Friday, November 25, 2011

Daily Devotional Friday 25th November

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”Colossians 2:6-7 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"The glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams."
Isaiah 33:21

Broad rivers and streams produce fertility, and abundance in the land. Places near broad rivers are remarkable for the variety of their plants and their plentiful harvests. God is all this to his Church. Having God she has abundance. What can she ask for that he will not give her? What want can she mention which he will not supply? "In this mountain shall the Lord of Hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things." Want ye the bread of life? It drops like manna from the sky. Want ye refreshing streams? The rock follows you, and that Rock is Christ. If you suffer any want it is your own fault; if you are straitened you are not straitened in him, but in your own bowels. Broad rivers and streams also point to commerce. Our glorious Lord is to us a place of heavenly merchandise. Through our Redeemer we have commerce with the past; the wealth of Calvary, the treasures of the covenant, the riches of the ancient days of election, the stores of eternity, all come to us down the broad stream of our gracious Lord. We have commerce, too, with the future. What galleys, laden to the water's edge, come to us from the millennium! What visions we have of the days of heaven upon earth! Through our glorious Lord we have commerce with angels; communion with the bright spirits washed in blood, who sing before the throne; nay, better still, we have fellowship with the Infinite One. Broad rivers and streams are specially intended to set forth the idea of security. Rivers were of old a defence. Oh! beloved, what a defence is God to his Church! The devil cannot cross this broad river of God. How he wishes he could turn the current, but fear not, for God abideth immutably the same. Satan may worry, but he cannot destroy us; no galley with oars shall invade our river, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.

Evening

"Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man."
Proverbs 24:33-34

The worst of sluggards only ask for a little slumber; they would be indignant if they were accused of thorough idleness. A little folding of the hands to sleep is all they crave, and they have a crowd of reasons to show that this indulgence is a very proper one. Yet by these littles the day ebbs out, and the time for labour is all gone, and the field is grown over with thorns. It is by little procrastinations that men ruin their souls. They have no intention to delay for years--a few months will bring the more convenient season--to-morrow if you will, they will attend to serious things; but the present hour is so occupied and altogether so unsuitable, that they beg to be excused. Like sands from an hour-glass, time passes, life is wasted by driblets, and seasons of grace lost by little slumbers. Oh, to be wise, to catch the flying hour, to use the moments on the wing! May the Lord teach us this sacred wisdom, for otherwise a poverty of the worst sort awaits us, eternal poverty which shall want even a drop of water, and beg for it in vain. Like a traveller steadily pursuing his journey, poverty overtakes the slothful, and ruin overthrows the undecided: each hour brings the dreaded pursuer nearer; he pauses not by the way, for he is on his master's business and must not tarry. As an armed man enters with authority and power, so shall want come to the idle, and death to the impenitent, and there will be no escape. O that men were wise be-times, and would seek diligently unto the Lord Jesus, or ere the solemn day shall dawn when it will be too late to plough and to sow, too late to repent and believe. In harvest, it is vain to lament that the seed time was neglected. As yet, faith and holy decision are timely. May we obtain them this night.

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Today's reading: Ezekiel 22-23, 1 Peter 1 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Ezekiel 22-23

Judgment on Jerusalem’s Sins

1 The word of the LORD came to me:

2 “Son of man, will you judge her? Will you judge this city of bloodshed? Then confront her with all her detestable practices 3and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: You city that brings on herself doom by shedding blood in her midst and defiles herself by making idols, 4 you have become guilty because of the blood you have shed and have become defiled by the idols you have made. You have brought your days to a close, and the end of your years has come. Therefore I will make you an object of scorn to the nations and a laughingstock to all the countries. 5 Those who are near and those who are far away will mock you, you infamous city, full of turmoil....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 1 Peter 1

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Praise to God for a Living Hope
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time....

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Rechab [Rē'chăb]—companionship, a horseman or square.

  1. A son of Rimmon, a Beerothite, captain of the band who slew Ish-bosheth in his bed, and who was put to death by David (2 Sam. 4:2-9).
  2. Father of Jehonadab and founder of a tribe known as the “Rechabites” ( 2 Kings 10:15,23).

The Man Who Vowed to Be Separate

This particular order had its rise in the religious revival that took place under Elijah and Elisha. The tenets of the followers of Rechab were a reaction and a protest against the luxury and license which under Jezebel and Ahab threatened to destroy the simplicity of the ancient nomadic life of Israel. Accordingly, the Rechabites vowed to drink no wine, nor build houses, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyards, but dwell in tents all their days. They were to remember they were strangers in the land. For 250 years they adhered faithfully to their rules but were driven from their tents when in 607 b.c. Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah.

Of these noteworthy people, whose high moral example was specially commended by God, Dr. Dinsdale Young elaborates on these points:

I. They honored the memory of the good.

II. They were marked by great simplicity of life.

III. They were worshipers of Jehovah.

IV. They maintained their integrity amid surrounding degeneracy.

V. They had their principles severely tested.

VI. They received special blessing.

May all of us be found among God’s true Rechabites!

3. A descendant of Hemath a Kenite (1 Chron. 2:55).

4. The father of Malchiah, a chief man who, after his return from exile, helped to repair the wall of Jerusalem (Neh. 3:14).

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November 24, 2011

Remember ... and Give Thanks

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

Psalm 106:1 (NIV) "Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever."

Friend to Friend

In homes across America, friends and family will gather around beautifully decorated tables filled with warm, scrumptious food to give thanks. It's Thanksgiving Day. But today will be nothing like holidays of the past for many people.

Lonely but committed soldiers covered in the dust of battle will patrol foreign borders, fighting for our freedom while their families back home long for word of their safety. The homeless will make their way to the nearest soup kitchen, hoping for a warm meal and a smiling face as so many celebrate this day of abundance. An empty place at the table will be a painful reminder of the loved one lost not long ago. A worried husband and dad will sit at the head of the table, wondering how he is going to tell his family that he just lost his job. The list of wounded hearts and unmet needs is endless.

We convince ourselves that life will be better when we have more money, when we find the right mate, when we get the kids raised or build the perfect house. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we can afford a nicer car, when we get that promotion, when we are able to go on our dream vacation or when we retire. We keep trying to find joy, contentment and peace in lifeless places and things.

Jesus Christ is life. He is Joy and Love and He took our place on the cross. That's why we can give thanks when it seems as if there is nothing for which to be thankful.

One day, a man went to visit a church. He arrived early, parked his car, and got out. Another car pulled up near him, and the driver told him, "I always park there. You took my place." The visitor went inside for Sunday school, found an empty seat, and sat down. A young lady from the church approached him and stated, "That's my seat. You took my place." The visitor was somewhat distressed by this rude welcome, but said nothing.

After Sunday school, the visitor went into the church sanctuary and sat down. Another member walked up to him and said, "That's where I always sit. You took my place." The visitor was even more troubled by this treatment, but still said nothing.

Later, as the congregation was praying for Christ to dwell among them, the visitor stood, and his appearance began to change. Horrible scars became visible on his hands and on his sandaled feet. Someone from the congregation noticed him and called out, "What happened to you?" The visitor replied, "I took your place."

Yes, we live in a broken world and life is filled with pain, challenges, dark times and trials, but today can still be a day of thanksgiving and praise because praise and thanksgiving have little to do with the Thanksgiving holiday and everything to do with our inner attitude toward God. It really doesn't matter how much we lose here, girlfriend. I have read the Book and we win ... for all of eternity! We just need to take the time to remember ... and give thanks.

Let's Pray

Father, we come to You today, praising You for meeting our needs this year in ways that we may or may not have understood at the time. Looking back, we see Your hand of mercy and love. We recognize Your presence and Your power and we choose to celebrate You ...we celebrate life.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

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 , and find out.

"I am flat broke and Christmas is just around the corner!" Do those words sound familiar? Don't let gift-giving become a chore instead of a joy. Check out Mary's MP3 download -Giving the Perfect Gift - and discover how to give ten wonderful and inexpensive gifts.

Sharon, Gwen and I want to wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, a day of remembering all that God is, all that God has and all that He wants to be in your life.

We praise Him for allowing us to do life together and want you to know that we are with you ... Girlfriends in God.

Seeking God?

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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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Glynnis Whitwer

November 24, 2011

Perspective
Glynnis Whitwer

"Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm." Deuteronomy 5:15 (NIV 1984)

My little sister and I were an unstoppable team in the board game Scattergories. Within seconds we guessed each other's drawings, annoying our opponents in the process. Sometimes it was an unspoken memory shared by the two of us. Most often it was because we understood the concept of perspective.

For example, if we were attempting to draw a basketball, we immediately drew something else to create perspective. Otherwise, our teammates would waste time guessing that it was the sun, the earth or a face. A stick person holding the circle narrowed the guesses, because seeing objects in relation to each other helped reveal the truth.

Perspective made all the difference in the game, and it makes all the difference in how we handle life. Without perspective, small problems seem insurmountable, and we ignore warning signs. But with perspective, hard situations don't overwhelm, and we can find our way to thankfulness instead of despair.

To help me take a balanced approach to life's difficult times, I've developed a few perspective points. These points are hard-earned lessons in my life. By making them perspective points, I choose to find value in what would otherwise be dismal experiences. Now, when I'm faced with bad news, disappointment or failure, I grasp one of these perspective points, and like a compass pointing north, I can accurately assess the situation, and choose to be thankful.

One of the most difficult perspective points in my life is the death of my niece Christa in a car accident. In fact, at times I feel my life is divided in two parts: before and after Christa's death. With five children of my own, this devastating loss to our family has given me perspective on the challenges we face.

When one of my children makes a heart-breaking choice, I grieve and administer consequences. Then very quickly, like that magnetic force in a compass, perspective points me to thankfulness. Thank You Lord my son (or daughter) is alive.

Another perspective point is the economic downfall of the past few years. Finances have eased a bit, but we'll be battling our way out of that slump for years to come. Instead of being resentful, I find myself thankful for having money to spend at all. Thank You Lord for getting us through that rough time and for what I have to spend today.

In Deuteronomy 5:15 Moses gave the Israelites God's Ten Commandments. As Moses related "Observe the Sabbath day," he challenged the people with this sentence: "Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm." God was establishing a day of rest, but also a day to keep perspective and be thankful. He wanted people to remember the hard times so they could appreciate the good times even more.

Perspective points are arrows to thankfulness. They remind me God was faithful then and He will be faithful now. They remind me God was greater than my circumstances then, and still is today. Most importantly, they help me cultivate a thankful heart for what I have. The truth is, as long as we have breath, there is reason to be thankful and hopeful.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, let's identify perspective points in our lives. It's how we can find value in what seems a waste. They prove God can use anything for good, and help turn our hearts to gratitude instead of grumbling.

Dear Lord, I thank You for the difficult times in my life. Although they weren't easy, I can see how You worked through them. Help me to keep perspective on my problems today by remembering Your faithfulness in my past. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Is there something you are thankful for that God has done in your life through Proverbs 31 Ministries? Prayerfully consider how you can support our ongoing ministry. Click here for more information. We're thankful for you!

For help on finding more peace and perspective in your life God's way, check out Glynnis' newest book, I Used to Be So Organized.

When Your Child is Hurting: Helping Your Child Survive the Ups and Downs of Life by Glynnis Whitwer

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We 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:
Identify a time in your life that was difficult. View your current circumstances in light of that difficult time. Thank God for what He is doing in your life today.

Reflections:
How can gratitude keep me from feeling like a victim?

Many times I want to forget the past. Is there a healthy way to remember my past difficulties?

Power Verses:
Joel 2:13, "Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity." (NIV)

Philippians 4:6-7, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (NIV 1984)

© 2011 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

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Knowing the Upper Story Helps in Tough Times

Look for the upper story in every lower story of the Bible. Look for God's upper story in your lower story...

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The Story is helping people everywhere experience Scripture like never before. Carefully selected verses from the Bible are organized chronologically. From Genesis to Revelation, you will come to understand God's story and your story intersect with it.
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Jesus Answers His Accusers

In spitting upon Jesus and striking Him, the leaders are the ones who commit blasphemy. However, as John Calvin writes, "this insolence was turned by the providence of God to a very different purpose; for the face of Christ, dishonored by spitting and blows, has restored to us that image which had been disfigured, and almost effaced, by sin." Let us never forget the high price Jesus paid to purchase us and always live after the example He gives as the true image of God.

For further study:

Psalm 109

The Bible in a year:

Ezekiel 39-40

Coram Deo from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living.

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Nehemiah: Sword and Trowel

This week's reading: Nehemiah 1-6, 8 and 13

Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10)

That must have been a special day after all you'd been through. Or was feasting more common for those of you in charge of the great restoration projects in Judah?

It was a very special day for all of us, and an unusual occurrence for us as well. Feasting was not common; on the contrary, I foreswore my governor's allotment of food from the public treasury, and other privileges as well, and devoted myself to the work.

So, it couldn't be said that you took advantage of this opportunity for your own benefit?

Well, I wish that couldn't have been said of me, but unfortunately it was. Not true, of course, but my enemies spread all kinds of stories about me. If I had stopped working to refute every libelous accusation thrown up in the wind, we never would have finished the job-which was obviously my opponents' intention. When the pagans tried to get me to engage in "dialogue" with them about the accusations, I simply sent the message that I was too busy to stop and debate.

How did you get the community of Judeans to trust you, then, if you didn't refute the libelous accusations point by point?

I rolled up my sleeves and worked alongside them. I didn't sit on a platform in the shade and direct the activities from afar. For the 52 days that we raised the wall, I didn't even so much as change my clothes. None of us did. We worked with a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other, ready to defend ourselves at any moment if it came to that.

How did you and your company finish the project so quickly?

The first week after I arrived I set out to do a complete survey of the site. The whole wall lay in piles of charred ruins and dusty rubble. The people didn't know where to start. But when I told them how God had moved the king to be generous and favorable to me, and of our plan to restore the city, they perked up. Each man and his family worked diligently on the section of the wall that was closest to their own residence. They really put their hearts into it. It wasn't necessary for me to micromanage the construction process.

So you functioned as both architect and building supervisor, governor and military leader?

Yes, we experienced so many obstacles along the way that to bring this project to completion I had to literally keep my hands in it, just as God's hand was upon me.

To Take Away

  • Do you sometimes feel, as Nehemiah did, that no sooner is one problem solved than another raises its menacing head? What sustains you in such times?
  • When have you seen God bring a project to completion that had looked impossible all along the way? What projects are you facing right now that you need God's help to accomplish?
  • How can you become a man who truly relies on the power of God?

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What Is the Significance of Jesus' Forgiveness of Sins?

Today's reading: Mark 2:1-12

Although we can forgive acts done against us, our forgiveness is incomplete; we cannot forgive the perpetrator for violating God's law. This is beyond our capacity and is God's ability alone to do. However, in Mark 2:5 Jesus claimed the authority to forgive sin. Why did Jesus do this, and what does this show about his identity?

To prove he had the authority to forgive sins, Jesus performed the miracle of physically healing a paralyzed man. The dilemma faced by the teachers of the law was clear: If Jesus did not have the authority to forgive sins, then how could he heal others? In other words, Jesus' miracles obviously had a divine source that lent credibility to his entire mission and claims of authority. The sticky point was this: If, as the teachers knew, only God can forgive sins, then that meant Jesus was indeed the Son of God, just as he claimed. Some, like Jesus' disciples and other followers, accepted this; however, even in the face of such overwhelming evidence, others rejected Jesus' claim.

Jesus' claim to forgive sin was difficult to prove through observation. How can outsiders really tell whether or not a person is forgiven? However, through his undeniable physical miracles, Jesus proved that he came from God, and he provided overwhelming outward evidence (the healing of the paralytic) of the invisible miracle (forgiveness of sins).

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Jesus Answers His Accusers

Matthew 26:63B-68 "Jesus said to him, 'You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven'" (v. 64).

Ironically, it is often the case that in seeking to correct one error, the corrector goes too far and actually errs himself. Consider the uproar over the film The Passion of the Christ a few years ago. Our aim is not to debate the propriety of depicting Jesus on film but to recall that the movie was labeled anti-Semitic for involving first-century Jews in the crucifixion. Motivated to prevent the persecution of Jewish people that some have tried to justify using the passion narrative, revisionist scholars teach that Rome alone was culpable for murdering Jesus. Many individuals have persecuted Jews as "Christ-killers," and some historians do all they can to absolve the Sanhedrin of guilt in order to make impossible the use of the passion to defend anti-Semitism.

Yet the abuse of the passion as a basis for persecuting the Jews is not corrected by revisionist history; one error is merely substituted for another if we say the Sanhedrin played no part in the crucifixion. True, the Jewish leadership did not have the power to carry out capital punishment; however, they could remand a person into Roman custody so that the Empire could execute him. Historically speaking, this is precisely what happened when our Lord was put to death, as the New Testament makes abundantly clear (even if The Passion does not).

Today's passage reveals that the Sanhedrin wants Christ executed because they believe Him to be a blasphemer. Our Savior, as prophesied, has remained silent through most of His trial (Matt. 26:62-63; see Isa. 53:7), but Jesus finally declares Himself to be the Christ under oath (Matt. 26:64 ). The claim to be the promised son of David is not blasphemous in itself; rather, it is the kind of Messiah that Jesus claims to be that is the problem for the Jewish leaders. In asserting that He will be seated at the right hand of "Power," Jesus puts Himself on God's level, appropriating to Himself Yahweh's power and authority.

This would be blasphemy indeed were He incorrect, but Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, has all divine power and authority (9:1-8 ). Caiaphas and the others could see this if they would look, but their own power and position, which holds first place in their hearts, blinds them to the truth (26:65-66; see 12:22-32).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

In spitting upon Jesus and striking Him, the leaders are the ones who commit blasphemy. However, as John Calvin writes, "this insolence was turned by the providence of God to a very different purpose; for the face of Christ, dishonored by spitting and blows, has restored to us that image which had been disfigured, and almost effaced, by sin." Let us never forget the high price Jesus paid to purchase us and always live after the example He gives as the true image of God.

For further study:

Psalm 109

The Bible in a year:

Ezekiel 39-40

INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living.

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