Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Daily Devotional Wednesday 16th November

“Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight.” Psalm 119:143 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"The Lord's portion is his people."
Deuteronomy 32:9

How are they his? By his own sovereign choice. He chose them, and set his love upon them. This he did altogether apart from any goodness in them at the time, or any goodness which he foresaw in them. He had mercy on whom he would have mercy, and ordained a chosen company unto eternal life; thus, therefore, are they his by his unconstrained election.

They are not only his by choice, but by purchase. He has bought and paid for them to the utmost farthing, hence about his title there can be no dispute. Not with corruptible things, as with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord's portion has been fully redeemed. There is no mortgage on his estate; no suits can be raised by opposing claimants, the price was paid in open court, and the Church is the Lord's freehold forever. See the blood-mark upon all the chosen, invisible to human eye, but known to Christ, for "the Lord knoweth them that are his"; he forgetteth none of those whom he has redeemed from among men; he counts the sheep for whom he laid down his life, and remembers well the Church for which he gave himself.

They are also his by conquest. What a battle he had in us before we would be won! How long he laid siege to our hearts! How often he sent us terms of capitulation! but we barred our gates, and fenced our walls against him. Do we not remember that glorious hour when he carried our hearts by storm? When he placed his cross against the wall, and scaled our ramparts, planting on our strongholds the blood-red flag of his omnipotent mercy? Yes, we are, indeed, the conquered captives of his omnipotent love. Thus chosen, purchased, and subdued, the rights of our divine possessor are inalienable: we rejoice that we never can be our own; and we desire, day by day, to do his will, and to show forth his glory.

Evening

"Strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought for us."
Psalm 68:28

It is our wisdom, as well as our necessity, to beseech God continually to strengthen that which he has wrought in us. It is because of their neglect in this, that many Christians may blame themselves for those trials and afflictions of spirit which arise from unbelief. It is true that Satan seeks to flood the fair garden of the heart and make it a scene of desolation, but it is also true that many Christians leave open the sluice-gates themselves, and let in the dreadful deluge through carelessness and want of prayer to their strong Helper. We often forget that the Author of our faith must be the Preserver of it also. The lamp which was burning in the temple was never allowed to go out, but it had to be daily replenished with fresh oil; in like manner, our faith can only live by being sustained with the oil of grace, and we can only obtain this from God himself. Foolish virgins we shall prove, if we do not secure the needed sustenance for our lamps. He who built the world upholds it, or it would fall in one tremendous crash; he who made us Christians must maintain us by his Spirit, or our ruin will be speedy and final. Let us, then, evening by evening, go to our Lord for the grace and strength we need. We have a strong argument to plead, for it is his own work of grace which we ask him to strengthen--"that which thou hast wrought for us." Think you he will fail to protect and sustain that? Only let your faith take hold of his strength, and all the powers of darkness, led on by the master fiend of hell, cannot cast a cloud or shadow over your joy and peace. Why faint when you may be strong? Why suffer defeat when you may conquer? Oh! take your wavering faith and drooping graces to him who can revive and replenish them, and earnestly pray, "Strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought for us."

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Today's reading: Ezekiel 1-2, Hebrews 11:1-19 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Ezekiel 1-2

Ezekiel’s Inaugural Vision

1 In my thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.

2 On the fifth of the month—it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin— 3 the word of the LORD came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians. There the hand of the LORD was on him.

4 I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, 5and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was human, 6 but each of them had four faces and four wings. 7 Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. 8 Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. All four of them had faces and wings, 9 and the wings of one touched the wings of another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Hebrews 11:1-19

Faith in Action

1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith....

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Caiaphas

[Cā'iaphăs] - a searcher or he that seeks with diligence. Joseph Caiaphas, the son-in-law of Annas, was high priest of the Jews for eighteen years (Matt. 26:3, 57).

The Man with Sadducaean Insolence

Dr. David Smith refers to this wicked man whom the Spirit of God used to declare divine purposes as, "a man of masterful temper, with his full share of the insolence which was a Sadducaean characteristic." The Sadducees were a sect among the Jews, so called from their founder Sadoc who lived about 260 years before Christ. Their principal tenets were:

I. There is no angel, spirit or resurrection; the soul finishes with the body (Matt. 22:23; Acts 23:8).

II. There is no fate or providence - all men enjoy the most ample freedom of action - absolute power to do good or evil.

III. There is no need to follow tradition. Scripture, particularly the first five books of the Bible, must be strictly adhered to. Caiaphas, as an ardent Sadducee, figures three times in the New Testament.

A. At the raising of Lazarus. After the miracle at Bethany, the rulers were alarmed at the popularity of Jesus which the resurrection of Lazarus brought Him, and convened a meeting of the Sanhedrin to decide what should be done with Jesus. Caiaphas presided and with a high hand forced a resolution that Jesus should be put to death (John 11:49, 53).

B. At the trial of Jesus. At a further meeting of the Sanhedrin when Jesus appeared before its members and was tried and condemned, Caiaphas again displayed his character by his open determination to find Jesus guilty. Since he was the high priest, his announcements were clothed with authority, but his shameless disregard of the forms of law to bring about the death of Jesus, revealed his warped conscience (Matt. 26:57; 58; John 18:24 ). Yet Caiaphas used language somewhat prophetic when he said that it was expedient for one man to die for the people, and Christ did die for Jew and Gentile alike. By His death He broke down the middle wall (Eph. 2:14-18).

C. At the trial of Peter and John. Caiaphas also took part in the examination of Peter and John when called in question over the marvels of the healing of the lame man. The manifestation of God's power was so evident that Annas and Caiaphas could do nothing about the apostles (Acts 4).

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November 15, 2011

Plan for Peace

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

When a man's ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Proverbs 16:7, ESV).

Friend to Friend

I recently read the story of a young reporter who approached an older gentleman on his 100th birthday.

"I want to wish you a happy birthday, Sir. I have just one question for you. What would you say is your greatest accomplishment in life?" the young reporter asked.

"Well," said the man, "I don't have a single enemy in the world."

"Really? That's incredible!" responded the reporter. "What is your secret?"

The centenarian smiled and proudly replied, "I have outlived every single one of them."

Let's be honest. Some people are harder to get along with than others. I call them "sandpaper people" because they are irritating and rub me the wrong way. Tough relationships are a certainty in life. When it comes to handling those difficult relationships, God does not want or expect us to declare war. We are to control our emotions instead of allowing them to control us. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 12:18, "As much as is possible, live peaceably with all men." In other words, we need to set our mind on peace - not winning.

God's desire is for us to wage peace in every relationship. What is even more amazing to me is the fact that God calls us to wage peace with even the roughest, most abrasive sandpaper people who come our way. Now that is a formidable task, since sandpaper people seem to come with a set agenda that targets emotional eruptions and creates constant relationship upheavals. They love a good fight, live to evoke angry reactions and are fierce warriors determined to win every battle initiated by their downright irritating personalities. However, combat is impossible when the enemy has laid down his weapons and chosen peace.

Unresolved conflict is the enemy of peace, and peace is often the casualty of unresolved conflict in relationships. I love this little poem about relationship problems:

"To dwell above with saints we love, that will be grace and glory.
To live below with saints we know; that's another story!" (Author unknown)

The world has its own system for working out conflict. That system is retaliation. God has a different plan for working out conflict. That plan is restoration. The apostle Paul was a master at conflict resolution and in 1 Thessalonians 5:13, he offers a simple but powerful command to "live in peace with each other." In Colossians 3:12-14, he paints a clear picture of what living in peace should look like in our lives:

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Sounds like an impossible task, doesn't it? It is ... unless we choose to rely on and surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us. When Paul says that we are to "clothe" ourselves with certain characteristics so we will always be prepared for peace, he means we must plan ahead and make deliberate choices before the choice is actually necessary.

For example, the holidays are coming up. (I know. I can't believe it either.) Let's say that your least favorite relatives are coming for a week and you are already dreading their visit. Make the decision right now to practice patience, love and self-control during their stay. Choose today to please God by how you treat them and welcome them into your home. Why?

Proverbs 16:7 (ESV) "When a man's ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him."

"He" is the operating word in the verse above. Did you catch that? Our obedience to God invites Him to promote peace in our relationships - even the most difficult ones. All we have to focus on is making sure our ways are pleasing to the Lord and He will do the rest. Now that is a great plan for peace!

Let's Pray

Father, I want to live a life of obedience to You. Make me an instrument of Your peace. Teach me to love even my enemies. Give me the strength to wage peace when what I really want to do is wage war. Today, I choose to surrender my stubborn will to You. I lay down my emotional weapons and choose peace. Be glorified in my relationships, Father.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

When our daughter, Danna, was a little girl, she loved to shop ... for any reason. One day, when I picked her up from school, she hopped in the car and exclaimed, "Mom, it is going to snow tonight!" I started laughing because I had already checked the weather and snow was nowhere in the forecast. "Danna, it is going to be in the 50s tonight. I hardly think we need to prepare for snow." Danna's immediate response was, "But don't you think we should go shopping - just in case?"

We need to plan for peace. The characteristics that we wear or "bring" to relationships will determine the level of peace in those relationships. Peace makes the decision to resolve conflict before conflict comes. Paul lists the characteristics we need to cultivate personally in order to have right relationships filled with peace. On a scale of one to five, how are you doing in each area when it comes to dealing with the difficult people in your life?

1 = Awful

5 = Awesome

___ Compassionate

___ Kind

___ Humble
___ Gentle
___ Patient
___ Merciful
___ Loving

___ Forgiving


What one change are you willing to make today to promote peace in your relationships? Record your answer in your journal along with a prayer of commitment. Feeling brave? Share your commitment with a girlfriend who will hold you accountable.

More from the Girlfriends

Already feeling the stress of the approaching holidays? You need Mary's book, Escaping the Stress Trap, for practical steps to dealing with and managing stress. Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebook - or through email. Need help learning how to study the Bible? Join women across the world in Mary's weekly online Bible Study, Light for the Journey, and find out.

"I am flat broke and Christmas is just around the corner!" Do those words sound familiar? Don't let gift-giving become a chore instead of a joy. Get Mary's MP3 download - Giving the Perfect Gift - and discover how to give ten wonderful and inexpensive gifts.

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
Lisa Whittle

November 15, 2011

Labels
Lisa Whittle, She Seeks

"I have called you by name; you are mine." Isaiah 43:1b(NLT)

I ran down the stairs to find the usual smattering of bright red, green and silver wrapped boxes full of gifts. I tore into them, anticipating the many things I'd written on my long Christmas wish list. All the gifts excited me. But one, in particular, was a favorite: my very own shiny black label maker.

In the weeks to come, I would put labels on everything. My shoes had white sticky strips with gray crooked letters that spelled 'Lisa' on them. So did my books, my bags, my plastic baton handle and even my padded bicycle seat. I took great pleasure in tagging the things I loved with my name.

But as the years went on, I used labels in different ways. I labeled myself as confident when deep down, I was really afraid. I labeled myself as bad when I became weighted down by my sin. Even as an adult, when my husband and I closed the church we started just 13 months earlier, I labeled myself a failure.

Labels. Not all of them are good.

Often, the labels we put on ourselves as grown women can create holes inside us - the kind of internal voids that only God can fill. We do this when we pluck one negative experience from our life, or even, a positive one, and we decide that our life story, worth and future rests on the label our experience has created. It is then that we fail to remember that the only label we need ever wear is the one that says we belong to Jesus.

Jesus did not create us to wear the labels of this world, even the ones we place on ourselves. Instead, He created us as His "dearly loved children" (Eph. 5:1 NIV).

Labels get in the way of this. They keep us tagged with unhealthy stigmas, emotions and pieces from our past that weigh on us and stifle His intention for our life.

The truth is, our experiences do not own us unless we give them permission. Instead, we have access to the power of God to help us peel off the labels, so we may start living a whole new story - our own story of wholeness.

Are you ready to live without your labels? If you are, then you are in the right place.

Because today, Jesus wants you to know that His label of love has covered all the rest. And with that covering, no other label has room to stick.

Dear Lord, thank You for being the only label I need wear. Help me to take off the other labels I have been given, even by myself. May I know, today, that identity in You offers freedom...and may I receive it into the deepest places of my heart by the power of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
{w}hole: An Honest Look at the Holes In Your Life and How to Let God Fill Them by Lisa Whittle

Behind Those Eyes: What's Really Going on Inside the Souls of Women by Lisa Whittle

Journey with Lisa to becoming whole on her blog. While there, enter to win one of two sets of {w}hole and Behind Those Eyes.

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:
Have you struggled to move past the labels you have had in your life?

Reflections:
How can I begin to see myself with only the label of "child of God"?

Power Verses:
Galatians 1:15, "But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace." (NLT)

2 Peter 1:3, "By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence." (NLT)

© 2011 by Lisa Whittle. All rights reserved.

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

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Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional

GOD’S ATTRIBUTES- HE IS CHANGELESS

Imagine our confusion if we thought that God is glorious (sometimes) or is Spirit (once in a while) or knows us (at least 75% of us, plus or minus 5%). No, whatever God is, he is consistently. God "does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17). Everything else in life changes. God will one day roll up the universe like a robe, "But you [God] remain the same, and your years will never end" (Hebrews 1:12).

What a parent hopes to be-consistent, even-handed, fair, reliable, steady-God is. He always is. He is the only father who is never arbitrary, never capricious, never moody. What was true about God 4,000 years ago when he called Abram is still true of him today. And so what is true about him today will be true for your great-grandchildren and for all eternity.

God is great. This is the song sung by the universe. It is the proper interpretation of every heartbeat, every breath, and every step of our lives.

This is what Mary, the mother of Jesus, meant when she said "My soul magnifies the Lord" (Luke 1:46). The news of God's act of supreme greatness, bringing a rescuer into the world, inspired her to praise and adoration. But Mary "magnified" the Lord, not in the sense that she made him bigger, but because her soul was enlarged by the greatness she was just beginning to comprehend.

No telescope ever made a celestial body larger, but by gaining a larger vision, a magnified vision, the beholder is changed by the greatness beheld.

Greatness is our best hope, when we feel like our lives are just so many pieces, to know that there is a way to pull it all together. We are pulled together and held together by the greater purpose of a greater being. So when we wonder where we fit in, or how we can go on after losing somebody important, or whether we can do any good in our lives, the answer comes from the throne of the God of greatness. His invisible hand moves us more powerfully and carefully than any other influence in our lives. He is not puzzled by the puzzling pieces of life.

PRAY THIS

God, enlarge me. I don't ask you to make me bigger or more important, but I know that if I get a fuller experience of your greatness, that my heart and my mind will be greater for it. But most of all, help me to be exuberant in setting a course of life to know your greatness, and to speak of your greatness whenever I have the opportunity.

Excerpt from Putting the Pieces Back Together: How Real Life and Real Faith Connect. Click for more.

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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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Why was David so emotionally up and down?

This week's reading: Psalm 13:1–5

Within five verses David moves from spiritual despair to hope, from gut-wrenching, internal wrestlings to complete trust and from deep sorrow to rejoicing. What causes these dramatic turnabouts?

One explanation may be that David’s psalms are simply snapshots of his feelings. As he gradually worked through issues, he returned to his confidence in God. But it may have happened more slowly than it would appear from reading the compressed account in these few verses.

Another explanation may be that David knew how to express feelings and faith simultaneously. Perhaps David revealed his emotions on one level while on another level he told what he actually believed.

David’s mood changes reflect the feelings of normal people struggling with their faith. Perhaps that’s why so many people can identify with Psalms with all its ups and downs.

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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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