Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Daily Devotional Tuesday 29th November

“Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.” 1 Chronicles 16:8 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth."
3 John 3

The truth was in Gaius, and Gaius walked in the truth. If the first had not been the case, the second could never have occurred; and if the second could not be said of him the first would have been a mere pretence. Truth must enter into the soul, penetrate and saturate it, or else it is of no value. Doctrines held as a matter of creed are like bread in the hand, which ministers no nourishment to the frame; but doctrine accepted by the heart, is as food digested, which, by assimilation, sustains and builds up the body. In us truth must be a living force, an active energy, an indwelling reality, a part of the woof and warp of our being. If it be in us, we cannot henceforth part with it. A man may lose his garments or his limbs, but his inward parts are vital, and cannot be torn away without absolute loss of life. A Christian can die, but he cannot deny the truth. Now it is a rule of nature that the inward affects the outward, as light shines from the centre of the lantern through the glass: when, therefore, the truth is kindled within, its brightness soon beams forth in the outward life and conversation. It is said that the food of certain worms colours the cocoons of silk which they spin: and just so the nutriment upon which a man's inward nature lives gives a tinge to every word and deed proceeding from him. To walk in the truth, imports a life of integrity, holiness, faithfulness, and simplicity--the natural product of those principles of truth which the gospel teaches, and which the Spirit of God enables us to receive. We may judge of the secrets of the soul by their manifestation in the man's conversation. Be it ours today, O gracious Spirit, to be ruled and governed by thy divine authority, so that nothing false or sinful may reign in our hearts, lest it extend its malignant influence to our daily walk among men.

Evening

"Seeking the wealth of his people."
Esther 10:3

Mordecai was a true patriot, and therefore, being exalted to the highest position under Ahasuerus, he used his eminence to promote the prosperity of Israel. In this he was a type of Jesus, who, upon his throne of glory, seeks not his own, but spends his power for his people. It were well if every Christian would be a Mordecai to the church, striving according to his ability for its prosperity. Some are placed in stations of affluence and influence, let them honour their Lord in the high places of the earth, and testify for Jesus before great men. Others have what is far better, namely, close fellowship with the King of kings, let them be sure to plead daily for the weak of the Lord's people, the doubting, the tempted, and the comfortless. It will redound to their honour if they make much intercession for those who are in darkness and dare not draw nigh unto the mercy seat. Instructed believers may serve their Master greatly if they lay out their talents for the general good, and impart their wealth of heavenly learning to others, by teaching them the things of God. The very least in our Israel may at least seek the welfare of his people; and his desire, if he can give no more, shall be acceptable. It is at once the most Christlike and the most happy course for a believer to cease from living to himself. He who blesses others cannot fail to be blessed himself. On the other hand, to seek our own personal greatness is a wicked and unhappy plan of life, its way will be grievous and its end will be fatal.

Here is the place to ask thee, my friend, whether thou art to the best of thy power seeking the wealth of the church in thy neighbourhood? I trust thou art not doing it mischief by bitterness and scandal, nor weakening it by thy neglect. Friend, unite with the Lord's poor, bear their cross, do them all the good thou canst, and thou shalt not miss thy reward.

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Today's reading: Ezekiel 33-34, 1 Peter 5 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Ezekiel 33-34

Renewal of Ezekiel’s Call as Watchman

1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, 3 and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, 4 then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head. 5 Since they heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, their blood will be on their own head. If they had heeded the warning, they would have saved themselves. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood....’

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 1 Peter 5

To the Elders and the Flock

1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble....”

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Michal

The Woman Who Tricked Her Father

Scripture References - 1 Samuel 14:49; 18:20-28; 19:11-17; 25:44; 2Samuel 3:13, 14; 6:16-23; 21:8; 1 Chronicles 15:29

Name Meaning - This name is allied to the previous name, Michaiah, and also to Michael, and mean the same - "Who is like Jehovah?" Michal, along with its cognates, illustrates the comparatively small class of proper names composed of more than two words. It is a name describing an admiring acknowledgment of the transcendant unapproachable majesty of the divine nature.

Family Connections - Michal was the younger daughter of Saul, Israel's first king. Her mother was Ahinoam. She became David's first wife, was given to Phalti the son of Laish, of Gallim for a-while, but was recovered by David. As the aunt of her sister Merab's five sons, Michal cared for them after the somewhat premature death of her sister.

Michal, although a princess, does not appear to have had a very commendable character. Desire for prestige, fervor of infatuation, indifference to holiness, and idolatry mark out this Jewess who knew the covenant God yet persevered in idolatrous practices. Closely associated with David, her career can be broken up thus -

She Loved David

What young woman would not be attracted by such a strong, athletic young man, who was "ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to"? Further, David was the young shepherd who defied and killed the giant Goliath who had terrified Michal's father and his people. Thus Michal grew passionately fond of David, and made no effort to conceal her love for this much-lauded champion of Israel. While there may not be very much to admire in Michal, we cannot but express sympathy for her experiences in an age when women were treated as chattels, being thrown from one husband to another. But while "Michal, Saul's daughter, loved David," she did not love the Lord as David did. What a different story might have been written of her if she had been a woman after God's own heart!

She Married David

Saul had vowed that the man who killed Goliath would become his son-in-law, and Merab, Saul's first daughter should have been given to David, but Saul, regretting his promise, gave her to another man. David was now a veritable hero among the people, and Saul's jealousy prompted him to devise means whereby David would be slain by the Philistines. Learning of Michal's love for David, Saul asked as a dowry, usually paid to a father according to Eastern custom, the foreskins of 100 Philistines. David slew 200 Philistines, and Saul was forced to give his daughter to wife to the man whose death he had planned. As David had been victorious, Saul dared not go back upon his word. How Saul illustrates the adage that "Jealousy is as cruel as the grave"!

She Delivered David

Still bent on destroying David, Saul had David's house surrounded. In a frenzy of envy Saul had messengers "watch David to slay him in the morning." But Michal's love smelled danger and, discovering her father's intention, "let David down through a window; and he fled and escaped." Then, as a truehearted wife she tricked her father and his emissaries. With her husband safely out of the way, Michal put a hair-covered image in David's bed, and when the men burst into the supposedly sickroom, they found that they had been cleverly tricked. When Saul heard he had been outwitted, he accused his daughter of disloyalty to her father, and was most bitter in his reproach. Michal, however, pretended that David had threatened to kill her if she did not help him to escape.

She Forsook David

After this incident, Michal's love for David waned. Where was the pleasure in being the wife of a man forced to spend his days a fugitive, hunted like a wild animal in the wilderness? Phalti of Gallem was a better catch, she thought, seeing he was on his way to royalty which she was eager to secure and hold. So Michal became the wife of Phalti. This was an illegitimate union seeing David was alive and was in no way lawfully separated from Michal as her husband. That Phalti cared for Michal is proven by the way he followed her, weeping, when she decided to leave him for her former husband.

She Was Restored to David

With Saul's death, circumstances changed for David whom God had already chosen to be king over His people. Michal and her husband Phalti were living to the east of Jordan during the short rule of Ishbosheth. Abner made an arrangement to assist David to take over the kingship of the nation, and David made the restoration of Michal the one condition of the league. So despite Phalti's sorrowful protest, Michal was forcibly restored to David as he returned from his wanderings as king. Evidently his ardor for Michal was the same as at the first, and his desire to claim her proves how he wanted her as queen in Hebron.

How pathetic it is to read of Phalti with whom Michal had lived for some considerable time. We see his sorrow as he went with her in tears, only to be rudely sent back by Abner! We do not read of Michal weeping as she left the man who had showered so much affection upon her. It did not require much force to make her leave Phalti. Her pride and love for prestige left little room for weeping and although she knew she could never become David's ideal love, seeing she had been the possession of another man, yet as his first wife Michal thought of the position that would be hers at court.

She Despised David

The closing scene between Michal and David is most moving, for what love Michal might have had for David turned to scorn and disdain. After making Jerusalem his capital, David brought the sacred Ark of the covenant, the ancient symbol of Jehovah's presence, to Moriah. On the day of the Ark's return David was so joyful that, stripping himself of his royal robes, he "danced before the Lord with all his might." Michal watched from a window and seeing David - the king - leaping and dancing before the Lord, she "despised him in her heart." Although she had loved him, risked her life for his safety, she now abhors him for his loss of royal dignity. Her haughtiness was shocked by David's participation in such an excitable demonstration.

Nursing her contempt Michal waited until David returned to his household. When they met, she with a biting sarcasm, revealing "her self-pride, and lack of sensitiveness to her husband's magnificent simplicity," sneeringly said, "How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!" For her there were no pious and affectionate feelings at the return of the Ark to Zion. Like her father, Saul, she had no regard for the Ark of God ( 1 Chronicles 13:3 ). But David, mortified by Michal's pride as a king's daughter, was curt in his reply. Resenting her reproach, he made it clear in no uncertain terms that he was not ashamed of what he had done "before the Lord" who had chosen him rather than any of Saul's family to reign as king. Michal had missed the essential significance of David's career, that in spite of his failures he was a man after God's own heart. As Alexander Whyte put it, "What was David's meat was Michal's poison. What was sweeter than honey to David was gall and wormwood to Michal.... At the despicable sight [of David dancing] she spat at him, and sank back in her seat with all hell in her heart.... Michal is a divine looking-glass for all angry and outspoken wives."

She Lost David

After such an outburst of reproach we read that "Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death," and such a final flat statement practically means that she lived apart from David, more or less divorced (2 Samuel 6:16 ). The estrangement between them likely became more acute because of the other wives now sharing David's prosperity. Childless till her death was a punishment appropriate to her transgression. David was given many sons and daughters, and her sister Merab bore five sons, but Michal never achieved the great attainment of being a mother. She ended her days without the love and companionship of a husband, caring for her dead sister's five children, all of whom were ultimately beheaded.

What can we learn from this story of Michal and David? Misunderstanding arose in their relationship because of a clash of temperament, outlook and purpose. Had Michal shared David's faith in God how different life would have been for both of them. But Michal made no effort to understand her husband's Godward desires and so passed a wrong judgment upon him. How certain we should be of a person's motive for his acts or attitudes before we condemn him. Further, had Michal loved David enough, she should have sought his forgiveness after he had explained his demeanor before the Lord. "She worshipped him when he was poor and unknown and now that he is King 'she despised him in her heart' ... David realized they could never love the same God. Therefore he cut her from his heart." But being eaten up with pride there was no tolerance in her heart and so harmony was impossible. Love brings harmony and understanding into every human relationship. A fellow-minister confided in Alexander Whyte that he preached and prayed best when his wife stayed at home. This was something of the gulf between David and Michal. How different it is when husbands truly love their wives and wives sincerely reverence their husbands!

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Jonah, Jona, Jonas [Jō'nah,Jō'nă, Jō'nas]—a dove. The son of Amittai, and the first Hebrew prophet, or missionary, sent to a heathen nation (2 Kings 14:25; Jonah 1:1).

The Man Who Ran Away

The meaning of the prophet’s name is suggestive. When first chosen, it doubtless meant to Jonah’s mother gentleness and love. This son of Amittai was a citizen of Gath-hepher in Zebulun of Galilee and a subject of the Northern Kingdom. He is thus a proof of the false statement of the Pharisees about no prophet coming out of Galilee (John 7:52).

Jonah lived in the early part of the reign of Jeroboam II, and in a period when the kingdom was in a divided and abject condition. He is without doubt one of the earliest, if not the first, of the prophets whose writings are preserved to us. He is the first of a new order of prophets, appearing that he might declare God’s love claims the whole world. By friend and foe Jonah has been ridiculed and tortured and treated as a myth or parable. Our Lord, however, believed him to be a historic person; so do we! For proof in this direction compare Jonah 1:7 with Matthew 12:39, 40 and Luke 11:29, 30; Jonah 3:5 with Matthew 12:41.

Jonah’s mission was to Nineveh and therefore beyond the bounds of Israel, which is in perfect harmony; for whenever God brought His people into any relation with other peoples, He made Himself known to them as was the case in Egypt through Joseph and Moses; to the Philistines through the capture of the Ark; to the Assyrians by Elisha; to Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzer by Daniel.

Within the Book of Jonah we have the most beautiful story ever told in so small a compass. In 1,328 words we are given a wealth of incident and all the dialogue needed to carry on the grand and varied action. Jonah was an isolationist, believing that salvation was for the Jews, and the Jews only. Through affliction he came to know of God’s embracing love (John 3:16). Dealing with Jonah as a servant, Dr. C. I. Scofield gives us these helpful points: disobedient (Jonah 1:1-11 ); afflicted (Jonah 1:12-17); praying (Jonah 2:1-9); delivered (Jonah 2:10); recommissioned (Jonah 3:1-3); powerful ( Jonah 3:4-10 ); perplexed, fainting but not forsaken (Jonah 4:1-11).

Another serviceable outline for the worker can be developed around these thoughts:

Chapter one: A disobedient prophet running from God and punished.

Chapter two: A praying prophet running back to God and delivered.

Chapter three: A faithful prophet running with God and rewarded.

Chapter four: An angry prophet running ahead of God and rebuked.

Here are other aspects to deal with: Jonah was sent to a foreign field ( Jonah 1:2); sought to flee from his unwelcome task (Jonah 1:3); was overtaken in his flight (Jonah 1:4-17); found God in the depth of the sea ( Ps. 139:10; Jonah 2); became a revivalist (Jonah 3); was disappointed with his own work ( Jonah 3:5-10; 4:1); reveals bigotry (Jonah 4:1-3); was taught the breadth of divine mercy (Jonah 4:4-11). See belowJONAS, JONA.

Jona is given as the name of the father of Peter (Matt. 16:17;John 1:42; 21:15).

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November 28, 2011

Refinished and Restored

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

( 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

Friend to Friend

Junk. That's what my family and friends thought of most of my purchases. But to me, they were treasures waiting to be revealed.

When I was in my late teens, I had an unusual fetish for beat-up antique furniture. While most of my friends were at the mall shopping for clothes, I was at estate sales, flea markets, yard sales, and auctions hunting for antiques. Often, when I brought my purchases home, my family would roll their eyes and say, "I can't believe you paid money for that old piece of junk." But I never saw my purchases as junk. They just needed a little work...okay, sometimes a lot of work.

At one estate sale I spied a little drop leaf kitchen table with three spindle-back chairs. I could just imagine a sweet little older lady spending many years sitting at that very table drinking her morning coffee or perhaps her afternoon tea. I could almost hear the faint whispers of thousands of conversations from generations past. The set was painted a hospital green, but I saw that it had great potential. Obviously the other bidders didn't recognize a treasure when they saw one, because ten minutes and $35 later, the set was mine.

I brought the dinette set home, all excited about my great buy, and couldn't understand why no one else shared my enthusiasm.

"Sharon, do you realize how much time and energy it is going to take to make that old green rickety table look even slightly presentable?" they asked. At that point in my life, I had a lot more time than money, so the time wasn't a problem.

Refinishing furniture is a dirty, grueling task. First, I stripped off the paint with paint remover and discovered that not only had the table been green, it had also been blue, and before that white. But underneath it all was pure walnut.

The paint remover raised the grain of the wood, so I had to go back and sand it smooth. If the sanding isn't done well, the finished product will always be a little rough. A few joints were loose from wear and tear, so I glued them back together. Then I applied a warm walnut stain which deepened its color and made the beautiful pattern of the wood grain stand out. Finally, I applied a polyurethane coat to seal and protect the piece.

As I worked I began to think of the old broken table as a symbol of my own life. I was also on the auction block, and God had purchased me with His Son's precious blood. I had layers and layers of my old self that had to be stripped away to reveal the beauty hidden beneath. This raised my grain, but God sanded me with life experiences and trials to remove the rough edges. He glued my loose joints and mended my broken pieces, for He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Then He put a sealer not only on me but in me-the Holy Spirit-who brought out the beauty of who God created me to be.

After I finished refurbishing the old table and chairs, I sat in the garage thinking about all that God had done in my life. My mom opened the door, looked at the old table, and said, "I never thought something so ugly could turn out to be so beautiful."

I said, "Amen."

Where are you in the refinishing process? It's never really over, this side of heaven. But as we listen to God day by day, He will show us what needs to be stripped off, sanded away, and polished smooth to be all that He has created us to be.

Let's Pray

Dear Lord, I was such a mess before You transformed me. Thank You for restoring my soul, renewing my spirit, and redeeming my life to become Your treasured possession...a true work of art.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Have you ever refinished a piece of furniture? If so, consider writing your own story of how the process resembles how God changed you.

Even if you haven't, make a list of all the old layers of self that God has stripped away from your life so far. (It is amazing how they just keep coming!)

If you want to see the old table I refinished over 30 years ago, log onto www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes and take a peak.

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 for more on how God refinishes and refines, see Becoming Spiritually Beautiful.

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
LeAnn Rice

November 28, 2011

Meaningful Gifts
LeAnn Rice

"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people.'" Luke 2:10 (NAS)

It's the week after Thanksgiving, which means it's time to pull out our Christmas gift lists. Can I be honest? There are aspects of Christmas gift-giving I don't enjoy.

Before you think I'm Scrooge, please let me explain. I'm not fond of the "I'm just checking you off my list" mentality that can make giving seem commercial and insincere. And I don't care for the pressure I sometimes feel to spend more than I can afford at the holidays.

But I do love to give meaningful gifts. And I especially find joy in giving gifts that reflect the reason we celebrate Christmas. The tradition of gift-giving is a reminder of the greatest gift, Jesus Christ. He is "good news of great joy" (Luke 2:10). His birth shouts to each of us, you are loved by the Lord of lords and King of kings!

It seems people are more open to this good news at Christmastime, so I look for ways to share God's love through meaningful gifts. Sometimes I'll drop off a grocery gift card and a pretty basket of homemade goodies on the doorstep of a family in need. With it, I'll include an anonymous gift tag that reads, "Merry Christmas! Love, Jesus."

Another thing I love to do is carry candy canes to give to those I interact with, such as cashiers or waitresses. I usually tie a ribbon around them with a card that includes the Christmas story from the Bible.

Gifts can also be meaningful when what we give reflects God's love for the recipient. Thoughtful gifts communicate to the special people in our lives: God sees you, loves you and knows what you delight in.

One holiday season a friend battling a lingering illness didn't have energy to dive into holiday festivities. Since I love to cook and beautify, I unpacked her Christmas boxes and decorated her house. At the end of the day her family and I admired their festive home and enjoyed the chicken soup I'd set up in the crock pot earlier. It lifted her spirits and mine!

This week, as we transition our focus from Thanksgiving to Christmas, let's remember the gifts we buy don't have to be expensive or complicated to send the message of God's love and ours.

Let's take time to pray, asking God for creativity and thoughtfulness so that we not only give gifts that are meaningful, but gifts that reflect His "good news of great joy" this Christmas.

Dear Lord, thank You that You chose to come to earth, so we could know You and know how much You love us. Help me think of ways to love others for You through the gifts I give this Christmas. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit www.UntanglingChristmas.com for great ideas on reaching out, helpful organizing tips, decorating and menu ideas, and seeking Christ in the holiday hustle and bustle. Also find information on downloading the new e-book,Untangling Christmas: Your Go-To Guide for a Hassle-Free Holiday by Karen Ehman and LeAnn Rice.

Application Steps:
LeAnn's She Cooks website provides instructions and tools to make her all-time favorite gift: the Blessing Box. A template with 100 personalized scriptures is provided. Simply do a "find and replace" to insert a name and you will have 100 of God's promises, personalized for the recipient!

As you shop, prepare and wrap gifts for others, pray specifically for the recipient to come to know Jesus or have a closer relationship with Him in the coming year.

Reflections:
Gifts of service are the least expensive and often the most meaningful. Who in my life is so busy a home-cooked meal would make her day? Maybe an elderly or ill friend would appreciate my help shopping, wrapping and mailing their gifts. Who needs my time more than a material gift?

Power Verses:
Matthew 2:11, "After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh." (NAS)

Acts 20:35, "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" (NIV)

© 2011 by LeAnn Rice. All rights reserved.

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

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A Tragic End for Judas

Matthew 27:1-10 "When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind...saying, 'I have sinned by betraying innocent blood'" ( vv. 3-4).

All four Evangelists describe Judas as a traitor when he first appears on the scene in the Gospels (Matt. 10:4; Mark 3:19;Luke 6:16; John 6:71 ). On the other hand, Peter is not defined by his betrayal of Jesus in denying the Savior three times. Since Peter repented and was restored (John 21:15-19), he is remembered as the rock, not primarily as the denier of Christ. Yet Judas never turned from his sin and bears the shame of his deed forever.

Matthew's juxtaposition of Peter's denial and Judas' death invites us to compare the state of their souls. Like Peter, Judas is remorseful after the fact, changing his mind about the wisdom of his deed after seeing Jesus condemned ( Matt. 27:3-4). Unlike Peter, Judas does not feel the "godly grief" of repentance (2 Cor. 7:10). The Greek verb for Judas' change of mind (Matt. 27:3 ) is not the one normally used for repentance. Moreover, Judas does not really try to stop what he has started and will not testify of Christ's innocence before Pilate. John Calvin writes, "True repentance is displeasure at sin, arising out of fear and reverence for God, and producing, at the same time, a love and desire of righteousness." Were Judas repentant, justice and righteousness would move him to intervene on Jesus' behalf. Godly sorrow leads people to run to God, but Judas' despair makes him run into the arms of death (v. 5).

Once more, the Jewish leaders care more about the minutiae of ceremonial regulation than the greater sin of killing an innocent man (see Amos 5:21-24). They use the blood money paid to Judas to buy a place to bury Gentiles (Matt. 27:6-8), thereby fulfilling prophecy (vv. 9-10). The text Matthew cites seems to be a paraphrase of Jeremiah 19:1-14 and Zechariah 11. Both prophets allude to Israel's rejecting the shepherds God sent to them and the destruction that results. For centuries the Almighty sent His prophets to shepherd His people, but His people rejected them and the destruction of exile occurred. Now with the condemnation of Jesus to death, the leaders have rejected the "Shepherd and Overseer" of their souls ( 1 Peter 2:25), and they make themselves even more worthy of God's wrath than their ancestors.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Matthew Henry comments, "Some have said, that Judas sinned more in despairing of the mercy of God, than in betraying his Master's blood." Neither Judas' betrayal nor his suicide is the unforgiveable sin, only his refusal to seek the grace of Christ. Peter and Judas both committed heinous transgressions, but Peter found restoration when he repented. Today let us repent of our sins and turn to Jesus, knowing that He offers pardon to all those who trust Him alone.

For further study:

2 Chronicles 7:14 Psalm 7:12-13

The Bible in a year:

Ezekiel 47-48

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

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LeadershipBible-Header-550

Personal Development: Values (Week 2)

READ PSALM 119:1-32

Values drive behavior; a person will pursue what that person loves. Jesus said it best: "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21). Values run far deeper and are far more important to a leader's effectiveness than any other single factor. One way we can discern what our own personal values are and should be is by listening to what others feel is most important-what really matters, what godly leaders should be committed to. For a helpful look at one great and godly man's values, "listen" to the words he's written as you read them. In Psalm 119:1-32, David, the man who pursued God with his whole heart, opens his values closet and lets us look inside.

Medishare-March

First, notice what David values morally (vv. 1-4). As you read verses 1-32, notice the frequent reference to God's revealed moral will through terms such as word, law, statues, precepts and the like. These manifestations of God's revealed will formed David's value base. How, then, does a person form values that lead to sound moral leadership? Sample verses 11, 15 and 16 and discover David's "valueshaping" process.

The bottom line is that David's deepest value was to honor and please God. Because doing so required that David discover what God finds pleasing and what honors him, David valued God's Word. As a leader, face into the essential role your core values play in your personal, family, social and professional life. Contemplate this statement by one of history's all-time great leaders and ask yourself, "Are the values David chose appropriate for me?" If your answer to that question is yes, then pursue the value-molding process he summarized in verse 11. That one verse says more than many volumes can say about the foundation of godly values.

Values and Who God Is

Values drive actions. God is so aware of our hearts' values that he rejects right behavior performed for the wrong reason. To see how much stake God puts in right values, read his unusual commentary on Israel's religious practices. Isaiah recorded the words in Isaiah 1:10-13.

This Week's Verse to Memorize PHILIPPIANS 3:7-8

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.

Values and Who I Am

It's crucial for a leader to act on core values, not convenient ones. Jonah provides us with an example of what we're to avoid. His actions in the face of God's direct call sound a stern warning to leaders today who know what's right, but do what's wrong. Turn to the note on Jonah 4:1-11 for today's reading.

Values and How They Work

Values talk easy but sometimes live hard. Lamentations 3:19-26 provides a terrific picture of a leader guided by values. Read it along with the character profile of the prophet Jeremiah for some keen insights on how tough, but also how rewarding, it can be to live without compromising firmly held values.

Values and What I Do

David's statements in Psalm 103:1-22 provide an appropriate summary to our two-week study on values. As you read through this amazing psalm, let the words invade your consciousness, energize your imagination and captivate your conscience.


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A Tragic End for Judas

Matthew Henry comments, "Some have said, that Judas sinned more in despairing of the mercy of God, than in betraying his Master's blood." Neither Judas' betrayal nor his suicide is the unforgiveable sin, only his refusal to seek the grace of Christ. Peter and Judas both committed heinous transgressions, but Peter found restoration when he repented. Today let us repent of our sins and turn to Jesus, knowing that He offers pardon to all those who trust Him alone.

For further study:

2 Chronicles 7:14 Psalm 7:12-13

The Bible in a year:

Ezekiel 47-48

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

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Femme Fatales

Today's reading: Judges 16:4-22

A femme fatale is a woman who uses the powers of seduction to lure a man into a dangerous or compromising situation. One woman infamous for her influence was Mata Hari. At the turn of the twentieth century in Paris, Mata Hari created a fictitious persona and performed exotic Indian dances to great acclaim. Although her background was fabricated, Parisian society embraced her . . . and men were beguiled by her. Her sensuous dance seduced powerful men in influential positions. Many believe she used feminine guile to extract military secrets. Ultimately, the French tried Mata Hari and executed her as a double agent in World War I. At her trial she said, "Harlot, yes. But traitor? Never!"

In the Bible, we meet another woman who used her feminine allure to affect the destiny of a man. During the time of the judges, Delilah used her influence to discover the secrets of one of Israel's judges, Samson. Three different times Delilah begged him to give her information about the source of his strength. Three times he resisted. Each time Delilah proved herself false, calling for the Philistines to subdue the strong man. More stunning is that Delilah used the same method over and over again . . . and Samson allowed himself to be tricked each time. Ultimately, Delilah discovered the truth about Samson's strength and turned him over to her countrymen.

Delilah's story shows how men can be swayed by women's wiles and their own desires. Delilah used her sexual attraction and her cunning to bring a man down-for a price. She relentlessly manipulated Samson in order to get the information she needed. When he finally revealed the truth, she rushed to the Philistine rulers to gather her reward. In a heartbeat, Samson lost not just his strength, but the divine gift God had bestowed upon him.

We think it would be great to be able to get our husbands, boyfriends, coworkers, etc. to do what we want. And perhaps, sometimes, we do use feminine wiles, manipulation and nagging to get our way. But are such methods honest? Are they loving? Wouldn't it be better to be the kind of woman others can trust? How much better to employ honesty, kindness and patience to build up the men we love, rather than trample them in the pursuit of our selfish desires

Reflection

  1. Have you ever nagged, manipulated or tricked a man in order to get your way?
  2. How did it make you feel? How do you think it made him feel?
  3. What words will you use to build up the men in your life?

Judges 16:15-16
Then she said to him, "How can you say, 'I love you,' when you won't confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven't told me the secret of your great strength." With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it.

Related Readings

Exodus 15:20-21; Isaiah 51:3; Ephesians 6:18

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NIV Devotions for Moms

Healthy and Unhealthy Fear

Today's reading: 2 Chronicles 15:3–6

Additional Scripture Readings: Psalm 27:1; 1 John 4:18

We ought to be thankful for some forms of fear. Fear prompts us to check on the kids in their beds when a sound wakes us at night. Fear makes us grab a child who is toddling out into the street.

Some forms of fear are healthy and provide protection. But when fear becomes the center of our lives, dictating our action or inaction, it ceases to be helpful and becomes a hindrance to our growth. When we shut ourselves away in our homes, insulating our families from the “harm” in the world, we also separate them from interaction in life as well as from the potential good they could accomplish in a world that needs the love of Christ.

In which camp do your fears fall? Does your fear serve you well by protecting you from harm? Or does it hold you and your family back from your God-given potential?

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Today's reading is from the
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The Promised One
by Nancy Guthrie

When someone promises us something wonderful, we can hardly wait for that promise to be fulfilled. If the promise is something good, we want it now ! We really don't like to wait. And yet the very best things are worth waiting for.

A long, long time ago, God made a promise to his people, Israel. In fact, he made many promises to them. But God's most important promise--the promise all his other promises depended on--was that he would send the Messiah, the Anointed One, who would save them from the difficulties of living life in this world broken by sin. The Messiah would not be an ordinary person, but God's own Son. The people he made the promise to had to wait, putting all their faith in the One who made the promise.

The season leading up to Christmas is called Advent, which means coming. During Advent, we remember the thousands of years God's chosen people anticipated and longed for the coming of God's salvation through the Messiah. Then, at Christmas, we celebrate the fulfillment of the promises God made. Jesus--the Savior God had promised--was born to us. No more waiting. Jesus came.

When John the Baptist was born, his father, Zechariah, recognized that the long years of waiting were finally over. God gave him a special understanding that his son, John, was going to prepare the way for the promised Messiah. Zechariah celebrated that God was about to fulfill his promise. He said, "Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people. He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago" (Luke 1:68-70).

God promised that he would send a Savior, which he did when Jesus became a human baby. And while Jesus did everything necessary to save us when he came the first time, he also promised to come again. Then all God's promises will be completely fulfilled. So again we are waiting. Waiting patiently for God to fulfill his promises is what it means to have faith.

Putting faith in God's promises is not something a person does only one time on the day he or she becomes a Christian. The essence of being a Christian is placing all our hope in God, knowing we can trust him to fulfill all his promises--even the ones that haven't been fulfilled yet. We are willing to wait, trusting that "God's way is perfect. All the Lord's promises prove true" (Psalm 18:30).

Prayer

Like your people of old, we are waiting for you, God, to fulfill all your promises. And because we remember how you fulfilled your promise to send Jesus, we know that you will fulfill all your promises to us.

Discussion starters
  • What does it mean to make a promise?
  • Zechariah said that God would soon send a mighty Savior "as he promised through his holy prophets long ago." Look up these verses in your Bible to see a few examples of promises God made about the Messiah, given through his prophets in the Old Testament: Deuteronomy 18:15; Psalm 72:10; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5-6.
  • Waiting for Christmas to come gives us a tiny taste of what it must have been like for God's people to wait hundreds of years for God to fulfill his promise in sending Jesus. Why do you think it is good to learn to wait on God?
Today's devotional reading is taken from Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room by Nancy Guthrie. Used by permission.

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Today's Advent reading is taken from:
Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room
by Nancy Guthrie

Family-friendly devotions for every day in December, including Christ-centered Yuletide meditations, beloved carol lyrics, prayers, and discussion questions.

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