Sunday, November 20, 2011

Daily Devotional Sunday 20th November

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.” Psalm 1:1-2 NIV
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon


"Avoid foolish questions."
Titus 3:9

Our days are few, and are far better spent in doing good, than in disputing over matters which are, at best, of minor importance. The old schoolmen did a world of mischief by their incessant discussion of subjects of no practical importance; and our Churches suffer much from petty wars over abstruse points and unimportant questions. After everything has been said that can be said, neither party is any the wiser, and therefore the discussion no more promotes knowledge than love, and it is foolish to sow in so barren a field. Questions upon points wherein Scripture is silent; upon mysteries which belong to God alone; upon prophecies of doubtful interpretation; and upon mere modes of observing human ceremonials, are all foolish, and wise men avoid them. Our business is neither to ask nor answer foolish questions, but to avoid them altogether; and if we observe the apostle's precept (Titus 3:8) to be careful to maintain good works, we shall find ourselves far too much occupied with profitable business to take much interest in unworthy, contentious, and needless strivings.

There are, however, some questions which are the reverse of foolish, which we must not avoid, but fairly and honestly meet, such as these: Do I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Am I renewed in the spirit of my mind? Am I walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit? Am I growing in grace? Does my conversation adorn the doctrine of God my Saviour? Am I looking for the coming of the Lord, and watching as a servant should do who expects his master? What more can I do for Jesus? Such enquiries as these urgently demand our attention; and if we have been at all given to cavilling, let us now turn our critical abilities to a service so much more profitable. Let us be peace-makers, and endeavour to lead others both by our precept and example, to "avoid foolish questions."


"O that I knew where I might find him!"
Job 23:3

In Job's uttermost extremity he cried after the Lord. The longing desire of an afflicted child of God is once more to see his Father's face. His first prayer is not "O that I might be healed of the disease which now festers in every part of my body!" nor even "O that I might see my children restored from the jaws of the grave, and my property once more brought from the hand of the spoiler!" but the first and uppermost cry is, "O that I knew where I might find Him, who is my God! that I might come even to his seat!" God's children run home when the storm comes on. It is the heaven-born instinct of a gracious soul to seek shelter from all ills beneath the wings of Jehovah. "He that hath made his refuge God," might serve as the title of a true believer. A hypocrite, when afflicted by God, resents the infliction, and, like a slave, would run from the Master who has scourged him; but not so the true heir of heaven, he kisses the hand which smote him, and seeks shelter from the rod in the bosom of the God who frowned upon him. Job's desire to commune with God was intensified by the failure of all other sources of consolation. The patriarch turned away from his sorry friends, and looked up to the celestial throne, just as a traveller turns from his empty skin bottle, and betakes himself with all speed to the well. He bids farewell to earth-born hopes, and cries, "O that I knew where I might find my God!" Nothing teaches us so much the preciousness of the Creator, as when we learn the emptiness of all besides. Turning away with bitter scorn from earth's hives, where we find no honey, but many sharp stings, we rejoice in him whose faithful word is sweeter than honey or the honeycomb. In every trouble we should first seek to realize God's presence with us. Only let us enjoy his smile, and we can bear our daily cross with a willing heart for his dear sake.


Today's reading: Ezekiel 11-13, James 1 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Ezekiel 11-13

God’s Sure Judgment on Jerusalem

1 Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the gate of the house of the LORD that faces east. There at the entrance of the gate were twenty-five men, and I saw among them Jaazaniah son of Azzur and Pelatiah son of Benaiah, leaders of the people. 2 The LORD said to me, “Son of man, these are the men who are plotting evil and giving wicked advice in this city.3 They say, ‘Haven’t our houses been recently rebuilt? This city is a pot, and we are the meat in it.’ 4 Therefore prophesy against them; prophesy, son of man.”

5 Then the Spirit of the LORD came on me, and he told me to say: “This is what the LORD says: That is what you are saying, you leaders in Israel, but I know what is going through your mind. 6 You have killed many people in this city and filled its streets with the dead.... the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: James 1

1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:


Trials and Temptations

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do....

Greetings from Bible Gateway! With the holiday season kicking into gear, we hope you'll find time amidst the busy-ness to focus on God. And we hope Bible Gateway can help and encourage you in doing so!

We've got two big pieces of news this week, so let's dive in.

Two New Email Devotions from Ligonier Ministries

If you've been following Bible Gateway news over the summer and fall, you know we've been busy adding weekly devotional content to our library of email devotionals . This week, we're excited to introduce two new daily devotions that bring a fresh perspective to the mix: Tabletalk Devotions and Coram Deo: Daily Meditations on God's Presence!

Both devotions feature the insights of author and theologian R.C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries, and reflect his trademark blend of readable reflection and intellectual heft.

Coram Deo is a short, readable devotional message that explores what it means to live as a believer in the presence of God.

Tabletalk Devotions is a more in-depth daily reading for people who want to dig a bit deeper each day into the teachings of Scripture. (It includes the Coram Deo meditation as well.)

Sproul and Ligonier Ministries want every believer to engage their Christian faith with their mind as well as their heart, and these devotionals reflect that vision. Both devotionals begin on Monday, November 21; so sign up today!

Two New French Additions to Our Bible Library

We're excited to announce the addition of two French Bibles to our library: the Segond 21 (S21) and the Nouvelle Edition de Genève (NEG1979)!

The NEG1979 is a revision of the venerable Louis Segond version. The Segond 21 is a major new translation (first published in 2007) that draws on years of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek textual scholarship. They're also the first French additions to our library in quite a while, so we're thrilled to be able to offer them to our French-speaking brothers and sisters.

Both are graciously provided to us by the Société Biblique de Genève.

Coming Soon: Christmas Content!

You may remember that last year we introduced Christmas readings and devotions during the Advent season. Well, there's a lot more where that came from this year, and we'll be talking more about it in the coming weeks. So stay tuned... and have a blessed holiday season!

the Bible Gateway team

The Servant, Steward of Justice

Today's reading: Isaiah 42:1-9

God's word through Isaiah is that he has appointed a servant, or trusted envoy, who will usher in a new order-a bringer and establisher of justice, whom we all long for and look forward to with hope. Evangelical leader Charles Colson emphasizes how we need that hope:

We cry out for the demands of justice to be satisfied, and we even sense that they will someday ... How could we possibly live with the unfairness of this world if we did not have a belief that at some point the accounts will be reckoned? The nonbeliever has to chalk this up to the spin of the wheel and futile human remedies. But the believer, who trusts in a loving God, knows all believers have the same ultimate hope.

Our longing for justice is fulfilled both now and in the "not yet" by Jesus the Messiah. Best-selling author Philip Yancey elaborates:

When Jesus lived on earth he made the blind to see and the lame to walk; he will return to rule over a kingdom that has no disease or disability. On earth he died and was resurrected; at his return, death will be no more. On earth he cast out demons; at his return, he will destroy the Evil One. On earth he came as a baby born in a manger; he will return as the blazing figure described in the book of Revelation. The kingdom he set in motion on earth was not the end, only the beginning of the end.

Indeed, the kingdom of God will grow on earth as the church creates an alternative society demonstrating what the world is not, but one day will be ... A society that welcomes people of all races and social classes, that is characterized by love and not polarization, that cares most for its weakest members, that stands for justice and righteousness in a world enamored with selfishness and decadence, as a society in which members compete for the privilege of serving one another-this is what Jesus meant by the kingdom of God.

The four Horsemen of the Apocalypse give a preview of how the world will end: in war, famine, sickness and death. But Jesus gave a personal preview of how the world will be restored, by reversing the deeds of the four Horsemen: he made peace, fed the hungry, healed the sick, and brought the dead to life. He made the message of God's kingdom powerful by living it, by bringing it to reality among the people around him. The prophets' fairy-tale predictions of a world free of pain and tears and death referred to no mythical world, but rather to this world.

Think About It

We in the church, Jesus' successors, are left with the task of displaying the signs of the kingdom of God, and the watching world will judge the merits of the kingdom by us. We live in a time of transition-a transition from death to life, from human injustice to divine justice, from the old to the new-tragically incomplete yet marked here and there, now and then, with clues of what God will someday achieve in perfection.

Act on It

Determine a way to proclaim to others that the kingdom of God is breaking into the world.



Today's reading is from the
NIV Stewardship Study Bible
by Zondervan

Discover the remarkable privilege we have as stewards of God's design for life through the study of Scripture.


Editor's Note: The past two NIV Couple's Devotionals were repeats from previous weeks. We apologize for the error.

The Big Effect of Little Choices

Judges 16:1–21

Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah.
Judges 16:4

Samson seemed to have all the right stuff. An angel announced his birth and instructed his parents to raise him to live as a lifelong Nazirite, a person set apart by God. As a result of his standing, he was to abstain from grape products, have no contact with dead bodies and forego haircuts (seeNumbers 6:1–8). Samson grew up with godly parents who loved him. He was given a life purpose—to begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines—and an incredible strength to help him achieve the task.

But Samson’s privileged beginnings didn’t automatically endow him with moral integrity. Over the course of his life, he deliberately participated in the things he and his parents had promised not to do. He ate honey from a lion’s carcass, violating his Nazirite vow in order to delight himself with something sweet (see Judges 14:8–9). Instead of being a great warrior against the Philistines, Samson’s crusades were often spurred by personal vendettas. And he had an insatiable appetite for Philistine women. Ultimately, one of those women, Delilah, learned the secret of Samson’s strength and traded that knowledge for a large sum of money.

Maybe you remember learning in church school that Samson was strong because he had long hair. Actually, Samson’s strength wasn’t in his hair but in his relationship with God. When his head was shaved, it was merely an outward indication of what he had already lost inside.

Ultimately Samson was unable to fully realize his potential or use the gifts God had given him. This is true of many of us. Though God has uniquely gifted us for his purpose, we are unable to live up to our potential because we continually fall victim to our sinful nature.

Samson didn’t turn toward sin in one grand decision. A lifetime of little choices resulted in Samson’s demise. Similarly, it isn’t the politician’s final bribe, but rather his early career decisions to bend the rules that lead to his downfall. It isn’t the public moral failing of the religious leader, but the many unconfessed sins that preceded it, that brings him down. It’s not the addiction, but the little indulgences that fed the addiction, that kills a family.

This principle also applies to our marriages. Most Christians don’t wake up one day and decide to throw their marriage and family away with one grand affair. The separation begins with participating in a bit of seemingly innocent flirting at work or sending an innocuous email to an old friend or confiding a bit of unhappiness with one’s spouse to a sympathetic friend.

Before making what appears to be a harmless decision, stop and evaluate the cost. Success is less about having the right stuff than it is about choosing the right way. A lot of little choices done God’s way will add up to a lifetime of purpose.
Jennifer Schuchmann

Let’s Talk

  • Beginning with Samson’s birth in Judges 13, examine the decisions that Samson made in his life. Which ones led him to God? Which ones separated him from God?
  • What were the costs Samson paid for his decisions?
  • As a Nazirite, Samson had specific things that set him apart for God. What things set us apart for God? What sets our marriage apart as a Christian marriage?


NIVCouplesbibleToday's reading is from the
NIV Couple's Devotional Bible
by Zondervan

Designed to help you build your relationship on the one foundation you can count on: God’s Word!

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