Thursday, October 20, 2011

Daily Devotional Thursday 20th October

“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”Psalm 37:4 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Babes in Christ."
1 Corinthians 3:1

Are you mourning, believer, because you are so weak in the divine life: because your faith is so little, your love so feeble? Cheer up, for you have cause for gratitude. Remember that in some things you are equal to the greatest and most full-grown Christian. You are as much bought with blood as he is. You are as much an adopted child of God as any other believer. An infant is as truly a child of its parents as is the full-grown man. You are as completely justified, for your justification is not a thing of degrees: your little faith has made you clean every whit. You have as much right to the precious things of the covenant as the most advanced believers, for your right to covenant mercies lies not in your growth, but in the covenant itself; and your faith in Jesus is not the measure, but the token of your inheritance in him. You are as rich as the richest, if not in enjoyment, yet in real possession. The smallest star that gleams is set in heaven; the faintest ray of light has affinity with the great orb of day. In the family register of glory the small and the great are written with the same pen. You are as dear to your Father's heart as the greatest in the family. Jesus is very tender over you. You are like the smoking flax; a rougher spirit would say, "put out that smoking flax, it fills the room with an offensive odour!" but the smoking flax he will not quench. You are like a bruised reed; and any less tender hand than that of the Chief Musician would tread upon you or throw you away, but he will never break the bruised reed. Instead of being downcast by reason of what you are, you should triumph in Christ. Am I but little in Israel? Yet in Christ I am made to sit in heavenly places. Am I poor in faith? Still in Jesus I am heir of all things. Though "less than nothing I can boast, and vanity confess." Yet, if the root of the matter be in me I will rejoice in the Lord, and glory in the God of my salvation.

Evening

"God, my maker, who giveth songs in the night."
Job 35:10

Any man can sing in the day. When the cup is full, man draws inspiration from it. When wealth rolls in abundance around him, any man can praise the God who gives a plenteous harvest or sends home a loaded argosy. It is easy enough for an Aeolian harp to whisper music when the winds blow--the difficulty is for music to swell forth when no wind is stirring. It is easy to sing when we can read the notes by daylight; but he is skilful who sings when there is not a ray of light to read by--who sings from his heart. No man can make a song in the night of himself; he may attempt it, but he will find that a song in the night must be divinely inspired. Let all things go well, I can weave songs, fashioning them wherever I go out of the flowers that grow upon my path; but put me in a desert, where no green thing grows, and wherewith shall I frame a hymn of praise to God? How shall a mortal man make a crown for the Lord where no jewels are? Let but this voice be clear, and this body full of health, and I can sing God's praise: silence my tongue, lay me upon the bed of languishing, and how shall I then chant God's high praises, unless he himself give me the song? No, it is not in man's power to sing when all is adverse, unless an altar-coal shall touch his lip. It was a divine song, which Habakkuk sang, when in the night he said, "Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." Then, since our Maker gives songs in the night, let us wait upon him for the music. O thou chief musician, let us not remain songless because affliction is upon us, but tune thou our lips to the melody of thanksgiving.

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Today's reading: Isaiah 56-58, 2 Thessalonians 2 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Isaiah 56-58

Salvation for Others

1 This is what the LORD says:

"Maintain justice
and do what is right,
for my salvation is close at hand
and my righteousness will soon be revealed.
2 Blessed is the one who does this-
the person who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it,
and keeps their hands from doing any evil."

3 Let no foreigner who is bound to the LORD say,
"The LORD will surely exclude me from his people."
And let no eunuch complain,
"I am only a dry tree."

4 For this is what the LORD says:

"To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose what pleases me
and hold fast to my covenant-
5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls
a memorial and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that will endure forever....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 2 Thessalonians 2

The Man of Lawlessness

1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us-whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter-asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

5 Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness....

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Potiphar

[Pŏt'ĭphar] - who is of the sun or a fat bull. The captain of Pharaoh's guardto whom Joseph was sold by the Midianites. It was his wife who tried to seduce Joseph (Gen. 37:36; 39:1).
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October 19, 2011

Avoiding Burnout

Part 2

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed (Mark 1:35, NIV).

Friend to Friend

Yesterday, we looked at the problem of burnout or exhaustion. Burnout is defined as "a state of mental and/or physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress." Sound familiar? We also looked at several men in the Bible who struggled with spiritual and mental exhaustion. So if the great leaders of the Bible struggled with exhaustion, how do we avoid it?

The most effective way to avoid burnout is to be in constant communion with God, the Father. In Mark chapter one, Jesus gives us the key to avoiding overload: "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed," (Mark 1:35NIV).

Early in the morning Jesus went off by Himself and spent time alone with His Heavenly Father. Interestingly, Simon and his companion interrupted Jesus' time of prayer. "Everyone is looking for you!" they exclaimed. The day before, Jesus had healed many men and women. No doubt, the disciples and the townspeople wanted Jesus to return to perform more miracles. But Jesus had a different idea..."Let us go somewhere else - to the nearby villages - so I can preach there also. That is why I have come."

I don't know about you, but by 8:00 in the morning, my phone is ringing with people making requests and demands on my time. How do we know when to say "yes" and when to say "no?" How do we know what God's will is for us on any given day? Jesus gives us the answer right there in Mark 1:35. We begin our day with God by praying and asking Him to give us our marching orders.

Would it have been a good and noble thing for Jesus to go back to Capernaum and minister to the people there? Yes, it would have been good, but perhaps not God's best. Because Jesus had spent time with God in the morning, He knew what God's plans were for Him that day and He could say "yes" and "no" with confidence.

Inviting God to fuel and fan the flames of enthusiasm for life each day is the key way to avoid burnout. But our friend, Elijah, gives us an example of how God tenderly re-ignites that flame if it has dimmed to a mere flicker. No matter where you are on the continuum of blazing spiritual passion or smoldering wick, here are some ideas to avoid burnout or rekindle the fire.

  • Rest often. (God rested on the 7th day.)
  • Refresh with proper diet.
  • Re-evaluate priorities and responsibilities on a regular basis (monthly).
  • Relegate and delegate.
  • Review commitments regularly (monthly).
  • Resist saying "yes" to demands and requests that do not line up with what God has called you to do.
  • Resist being ruled by your schedule and allow for divine appointments from God that may not be on your schedule.
  • Remove superfluous activities that interfere with or choke out with God's agenda.
  • Refocus on what God has called you to do rather than what others would like for you to do.
  • Remain in close and constant communion with God.

Let's Pray

Dear Lord, You know that I have a tendency to take on too much. Please help me to hear Your still small voice telling me when to say "yes" and when to say "no." Today, I commit to remain in constant communion with You. You are my strength and my provider.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Go back and look at the activities that you engaged in last week and ponder the following questions:

  • Were they all necessary?
  • Could they have been done more effectively by someone else?
  • Was there anything on your schedule that you wished you had said "no" to?
  • Consider memorizing today's Key Verse and making it the filter for your daily activities.

More from the Girlfriends

This devotion was taken from Sharon's book, Building an Effective Women's Ministry. To learn more about having a balanced life, see A Woman's Secret to a Balanced Life, co-authored by Sharon Jaynes and Lysa TerKeurst. Balance isn't easy. That's why it took two of us to write itJ

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
LeAnn Rice

October 19, 2011

The Gift of Hope
LeAnn Rice, Executive Director

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." 1 Timothy 6:17 (NIV)

Wealth is something I didn't think I had.

As a single mom widowed over 14 years ago, I don't have money for extras like new clothes or weekend trips. Therefore, I didn't think it was possible for me to give much to others and this made me sad. Until I realized it's not the size of a gift that matters.

It's the amount of hope wrapped around the gift that makes all the difference.

I learned about true wealth through a sweet little boy I met during a mission trip to Ecuador with Compassion International.

Miguel lives in a one room house with his mother and three siblings. They share a bed that lies on a dirt floor. They have no bathroom and no electricity. The vegetables his mother used to prepare their evening meal consisted of peelings and rotting parts that certainly would never have made it into one of my recipes. I would have mindlessly thrown them away.

My eyes filled with tears of sadness as I stared true poverty in the face. But Miguel's eyes were filled with a rare and precious joy. A sponsor had breathed the gift of hope into Miguel's life, which made all the difference.

This experience challenged me. I was compelled to figure out a way to sponsor a child and make this same kind of impact. Though I can't solve all the problems of the world, I can give the gift of hope to one life and that's a great start.

My brief encounter with Miguel taught me so much about the true meaning of wealth, and I think of him often. I think of him when I catch myself complaining that the square footage of my house is too small, or when my power bill is more than I expect. But mostly, I think of Miguel when I need to be reminded that the gift of hope is priceless.

My friends, in just a few short weeks many of us will put up our Christmas tree and hang bright lights and stockings. We will set up our nativity scenes and sing Christmas carols. And in the midst of our Christmas traditions, we will turn our hearts toward the reason we celebrate.

What better way to celebrate Jesus than to wrap our hope around the lives of those with needs greater than ours?

We can share our hope by serving at our local soup kitchen, or filling shoe boxes with small toys and treats for underprivileged children to open on Christmas day.

We can collect coats and blankets to give to homeless families in our communities.

Or we can sponsor a child, like Miguel, and provide school supplies, spiritual nourishment, health care and clothing.

No matter how big or small our budget, we can make a difference. As we reach out to those around us in Jesus' Name, we provide something much more valuable than any earthly treasure. We share the gift of hope!

Dear Lord, give me Your eyes to see and Your ears to hear the needs of those around me; not just at Christmas, but always. I long to share Your passion for the poor and the needy. Help me remember true wealth is not measured by the size of my bank account, but by the size of my heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

Untangle your holidays so you have more time to reach out to others by visiting www.UntanglingChristmas.com. And enter to win a free copy our new Ebook, Untangling Christmas: Your Go-To Guide for a Hassle-Free Holidayby Karen Ehman and LeAnn Rice

Prayerfully consider Sponsoring a Child through Compassion International as a Christmas gift to Jesus this year. When you sponsor a child you change the life of a child, a family and a community, in Jesus' Name.

We're giving away a copy of Untangling Christmas: Your Go-To Guide for a Hassle-Free Holiday to anyone sponsors a child through Compassion this week. Leave a comment at www.UntanglingChristmas.com to let us know you did and we'll send you a download link.

Application Steps:
Look for opportunities to share the hope and love of Jesus Christ with "the least of these" this holiday season and throughout the year.

Reflections:
Reflect on Proverbs 31:20, "She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy." (NIV)

If I take an honest inventory of "my" belongings, do I really need four sets of towels? Do I need to stop for my special coffee this morning? Do my kids truly need that many Christmas presents this year? Who could benefit if I say "no" to any of these questions?

Power Verses:
Acts 2:44-47, "All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." (NIV)

Matthew 25:45, "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'" (NIV 1984)

© 2011 by LeAnn Rice. All rights reserved.

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

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Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional

GOD’S ATTRIBUTES – SPIRIT

Jesus said, “a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth." This is one of the core attributes of God.

But what does “Spirit” mean? Both the Hebrew word for spirit (ruach) and the Greek word (pneuma) can mean breath, wind, or spirit. Like the invisible wind that comes from one direction, then another, and can assert itself with mighty power, so does God come as Spirit. Breath, too, is invisible, yet with breath, you are a living being; without it, you are dead. So “Spirit” is a wonderfully precise description of who God is–”the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God…” (1 Timothy 1:17).

We all know that there are two fundamentally different ways of looking at reality. One assumes that only what can be seen, touched, tasted, smelled, or heard is real. This is the materialist position. The other view allows that there are realities beyond our senses, the metaphysical beyond the physical. It assumes that there is a divine Spirit who is not limited by the material world as we are. He moves as he wishes; he is actively present in all places at once. He comes to us as pleasantly as a breeze, but also comes as a mighty cyclone.

If you put a negative spin on it, God’s spirituality may seem like an inferior trait, as if he is less than the creatures and things we all daily see, touch, and smell. It may seem easier to ignore God because he is invisible, and to go on with occasional debates about whether God exists or not-which is like talking about someone who is, in fact, still in the room with us. If there were a lion in the room, we wouldn’t ignore it, but it’s not hard to disregard an invisible God.

But God’s invisibility is not some lack on his part. It is what you would expect of a God who presides over a universe in which there are not just three dimensions, but at least eleven at last count, according to some physicists. And if someone says, “Why doesn’t God just show himself?” the answer has to be, “He did!” “The Word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us.”

Excerpt from Putting the Pieces Back Together: How Real Life and Real Faith Connect. Click for more.

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About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for thirty years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, the most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement.
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No Secrets: Jesus is a man on a mission

Today's reading: John 10

John 10:24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly."

Every few years an author or scholar or even a movie maker raises new questions-or the same old questions-about Jesus' identity. Often such portrayals show him wandering around the earth in a daze, trying to figure out why he came and what he is supposed to be doing.

Nothing could be further from the account given us by John, Jesus' closest friend. According to John, Jesus was a man on a mission who knew exactly what he had come to Earth to accomplish. John states his purpose in writing very clearly: to get people to believe in Jesus the Messiah (see John 20:31). His book selectively features incidents from Jesus' life to demonstrate who Jesus is.

Shepherd of Israel

"I am the gate," Jesus says in chapter 10; "I am the good shepherd" (John 10:9,11). Jews who hear these words undoubtedly think back to Old Testament kings like David, who were fondly thought of as the shepherds of Israel. Unlike modern-day shepherds, who use dogs to drive their flocks, shepherds in Jesus' day walked ahead of the sheep, calling them to follow; the sheep would respond only to a familiar voice.

In the Old Testament, God is also called the "Shepherd of Israel" (Psalm 80:1). In claiming to be the good shepherd, Jesus is asserting his leadership over a flock he is willing to die for. When some challenge him bluntly, "If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly," Jesus answers them with equal bluntness, saying, "I and the Father are one" (John 10:24,30).

The pious Jews, understanding Jesus all too well, pick up stones to execute him for blasphemy. Not even these hostile reactions surprise Jesus, though. He expects opposition, even execution. As he explains here, a truly good shepherd, unlike a hired hand, "lays down his life for the sheep" (John 10:11). This chapter explains why he makes that choice.

Life Question

  • What difference does it make to you that Jesus is God, not just a man?

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Today's reading is from the
NIV Student Bible
by Zondervan


A proven, common sense approach to studying the Scriptures appeals to high school and college readers (and students of all ages).


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At Issue - Marriage

Today's reading: Genesis 2:19-24

Did you want to be Cinderella and live "happily ever after" with a handsome prince? What a shock to discover that your prince prefers football over moonlit strolls, picks his toenails in bed and considers "romance" a foreign word. So much for the fairy tale! So what is marriage all about? God designed Adam and Eve to be a team. Adam wasn't complete without Eve, and Eve wasn't complete without Adam. God brought them together for the benefit of each other-and for his glory. That's the point of marriage. And it's better than the fairy tale.

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True Identity: The Bible for Women
by Zondervan


The Bible that helps you see yourself as God sees you! Find your true identity in Christ through your relationship with him.
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