Saturday, October 15, 2011

Daily Devotional Saturday 15th October

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord."
Philippians 3:8

Spiritual knowledge of Christ will be a personal knowledge. I cannot know Jesus through another person's acquaintance with him. No, I must know him myself; I must know him on my own account. It will be an intelligent knowledge--I must know him, not as the visionary dreams of him, but as the Word reveals him. I must know his natures, divine and human. I must know his offices--his attributes--his works--his shame--his glory. I must meditate upon him until I "comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge." It will be an affectionate knowledge of him; indeed, if I know him at all, I must love him. An ounce of heart knowledge is worth a ton of head learning. Our knowledge of him will be a satisfying knowledge. When I know my Saviour, my mind will be full to the brim--I shall feel that I have that which my spirit panted after. "This is that bread whereof if a man eat he shall never hunger." At the same time it will be an exciting knowledge; the more I know of my Beloved, the more I shall want to know. The higher I climb the loftier will be the summits which invite my eager footsteps. I shall want the more as I get the more. Like the miser's treasure, my gold will make me covet more. To conclude; this knowledge of Christ Jesus will be a most happy one; in fact, so elevating, that sometimes it will completely bear me up above all trials, and doubts, and sorrows; and it will, while I enjoy it, make me something more than "Man that is born of woman, who is of few days, and full of trouble"; for it will fling about me the immortality of the ever living Saviour, and gird me with the golden girdle of his eternal joy. Come, my soul, sit at Jesus's feet and learn of him all this day.

Evening

"And be not conformed to this world."
Romans 12:2

If a Christian can by possibility be saved while he conforms to this world, at any rate it must be so as by fire. Such a bare salvation is almost as much to be dreaded as desired. Reader, would you wish to leave this world in the darkness of a desponding death bed, and enter heaven as a shipwrecked mariner climbs the rocks of his native country? then be worldly; be mixed up with Mammonites, and refuse to go without the camp bearing Christ's reproach. But would you have a heaven below as well as a heaven above? Would you comprehend with all saints what are the heights and depths, and know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge? Would you receive an abundant entrance into the joy of your Lord? Then come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing. Would you attain the full assurance of faith? you cannot gain it while you commune with sinners. Would you flame with vehement love? Your love will be damped by the drenchings of godless society. You cannot become a great Christian--you may be a babe in grace, but you never can be a perfect man in Christ Jesus while you yield yourself to the worldly maxims and modes of business of men of the world. It is ill for an heir of heaven to be a great friend with the heirs of hell. It has a bad look when a courtier is too intimate with his king's enemies. Even small inconsistencies are dangerous. Little thorns make great blisters, little moths destroy fine garments, and little frivolities and little rogueries will rob religion of a thousand joys. O professor, too little separated from sinners, you know not what you lose by your conformity to the world. It cuts the tendons of your strength, and makes you creep where you ought to run. Then, for your own comfort's sake, and for the sake of your growth in grace, if you be a Christian, be a Christian, and be a marked and distinct one.

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Today's reading: Isaiah 43-44, 1 Thessalonians 2 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Isaiah 43-44

Israel’s Only Savior

1 But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 1 Thessalonians 2

Paul’s Ministry in Thessalonica

1 You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. 2 We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. 3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. 5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. 6We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. 7 Instead, we were like young children among you.

Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8 so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. 9 Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory....

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Onesimus

[Ōnĕs'ĭmŭs] - profitable. The slave of Philemon, Paul's convert (Col. 4:7-9; Philemon 10-19). Onesimus ran away from his master and came into contact with Paul, who led him to Christ after they met in Rome. Paul urged him to return to his master and entreated Philemon to receive Onesimus, not as a slave, but as a brother in the Lord. How the apostle approached Onesimus provides us with a beautiful exhibition of Christian Courtesy.
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October 14, 2011

The Broken Way

Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

Moses answered the people, 'Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today ... the LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still (Exodus 14:13-14, NIV).

Friend to Friend

While at a football game of my son Preston's, I had a moving conversation with another team mom. It was the first time we'd ever dialogued beyond socially expected niceties. Between cheers that went up to our football-playing boys, she stumbled upon the fact that I was a Jesus-loving girl and was excited to share about how God has intimately drawn her heart to his over the past five years. How He met her where she was, ministered to her through the hands of others. How He sparked life into her soul through His Son Jesus Christ. She was radiant and she spoke with excitement, joy in every sentence, praise on her tongue for the God who gives her strength and life. This dear lady opened her heart and told me of her grueling battle with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

She was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 35 - as a wife and mother to three small children. Initially, she was angry with God for allowing a disease to ravage her body, furious that her husband and children might have to live without her. Though she fought to understand the "why" of it all, she confidently testifies that God used the pain-filled journey on the broken road of cancer to lead her to saving Grace. She is now grateful for the broken way that God breathed new life into her soul as she battled death in her body. As she spoke, the troubles of my life faded to a humble corner of my heart. Her words reminded me that God really can and should be glorified through each hard place we find ourselves in. I was freshly reminded to trust God.

Life is filled with challenges. The struggles we endure often leave our hearts breaking and our minds aching for reprieve. I've not battled cancer, but I have experienced my fair share of times when I've been crushed by circumstances that are beyond my control ... just like her. As a wife, mother, daughter, and friend, I've learned that hard times are inevitable and that they hurt.

Toward the end of our conversation about her cancer and faith, my new friend confided that fear still tries to invade her days. She said that she constantly has to choose faith and to trust God instead of dwelling on the possibilities of another future diagnosis. Every one of us doubts at times. We all fail to trust. But Scripture assures us that even when we are faithless, God remains faithful. As we walk broken paths that challenge our faith, the truth remains that God does deliver in and through the pain. Though there are struggles that we might take to the grave with us, God is still good. Each hard place is an opportunity for Jesus to show His power in and through our lives.

When we find ourselves on the broken way, we often feel like we are wandering in the wilderness. In Exodus 13:17-14:31, we see a dreary desert drama of the Israelites. Stop here to read the full account now if you can.

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, "If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt." So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea (Exodus 13:17-18, NIV).

As God moved through the leadership of Moses to bring His people from captivity to freedom, from poverty to inheritance, the Israelites were not led the easy way. They didn't get to take the "paved" road - even though it was shorter. They had to walk through the desert. God led them the harder way because He knew it was best for them in the long run. Sometimes we are led the harder way too. The broken way. Even though our minds conceive an easier solution, He knows what is unknown to us, He sees what is unseen to us, and His ways are trustworthy and best.

By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people." (Exodus 17:21-22, NIV)

"Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel's army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left (Exodus 14:19-22, NIV).

God has given us his Holy Spirit to lead us by day and by night, to be our Strength, our Power, and our Direction in the deserts of life. Just as God made a way for the Israelites when they called on Him as they faced a seemingly impossible Red Sea situation, He will make a way for you. Call on His name. Trust His plan. Reach for His hand.

Let's Pray

Dear Lord, forgive me for the times when I try to navigate the broken path of life on my own. When my heart is heavy with burdens, please give me Your strength and remind my soul to trust You. I need Your guidance and power today.

In Jesus' Name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Do you feel like God has led you through the desert?

Do you trust that He can and will make a way for your broken paths to be made straight when you call on Him?

Grab a journal (if you're a journal girl). Spend a few moments contemplating the circumstances of your harder way. Then lift your eyes from your situation to your Savior. Call on God, and say to your soul: Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today...the LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still (Exodus 14:13-14, NIV).

More from the Girlfriends

I've seen it in my own life. God delights to deliver us from our hard places in and through the pain. Hang in there, friend. He knows each tear you've cried and He has never left your side. In the words of a beloved hymn by Helen Lemmel, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."

WALKING ON THE BROKEN WAY? God delights to heal and transform lives ... including your own. In her book, Broken Into Beautiful, Gwen Smith invites you to experience how the unconditional love of Jesus can change your life and bring strength and healing to your heart. He can transform your life into something beautiful. To order the book, go to Amazon or, for a signed copy, order from Gwen's website:www.gwensmith.net.

GOT FACEBOOK? Stop by Gwen's Facebook Music Page atwww.Facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic. While you're there, be sure to listen to a few songs, leave a message on her wall, and add her as a friend!

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
Rachel Olsen

October 14, 2011

A Slice of Cheesecake, or Dirt?
Rachel Olsen

"The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts." Proverbs 18:8 (NIV)

Get-togethers with my friends or family typically wind up the same way. The men gather by the grill or TV, and talk about music or sports. Meanwhile, the women congregate in the kitchen for some old-fashioned "girl-talk."

For women, people and relationships tend to be the common ground of conversation. We are the more emotional and relational gender. And of course we gather in the kitchen-it's the heart of the home. Plus, that's where the food is. After all, girl-talk is deliciously enhanced by coffee or cheesecake.

However, there is a side of girl-talk that is dangerous and addictive. It's called gossip.

Why do we gossip? I believe it's the same reason we do other things we know we shouldn't, like flirt with the boss, or gorge ourselves on cheesecake-because it's pleasurable.

In the case of gossiping, we like the feeling of being "in the know." At least for the moment, we can command everyone's attention. Eyes widen and adrenalin pulses as we tell our friends the unbelievable news. They hang on our every word.

Hearing gossip can make us feel almost as good as telling it-like we've been chosen and trusted with a secret. Gossiping feels good to everyone-except those who are the object of it.

When I look inward at my own motives for gossiping, what I see is not appetizing. I see pride, carelessness and judgment. I see a self-serving attitude that likes the feelings gossip brings. Although gossip may taste good at the time, just like too much cheesecake, it can negatively affect my well-being. Gossip goes down into my soul bringing with it the weight of guilt and sin.

I've come to realize that when I dish the dirt, or even listen to it, I'm serving dirt to my own soul.

Next time the girls gather, I've decided I'm going to fast from gossiping. I've pre-decided I'll redirect the conversation, or simply excuse myself to the bathroom when gossip arises. I don't wish to dish or devour dirt. When my heart is sensitive to God's, gossip only gives me a sick feeling later.

I will, however, have a cup of coffee and small serving of dessert. Which would you rather enjoy-a slice of cheesecake, or dirt?

Dear Lord, please forgive me for gossiping. I know that it hurts others and harms me as well. Help me be sensitive to when I'm starting to gossip and give me the courage to hold my tongue or change the subject. Fill me with words of wisdom, discernment and encouragement. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
For her favorite fall cheesecake recipe and a chance to win a copy of her book It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know, visit Rachel's blogtoday.

It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know by Rachel Olsen

God's Purpose for Every Woman a P31 Devotion book by various P31 authors with General Editors Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olsen

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:
Pray the prayer above and commit to neither dish nor digest gossip today. If you read celebrity gossip online or in magazines, fast from that as well.

Reflections:
Have I ever jumped full force into a gossipy conversation? Have I regretted it later?

If I regretted it, how did I handle that regret? If I didn't regret it, what might that tell me about the condition of my soul?

God is fully able and willing to cleanse us of the dirt we've spoken or ingested.

Power Verses:
Proverbs 11:13, "A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret." (NIV)

2 Thessalonians 3:11-12, "Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people's business. We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living." (NLT)

Psalm 139:4, "Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely." (NIV)

© 2011 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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

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There ARE Christians tortured for their faith

The true story of a pastor, imprisoned and tortured for his faith in Christ
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And now, the Voice of the Martyrs invites you to request acomplimentary copy of the international bestseller, Tortured for Christ.

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Tortured for Christ book

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Justin Martyr: Apologist for Pagans

justinmartyr

Quote: "No one who is rightly minded turns from true belief to false." (Justin Martyr)

Unlike many other noted Christians of the early centuries, Justin (100 – 165) was an adult convert to the faith. Reared in a prosperous pagan family in Samaria, he was well educated and he retained his property and his philosopher's gown after his conversion. Indeed, he was convinced that he had found the true philosophy — philosophy discovered only after studying the sterile gospel of the Stoics and Plato, who gave "wings for his soul" but ultimately left him unsatisfied.

Then, around the year 130, a chance meeting with an old man by the sea transforms Justin's life. The man points him not only to the prophets whose words had been fulfilled in Christ but also to Christians who had suffered and died for their faith. "A fire was suddenly kindled in my soul. I fell in love with the prophets and these men who had loved Christ," he writes. "I reflected on all their words and found that this philosophy alone was true and profitable. That is how and why I became a philosopher. And I wish that everyone felt the same way that I do."

So convinced is he that he becomes an evangelist to the educated intellectuals of the ancient world. His debating skills are widely recognized, as are his teachings and writings. He is a Christian apologist who retains his pagan philosophy insisting that the truth of pagan philosophy, particularly Platonism, serves as "a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ." Indeed, more than any other prominent Christian apologist of the early centuries, he unabashedly embraces philosophy, much to the chagrin of his critics. Greek philosophy, he believes, is drawn from the Old Testament; and Socrates and Heraclitus are men of true faith, as are Old Testament saints. For Justin, Christ, the Word (Logos), is absolute truth and all truth is thus the truth of Christ.

Justin defends the way of Christ on two fronts: Judaism and paganism. While residing in Ephesus, he debates a Jewish scholar whose arguments are found in Justin's treatise The Dialogue with Trypho. Here he asserts that the old covenant is replaced by the new, even as Gentiles are the new Israel. He later founds a school in Rome, where his focus is on pagan philosophy. In his First Apology , offered "on behalf of men of every nation who are unjustly hated and reviled," he argues that the Christian faith is not a dangerous religion to be feared. Addressing his treatise to the emperor, he insists Christians are the "best helpers and allies in securing good order, convinced as we are that no wicked man . . . can be hidden from God, and that everyone goes to eternal punishment or salvation in accordance with the character of his actions." Written in 155, the Apology is an attempt to justify the faith and show that paganism is an inferior imitation. More importantly, it elucidates the conduct and religious practices of Christians. Their worship is straightforward religious devotion. The emperor has nothing to fear.

But holding high Greek philosophy and making the faith to appear reasonable and rational was not enough to satisfy the Roman authorities. In 165 Justin was arrested. Had he been tempted to buckle under the threat of death, he might have recalled the old man who, on the shore many years earlier, had pointed him to Christ, emphasizing the courage of those who were faithful unto death. Like them, he now refuses to forsake Christ and sacrifice to the gods. "No one who is rightly minded," he tells the prefect, "turns from true belief to false." According to tradition, Justin was martyred in Rome under Emperor Marcus Aurelius.


If you enjoyed the above article, please take a minute to read about the book that it was adapted from:

ParadeofFaith-Bookcover

Parade of Faith: A Biographical History of the Christian Church

by Ruth A. Tucker
Buy the book!
The story of Christianity centers on people whose lives have been transformed by the resurrected Lord. Tucker puts this front and center in a lively overview peppered with sidebars; historical "what if?" questions; sections on everyday life; drawings and illustrations; bibliographies for further reading.



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