Saturday, October 08, 2011

Daily Devotional Saturday 8th October

“A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah. You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant?"
Numbers 11:11

Our heavenly Father sends us frequent troubles to try our faith. If our faith be worth anything, it will stand the test. Gilt is afraid of fire, but gold is not: the paste gem dreads to be touched by the diamond, but the true jewel fears no test. It is a poor faith which can only trust God when friends are true, the body full of health, and the business profitable; but that is true faith which holds by the Lord's faithfulness when friends are gone, when the body is sick, when spirits are depressed, and the light of our Father's countenance is hidden. A faith which can say, in the direst trouble, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him," is heaven-born faith. The Lord afflicts his servants to glorify himself, for he is greatly glorified in the graces of his people, which are his own handiwork. When "tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope," the Lord is honoured by these growing virtues. We should never know the music of the harp if the strings were left untouched; nor enjoy the juice of the grape if it were not trodden in the winepress; nor discover the sweet perfume of cinnamon if it were not pressed and beaten; nor feel the warmth of fire if the coals were not utterly consumed. The wisdom and power of the great Workman are discovered by the trials through which his vessels of mercy are permitted to pass. Present afflictions tend also to heighten future joy. There must be shades in the picture to bring out the beauty of the lights. Could we be so supremely blessed in heaven, if we had not known the curse of sin and the sorrow of earth? Will not peace be sweeter after conflict, and rest more welcome after toil? Will not the recollection of past sufferings enhance the bliss of the glorified? There are many other comfortable answers to the question with which we opened our brief meditation, let us muse upon it all day long.

Evening

"Now on whom dost thou trust?"
Isaiah 36:5

Reader, this is an important question. Listen to the Christian's answer, and see if it is yours. "On whom dost thou trust?" "I trust," says the Christian, "in a triune God. I trust the Father, believing that he has chosen me from before the foundations of the world; I trust him to provide for me in providence, to teach me, to guide me, to correct me if need be, and to bring me home to his own house where the many mansions are. I trust the Son. Very God of very God is he--the man Christ Jesus. I trust in him to take away all my sins by his own sacrifice, and to adorn me with his perfect righteousness. I trust him to be my Intercessor, to present my prayers and desires before his Father's throne, and I trust him to be my Advocate at the last great day, to plead my cause, and to justify me. I trust him for what he is, for what he has done, and for what he has promised yet to do. And I trust the Holy Spirit--he has begun to save me from my inbred sins; I trust him to drive them all out; I trust him to curb my temper, to subdue my will, to enlighten my understanding, to check my passions, to comfort my despondency, to help my weakness, to illuminate my darkness; I trust him to dwell in me as my life, to reign in me as my King, to sanctify me wholly, spirit, soul, and body, and then to take me up to dwell with the saints in light forever."

Oh, blessed trust! To trust him whose power will never be exhausted, whose love will never wane, whose kindness will never change, whose faithfulness will never fail, whose wisdom will never be nonplussed, and whose perfect goodness can never know a diminution! Happy art thou, reader, if this trust is thine! So trusting, thou shalt enjoy sweet peace now, and glory hereafter, and the foundation of thy trust shall never be removed.

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Today's reading: Isaiah 28-29, Philippians 3 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Isaiah 28-29

Woe to the Leaders of Ephraim and Judah

1 Woe to that wreath, the pride of Ephraim’s drunkards,
to the fading flower, his glorious beauty,
set on the head of a fertile valley—
to that city, the pride of those laid low by wine!
2 See, the Lord has one who is powerful and strong.
Like a hailstorm and a destructive wind,
like a driving rain and a flooding downpour,
he will throw it forcefully to the ground.
3 That wreath, the pride of Ephraim’s drunkards,
will be trampled underfoot.
4 That fading flower, his glorious beauty,
set on the head of a fertile valley,
will be like figs ripe before harvest—
as soon as people see them and take them in hand,
they swallow them....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Philippians 3

No Confidence in the Flesh

1 Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless....

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Shallum, Shallun

[Shăl'lum] - recompense, retributionor spoilation.

  1. A son of Jabesh, who slew Zechariah, son of Jeroboam II. He became King of Israel for one month just before the near extinction of the nation, and was slain by Menahem, son of Gadi (2 Kings 15:10, 13-15).
  2. A son of Tikvah and husband of Huldah the prophetess in the days of Josiah (2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chron. 34:22).
  3. A son of Sisamai and father of Jakaniah, also a descendant of Judah (1 Chron. 2:40, 41).
  4. The fourth son of king Josiah (1 Chron. 3:15).
  5. Grandson of Simeon, second son of Jacob and a descendant of Shaul (1 Chron. 4:25).
  6. The father of Hilkiah, a member of the high priestly family of Zadok and an ancestor of Ezra (1 Chron. 6:12, 13; Ezra 7:2). Called Meshullam in 1 Chronicles 9:11.
  7. The fourth son of Naphtali, the second son of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid (1 Chron. 7:13). Called Shillem inGenesis 46:24.
  8. A son of Kore, a Korhite and chief porter at the sanctuary (1 Chron. 9:17, 19, 31; Ezra 2:42; Neh. 7:45).
  9. The father of Jehizkiah who opposed the reduction of Jewish captives to slaves (2 Chron. 28:12 ).
  10. A Tabernacle gatekeeper whose foreign wife was put away (Ezra 10:24).
  11. One of the sons of Bani who also had taken a foreign wife (Ezra 10:42).
  12. A son of Halohesh, ruler of the half of Jerusalem, who with his daughters assisted in the repair of the wall (Neh. 3:12).
  13. A son of Col-hozeh, ruler of part of Mizpah, who repaired the gate of the fountain (Neh. 3:15).
  14. The father of Hanameel , uncle to the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 32:7, 8).
  15. The father of Maaseiah, an officer of the Temple in the time of Jehoiakim (Jer. 35:4).
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October 7, 2011

Becoming More Fruitful

Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

"He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful" (John 1:2, NIV).

Friend to Friend
On a family visit to the beach, our room had a balcony that overlooked the swimming pool. I sat on the balcony one morning and watched as a maintenance man for the resort approached a palm tree and pulled a brown, life-less branch from under the green leaves. Oddly, before he pulled the dead branch, I hadn't even noticed it was there. After he pulled it, however, I noticed that the palm tree looked fresh and vibrant. Healthy. The pruning made such a difference!

Jesus spoke to His disciples and said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." John 15:1-8, NIV

The maintenance man at the resort didn't pull the branch off to hurt the palm tree. He pruned it to increase its beauty, health and vibrancy. God does the same for us. He prunes His children to increase our beauty, health and vibrancy for our good and for His glory - to make us more useful to Him and more fruitful.

Are there any dead branches hanging on the tree of you?

Let's Pray
Dear Lord, thank You for Your perfect love that longs for me to be fruitful and beautiful in You. Please remove any life-less branches in my life. As the psalmist prayed: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV).

In Jesus Name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn
How fruitful is your life?

Read John 15:1-17 and spend some time reflecting on God's plan for you to become more fruitful.

More from the Girlfriends
It seems kind of weird that we should want to go through the pain of pruning, doesn't it? It reminds me a bit of the old workout saying, "No pain, no gain." When you allow the Lord to expose dead branches in your life and to strip them away, a simple, radiant beauty remains. You become a more vibrant reflection of Him and become better equipped to bear fruit. Trust Him, friend...no matter what or whom He may call you to give up. Click over to my Facebook page and tell me how today's devotion spoke to your heart today. What lessons are you learning? I'd love to hear about it.www.facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic.

Gwen's most recent CD, Uncluttered, is music that's 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. You can find it on iTunes, or check out the CD SPECIALS going on now athttp://gwensmith.net/store/specials.htm.

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
Tracie Miles

October 7, 2011

But Everybody Else is Doing It
Tracie Miles

"Here's what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?" 1 Kings 3:9 (MSG)

"Just because everybody else is doing it, doesn't make it right." The infamous words my mother would say to me were now flowing out of my own mouth.

Each time I utter these words, my teenagers know they won't be allowed to do whatever "it" is that "everyone else" is supposedly doing.

I know being a teenager is hard. I remember the deep need to feel accepted, well-liked and included. I also remember that my desire to do what "everybody else" was doing was sometimes so overwhelming, the pressure to conform could override good judgment.

Even as a grown woman, I sometimes find myself grappling with those same emotional needs of feeling accepted, liked and included in social circles, whether at work, my children's school, church or neighborhood. As a result, I can become so focused on "fitting in" with other moms I inadvertently succumb to the pressure to conform to what "everybody else" is doing.

Have you ever hesitantly pushed aside your convictions, by reasoning that "all the other moms are letting their kids do 'it'...so maybe I should too?"

I admit I've fallen for that line of reasoning before, and later regretted it. But it has helped me remember whether I'm young or old, the desire to belong and the pressure to conform is very real.

Being a Christian parent of teens can be an overwhelming calling. As life gets more complicated and parenting decisions get tougher, emotional exhaustion can slowly creep in, giving the devil a crack to wiggle through.

Recently I experienced a bad case of parental exhaustion. I remember asking God for wisdom and discernment about a decision we needed to make. Immediately, God reminded me of a time when Solomon felt a lot like I did.

In 1 Kings 3, we learn that when Solomon took over the throne from his father David, he felt overwhelmed and under-qualified to rule as king. One day he went to the shrine to worship and pray and God appeared to him in a dream saying, "What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!" (NLT)

Solomon could have asked for anything, such as riches, power, victory over his enemies or a long life-but instead he asked for wisdom to carry out the assignment God had given him. And it pleased God greatly.

Solomon was not equipped to lead until he sought God's direction above all else, and we won't be either. In the same way that Solomon knew he needed God's wisdom to fulfill his calling as king, we need His wisdom to successfully fulfill our calling as Christian parents.

When we rely on God's Word, His judgment and His understanding in our parenting decisions we will have what we need. When we choose not to go along with the crowd and encourage our children to take the road less traveled, God will be pleased.

Although we'll never be perfect parents, aren't you glad we can always seek and rely on wisdom from the One who is?

Dear Lord, give me a God-listening heart that seeks your wisdom. Come alongside me in this journey of parenting, and help me stand strong against the pressures of the world. Infuse me with Your strength to persevere, and help me not to give the devil any wiggle room in my heart, or the hearts of my teens. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Visit Tracie's blog for more encouragement on staying strong as a Christian mom.

Real Issues, Real Teens: What Every Parent Needs to Know by T. Suzanne Eller

The Divine Dance: If the World is Your Stage, Who are You Performing For? by Shannon Kubiak Primicerio

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:
Make a list of times you are tempted to do what "everyone else is doing" as a parent or in other areas of your life. Then write prayer asking God for wisdom and the desire to please Him above anyone else, including your kids and their friends' parents.

Re-establish some rules if needed, based on God's Word, and have a heart-to-heart talk with your teens about them.

Reflections:
Have I allowed my teen to participate with people or social activities that I do not feel good about, just because it seems that all the other moms are?

Is it possible I have allowed my parenting exhaustion to affect my decisions?

Power Verses:
James 1:5, "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking." (NLT)

Proverbs 22:6 "Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it." (NLT)

© 2011 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

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LeadershipBible-Header

Polycarp: Bishop and Martyr of Smyrna

art_02_05_polycarp

Verse: Revelation 2:10

Quote: "For eighty-six years I have served Him. He has never done me wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?"

When the apostle John put into words his revelation on the Island of Patmos, he could not have known how precise his prophetic words to the church in Smyrna would be: "Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death." Nor could he have imagined those words were prophetically pointed at his own dear disciple, Polycarp.

Polycarp (69 - 155), an early church leader known as a kindly pastor and a defender of orthodox doctrine, later served as Bishop of Smyrna. That the threat of persecution was very real is evident in his letter to the church at Philippi. Here he reminds believers that "Christ endured for our sins even to face death," and exhorts them to "Pray for emperors, magistrates, rulers, and for those who persecute and hate you." He also vehemently rejects the claims of Marcion, who, while following the teachings of Paul, dismisses the remainder of Scripture, insisting that the God of the Old Testament is surely no God of Christians. So upset is Polycarp with Marcion's beliefs that he assails him to his face as "the firstborn of Satan."

Unlike Ignatius, Polycarp has no hankering for a martyr's death. But he is considered a prime target. During an athletic festival in Smyrna in AD 155, Christians refusing to worship the emperor are threatened with execution. Officials particularly want the revered Polycarp, hoping he will deny the faith and disgrace the Christian community. Polycarp's friends provide a hiding place in a hayloft outside the city, but a boy reports his whereabouts to authorities. Soon the hunt is on, and the old man is discovered, shackled, and brought before authorities. The imperial official begs him to cooperate: "What harm is there to say 'Lord Caesar,' and to offer incense?"

Polycarp was a beloved bishop. His congregations would have no doubt forgiven the old man any weakness displayed in such desperate circumstances. He might have simply offered incense to the emperor. Did not Jesus say, "Render onto Caesar what is Caesar's"? But burning incense meant far more in the pagan mind than merely showing respect. Moreover, Proconsul now goes a step further. To spare his life Polycarp must curse Christ and take an oath to Caesar. He is now standing before a sea of people. He understands the consequences. He does not flinch. The crowd hushes to the sound of his voice. "For eighty-six years I have served Him," he reminds them. "He has never done me wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?"

Preventing this from turning into a religious rally, the official clarifies the punishment in graphic terms. There will be no trial at all. So it was with Jesus. Polycarp knows the passion story. His own death will not be on a cross, but the pyre is bad enough.

The crowd is growing and becoming restless. It is obvious that this is overkill - the powerful Roman Empire waving its flares in the face of a frail old man. So the official explains again the torture he will endure, pleading with him to just get it over with: Deny Christ, go home, and get on with whatever you do as a Bishop.But Polycarp is not taking the bait. He has one last chance to address the crowd - though his words are aimed at the official: "The fire you threaten burns for a time and is soon extinguished; there is a fire you know nothing about - the fire of the judgment to come and of eternal punishment, the fire reserved for the ungodly. But why do you hesitate? Do what you want."

Realizing Polycarp will not back down, the official motions for rowdies to get involved - perhaps to shift responsibility away from himself. They grab slats of wood, pile up the pyre, and light the flames - though only after Polycarp has an opportunity to say a final prayer. He dies an unspeakable death, believing that there will literally be hell to pay for anyone who turns away from God should he himself not remain faithful.


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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