Sunday, November 13, 2011

Daily Devotional Sunday 13th November

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,”Colossians 1:9 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"The trial of your faith."
1 Peter 1:7

Faith untried may be true faith, but it is sure to be little faith, and it is likely to remain dwarfish so long as it is without trials. Faith never prospers so well as when all things are against her: tempests are her trainers, and lightnings are her illuminators. When a calm reigns on the sea, spread the sails as you will, the ship moves not to its harbour; for on a slumbering ocean the keel sleeps too. Let the winds rush howling forth, and let the waters lift up themselves, then, though the vessel may rock, and her deck may be washed with waves, and her mast may creak under the pressure of the full and swelling sail, it is then that she makes headway towards her desired haven. No flowers wear so lovely a blue as those which grow at the foot of the frozen glacier; no stars gleam so brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky; no water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand; and no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity. Tried faith brings experience. You could not have believed your own weakness had you not been compelled to pass through the rivers; and you would never have known God's strength had you not been supported amid the water-floods. Faith increases in solidity, assurance, and intensity, the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is precious, and its trial is precious too.

Let not this, however, discourage those who are young in faith. You will have trials enough without seeking them: the full portion will be measured out to you in due season. Meanwhile, if you cannot yet claim the result of long experience, thank God for what grace you have; praise him for that degree of holy confidence whereunto you have attained: walk according to that rule, and you shall yet have more and more of the blessing of God, till your faith shall remove mountains and conquer impossibilities.

Evening

"And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God."
Luke 6:12

If ever one of woman born might have lived without prayer, it was our spotless, perfect Lord, and yet none was ever so much in supplication as he! Such was his love to his Father, that he loved much to be in communion with him: such his love for his people, that he desired to be much in intercession for them. The fact of this eminent prayerfulness of Jesus is a lesson for us--he hath given us an example that we may follow in his steps. The time he chose was admirable, it was the hour of silence, when the crowd would not disturb him; the time of inaction, when all but himself had ceased to labour; and the season when slumber made men forget their woes, and cease their applications to him for relief. While others found rest in sleep, he refreshed himself with prayer. The place was also well selected. He was alone where none would intrude, where none could observe: thus was he free from Pharisaic ostentation and vulgar interruption. Those dark and silent hills were a fit oratory for the Son of God. Heaven and earth in midnight stillness heard the groans and sighs of the mysterious Being in whom both worlds were blended. The continuance of his pleadings is remarkable; the long watches were not too long; the cold wind did not chill his devotions; the grim darkness did not darken his faith, or loneliness check his importunity. We cannot watch with him one hour, but he watched for us whole nights. The occasion for this prayer is notable; it was after his enemies had been enraged--prayer was his refuge and solace; it was before he sent forth the twelve apostles--prayer was the gate of his enterprise, the herald of his new work. Should we not learn from Jesus to resort to special prayer when we are under peculiar trial, or contemplate fresh endeavours for the Master's glory? Lord Jesus, teach us to pray.

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Today's reading: Jeremiah 51-52, Hebrews 9 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Jeremiah 51-52

1 This is what the LORD says:

“See, I will stir up the spirit of a destroyer
against Babylon and the people of Leb Kamai.
2 I will send foreigners to Babylon
to winnow her and to devastate her land;
they will oppose her on every side
in the day of her disaster.
3 Let not the archer string his bow,
nor let him put on his armor.
Do not spare her young men;
completely destroy her army.
4 They will fall down slain in Babylon,
fatally wounded in her streets.
5 For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken
by their God, the LORD Almighty,
though their land is full of guilt
before the Holy One of Israel.

6 “Flee from Babylon!
Run for your lives!
Do not be destroyed because of her sins.
It is time for the LORD’s vengeance;
he will repay her what she deserves.
7 Babylon was a gold cup in the LORD’s hand;
she made the whole earth drunk.
The nations drank her wine;
therefore they have now gone mad.
8 Babylon will suddenly fall and be broken.
Wail over her!
Get balm for her pain;
perhaps she can be healed....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Hebrews 9

Worship in the Earthly Tabernacle

1 Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. 2 A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 4 which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. 5Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.

6 When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. 7But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.8 The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. 9 This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper.10 They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order....

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A Sense of Place

Today's reading: Isaiah 32:9-20

Time and again in the Old Testament, the spiritual health of the people of Israel and the health and well-being of their land reflect each other. God had given the Israelites their own land, a land of plenty and fruitfulness. Where is your "Canaan"? What are the unique beauties and distinctive features of the place where you live? Biology professor David S. Koetje provides insights into caring for our "place":

Faithfully caring for creation requires us to develop a stronger sense of place. Place relates to the distinctive features of specific landscapes, habitats, and communities. Fields, forests, deserts, and ponds are obviously unique places with distinctive features ... [A] critical first step toward redeeming our fallen relationship with our lands and their inhabitants is attentiveness to the distinctive natural and cultural features of places.

Faithfully administering our calling requires us to serve these places. The term most often used to describe our caring for creation is "stewardship": management on behalf of a higher authority. Because a steward is subject to God, she cannot simply do as she pleases with creation. Furthermore, she cannot claim that stewardship only applies to certain areas of the Christian life, such as finances, and not to others. Stewardship applies to all our relationships within creation: land, water, and energy; ecosystems, habitats, and species; our places, our bodies, our work ...

As we focus on the importance of interrelationships and our own embeddedness within creation, how then do we serve our places? Stewardship that is place-based has five essential characteristics:

  • Being attentive to the local ecology. What species are native to the place, and what are their interrelationships? What interdependencies make these ecosystems resilient against forces that would threaten their integrity? What positive and negative effects do human actions have on this habitat?
  • Heeding the needs and knowledge of local communities. What have we learned about our community's distinctive features and functions through our experience with it?
  • Letting local cultural values inform priorities and practices. How do locally rooted values and experiences provide insights into appropriate stewardship?
  • Cultivating precaution, caring, and conservation. How can we nurture the special features of the place? How can we encourage Sabbath rests and deter exploitation?
  • Collectively forging technologies, practices, and policies that enhance our embeddedness in places. In what ways can we cooperate to enhance the interrelationships essential to the integrity of the place? How can we promote the flourishing of all its inhabitants, human and nonhuman?

Think About It

Spend some time working through the questions in the text.

Act On It

You are not where you are by accident. God has placed you right where you are-within his creation for a time and a purpose. What things can you do today to be his steward in your God-ordained place?

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Today's reading is from the
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Giving With Grace

Deuteronomy 15:1-11

Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.
Deuteronomy 15:10

Years ago I said something that still bothers me when I think about it. I had led a young couple to faith in Jesus. The husband earned a good living in his hairstyling salon. In the basement of their home he kept the barber's chair that his deceased father had once used in a shop in another town.

His father's chair was more than an item of nostalgia, however. My friend used the chair in his basement two evenings and part of Saturday each week to seat customers who couldn't afford to see him in his shop. In this homey room my friend clipped and snipped the hair of the poor. Some, like me, he charged a nominal fee; others he waved out the door with a smile.

After one splendid haircut, I pulled out my wallet and handed him a note that was twice what he normally charged me. It was my smallest note, but he had no change. "Just keep it," I said. "Next time I won't have to pay anything."

Indeed, as I stepped out of the chair after my next grooming session and reached for my wallet, my friend said, "Wait! You've already paid for this one!"

It was then that I said some horrible words: "If you had remembered that earlier," I teased, "you wouldn't have done such a good job, would you?"

A slight grimace furrowed my friend's brow before he caught himself and laughed. He was a generous man, and I had treated his kindness flippantly by joking that mercenary demons drove his heart.

It seems like materialism is all around us, and it is not uncommon for people to be driven by need and greed. During the lean years that many of us experience , we can become selfish and cheap. Those attitudes can stick, even when resources grow and demands diminish.

God built safeguards into Israelite society so that debt wouldn't dehumanize those who became trapped in it. But God also knew that some people would try to manipulate handouts and bailouts and other kinds of welfare for their own cunning ends. So he asked his people to be generous to the poor, even if the poor appeared to be abusing the gifts.

Generosity and graciousness are learned qualities. They must be caught from the example of bighearted souls. Like God. Like the widow who gave two very small copper coins-all she had to live on (see Mark 12:41-44 ). Like the disciples who shared their lunch with a crowd (see Matthew 15:32-39). Like my barber.

We must practice giving so that generosity becomes an essential part of who we are. And when we give, we'll find that our generosity is rewarded by God, who will "throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it" (Malachi 3:10).
Wayne Brouwer

Let's Talk

  • In what ways has God blessed us? In what ways are we tightfisted about sharing what we have? How can we make our spending and giving reflect our values?
  • Who are some generous people who have helped us along the way? What have we learned from them? How are we becoming like them?
  • What did we learn about money and generosity from our parents? Were these good or bad lessons? What will our children learn from us?
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