Saturday, November 19, 2011

Daily Devotional Saturday 19th November

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:17 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"A spring shut up, a fountain sealed."
Song of Solomon 4:12

In this metaphor, which has reference to the inner life of a believer, we have very plainly the idea of secrecy. It is a spring shut up: just as there were springs in the East, over which an edifice was built, so that none could reach them save those who knew the secret entrance; so is the heart of a believer when it is renewed by grace: there is a mysterious life within which no human skill can touch. It is a secret which no other man knoweth; nay, which the very man who is the possessor of it cannot tell to his neighbour. The text includes not only secrecy, but separation. It is not the common spring, of which every passer-by may drink, it is one kept and preserved from all others; it is a fountain bearing a particular mark--a king's royal seal, so that all can perceive that it is not a common fountain, but a fountain owned by a proprietor, and placed specially by itself alone. So is it with the spiritual life. The chosen of God were separated in the eternal decree; they were separated by God in the day of redemption; and they are separated by the possession of a life which others have not; and it is impossible for them to feel at home with the world, or to delight in its pleasures. There is also the idea of sacredness. The spring shut up is preserved for the use of some special person: and such is the Christian's heart. It is a spring kept for Jesus. Every Christian should feel that he has God's seal upon him--and he should be able to say with Paul, "From henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Another idea is prominent--it is that of security. Oh! how sure and safe is the inner life of the believer! If all the powers of earth and hell could combine against it, that immortal principle must still exist, for he who gave it pledged his life for its preservation. And who "is he that shall harm you," when God is your protector?

Evening

"Thou art from everlasting."
Psalm 93:2

Christ is Everlasting. Of him we may sing with David, "Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever." Rejoice, believer, in Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever. Jesus always was. The Babe born in Bethlehem was united to the Word, which was in the beginning, by whom all things were made. The title by which Christ revealed himself to John in Patmos was, "Him which is, and which was, and which is to come." If he were not God from everlasting, we could not so devoutly love him; we could not feel that he had any share in the eternal love which is the fountain of all covenant blessings; but since he was from all eternity with the Father, we trace the stream of divine love to himself equally with his Father and the blessed Spirit. As our Lord always was, so also he is for evermore. Jesus is not dead; "He ever liveth to make intercession for us." Resort to him in all your times of need, for he is waiting to bless you still. Moreover, Jesus our Lord ever shall be. If God should spare your life to fulfil your full day of threescore years and ten, you will find that his cleansing fountain is still opened, and his precious blood has not lost its power; you shall find that the Priest who filled the healing fount with his own blood, lives to purge you from all iniquity. When only your last battle remains to be fought, you shall find that the hand of your conquering Captain has not grown feeble--the living Saviour shall cheer the dying saint. When you enter heaven you shall find him there bearing the dew of his youth; and through eternity the Lord Jesus shall still remain the perennial spring of joy, and life, and glory to his people. Living waters may you draw from this sacred well! Jesus always was, he always is, he always shall be. He is eternal in all his attributes, in all his offices, in all his might, and willingness to bless, comfort, guard, and crown his chosen people.

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Today's reading: Ezekiel 8-10, Hebrews 13 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Ezekiel 8-10

Idolatry in the Temple

1 In the sixth year, in the sixth month on the fifth day, while I was sitting in my house and the elders of Judah were sitting before me, the hand of the Sovereign LORD came on me there.2 I looked, and I saw a figure like that of a man. From what appeared to be his waist down he was like fire, and from there up his appearance was as bright as glowing metal. 3 He stretched out what looked like a hand and took me by the hair of my head. The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and in visions of God he took me to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court, where the idol that provokes to jealousy stood. 4 And there before me was the glory of the God of Israel, as in the vision I had seen in the plain.

5 Then he said to me, “Son of man, look toward the north.” So I looked, and in the entrance north of the gate of the altar I saw this idol of jealousy.

6 And he said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing—the utterly detestable things the Israelites are doing here, things that will drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see things that are even more detestable....”

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Hebrews 13

Concluding Exhortations

1 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you....”

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Arad [Ā'răd]—fugitive.

  1. The Canaanite king who attacked the Israelites near Mount Hor and was defeated (Num. 21:1; 33:40).
  2. Son of Beriah, a Benjamite and one of the principal men of Aijalon ( 1 Chron. 8:15). Also the name of a town south of Judah (Josh. 12:14).
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November 18, 2011

Measuring Up

Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30).

Friend to Friend

My girlfriend Denise is a knockout. She's got the whole beauty package going on. She's tall, slender, athletic, bright, and funny. To know her is to love her. But she is so pretty that if you didn't know her, you might love to hate her. Kind of like the supermodels.

Denise is a former model and gymnast who lived much of her life in the shadow of perfection's impossible measuring stick. She grew up in a small town just outside of Cleveland, Ohio, and made a decision for Christ as a child. Though she was a believer, Denise still struggled with common issues of measuring up.

"It was very important to me to be well-liked and to be very successful in every aspect of my life," she said. "My family strived to be the ideal, all-American family. I worked hard to have great grades, be a great athlete, and wear the right clothes; to overachieve. As a model and gymnast, body type and strength were very important to winning, as well as to my identity."

By nature, Denise is competitive. Most would refer to her personality as type-A. A go-getter. A perfectionist. She's the kind of girl you want on your team: determined, focused, and disciplined. Her quest to be the best, however, left Denise feeling helpless and unsuccessful. Even though she was a fierce competitor as a gymnast, she never felt she was good enough. For years, Denise tried to control the circumstances and the people in her life in an attempt to make things perfect. Eventually, her pursuit of perfection got Denise into a heap of trouble. As Edwin Bliss has said, "The pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy. The pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic, and a terrible waste of time."

As a high school gymnast, Denise dealt with the pressures to measure up in a destructive way. She became bulimic. She wanted to be in control of her body and manage her weight but she became enslaved to an addictive and damaging behavior. She was a Christian girl who knew that God loved her. She had been told that she was beautiful to Him, but for a season of her life, Denise didn't consider that enough. At first, to her delight, Denise's bulimia resulted in weight loss. Keeping extra weight off allowed her to be competitive in the gym and to look good. She wasn't alone. Most of her teammates had eating disorders too.

"What I thought was just a phase became my way of life," Denise remembers.

Her destructive behavior followed her to college. Denise thought she was in control of the bulimia, but eventually realized that bulimia was in control of her. It consumed her thoughts. It swung the gates of deception wide open for the enemy to stroll right through. He laughed all the way, because he had her right where he wanted her.

Negative self-talk filled her head. A thought as simple as, "I'm a little bit nervous about teaching this fitness class," would snowball into, "You are so fat. You should never have eaten all that food this afternoon. You're such an idiot! You won't even be able to get through this class." The voice in her head constantly told her she didn't measure up.

"If I heard ninety nine positive comments about myself and one negative comment, I couldn't let the one negative comment go," she said. "I illuminated my failures and shortcomings instead of celebrating my successes."

During that time, she constantly talked about her body...about how awful it was. Denise says it was as if a ticker tape was filling her mind with a steady stream of negative thoughts and beating her down.

She prayed, "Lord, help me find a way to cut that ticker tape. I need a reprieve." God eventually did cut it with truth, but it took a while for Denise to learn to recognize Satan's lies for what they were.

The Lord placed many Christian friends in Denise's path who encouraged her to see a counselor. She went, though she still wanted her way more than God's way. The counselor told her that she must want to be healed of her eating disorder. She needed motivation to change. Denise lacked the motivation until she went home for fall break and finally hit rock bottom.

A Time for Change

Denise was consumed with being fit. Each day of break was another opportunity to strive for physical perfection, and she trained hard. . She had been fasting for a few days-something she relished because of the dramatic physical results, not for the spiritual benefits the Bible speaks of-and then ate something. The ticker in her mind told her that she should feel terrible about eating, so Denise went upstairs and made herself throw up. Her body had grown so weak that she fell to the floor before making it to her bed.

Her brother found her on the floor crying and completely out of it.

Denise's brother, who suffers from a mild form of cerebral palsy and has struggled to overcome the challenges of his disability, was alarmed and angry. Once Denise was able to get up from the floor, her brother confronted her with strong words that became a catalyst of change in her life.

"I have worked all my life to overcome my physical deformity," he said. "And here you are intentionally destroying yourself."

It was true and she knew it.

In that moment, Denise felt the weight of truth, and finally crumbled. Her previous casual attempts to allow God to intervene were now replaced with sincere cries for help. She needed to change and she needed God's help for the change to happen. She needed Him to consume her thoughts and transform her mind. She needed Him desperately.

Denise had known the truth from the beginning. She just resisted it. She knew that bulimia was destructive, but the pressures of the world had a greater hold on her.

When she turned to Jesus for help, He began to transform her from the inside out. As a child, Denise gave her heart to Jesus. As an adult, she surrenderedher life to Him. There's a big difference. In the surrendering, Denise found healing for the bulimia and emotional freedom from the need to measure up to the world's standard of perfection.

Her healing took time. It progressed slowly. God used His Word, Christian counseling, and friends to replace lies with His truth. Denise has experienced full healing through the strength of the Lord and now regularly shares her story with women and young girls.

Healing begins when we hold tightly to the truth of God and allow the truth of God to hold tightly to us. God gives each of us the freedom to accept or reject His way. When we lean into His truth, we are less likely to conform to the world. His truth, His Word can be the light for each step we take. It illuminates the path that leads to His heart. God's Word transforms. The apostle Paul said, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2a).

We live in a competitive world. The pressures to be thin, beautiful, fit, smart, sexy, funny, rich, and popular trap us in a relentless vise-grip. Denise's story isn't much different from yours or mine. You don't need to be a model or a gymnast to get trapped in a disorder or an addictive lifestyle. You could be a college student, a businesswoman, a nurse, a mom, a dance instructor, a retail clerk, or a Sunday school teacher. No one is exempt. Feelings of inadequacy and inferiority ravage hearts of Christians and non-Christians alike.

Our attempts to measure up are all-consuming traps. They focus our attention inward verses upward, just as they did with Denise. When we get caught in the trap of striving to measure up, we focus on ourselves. That was never God's plan. We were designed to focus on Him. Shifting our attention from ourselves to God will change our perspective. God longs for our obsession to be Him.

"I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols" (Isaiah 42:8).

Let's Pray

Dear God, please renew and transform me from the inside out! When feelings of inferiority, insecurity, and self-doubt creep into my heart, help me to see myself the way you do. I want to be held tightly by your truth.

In Jesus' Name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

There's a line in the song "Broken into Beautiful" that says: "We live with accusations, sometimes heavy expectations that tell us we can never measure up. And yet You repeat with mercy that in Your eyes we are worthy, 'til at last we see how much we're loved."

How does this speak to you today? Do you really know how much you're loved? Pray about it and journal if you're the journaling type... then let's meet on my Facebook page to talk about it and pray through it together.www.Facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic.

More from the Girlfriends

If this devotion resonated with you and if you would like to learn more about how your brokenness can be reworked into a picture of God's beauty, don't miss Gwen's book Broken into Beautiful. Every step of transformation begins with the heart of God. Broken into Beautiful will take you there. To order the book, go to Amazon or, for a signed copy, visit Gwen's website: www.gwensmith.net.

LOVE MUSIC? Check out Gwen's new CD, Uncluttered. Now available on iTunes! The songs of Uncluttered are purposed to sweep you away from life-noise and to focus your heart and mind on the one thing that matters: your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Seeking God?

Click here to find out more about

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

Tim Hansel, Eating Problems for Breakfast, (Word Publishing, 1988) page 39.

Featured on Unsearchable, and also on the Because CD by Gwen Smith (www.GwenSmith.net) © Sunday Best Music/ (ASCAP) Newspring, a division of Zomba Enterprises, Inc. (ASCAP)/ CCTB Music (ASCAP). All right OBO CCTB. Music administered by New Spring. Used by permission.

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He Is Among Us

Today's reading: Exodus 29:44-46

God isn't some distant being watching his creation from afar. He chose to be in the midst of his people, so they could know him personally. He reminded Moses of his goal in freeing the Israelites and establishing them as a nation: "that I might dwell among them" (Exodus 29:26).

Today, God doesn't dwell in a building, a temple or a palace; he lives in the hearts of his people. Through Christ's death and resurrection, he performed a mighty miracle of freeing us from sin so he could send to us his indwelling Holy Spirit. Wherever we roam, he is with us. Wherever believers gather, he is among us.

NIVSocialicons

Medishare-March


True Identity: The Bible for Women
by Zondervan


The Bible that helps you see yourself as God sees you! Find your true identity in Christ through your relationship with him.
trueidentitysmall

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LeadershipBible-Header

Marcella and Women in Monasticism

Monasticism attracted more men than women, but from the earliest centuries women did play important roles in houses of charity. In the early centuries, the houses were loosely formed without a monastic rule or formal vows. Marcella (c. 325 – 410) exemplifies this way of life that caught on among other women of the time.

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Growing up in Rome, she was influenced by her pious mother, Albina, an educated woman of wealth and benevolence. Childhood memories centered around piety, and one in particular related to Athanasius, who lodged in her home during one of his many exiles. He may have taken special interest in her, thinking back to his own youthful practice of playing church. Athanasius interacted with his hosts on theological matters and recounted anecdotes of his own monastic life. His most spellbinding stories, however, were the miraculous tales of the desert monks. As a parting gift he left behind the first copy of his biography, Life of St. Anthony.

Marcella's wealth and beauty placed her at the center of fashionable Roman society. She married young, to a wealthy aristocrat, but less than a year later he died. Her time of mourning over, young men soon came calling again. However, convinced that God was directing her to a life of poverty and service, she shocked her social circle when she left behind her fashionable dresses for a coarse brown garment and abandoned her usual extravagant hair styling and makeup. Appearing as a low-class woman, she started a trend as other young women join her. They formed a community known as the brown dress society, spending their time praying, singing, reading the Bible, and serving the needy. Her palatial home was now a refuge for weary pilgrims and for the poor.

Summoned by Bishop Damasus (who arranges lodging at Marcella's hospitality house), Jerome arrived in 382. It was an exhilarating time for this woman of letters, who had immersed herself in both Greek and Hebrew, to be entertaining one of the great minds of the age. He spent the next three years in what he called her "domestic church," translating the Bible into Latin. She learned under his teaching even as she critiqued his translation. He spoke and wrote of her Christian devotion and scholarship and commened her influence on Anastasius, bishop of Rome — particularly in his condemning Origen's doctrines, which Jerome declared a "glorious victory." Indeed, his admiration of Marcella was unbounded, not only for her intellectual acumen but also for her deference to men who might be threatened by her vast store of knowledge.

Marcella, however, was also known for her efforts to restrain Jerome from quarrelling with his opponents — or at least helping him control his legendary temper. Eleven of his extant letters are addressed to her, and she is mentioned in many of his other writings. In one of his letters he responded to her query about the truth of Montanism. Someone was apparently attempting to convert her, and she was deeply interested in what she is hearing, though suspecting that the claim that they possess a more authentic spirituality might have been false. Jerome writes a lengthy point-by-point refutation of the movement and then concludes:

It was at the home of Marcella that Jerome first met Paula, a devoted and scholarly woman who would become his long-time intellectual counterpart. When Jerome returned to the Holy Land, Paula relocated there as well. They invited Marcella to join them, but she remained in Rome to oversee her growing house of virgins, where she was addressed as Mother. But hard times were ahead of her. She was in her late seventies in 410, when the Goths, led by Alaric, pillaged the city. Soldiers stormed the residence, demanding she relinquish her hidden jewels and wealth, which long before had been sold to fund her charitable work. When she had nothing to give them, they struck her down. She was taken to a church set up as a sanctuary, but she died the next day.


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

ParadeofFaith-Bookcover

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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