Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Daily Devotional Wednesday 12th October

“For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David. Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.” Psalm 62:1 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens."
Lamentations 3:41

The act of prayer teaches us our unworthiness, which is a very salutary lesson for such proud beings as we are. If God gave us favours without constraining us to pray for them we should never know how poor we are, but a true prayer is an inventory of wants, a catalogue of necessities, a revelation of hidden poverty. While it is an application to divine wealth, it is a confession of human emptiness. The most healthy state of a Christian is to be always empty in self and constantly depending upon the Lord for supplies; to be always poor in self and rich in Jesus; weak as water personally, but mighty through God to do great exploits; and hence the use of prayer, because, while it adores God, it lays the creature where it should be, in the very dust. Prayer is in itself, apart from the answer which it brings, a great benefit to the Christian. As the runner gains strength for the race by daily exercise, so for the great race of life we acquire energy by the hallowed labour of prayer. Prayer plumes the wings of God's young eaglets, that they may learn to mount above the clouds. Prayer girds the loins of God's warriors, and sends them forth to combat with their sinews braced and their muscles firm. An earnest pleader cometh out of his closet, even as the sun ariseth from the chambers of the east, rejoicing like a strong man to run his race. Prayer is that uplifted hand of Moses which routs the Amalekites more than the sword of Joshua; it is the arrow shot from the chamber of the prophet foreboding defeat to the Syrians. Prayer girds human weakness with divine strength, turns human folly into heavenly wisdom, and gives to troubled mortals the peace of God. We know not what prayer cannot do! We thank thee, great God, for the mercy-seat, a choice proof of thy marvellous lovingkindness. Help us to use it aright throughout this day!

Evening

"Whom he did predestinate, them he also called."
Romans 8:30

In the second epistle to Timothy, first chapter, and ninth verse, are these words--"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling." Now, here is a touchstone by which we may try our calling. It is "an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace." This calling forbids all trust in our own doings, and conducts us to Christ alone for salvation, but it afterwards purges us from dead works to serve the living and true God. As he that hath called you is holy, so must you be holy. If you are living in sin, you are not called, but if you are truly Christ's, you can say, "Nothing pains me so much as sin; I desire to be rid of it; Lord, help me to be holy." Is this the panting of thy heart? Is this the tenor of thy life towards God, and his divine will? Again, in Philippians, 3:13, 14, we are told of "The high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Is then your calling a high calling? Has it ennobled your heart, and set it upon heavenly things? Has it elevated your hopes, your tastes, your desires? Has it upraised the constant tenor of your life, so that you spend it with God and for God? Another test we find in Hebrews 3:1--"Partakers of the heavenly calling." Heavenly calling means a call from heaven. If man alone call thee, thou art uncalled. Is thy calling of God? Is it a call to heaven as well as from heaven? Unless thou art a stranger here, and heaven thy home, thou hast not been called with a heavenly calling; for those who have been so called, declare that they look for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God, and they themselves are strangers and pilgrims upon the earth. Is thy calling thus holy, high, heavenly? Then, beloved, thou hast been called of God, for such is the calling wherewith God doth call his people.

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Today's reading: Isaiah 37-38, Colossians 3 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Isaiah 37-38

Jerusalem’s Deliverance Foretold

1 When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the LORD. 2 He sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and the leading priests, all wearing sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 3 They told him, “This is what Hezekiah says: This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the moment of birth and there is no strength to deliver them. 4 It may be that the LORD your God will hear the words of the field commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria, has sent to ridicule the living God, and that he will rebuke him for the words the LORD your God has heard. Therefore pray for the remnant that still survives.”

5 When King Hezekiah’s officials came to Isaiah, 6 Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master, ‘This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard—those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. 7 Listen! When he hears a certain report, I will make him want to return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.’”

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Colossians 3

Living as Those Made Alive in Christ

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all....

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Pilate

[Pī'late] - one armed with a dart. The surname of the fifth Roman procurator of Judea, who was recalled by Tiberius and banished to Vienna, where tradition says he committed suicide in 41 a.d. (Matt. 27).

The Man Who Sinned Against Conscience

What a different story we would have had if Pilate had obeyed his own conscience and also had followed his wife's intuition and advice. Pilate held office for some twelve years, and by his covetous and cruel government caused himself to be hated both by the Jews and Samaritans. His first name, Pontius, means, "belonging to the sea."

What a man he was for shirking responsibilities! He turned Christ over to the Jewish authorities (John 18:31), and then to Herod (Luke 23:7). When Christ was returned to him, he proposed to inflict a minor penalty ( Luke 23:22). When he could not silence the cry of the mob for the blood of Christ, he directed attention to Barabbas (Matt. 27:17), and when the die was cast, engaged in a hypocritical ceremony (Matt. 27:24).

Some authorities affirm that the name Pilate is from "Pilus," a felt cap which was worn by a slave as an emblem of liberty.

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The "Now it's Your Turn" section in yesterday's devotional was sent without the following two scriptures. We apologize for the oversight:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8, NIV).

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all our unrighteousness (1 John 1:9, NIV).

October 11, 2011

Trusting God No Matter What

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV).

Friend to Friend

There is nothing wrong with us trying to understand why bad things happen. However, the Bible clearly tells us not to depend on or lean on our ability to answer the tough question...why. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart," the writer of Proverbs tells us, "and do not lean on your own understanding," (Proverbs 3:5).

Ultimately, God is in control and His ways are higher than our ways. God reminds us, "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts'" (Isaiah 55:8-9). Dr. James Dobson, in his book, When God Doesn't Make Sense says "trying to analyze His (God's) omnipotence is like an amoeba attempting to comprehend the behavior of man." It is simply not possible.

But one thing we can be sure of, "all the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful," whether we understand them or not (Psalm 25:10). "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:12). It may not be until we cross over from the temporal to the eternal that we understand the many "whys" of life. Until then, we must trust in the sovereignty of God.

No matter what you have gone through or what you will go through in the future, God promises: "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand," (Isaiah 41:10).

God wants to know if you will trust Him no matter what your outward circumstances may be. Will you say with Job, "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him," (Job 13:15)?

Let's Pray

Dear Lord, I thank You that Your ways are higher than my ways. I make a poor god even on my best days. I thank You for being an all-knowing, all-seeing, ever-present God who knows what's best for me. Forgive me for questioning You and help me to trust you more.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

What area do you have the most difficulty trusting God? Your marriage? Your children? Your finances?

Do you believe that God understands that area of your life better than you do?

Are you willing to trust God even though you do not understand His ways?

Meditate on the Scriptures that are mentioned in today's devotional.

More from the Girlfriends

Do you want to learn how to trust God more? Sharon's book,Becoming Spiritually Beautiful will help you get there. Learn Who God is and what He wants to do to transform your life!

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Girlfriends in God

P.O. Box 725

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info@girlfriendsingod.com
www.girlfriendsingod.com

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P31Header
Lynn Cowell

October 11, 2011

Calming the Mama Drama
Lynn Cowell

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2 (NIV 1984)

Oversleeping on picture day is not a great way to start the morning. I ran to my daughters' rooms, blurting out words of panic. At first there were groans, "Oh no! Not today!"

I braced myself, sure that the drama would start any moment. Yet minutes later, I heard silliness and singing downstairs. I was shocked to hear kindness instead of quarreling. They were choosing not to take the stress they felt out on each other, and I for one, was happy!

I wish I could say my girls learned this from me, but that is not the case. In fact, God has been working on me about my own mama drama, challenging me with truths like today's key verse that instructs me to "be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."

Too often, when my expectations aren't met or I'm faced with things I can't control, my emotions and thoughts spin out of control. Before I know it, I start talking before I even think about what I'm about to say. And all that wise instruction about being humble, gentle and patient is quickly forgotten.

What about you? Do you ever yell at your kids or let frustrations mount when plans and expectations spin out of control? Do you suffer from a little of your own mama drama?

That morning God gave me another "opportunity" to choose humility, gentleness and patience with my girls. As we were walking out the door, I realized I had not filled out the picture order forms. Scrambling to find the papers, my check book and a pen, I felt the pressure mounting again.

I had a choice: let my emotions explode under the strain into mama drama or diffuse the drama by choosing humility before God, which would lead to patience and love with my daughters.

Thankfully I can say, that morning, I paused and gave way to the Holy Spirit's leading. And my desire for peace to become my new norm and to leave mama drama behind was successful!

So, how do we do this on an ongoing basis? How do we choose to be humble, patient and bear with our kids in love?

If time allows, I have found it's really good to pull away from the situation and give myself a time out. Removing myself, if even for just a moment, affords me the opportunity to humble myself before God and ask Him to help me regroup my runaway emotions and submit my thoughts to the control of the Holy Spirit. Pulling away also shows my kids the benefits, like patience and gentleness, that result when I don't allow my emotions to rule over me.

If there isn't time to physically remove myself from the situation, there is always enough time to take a deep breath and invite the Holy Spirit to bring me wisdom and self-control.

When we surrender our emotions, our actions and our reactions to God, peace can become our new norm as we choose to leave mama drama behind!

Dear Lord, today help me to leave behind mama drama and use me to be a peace maker in my home. I want to learn to give myself a time out and ask the Holy Spirit to enter each situation I find myself in. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Looking for a way that you can connect to your girl and work through girl drama together? His Revolutionary Love: Jesus' Radical Pursuit of You by Lynn Cowell is a study for girls ages 13-18. It is a great resource for moms and their girls to do together!

A free small group guide for His Revolutionary Love can be found on Lynn's website www.LynnCowell.com for you to use with your girl or a group of girls.

Visit Lynn's website where she is sharing additional ways to make peace the new norm! She's also giving away a copy of her CD Building a Bridge to Your Child's Heartand a Starbucks gift card for you and your child to enjoy together!

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We wish we could, but we simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you!

Application Steps:
In the next 24 hours, you'll probably have the opportunity to display some mama drama. When this situation arises, if you have time, give yourself a time out!

Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of mama drama triggers. When you sense your heart and mind being pulled in the direction of frustration, offer a quick prayer for the power to choose humility, patience, gentleness and peace.

Reflections:
When we want our home to be a place of peace and unity, we can do that by choosing discipline over drama.

Power Verses:
James 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." (NIV)

© 2011 by Lynn Cowell. 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

GREAT AND GOOD

God is great;
God is good;
and we thank him for our food.
Amen.

I must have spoken those simple words hundreds of times at the dinner table when I was a child, but I most certainly did not understand what they meant. Not really.

I liked the certainty in the cadence of the words. They marched out of my mouth, and as I ended with a pointed "A-men!" the deed was done, the prayer complete. Time to eat. If I wasn't troubling over the fact that "good" and "food" only rhymed with my eye, not my ear, I think I took some satisfaction in having said something that seemed very important about God. Often the most important things you can say about God come in a single word.

Great. And Good. That is what God is like. That is who God is.

The so-called attributes of God are a way of gathering and synthesizing the biblical descriptions of God in the interest of knowing God as he really is. One way to summarize the attributes of God is to use the two categories of greatness (attributes of God's being) and goodness (attributes of God's morality). The difference between these two lies in describing who someone is, and describing what he does because of who he is. God's greatness is about his ascendancy over this world, over the universe, over all reality. Greatness is about his being eternal, absolutely powerful, all-knowing, and other qualities that we will never fully comprehend. His goodness, on the other hand, is about his relational qualities, which we know by revelations such as "God is love" and "God is holy" and "God is right." They also tend to be the qualities that were imprinted on the spiritual DNA of our lives when he created us. This is how God wants us to be, because we were made in his image.

So it should come as no surprise that the revelation of God that comes to us through the Bible is wrapped in the history and real life stories of hundreds of people across a span of thousands of years, written in three different languages, and from several cultures. The diversity of the Bible is not contradiction, but a gallery of God-encounters. It took all that for us to get enough portraits of God so that we could begin to know him appropriately.

God, the divine person, discloses himself to mortal persons. His descriptions are voice-to-ear, epiphany after thunder, and heaven to earth, as when God disclosed himself to Moses who was hiding in the cleft of a rock:

"The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin" (Exodus 34:5-7).

Psalm 95:3 says, "The LORD is the great God, the great king above all gods."

God is not merely greater than other powers. His is a difference of kind, not degree. He defines greatness and majesty. [More next time on the greatness of God.]

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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Why does God harden some people's hearts?

This week's reading: Exodus 11:10

God seems to treat people very differently. Though he made many of the Egyptians favorably disposed toward Moses and the people of Israel (Ex 11:3), God "hardened Pharaoh's heart" (Ex 10:27; 11:10).

Why the difference? In one sense, only God knows. As Paul says in Romans 9:18, "God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden" (see also Exo 33:19).

From a human point of view, however, we see many factors that may account for the differences. Pharaoh saw the Israelites as free labor-a tool necessary for him to achieve his ambitions. The Egyptian people, on the other hand, were more likely to sympathize with Israel's slavery.

We know very little about where our deepest feelings come from. How do motivations, desires, prejudices and preferences begin to form? Are they the result of genetics, environment or biochemistry? Or are they consciously chosen? What we do know, however, is that to some degree sin affects everything about us-who we are as well as what we know and do.

The Bible teaches that God controls the universe. It also teaches that people can obey or disobey God's commands. How does God's control relate to and affect people's capacity to choose? If people are free to choose their own attitudes and biases, it appears to diminish God's absolute power. If, on the other hand, God causes certain individuals to harden their hearts against him, it appears that God is unfair, even bringing about events and attitudes that clearly oppose his nature.

Though the connection between God's sovereignty and human freedom is mysterious from our perspective, we must remember that God is, by definition, completely good in his actions. Our responsibility is to trust him in his work and live according to his will. We are never called to solve the difficulties that only God understands.

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Today's reading is from the
NIV Quest Study Bible
by Zondervan


This unique Bible addresses the common, uncommon, and perplexing questions people ask about Scripture.


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