Thursday, November 24, 2011

Daily Devotional Thursday 24th November

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”Psalm 100:4-5 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Fellowship with him."
1 John 1:6

When we were united by faith to Christ, we were brought into such complete fellowship with him, that we were made one with him, and his interests and ours became mutual and identical. We have fellowship with Christ in his love. What he loves we love. He loves the saints--so do we. He loves sinners--so do we. He loves the poor perishing race of man, and pants to see earth's deserts transformed into the garden of the Lord--so do we. We have fellowship with him in his desires. He desires the glory of God--we also labour for the same. He desires that the saints may be with him where he is--we desire to be with him there too. He desires to drive out sin--behold we fight under his banner. He desires that his Father's name may be loved and adored by all his creatures--we pray daily, "Let thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, even as it is in heaven." We have fellowship with Christ in his sufferings. We are not nailed to the cross, nor do we die a cruel death, but when he is reproached, we are reproached; and a very sweet thing it is to be blamed for his sake, to be despised for following the Master, to have the world against us. The disciple should not be above his Lord. In our measure we commune with him in his labours, ministering to men by the word of truth and by deeds of love. Our meat and our drink, like his, is to do the will of him who hath sent us and to finish his work. We have also fellowship with Christ in his joys. We are happy in his happiness, we rejoice in his exaltation. Have you ever tasted that joy, believer? There is no purer or more thrilling delight to be known this side heaven than that of having Christ's joy fulfilled in us, that our joy may be full. His glory awaits us to complete our fellowship, for his Church shall sit with him upon his throne, as his well-beloved bride and queen.

Evening

"Get thee up into the high mountain."
Isaiah 40:9

Each believer should be thirsting for God, for the living God, and longing to climb the hill of the Lord, and see him face to face. We ought not to rest content in the mists of the valley when the summit of Tabor awaits us. My soul thirsteth to drink deep of the cup which is reserved for those who reach the mountain's brow, and bathe their brows in heaven. How pure are the dews of the hills, how fresh is the mountain air, how rich the fare of the dwellers aloft, whose windows look into the New Jerusalem! Many saints are content to live like men in coal mines, who see not the sun; they eat dust like the serpent when they might taste the ambrosial meat of angels; they are content to wear the miner's garb when they might put on king's robes; tears mar their faces when they might anoint them with celestial oil. Satisfied I am that many a believer pines in a dungeon when he might walk on the palace roof, and view the goodly land and Lebanon. Rouse thee, O believer, from thy low condition! Cast away thy sloth, thy lethargy, thy coldness, or whatever interferes with thy chaste and pure love to Christ, thy soul's Husband. Make him the source, the centre, and the circumference of all thy soul's range of delight. What enchants thee into such folly as to remain in a pit when thou mayst sit on a throne? Live not in the lowlands of bondage now that mountain liberty is conferred upon thee. Rest no longer satisfied with thy dwarfish attainments, but press forward to things more sublime and heavenly. Aspire to a higher, a nobler, a fuller life. Upward to heaven! Nearer to God!

"When wilt thou come unto me, Lord?

Oh come, my Lord most dear!

Come near, come nearer, nearer still,

I'm blest when thou art near."

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Today's reading: Ezekiel 20-21, James 5 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Ezekiel 20-21

Rebellious Israel Purged

1 In the seventh year, in the fifth month on the tenth day, some of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the LORD, and they sat down in front of me.

2 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 3 “Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Have you come to inquire of me? As surely as I live, I will not let you inquire of me, declares the Sovereign LORD.’

4 “Will you judge them? Will you judge them, son of man? Then confront them with the detestable practices of their ancestors 5 and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: On the day I chose Israel, I swore with uplifted hand to the descendants of Jacob and revealed myself to them in Egypt. With uplifted hand I said to them, “I am the LORD your God.” 6 On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of Egypt into a land I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most beautiful of all lands. 7 And I said to them, “Each of you, get rid of the vile images you have set your eyes on, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am the LORD your God....”

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: James 5

Warning to Rich Oppressors

1 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you....

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Abiram [Ăbī'ram]—father is the exalted one.

  1. A son of Eliab, a Reubenitewho with others conspired against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and who perished with his fellow-conspirators (Num. 16:1-27;26:9).
  2. The first-born son of Hiel the Bethelite, who began to rebuild Jericho, but who came under the curse foretold by Joshua (Josh. 6:26; 1 Kings 16:34).
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November 23, 2011

Put a Lid on It

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark ... (James 3:5, NIV).

Friend to Friend

From the time I could hold a crayon in my chubby little hand, I've enjoyed creating various works of art. For my family and friends, my annual endeavors usually found their way under the Christmas tree and into their hands. One year it was macramé hanging plant holders woven with wooden beads. Another it was a menagerie of decoupage wooden boxes. Then there were the years of framed cross-stitch, ceramic Nativity sets, and quilted pig and chicken pillows.

When I was 17, it was the year of the candle. Everyone from Grandma Edwards to my best girlfriends received praying hands candles. For weeks I slaved over a hot stove, stirring melted wax, meticulously centering the ten-inch wicks, and then slowly pouring the red, green, or yellow molten material into an inverted mold in the shape of praying hands. When the wax hardened, I burped the rubber mold and plopped the hands onto the counter. My kitchen looked like a prostheses laboratory with hands littering the counters.

I was just cooking up my last batch of wax when the doorbell rang. I was having so much fun that I had forgotten the time. I had a date at 7:30, and here I was in pink curlers and a paraffin-covered sweatshirt. I rushed through the kitchen, leaped over my dad, who had fallen asleep on the den floor in front of the television, and threw open the door.

"Hi, Jim. Come on in," I said, out of breath. "I'm not ready."

"So I noticed," he said with a grin.

"I was cooking candles and lost track of time."

"You were what?"

"Oh, never mind. Just come on in and have a seat on the couch. I'll be ready in a minute."

I dashed to my room to change clothes, take out the curlers and run a brush through my hair, swipe mascara through my lashes, and place a hint of gloss on my lips. Jim sat uncomfortably on the sofa, listening to my dad snore and Jackie Gleason yell at Ralph Kramden. After about 15 minutes Jim smelled something burning from the kitchen. He didn't want to call me for fear of waking up my dad. (Teenage boys don't like to wake up their date's dad if they can help it.) Instead, he tiptoed into the kitchen and discovered a pot on the stove with flames shooting up about 18 inches in the air.

Sleeping dad or no sleeping dad, Jim yelled, "Sharon! Whatever you were cooking is on fire!"

"Oh my goodness!" I exclaimed. "I forgot to turn off the stove!"

Just as I burst into the kitchen, Jim threw a cup of water into the flaming wax. Rather than extinguish the flames, the fire exploded upward. The flames shot up the wall, across the ceiling, and down the other side of the room. Our screams alerted my father, who woke to see his baby girl standing in a room surrounded by flames. With the agility of Superman, Dad sprang to his feet, ran to the kitchen faster than a speeding bullet, grabbed the lid of the pot, and clamped it down on the source of the flames. Just as quickly as the fire had erupted, it seemed to recede back into the pot like a genie returning to his bottle.

This all happened in a matter of seconds. We stood in the middle of the room like three stunned deer. I never did tell my dad that it was Jim who threw the water on the burning wax. Teenage boys have two strikes against them just by walking through the doors to pick up a man's baby girl.

After the shock of the incident wore off, I had time to reflect on the speed at which the flames blazed around the room, the feeling of fire licking against my skin, the terrifying sound the fire made. It made me think about my words and how easily they can explode and singe those around me. I saw and understood the destructive power of our words and the speed at which that destruction can spread. But you know what else I learned? I learned just how easy it is to stop the blaze...put a lid on it. As soon as my father placed a lid on the pot and removed the flames' source of oxygen, the fire went out.

As we listen to God day by day, I pray we will sense His leading to put a lid on our destructive words. Let's pray we will be quick to listen, slow to speak, and quick to obey when God warns us to keep fire-sparking words from slipping past our lips.

Let's Pray

Dear Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Keep watch over the door of my lips. May nothing escape my mouth today that is not pleasing to You.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Read James 3:1-18 and note what you learn about our words.


Has there been a time you wish you had "put a lid on it" rather than say something you said. (I know that is a silly question. Who hasn't?)

Today, sit a pot lid out on your kitchen counter as a reminder to put a lid on your words. You might want to leave it out for more than a few days.

If you'll agree to leave a pot lid out on your kitchen counter for a few days, let me know at www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes. I'd love to know if it made a difference.

More from the Girlfriends
Do you find yourself longing to hear God's voice - not as a once-in-a-lifetime experience but on a daily basis? If so, Sharon's new 15-Minute Devotional book, Listening to God Day-by-Day,will help you do just that. It is an expanded version of the smaller book, Extraordinary Moments with God. In it you will find 100 devotions to help you become a woman who detects God's still small voice in all of life. This is a warm, fun, tender look at recognizing some of the wonderful and unexpected ways God reaches out to us in the middle of our busy days. And if you would like to learn more about how to control your words, then see Sharon's best-selling book and Bible study, The Power of a Woman's Words.

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
Rachel Olsen

November 23, 2011

My Thanksgiving
Rachel Olsen

"Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. For His lovingkindness is everlasting." 1 Chronicles 16:34 (NASB)

This Thanksgiving morning I will wake up thankful. Not because my life is perfect and I have everything I could want or need, but because I've decided to take the time to count my blessings and give thanks to God.

• I'll be thankful my husband and I are off work today, and that we have work to return to.

• I'll be thankful my children are able to enjoy a day of play at home, and thankful they have days of learning ahead that will help shape them into who God intends them to be.

I'll go downstairs. As I pass my desk on my way to the kitchen, I'll select one of several Bibles on my shelf.

• I'll be thankful for the Word of God I am able to freely read, distribute and teach in this country.

Mostly likely, I'll do as I did last year and put on a CD of hymns sung by one of my friends.

• I'll be thankful for the various friends in my life - both far and near - who enrich me, challenge me, lend me their ear, pray for me and make me laugh. And I'll be especially grateful for the friendship of God.

• I'll also be thankful for the blessing of music and its ability to lift my mood, touch my heart, energize my body and connect my soul to an eternal God.

I'll turn the lights of my Christmas tree on - I like to have my tree up by Thanksgiving Day. The lights and ornaments will twinkle amidst the backdrop of an evergreen tree.

• I'll thank God for giving us some trees that stay green all year long despite the cold weather.

• I will thank Him for giving us the day and the night, and the stars that twinkle in the sky. I will also be grateful for the Light of the World and the eternal life that He brings, represented by the evergreens in our holiday decorations.

Soon it will be time to start cooking the Thanksgiving meal. In my home that will be turkey, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, green beans, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy. Oh, and deviled eggs.

• I'll be thankful for God's provision of food - including being thankful for the farmers and ranchers, truckers and grocers, and for the kind family member who gives us a turkey and a box of sweet potatoes every year.

• I'll remember contributing to a local church's Thanksgiving ministry for those less fortunate, and I'll be thankful for the people who act as the hands and feet of Christ in ministry - they inspire me.

As I cook, I'll set aside any cans, plastic bags and cardboard boxes to put into our recycling bin.

• I'll be thankful for this beautiful planet teeming with life and flowing with water that God entrusted to humankind to steward. And I'll look forward to the day when I, like the writer of the book of Revelation, see a new earth recreated by God, free of Satan's influence.

More family members will join us and we will gather around my kitchen table to eat. We are no Norman Rockwell painting - our family has its struggles and issues just like the next family. But on this evening, we will set aside any differences as we laugh together, talk together, pray together and eat together.

• I'll be thankful for the bond of family - that there are people who know me fully, and love me anyway. And I'll be grateful for the family of God to which I am bonded through Christ.

After dinner we'll play cards or board games, or perhaps watch a movie. Then I'll say goodbye to our guests, tuck my children in bed, sit and reflect on the day. I will ask God to show me any blessings I missed or failed to count, because I'm convinced each one of us has more to be thankful for than we ever notice. Today, let's purpose to notice, and to be grateful.

Dear Lord, thank You for the blessings You have bestowed - help me notice them. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Rachel at her blog today and share with her something you are grateful for.

From My Heart to Your Throne: An Intimate Worship Collection (CD) by Melissa Milbourn

The Most Powerful Two-Word Prayer (DVD) by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Pause to count your blessings today. A grateful heart can usher you into God's presence.

Stop by my blog and share something you are grateful for today. The ability to connect with others via the internet is one of the blessings on my list!

Reflections:
Perhaps I don't have family at home with me today, or much food to prepare, or a Christmas tree to gather by. But I have a godly purpose to fulfill in this earth, a world of beauty outside my door, and most importantly, I have eternal life and the friendship of God available. Do I Know Him?

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 9:15, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" (NASB)

© 2011 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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

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Jesus on Trial

Matthew 26:57-63A "Now the chief priests and the whole Council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death" (v. 59).

In some ways Jesus can be seen as the victim of what is taking place during Passover week, yet we also get the sense that He is in control of all that is happening. For example, He has remained cool, calm, and collected during His stay in Jerusalem, teaching openly in the temple courts, unafraid of those who hate Him (Matt. 21:23-23:39). His enemies, however, behave as if they might suddenly lose their grip on events. They meet secretly to plot Jesus' death because they do not want to incite a riot ( 26:1-5), and they are similarly motivated to arrest Him in the dark (vv. 20, 47). This reveals their cowardice, not our Lord's guilt, which is the point ofMatthew 26:55 . If Jesus were guilty, the Sanhedrin would have no qualms about taking Him prisoner in broad daylight; His innocence and their fear of the people makes it necessary to seize Him at night.

Our Savior's trial is the greatest miscarriage of justice ever committed. Matthew makes this plain, stating that the council seeks "false testimony" (v. 59 ). Whatever they feel about their actions - and they likely believe themselves to be doing God's will - Caiaphas and his cohorts only want evidence against Jesus. They couldn't care less about the truth and are probably frustrated in their inability to build a case against Him (vv. 59-60a). Even as this chaos surrounds Him, our Lord remains in control, refusing to answer the false charges (vv. 62-63a ). This, John Calvin writes, fulfills His purposes. Christ is silent "not only because the objection [is] frivolous, but because, having been appointed to be a sacrifice, he [has] thrown aside all anxiety about defending himself."

Finally, the Sanhedrin charges Him based on His claim to be able to destroy the temple and rebuild it (v. 61). Even this testimony perverts our Lord's words; He said the temple of His body would be restored (that is, resurrected) should others crush Him ( John 2:18-22), not that He is about to destroy the temple building. Still, falsely placing this threat on Jesus' lips serves the Sanhedrin's intent. Desecrating sacred places in their day can be a capital crime, and Rome would want to avoid the public upheaval that would occur were Christ to carry out a threat that, unbeknownst to the Empire, He never made to begin with.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Zephaniah 3:5 assures us that the Lord is perfectly righteous and therefore incapable of any injustice. We must therefore, unlike the Sanhedrin in Jesus' day, learn to hate injustice and to do whatever we can to make sure that justice is done in our culture. Some of the ways this can be done is to refuse to give false testimony or listen to gossip, and to choose righteous leaders who will promote justice both in our churches and in our cultural institutions.

For further study:

Deuteronomy 5:20

The Bible in a year:

Ezekiel 37-38

INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living.

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TT_Coramdeo_ttlogo

Jesus on Trial

Zephaniah 3:5 assures us that the Lord is perfectly righteous and therefore incapable of any injustice. We must therefore, unlike the Sanhedrin in Jesus' day, learn to hate injustice and to do whatever we can to make sure that justice is done in our culture. Some of the ways this can be done is to refuse to give false testimony or listen to gossip, and to choose righteous leaders who will promote justice both in our churches and in our cultural institutions.

For further study:

Deuteronomy 5:20

The Bible in a year:

Ezekiel 37-38

Coram Deo from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living.

ADVERTISEMENT

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Change a Life, Give a Bible - Muslim Converts Plead for Bibles

Hello,

When a Muslim comes to faith in Jesus Christ, the one thing they plead for is a Bible.

And now we have been offered a $10,000 Challenge Grant to provide these desperately needed Bibles! But we needyour help to meet this challenge!

Sadly, Bibles are scarce in most Islamic countries where it's illegal to be a Christian. Which is why we have set a goal to deliver at least 4,000 Bibles to our suffering brothers and sisters in these countries over the next four months.

And now... if we meet this $10,000 Challenge Grant... we can meet this goal! But we need your help... which is why I'm asking you to give an online gift to Open Doors today.

Through your gift, you'll not only help meet the challenge... but help deliver Bibles to Muslim converts who risk their lives every day to follow Christ. You'll be giving strength, hope, and encouragement to those who so desperately need it!

So thank you for your gift. And thank you for standing with those who are suffering the most for their faith.

Carl A. Moeller Signature

ECFA A higher standard. A higher purpose.

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- Rick Warren, Author of
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Open Doors Serving persecuted Christians Worldwide Click here to give Bibles.



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Master Storyteller: Jesus conveys deep truth in gripping stories

Today's reading: Luke 15

Luke 15:32: "This brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found."

Using simple, homespun images, Jesus expresses profound truths in a way that holds his audience captive. His parables (concise short stories) have won high praise, even from literary experts who do not accept their spiritual message. Some of the most famous of these parables appear only in Luke's Gospel.

The three stories in Luke 15 stir up feelings for the lost-and for the loser. A shepherd scours the hillside in a frantic search for a missing sheep. A woman turns her house upside down over a lost silver coin. A runaway son thumbs his nose at a life of comfort and ends up half-starved in a pigpen. In a few brief sentences, Jesus' parables tug at feelings of loss and remorse that lie buried just beneath the surface in all of us.

Happy Endings

Yet all three parables end the same: Spectacular good news floods in to replace the sadness, and partying breaks out. All the parables point to the limitless love of God for those in real need. God stands ready to forgive all those who cry out to him.

The parable of the lost son actually tells the story of two sons, one irresponsible, the other hardworking. One wastes his life and comes home humbled; the other proudly refuses to celebrate his brother's homecoming. The story ends with one son inside, enjoying a joyful family celebration; his brother lingers outside, bitterly unwilling to forgive. Which son is really lost?

Life Question

When did you lose something important and then find it again?
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Today's reading is from the
NIV Student Bible
by Zondervan


A proven, common sense approach to studying the Scriptures appeals to high school and college readers (and students of all ages).


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Holiday greetings from Bible Gateway! Every year as Christmas approaches, we're exhorted from all directions to embrace the true spirit of the holiday season.

But how do you keep your focus on Jesus when you're being pulled in every direction by Christmas marketing, travel plans, end-of-semester exams, family drama, bills, and everything else that comes along with the holidays?

This Christmas season, we want to help you re-focus on Jesus Christ as you make your way through Advent.

Bible Gateway Christmas Newsletters and Devotions Are Here

We're excited to announce a full lineup of free Christmas devotionals and newsletters!

We've been working overtime for months to put these resources together (that's right, we started thinking about Christmas even before the local retail store put out Christmas decorations way back in September). And working with our content partners, we've assembled six Christmas newsletters for Advent 2011, including:

Advent Devotions: Daily Christmas devotions, music, Scripture readings, and more, throughout the entire season of Advent.

Christmas Joy by Mel Lawrenz: A brand-new daily holiday devotional series by pastor and author Mel Lawrenz, who writes the popularEverything New devotional.

Bible Gateway's Top 20 Christmas Songs: Earlier this year, we asked Bible Gateway fans to share their favorite Christmas songs. We've tallied the results into a countdown of the top 20 Christmas songs as chosen by Bible Gateway visitors!

...and three more!

You can sign up for these email newsletters at BibleGateway.com. There's something for everyone. And like all of our email newsletters, the Christmas newsletters are completely free. The first newsletter begins this Sunday, and the others follow shortly thereafter, so sign up today!

It's our sincerest hope that these resources help you keep your focus on the miracle of Jesus Christ this Christmas, even admist all the distractions of the holiday season.

Sincerely,

the Bible Gateway team
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