Saturday, November 12, 2011

Daily Devotional Saturday 12th November

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:15-16 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Underneath are the everlasting arms."
Deuteronomy 33:27

God--the eternal God--is himself our support at all times, and especially when we are sinking in deep trouble. There are seasons when the Christian sinks very low in humiliation. Under a deep sense of his great sinfulness, he is humbled before God till he scarcely knows how to pray, because he appears, in his own sight, so worthless. Well, child of God, remember that when thou art at thy worst and lowest, yet "underneath" thee "are everlasting arms." Sin may drag thee ever so low, but Christ's great atonement is still under all. You may have descended into the deeps, but you cannot have fallen so low as "the uttermost;" and to the uttermost he saves. Again, the Christian sometimes sinks very deeply in sore trial from without. Every earthly prop is cut away. What then? Still underneath him are "the everlasting arms." He cannot fall so deep in distress and affliction but what the covenant grace of an ever-faithful God will still encircle him. The Christian may be sinking under trouble from within through fierce conflict, but even then he cannot be brought so low as to be beyond the reach of the "everlasting arms"--they are underneath him; and, while thus sustained, all Satan's efforts to harm him avail nothing.

This assurance of support is a comfort to any weary but earnest worker in the service of God. It implies a promise of strength for each day, grace for each need, and power for each duty. And, further, when death comes, the promise shall still hold good. When we stand in the midst of Jordan, we shall be able to say with David, "I will fear no evil, for thou art with me." We shall descend into the grave, but we shall go no lower, for the eternal arms prevent our further fall. All through life, and at its close, we shall be upheld by the "everlasting arms"--arms that neither flag nor lose their strength, for "the everlasting God fainteth not, neither is weary."

Evening

"He shall choose our inheritance for us."
Psalm 47:4

Believer, if your inheritance be a lowly one you should be satisfied with your earthly portion; for you may rest assured that it is the fittest for you. Unerring wisdom ordained your lot, and selected for you the safest and best condition. A ship of large tonnage is to be brought up the river; now, in one part of the stream there is a sandbank; should some one ask, "Why does the captain steer through the deep part of the channel and deviate so much from a straight line?" His answer would be, "Because I should not get my vessel into harbour at all if I did not keep to the deep channel." So, it may be, you would run aground and suffer shipwreck, if your divine Captain did not steer you into the depths of affliction where waves of trouble follow each other in quick succession. Some plants die if they have too much sunshine. It may be that you are planted where you get but little, you are put there by the loving Husbandman, because only in that situation will you bring forth fruit unto perfection. Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you had the choosing of your lot, you would soon cry, "Lord, choose my inheritance for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows." Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good. Take up your own daily cross; it is the burden best suited for your shoulder, and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God. Down busy self, and proud impatience, it is not for you to choose, but for the Lord of Love!

"Trials must and will befall--

But with humble faith to see

Love inscribed upon them all;

This is happiness to me."

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Today's reading: Jeremiah 50, Hebrews 8 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Jeremiah 50

A Message About Babylon

1 This is the word the LORD spoke through Jeremiah the prophet concerning Babylon and the land of the Babylonians:

2 “Announce and proclaim among the nations,
lift up a banner and proclaim it;
keep nothing back, but say,
‘Babylon will be captured;
Bel will be put to shame,
Marduk filled with terror.
Her images will be put to shame
and her idols filled with terror.’
3 A nation from the north will attack her
and lay waste her land.
No one will live in it;
both people and animals will flee away.

4 “In those days, at that time,”
declares the LORD,
“the people of Israel and the people of Judah together
will go in tears to seek the LORD their God.
5 They will ask the way to Zion
and turn their faces toward it.
They will come and bind themselves to the LORD
in an everlasting covenant
that will not be forgotten....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Hebrews 8

The High Priest of a New Covenant

1 Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.

3 Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. 4 If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. 5 They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” 6 But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises....

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Haggai

[Hăg'gaī] - festal or born of a festival day. The tenth of the Minor Prophets, and the first of those to prophesy after the captivity (Ezra 5:1; 6:14).

The Man Who Was a Messenger

All we know of Haggai is told us in the first verse of his book, where we have a description of himself and his message, which gives us a key to the whole of his ministry. Haggai was "The Lord's messenger in the Lord's message." We reject the legend that he was an angel incarnate.

His name is suggestive and may imply that he was born on a Feast Day. Another meaning is "Jehovah hath quieted." As a prophet, he was contemporary with Zechariah (Hag. 1:1; 2:1, 20; Zech. 1:1 ). He prophesied in the second year of the reign of Darius Hystaspes, King of Persia, sixteen years after Cyrus'decree permitting the rebuilding of the Temple. Compare Zechariah 1:1-11 with Ezra 4:24 and 5:1.

As a prophet, he preached righteousness and predicted the future. As a man, he was simple, strong in faith and bold in hope. He urged the people to work and be strong (Hag. 2:4), assuring them that when they began to build the Temple, God would begin to bless them.

The first message was one of stern rebuke (Hag. 1:1-11).

The second message was one of comfort and commendation (Hag. 1:12-15).

The third message was a cheering one of encouragement (Hag. 2:1-9).

The fourth message was an assuring one concerning cleansing and blessing (Hag. 2:10-19).

The fifth message was a steadying one associated with safety ( Hag. 2:20-23 ).

Dr. Stuart Holden suggests that these five lessons can be gathered from Haggai:

I. Danger of lapsing into self-content, even after honest and sincere beginnings in the work of Christ.

II. That the time for blessing is always at hand. The people said: "The time has not come." God said: "My time is an eternal now."; The only hindrance to blessing lies in His people.

III. In the will of God for His people - particularly in respect to the great work of building His Temple - there is always a conjunction of precept and power, of duty and dynamic . The promises of God are "Yea and Amen" to those who are in Christ Jesus, walking in Him, and living in Him.

IV. The greatest of all mistakes is to leave God out in His own work. To live in the light of His presence is to build for eternity.

V. In the work to which we pledge ourselves as God's children,the greatest need of all is for patience. We shall be opposed if our work is worth opposing; but the opposition of the Evil One is the opportunity to express our faith and loyalty toward God. "Our God is marching on. The best is yet to be; and we may reckon upon God."

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November 11, 2011

Image vs. Integrity

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity (Proverbs 11:3, NIV).

Friend to Friend

On a recent flight, I was thumbing through a magazine someone left behind when the title of an article caught my eye. "Image is everything" the author declared. For a few seconds, I found myself mentally agreeing with the author's statement until I recognized the subtle lie hidden in the seemingly benign words.

As followers of Christ, we sometimes focus on developing and presenting the right image while neglecting the spiritual discipline of integrity. Our public lives are only as authentic as our private lives. Image is who and what people think we are while integrity is who and what we really are. Billy Graham once said, "Integrity is the glue that holds our way of life together. We must constantly strive to keep our integrity intact. When wealth is lost, nothing is lost. When health is lost, something is lost. When character is lost, all is lost."

Bobby Jones was one of the greatest golfers to ever compete, having won all four major tournaments in the U.S. and Britain in a single year. Early in his career, Jones made it to the final playoff in the U.S. Open. While setting up a fairly difficult shot, his golf club accidentally touched the ball. Jones immediately became angry, turned to the marshals, and called a penalty on himself. Since the marshals had not seen the ball move, they left the decision to Jones. It was a two-stroke penalty - which Bobby immediately called on himself, not knowing he would later lose the tournament by a single stroke.

Bobby dismissed praise for his honesty by replying, "You may as well praise a man for not robbing a bank!" Jones may have lost the tournament, but his character was legendary and today the United States Golf Association's award for sportsmanship is known as the "Bobby Jones Award."

I have often heard it said that integrity is what you do when no one is watching or that character is best illustrated by how you treat people who can do absolutely nothing for you. Integrity is a heart issue and a spiritual habit that decides beforehand to do the right thing. Character counts. Integrity matters to God.

Matthew 5:8 (NIV) "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."

1 Chronicles 28:9b "For the Lord searches every heart, and understands every desire and every thought."

The word for "pure" means "ready for sacrifice." In other words, the decisions and choices we make should be living sacrifices that are holy and acceptable to God as acts of worship. To have integrity means to live an integrated life. That integration occurs when what we believe, what we think, what we say and what we do are all consistent. In reality, image really is nothing without integrity and character to back it up.

Let's Pray

Father, I come to You right now, asking You to examine my heart and show me every impurity hidden there. Search my desires and thoughts and show me the disobedience that breaks your heart and hinders my walk with You. I want to please You with every choice and decision I make, Lord. Forgive me for the hypocrisy in my life. I lay down my pride and my agenda and choose instead to seek and follow You.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Memorize Psalm 51:10 that says, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." As this verse becomes the consistent prayer of your heart, each choice and decision you make will begin to line up with God's will. He will be honored, and you will experience a new power and purpose in your life. Continually ask yourself, "Will my choice make God smile?"

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P31Header
Holly Good

November 11, 2011

We Don't Have Family Devotions
Holly Good, Assistant to Lysa TerKeurst

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love." John 15:9 (NIV)

We don't hold structured family devotions anymore, and I miss them. It was always my favorite night of the week. We called it 'family time.'

We started holding them several years ago when the Lord convicted me to begin family devotions in our home. In addition to church and youth group, I felt led to spend additional quality time with my family once a week to learn about scripture and pray together. It was a good time of connecting with our young teens. During family time we:

Read the Bible.

Memorized scripture.

Marveled at how God answers prayers.

Prayed.

Early on, I noticed my two children weren't grasping the depth and reality of God's love for them. So my husband and I showed, explained and discussed how God's love is all-powerful, and that He is always available to us. We were well aware we weren't perfect parents. But we knewthe perfect parent and we wanted our kids to as well.

Despite our efforts of instilling solid truths to live by, we still had to navigate rough waters with our young teens and some of the choices they made. Waters so rough my heart nearly tore in two several times. Storms that raged so strong I begged God on my knees for mercy and answers.

Through each situation we faced, we continued to pray and seek Him together during family time. We never let our kids lose sight that God cared, and they were precious in His sight. He doesn't condemn; He loves, always. It's who He is.

I reiterated that thought often and pointed to Jesus' own words: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love" (John 15:9).

God's Word, forgiveness and truth were the powerful bond that held us together during stormy trials.

Our daughter is now 19, works part-time and carries a full-time college course load. She loves the Lord and recently returned from a mission trip to Germany where she served at a youth camp with her dad.

Our 16 year old son is a sophomore in high school, and was recently baptized. He lives out his faith boldly among friends and peers.

Changes in life have altered our weekly family time. We no longer have regular sit down family devotions. But we still gather around our dinner table and openly discuss the world, our faith, struggles, the Bible and the marvels of God. Our structured devotion time morphed into the norm of our life.

Because of the deliberate family devotion times we once had, our kids feel the freedom to ask us to pray with andfor them - almost every day. They see the value in seeking God's wisdom, strength and direction in all things.

And regardless of what choices they made as young teens and the circumstances we've been through as a family, we never let them lose sight of the fact that God is real and He loves them. Today they believe it, live it and know it. Praise God.

Dear Lord, thank You for my family. Please continue to show me how to love them and lead them according to Your will. Give me the boldness to show them my love for You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
To read other writings from Holly, please click here.

Here are some resources that may help you in your walk as a busy parent:
Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl and What Happens When Women Say Yes to God.

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:
Try to get intentional about having a specific time for your family to pray together. You will see the hand of God move as you seek Him as a family.

Encourage your children to talk to you about their faith and questions they may have.

Create a safe environment for your children to share what is on their hearts.

Reflections:
Devotion time took effort and diligence on our part as parents, but it has molded our children into the teens they are today. They see the value in seeking God's wisdom, strength and direction in all things.

What can you do today to show God's love to your children?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 22:6, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." (NIV 1984)

Isaiah 54:10, "'Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace removed,' says the LORD, who has compassion on you." (NIV)

John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (NIV)

© 2011 by Holly Good. All rights reserved.

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

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LeadershipBible-Header

Simon Stylites: Saint on the Pillar

ftta-simeon

Among all the so-called Desert Fathers, Simon Stylites (390 - 459) is often regarded as the most bizarre. His claim to fame was his perch on a pillar in a Syrian desert for nearly forty years. Today his celebrity has faded, but in his own day pilgrims came from great distances to hear him preach and offer counsel.

Simon grew up a shepherd boy profoundly influenced by his pious mother, Martha. By the age of thirteen he was fasting and denying himself the normal pleasures of life. At sixteen he entered a monastery but found monastic life too comfortable. He left the community and began a regimen of self-mutilation and starvation. Indeed, he was close to death before he was discovered and nursed back to life. As time passes, his ways became still more eccentric - even among the desert monks themselves. He escaped to a tiny hut, now not only starving himself but also forcing himself to stand upright until he would faint and fall to the ground.

After three years he moved to a narrow mountain crevasse, where he expected to be left alone. But pilgrims were on his trail, eager that his holiness rub off on them. He had no place to hide, until he came up with an ingenious idea. With the help of sympathizers, he devised a pillar that grew in stages to rise, eventually, several stories high. His platform offered him no more floor space than a small bedroom. Now even more tourists arrived. Every afternoon he spoke to the crowds, though never encouraging them to follow him in his extreme asceticism. He maintained a wide-ranging correspondence and gained the respect of common people and emperors, including Theodosius and his wife, Eudocia. His support for the Council of Chalcedon was much sought after by Emperor Leo.

During his lifetime and after his death, living on pillars as "stylite" monks became the rage among the desert ascetics. Indeed, the desert was said to be dotted with pillars.


If you enjoyed the above article, please take a minute to read about the book that it was adapted from:

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Parade of Faith: A Biographical History of the Christian Church

by Ruth A. Tucker
Buy the book!
The story of Christianity centers on people whose lives have been transformed by the resurrected Lord. Tucker puts this front and center in a lively overview peppered with sidebars; historical "what if?" questions; sections on everyday life; drawings and illustrations; bibliographies for further reading.



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Myth: “Having a child will make me happy.”

Today's reading: John 10:10

My other friends couldn’t believe I went for it. But why not? The professional single-mom-by-choice is hardly the pariah anymore. We live in an age of technological wonders that give women options they never had before. I have a successful business, a large home with room for a child, good friends and stability. I’m at a good place in my life for the “next” thing, and a baby just seemed to fit the need.

I’m the same as most any other woman. God gave me this nesting urge, so do I just ignore it until I find the right man? Set my sights on other goals? I deserve to be happy as much as the next person. Unfortunately, contentment seems to always be on the next horizon. When I bought my new home, I thought that would satisfy me. It did for a while, and then I resumed the search and focused on a baby. This nagging feeling of incompleteness is undeniable. I’m tired of waiting for all the circumstances to be “right.”

I was talking with some other moms at my birthing class last week, and they asked me why I decided to have a baby as a single mom. Sure, I think it would be ideal if I were married and decided to start a family. But I can’t see why experiencing the next best thing is a bad idea if it makes me happy. I told them I wanted to hear the sound of a baby’s laughter in the house at Christmas. I wanted some central pleasure to bring my family together and build our unity around. I wanted to give a baby all the things I never experienced when I was a child.

I’m bringing life into this world—a baby I can love and one who will love me back unconditionally. I’ll be there for him and build my life around him. He will never know what it’s like to be lonely. What could possibly be wrong with that?

—Leslie

The search for happiness and significance is central to what it means to be alive. As long as we’re breathing, we will deeply desire happiness and meaning in our lives. God created us to crave significance and to know with certainty that we matter, so that he could provide himself as our heart’s one, true fulfillment. However, we tend to fill in the blanks with any number of pursuits. “Having _________ will make me happy.” More money. Success. A relationship. A home.

So we try everything to bring closure to the idea that if we only had that one thing, then we would be ultimately and finally happy. And we’ll get that one thing any way we can. It’s why Sarah pushed for her maidservant, Hagar, to carry Abraham’s baby instead of waiting on God.

Mind you, it’s not that having a child won’t make a person happy. It certainly will! God’s pleasures and blessings, such as the precious gift of a baby, do bring our lives a measure of happiness—some extraordinarily so. However, only God’s love will satisfy us for a lifetime of joy, which surpasses mere happiness (see Nehemiah 8:10). Depending on him to satisfy the elusive search for happiness enables us to enjoy life’s pleasures and enhances our ability to be happy. Otherwise, we may expect a baby, a job or a relationship to meet a level of satisfaction that created things were never designed to bring to us. Then, we soon find we are disappointed with our unmet expectations, and the desire for a second child or a new job or a new relationship becomes the only feasible antidote. And the cycle begins again.

“The Bible talks plentifully about joy, but it nowhere talks about a ‘happy Christian.’ Happiness depends on what happens; joy does not. Remember, Jesus Christ had joy, and he prayed ‘that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.’”

—Oswald Chambers

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:10

See also

Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 90:14; Psalm 145:16; John 15:11
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