Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Daily Devotional Tuesday 18th October

“The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare.” Psalm 25:14-15 NIV
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon


"And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul."
1 Samuel 27:1

The thought of David's heart at this time was a false thought, because he certainly had no ground for thinking that God's anointing him by Samuel was intended to be left as an empty unmeaning act. On no one occasion had the Lord deserted his servant; he had been placed in perilous positions very often, but not one instance had occurred in which divine interposition had not delivered him. The trials to which he had been exposed had been varied; they had not assumed one form only, but many--yet in every case he who sent the trial had also graciously ordained a way of escape. David could not put his finger upon any entry in his diary, and say of it, "Here is evidence that the Lord will forsake me," for the entire tenor of his past life proved the very reverse. He should have argued from what God had done for him, that God would be his defender still. But is it not just in the same way that we doubt God's help? Is it not mistrust without a cause? Have we ever had the shadow of a reason to doubt our Father's goodness? Have not his lovingkindnesses been marvellous? Has he once failed to justify our trust? Ah, no! our God has not left us at any time. We have had dark nights, but the star of love has shone forth amid the blackness; we have been in stern conflicts, but over our head he has held aloft the shield of our defence. We have gone through many trials, but never to our detriment, always to our advantage; and the conclusion from our past experience is, that he who has been with us in six troubles, will not forsake us in the seventh. What we have known of our faithful God, proves that he will keep us to the end. Let us not, then, reason contrary to evidence. How can we ever be so ungenerous as to doubt our God? Lord, throw down the Jezebel of our unbelief, and let the dogs devour it.


"He shall gather the lambs with his arm."
Isaiah 40:11

Our good Shepherd has in his flock a variety of experiences, some are strong in the Lord, and others are weak in faith, but he is impartial in his care for all his sheep, and the weakest lamb is as dear to him as the most advanced of the flock. Lambs are wont to lag behind, prone to wander, and apt to grow weary, but from all the danger of these infirmities the Shepherd protects them with his arm of power. He finds new-born souls, like young lambs, ready to perish--he nourishes them till life becomes vigorous; he finds weak minds ready to faint and die--he consoles them and renews their strength. All the little ones he gathers, for it is not the will of our heavenly Father that one of them should perish. What a quick eye he must have to see them all! What a tender heart to care for them all! What a far- reaching and potent arm, to gather them all! In his lifetime on earth he was a great gatherer of the weaker sort, and now that he dwells in heaven, his loving heart yearns towards the meek and contrite, the timid and feeble, the fearful and fainting here below. How gently did he gather me to himself, to his truth, to his blood, to his love, to his church! With what effectual grace did he compel me to come to himself! Since my first conversion, how frequently has he restored me from my wanderings, and once again folded me within the circle of his everlasting arm! The best of all is, that he does it all himself personally, not delegating the task of love, but condescending himself to rescue and preserve his most unworthy servant. How shall I love him enough or serve him worthily? I would fain make his name great unto the ends of the earth, but what can my feebleness do for him? Great Shepherd, add to thy mercies this one other, a heart to love thee more truly as I ought.


Today's reading: Isaiah 50-52, 1 Thessalonians 5 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Isaiah 50-52

Israel’s Sin and the Servant’s Obedience

1 This is what the LORD says:

“Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce
with which I sent her away?
Or to which of my creditors
did I sell you?
Because of your sins you were sold;
because of your transgressions your mother was sent away.
2 When I came, why was there no one?
When I called, why was there no one to answer?
Was my arm too short to deliver you?
Do I lack the strength to rescue you?
By a mere rebuke I dry up the sea,
I turn rivers into a desert;
their fish rot for lack of water
and die of thirst.
3 I clothe the heavens with darkness
and make sackcloth its covering.”

4 The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.
5 The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears;
I have not been rebellious,
I have not turned away.
6 I offered my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
from mocking and spitting.
7 Because the Sovereign LORD helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 1 Thessalonians 5

The Day of the Lord

1 Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing....



The Woman Who Shared Her Last Morsel

1 Kings 17:8-24; Luke 4:25, 26

What deeper interest we would have in some of the conspicuous characters of the Bible if only we knew their names and their significance! The renowned widow of Zarephath, or Sarepta, so sympathetic, kind and self-sacrificial, must have had a lovely name. Yet both her own name and that of her boy are not given. The prophet Elijah who lived with them for so long must have come to know them well, but he has left us with no clue as to their identity. Even the Lord, who has our names engraven upon the palms of His hands, does not lift the curtain of anonymity, but simply refers to this commendable female, as "a woman that was a widow." Evidently, attention is focused on what she did, rather than on who she was.

Her Position

She lived in Sarepta which belonged to Zidon - a fact marking the striking providence of God. When the land of Israel was apostate and unsafe, Elijah found a welcome refuge in a heathen country, which was, moreover, the native place of his deadliest enemy, Jezebel, daughter of King Eth-Baal of the Zidonians. Although brought up among worshipers of strange gods, it would seem as if she had come to know about the faith of the Hebrews before Elijah the prophet came her way. She came to accept it more fully as the result of what she saw and heard due to Elijah's sojourn in her poor home.

Of an alien race, she was likewise a widow with a child to keep. Half-way between Tyre and Sidon, she had the humble home her husband had left her, and from a few olive trees and a small barley field she was able to eke out a frugal living for herself and her growing boy. When seasons were favorable what she was able to gather sufficed for her modest needs, but when a terrible drought killed the growing harvest then her poverty was most acute. What struggles some women had after they become widows. Straitened circumstances and oppressive cares made life difficult. With the able breadwinner taken, widows frequently had more cares than they could cope with. Yet godly widows have the promise of divine provision and protection, as this widow of Sarepta came to experience. When famine struck she did not know where the next meal could come from to keep the two of them alive.

Her Provider

Little did the distressed widow realize that deliverance was at hand - that never again would she and her son suffer the pangs of hunger - that the rough-looking stranger who appeared at her door one day was to be her provider for many a day. Elijah was a hunted man on the run, for the godless Queen Jezebel had set a price upon his head, and the sleuths of the wicked queen hunted in vain for the prophet who had pronounced the doom of Jezebel and her equally godless husband, Ahab. They never thought of looking for Elijah in the poor home of a starving widow. Yet she was the one whom God had singled out to shelter the prophet for some two years. She fed him, as a heaven-protected guest, with fearless faith. When Elijah met the widow she was gathering sticks to make a final scanty meal out of the last cakes and oil she had. What pathos was in the woman's reply to Elijah's request for a drink of water and a morsel of bread. She said -

As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.

Famine in the land had emaciated the widow and her boy, now they have come to their last meal. Once this was eaten there would be nothing to do but throw their haggard, fleshless bodies on the bed and await their release from suffering - the terrible death of starvation. But she was to be the widow whom God would command to sustain Elijah. His commands were to be His enablings, as she was to daily prove. Hereafter she and her son were to live from hand to mouth, but it would be from God's ever open hand to their mouths - and the prophet's as well!

Although she came to speak of Elijah as the "man of God," and saw in him the prophet as he performed the miracle of multiplication, there is no evidence that she recognized in him, as he came to her as a stranger in a crucial moment asking for water, that he was indeed God's honored servant. While God had marked her out as the widow to sustain Elijah, she had not received any advance word that the beggar coming to her would be the prophet. She did not know beforehand of God's purpose for she was preparing to die. Further, lacking any intuition that the one asking for water would miraculously preserve her and her son from death by starvation, as soon as Elijah told her to go on with the preparation of what the widow felt would be her last meal, and share her penury with the prophet, she mechanically obeyed, believing what he had said about her meal never wasting and the cruse of oil not failing until the famine was past. "She went and did according to the saying of Elijah."

This woman of true hospitality who, in her willingness to share her only mouthful of food with a stranger whose face indicated a weariness born of fatigue and thirst, and exhaustion due to long travel, knew not that she was to entertain an angel unawares. She yet took the stranger in, and proved herself to be a noble type of Christian hospitality in that it was exercised out of the depth of her poverty. She might have protested when the beggar asked for food by saying, "Have a heart, sir! Do not mock me, a destitute widow who, with a dying son, has only one scanty meal left." Had this nameless woman met the request of Elijah with bitter scorn, asking him what he expected to find in a famine-stricken house, and also what kind of a man was he to take the last morsel of food out of her mouth, we would have understood her refusal. But no, she did none of these things. It may be that her kind heart said, "I'll share these last cakes with him, for death will soon end our hunger." Although she felt sharing the final meal would hurt both herself and her boy, she ventured out to give the hungry man who had come her way a portion of it, not realizing that her venture was to be one of faith, and would become the evidence of things not seen.

The widow of Sarepta, then, went ahead with her baking and used up her last handful of meal. She served the stranger firstfor this was what he had said, "Make me a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son." The astonished woman had little to say for the bold prediction and the manner of its announcement gave the man's message a commanding solemnity and convinced her that this man was no ordinary beggar. Hastening to do what her innate love of hospitality prompted her to do, she came to prove that "little is much if God is in it." Can you not imagine her after that first meal together - which she thought would be the last - was over, how anxiously she would steal away to the empty meal tub and examine her oil cruse to see if the prediction of the stranger had been fulfilled. How hope must have leaped in her heart as she fingered fresh meal and saw the empty cruse refilled. Truly the guest with whom she was willing to share, was a prophet! The widow was to experience a continuing miracle for until the rains came and famine was past -

The barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.

Daily, the widow of Sarepta proved that sharing what she had with another needy one did not impoverish her life, but greatly enriched it, just as the heavenly Stranger does when we open the door for Him to come in and sup with us. Yes, God multiplied her handful of meal and cruse of oil as Jesus multiplied the five loaves and the two fishes to feed the hungry crowd following Him. How expressive are the stanzas an American poet has given us -

Is thy cruse of comfort failing?

Rise and share it with another:

And through all the years of famine

It shall serve thee and thy brother.

Love divine will fill the storehouse,

And thy handful still renew;

Scanty fare for one will often

Make a royal feast for two.

For the heart grows rich in giving;

All its wealth is golden grain:

Seeds, which mildew in the garner,

Scattered, fill with gold the plain.

Is thy burden hard and heavy?

Do thy steps drag wearily?

Help to bear thy brother's burden -

God will bear both it and thee.

Her Perplexity

What a difference the God-sent prophet had made to the home of the widow! All trial was past and daily their need was met by Him who opens His hand and supplies what His own require. Before this the widow had come to know that her guest was a prophet and what blessed truths she must have received from his lips. As the weeks and months rolled by Elijah became part of the home, and without exposing himself unnecessarily must have helped in gathering sticks and helping in other ways when manual labor was required. Then there was the widow's young son, who, like the rest of his kind, must have been inquisitive and full of questions as to the lodger's name and experiences. The rugged personality of Elijah must have had an impact on the mind of that boy, whose coming had saved him from death by starvation.

As time rolled by the widow must have grown to feel as calmly secure as Elijah himself who knew that whomever the Lord hides is safe. But one day the peace and contentment of the home miraculously sustained were disturbed for the widow's son was suddenly seized with illness and finally died. Once again the widow knew despair. Before Elijah came to the home, she feared the death of her boy because of the famine. Now he is actually dead and her mother-heart is perplexed and torn with unspeakable anguish. Why was her child rescued from death the first time, if only to die now? In her grief her conscience seems to trouble her. She feels that the boy's death was a form of divine judgment because of sin and she said to Elijah -

What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?

The presence of the prophet in her home must have impressed her with the reality of God, resulting in a deeper sense of sin within herself, and thus she connected Elijah, whom she had come to regard, with this terrible calamity. She felt that this man of God had looked into her heart and had detected that it was sinful, and that divine vengeance had fallen upon her. But Elijah knew the bereaved mother was beside herself, and had committed no evil meriting the death of her son. This anguish was to be another trial of her faith.

Her Praise

Somewhat bitter, the Sarepta widow was not permitted to reproach Elijah who did not rebuke her nor answer her question, but simply said, "Give me thy son." The dead form she was clasping was placed in the prophet's arms, who took the lifeless body up to his chamber and asked God why He had allowed such a grief to overtake the widow who had been so kind to him. Three times he stretched himself upon the child and prayed most earnestly that the child might live again. For the mother downstairs it must have been an agonizing wait, but she was to be the witness to another miracle. The Lord heard Elijah's prayer, the child's soul came into him again, and, hastening down the stairs, the prophet handed over the precious burden saying, "See, thy son liveth." The faith of the mother returned with a fervent vigor, and her sorrow turned to song as she praised God and exclaimed -

Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.

In such a declaration we have the final victory of faith brought out by the crowning mercy of her child's resurrection. The widow's growing apprehension of God is seen in her concept of Him. As a heathen woman speaking of Jehovah from without, she said, "The Lord thy God" (1 Kings 17:12). Not her God but Elijah's - thy God, and as "the Lord God of Israel." Now she believes as never before that Elijah, God's servant, is indeed "a man of God" and in accepting "the word of the Lord" from his lips as "the truth" seems undoubtedly to express the widow's full surrender to Him whose miraculous power on her behalf had been manifested through His servant whom she had befriended.

Her Prominence

It must have been a sad day when God called Elijah to leave the shelter and love of the widow's home and go to show himself to Ahab and pronounce the end of the three and a half years drought. While, possibly, Elijah never lost contact with the Sarepta widow who had become such a part of his life, the Bible does not tell us anything further about her and her son whom God raised from the dead. Yet because of our Lord's reference to her, she is held in everlasting remembrance. While in the synagogue at Nazareth He selected this incident from the Old Testament and said that although there were "many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah," unto none of them was the prophet sent save unto the widow of Sarepta (Luke 4:26). As the heathen woman was visited of God, so Christ had come to gather Gentiles, as well as Jews, unto Himself. Jesus immortalized that lowly woman who was so hospitable, to emphasize the immortal truth that in this dispensation of divine grace God is no respecter of persons. No favored nation, nor exclusive privilege enters into His scheme of salvation. God's favor becomes the portion of those who repent of their sin and accept His Son as their Saviour and Lord.



[Săm'son] - distinguished, strong orsun-man.

The Man of Contrasts

One of the most renowned of the Hebrew judges, Samson was a son of the Danite, Manoah, who judged Israel for twenty years. He was unique in that his birth and manner of life were foretold. Supernaturally endowed, he killed a lion, thirty Philistines and one thousand men. He broke the strongest bands, carried off the gates of Gaza and pulled down the Temple of Dagon (Judg. 13:24-16:30). He is found among the illustrious in Faith's Hall of Fame (Heb. 11:32).

As long as Samson remained a Nazarite he was unconquerable. He only of all the judges of whom we have any history, does everything single-handed and alone. Samson never called the armies of Israel together; he asked no assistance. What he did, he did alone in his own unconquerable strength. We are not told how he managed his court, nor about the wisdom of his judgments, nor about the manner of Israel's life for a whole generation under her gigantic judge.

The complex story of Samson teaches us the evils of mixed or foreign marriages ( Judg. 14:3), the laxity of sexual relations and of playing with temptation. C. W. Emmet says that Samson "teaches us that bodily endowments, no less than spiritual, are a gift from God, however different may be our modern conception of the way in which they are bestowed, and that their retention depends on obedience to His laws."

But if Samson stands as an example "of impotence of mind in body strong," he also stands, in Milton's magnificent conception, as an example of patriotism and heroism in death, to all who "from his memory inflame their breast to matchless valour and adventures high."

The deadly results of Samson's self-indulgence after he broke his Nazarite vow, appear in their dark and ominous order:

Self-confidence: "I will go out" (Judg. 16:20).

Self-ignorance: "He wist not" (Judg. 16:20).

Self-weakness: "The Philistines laid hold on him" (Judg. 16:21).

Self-darkness: "They put out his eyes" (Judg. 16:21).

Self-degradation: "They brought him down to Gaza" ( Judg. 16:1-3, 21).

Self-bondage: "They bound him with fetters" (Judg. 16:21).

Self-drudgery: "He did grind in the prison-house" (Judg. 16:21).

Self-humiliation: "Call for Samson, that he may make us sport" (Judg. 16:25, 27).

Samson stands out as a man of striking contrasts. He had a kind of Dr. Jekell and Mr. Hyde being.

I. He was separated as a Nazarite ( Judg. 13:5 ), yet tampered with evil associations (Judg. 14:1-3).

II. He was occasionally Spirit-possessed (Judg. 13:25; 15:14), yet yielded to carnal appetites (Judg. 16:1-4).

III. He appeared childish in some of his plans (Judg. 15:4), yet was courageous in battle (Judg. 15:1-4).

IV. He was mighty in physical strength ( Judg. 16:3, 9, 13, 14), yet weak in resisting temptation (Judg. 16:15-17).

V. He had a noble beginning but a sad end (Judg. 16:30).


October 17, 2011

What's the Plan?

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart! (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV).

Friend to Friend

I want to be successful - don't you? And the awesome news is that God wants us to be successful as well. When we know and seek God's perfect plan for our lives, we will find success. Our immeasurable value rests solely in the fact that God created us, that His stubborn love sets us apart and the amazing fact that He designed and empowers a unique plan for each one of us. Yes, I know that plans are rampant in your life. God loves you and everyone else has a plan for your life, right? But the only plan that matters is the plan made for you by the One who formed you - the One who loves you, knows you and has set you apart to be His own. And it is a great plan!

1. Your life plan is customized. Psalm 139:16 You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!

You were born in response to the determined plan of God, not as an afterthought. Before you took even one breath, every day, every step and every circumstance in your plan was recorded. God's plan uses your strengths as well as your weaknesses. We all have strengths - they are part of the plan. We all have limitations - they are also part of the plan. We all have seasons of life that are essential to the plan as well. True success comes when, instead of constantly fighting against or trying to change the plan, we learn to identify and build on our strengths, accept the limitations as hedges of protection from God, and yield to the seasons in life as God's avenue of perfect timing. God's plan for you is not a "one-size-fits all." It is customized and just your size.

2. Your life plan is good. Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord," plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

For some reason we tend to think that God sat down one day and designed a sinister life plan laced with pain and defeat. Nothing could be farther from the truth. This train of thought contradicts the very nature of God and misunderstands His heart - the heart of a loving Father who wants the absolute highest and best plan for His child. It is a good plan!

3. Your life plan is guaranteed. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

God always empowers what He calls us to do. With the plan comes every resource that we will need to accomplish that plan. For many years, my life mission was really quite simple. I tried and often succeeded in filling every waking moment with activity. Oh, it was wonderful activity filled with good things - but they were not the best things or the highest things for my life. I did many of those things in order to feel worthy and important, hoping they would bring my life into balance and under control. I hoped that doing good things would provide a purpose and plan for the restlessness in my soul. While sitting at the bottom of a deep, dark pit named "Clinical Depression," I discovered a truth that has redefined who I am and altered my soul perception of God. I now realize that the most powerful life flows from a clear life plan not to it!

How do we discover our life plan?

At first glance, that question may seem complicated and almost impossible to answer, but when we spend time with the Plan Maker, that question is easily answered as we step out in obedience to God. When we begin to saturate daily life with His truth and continually turn our hearts to conversation with God, His plan naturally unfolds as we take every "next step" in obedience. Consider the following questions when praying about and asking God to reveal His plan for your life:

  • What are your spiritual gifts?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What are your natural abilities?
  • What is your personality type?
  • What are the spiritual markers in your life?
  • What do others see in you?

After a two-year battle with clinical depression, I realized that I had lived a great deal of my life based on the wrong plan. I began to ask these questions, looking for the gifts He has given me instead of the ones I thought I should have or wantedto have. I began to accept my limitations knowing that He had woven them into the seams of my journey for my good. I began yielding to the seasons of life, trusting Him to lead the way through this foreign land called life.

Guess what? I looked around one day to find myself smack-dab in the middle of His life plan for me. It was suddenly so simple and amazingly clear! I am learning to say "no" to those things that do not fit into that life mission. Certainly, I fail and have to begin again. And sometimes I am misunderstood because I have chosen to follow God's plan instead of someone else's. But I would rather be misunderstood than disobedient. I had to choose a new audience for this race of life and so must you. I had to make a decision about the One I wanted to please and so must you. Don't waste another minute on anything but God's very best plan for your life.

Let's Pray

Father, I want to know and live out the plan You have for me. Sometimes my faith is weak but I really do want to please and honor You. Guide my steps, Lord. Give me Your strength to be obedient. Thank You for giving my life purpose and meaning. Today, I choose Your plan above all others and celebrate the joy I find in knowing You.

In Jesus' name,


Now It's Your Turn

Read and memorize Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Spend time alone with God in prayer and ask Him to help you answer the following questions:

  • What are my spiritual gifts?
  • What am I passionate about?
  • What are my natural abilities?
  • What is my personality type?
  • What are the spiritual markers in my life?
  • What do others see in me?

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Glynnis Whitwer

October 17, 2011

Full Busy vs. Empty Busy
Glynnis Whitwer

"We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies." 2 Thessalonians 3:11 (NIV)

I love empty calories. I confess. Chocolate brownies are my favorite.

Although I try to tell myself the eggs inside make them healthy, the truth is there is little in that fudgy goodness that brings value to my body. Besides the moment of pleasure in my mouth, brownies only fill my need for calories but offer little nutrition.

Being busy can have the same effect. We can fill our days with busy-work, then flop on the couch after dinner, exhausted and empty. And yet we look around our homes and wonder why a week's worth of mail is stacked on the desk, dirty clothes drape over the hamper and the kitchen floor is a sticky slip and slide...but we were so busy!

Much like the woman who spends $100 at the grocery store and has nothing for dinner, if we aren't wise about our busyness, we will find ourselves frustrated at how little gets done. Like the brownies and their empty calories, there is activity that keeps us "busy," but produces little benefit.

One area of temptation to empty busyness is my computer. The nature of my work requires that I spend a lot of my workday at the computer. If I sit down without a plan, two hours can pass and nothing is accomplished - except for watching videos of really cute puppies. However, when I've taken the time to set goals for my day, it's easier to stay focused.

The same is true for my housework. When I take a few minutes to identify my priorities for that day, the tasks that need to be accomplished usually get done. Otherwise, it's 7 p.m. and I'm wondering what's for dinner.

Today's key verse caught my attention recently. I realized we're no different from those early believers addressed in it. Only our idleness looks different-it looks like busyness. In fact, we often convince ourselves that it was necessary to get caught up on the news, visit a friend's blog or research next year's vacation. Important? Yes. A priority for today? Maybe not.

There is a time for brownies, getting caught up with friends and online research. There is a time for rest. After all, God ordained the Sabbath. There is a time for play. Even Jesus enjoyed a wedding reception with His friends. The key for productive busyness is to know what time it is.

Instead of trying to figure it out ourselves, a wise woman seeks God's direction for her work and rest. What has helped me avoid empty busyness is taking the time to pray about God's will for me each day. My quiet time always includes a to-do list. In addition to spending time just enjoying the Lord's presence, I also seek His guidance for my day.

I sit at my kitchen table, cup of coffee in one hand and pen in the other, and ask God to show me His priorities. He is always faithful to help me create a list of what needs to be done that day-not the next day or next week, but that day.

My challenge is to be a good steward of my time-both at work, play and rest. I've spent too much time on empty pursuits. Busy isn't always bad, only when it's empty. And brownies aren't bad either, at the right time.

Dear Lord, You are the Creator of time, and so often I neglect to seek Your will for my days. You have called me to a place of stewardship with my time and I need Your help. Please show me when and how to be productively busy-and when to set it all aside and rest or play. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Glynnis' blog for more on time management and a giveaway of her newest book, I Used to Be So Organized

I Used to Be So Organized by Glynnis Whitwer

The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized by Karen Ehman

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Application Steps:
Identify one small project you've been putting off tackling. Commit this week to completing that project.

What are some of my biggest time stealers?

What one thing can I do differently to make the most of the time I have?

Power Verses:
Ecclesiastes 3:1, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:" (NIV)

Proverbs 20:4, "Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing." (NIV)

© 2011 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
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Matthews, NC 28105

NIV Devotions for Moms

What Good Is Guilt?

This week's reading: Leviticus 7:1-10

Are there days when you feel like a failure at everything you do? Your tongue lashes out in cruelty at the very children you love. You lose patience with co-workers. The envy you've fought so hard to control gets the best of you, and your heart actually fills with hatred toward a neighbor.

When God shines the light of his Word down on our inconsistent blunders, we cower in its brightness and dart away to find cover. Ooooh! It's so hard to face up to our errors as guilt points its accusing finger.

What good is guilt? It actually opens the door to healing. We have to see-really see-our sinfulness in order to receive God's grace. We who deeply desire righteousness must turn our faces full into the light of God's perfection. There we can see our sin and our need for his grace. And in that brightness we can see the love on God's face and his desire to restore us to him.

Additional Scripture Readings: Psalm 38; 2 Corinthians 7:10



Today's reading is from the
Mom's Devotional Bible
by Zondervan

Mom, you don't have to go it alone! The Mom's Devotional Bible is a trusted source of wisdom to help you along the path of mothering.


Letting Go of the Familiar

Today's reading: Genesis 19:1-26

Letting go of the familiar is tough. Changing careers or colleges or moving to a new city can take an emotional toll on us. It's even more difficult to leave behind old habits, attitudes and behaviors.

Lot's wife wasn't able to let go of her home in Sodom, even though God sent angels to warn her family to run for their lives because judgment was coming. In fact, the angels' warnings included such grave commands as "Don't look back" and "Don't stop." Why in the world did this woman choose to stop and look back? Could it be that she loved the life she was leaving too much? Though Sodom was full to overflowing with sin and vice, apparently the dark and oppressive city was comfortably familiar to Lot's wife.

It is difficult to leave the familiar behind. That fact is as true today as it was in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah's destruction-even when God himself is saying, "It's time to move on." If you've ever struggled with a destructive habit, you've felt the pull of the familiar-even as you've sensed God's nudge, "Move on now." You've experienced the temptation to turn back just one more time, for one last look, one last taste, one last "fix"-even as God has whispered, "Don't look back." Maybe you've agonized over a loved one's downward spiral, desperately attempting to rescue them time and time again-until finally God impressed upon you, "Stop. Let go."

Unlike Lot's wife, none of us has ever become a pillar of salt by turning back for one last peek. Yet we all struggle with the difficulties of letting go of the old in order to grasp the new. Take heart. God understands that letting go of the familiar is hard. Yet he has called us to move on to new life in Jesus Christ by letting go of our old worldly lives, our old habits, our old dreams-to boldly move forward without looking back. When you feel God's call to move, allow him to guide you. He will give you the grace to do whatever he has asked.


  1. What does the passage in today's reading teach you about letting go in order to move forward?
  2. Why is it so difficult sometimes to let go of the past?
  3. What is one thing you think God may be asking you to let go of right now? Spend some time praying that God will help you let go of whatever is hindering you from moving forward in your spiritual journey.

Genesis 19:26: But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

Related Readings

Genesis 12:1-7; Numbers 14:1-38; Philippians 3:13



NIV Women's Devotional Bible
by Zondervan

The New Women's Devotional Bible helps a new generation of Christian women apply God's Word to their lives.

Skills: Team Building

Read 2 Samuel 23:8-17

A mark of a great leader is how many great people will join his or her team. David’s team was comprised of“mighty men.” Because David attempted mighty things, only the mighty could keep up with him. Those who could not keep pace could not join the team.

Don Bennett was the first amputee to climb Mt. Rainier. His testimony is simple—ifyou try such a feat with only one leg, “you can’t do it alone.” That makes a lot of sense! But what is not immediately obvious is that not just anyone can help. Bennett did not recruit his helpers in a nursing home. He built a team of people who wantedtoclimb a 14,410-foot peak and who couldclimb a 14,410-foot peak. One who attempts mighty feats had better be capable of recruiting a mighty team.

David did that. His was one of the most celebrated teams in the entire Old Testament. This group was the all-star team of his battle-hardened warriors. Several things stand out as we consider how David pulled his team together.

First, he spent time with them in battle. These men were welded to David by the hot fires of battle. His inner circle consisted of those men who had fought alongside him. He knew their capabilities, because he had seen what they could do with his own eyes.

Second, he sacrificed for them. When three of his mighty men risked their lives to obtain drinking water for him during a battle, David refused to drink it, choosing instead to pour it out onto the ground (vv.13–17). That act of sacrifice communicated a depth of devotion and love that had to have impressed those warriors.

Third, they enjoyed victory together. Time and again David and his mighty men faced seemingly insurmountable odds and saw God deliver them.

Finally, David honored them. These men were well known throughout the land as “David’s Mighty Men.” That phrase served as a banner that set them apart as extraordinary.

As you read this account, one thing becomes clear: David knew he couldn’t do it alone.

Team Building and Who God Is

Strong teams functioning at their best reflect similarities to the relationship that exists within the divine Trinity. When a team works together in an other-centered manner, it mirrors the creativity and mutual regard that is derived from God himself. Turn to Ephesians 1:3–14 and notice how the three persons of the Trinity work in perfect harmony to accomplish our salvation.

This Week's Verse to Memorize Acts 2:44-47

All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he 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.

Team Building and Who I Am

A team is capable of accomplishing things that no individual, no matter how multi-talented, could do alone. To function well, a team must be committed to a common vision and purpose, and it must be willing to work in unity for the improvement ofthe whole rather than the advancement of any one member. Turn to Mark 3:13–19 for an account of Christ’s appointment of the apostolic team that would proclaim the Good News to the world.

Team Building and How It Works

Teams are comprised of positional specialists. These individuals have been recruited on the basis of individual ability and expected contribution. But they aren’t a solid team until their individual strengths combine to produce an outcome which no single member alone could have produced. High performance teams are tough to build. So we look to the Master Teacher for a demonstration of how to recruit and mold a world-class team.

Team Building and What I Do

Every competent leader knows the importance of building a team. But how is this accomplished? Jesus provided us with an example in Matthew 16:13–20 and Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith underline two keys to effective team building. Week 12, “Communicating Vision,”begins at 1 Chronicles 28:1–21.

jesusexperimentpaddedhandbookleadership150Handbook to Leadership: Leadership in the Image of God
by Kenneth Boa
Buy the Handbook!
The Handbook to Leadership includes: 52-Week Leadership Guide, Topical Leadership Guide, Leadership Character Studies, and Books of the Bible Leadership Guide.

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