lessons. Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.

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

October 6, 2011

Running Aground
Marybeth Whalen

"Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island."Acts 27:26 (NIV)

Have you ever been going along, intent in your calling, certain of your direction, sure of God's goodness, only to have something happen that throws you completely off course?

When my husband and I resolved to become financially sound, we were dismayed to quickly have an appliance break, shelling out the entire emergency fund we'd built up to repair it. Instead of moving forward we were going backwards.

We had two choices to make at that moment: thank God that we had the money to cover the repair or doubt God's sovereignty in allowing the appliance to break.

In the book of Acts, chapter twenty-seven, Paul tells the people he is traveling with that God has called them to their mission. Not only that, he is certain the Holy Spirit is on their side. And yet, for reasons he doesn't go into, we read in our key verse that he also tells them they must run aground, which means they'd be delayed on some island before their purpose would be accomplished.

This delay, it turns out, is part of the plan. This setback is actually sovereign. But of course at that moment they can't see that. All they can see is a looming shipwreck, a deserted island.

Perhaps you are on your own deserted island-a personal exile that has been painful and prolonged. You wonder if God sees where you are, if He cares. You remember the time you were moving along, the wind in your sails, full speed ahead. And you miss that time. You wish God would rescue you from the island, put you back on course. Perhaps you're beginning to doubt God really does have a plan for you.

I don't know what your deserted island looks like. It might be the desolation of a marriage, the barren land of motherhood, the wasteland of a career. It might be the emptiness of simply not knowing what your purpose-your passion-really is, even as you watch other women seem to steam forward.

When I start to feel this way, I think about this verse. I remember that even Paul ran aground, even Paul faced setbacks. But I also remember that the island wasn't the end of the story. Rescue was coming. Running aground doesn't mean you've run outside of God's will. It might just mean you are exactly where you're supposed to be. Use this time to increase your trust in God and to see Him work on your behalf, even when the palm trees obscure your view.

Dear Lord, I admit I've been feeling lost and forgotten on this island. I haven't realized that this setback might just be what You allowed. Help me to find You, even in this. Help me to press into You and to trust Your goodness and love. I can't wait to see what waits for me on the other side of this island. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Living Financially Free: Hard Earned Wisdom for Saving Your Money and Your Marriage by Marybeth and Curt Whalen

She Makes It Look Easy by Marybeth Whalen.

Visit Marybeth's blog for more encouragement.

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:
Spend some time today reflecting on the desert islands you've run aground on in the past. Think about what waited on the other side of that setback.

Reflections:
Am I struggling with a setback today? How can this verse serve as a comfort to me as I wait and trust?

Power Verses:
Acts 27:25, "So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me." (NIV)

Psalm 23:6, "Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." (NIV 1984)

© 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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Why Weren't Jesus' Legs Broken on the Cross?

Today's reading: John 19:28-37

Breaking the legs of victims on the cross was a common practice by the Romans to speed up death. Soldiers would use the steel shaft of a short Roman spear to shatter the person's lower leg bones. This would prevent the individual from pushing up with his legs so he could breathe, and death by asphyxiation would result in a matter of minutes.

When the soldiers approached Jesus, they determined that he was already dead, and one used his spear to pierce Jesus' side to confirm it (see John 19:34). This fulfilled another Old Testament prophecy about the Messiah: his bones would remain unbroken (see Psalm 34:19-20).

Adapted from interview with Dr. Alexander Metherell.

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Today's reading is from the
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Job's Performance Review

This week's reading: Job 22:1-30

Former hockey goalie Jacques Plante once quipped, "How would you like a job where, if you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and eighteen thousand people boo?"

Job didn't face eighteen thousand booing people. Just a few so-called friends who made false accusations about his performance as a righteous man. Eliphaz started his attack on Job by criticizing his supposed lack of holiness. He accused Job of withholding water from the thirsty, keeping food from the hungry and turning away widows. Eliphaz claimed that Job's problems stemmed from his wicked heart.

However, Eliphaz's criticism was unfounded. God wouldn't have made Job the poster child of righteousness if he'd really committed such horrible acts.

We all deal with criticism. But how we respond to it often determines how we feel about ourselves. Most of us respond in one of three ways: (1) We deny the accusation; (2) we become defensive and feel victimized; or (3) we look for what might be true about the criticism and weed out what's not true.

Quite often critics just want to help solve problems-they're not out to get the person they're evaluating. If someone's criticism carries a seed of truth, we need to acknowledge our mistakes and make corrections in that area of life. By doing this, we honor the critic's judgment. And we show a willingness to take responsibility without feeling victimized.

However, some critics use words to degrade and control others. We don't have to let them make our lives miserable. Job allowed Eliphaz to vent, but Job didn't let the criticism define him. He was secure in the integrity of his actions, and that allowed him to deflect unfounded criticism.

Poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Criticism should not be querulous and wasting, all knife and root-puller, but guiding, instructive, inspiring." False criticism never needs to define your self-worth. If someone throws an unjust accusation your way, don't let it get under your skin. Look past it and move on. But if a critic's words ring true, use them to make yourself a better person.

To Take Away

  • How do you handle criticism?
  • How does pride affect the way you respond to criticism?
  • Would you describe your words of criticism toward others as cutting and destructive or as guiding, instructive and inspiring?
Recommended Reading: Numbers 16:3; Proverbs 6:16-19; 2 Corinthians 8:20-21
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