Saturday, October 22, 2011

Daily Devotional Saturday 22nd October

“I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.”” Psalm 40:8 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"The love of Christ constraineth us."
2 Corinthians 5:14

How much owest thou unto my Lord? Has he ever done anything for thee? Has he forgiven thy sins? Has he covered thee with a robe of righteousness? Has he set thy feet upon a rock? Has he established thy goings? Has he prepared heaven for thee? Has he prepared thee for heaven? Has he written thy name in his book of life? Has he given thee countless blessings? Has he laid up for thee a store of mercies, which eye hath not seen nor ear heard? Then do something for Jesus worthy of his love. Give not a mere wordy offering to a dying Redeemer. How will you feel when your Master comes, if you have to confess that you did nothing for him, but kept your love shut up, like a stagnant pool, neither flowing forth to his poor or to his work. Out on such love as that! What do men think of a love which never shows itself in action? Why, they say, "Open rebuke is better than secret love." Who will accept a love so weak that it does not actuate you to a single deed of self-denial, of generosity, of heroism, or zeal! Think how he has loved you, and given himself for you! Do you know the power of that love? Then let it be like a rushing mighty wind to your soul to sweep out the clouds of your worldliness, and clear away the mists of sin. "For Christ's sake" be this the tongue of fire that shall sit upon you: "for Christ's sake" be this the divine rapture, the heavenly afflatus to bear you aloft from earth, the divine spirit that shall make you bold as lions and swift as eagles in your Lord's service. Love should give wings to the feet of service, and strength to the arms of labour. Fixed on God with a constancy that is not to be shaken, resolute to honour him with a determination that is not to be turned aside, and pressing on with an ardour never to be wearied, let us manifest the constraints of love to Jesus. May the divine loadstone draw us heavenward towards itself.

Evening

"Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?"
Luke 24:38

"Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest O Israel, my way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God?" The Lord cares for all things, and the meanest creatures share in his universal providence, but his particular providence is over his saints. "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him." "Precious shall their blood be in his sight." "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose." Let the fact that, while he is the Saviour of all men, he is specially the Saviour of them that believe, cheer and comfort you. You are his peculiar care; his regal treasure which he guards as the apple of his eye; his vineyard over which he watches day and night. "The very hairs of your head are all numbered." Let the thought of his special love to you be a spiritual pain-killer, a dear quietus to your woe: "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." God says that as much to you as to any saint of old. "Fear not, I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." We lose much consolation by the habit of reading his promises for the whole church, instead of taking them directly home to ourselves. Believer, grasp the divine word with a personal, appropriating faith. Think that you hear Jesus say, "I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not." Think you see him walking on the waters of thy trouble, for he is there, and he is saying, "Fear not, it is I; be not afraid." Oh, those sweet words of Christ! May the Holy Ghost make you feel them as spoken to you; forget others for awhile--accept the voice of Jesus as addressed to you, and say, "Jesus whispers consolation; I cannot refuse it; I will sit under his shadow with great delight."

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Today's reading: Isaiah 62-64, 1 Timothy 1 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Isaiah 62-64

Zion’s New Name

1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet,
till her vindication shines out like the dawn,
her salvation like a blazing torch.
2 The nations will see your vindication,
and all kings your glory;
you will be called by a new name
that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.
3 You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 No longer will they call you Deserted,
or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,
and your land Beulah;
for the LORD will take delight in you,
and your land will be married.
5 As a young man marries a young woman,
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you.

6 I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem;
they will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the LORD,
give yourselves no rest,
7 and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
and makes her the praise of the earth....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 1 Timothy 1

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

2 To Timothy my true son in the faith:

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Timothy Charged to Oppose False Teachers

3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk.7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me....

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Cyrus

[Cy'rus] - as miserable or an heir.Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Empire, conquered Babylon and was anointed by God to free the Jews from captivity. The prophets frequently foretold the coming of Cyrus. Isaiah, for example, mentioned him by name two hundred years before he was born (2 Chron. 36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1-8; 3:7; 4:3-5; 5:13-17; 6:3-14; Isa. 44:28; 45; Dan. 1:21; 6:28; 10:1 ). Classical writers adorn the life and labors of Cyrus with a variety of legendary incidents for which no confirmation can be produced.
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October 21, 2011

I'm Right Here

Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

Fear not ... I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you... (Isaiah 43:1-2)

Friend to Friend

While walking into the opening session of a marriage conference that we had been looking forward to, his cellphone rang. He answered the call and we took our seats. As the emcee kicked off the weekend with gracious greetings, my husband, Brad, leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Preston fell on a rock at camp and is on his way to urgent care to get stitches in his chin." He took my hand and whispered again, knowing from my expression that I was alarmed, "It's just a few stitches. He'll be okay, honey."

My stomach flip-flopped. We locked eyes and shared pain - both wounded in the heart for our firstborn son. This was notthe way we had imagined that our weekend away would begin. As the session began, my momma-bear instincts kicked in and my mind reeled. Though he was a hundred miles away and though he's a man-cub teenager, I ached to be by Preston's side while the doctor stitched up his chin. I am always by his side when he gets hurt. Yet, there was comfort in knowing that this was "just a few stitches."

As that first session came to a close in prayer, Brad's cell phone invaded the quiet. He leapt up and left the room swiftly to get an update on Preston. Right behind him, I asked repeatedly, "What are they saying? Is everything okay?"

"He said that Preston broke his jaw," Brad said with a tone of disbelief. Again he said, "The x-rays showed that he broke his jaw. I can't believe this. They need us to come get him and take him to Charlotte. He might need surgery."

Gripped by his words, I struggled to think clearly, "A broken jaw? Surgery? It was just supposed to be a few stitches! Well - it's probably just a small fracture. I really hate that I'm not with him right now..." Bags were packed quickly and by the time darkness fell on North Carolina, Charlotte was on the horizon.

The next several hours were a blur of doctors, x-rays, CAT scans and surgery plans. Bad went to worse as we learned that Preston didn't just break his jaw... he broke his jaw in three places, and, as the doctor phrased it, "he pretty much broke his jaw as bad as you can break a jaw." Nice.

Surgery began and the wait was on... and on... and on. The heart-distance between the operating room and the waiting room was a thousand miles. It killed me to not hold his hand and stroke his hair while his jaw was reconstructed for seven and a half hours.

In the wee hours of the morning, surgery was complete and Preston was wheeled to his room. Brad and I rushed to his side as they brought him to his room and though he was heavily sedated, I reached for his hand and assured him, "Preston! I'm right here! I'm right by your side. I will stay here beside you. I know you're in pain, buddy, but you're going to heal well now. I'm right here and I love you." His eyes flickered open for a split second to let Brad and I know that he heard our love then he drifted back to post-surgical sleep.

Several times an hour the nurses came in to check his vitals. I hadn't slept in nearly a day and was thoroughly exhausted, but each time a nurse entered the room I leapt to his side and whispered to my wounded child, "I'm right here, Preston! I'm right here. You're not alone."

After the third or fourth time of reassuring Preston of my presence, I lay back down and whispered to God, "Lord, please heal my son! Please heal him." And in the still of the night, in the quietness of my bleeding momma-heart, my soul sensed Him whispering right back to me, "I'm right here, Gwen! I'm right here. For him. For you. You're not alone."

Peace. I heard the voice of Peace speak His presence and tenderness into my pain. He heard me. He knew of my plight. He knew I needed a word of encouragement. Not an audible word - just a heart whisper. He was right by my side. I knew it as I remembered His Word, "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18). Peace.

There are times when your heavy heart-burdens cry so loudly that you struggle to hear the voice of Peace. Times when your prayers seem to go unanswered and your broken situations seem unfixable ... and painful. Oh, so painful! We all know ache. We can't get through this life without knowing ache. The Bible says that not a tear falls from your eye that isn't known to God. (Psalm 56:8)

He knows all about your heart-burdens. He knows that you need a word of encouragement today. Hear His whisper now, friend. Whispers from His Word ... from His heart, "I will never leave you or forsake you. I know your name and have engraved it on the palm of my hand. I hold your tears in a bottle and ache with you. My grace is sufficient and I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. I'm right here." (Deuteronomy 31:6, Psalm 139, Psalm 56:8, 2Corinthians 12:9, John 16:33)

Let's Pray

Dear Lord, Thank You for reminding me that You are always with me, that You see me, and that You hear my prayers. Please help me to know deeper levels of peace today.

In Jesus' Name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Read Isaiah 43:1-3,5a . "But now, this is what the LORD says- he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 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. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior... Do not be afraid, for I am with you."

How does this speak to your circumstances today? To your heart? Pray about it and journal if you're the journaling type... then let's meet on my Facebook page to talk about it and pray through it together. www.Facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic.

More from the Girlfriends

If this devotion resonated with you and if you would like to learn more about how your brokenness can be reworked into a picture of God's beauty, don't miss Gwen's book Broken into Beautiful. Every step of transformation begins with the heart of God. Broken into Beautiful will take you there. To order the book, go to Amazon or, for a signed copy, visit Gwen's website: www.gwensmith.net.

LOVE MUSIC? Check out Gwen's new CD, Uncluttered. Now available on iTunes! The songs of Uncluttered are purposed to sweep you away from life-noise and to focus your heart and mind on the one thing that matters: your relationship with Jesus Christ.

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 21, 2011

Testing Fences
Marybeth Whalen

"The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." Psalm 16:6 (NIV)

Each morning when I let my dog out he does a lap around the perimeter of our yard and then comes back to ram his body against the gate, just to see if he can get out of the confinement we've put him in. He looks over at me as he does it, as if to say, "Just checking." The other morning I was laughing about what a silly dog he is. Then it occurred to me that I am not that different from him when it comes to the fences in my life.

Like my dog, I have a Master who has constructed boundaries to keep me safe. But I don't always like those boundaries. I don't understand why they have to be there. Why can't I just be free to roam where I please, call my own shots, make my own decisions? Why must there be fences to hem me in?

Like my dog, I am quick to forget that those fences are there for my protection. And so I go around kicking them, testing them, pushing against them instead of accepting them. Instead of trusting, I just feel trapped.

As I look back over my life, I can see many fences I've tested. When God made me a mother, I questioned the position I'd landed in. Perhaps I'd be better off somewhere else, doing something else.

When God directed us to do whatever it took to get our finances under control, I longed for the days when I could run free with my credit card.

When marriage got really, really hard, I wondered if I was meant to be bound to this one man forever.

When God called me to homeschooling, I resisted being tied to my home and children, slow to realize that God placed me there to teach me things I could've never learned otherwise.

As I've surveyed the path of my purpose, I've found myself wondering if another path would be better-if I am truly where I am supposed to be.

It seems I have struggled with every boundary, pushing against every fence God has ever erected in my life. Instead of seeing the place He puts me as a reason for my safety, I dwell on how it inhibits me.

I can see how those boundaries kept me in a place where He could reach me. And when the time came, I saw the benefits of those boundaries. Through motherhood, I learned to be a servant. Through marriage I learned to forgive and accept forgiveness. Through paying off debt, I learned the blessings of financial freedom. Through homeschooling I learned to lay down my agenda for His. I am a better person-and I know God better-through the boundaries in my life.

Have you struggled with some boundaries of your own? Maybe today you're looking at the fences in your life and wanting to throw yourself against them instead of seeing them as pleasant places and trusting that within those confines waits your delightful inheritance. Maybe you've forgotten that your Master erected those perimeters for your good.

This morning a neighbor knocked at our door. My dog had pushed against the fence and this time it had given way. He had escaped and gone for a romp through our neighborhood, happy and free, oblivious to the cars that could have hit him, the dog catcher who would be only too happy to put him in the pound.

The neighbor brought him back to me and I put him in the fence, this time making sure the gate was securely latched. He still didn't understand the need for his fence. But I, his master, do. He just has to trust that I have erected the fence for his safety, and dwell in his pleasant place. Just like me.

Dear Lord, help me to stop pushing against the boundaries You've erected in my life. Help me to instead see those perimeters as existing for my protection and my good. Let me see where You have me as a pleasant place, no matter where that might be. I want to stop testing the fences and dwell in Your safe pasture, trusting and content. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Visit Marybeth's blog

Becoming a Woman of Influence (CD) by Marybeth Whalen

From Financially Frantic to Financially Free (CD) by Marybeth Whalen

She Makes It Look Easy by Marybeth Whalen is a novel for every woman who has looked at another woman's life and said, "I want what she has," She Makes It Look Easyreminds us of the danger of pedestals and the beauty of authentic friendship, and to rejoice in the fences God sets up for us.

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:
As you are going about your day today, notice the fences you pass. When you pass them, thank God for the boundaries He has placed in your life.

Reflections:
What is a boundary in my life that I need to see as a pleasant place?

Power Verses:
Psalm 147:14, "He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat." (NIV)

Psalm 139:5, "You hem me in-behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me." (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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LeadershipBible-Header

Origen of Alexandria: Theologian and Allegorical Exegete

Verse: Matthew 19:12

Alexandria

The blistering persecution set in motion by Emperor Septimus Severus in 202 tore apart the family of the young Origenes Adamatius (185 – 254), who would become one of the leading systematic theologians of the early church. Born into a Christian home in Alexandria, he was the oldest of seven children. As a youth he memorized lengthy passages of the Bible and often perplexed his father, a teacher of the Bible and Greek literature, with difficult theological questions. The happy home life was suddenly disrupted in 202, however, when Origen's father was imprisoned.

The sixteen-year-old boy might have been utterly distraught, but instead the ordeal served to strengthen his faith. Fearing his father might forsake his faith out of devotion to the family, he pleaded: "Do not change your mind because of us." Shortly afterward, Origen's father was beheaded and his property confiscated, leaving his widow and young children in dire straits. Through the generosity of a benefactor, Origen continued his studies for a year and then became a teacher and later the head of an Alexandrian catechetical school in order to support his mother and siblings.

For Origen, theology was intricately tied to spiritual formation. He practiced strict asceticism, denying himself normal pleasures in order to suffer with Christ, even castrating himself to avert sexual desires. With his asceticism came humanitarian outreach, primarily aiding those suffering under persecution. Some of his students were sentenced to death, and he himself hid in homes of both pagans and Christians in order to escape execution.

Under Origen's teaching and administration, the Alexandrian school grew. His scholarship captured the attention of church leaders, who invited him to preach and teach elsewhere, much to the chagrin of his bishop, Demetrius, who demanded that he return home. How dare he tour as a celebrity speaker! "It has never been heard of and it never happens now," the bishop seethes, "that laymen preach homilies in the presence of bishops."

Origen, for his part, was not easily muzzled. Traveling through the Mediterranean world, he spent time in Caesarea, where he was ordained by the bishop, who believes such acknowledgment of his ministerial gifts is appropriate. When Demetrius learned of this "breach of jurisdiction," he was livid, accusing Origen of teaching heresy and exposing the secret of his youthful self-castration. In the ensuing conflict, Origen was banned from Alexandria and his ordination was rendered null and void.

Other bishops, however, ignored the retraction of his ordination and invited him to serve as a priest and teacher under their jurisdictions. He eventually made his home in Caesarea, where he combined his work of teaching, preaching, and writing in wide-ranging fields of biblical studies, theology, philosophy, natural science, and ethics. His intention, however, was not to establish a liberal arts program. Rather, his focus was mission outreach — bringing pagans into the faith through his appealing educational offerings. During the later years of his life, Origen traveled as a theological consultant, frequently called upon to judge the orthodoxy of a particular churchman or teacher whose beliefs are in question. With the help of a wealthy benefactor, he was able to devote his time to research and writing.

During the persecution under Emperor Decius, Origen was arrested and imprisoned. Although nearing seventy, he was afforded no mercy. According to Eusebius, his torture was severe. Among other agonies, his legs were "pulled four paces apart in the torturer's stocks." Released from prison, he died soon afterward.

Unlike many of the leading Christians of the early church, Origen will never be given the title of saint. In the sixth century he was deemed a heretic for several of his controversial views, including his belief in a Trinitarian hierarchy. But he held views even more abhorrent, what a critic called "the fabulous preexistence of souls" and "the monstrous restoration which follows from it." This restoration was a form of universalism in which God's love in the end prevails over his wrath.


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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He Is - Creator

Today's reading: Genesis 1:1

Meet God, the Creator of everything. He who decided that things should be and they were. He who set the hands of time in motion. The One whose imagination created the heavens and the earth and all they contain: stars, plants, seasons, trees ... penguins. When he reviewed his creation, God saw that "it was very good" (Genesis 1:31).

God, who created everything, created everyone-including you. You may look in the mirror and see flaws. But God designed every freckle, every wrinkle, every crinkle and even numbered the hairs on your head (see Luke 12:7). When he created you, he considered it "very good." Do you?

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