Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Daily Devotional Wednesday 30th November

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.”Psalm 136:1,26 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people ... Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him."
Leviticus 19:16-17

Tale-bearing emits a threefold poison; for it injures the teller, the hearer, and the person concerning whom the tale is told. Whether the report be true or false, we are by this precept of God's Word forbidden to spread it. The reputations of the Lord's people should be very precious in our sight, and we should count it shame to help the devil to dishonour the Church and the name of the Lord. Some tongues need a bridle rather than a spur. Many glory in pulling down their brethren, as if thereby they raised themselves. Noah's wise sons cast a mantle over their father, and he who exposed him earned a fearful curse. We may ourselves one of these dark days need forbearance and silence from our brethren, let us render it cheerfully to those who require it now. Be this our family rule, and our personal bond--Speak evil of no man.

The Holy Spirit, however, permits us to censure sin, and prescribes the way in which we are to do it. It must be done by rebuking our brother to his face, not by railing behind his back. This course is manly, brotherly, Christlike, and under God's blessing will be useful. Does the flesh shrink from it? Then we must lay the greater stress upon our conscience, and keep ourselves to the work, lest by suffering sin upon our friend we become ourselves partakers of it. Hundreds have been saved from gross sins by the timely, wise, affectionate warnings of faithful ministers and brethren. Our Lord Jesus has set us a gracious example of how to deal with erring friends in his warning given to Peter, the prayer with which he preceded it, and the gentle way in which he bore with Peter's boastful denial that he needed such a caution.

Evening

"Spices for anointing oil."
Exodus 35:8

Much use was made of this anointing oil under the law, and that which it represents is of primary importance under the gospel. The Holy Spirit, who anoints us for all holy service, is indispensable to us if we would serve the Lord acceptably. Without his aid our religious services are but a vain oblation, and our inward experience is a dead thing. Whenever our ministry is without unction, what miserable stuff it becomes! nor are the prayers, praises, meditations, and efforts of private Christians one jot superior. A holy anointing is the soul and life of piety, its absence the most grievous of all calamities. To go before the Lord without anointing is as though some common Levite had thrust himself into the priest's office--his ministrations would rather have been sins than services. May we never venture upon hallowed exercises without sacred anointings. They drop upon us from our glorious Head; from his anointing we who are as the skirts of his garments partake of a plenteous unction. Choice spices were compounded with rarest art of the apothecary to form the anointing oil, to show forth to us how rich are all the influences of the Holy Spirit. All good things are found in the divine Comforter. Matchless consolation, infallible instruction, immortal quickening, spiritual energy, and divine sanctification all lie compounded with other excellencies in that sacred eye-salve, the heavenly anointing oil of the Holy Spirit. It imparts a delightful fragrance to the character and person of the man upon whom it is poured. Nothing like it can be found in all the treasuries of the rich, or the secrets of the wise. It is not to be imitated. It comes alone from God, and it is freely given, through Jesus Christ, to every waiting soul. Let us seek it, for we may have it, may have it this very evening. O Lord, anoint thy servants.

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Today's reading: Ezekiel 35-36, 2 Peter 1 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Ezekiel 35-36

A Prophecy Against Edom

1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, set your face against Mount Seir; prophesy against it 3 and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, Mount Seir, and I will stretch out my hand against you and make you a desolate waste. 4 I will turn your towns into ruins and you will be desolate. Then you will know that I am the LORD.

5 “‘Because you harbored an ancient hostility and delivered the Israelites over to the sword at the time of their calamity, the time their punishment reached its climax, 6 therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will give you over to bloodshed and it will pursue you. Since you did not hate bloodshed, bloodshed will pursue you. 7 I will make Mount Seir a desolate waste and cut off from it all who come and go. 8 I will fill your mountains with the slain; those killed by the sword will fall on your hills and in your valleys and in all your ravines.9 I will make you desolate forever; your towns will not be inhabited. Then you will know that I am the LORD....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 2 Peter 1

1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:

2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Confirming One’s Calling and Election

3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires....

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Micaiah, Michaiah [Mīcā'iah,Mī chā'iah]—who is like jehovah. Here is a name occurring many times in the Old Testament and used of women as well as men. It is spelled in different ways. See MICA andMICAH.

  1. A prophet, son of Imlah, who foretold the fall of Ahab at Ramoth-gilead ( 1 Kings 22:8,9; 2 Chron. 18:8). There are no truer hearts to God than his. Carefully compare the three great prophets of 1 Kings—Ahijah, Elijah and Micaiah.
  2. The father of Achbor, a chief officer of King Josiah ( 2 Kings 22:12, 14).
  3. A prince of Judah ordered by Jehoshaphat to teach the people (2 Chron. 17:7).
  4. A priest of the family of Asaph who blew a trumpet at the dedication of the wall ( Neh. 12:35, 41).
  5. The son of Gemariah, a prince of Judah in Jehoiakim’s time (Jer. 36:11, 13).

Also the name of the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. (See 1 Kings 15:2; 2 Chron. 11:20; 13:2).

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November 29, 2011

No Room

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son (John 3:16, NIV).

Friend to Friend

I make room for things that are important to me. I eat two or three meals every day and sleep several hours each night even though my "to do" list is not much shorter today than it was yesterday. I will choose to play with a grandchild over cleaning the house any day of the week. I manage to find a place for that great piece of furniture I don't really need - but really like. After all, it was on sale. I like watches. Don't ask me why because I simply don't know. I only need one watch, but I own several inexpensive ones. I will have lunch with a friend instead of running errands. And there is always room for chocolate! Silly examples - right? I wonder. I wonder what the innkeeper thought as he turned away the young man and his very pregnant wife that holy night so long ago. He had no room - it was that simple. Do we?

The Christmas season is almost here! Our calendars are already full, our bank accounts are closing in on empty and our hearts and lives are crowded with things we deem important, but have we made room for Jesus?

I simply cannot imagine a world without the presence of God and yet I often live my life as if He does not exist. A crisis hits, and I try to handle it on my own. I don't understand the trials in my life while those who could care less about God seem to prosper. Instead of reaching out to Him, I withdraw into the darkness. Financial stress fuels worry. Instead of turning to God, I rely on what I can see and understand. I settle.

When I do cry out to God, He lovingly fills each dark corner with Light. His love flows over the pain like soothing balm and once again, I experience the manger. Once again, Jesus Christ steps into the smelly, unlikely and very ordinary existence that is mine to change everything - absolutely everything!

Jesus could have come to us in many ways. The simplicity of His birth is extraordinary and sometimes hard to grasp. Jesus could have been born in a mansion. He was, after all, a King. Instead, He came to a dirty smelly manger and His birth was announced by common shepherds instead of Kings -- the greatest of all miracles in the midst of total simplicity. Today, Jesus still wants to meet us in the midst of our simple daily lives. It seems too easy and too good to be true, doesn't it?

It was Christmas Eve, and the family was preparing to attend the special service of their local church. Everyone was going except Dad, who was an honest man, a man who could not seem to wrap his logical mind around the story of God come to earth as a baby in a manger. He didn't want to be a hypocrite, pretending to worship a Savior he wasn't sure even existed, so he stayed home, built a fire to dispel the bitter cold of that winter night and began to read the paper, waiting for his family's return. Hearing a knock at the window, he turned to see a tiny bird trying to reach the warmth of the fire. The man opened the window, but the bird refused to come in. Grabbing his coat, the man went out to the barn and opened the barn doors wide - but still, the bird refused to come in. The man thought, "If only I could be a bird, for just one minute, I could lead the bird to safety." At that moment, he heard the church bells ring and finally understood why Jesus came to earth as a man -- to become one of us so He could lead us to eternal safety.

The very heart of Christmas is Emanuel, God with us - with me - and with you. Christmas is not a date on a calendar. Christmas is a way of life that celebrates the presence of God in the simple, ordinary happenings of daily life: where we go and what we do -- the smile we give the harried stranger or the patience we choose in the crowd of impatient shoppers -- the love that prompts the secret gift or the heart that constantly celebrates His birth through every sparkling light, every beautifully wrapped gift, each special meal, every card, phone call and visit. God is with us - if we choose to make room for Him.

Let's Pray

Father, today I celebrate the reality of Your presence in my life. Thank You for sending Your Son to earth as a tiny baby in a manger. I celebrate the birth of Jesus and the gift of life that He brings. I choose to receive Your gift of love and forgiveness for my sins. I now surrender everything I am or ever hope to be to You. Please take control of my life and direct my paths. I promise to follow.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Read John 3:16 once a day and look for ways to share God's love with the people in your life.

Give a gift to someone you don't know.

Invite a needy family into your home for a special "Friends" dinner.

Offer to take an elderly neighbor shopping.

Put your faith into action by making a step-by-step plan to keep Jesus at the heart of your Christmas season.

More from the Girlfriends

I pray that your life is filled with God's peace and joy this holiday season. I know it has been a difficult year for many of you. Remember - God is with you.

Already feeling the stress of the approaching holidays? Get Mary's book, Escaping the Stress Trap, for practical steps to dealing with and managing stress and check out her Christmas MP3 downloads, The Secret of a Merry Christmas and Giving the Perfect Gift.

Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebook - or throughemail. Need help learning how to study the Bible? Join women across the world in Mary's weekly online Bible Study, Light for the Journey.

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
Lynn Cowell

November 29, 2011

Are You Weird?
Lynn Cowell

"Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules." Colossians 2:20 (NIV 1984)

"Why does our family have to be so different?"

While in middle school, my daughter asked if she could spend the weekend at the lake with a friend. My husband and I didn't know the friend or her parents all that well. An even bigger factor was we had never met the family they were visiting. Our answer to a then broken-hearted girl was "no." She couldn't understand and didn't get why.

Even while making that decision, parts of me didn't get it either. I questioned myself, "Why can't you just be like other parents? Why do you have to be cautious and think ahead? Why do you make decisions that bring your children pain?"

It wasn't the first time I had these thoughts. Saying "no" to driving alone to visit college friends. Saying "no" to text messaging pictures on cell phones.

Often, the same dilemma ran through my brain. Not only do I struggle with wanting my kids to fit in; I struggle with my own desire to fit in.

Jesus asks us through our key verse, "Why do you struggle as though you still belonged to this world?" Struggle with issues such as:

• Letting our kids choose clothes that are in style, but also too revealing. We want them to fit in, right?

• Giving our kids what others give their kids: iPhones, laptops, designer clothes. We wouldn't want to deprive them, right?

• Allowing our kids freedoms beyond their age and maturity, but other kids get to do. We wouldn't want them to stand out, right?

In these struggles, Jesus gives this encouragement, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession" (1 Peter 2:9a NIV).

Chosen, holy, a special possession. In some ways, it just sounds weird. It sounds to me, though, that weird is Jesus' idea for us to model to our kids so they have courage to be weird as well.

This isn't going to go over well with every decision. Maybe your daughter recently screamed at you when told her skirt was too short. Or your son slammed the door after being asked to turn off the show that every kid at school watches.

Why would we want to be weird when it disrupts our family? Why would we want to stand out as different?

We make the hard decisions because Jesus says we are a chosen people; we're His. And we want our children to be as well.

I hate that choosing to be weird causes my kids not to like me. But it brings me comfort to know Jesus likes my decisions. He is proud I choose a way that models to my kids that we are His special possession. When Jesus is happy with my decision to be weird, I can be happy too.

Dear Lord, help me when I feel the pull to do and say and be everything that society tells me to do and say and be. Holy Spirit, open my ears to hear Your wisdom, not just when it comes to family life, but in all areas. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

RelatedResources:
For a way to connect with your girl, check out His Revolutionary Love: Jesus' Radical Pursuit of You by Lynn. It's a great study for girls ages 13-18 and their moms. Your free guide for "His Revolutionary Love" can be found on Lynn's website at www.LynnCowell.com.

Visit Lynn's blog where she is sharing how she explains the reasons behind being "weird" with her kids! She's also giving away a copy of her CD Building a Bridge to Your Child's Heart!

Is your church looking for a way to empower your teens and moms with confidence to be weird? Consider bringingLynn as a speaker to your next event to share practical ways to live this out!

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:
In the next 24-48 hours, you'll probably run into a situation where you or your family will be "weird." If this situation involves a decision with your child, pause and invite your child to pray for wisdom with you.

Think over the decisions you've made in the past week. Have any been made to fit in to the world around you? Have you honored God with your decisions or chosen not to?

Reflections:
Being different, if we are humble, can open conversations with others, giving us the opportunity to honor God and share the "why" behind being weird.

Power Verses:
James 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." (NIV)

© 2011 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

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Christology

John 20:30-31 "These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (v. 31 ).

This month, our studies in Matthew will concentrate on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus - the climax of His ministry and ultimate purpose for which the Son of God became incarnate. Our Lord's suffering for the sins of His people is just one part of the area of systematic theology termed Christology. Before we focus on Jesus' death and resurrection, we will take a week-long break to look at biblical Christology and the historical development of the doctrine of Christ using Dr. R.C. Sproul's teaching series The Doctrine of Christ (part 1).

Even though orthodox Christianity often receives criticism in our day, it is not too difficult to find people who admire Jesus. Politicians of all stripes invoke the name of Jesus, or at least what they believe He teaches, in their policy proposals. References to Him abound in popular films, books, and songs. The Jesus that is presented to us in these different ways, however, often bears little resemblance to the one we find in the Bible. In other words, many people respect a Jesus who does not exist. Instead, the Jesus that is exalted in our culture is one who has more in common with whatever is currently in vogue than with what the New Testament record has to say about Him.

Of course, this is dangerous because the Bible is clear that salvation comes only through trusting in Him - as He has been revealed (John 8:24; 1 John 2:22 ). Sound Christology endeavors to determine what Scripture says about Jesus in order that we might trust Him rightly. We are wrong if we limit our Christology to a personal relationship with Jesus, because without doctrine we will not know if we have a relationship with the false Christs of other religions or the real Jesus of Scripture. Knowing a list of facts about Christ is not sufficient by itself to save us; even the demons know the truths of God and shudder (James 2:19 ). Nevertheless, it is impossible to trust in someone about whom we know nothing, and so we must seek to understand the biblical teaching on Jesus.

It is sad that few Christians today are interested in theology. Perhaps this is a reflection on their fervor for Christ. How could anyone truly believe in Jesus and yet have no desire to learn all they can about Him and His work?

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

What place does Bible study hold in your life? All of us should be concerned to study Christian doctrines, for in doing so we will be able to present a distinctly Christian worldview and be assured that the Jesus whom we trust is the real Jesus. Take some time this week to learn about the basics of Christology, perhaps through a teaching series or a book on the person and work of Christ. Strive to make doctrinal study a regular part of your life.

For further study:

Psalm 119:25-32

The Bible in a year:

Daniel 1-2

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

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

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Christology

What place does Bible study hold in your life? All of us should be concerned to study Christian doctrines, for in doing so we will be able to present a distinctly Christian worldview and be assured that the Jesus whom we trust is the real Jesus. Take some time this week to learn about the basics of Christology, perhaps through a teaching series or a book on the person and work of Christ. Strive to make doctrinal study a regular part of your life.

For further study:

Psalm 119:25-32

The Bible in a year:

Daniel 1-2

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

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

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Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional

GOD’S ATTRIBUTES- HE IS RIGHTEOUS

God is right in everything he is and does. His goodness, in other words, is the shape of the way he relates to others. There is nothing God has ever done that is not right and nothing he will ever do that is not right. Justice is God’s rightness-his righteousness-applied in matters of judgment. In the final judgment, God will do what is right; and in the everyday flow of decisions, deliberations, and minor judgments, God’s opinion is unfailingly right, and thus good. Probably none of us fully realize just how much we need the judgment of God. Life presents us with puzzles. The pieces lie before us-all the complex factors going into a major decision, or the confusing signals we get from the people in our lives. We need to make good judgments, ones that account for all the pieces, and that pull the pieces together.

I have talked to many people trying to figure out how God views a relative who is acting in spiritual rebellion, or to those who are in pain over the eternal destiny of a loved one who recently passed away. Time and again I go back to Genesis 18:25 where Abraham, contemplating the impending judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah said, “Will not the judge of all the earth do right?

Abraham was saying, surely God makes moral distinctions between good and evil, or else what hope do we have? When a matter seems too expansive for us to make a judgment, we can trust that God will view it with righteousness, and that his response will be just.

Romans 3:21-26 speaks of the God who is righteous, and who makes us righteous–the God who is just, and who justifies:

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through the shedding of his blood-to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished- he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

Starting December 1, "Christmas Joy." Check it out.

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Resources

About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for thirty years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, the most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement.
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A Christmas Devotional

CHRISTMAS JOY

Hello, friend!

I’m glad to partner with Bible Gateway in bringing devotionals like Everything New to you via email. I have written a 25 day Christmas devotional called Christmas Joy which will be sent out in 25 short readings, December 1 through 25, and there are two ways for you to get it.

The Christmas season should be a time for personal spiritual renewal. A time of joy and celebration, light and life. In Christmas Joy, a daily devotional for the month of December, you will receive insight and inspiration that keeps Christ in Christmas. Each daily reading unpacks the meaning of words like joy, peace, Immanuel, shepherd, Magi, Mary, star, virgin, counselor, prince, manger, and more.

You can get Christmas Joy delivered to your email inbox by subscribing at BibleGateway.com (see right side of page)

OR you can acquire the complete Christmas Joy devotional as a Kindle eBook (readable on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android, or Kindle). I hope you’ll choose to follow along.

God bless,

Mel Lawrenz



Christmas Joy Cover

Resources

About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for thirty years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, the most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement.
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Advent-Header-2011
Each Tuesday in Advent, we look at the story behind a beloved Christmas song.

Silent Night

On December 11, 1792, a baby was born into the family Mohr in snow-clad Salzburg, Austria. He was named Josef, and as a boy he sang as a chorister in the cathedral choir of his native city. In 1815, Josef was ordained by the Roman Catholic bishop of Salzburg and two years later became assistant priest at St. Nicholas Church of Oberndorf, in Austria's alpine region. One Christmas Eve, he discovered the organ in the church wasn't working. According to the traditional story, Josef quickly wrote the words to this carol and asked the acting organist, Franz Gruber, to compose the tune. It was sung with guitar accompaniment that evening, December 1818.

Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and Child.
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born.

Silent night, holy night
Wondrous star, lend thy light;
With the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!

"And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." --Luke 2:7

Today's reading is from Near to the Heart of God by Robert J. Morgan.

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Today's Advent reading is taken from:
Near to the Heart of God
by Robert J. Morgan

A soul-bolstering collection that begins with Scripture, includes lyrics and an uplifting story about a favorite hymn, and ends with a prayer.

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What is faith like?

This week's reading: Hebrews 11:1

Faith means believing in and obeying God, which requires relying on what we cannot see-God's promises, provisions and concern for us. An inner attitude alone does not define faith, though. For faith to be present, action is required. Faith proves itself by obedience to the Lord.

The writer of Hebrews expressed faith in two directions: faith toward future things (what we hope for) and faith toward invisible things (what we do not see). When we are certain God is in control of these areas (and we live like he is in control), that's faith.

The two sides of faith-assurance and expectation-can be seen in the lives of those listed in this chapter. They had strong convictions about unseen present realities. They also had a strong assurance that God's promises would be fulfilled-even in the face of evidence that seemed to suggest otherwise (see, for example, Heb 11:11).

Ultimately, the way we see God will determine the shape of our faith. If we see a big, faithful, all-powerful God, then our faith will rise to those levels. If, on the other hand, we see a smaller God, a distant or less active God, then faith will plateau at those levels.

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


This unique Bible addresses the common, uncommon, and perplexing questions people ask about Scripture.


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