Thursday, October 13, 2011

Daily Devotional Thursday 13th October

“Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:20-21 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"I will meditate in thy precepts."
Psalm 119:15

There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on his Word spiritual strength for labour in his service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. Truth is something like the cluster of the vine: if we would have wine from it, we must bruise it; we must press and squeeze it many times. The bruiser's feet must come down joyfully upon the bunches, or else the juice will not flow; and they must well tread the grapes, or else much of the precious liquid will be wasted. So we must, by meditation, tread the clusters of truth, if we would get the wine of consolation therefrom. Our bodies are not supported by merely taking food into the mouth, but the process which really supplies the muscle, and the nerve, and the sinew, and the bone, is the process of digestion. It is by digestion that the outward food becomes assimilated with the inner life. Our souls are not nourished merely by listening awhile to this, and then to that, and then to the other part of divine truth. Hearing, reading, marking, and learning, all require inwardly digesting to complete their usefulness, and the inward digesting of the truth lies for the most part in meditating upon it. Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God's Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord, and be this our resolve this morning, "I will meditate in thy precepts."

Evening

"The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost."
John 14:26

This age is peculiarly the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, in which Jesus cheers us, not by his personal presence, as he shall do by-and-by, but by the indwelling and constant abiding of the Holy Ghost, who is evermore the Comforter of the church. It is his office to console the hearts of God's people. He convinces of sin; he illuminates and instructs; but still the main part of his work lies in making glad the hearts of the renewed, in confirming the weak, and lifting up all those that be bowed down. He does this by revealing Jesus to them. The Holy Spirit consoles, but Christ is the consolation. If we may use the figure, the Holy Spirit is the Physician, but Jesus is the medicine. He heals the wound, but it is by applying the holy ointment of Christ's name and grace. He takes not of his own things, but of the things of Christ. So if we give to the Holy Spirit the Greek name of Paraclete, as we sometimes do, then our heart confers on our blessed Lord Jesus the title of Paraclesis. If the one be the Comforter, the other is the Comfort. Now, with such rich provision for his need, why should the Christian be sad and desponding? The Holy Spirit has graciously engaged to be thy Comforter: dost thou imagine, O thou weak and trembling believer, that he will be negligent of his sacred trust? Canst thou suppose that he has undertaken what he cannot or will not perform? If it be his especial work to strengthen thee, and to comfort thee, dost thou suppose he has forgotten his business, or that he will fail in the loving office which he sustains towards thee? Nay, think not so hardly of the tender and blessed Spirit whose name is "the Comforter." He delights to give the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Trust thou in him, and he will surely comfort thee till the house of mourning is closed forever, and the marriage feast has begun.

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Today's reading: Isaiah 39-40, Colossians 4 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Isaiah 39-40

Envoys From Babylon

1 At that time Marduk-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, because he had heard of his illness and recovery. 2 Hezekiah received the envoys gladly and showed them what was in his storehouses—the silver, the gold, the spices, the fine olive oil—his entire armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.

3 Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked, “What did those men say, and where did they come from?”

“From a distant land,” Hezekiah replied. “They came to me from Babylon.”

4 The prophet asked, “What did they see in your palace?”

“They saw everything in my palace,” Hezekiah said. “There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them.”

5 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD Almighty: 6 The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORD. 7 And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon....”

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Colossians 4

1 Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

Further Instructions

2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Final Greetings

7 Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8 I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. 9 He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here....

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Felix

[Fē'lĭx] - happy, prosperous. A cruel Roman governor of Judea, appointed by the Emperor Claudius, whose freedman he was (Acts 23:24, 26; 24:2-27; 25:14). Felix is described by Tacitus as a bad and cruel governor, even though the title of "most excellent" was given to him.

The Man Who Procrastinated

As a true preacher, Paul pressed home the truth until it pricked the conscience of Felix so much so that he "trembled." He did not resent Paul's plain speaking but postponed the interview "till a more convenient season." Such a "convenient season," however, did not come, and Felix became a type of many whose consciences are stirred by the preached Word, but whose hopes of eternal security are ruined by a like procrastination. The two sworn enemies of the soul are "Yesterday" and "Tomorrow."

Yesterday slays its thousands. Past sins plunge many into darkness and despair. Priceless opportunities were trampled upon, and the harvest is past. But God says there is mercy still and free forgiveness through repentance.

Tomorrow slays its tens of thousands. Vows, promises, resolutions are never fulfilled. "Some other time," many say, when urged to repent and believe. They fail to realize that nowis the acceptable time. How pitiful it is that the convenient season never dawns for them! The pathway to their hell is strewn with good resolutions, and as they cross "The Great Divide," the mocking voice cries out: "Too late! Too late!"

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October 12, 2011

T-H-I-N-K

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule for everything she says (Proverbs 31:26, NIV).

Friend to Friend

A father took his six-year-old daughter on a "date" to their favorite restaurant. During the meal, the dad did most of the talking as he told his little girl how wonderful she was, how proud of he was to be her dad and how special she was to him and to God. After he had done what he thought was a sufficient job, he picked up his fork and began to eat. His daughter put her little hand on his arm and stopped him with these words, "Longer, Daddy. Longer!" The father said he didn't eat much food that day, but a little girl's hungry heart was certainly fed.

Life is filled with hungry hearts. I really believe most of us delight in finding creative ways to touch those hearts and are passionate about introducing them to God's love, forgiveness and transforming power. However, I wonder how many of us miss the hungry hearts that greet us each morning across the breakfast table, wait for us to come home each night or silently long for us to convince them that they really are not total failures. Every day, we cross paths with people who feel unworthy and unwanted. They have no idea how special they are to us and in the eyes of God. How easy it is to lose focus and scramble priorities. We get so busy doing such good things and miss one of the highest things God created us to do - encourage one another.

One of the greatest gifts we can give the people in our lives is the gift of a guarded tongue. The Psalmist writes, "Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD: keep watch over the door of my lips." Someone once said, "Lord, please bridle my tongue, so that on Judgment Day, I will not be guilty of assault with a deadly weapon." The power of the spoken word is great in that words are like seeds. What we plant will grow. If we plant negative words, destructive and critical words, we will reap relationships that are negative, destructive and critical. On the other hand, if we consistently plant words of encouragement, our relationships will flourish. Look for the good in your family and friends - and then speak it. Be a cheerleader for the people God sends your way. Everyone needs a cheerleader!

CBS released a movie about Karen Carpenter, the talented singer who rose to stardom while singing with her brother, Richard. At the young age of 32, Karen Carpenter died unexpectedly of heart failure, the result of many years of abuse caused by the eating disorder, Anorexia Nervosa. What amazed and saddened me most about Karen Carpenter was the underlying reason for her fatal obsession with weight control. It seems that a reporter once called her "Richard's chubby sister." Careless words, spoken without thought, can demolish a life.

We need to ask God to teach us to understand just how powerful our words are. Proverbs 31:26 reads, "When she speaks, she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly." How I wish that statement could be said about me. There are days when I desperately want to rip out my unruly tongue or reach out and grasp the harsh words I have just spoken and stuff them back into my mouth. What was I thinking? That's just it. I wasn't thinking. We would be wise to ask ourselves these questions before speaking:

T Is it true?

H Is it helpful?

I Is it inspiring?

N Is it necessary?

K Is it kind?

Over the years, I have had many, many opportunities in ministry and in life to learn from my mistakes when it comes to the way I speak and the words I use. Here are a few thoughts for us all to consider:

  • Use the five to one ratio when correcting someone - five positive comments to one negative comment.
  • The harder the truth, the greater the love with which it should be said.
  • Never put confrontational words in writing. Instead, confront face-to-face and write only words of encouragement that can be read again and again.
  • Our words should not only be guarded and carefully measured, but should be filled with wisdom and kindness as well.
  • While it is our responsibility to train our children in daily living, it is more important that we train them in Kingdom living. Words of wisdom gleaned from God's Word will not only transform the hearts and lives of our husband and children, but our own as well. Look for every opportunity to emphasize God's words as a model for the words we speak.
  • Make it a daily habit to speak words of encouragement to the people with whom you come in contact. By doing so, your heart and mind will soon be trained to focus on the good in each other. And that perspective builds healthy relationships.

The Apostle Paul writes, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen" (Ephesians 4:29, NIV). I wonder what our world would look like if the words we speak were ruled by wisdom and kindness.

Let's Pray

Father, I am so sorry for the careless words I have spoken today. I really do want to encourage and build others up with the words I speak. I cannot control my tongue without Your power and strength. Help me learn to think before I speak. Break my heart when my words hurt others. Teach me how to be a cheerleader for my family and friends so that Your love will flow through me into their lives.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Examine the words you have spoken today in light of the following verses:

Psalm 141:3 "LORD, help me control my tongue; help me be careful about what I say."

Psalm 20:14. "May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer."

How did you do? I encourage you to memorize these two verses. Ask God to let each verse take root in your heart and work its way out in the words you speak.

More from the Girlfriends

I know the subject of controlling the tongue is a tough one - especially when anger is involved. I constantly struggle to think before I speak. How about you? If you need help, check out myE-Bible Study: Anger Management 911.

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.

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Girlfriends in God

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info@girlfriendsingod.com
www.girlfriendsingod.com

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Renee Swope

October 12, 2011

I Haven't Got Time for the Pain
Renee Swope

"In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help." Psalm 18:6a (NIV, 1984)

I knew I needed to talk with someone about the pain that was still buried in my heart, but I didn't want to talk about it. I was tired of hurting and afraid I'd fall apart or slip back into depression if I let it all come to the surface.

I didn't have time for falling apart. Plus it was in the past and I thought it would eventually just go away.

Have you ever avoided dealing with pain because it would take too much time? Or have you tried to pray away the pain only to realize healing is a process, but one you're not sure you want to go through?

Although we can't go back and change circumstances or relationships that wounded us, we can go back and process our pain with Jesus. In fact, we won't heal from our hurts unless we do.

When left unresolved, the pain from our yesterdays can creep up in our todays and keep us from experiencing all God has for our tomorrows.

This happened in my relationship with my husband several years into our marriage. I don't know exactly when it started, I just remember feeling a lot of anger and realizing I had a critical spirit towards JJ.

One day I sensed God showing me damaged emotions from my childhood I hadn't dealt with or healed from. Circumstances that happened in my past were now hindering my present, casting shadows of fear and doubt over my future.

I decided to make a time line of my life, marking key "emotional" events. As I prayed over it, I wrote down any painful emotions and memories I could remember.

Although it wasn't easy, I asked the Holy Spirit to remind me of experiences and relationships that had wounded me, what affects they'd had on me, how far from God they took me and how they had hurt me and others.

Years of disappointment as a child in a broken home with a broken heart led to a significant sense of loss. Yet, I never grieved the happily-ever-after I longed for but didn't have. Unfulfilled hopes led to bitter expectations.

During that time God showed me how I wanted JJ to make up for what my dad had never been as a father to me, or as a husband to my mom. Hoping to create my own version of "happily-ever-after," I became controlling and critical.

I thought if I could get JJ to be the husband and dad I wanted him to be, my broken dreams would get put back together. Maybe he could provide security and shelter for the little-girl-emotions that were still crushed inside my heart.

But my strategy wasn't working. Instead, I needed to cry out to God with my hurts and call on Him for help. And, I needed to take time to respond to what He was showing me.

Time to seek God for my security and hope by letting Him be the father I longed for. Time to grieve things I wanted from my father that I would never have. Time to invite God into my hurting places so He could heal my wounded emotions and set me free from my fear of never having a happy ending.

Finally, I needed to forgive my father and release my feelings of anger, abandonment, disappointment and hurt. I also needed to confess my sin of unrealistic expectations and let go of what I thought was my right to "happily-ever-after."

It was a process that took time, prayer, courage and tears, but it was worth it. Over time I was able to let go of my past and my pain as I took hold of hope and healing. I was also able to accept JJ for who he was and trust God to make him the husband He knew I needed, instead of the one I wanted.

When we allow Jesus to search our hearts and bring His perspective into our pain, redemption comes. Whether it is the pain from our yesterdays or hurts from our todays, when we give Jesus time to pour His truth into our wounds, His love flows into our pain and makes us whole again.

Dear Lord, please give me the courage and help me take the time to walk through the process of letting You heal my hurts and restore my heart with hope. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

This devotion is taken in part from Chapter 4, "Finding Hope for Your Future Despite the Pain of Your Past" of Renee's book, A Confident Heart.

Is there pain from the past you need to process with Jesus? Renee would love to pray for you. Visit Renee's website where she shares more of her story and the healing hope she's found. Also, enter to win 2 copies of A Confident Heart - one for you and one for a friend!

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries,you support the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost.

Application Steps:
Make a time line with key events that brought painful emotions and memories. Ask Jesus to reveal how they affected you, your relationship with God and others. Then ask Him to walk you through the process of replacing your pain with the healing balm of His presence and promises.

Reflections:
"Although we can't go back and change the circumstances or relationships that have wounded us, we can go back and process our pain with Jesus." - A Confident Heart

Power Verses:
Psalm 18:1-2, "I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge." (NIV 1984)

© 2011 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

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Sin Like a Cancer

Today's reading: 2 Samuel 18

First David, then his family, then a nation

2 Samuel 18:33: "O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you-O Absalom, my son, my son!"

Sins: Many people think of them as parking tickets. If you get too many, the cops may track you down or give your car "the boot." However, one or two here and there won't make a big difference.

The Bible views sins more as cancer cells. One or two here and there do make a difference-often the difference between life and death. Because cancer cells grow, multiply and take over, major surgery may be needed to save your life.

Second Samuel 11-20 reads like the history of a spreading cancer. In the beginning, David was on top of the world-and so was Israel. The civil war was over, the land was at peace and Israel was entering an era of unprecedented prosperity. God had promised to ensure David's descendants a continuous reign forever. What more could David hope for? The rest of life appeared as one long celebration.

The Cancer Grows

That celebration never began. One night David caught a glimpse of Bathsheba's beautiful, naked body and impulsively sent for her. The cover-up required a murder. Nobody could deny it was an ugly business: Even David admitted it when Nathan confronted him. However, it was soon over. He repented. He married Bathsheba. He did not intend to fall for that temptation again.

But the consequences of the sin were far from over. Unknown to David, cancer was growing in his own household. David's oldest son Amnon had an eye for women too. He tricked his half sister Tamar into his bedroom, then raped her. Afterward, filled with disgust, he threw her out.

David was furious. But, maybe because he felt his own sin had robbed him of moral authority, he did nothing to punish his son. According to the law (see Leviticus 18:9,29), Amnon deserved exile, but he got off free. David apparently wanted the matter forgotten.

A Cold-Blooded Character

The cancer merely disappeared from view. Absalom waited two full years to avenge his sister's rape. Then he murdered Amnon in cold blood. Again David was long on regret, short on punishment. He wept over Amnon's death but perhaps recognized his own responsibility for it. After three years David let Absalom return to Jerusalem unpunished; two years later, when Absalom angrily demanded either a murder trial or full acceptance back into the palace (see 2 Samuel 14:32), David kissed and made up completely.

Again the cancer disappeared from view. But it was not gone; it grew. Now an arrogant Absalom started a program of public relations designed to make him look better than his aging father. At the end of four years, having become quite popular, he set his coup in motion. Taken completely by surprise, David was driven out of Jerusalem into the desert.

The shock seemed to awaken David. Though dazed and weeping as he left the city, he had enough sense to make some clever plans. When the battle came at last, David's army won, and Absalom was captured and killed.

Weeping for His Son

For David the king, Absalom's defeat was a great triumph. For David the father, it was a horrible tragedy. The worst thing that can happen to a father had happened to him. His own son had tried to kill him, and in trying, had been killed. David could not stop weeping over his son's death until Joab, his general, warned him that he was insulting the troops who had fought for him.

David pulled himself together. Piece by piece, he put his kingdom back in order. He sent conciliatory words to the rebellious leaders of his own tribe. He rewarded his supporters. He took no revenge on any rebel faction, but showed remarkable fairness. A second rebellion broke out but was soon put down. The cancer seemed finally to have run its course.

Yet it had not. David had no more trouble with rebellion in his lifetime, but after his death Solomon killed a brother whom he thought was scheming for the throne (see 1 Kings 2:25). After Solomon's reign, the old tribal tensions rose again, and the north and the south, which David had so carefully knit together, split for good (see 1 Kings 12). Such may be the consequences when a leader sins. His cancer not only poisons him; it grows to affect all those he leads-and it undermines his work.

Life Question

  • Many people will, at some point, see their well-run lives disintegrate. What enables someone to pick up the pieces, as David did?

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Why Worship? Why Give?

This week's reading: Genesis 28:16-22

Author Mark Allan Powell addresses the fundamental principle behind Biblical giving: "The patriarch Jacob experiences God's presence in a dream and, not knowing what else to do, sets up a stone and pours oil over the top of it (Ge 28:16-18)." Powell points out that early Old Testament people "who had been touched by the goodness of God wanted to worship God, and they did that by taking something that belonged to them and giving it to God in the only way they knew how." Later Powell discusses giving as it relates to those of us in the new covenant:

God may be pleased, indeed delighted, with us even if we are giving the wrong amount, even if [we] are giving to unworthy or inappropriate causes. As we learn more about stewardship, of course, we will want to grow in those respects. We can spend a lifetime trying to find better ways of fulfilling God's expectations. But, for starters, our principal concern in giving should not be where to give, or how to give, or how much to give. First, let us focus on the why. If we give with hearts full of devotion for the God who loves us, then the questions of where and how and how much will work themselves out in time.

I once served as a pastor in a congregation where the people wanted me to visit all of the "inactive members"...

All of the people I visited told me in one way or another that they had quit coming to church because they weren't "getting out of it" whatever it was that they thought they should...

This surprised me because when I was a child and my family went to church on Sunday morning, my mother used to tell us, "We are going to worship God"...

And now that I am (a lot) older, I have discovered something else. When people do this-when they come to church to worship God-something wonderful happens. They invariably discover that they are much more likely to get something out of the experience than if they had come for any other reason. I don't know why this is-maybe God just has a sense of irony. Or maybe the point is that one of our greatest needs is to worship God...

So, worship is essential to faith. But I have also said that sacrifice is essential to worship. Why is that? Because worship, almost by definition, is the opposite of self-centeredness. Doing this always involves some element of self-denial or sacrifice, giving up something that we value, giving up attention to our wants and our needs in order to focus on God...

When we give cheerfully as an act of worship, the very act of giving moves us to lose interest in ourselves and to devote ourselves to God.

Think About It

  • Why do you go to church?
  • How does your attitude affect your ability to worship God?
  • In your experience, how are worship and giving related?

Pray About It

Lord, search my heart. Show me any attitudes, thoughts, emotions or motives that need to change so that I may worship you in love.


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