Sunday, October 23, 2011

Daily Devotional Sunday 23rd October

“A person finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word!” Proverbs 15:23 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"I will love them freely."
Hosea 14:4

This sentence is a body of divinity in miniature. He who understands its meaning is a theologian, and he who can dive into its fulness is a true master in Israel. It is a condensation of the glorious message of salvation which was delivered to us in Christ Jesus our Redeemer. The sense hinges upon the word "freely." This is the glorious, the suitable, the divine way by which love streams from heaven to earth, a spontaneous love flowing forth to those who neither deserved it, purchased it, nor sought after it. It is, indeed, the only way in which God can love such as we are. The text is a death-blow to all sorts of fitness: "I will love them freely." Now, if there were any fitness necessary in us, then he would not love us freely; at least, this would be a mitigation and a drawback to the freeness of it. But it stands, "I will love you freely." We complain, "Lord, my heart is so hard." "I will love you freely." "But I do not feel my need of Christ as I could wish." "I will not love you because you feel your need; I will love you freely." "But I do not feel that softening of spirit which I could desire." Remember, the softening of spirit is not a condition, for there are no conditions; the covenant of grace has no conditionality whatever; so that we without any fitness may venture upon the promise of God which was made to us in Christ Jesus, when he said, "He that believeth on him is not condemned." It is blessed to know that the grace of God is free to us at all times, without preparation, without fitness, without money, and without price! "I will love them freely." These words invite backsliders to return: indeed, the text was specially written for such--"I will heal their backsliding; I will love them freely." Backslider! surely the generosity of the promise will at once break your heart, and you will return, and seek your injured Father's face.

Evening

"He shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you."
John 16:15

There are times when all the promises and doctrines of the Bible are of no avail, unless a gracious hand shall apply them to us. We are thirsty, but too faint to crawl to the water-brook. When a soldier is wounded in battle it is of little use for him to know that there are those at the hospital who can bind up his wounds, and medicines there to ease all the pains which he now suffers: what he needs is to be carried thither, and to have the remedies applied. It is thus with our souls, and to meet this need there is one, even the Spirit of truth, who takes of the things of Jesus, and applies them to us. Think not that Christ hath placed his joys on heavenly shelves that we may climb up to them for ourselves, but he draws near, and sheds his peace abroad in our hearts. O Christian, if thou art tonight labouring under deep distresses, thy Father does not give thee promises and then leave thee to draw them up from the Word like buckets from a well, but the promises he has written in the Word he will write anew on your heart. He will manifest his love to you, and by his blessed Spirit, dispel your cares and troubles. Be it known unto thee, O mourner, that it is God's prerogative to wipe every tear from the eye of his people. The good Samaritan did not say, "Here is the wine, and here is the oil for you;" he actually poured in the oil and the wine. So Jesus not only gives you the sweet wine of the promise, but holds the golden chalice to your lips, and pours the life-blood into your mouth. The poor, sick, way-worn pilgrim is not merely strengthened to walk, but he is borne on eagles' wings. Glorious gospel! which provides everything for the helpless, which draws nigh to us when we cannot reach after it--brings us grace before we seek for grace! Here is as much glory in the giving as in the gift. Happy people who have the Holy Ghost to bring Jesus to them.

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Today's reading: Isaiah 65-66, 1 Timothy 2 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Isaiah 65-66

Judgment and Salvation

1 “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
2 All day long I have held out my hands
to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
pursuing their own imaginations—
3 a people who continually provoke me
to my very face,
offering sacrifices in gardens
and burning incense on altars of brick;
4 who sit among the graves
and spend their nights keeping secret vigil;
who eat the flesh of pigs,
and whose pots hold broth of impure meat;
5 who say, ‘Keep away; don’t come near me,
for I am too sacred for you!’
Such people are smoke in my nostrils,
a fire that keeps burning all day.

6 “See, it stands written before me:
I will not keep silent but will pay back in full;
I will pay it back into their laps—
7 both your sins and the sins of your ancestors,”
says the LORD.
“Because they burned sacrifices on the mountains
and defied me on the hills,
I will measure into their laps
the full payment for their former deeds.”

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 1 Timothy 2

Instructions on Worship

1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

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Giving With Grace

Deuteronomy 15:1-11

Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.
Deuteronomy 15:10

Years ago I said something that still bothers me when I think about it. I had led a young couple to faith in Jesus. The husband earned a good living in his hairstyling salon. In the basement of their home he kept the barber's chair that his deceased father had once used in a shop in another town.

His father's chair was more than an item of nostalgia, however. My friend used the chair in his basement two evenings and part of Saturday each week to seat customers who couldn't afford to see him in his shop. In this homey room my friend clipped and snipped the hair of the poor. Some, like me, he charged a nominal fee; others he waved out the door with a smile.

After one splendid haircut, I pulled out my wallet and handed him a note that was twice what he normally charged me. It was my smallest note, but he had no change. "Just keep it," I said. "Next time I won't have to pay anything."

Indeed, as I stepped out of the chair after my next grooming session and reached for my wallet, my friend said, "Wait! You've already paid for this one!"

It was then that I said some horrible words: "If you had remembered that earlier," I teased, "you wouldn't have done such a good job, would you?"

A slight grimace furrowed my friend's brow before he caught himself and laughed. He was a generous man, and I had treated his kindness flippantly by joking that mercenary demons drove his heart.

It seems like materialism is all around us, and it is not uncommon for people to be driven by need and greed. During the lean years that many of us experience , we can become selfish and cheap. Those attitudes can stick, even when resources grow and demands diminish.

God built safeguards into Israelite society so that debt wouldn't dehumanize those who became trapped in it. But God also knew that some people would try to manipulate handouts and bailouts and other kinds of welfare for their own cunning ends. So he asked his people to be generous to the poor, even if the poor appeared to be abusing the gifts.

Generosity and graciousness are learned qualities. They must be caught from the example of bighearted souls. Like God. Like the widow who gave two very small copper coins-all she had to live on (see Mark 12:41-44 ). Like the disciples who shared their lunch with a crowd (see Matthew 15:32-39). Like my barber.

We must practice giving so that generosity becomes an essential part of who we are. And when we give, we'll find that our generosity is rewarded by God, who will "throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it" (Malachi 3:10).
Wayne Brouwer

Let's Talk

  • In what ways has God blessed us? In what ways are we tightfisted about sharing what we have? How can we make our spending and giving reflect our values?
  • Who are some generous people who have helped us along the way? What have we learned from them? How are we becoming like them?
  • What did we learn about money and generosity from our parents? Were these good or bad lessons? What will our children learn from us?
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Delayed Gratification

This week's reading: Habakkuk 3:1-19

In Habakkuk 2:2-3, God asks his prophet to record a vision of a future day-a day when the Lord will respond to injustice.Habakkuk 2:4 spells out that we are to live until that day "by his faithfulness," not by sight. Habakkuk 3:3-15 reveals the content of the vision.

Habakkuk is deeply changed; his response in 3:16-19 clearly illustrates what it means to live by faith in God's promise. After a moment's recuperation from the cosmic events that he has just witnessed, the prophet declares, "I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us" (Hab 3:16). Habakkuk is willing to live amid socioeconomic upheaval, without physical or financial safety or security. Why? Because he knows a day is coming when things will be changed.

The following anonymous email has circulated on the Internet:

Recently I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport. They had announced the departure.

Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the mother said, "I love you and I wish you enough."

The daughter replied, "Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom."

They kissed and the daughter left. The mother walked over to the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see she wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on her privacy but she welcomed me in by asking, "Did you ever say goodbye to someone knowing it would be forever?"

"Yes, I have," I replied. "Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever goodbye?"

"I am old and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is-the next trip back will be for my funeral," she said.

"When you were saying goodbye, I heard you say, 'I wish you enough.' May I ask what that means?"

She began to smile. "That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations" ... "When we said, 'I wish you enough,' we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them."

"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.

I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger ...

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final goodbye."

Think About It

  • How does Habakkuk's response to the vision from God encourage you to respond in a similar way to tough times?
  • We await a final day when all wrongs will be righted and all tears wiped away. In the meantime, what constitutes "enough" for you?
  • Does your "enough" change with your circumstances?

Pray About It

Lord, you are mighty and have the future in your hand. No matter what I face today, I will live by faith in you.


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Today's reading is from the
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