Friday, November 18, 2011

Daily Devotional Friday 18th November

“נ Nun Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"To whom be glory forever. Amen"
Romans 11:36

"To whom be glory forever." This should be the single desire of the Christian. All other wishes must be subservient and tributary to this one. The Christian may wish for prosperity in his business, but only so far as it may help him to promote this--"To him be glory forever." He may desire to attain more gifts and more graces, but it should only be that "To him may be glory forever." You are not acting as you ought to do when you are moved by any other motive than a single eye to your Lord's glory. As a Christian, you are "of God, and through God," then live "to God." Let nothing ever set your heart beating so mightily as love to him. Let this ambition fire your soul; be this the foundation of every enterprise upon which you enter, and this your sustaining motive whenever your zeal would grow chill; make God your only object. Depend upon it, where self begins sorrow begins; but if God be my supreme delight and only object,

"To me 'tis equal whether love ordain

My life or death--appoint me ease or pain."

Let your desire for God's glory be a growing desire. You blessed him in your youth, do not be content with such praises as you gave him then. Has God prospered you in business? Give him more as he has given you more. Has God given you experience? Praise him by stronger faith than you exercised at first. Does your knowledge grow? Then sing more sweetly. Do you enjoy happier times than you once had? Have you been restored from sickness, and has your sorrow been turned into peace and joy? Then give him more music; put more coals and more sweet frankincense into the censer of your praise. Practically in your life give him honour, putting the "Amen" to this doxology to your great and gracious Lord, by your own individual service and increasing holiness.

Evening

"He that cleaveth wood shall be endangered thereby."
Ecclesiastes 10:9

Oppressors may get their will of poor and needy men as easily as they can split logs of wood, but they had better mind, for it is a dangerous business, and a splinter from a tree has often killed the woodman. Jesus is persecuted in every injured saint, and he is mighty to avenge his beloved ones. Success in treading down the poor and needy is a thing to be trembled at: if there be no danger to persecutors here there will be great danger hereafter.

To cleave wood is a common every-day business, and yet it has its dangers; so then, reader, there are dangers connected with your calling and daily life which it will be well for you to be aware of. We refer not to hazards by flood and field, or by disease and sudden death, but to perils of a spiritual sort. Your occupation may be as humble as log splitting, and yet the devil can tempt you in it. You may be a domestic servant, a farm labourer, or a mechanic, and you may be greatly screened from temptations to the grosser vices, and yet some secret sin may do you damage. Those who dwell at home, and mingle not with the rough world, may yet be endangered by their very seclusion. Nowhere is he safe who thinks himself so. Pride may enter a poor man's heart; avarice may reign in a cottager's bosom; uncleanness may venture into the quietest home; and anger, and envy, and malice may insinuate themselves into the most rural abode. Even in speaking a few words to a servant we may sin; a little purchase at a shop may be the first link in a chain of temptations; the mere looking out of a window may be the beginning of evil. O Lord, how exposed we are! How shall we be secured! To keep ourselves is work too hard for us: only thou thyself art able to preserve us in such a world of evils. Spread thy wings over us, and we, like little chickens, will cower down beneath thee, and feel ourselves safe!

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Today's reading: Ezekiel 5-7, Hebrews 12 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Ezekiel 5-7

God’s Razor of Judgment

1 “Now, son of man, take a sharp sword and use it as a barber’s razor to shave your head and your beard. Then take a set of scales and divide up the hair. 2 When the days of your siege come to an end, burn a third of the hair inside the city. Take a third and strike it with the sword all around the city. And scatter a third to the wind. For I will pursue them with drawn sword. 3 But take a few hairs and tuck them away in the folds of your garment. 4 Again, take a few of these and throw them into the fire and burn them up. A fire will spread from there to all Israel.

5 “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: This is Jerusalem, which I have set in the center of the nations, with countries all around her. 6 Yet in her wickedness she has rebelled against my laws and decrees more than the nations and countries around her. She has rejected my laws and has not followed my decrees.

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Hebrews 12

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
God Disciplines His Children

4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son....”

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Peter

[Pē'tûr] - a rock or stone. The Greek form of the Aramaic surname, Cephas. Peter was the brother of Andrew and the son of Jona, or Johanan (Matt. 4:18; John 1:40; 1 Cor. 1:12).

The Man Who Fell but Rose Again

Peter is another of those outstanding characters in the Bible gallery of men, requiring a book all his own to fully expound his life and labors. From the many references to this reed transformed into a rock , we gather these facts and features of "The Big Fisherman."

He was a fisherman of Bethsaida, a name meaning "the house of fish." Afterwards he resided in Capernaum, where Jesus frequently lodged during His Galilean ministry.

His father was Jona, or Jonah, and Andrew was his brother. Both sons were fishermen on the Lake of Galilee and were evidently in partnership with Zebedee and his sons.

He first met Christ at Bethany beyond Jordan, where John the Baptist exercised his ministry. Both Peter and Andrew were disciples of the Baptist. It was Andrew who introduced Peter to Christ.

He received a triple call as friend, disciple and apostle. Through daily contact with Jesus, seeing and hearing His words and works, Peter's character was deepened and strengthened.

He was a man with many facets of character. His life can be approached from many angles. He was naturally impulsive (Matt. 14:28; 17:4; John 21:7); tenderhearted and affectionate (Matt. 26:75; John 13:9; 21:15-17); gifted with spiritual insight (John 6:68), yet sometimes slow to apprehend deeper truths (Matt. 15:15, 16); courageous in his confession of faith in Christ, yet guilty of a most cowardly denial (Matt. 16:16; John 6:69; Mark 14:67-71); self-sacrificing yet inclined towards self-seeking (Matt. 19:27), and presumption (Matt. 16:22; John 13:8; 18:10); immovable in his convictions (Acts 4:19, 20; 5:28, 29, 40, 42).

He became the leader and spokesman of the Apostolic Twelve and of the three privileged to witness the raising of Jairus'daughter, the Transfiguration, our Lord's agony in the Garden. He himself became a miracle worker, especially during the time portrayed in Acts.

He made a confession of Christ's deity which became the foundation of the Church, and was appointed steward with authority of the keys, meaning that his was to be the privilege of opening the door of salvation to the Jews.

He miserably failed his Lord in an hour of crisis, being the only disciple to deny Christ, yet he was restored and recommissioned by Jesus after His resurrection. He became the dauntless leader of the infant Church and was foremost to protest his loyalty to Christ. After Pentecost, Peter's ministry appears in four stages:

I. Jerusalem activities, 29-35 a.d., when James eventually succeeded to leadership of the Church.

II. Palestinean mission, 35-44 a.d. , during which he remained for a while at Lydda and Joppa. He received a call to Caesarea, and in the house of Cornelius opened the door of privilege to the Gentiles.

III. Syrian mission with Antioch as a center, 44-61 a.d., during which he was accompanied by his wife, who became the pioneer Zenana missionary.

IV. Rome, 61 a.d. It would seem as if Peter reached here before Paul's release from his first imprisonment, and a few years later suffered martyrdom by crucifixion, as Christ prophesied he would. Legend has it that Peter deemed himself unworthy to die in exactly the same way as his Lord had, and so begged his crucifiers to crucify him upside down.

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November 17, 2011

To Forgive or Not Forgive

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done (1 John 1:9, NCV).

Friend to Friend

Music has always been an important part of my life. In fact, I attended college on a music scholarship. The piano was my main instrument, but I also wanted to be a guitarist. Since I had played the piano for so many years, the musical challenge of playing the guitar was not my problem. It was my fingers. After two guitar lessons from a very patient friend and several hours of practicing, my fingertips were sore and raw to the point of bleeding. When I asked my friend what I was doing wrong, he just laughed and held out his hands, showing me the rough calluses on his own fingers. "When I began playing the guitar, my fingers were just as sore and raw as yours are now. Just keep playing, and your fingers will eventually develop calluses and it won't hurt to play," he explained.

Sin works the same way. The first time we commit a sin it really bothers us. We feel guilty and mourn the fact that we have grieved the heart of God. However, if we allow sin to settle into our lives by refusing to confess it, that sin hardens our heart and builds spiritual calluses in our soul. When we become comfortable with our sin, we are walking in enemy territory and setting ourselves up for spiritual discouragement and failure.

1 John 1:9 says "But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done" (NCV).

This verse was written to believers as an encouragement to deal with sin and a promise that when we do so, God will be faithful to forgive us and clean up the mess that sin has caused. To fully experience the forgiveness of God, we need to keep short books on sin. That not only means being sensitive to sin but being willing to do something about it. God is serious about sin. We need to be as well.

  1. We must confess sin continually. "Confess" means to agree with. It is a present tense verb meaning we must confess sin frequently - without stopping. Doing so makes us more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and creates a hunger and thirst for righteousness.
  2. We must confess sin completely. We commit individual sins. We need to confess them one-by-one and learn to be authentic and transparent when dealing with the sin in our lives.
  3. We must confess sin confidently. Once we confess our sins, we can put them behind us. God is just and fair -- seeking only one payment for sin. Jesus has already made that full and complete payment with His death on the cross. If we refuse to forgive ourselves, we are saying that what Jesus did on the cross was not enough. I love the story of a little boy standing in front of the Washington Monument. "I want to buy it, and I have a quarter," he told the guard. "That's not enough," the guard said. The little boy replied, "I thought you would say that," pulling nine more cents out of his pocket. The guard looked down at the small boy and said, "Son, you need to understand three things. First, thirty-four cents is not enough. Second, the Washington Monument is not for sale. And third, if you are an American citizen, the Washington Monument already belongs to you." We need to understand three things about God's forgiveness. We will never be good enough to deserve it. It is not for sale and we cannot earn it. But if we have a personal relationship with God, His forgiveness already belongs to us.

One of Satan's favorite tactics is to resurrect buried sin. Wrapping that confessed transgression in his vain taunts and useless accusations, the enemy hauls it back into focus, hoping guilt will paralyze and imprison a soul set free.

How often do we believe Satan's empty lies and choose to remain a prisoner of false guilt and condemnation? To break the hold of sin, we must stand against the enemy, choose to trust the Word of God and embrace the promise that when we confess sin, God forgives it.

Let's Pray

Father, do not let me ever forget the price You paid for my sin. Thank You for the forgiveness and freedom You purchased with Your death on the cross. Bring swift awareness and conviction to my heart and life when I sin. Give me the strength and power to deal with and turn from my sin.

In Jesus' name I pray,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Read and meditate on the following verses:

Matthew 5:23-24 (NLT) "So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you ... leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God."

Colossians 1:13-14 (NIV) "For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

Make a list of the sins in your life that need the forgiveness of God. Ask God to forgive you for each one. If you have sinned against someone else, take the first step of reconciliation. If someone has sinned against you, forgive them and go to them in love, seeking restoration.

What are the rewards of forgiveness?

What are the barriers to forgiveness in my heart?

What are the things for which I cannot forgive myself?

What does that indicate about my understanding of true forgiveness?

Celebrate right now the power of forgiveness in your life.

More from the Girlfriends

Already feeling the stress of the approaching holidays? Get Mary's book, Escaping the Stress Trap, for practical steps to dealing with and managing stress and check out her MP3, The Secret of a Merry Christmas. Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebook - or through email. Need help learning how to study the Bible? Join women across the world in Mary's weekly online Bible Study, Light for the Journey .

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Lysa TerKeurst

November 17, 2011

The Treasure of Thrown Away Food
Lysa TerKeurst

"But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:57 (NIV)

If there was ever a secret for unleashing God's powerful peace, it's developing a heart of true thanksgiving. I came to understand this truth while reading a paper my son Jackson wrote.

His paper was about the corruption and greed that caused the civil war in his native land. You see, for the first 13 years of his life, Jackson lived in a forgotten orphanage in the third world country of Liberia, Africa. As I read, I noticed what a great job he had done recounting the facts of the story. But there was a difference in his paper. Jackson wasn't just explaining a historical event - he lived in the midst of the horrific conditions of this war.

During one part of the paper, he described what it felt like to be naked digging through the trash looking for the treasure of thrown away food.

The treasure of thrown away food.

I can hardly type those words without crying. This is my son.

And yet, despite the horrific conditions of his childhood there was an unexplainable thread of peace woven through his recollection of the story. A powerful peace centered in the awareness of God's presence.

The truly thankful person is a truly peaceful person. They have made a habit no matter what to notice, pause and choose.

Noticing something for which to be thankful no matter what circumstance they're in.

Pausing to acknowledge this something as a reminder of God's presence.

Choosing to focus on God's presence until His powerful peace is unleashed.

How can we be a noticer? A pauser? A chooser? A person of thanksgiving no matter what circumstance we're facing?

I find this truth about the power of thanksgiving over and over in Scripture. What was the prayer Daniel prayed right before being thrown in the lion's den and witnessing God miraculously shutting the lion's mouths? Thanksgiving.

After three days in the belly of a fish, what was the cry of Jonah's heart right before he was finally delivered onto dry land? Thanksgiving.

How are we instructed to pray in Philippians 4:6 when we feel anxious? With thanksgiving.

And what is the outcome of each of these situations where thanksgiving is proclaimed? Peace.

Powerful, unexplainable, uncontainable peace.

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7, NIV).

One of Webster's official definitions of thanksgiving is: "a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness."

I wonder how we might celebrate God's divine goodness today?

I wonder what might happen if we decide in the midst of our circumstances today to notice, pause and choose something for which we can truly be thankful....

Dear Lord, will You help me notice things for which I can be thankful in each circumstance I face today? Will You help me remember to pause and acknowledge this as evidence of Your presence? And will You help me remember to choose to focus on Your presence until Your powerful peace rushes into my heart and helps me see everything more clearly? Thank You for the reality that being thankful truly changes everything. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Lysa will be speaking in more than 40 cities this year.Click here to see her schedule. She would be honored to meet you!

Come see the downloadable Freebies on Lysa's website! Encouraging articles to help you process life through Biblical principles and perspectives that you can print and share with a friend! www.LysaTerKeurst.com

If you enjoy Lysa's devotions, be sure to sign up for notes of encouragement she sends out from her blog by clicking here. They are free and great for passing along to friends.

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!

Application Steps:
Start a thankful journal where you daily list five things for which you are thankful. Do this for the next 30 days and see how much more peaceful your mindset about life becomes.

Reflections:
What makes me grumpy and steals my propensity to be thankful?

Think of someone who is really thankful. Despite the circumstances they face, are they more peaceful? How does this inspire me?

Power Verses:
1 Chronicles 16:34, "Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever." (NKJ)

1 Chronicles 23:30, "They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD. They were to do the same in the evening." (NIV)

© 2011 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

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Why Did Jesus Need to Die?

Today's reading: Matthew 17:22-23

The paradox found in the Gospels gets as quizzical as it possibly can in Matthew 17:22-23. God was going to save the world through the death of his Son. God, in his divine nature, doesn't die. So how was God going to get this done? How was God going to be the Savior of the human race? He had to come to Earth as a human being to accomplish that task. And Jesus was the one to do it.

Jesus said in Matthew 20:28 that he "did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." This is either the highest form of megalomania or it's an example of somebody who really believes, as he said, "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30). It was as if Jesus was saying, "I have the authority to speak for the Father; I have the power to act for the Father; if you reject me, you've rejected the Father."

Even if you eliminated the Gospel of John and just read the Synoptic Gospels, this would still be the conclusion you would come to. And it is the conclusion that Jesus would have led us to if we had a Bible study and asked him this question. An astute Bible reader needs to ask, "Why is there no other first-century Jew who has millions of followers today? Why isn't there a John the Baptist movement? Why, of all first-century figures, including the Roman emperors, is Jesus still worshiped today, while the others have crumbled into the dust of history?" It's because this Jesus-the historical Jesus-is also the living Lord. He's still around, while the others are long gone.


Adapted from interview with Dr. Ben Witherington III.

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Today's reading is from the
The Case for Christ Study Bible
by Zondervan


Investigate the Bible's most compelling claims: the existence of a compassionate God and the promise of eternal life through His Son, Jesus.


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The Way God Intended

This week's reading: Song of Songs 8:6-7

Recommended Reading: Genesis 2:18-25; Matthew 19:1-9; Hebrews 13:4

This passage, perhaps as powerfully as any other in the entire Bible, defines and describes for modern readers God's intentions when he invented and defined the institution of marriage.

Marriage as a concept lies deep within our collective psyche. Preschoolers role-play the family unit as part of their playground fun. Preteen girls dream of the day when they'll walk down the aisle in a flowing white gown. Matchmaking businesses and Web sites thrive as people look for that elusive one perfect person to know and love for the rest of their lives. The vast majority of adults who live in Western cultures either are, have been or someday intend to be married. Such hopefulness in the face of a consistent 50 percent divorce rate! And yet, despite the well-publicized antics of the Hollywood set, marriage remains one of the key building blocks of family life and society as a whole.

And that's just what God intended. The language in this passage is powerful as it speaks to the implications of marriage. One scholar has said that this passage "characterizes marital love as the strongest, most unyielding and invincible force in human experience." Now that's saying something! Despite the failure of individuals, the bar of God's expectations for marriage is set sky-high. And note the implications of the last part of verse 7: True, lasting marital love involves deep integrity on the part of both parties. To paraphrase: "Money can't buy me love."

The power of marriage lies in the power of a promise, sealed with God's stamp of approval, that one man makes to one woman. The promise to love another person "until death do you part" is as deep a commitment as one can make in this life. As one pastor put it, "The power to make and keep a promise is one of the strongest in the world, for it brings the promise maker within a millimeter of what it means to be like God, who makes and keeps his promises to his people."

True, enduring, lifelong commitment is God's expectation for marriage, and it has been since the Garden of Eden. That's not to say that God expects us to be perfect as we relate to one another; we are, after all, still living under the effects of sin. But despite our failures, the goal for the respect we are to show toward the institution remains the same, "for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave" (Song of Songs 8:6).

To Take Away

  • Are you married? If you answered yes, how does your marriage stack up to God's expectations for the institution?
  • If you've never been married, what is your perspective on what this passage could mean for your future?
  • If you're not married now but have been in the past, how can this passage influence your opinions and actions?

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New Men's Devotional BibleToday's reading is from the
New Men's Devotional Bible
by Zondervan


The New Men's Devotional Biblehelps apply God's Word to a new generation of Christian men. It includes a full year of all-new devotions by well-known and not-so-well-known men of God.


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