Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Daily Devotional Tuesday 1st November

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:8-9NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Renew a right spirit within me."
Psalm 51:10

A backslider, if there be a spark of life left in him will groan after restoration. In this renewal the same exercise of grace is required as at our conversion. We needed repentance then; we certainly need it now. We wanted faith that we might come to Christ at first; only the like grace can bring us to Jesus now. We wanted a word from the Most High, a word from the lip of the loving One, to end our fears then; we shall soon discover, when under a sense of present sin, that we need it now. No man can be renewed without as real and true a manifestation of the Holy Spirit's energy as he felt at first, because the work is as great, and flesh and blood are as much in the way now as ever they were. Let thy personal weakness, O Christian, be an argument to make thee pray earnestly to thy God for help. Remember, David when he felt himself to be powerless, did not fold his arms or close his lips, but he hastened to the mercy-seat with "renew a right spirit within me." Let not the doctrine that you, unaided, can do nothing, make you sleep; but let it be a goad in your side to drive you with an awful earnestness to Israel's strong Helper. O that you may have grace to plead with God, as though you pleaded for your very life--"Lord, renew a right spirit within me." He who sincerely prays to God to do this, will prove his honesty by using the means through which God works. Be much in prayer; live much upon the Word of God; kill the lusts which have driven your Lord from you; be careful to watch over the future uprisings of sin. The Lord has his own appointed ways; sit by the wayside and you will be ready when he passes by. Continue in all those blessed ordinances which will foster and nourish your dying graces; and, knowing that all the power must proceed from him, cease not to cry, "Renew a right spirit within me."

Evening

"I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought."
Hosea 13:5

Yes, Lord, thou didst indeed know me in my fallen state, and thou didst even then choose me for thyself. When I was loathsome and self-abhorred, thou didst receive me as thy child, and thou didst satisfy my craving wants. Blessed forever be thy name for this free, rich, abounding mercy. Since then, my inward experience has often been a wilderness; but thou hast owned me still as thy beloved, and poured streams of love and grace into me to gladden me, and make me fruitful. Yea, when my outward circumstances have been at the worst, and I have wandered in a land of drought, thy sweet presence has solaced me. Men have not known me when scorn has awaited me, but thou hast known my soul in adversities, for no affliction dims the lustre of thy love. Most gracious Lord, I magnify thee for all thy faithfulness to me in trying circumstances, and I deplore that I should at any time have forgotten thee and been exalted in heart, when I have owed all to thy gentleness and love. Have mercy upon thy servant in this thing!

My soul, if Jesus thus acknowledged thee in thy low estate, be sure that thou own both himself and his cause now that thou art in thy prosperity. Be not lifted up by thy worldly successes so as to be ashamed of the truth or of the poor church with which thou hast been associated. Follow Jesus into the wilderness: bear the cross with him when the heat of persecution grows hot. He owned thee, O my soul, in thy poverty and shame--never be so treacherous as to be ashamed of him. O for more shame at the thought of being ashamed of my best Beloved! Jesus, my soul cleaveth to thee.

"I'll turn to thee in days of light,

As well as nights of care,

Thou brightest amid all that's bright!

Thou fairest of the fair!"

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Today's reading: Jeremiah 22-23, Titus 1 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Jeremiah 22-23

Judgment Against Wicked Kings

1 This is what the LORD says: “Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and proclaim this message there: 2 ‘Hear the word of the LORD to you, king of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne—you, your officials and your people who come through these gates. 3 This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. 4 For if you are careful to carry out these commands, then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people. 5 But if you do not obey these commands, declares the LORD, I swear by myself that this palace will become a ruin.’”

6 For this is what the LORD says about the palace of the king of Judah:

“Though you are like Gilead to me,
like the summit of Lebanon,
I will surely make you like a wasteland,
like towns not inhabited.
7 I will send destroyers against you,
each man with his weapons,
and they will cut up your fine cedar beams
and throw them into the fire....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Titus 1

1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— 2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, 3and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior,

4 To Titus, my true son in our common faith:

Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

Appointing Elders Who Love What Is Good

5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. 6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it....

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Ruth

The Woman Who Rose From Obscurity to Riches

Scripture References - The Book of Ruth, Matthew 1:5

Name Meaning - Since the Ruth of ancient Bible times, her name has ever been a most popular one for girls. Elsdon C. Smith, in his compilation of the first hundred female names in America, places Ruth seventh in the list, with an estimated number of almost one and a half million bearing the name. The author's only daughter bears this honored name. As to its significance, we cannot do better than the interpretation Wilkinson gives us in his Personal Names of the Bible, in the chapter on "Heathen Names" -

The most distinguished person of the Moabitish race is Ruth, who became the wife of Boaz, and ancestress of David. Her name is a contraction of reuth , which may either be the word for "the act of seeing," "sight" and hence, as in English, objectively "a sight," "something worth seeing" - or the word for "friendship" or "a female friend," like reu in Reuel, "friend of God." If the former etymology be adopted, we must ascribe the name to the early beauty of the child; if the latter, it may be due to the exhibition in infancy of that amiable and affectionate disposition which was so characteristic of the woman.

Both meanings of the name were true of Ruth, for as a beautiful girl from Moab she was certainly a sight worth seeing, and her character revealed her to be a woman capable of rare friendship.

It took the grace of God to befriend a bitter woman as Naomi became, but Ruth was bound to her mother-in-law by the cords of love, and literature has no exhibition of friendship comparable to that dramatic episode on the way to Bethlehem (Ruth 1:16, 17 ). Not wanting to go back to Moab, as Orpah did, Ruth, cleaving to Naomi said with passion in her voice -

Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lorddo so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

What an appealing and stirring demonstration of undying friendship that was, and Ruth meant it, and through it changed Naomi's sourness into sweetness! We have dear friends like Ruth who cling to us, and others like Orpah whose friendship is only veneer and who quickly leave us (see Naomi and Orpah). Scripture gives us a fivefold profile of this famous Moabitess -

A Young Widow

The first glimpse we have of Ruth is as a young wife robbed by death of her husband. In our previous cameos of Naomi and Orpah we have already seen how Elimelech and his wife, along with their two sons Mahlon and Chilion, in order to escape prevailing famine in Bethlehem, emigrated to the neighboring country of Moab, the inhabitants of which were idolaters. After a while Elimelech died, and the two fatherless sons married women of Moab. Mahlon took Ruth to wife, and Chilion, Orpah. After some ten years' sojourn in Moab, Mahlon and Chilion died leaving their wives childless. In marrying women of Moab those two Hebrew men sinned against the Mosaic Law which prohibted any association with the idolatrous Moabites (Deuteronomy 7:3; 23:3).

Mahlon means "the sickly one," or "invalid"; Chilion, "the pining one," or "wasting away" - names probably associated with their natal frailty. They may have been twins, and from their birth Naomi had to surround them with great care and attention. This is evident that life in Moab, with all its food and comfort, hastened their end. Like their father, Elimelech, they found graves in foreign soil, and the desolation of widowhood came upon both Ruth and Orpah, who became sharers of Naomi's desolation. Ten years of widowhood brought the two younger women to a mature age. How far they had been influenced Godward by their marriage into a Hebrew family, with its recognition of God, and not their idols, as the only true object of worship, we are not told. As Ruth's husband, Mahlon, was the first-born of Elimelech and Naomi, we can imagine how he would strive through their years together to draw her from her heathen ways. With all we know of Ruth's honest nature, it is quite possible that she warmly received all her husband told her of the mighty Jehovah.

Bereft of her husband, Ruth, as well as Orpah, would be left without material resources of support, and would face the hard and bitter lot of a biting poverty, as many widows do when the breadwinner is taken. But if Ruth shed any tears over her sorry plight as she faced a gloomy future without her husband, there is no record of them. She did not seek for self-pity neither did she manifest the bitterness that had gripped the heart of Naomi because of her sad lot. Amid the shadows, Ruth maintained a poise and a serenity which even her mother-in-law must have coveted. When happy homes are ravaged by death, it requires grace to say, "The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Naomi's self-confessed bitterness over the loss of husband and sons spoke of her lack of faith in God's good providence. But Ruth, heathen though she may have been, seems to have calmly acquiesced in the divine will.

A Faithful Daughter-in-Law

Bound together by a bond of common grief, the three widows found consolation in each other's company. "Fellow-feeling, makes us wondrous kind." The widowed Naomi, now bereft of her two sons who died childless, had no links with Moab. As famine had passed in Bethlehem, the decision was made to pull up stakes and return to her own country and people, perhaps with a faint hope that God would prove Himself to be the Guardian of widows. "Let thy widows trust in me." What about Ruth and Orpah? Deeply attached to their mother-in-law, who had become a second mother to them, and to whom they clung as their friend and counselor, they decided to accompany the pilgrim on her way. Naomi used no persuasion, but left the two young widows to make their own choice. Therefore all three left Moab together, but on the way they stopped and Naomi urged them to return to their own country, marry again and settle down. She did not want them to face uncertainty in a strange land. With poor Orpah, ties of kindred and her own idolatrous practices won out. Her heart failed, and kissing her mother-in-law she went back to her people and to her gods. It is possible that when among her heathen friends again, her conscience often whispered to her of the wrong course taken.

As for Ruth, the choice was different. She loved Naomi and was willing to leave her own land and share the unknown future with the aging woman in whom her life was bound up. In her happier days with Mahlon, and then in her desolation and bereavement, Ruth found in Naomi a home for her heart. Orpah manifested a show of passionate affection as she kissed her mother-in-law good-by! But Ruth, as always, revealed a quiet fidelity so characteristic of her association with the embittered woman now returning to Bethlehem. We agree with the sentiment of Alexander Whyte that there is not a love story comparable to the love of the Moabite daughter-in-law for her Hebrew mother-in-law.

Ruth's love for her dead husband's aged mother is as pure as gold and as strong as death. Many waters cannot quench Ruth's love. And her confession of her love, when she is constrained to confess it, is the most beautiful confession of love in all the world.

Ruth's declaration of love and loyalty for Naomi marks it out as being the purest and most unselfish form of devotion, especially when we remember that Naomi was more than twice the age of Ruth, and that, proverbially, it is not easy to live with a mother-in-law. Here we have a strong contradiction to modern flippancy - the passionate affection of a young widow for her widowed mother-in-law. History and literature cannot provide a more exquisite expression of love and loyalty as that to be found in the lovely idyll bearing the name of the lover herself. The matchless beauty of the character of Ruth appeared when she cried, "Intreat me not to leave thee." As A. S. Geden puts it, "The piety and fidelity of Ruth are early exhibited in the course of the narrative, in that she refused to abandon her mother-in-law, although thrice exhorted to do so by Naomi herself, on account of her own great age, and the better prospects for Ruth in her own country." In an age like ours with its ever growing number of strained relationships, broken homes and loveless lives it is most refreshing to go back to the charming picture of loyalty found in a short yet sublime book in which every prospect pleases.

A Determined Convert

In spite of her heathen background and association with the degenerated tribe of Moab, Ruth became a devout worshiper of the true God. Just when she cast off her idolatry with its folly of bowing down to gods of wood and stone, and turned to the beauty and blessedness of true religion we are not told. Perhaps in her somewhat short married life, her heart was stirred by what her husband told her of the greatness of Jehovah. Then she must have seen that Naomi's God was totally different from the lifeless deity she worshiped. This much is evident, that her outburst of song of life devotion on the road from Moab to Bethlehem was the birth-strain of a new life. From henceforth the Hebrews would be her people, and Naomi's God her God. Her new-found faith constrained her to say, "The Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me."

Had Ruth accompanied Orpah to Moab and to obscurity, she would have returned to the altars of Baal. But now with God in her heart, she longed to live with those people "whose God is the Lord." Faith burst forth into the light of day, took the form of quiet, humble service, and remained untainted by any trace of pride or of spiritual haughtiness, as Kuyper expresses it. To which we can add the sentiment of Fausset that, "Ruth is an instance of natural affection made instrumental in leading to true religion. A blossom of heathendom stretching its flower cup desiringly towards the light of revelation in Israel."

The firm decision of Ruth to follow Jehovah, and to completely identify herself with His people, brought her a rich reward when she became the ancestress of the Saviour who came into the world to save idolaters and sinners of every race. With her surrender to the claims of God, Ruth's "beauty of heart, generosity of soul, firm sense of duty and meekness" were sanctified, and were used to place her winsome portrait among the immortals. There are thousands of Christian parents whose heavy load would be lifted if only their unsaved children would come home one day confessing. "Thy God shall be my God, thy people my people." The miracle happened in the heathen heart of Ruth, and God is still the same today as when He won the young widow of Moab for Himself.

A Humble Gleaner

Back in Bethlehem, Naomi was reminded of how her afflictions had changed her. Friends found it hard to believe that this was the beautiful woman who had left them ten years before. At that time she was clothed so well, but now she is clad in a poor and sorrowful dress. Her brow was wrinkled and her back bent, but by her side was the "foreigner," to share her sorrow, and to taste any joys that might come to her. At first it seemed as if they were to remain desolate and uncared for, but fortunately it was harvest time, and the golden sheaves were being gathered in. Naomi and Ruth must live, and Ruth, with her characteristic thoughtfulness, knew that her aged mother-in-law was not able to work. Thus she went out and was directed to join the poor gleaners in the fields of the rich, godly landowner, Boaz.

We find ourselves in disagreement with those who try to portray Ruth as a lonely girl overcome with homesickness for her old Moabite friends as she bent her back to glean in an unfamiliar field. In his Ode to a Nightingale, Keats sought to immortalize such a feeling in the arrestive lines -

Perhaps the self-same song that found a path Thro' the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home, She stood in tears amid the alien corn.

There is no trace whatever of such a doleful note in the record of Ruth. Having deliberately severed all association with Moab, she found joy among the strange people whom she had made her people, and when she went forth that bright morning to follow the reapers, it was with joy and confidence that the God under whose wings she had come to trust would undertake for her. Thus we much prefer the beautiful tribute Thomas Hood gives us in his poem on Ruth.

She stood breast-high amid the corn,

Clasped by the golden light of morn,

Like the sweetheart of the sun,

Who many a glowing kiss had won.

On her cheek an autumn flush,

Deeply ripened - such a blush

In the midst of Brown was born,

Like red poppies grown with corn.

Round her eyes her tresses fell,

Which were blackest none could tell,

But long lashes veiled a light,

That had else been all too bright.

And her hat, with shady brim,

Made her tressy forehead dim -

Thus she stood amid the stooks,

Praising God with sweetest looks.

"Sure," I said, "Heav'n did not mean,

Where I reap thou should'st but glean;

Lay thy sheaf adown and come,

Share my harvest and my home."

Ruth was not ashamed of the low order of her work as she took her place as a gleaner with the poor and outcast. The sacred historian tells us that as Ruth went out to secure food for Naomi and herself that it was "her hap to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech." But her entrance into the field of Boaz, and not into another man's field, did not just happen. Under Jewish law Ruth had the right to glean in any harvest field. It was no mere chance, then, that brought Boaz and Ruth together, for even the steps of God's children are directed by Him. In His plan for His own there is no such a thing as luck . Determined not to eat the bread of idleness, industrious Ruth walked right into the arms of divine providence. Little did she dream that she would become the much-loved wife of the master of the field in which the reapers had given her a friendly welcome (Ruth 2:12;Psalms 17:8; 36:7).

Being one who feared God, and one who cared for the poor, Boaz went among his reapers, spoke kindly to them, and earned their benediction. Coming upon Ruth he was arrested by her staid and modest look. Although poorly clad there was a dignity in her mien, a refinement giving her distinction, and Boaz is arrested by her beauty and personality. Making inquiries about her, Boaz learns of her sacrifice for Naomi, and of her conversion to the worship of Jehovah (Ruth 2:6, 7 ), and commands the reapers to purposely drop extra sheaves for Ruth's benefit. Boaz also bade Ruth to glean only in his field, and to stand fast by his female workers. He wanted to preserve her from coarse contact with men who might take advantage of such a poor woman, who was in his admiring eyes a superior one. She was not to eat with others but present herself at his feasts.

As for Ruth, her heart was full because kindness had been shown her by a stranger in the solitude of a strange land. How excited she must have been when she reached home and told Naomi all about her good fortune, and showed her all the parched corn she had gathered. Was there a lyric note in Ruth's story of that first day? Had she sensed that somehow Boaz had been strangely attracted to her, hence his generosity in spite of the alien blood in her veins? As for Naomi, when Ruth came to mention the name of her benefactor, Boaz, she recalls the name as that of a kinsman of her deceased husband, Elimelech. It may be that in the mind of Naomi there entered a feeling that perhaps a brighter future may be hers and Ruth's.

An Honored Mother

We all know how matters between Boaz and Ruth developed which caused Goethe to say of the Book of Ruth that "we have nothing so lovely in the whole range of epic and idyllic poetry." The name of Boaz became immortalized because of his loving-kindness toward Ruth, the poor Moabitess, while the kinsman who would not mar his own inheritance is unknown. It turned out that Boaz was one of Naomi's nearest relatives and one of the few remaining kinsmen of her husband's family. Therefore he was able to befriend the widow of Mahlon, Elimelech's son, according to the deep principle pervading the law of Israel regarding the preservation of families. This Levirate Law stated that where a husband died without issue, the nearest brother-in-law (levir) might be called upon by the widow to perform for her all the duties of a husband, and raise up seed for the deceased.

In the case of Ruth, however, no brother-in-law was available seeing the only sons Elimelech had were dead. Consequently, the nearest of kin could be called upon to act as "redeemer" (goel) for the unfortunate, relieving them thereby of their distress. The nearest relative to Ruth by marriage was unable to function as her goel, and being the next relative, Boaz did not shirk his responsibility toward the lovely woman who had won his heart. Before the council of ten men at the city gate he announced before witnesses his decision to buy Ruth's inheritance and marry her. Although bachelor Boaz was advanced in years, he was determined to play his part and as Naomi said, "The man will not rest, until he has finished the thing this day" - and finish it he did! So the idyllic conclusion was reached, with Ruth being lifted out of obscurity into a happy union with Boaz, the mighty man of wealth. This story provides us with one of the first records in world history of a rise from rags to riches, from poverty to plenty.

God smiled upon the marriage of honorable Boaz and virtuous Ruth, and blessed them with a son whom they named Obed which means "a servant who worships." As Ruth was the servant who came to worship Jehovah, we can imagine her son's name as being expressive of her own conversion from idolatry. Through the birth of Obed, who became the father of Jesse, who, in turn was the father of King David, Ruth found herself numbered among the elect, and God wove the thread of her life most intricately into the web of the history of His people, both before and after Christ. A Gentile by birth, Ruth yet became the chosen line through which later the Saviour of the world appeared. As He came to redeem both Jew and Gentile alike, it was fitting that the blood of both should mingle in His veins. "A good name," says Solomon, "is rather to be chosen than riches, and loving favour than silver and gold." Ruth found it so, and thus her good name found a place in the royal genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:5 ). As George Matheson so beautifully puts it, "In the soul of Jesus the wedding bells of Ruth and Boaz are rung once more. Here again Moab and Israel meet together. In the heart of the Son of Man the Gentile stands side by side with the Jew as the recipient of a common divine fatherhood."

Those of us who are Christians praise God for Ruth's inclusion in His portrait gallery, for she was the ancestress of Him who, by His death, brought us nigh to God. It was from Boaz, an Israelite without guile, and from Ruth, who became an "Israelite not in race, but in mind; not in blood but faith; not by tribe but by virtue and goodness," that Jesus came as the most perfect expression of all graces.

One could say much of the merits and message of the book to which Ruth gave her name, as well as of the many lessons to be gathered from it. Benjamin Franklin, who was ridiculed at one time in Paris for his defense of the Bible, was determined to find out how much of it his scoffers had read. He informed one of the learned societies that he had come across a story of pastoral life in ancient times that seemed to him very beautiful but he would like the opinion of the society. A night was arranged for Franklin to read to the assembly of scholars a lyric which impressed him. The Bible lover read the Book of Ruth, and when he had finished the scholars were in ecstasies and begged Franklin to print it. "It is already in print," said Franklin. "It is a part of the Bible you ridicule."

There is nothing in the entire range of biography sacred or profane, comparable to the idyllic simplicity, tenderness and beauty of the story of Ruth, the young widow of Moab. There are only two books out of the sixty-six forming the Bible that are named after women. Ruth is one, and the other is Esther - and both books have enchanted succeeding ages. The Jews have a peculiar regard for both books. At their Feast of Purim they read Esther, and at the Feast of Pentecost, the scroll of Ruth. Among the many typical features in the latter, the most outstanding is that of the composition of the true church of Jesus Christ. Ruth was a Gentile, Boaz a Hebrew. Boaz redeemed Ruth's possession and then became her husband. All have sinned, both Jews and Gentiles, but Jesus died for all, and His church is composed of regenerated Jews and Gentiles whom He calls His Bride. Thus "the marriage-bells of Ruth at Bethlehem were the same bells which sounded at the marriage-supper of the Lamb."

From Ruth's outstanding qualities of unselfishness and loyalty we learn that such virtues are the only foundation upon which true happiness can be built. Without them, abiding friendship is impossible, home ties are loose, and the social structure weak. Ruth also teaches us that attractive graciousness is worth cultivating; and that racial hatred and religious bigotry can be solved by a right relationship to Him who made of one blood all nations. Further, the rare literary gem of the Book of Ruth, which takes one some fifteen minutes to read, shows us how our industrial and labor problems can be solved. Boaz was a wealthy farmer, yet he maintained a delightful relation to those who worked for him in a dark, chaotic period of Israelitish history. As he walked through his fields, meeting his servants he would say, "The Lord be with thee," and such was the harmony that prevailed that they would reply, "The Lord bless thee." In our time, the strained relationship between masters and employees would be quickly solved by the application of the good will manifested in those ancient days. Combining as it does all the traits of human life and character, Ruth is a book all can read with both pleasure and profit.

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Job

[Jōb] - hated, one ever returning to god or he that weeps.

  1. The third son of Issachar(Gen. 46:13). Called Jashub inNumbers 26:24 and 1 Chronicles 7:1.
  2. A descendant of Aram, son of Shem, dwelling in Uz, and possibly contemporary with Abraham, and who died at the age of 240 years. References to the patriarch apart from his book are to be found in Ezekiel 14:14 and James 5:11.

The Man of Patience

This renowned Old Testament saint dwelt in the land of Uz on the borders of Idumaea. Job's portrait is clearly defined for us in his dramatic book.

I. As to his character, he was perfect and upright, feared God and eschewed evil (Job 1:1). Here we have the manward, Godward and selfward aspects of his life.

II. As to his family, he had seven sons and three daughters (Job 1:2, 18, 19).

III. As to his possessions, he was a wealthy landowner, having seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred she asses and a large household (Job 1:3, 13-19).

IV. As to reputation, Job, who lived long before Israel with its religious, social and political organizations existed, was reckoned as the greatest of all the men of the East (Job 1:3).

V. As to his friends, candid friends, there were Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar and Elihu ( Job 2:11; 36:1).

VI. As to his foes, we have mention of the Sabeans and Chaldeans (Job 1:15, 17).

VII. As to his sufferings, he lost his property, sons and wealth. But his losses were doubly recompensed (Job 42:11-13).

VIII. As to his prayer-life, Job knew how to seek God. Thus we have restrained prayer (Job 15:4), purity of prayer (Job 16:17), empty prayer ( Job 21:15), profitable prayer (Job 22:27), blessedness of prayer (Job 33:26), interceding prayer (Job 42:8), emancipating prayer (Job 42:10; see 8:5).

IX. As to his patience, the Bible presents him as our model. Faith was strained but Job emerged victorious ( Job 19:1-27; Jas. 5:11).

As to the remarkable book bearing Job's name, the following summary might suffice:

Its purpose. It is not an apologetic vindication of the ways of God to man; not a philosophic proof of the doctrine of immortality; not an argumentative refutation of the so-called Hosaic doctrine of retribution; not a word of exhortation to man not to pry into the deep designs of providence, neither is it the testing and improvement of Job's piety. That is acknowledged by God and admitted by Satan to be perfect. It has been written to prove:

That God can be loved for His own sake; that goodness may be unselfish and disinterested; that the righteous can serve God for nought and trust in Him even when He seems to be an enemy.

That the painful riddle of human life is capable of a blessed solution; that the sufferings of the righteous are not necessarily due to their own sins; that the inequalities of this life are to be redressed in the life to come. Justice will be done somehow, sometime, somewhere.

But the Bible is the Book of Christ, and the great theme of Job is the mystery of the Cross: How can the sufferings of the righteous be reconciled with the justice of God? Job is a type of the righteous man, of the Nation, of the Church and of Christ Himself.

Hence we have in Job the picture of a righteous man suffering because it pleased the Lord, for a wise purpose, to bruise him. God reversed the verdict of the men who rejected him and numbered him among the transgressors.

Key Verse: Job 13:15 . "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." This is an Old Testament anticipation of the cry of dereliction that came from Christ upon the Cross: "Why didst Thou forsake me?"

Key Thought: Confidence in God (Job 23:10; 27:2-6). He knoweth. In the depth of his darkness and in the agony of his suffering, Job held on to God. My Redeemer liveth.

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October 31, 2011

Fresh Hope for the Journey

Part 2

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God (Psalm 40:1-3, NIV).

Friend to Friend

Hard times will come and the darkness will find each one of us. At some point in life, we all will face some kind of pit. It may be a pit that we have dug with our own hands of wrong choices or it could be a pit that has been uniquely designed for us by the enemy. What can we do to find hope in the midst of the darkness?

Step 1: Identify the purpose of the pit.

Step 2: Choose a response to the pit.

We have several choices about how to deal with the pain and darkness in life. We can become bitter and blame God for the pain or we can give up and wallow in the mire and mud of that slimy pit. I am guilty of plastering a smile on my face, gritting my teeth and denying that the pit even exists. However, the choice we should make is to trust God, knowing He will deliver us in and from the pit. The Apostle Paul was an expert when it came to squeezing a seed of victory and truth out of every tough circumstance.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 "So that I would not become too proud of the wonderful things that were shown to me, a painful physical problem was given to me. I begged the Lord three times to take this problem away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is enough for you.'"

Paul was not sinning by asking God to remove his affliction. Paul may not have understood what God was doing, but he chose to accept it because he knew God's heart. Paul may not have understood God's process but he trusted God.

Step 3: Embrace the power of the pit.

2 Corinthians 12:9 "But he said to me, 'My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.' So I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ's power can live in me."

God was sending Paul a message of hope. It is important to note the tense of the verb in this verse, "But he said to me" can be translated "He (God) has once-for-all said to me." It is an eternal promise.

The story is told of a business man who was selling warehouse property that had been empty for months. Since vandals had damaged the doors, smashed the windows and left garbage, the building needed expensive repairs. As the owner showed a prospective buyer the property, he was quick to explain that he would make any repairs needed. The buyer said, "Forget the repairs. When I buy this place, I'm going to build something completely different. I don't want the building - just the site."

God's grace turns defeat into victory, tragedy into triumph and weakness into strength by providing real power over circumstances. People without Christ can muster up enough courage and human strength to get through a trial. God will not only enable us to survive the hard times, He wants us to thrive in and because of them. Paul used his pain and chose to make that pit work for him - and God's power was unleashed in Paul's life.

Step 4: Find joy in the pit.

2 Corinthians 12:9 "I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ's power can live in me."

Joy is not an earthly treasure but a heavenly gift from our loving Father who is committed to the joy of His children. I am convinced that God entrusts the greatest trials to those who will respond to them in the right way. Some of the most joyful people I know have suffered the most because they have learned not to live on explanations but on promises - the promises of God.

I love the story of the little girl who misquoted her favorite Bible verse, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son so that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have ever-laughing life." Jesus wants to give us a life of joy, pits and all. We need to remember that joy is the deeply-rooted confidence that God is in control and that our inner attitudes do not have to reflect our outer circumstances. We can find joy in the pit.

Dr. Viktor Frankl, author of the book, Man's Search for Meaning, was imprisoned by the Nazis in World War II because he was a Jew. His wife, children and parents were killed in the Holocaust. As the Gestapo stripped away his clothes and cut off his wedding band, Victor said to himself, "You can take away my family and destroy everything I possess, but there is one thing that no person can ever take from me - my freedom to choose how I react to what happens to me."

Let's Pray

Father, thank You that You are my strength and my joy at a time when I feel so weak, trapped in a pit of despair. By faith, I turn to You and seek Your forgiveness for the pride that blinds me to the hope I can find in You. Please help me to see Your hand at work in my life and even when I can't, give me the power to walk by faith and not by sight.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Read and memorize Psalm 40:1-3.

Record these verses in your journal.

When the darkness comes, remember each promise and count on God's grace.

More from the Girlfriends

I really hope and pray that these devotions have met a need in your life. We are living in difficult and dark times for so many people. If you are one of them, we want you to realize that you are not alone. Maybe God wants to use you to encourage someone else battling the darkness. Know that we are praying for you and walking with you - over every mountain - through every valley - girlfriends in God. Blessings.

Need help learning how to study the Bible? Check out Mary's E-Book Bible Studies that you can download for your personal use and/or for a small group study. Are you or someone you love battling the darkness? Get Mary's book,Hope in the Midst of Depression, and discover how God delivered her from the pit of depression.

Mary's weekly online Bible study, Light for the Journey, is a great Bible study tool as well. Check it out! The current topic isCome As You Are.

Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Face book or throughemail. She loves hearing what God is doing in your life!

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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Rachel Olsen

October 31, 2011

A Time to Pray
Rachel Olsen

"Never stop praying." 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT)

GUILT. Many Christians I talk to equate this word with their prayer life, and I can relate.

I used to feel guilty. People would ask me to pray, or I would volunteer to when I heard they were going through something difficult. With a heart of compassion, I'd reply, "Oh, I'll pray for you!" And I fully intended to. But then I'd forget ... get busy ... say that to five other people ... and often never get around to doing it despite my good intentions.

I'd put off praying in the moment, in favor of waiting until I had a big chunk of time. Then life would happen and that chunk of time wouldn't materialize. By the time I carved some out, I couldn't remember all I'd intended to pray about.

One perception I had was that I needed to spend a lot of time in prayer in order to do it "right." I thought short prayers wouldn't have much power or impact. Then I noticed something that shifted my thinking. In Matthew 6, Jesus is teaching about prayer. He says, "When you pray, don't talk on and on as people do who don't know God. They think God likes to hear long prayers. Don't be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask" (Matthew 6:7-8, CEV).

Wow, so I don't have to talk for hours, coming up with eloquent ways to phrase my petitions? It was freeing to see this coming from Jesus' own lips.

That was followed by another ah-ha moment. In the next verse, Jesus said: "You should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, help us to honor your name. Come and set up your kingdom, so that everyone on earth will obey you, as you are obeyed in heaven. Give us our food for today. Forgive us for doing wrong, as we forgive others. Keep us from being tempted and protect us from evil" (Matthew 6:9-13, CEV). This is often called "The Lord's Prayer."

Pause, look at the clock, and recite the Lord's Prayer aloud. Check the clock again. How long did that take? This was Jesus' illustration of how to pray-what does that tell us about feeling we need to pray l-o-n-g prayers to be effective?

Hear me on this, there are needs that call for extended time in prayer (see Jesus' time in the Garden of Gethsemane in Matthew 26:36-46 for instance). But many things can be prayed for in short prayers as we move throughout our day.

Now, when a friend sends me an email with a troubled story, I rarely respond by saying, "I will pray for you." Instead, I pause and pray for her, and then I reply, "I haveprayed for you." If someone calls me, or tells me in person about their prayer need, more often than not I'll offer to pray with them right then.

If I encounter a reason to pray while reading the newspaper or scripture, I do it in the moment. My aim is not to be lengthy and elaborate with these prayers, but rather to do it while my mind is on it.

If I feel the need to pray for someone repeatedly over time, I follow through with my carefully considered plan as I've gotten intentional about prayer. Deciding several years ago to pray short, in the moment prayers, was key for me. It's a doable way of "praying continually" and it helped relieve feelings of failure, pressure and guilt.

Most importantly, this ensures that people's needs are in fact being prayed for-which is the ultimate goal, right?

As I read the Bible, I see instructions to pray frequently, to pray with faith and persistence, and to pray over all our cares and concerns. But I do not see that we must talk for hours over each request for God to hear them.

I hope that does for you what it did for me-replaces feelings of guilt with a renewed passion to pray.

Dear Lord, help me to pray frequently and persistently with faith, in accordance with Your will. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Did it help you today to learn this "divine secret" to an effective prayer life? If so, you'll want to check out more divine secrets for Christian living in Rachel's book It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know.

Come leave a prayer request at Rachel's blog today.

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We wish we could, but we simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you!

Application Steps:
Purpose to pray in-the-moment-prayers today.

Reflections:
Is prayer a regular part of my day, or something I "save up" for later?

Power Verses:
Psalm 66:20, "Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me." (NLT)

© 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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LeadershipBible-Header-550

Skills: Communicating Vision

Read Deuteronmy 6:1-25

Moses learned firsthand how to communicate a vision. Our last two studies depicted how God had moved Moses from downright rejection of a vision to becoming its primary spokesperson. Moses spent the rest of his life leading others to fulfill the vision that he himself had initially resisted. His experiences both as God's student and Israel's leader provide us with some valuable insights for communicating a vision.

In this passage, Israel was poised to move into the promised land. Faced with the possibility of strong opposition from fortified cities, Moses knew that his followers would not take the risk involved if land were the only prize. With God's guidance, he envisioned more for this people, but he had to communicate that vision. In doing so Moses demonstrated that the vision:

• was rooted in the followers' values (1-9). He emphasized that this move was essential to Israel's identity as God's people (4-9) and that it would provide a safe place in which to raise their families (2-3). Visions that don't communicate value won't be embraced.

• had utopian elements (10-12). People need a compelling reason to sacrifice their safety and comfort. They won't commit to sacrificing for something that's merely "nice." An effective vision offers something better than the present situation, something that is worth working to attain.

• required the followers' participation (13-19). When something is perceived as being precious and costly, it will be respected. The realization of this vision depended upon the people's dedication. Moses couldn't accomplish this formidable task alone.

• had long-term ramifications (1-2,20-25). A vision must be worth passing along to the next generation.

• required faith to complete. The Bible teaches that God is involved with his people. A vision that is limited to human resources robs followers of a fundamental element of Christianity. An omnipotent God blesses leaders and enterprises that are committed to him. That is the greatest distinctive when a Biblical leader communicates a vision.

This Week's Verse to Memorize Matthew 21:21-22

Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

Communicating Vision and Who God Is

Jesus teaches us so much about leadership that we would be foolish to ignore his teachings on as essential a subject as communicating vision. Early in his ministry he called his disciples to leave everything and follow him. How did he do it? Turn to Luke 5:1-11 and its accompanying study note.

Communicating Vision and Who I Am

Throughout his ministry, Jesus focused people's attention on great and eternal visions. Matthew recorded an instructive incident of vision casting in Matthew 13:24-52.

Communicating Vision and How It Works

God's prophets were visionaries. If we want to learn about effective communication of vision, we can learn from these masters. Turn to Micah 4:1-5 and catch a glimpse of a master craftsman at work.

Communicating Vision and What I Do

We come back to our Moses study for a review and a last look at how God led Moses to fully embrace his vision for Israel's future. Turn to Exodus 3:1-10 for today's reading.


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NIV Devotions for Moms

Time Wasters

Today's reading: Joshua 10:1-15

Where does your time go? Do you ever look back at the end of the day and wonder? Do you sometimes wish God would stretch your days, as he did for Joshua fighting the enemies of Israel?

One reason you may not have enough time is that you waste the time you do have. Before you go on a guilt trip, think about it.

Do you waste time by overdoing? Why, exactly, does the kitchen have to be spotless every time you leave it? Is there a law that requires that you always wash your car after it rains?

Maybe you waste time by under-planning. Going to the store without a list is okay sometimes, but when you're planning a big meal for company, you'll probably have to head back again for overlooked items.

And how about overreacting? Do you have to race to the phone every time it rings? Is it necessary to start wallpapering all over just because you made a tiny mistake or could you force yourself to patch it?

Maybe you can't make the sun stand still to give you more time. But you can add minutes and hours to your days by trimming time wasters.

Additional Scripture Readings: Psalm 37:5; Matthew 6:34


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Once and for All

Today's reading: Leviticus 16:10, 20-22

In a dusty, desert wasteland, a man slowly unties a rope from the goat's neck. His fingers trace the dried blood on the goat's forehead, where a few hours before the priest had laid his hands. The transfer of sin is complete. All that remains is for it to be far removed from sight.

The man slaps the animal's rump and it jumps. It runs a few paces, then stops and looks back. "Go on," the man yells. "Run. Run away!" He claps his hands. He chases the goat. And it runs. But it keeps looking back, hesitating, waiting and wondering if the man will change his mind.

But the man doesn't change his mind-he can't. When he is sure the goat has gone far enough, he turns to leave. He makes the dusty journey back alone, without the sound of trotting hooves or bleating to keep him company. The sin of the Israelites has been temporarily atoned for, sent away on the head of the goat that was left in the desert.

The Day of Atonement was Israel's most solemn holy day. On that day, God made a way for his sinful people to set things right with him, the Holy One of Israel. But like the scapegoat that kept looking back, sin and guilt always returned. Year after year, goat after goat, the ritual was repeated: One goat slaughtered to atone for sin, the other sent far into the wilderness to remove the presence of guilt. But it wasn't enough. It merely symbolized what was to come.

When Jesus died on the cross and was banished to the tomb, he fulfilled the requirement for the two goats on the Day of Atonement. His sacrificial death on the cross atoned for our sin, finally making us one with God for all time. His journey to death removed our guilt for all time. He took our sins with him to the pit of hell, just as the scapegoat was banished into the solitary wasteland.

It was a high price to pay. The scapegoat didn't have a choice, but Jesus did. He chose to die because of his unfathomable love for us. "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us" ( 1 John 3:16).

Reflection

  1. What do the images of the sacrificial goat and scapegoat tell you about the high price of sin?
  2. What does the image of the scapegoat reveal about how far Christ was willing to go for you?
  3. What guilt are you holding onto? Speak it out loud to Jesus today and ask his forgiveness so he can carry it far away, never to be seen again.

Leviticus 16:22
"The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness."

Related Readings

Psalm 103:11-12; Isaiah 53:3-6; Hebrews 10:1-18

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