Thursday, November 10, 2011

Daily Devotional Thursday 10th November

““Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"So walk ye in him."
Colossians 2:6

If we have received Christ himself in our inmost hearts, our new life will manifest its intimate acquaintance with him by a walk of faith in him. Walking implies action. Our religion is not to be confined to our closet; we must carry out into practical effect that which we believe. If a man walks in Christ, then he so acts as Christ would act; for Christ being in him, his hope, his love, his joy, his life, he is the reflex of the image of Jesus; and men say of that man, "He is like his Master; he lives like Jesus Christ." Walking signifies progress. "So walk ye in him"; proceed from grace to grace, run forward until you reach the uttermost degree of knowledge that a man can attain concerning our Beloved. Walking implies continuance. There must be a perpetual abiding in Christ. How many Christians think that in the morning and evening they ought to come into the company of Jesus, and may then give their hearts to the world all the day: but this is poor living; we should always be with him, treading in his steps and doing his will. Walking also implies habit. When we speak of a man's walk and conversation, we mean his habits, the constant tenor of his life. Now, if we sometimes enjoy Christ, and then forget him; sometimes call him ours, and anon lose our hold, that is not a habit; we do not walk in him. We must keep to him, cling to him, never let him go, but live and have our being in him. "As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him"; persevere in the same way in which ye have begun, and, as at the first Christ Jesus was the trust of your faith, the source of your life, the principle of your action, and the joy of your spirit, so let him be the same till life's end; the same when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and enter into the joy and the rest which remain for the people of God. O Holy Spirit, enable us to obey this heavenly precept.

Evening

"His place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure."
Isaiah 33:16

Do you doubt, O Christian, do you doubt as to whether God will fulfil his promise? Shall the munitions of rock be carried by storm? Shall the storehouses of heaven fail? Do you think that your heavenly Father, though he knoweth that you have need of food and raiment, will yet forget you? When not a sparrow falls to the ground without your Father, and the very hairs of your head are all numbered, will you mistrust and doubt him? Perhaps your affliction will continue upon you till you dare to trust your God, and then it shall end. Full many there be who have been tried and sore vexed till at last they have been driven in sheer desperation to exercise faith in God, and the moment of their faith has been the instant of their deliverance; they have seen whether God would keep his promise or not. Oh, I pray you, doubt him no longer! Please not Satan, and vex not yourself by indulging any more those hard thoughts of God. Think it not a light matter to doubt Jehovah. Remember, it is a sin; and not a little sin either, but in the highest degree criminal. The angels never doubted him, nor the devils either: we alone, out of all the beings that God has fashioned, dishonour him by unbelief, and tarnish his honour by mistrust. Shame upon us for this! Our God does not deserve to be so basely suspected; in our past life we have proved him to be true and faithful to his word, and with so many instances of his love and of his kindness as we have received, and are daily receiving, at his hands, it is base and inexcusable that we suffer a doubt to sojourn within our heart. May we henceforth wage constant war against doubts of our God--enemies to our peace and to his honour; and with an unstaggering faith believe that what he has promised he will also perform. "Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief."

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Today's reading: Jeremiah 46-47, Hebrews 6 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Jeremiah 46-47

A Message About Egypt

1 This is the word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the nations:

2 Concerning Egypt:

This is the message against the army of Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt, which was defeated at Carchemish on the Euphrates River by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah:

3 “Prepare your shields, both large and small,
and march out for battle!
4 Harness the horses,
mount the steeds!
Take your positions
with helmets on!
Polish your spears,
put on your armor!
5 What do I see?
They are terrified,
they are retreating,
their warriors are defeated.
They flee in haste
without looking back,
and there is terror on every side,” declares the LORD.
6 “The swift cannot flee
nor the strong escape.
In the north by the River Euphrates
they stumble and fall....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Hebrews 6

1 Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3And God permitting, we will do so.

4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned....

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Abdon

[Ăb'dŏn] - servile, service or cloud of judgment.

  1. A son of Hillel, the Pirathonite, Abdon judged Israel for eight years, and because of a plurality of wives, had forty sons and thirty nephews, who rode seventy ass colts (Judg. 12:13-15). Perhaps the same as Bedan in 1 Samuel 12:11.
  2. A Benjamite in Jerusalem (1 Chron. 8:23).
  3. The first-born of Jehiel from Maachah (1 Chron. 8:30; 9:36).
  4. A son of Micah sent with others by king Josiah to Huldah the prophetess to enquire of Jehovah regarding the Book of the Law found in the Temple (2 Chron. 34:20). Called Achbor in 2 Kings 22:12. Also the name of a Levitical city in Asher (Josh. 21:30; 1 Chron. 6:74).
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November 9, 2011

It's Time to Do Something!

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:11, NIV).

Friend to Friend

I could not tear my eyes away from the television screen as the 33 miners began to emerge from the depths of what could have been their mass grave. The men had been trapped for more than two months in the collapsed Chilean copper mines nearly half a mile underground. Everything I have read or heard about the tragedy is extraordinary.

The miners survived the early days by rationing food and working together as a team. Each man was assigned a job, one of which was to maintain peace and harmony until they were rescued. The selfless mining supervisor who insisted on being the last to leave his underground prison showed the world what it really means to put others first. I was amazed at the selflessness of the rescue worker who became the initial guinea pig for the rescue capsule and then chose to stay behind - alone - while the world celebrated above.

I wonder how long it will take us to forget. How long will we remember that the world came together to save a group of strangers? Will the powerful lessons of their rescue make any difference in the way we treat each other?

We all know what it is like to be trapped in a pit of some kind. It is probably not a collapsed mine, but pits are all basically the same.

Our world has collapsed under the weight of fear and pain.

No one seems to care. In fact, a lot of people have written us off as a lost cause.

People are too busy to recognize or understand our hopelessness.

Darkness prevails and rescue seems impossible.

We are wounded, sick and tired.

Civil war rages in our souls as we struggle to obey God instead of giving in to sin.

I truly believe that every day is filled with divine appointments - opportunities to rescue people who are trapped in some kind of pit. We miss the emptiness reflected in the eyes of the sales clerk or simply choose to ignore the homeless man begging for money so he can buy food. After all, we are in a hurry and have more important things to do. The sales clerk would probably be embarrassed if I said anything and that homeless man would probably just use the money I give him for drugs or alcohol.

The ringing phone is someone in need but we don't care enough to answer. Our neighbor does not know God but her life is a mess and we really don't want to get involved. Instead of taking action and doing what we know God wants us to do, we decide it is enough to pray for that neighbor and leave the messy part of God's work to someone else.

I am so guilty of walking away from someone in need instead of running to their rescue. I am in pain, too, and my pain is more important than theirs. I may not actually say those words, but I don't have to. My actions are blatant illustrations of my own egotism and self-absorption.

I do not want to be like the priest who nonchalantly strolled by the wounded and bleeding man lying on the road. I want to be like the Good Samaritan who stopped and saved the wounded man's life. I want to be "God with skin on."

One day, just as rescue workers descended into that Chilean mine, Jesus Christ will descend into this broken world and rescue us from the pit of human frailty. Until then, let's be His hands and feet. Let's love Him so much that we just have to do something about it.

Let's Pray

Father, I come to You today with a heart of praise for the way You meet every need in my life and how You constantly rescue me from the darkness. I want Your heart, Lord. I want to be Your hands and feet to the people You place in my path. Give me eyes to see their need and the courage to do something about it. Please guard my heart against pride and selfishness. I want to please and honor You alone.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

It is sometimes hard to love someone in need, but God calls us to look beyond their rough exterior and see the pain hidden there.

Read Ephesians 4:2. "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Notice the action words. What would your daily life look like if you took action and lived out this verse?

Is there someone in your life who is hurting? How can you ease their pain?

Is there someone in your life who is wounded? How can you help them heal?

Is there someone in your life who has fallen into some kind of pit? How can you help rescue them?

Make a specific plan to meet a specific need in someone's life today. Then do something about it!

More from the Girlfriends

We are living in tough times. It is easy to get so wrapped up in our own problems that we fail to see the needs of others. Today, I am issuing a challenge to all of us, girlfriends! Look around. Find someone in need and take action. We are never more like our Father than when we love and serve someone in His name.

I would love to hear your story! How did God use you to meet a need in the life of someone? How did someone meet your need?

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. Already feeling the stress of the approaching holidays? You need Mary's book, Escaping the Stress Trap, for practical steps to dealing with and managing stress. Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.

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

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P31Header
Renee Swope

November 9, 2011

He Is There
Renee Swope

"Now he had to go through SamariaÖ and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?'" John 4:4, 6-7 (NIV)

What was He doing there? She didn't know who He was and couldn't help but wonder why He was talking to her, a Samaritan woman.

When He spoke, she heard gentleness in His voice. Kindness and humility in His simple request for a drink. In His eyes she saw acceptance, not judgment; love, not hate.

Many of us know her as the Samaritan woman, but I like to call her Sam. It makes her feel more like the real woman she was. A woman just like us who struggled with hurts, rejection and loneliness.

One thing I love about her story is found in our key verse where it tells us Jesus "had to go through Samaria." Theologians would tell us Jews considered Samaritans to be the scum of the earth and would do everything to avoid them. In fact, usually they would travel around Samaria-but not Jesus.

He had to go through Samaria. Perhaps it is because He knew Sam would be there.

Now typically, women came to the well in the morning or early evening. They traveled together in the cool of the day, avoiding the scorching heat of the sun since they would be carrying heavy jars filled with water back to their homes. But not Sam; she walked there all by herself in the hottest part of the day.

Instead of avoiding the scorching heat of the sun, many believe Sam went to the well at noon to avoid the scorching pain of others' rejection and judgment. The weight of the water-filled jar in the heat must have been almost unbearable; but the weight of her neighbors' words, reminding her of her failures, was more than she could take.

You see, Sam had been married five times. In her culture women could not divorce their husbands, so she had been discarded by five men. And, she was now living with a man who didn't think she was worth committing to.

When Jesus met her, Sam was running errands and running away from those who knew all about her flaws and failed marriages. Knowing she was running from the very thing that reminded her of her imperfections, Jesus timed it so she would run into Him and find perfect love.

He initiated conversation and asked her for the one thing she had to offer: water. It wasn't much, but it was a starting point. Sam could have filled her jar and headed back home, returning to her busy day. Yet she stopped and listened. She let Him speak into the broken, hurting, empty places of her heart.

Jesus intentionally met Sam in one of the loneliest parts of her day. And in the same way, He wants to meet us in the midst of our sometimes lonely and often imperfect lives, when our disappointments, pains and failures try to confirm our self-doubts.

Jesus is there waiting for us to come to Him.

He is there when we're going through the motions, aware of what needs to be done, but unaware of how we're going to do it.

He is there when we can't stop criticizing ourselves for blowing it the day before; when we go to work and wonder why we're even there.

He is there during endless days filled with diapers and laundry, wondering if we'll ever find meaning in the monotony.

He is there when we come home to an empty house and wonder why we don't have a family, or come home to a teenager who belittle us and a husband who ignores us.

Jesus sees our hearts and knows the pain of our loneliness, disappointment and rejection. Today He is pursuing us, inviting us to come to Him to receive the perfect love He offers - love that is patient and kind, love that keeps no record of wrongs, love that won't give up on us.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, will you stop and talk to Him? And then, will you quiet your thoughts so you can listen to His?

Dear Lord, thank You for pursuing me. I want to know and rely on the love You have for me, and live in the security of it! When I feel afraid, insignificant or alone today, help me turn to You and remember You are there! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
This devotion is taken in part from Chapter 2 of Renee's book, A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself and Live in the Security of God's Promises.

Want to read the rest of Chapter 2 Because God's Love is Perfect, I Don't Have to Be? Click here to download it for FREE! (For a limited time only.)

Visit Renee's website to sign up for her online Bible study of A Confident Heart, beginning in January. Also, be sure to enter her give-away that includes a Starbucks gift card and more!

When you buy resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity but supporting the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost through a purchase.

Application Steps:
How does it make you feel to know Jesus understands, and He is still there with you in every moment of every day? When do you need His assurance and presence most?

Reflections:
"Jesus is the only One who can meet our deepest need to be pursued, accepted and delighted in simply because of who we are. We can offer nothing but our presence, and He will desire us just the same." From A Confident Heartby Renee Swope

Power Verses:
Jeremiah 31:3, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness." (NIV)

© 2011 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

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The Danger in Being a Christian: It began as a Jewish sect; fierce persecution only helped it spread

Today's reading: Acts 8

Acts 8:1 On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.

In some countries, a person who becomes a Christian forfeits a good education and job. And in a few countries, a person who converts risks his or her life. One church historian estimates that more Christians were martyred in the twentieth century than in all preceding centuries put together.

Yet, strangely, more often than not, intense persecution of Christians leads to a spurt of growth in the church. An ancient saying expresses this phenomenon: "The blood of martyrs is the seed of the church."

The First Big Advance

For a while, the new faith enjoyed popular favor. But very soon it involved grave risk. In the book of Acts, the persecution that produced the first Christian martyr, Stephen, ironically brought about the advance of Christianity outside its Jewish base. Forced out of stormy Jerusalem, the scattering Jewish Christians turned to other races and ethnic groups. Philip preached first to the despised Samaritans, and then crossed racial barriers by helping to convert an official from Ethiopia.

Acts documents a dramatic change in the faith. What had been viewed as an offshoot of the Jewish religion, a "sect of the Nazarenes," began to encompass people from other religions, races and cultures. Before long, the center of church activity moved from Jerusalem to the city of Antioch. There, people coined the word Christian, indicating how separate the new faith had become. Never again would it be considered "just a Jewish thing."

Breaking the Jewish Mold

As Luke tells it, the transition to other ethnic groups required some adjustments. Jewish disciples balked at letting go of their centuries-old traditions and allowing the church to be flooded with non-Jews.

Peter, one of the most loyal Jews, explained his dilemma this way, "Who was I to think that I could stand in God's way?" (Acts 11:17). A direct, unmistakable vision from God (see Acts 10:9-23) overcame Peter's resistance to accepting non-Jews, and later a decisive church council settled on a policy toward them (see Acts 15:1-21).

As the pages of Acts turn, whole provinces and cultures open up to the gospel. The faith that had been guarded by a small knot of intimates, all Jews who knew Jesus personally, broke out into a rough world of soldiers, sorcerers, merchants and antagonists from other religions. This process was not without its bloody and frightening moments.

Life Question

  • If severe persecution were to come to the church in your region today, what would happen to your faith?

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At Issue - Identity

Today's reading: Exodus 1:15–21

“Hi, my name is _____. I work as a _____.” Meeting anyone new requires this exchange of information. Our society tells us that our identities are wrapped up in our jobs. Essentially, we are what we do. There are two dangers in this thinking: 1) At some point you’re going to fail at what you do—and then who are you? 2) At some point who you truly are (God’s child) is going to conflict with what you do—and then what do you do? Because the midwives knew who they really were, they feared the Boss more than the king. In any job, remember who you are.

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