Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Daily Devotional Wednesday 9th November

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.””Joshua 24:15 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord."
Colossians 2:6

The life of faith is represented as receiving--an act which implies the very opposite of anything like merit. It is simply the acceptance of a gift. As the earth drinks in the rain, as the sea receives the streams, as night accepts light from the stars, so we, giving nothing, partake freely of the grace of God. The saints are not, by nature, wells, or streams, they are but cisterns into which the living water flows; they are empty vessels into which God pours his salvation. The idea of receiving implies a sense of realization, making the matter a reality. One cannot very well receive a shadow; we receive that which is substantial: so is it in the life of faith, Christ becomes real to us. While we are without faith, Jesus is a mere name to us--a person who lived a long while ago, so long ago that his life is only a history to us now! By an act of faith Jesus becomes a real person in the consciousness of our heart. But receiving also means grasping or getting possession of. The thing which I receive becomes my own: I appropriate to myself that which is given. When I receive Jesus, he becomes my Saviour, so mine that neither life nor death shall be able to rob me of him. All this is to receive Christ--to take him as God's free gift; to realize him in my heart, and to appropriate him as mine.

Salvation may be described as the blind receiving sight, the deaf receiving hearing, the dead receiving life; but we have not only received these blessings, we have received Christ Jesus himself. It is true that he gave us life from the dead. He gave us pardon of sin; he gave us imputed righteousness. These are all precious things, but we are not content with them; we have received Christ himself. The Son of God has been poured into us, and we have received him, and appropriated him. What a heartful Jesus must be, for heaven itself cannot contain him!

Evening

"The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?"
Mark 14:14

Jerusalem at the time of the passover was one great inn; each householder had invited his own friends, but no one had invited the Saviour, and he had no dwelling of his own. It was by his own supernatural power that he found himself an upper room in which to keep the feast. It is so even to this day--Jesus is not received among the sons of men save only where by his supernatural power and grace he makes the heart anew. All doors are open enough to the prince of darkness, but Jesus must clear a way for himself or lodge in the streets. It was through the mysterious power exerted by our Lord that the householder raised no question, but at once cheerfully and joyfully opened his guestchamber. Who he was, and what he was, we do not know, but he readily accepted the honour which the Redeemer proposed to confer upon him. In like manner it is still discovered who are the Lord's chosen, and who are not; for when the gospel comes to some, they fight against it, and will not have it, but where men receive it, welcoming it, this is a sure indication that there is a secret work going on in the soul, and that God has chosen them unto eternal life. Are you willing, dear reader, to receive Christ? then there is no difficulty in the way; Christ will be your guest; his own power is working with you, making you willing. What an honour to entertain the Son of God! The heaven of heavens cannot contain him, and yet he condescends to find a house within our hearts! We are not worthy that he should come under our roof, but what an unutterable privilege when he condescends to enter! for then he makes a feast, and causes us to feast with him upon royal dainties, we sit at a banquet where the viands are immortal, and give immortality to those who feed thereon. Blessed among the sons of Adam is he who entertains the angels' Lord.

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Today's reading: Jeremiah 43-45, Hebrews 5 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Jeremiah 43-45

1 When Jeremiah had finished telling the people all the words of the LORD their God—everything the LORD had sent him to tell them— 2 Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, “You are lying! The LORD our God has not sent you to say, ‘You must not go to Egypt to settle there.’ 3 But Baruch son of Neriah is inciting you against us to hand us over to the Babylonians, so they may kill us or carry us into exile to Babylon.”

4 So Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers and all the people disobeyed the LORD’s command to stay in the land of Judah. 5 Instead, Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers led away all the remnant of Judah who had come back to live in the land of Judah from all the nations where they had been scattered. 6 They also led away all those whom Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard had left with Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan—the men, the women, the children and the king’s daughters. And they took Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch son of Neriah along with them. 7 So they entered Egypt in disobedience to the LORD and went as far as Tahpanhes.

8 In Tahpanhes the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: 9“While the Jews are watching, take some large stones with you and bury them in clay in the brick pavement at the entrance to Pharaoh’s palace in Tahpanhes. 10 Then say to them, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I will send for my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and I will set his throne over these stones I have buried here; he will spread his royal canopy above them. 11 He will come and attack Egypt, bringing death to those destined for death, captivity to those destined for captivity, and the sword to those destined for the sword. 12 He will set fire to the temples of the gods of Egypt; he will burn their temples and take their gods captive. As a shepherd picks his garment clean of lice, so he will pick Egypt clean and depart. 13 There in the temple of the sun in Egypt he will demolish the sacred pillars and will burn down the temples of the gods of Egypt....’”

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Hebrews 5

1 Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3 This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.4 And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was.

5 In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,

“You are my Son;
today I have become your Father.”

6 And he says in another place,

“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek....”

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Gideon, Gedeon

[Gĭd'eon, Gĕd'e on] - a cutting down, he that bruises or great warrior. A son of Joash of the family of Abiezer, a Manassite, who lived in Ophrah and delivered Israel from Midian. He is also called Jerubbaal, and judged Israel forty years as the fifth judge (Judg. 6; 7; 8).

The Man of Might and Valor

Without doubt Gideon is among the brightest luminaries of Old Testament history. His character and call are presented in a series of tableaux. We see:

I. Gideon at the flail. The tall, powerful young man was threshing wheat for his farmer-father when the call came to him to rise and become the deliverer of his nation. History teaches that obscurity of birth is no obstacle to noble service. It was no dishonor for Gideon to say, "My family is poor."

II. Gideon at the altar. Although humble and industrious, Gideon was God-fearing. His own father had become an idolator but idols had to go, and Gideon vowed to remove them. No wonder they called him Jerubbaal, meaning "Discomfiter of Baal."

III. Gideon and the fleece. Facing the great mission of his life, he had to have an assuring token that God was with him. The method he adopted was peculiar, but found favor with heaven, God condescending to grant Gideon the double sign. With the complete revelation before us in the Bible, we are not to seek supernatural signs, but take God at his Word.

IV. Gideon at the well. How fascinating is the incident of the reduction of Gideon's army from thirty-two thousand to ten thousand, then to only three hundred. Three hundred men against the countless swarms of Midian! Yes, but the few choice, brave, active men and God were in the majority. God is not always on the side of big battalions.

V. Gideon with the whip. Rough times often need and warrant rough measures. The men of Succoth and Penuel made themselves obnoxious, but with a whip fashioned out of the thorny branches off the trees, Gideon meted out to them the punishment they deserved.

VI. Gideon in the gallery of worthies. It was no small honor to have a niche, as Gideon has, in the illustrious roll named in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, where every name is an inspiration, and every character a miracle of grace.

Preachers desiring to continue the character-study of Gideon still further might note his humility (Judg. 6:15); caution (Judg. 6:17); spirituality (Judg. 6:24); obedience (Judg. 6:27); divine inspiration ( Judg. 6:34); divine fellowship (Judg. 6:36; 7:4, 7-9); strategy (Judg. 7:16-18); tact (Judg. 8:1-3); loyalty to God (Judg. 8:23); the fact that he was weakened by his very prosperity (Judg. 8:24-31).

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November 8, 2011

Lessons from the Battlefield

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12 NIV).

Friend to Friend

In my early years, I was a rough and rowdy tomboy who climbed trees, skipped rocks, and made skid marks on the asphalt with my glittery pink banana seat bike. My backyard was the envy of every kid in the neighborhood. It came equipped with a drainage ditch across the back border that separated us from a vacant, thickly wooded lot. The ditch tunneled beneath six city blocks through concrete pipes large enough to stand up in and walk through, and culminated in a very large crater we dubbed "The Canyon." How do I know you could stand up in them? You guessed. We did it.

To the kids in the neighborhood, the ditch was a virtual wonderland filled with all kinds of creepy, crawly critters to be discovered. I felt like the luckiest kid around to have such an attraction right in my own backyard.

On the other side of "The Canyon" lived another neighborhood that was a bit rougher than ours. We dubbed the boys who lived there the "Canyon Boys." Great animosity existed between the Canyon Boys and the boys in our neighborhood (of which I thought I was one).

One day the warring factions decided there was going to be a big rumble between the two. The time: 2:00 p.m. The place: the drainage ditch bordering my backyard. The weapon of choice: dirt clods.

We boys gathered in my yard on the east side of the ditch as the enemy gathered in the vacant lot on the west. We gathered our ammo, hunkered down behind mounds of dirt and trees, and waited for the first shot to be fired. Then it began. Clods of hardened mud flew left and right. At some point during this heated battle, I peeked out from behind a tree to throw a grenade, and something hit me square in the forehead. I wasn't sure what it was, but it didn't feel like dirt. As blood poured down my brow, I looked on the ground and saw the culprit. A brick.

"You cheated!" I yelled at the enemy forces.

Fearing I had suffered a fatal blow, the enemies ran for their lives. My buds ran to get my mom (who had no idea what was going on in the backyard), and I was whisked away to the hospital. The doctor shaved a patch of hair from my forehead, sewed my skin back together, and placed a patch over the wound. Oh, it wasn't as nifty as a broken arm or a broken leg, but having your head spit open by a rival was pretty cool.

Some of my hair never grew back in that spot and I have a scar to remind me of a few facts about fighting foes.

  1. The enemy cheats.
  2. The enemy slings more than just dirt.
  3. The enemy has great aim.
  4. The enemy's attacks sometimes leave scars.
  5. The enemy is not playing a game.

I don't fight with bullies anymore-at least, not the human kind. But I do have one nemesis that challenges me regularly. The Bible calls him the "great deceiver," "the accuser," "the devil," "the evil one." Interestingly, the same lessons I learned from that dirt clod fight apply to him today.

What about you? Do you know how to fight the spiritual battles in your life? Ephesians 6:10-20 is a great place to start.

Let's Pray
Dear Lord, today I put on the full armor of God to stand against the enemy's schemes: the helmet of salvation, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the sandals of the gospel of peace. I also take up the shield of faith in one hand and the sword of the Spirit in the other. Now I'm ready to take my stand.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Additional Scripture Reading: Ephesians 6:10-20

Let's pray for each other today. Visit my Facebook page atwww.facebook.com/sharonjaynes and share your prayer request. Then pray for the GiG sister whose entry is listed below yours. Let's lock shields and march into battle together! (Have I told you lately just how much I love doing life with you?)

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.


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
Samantha Reed

November 8, 2011

Belittled
Samantha Reed, Executive Assistant

"The Lord is near." Philippians 4:5b (NIV)

Trapped like a firefly in a Mason jar. Stifled, I peered out, watching others' dreams and hopes and joys twinkle and fly by my stagnant ones. My own desires sat dusty in my valley of pain.

Little by little, my happy-go-lucky heart flickered. Sadness cupped his hand over what dim light was left as I acknowledged out loud the depths of my disappointment.

Extinguished. Exhausted. Expectant no longer.

"I'm so sorry your dreams are dashed," my friend offered. "Wish I had known sooner how painful this disappointment has been. Woulda been an honor to walk it out with you."

"Thanks. But a broken heart is silly. Especially in light of others' pain." Our friend's husband had just passed away; he endured months of heartbreaking illness. Now she endured the grief of his death. Who was I to be sad about a mere breakup? I would not add white noise to the blaring symphony of sorrow around me.

Silenced by self-doubt. Belittled by unworthiness.

I diminished my pain, fearing it insignificant compared to others seemingly more important pain. I belittled my pain and in the process, belittled God's care about my pain. Healing had been offered, yet I walked away from it, from the One who longed to tend my wounds.

Years of wisdom, scrolls of mercy, flashed in my friend's eyes.

She took my hand and we journeyed back. Back to a time when she lost two children. Someone told her to check her pain at the door. Keep it in perspective to others' pain.

She took my hand and we journeyed back. Back to a time when pain was acknowledged and sifted through, not simply tucked in a dark corner. She turned from the pain to the Lord who administered healing from the grief of empty arms and empty cribs.

She took my hand and we journeyed forward. "Don't belittle your grief. Your pain is genuine. This valley is real. You must acknowledge the Lord is near and accept His help to get out."

My friend granted permission to feel my ache and loss. Drastically different than her own, yet no less honest. Not till that moment did I realize I'd held my pain at a distance, shunned for perceived absurdity. Petty stuff my broken heart stood certain God didn't have time to worry about it.

Yet truth resonated in my friend's words. No one loves us like He can, like He will. No one offers healing like He does. And no one stands as near, willing to catch our tears. So precious, He saves each and every one.

Friend, is it perhaps time to acknowledge your pain? To become aware of the Lord's care and always-there presence?

The grace of God and of friends in the valley is needed. Counting stars during the long, dark night of our soul is more comforting with others beside us. The first ray of light often is glimpsed by them anyhow. If you are longing for a close companion, pray for one. Perhaps joining a small group, calling an acquaintance for coffee, or helping a neighbor will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

No matter what other voices have said, your pain is valid.

Seasons of pain come. And they also leave. Don't miss that. Pain is not meant to linger indefinitely. God cares deeply and longs to heal you. No pain is too great ... or too little. Often we just need a trusted companion to remind us He is near. He heals. He longs to undo the lid on our Mason jar; release our dreams and hopes and joys. And fly next to us, out of the valley.

Dear Lord, thank You for loving us enough to go through the grief of Your Son, Jesus, dying on the cross. He bore our pain. He knows our pain. He heals our pain. Thank You. In His Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
There is much pain associated with poverty. You could help alleviate this pain by sponsoring a child throughCompassion International!

Visit Samantha's blog for her friend, Jane's, story of healing from the loss of her twins.

Application Steps:
Do you cram your pain down, figuring it is simply 'white noise' in a world of hurt? Do a word search onBibleGateway for "near, nearness, close" to remind you of God's nearness and desire to hear your heart.

Could it be God is asking you to be that friend you long for to another? Call her today.

If you are in need of healing, reach out to a trusted friend or counselor. Remember the Lord has always been near and is your healer.

Reflections:
"The simple statement, 'God is for us', is in truth one of the richest and weightiest utterances that the Bible contains." J.I. Packer

Power Verses:
1 Corinthians 13:7, "[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." (NIV 1984)

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance." (NIV 1984)

© 2011 by Samantha Reed. All rights reserved.

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

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What's so great about Abram's faith?

This week's reading: Genesis 15:6

The Bible makes Abram's faith the model for us all. (See, for example, Ro 4; Gal 3; Heb 11; Jas 2.) The surprising thing is that Abram never saw a Bible, had no church, possessed no creed, took no sacrament, heard not even one of the Ten Commandments and perhaps knew little about life after death.

Yet Abram's faith shows us what really matters. He heard the voice of God and dared to simply believe he could trust him when he spoke. He risked his life, his security, his reputation, his future and even his son on the word that came from the God whom he could not see but in whom he believed. Can there be anything better to demonstrate that it is by faith, and faith alone, that we are saved?

We now have the Bible, the church, the creeds, the sacraments and the Ten Commandments. But God still looks for the basics-God still looks for hearts that will risk all to trust in him.

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Today's reading is from the
NIV Quest Study Bible
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This unique Bible addresses the common, uncommon, and perplexing questions people ask about Scripture.


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Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional

GOD’S ATTRIBUTES- HE KNOWS

Because God is personal, he is a knowing being. His mind perceives truth and defines truth. He embraces us with a knowledge that is not just stored information in a Super-Divine File, but is an extension of love. His knowledge holds us.

"O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in-behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain" (Psalm 139:1-5).

Psalm 147:5 says God's "understanding has no limit." "Nothing is hidden from God's sight" (Hebrews 4:13). When you pray, you can be assured that "the Father knows what you need before you ask him" (Matthew 6:8). He knows the number of hairs on your head. He knows you better than you know yourself. God's omniscience is our comfort.

Because God's all-knowing character is an extension of his personality, the Bible is not a mystery book of hidden secrets, and ministers of the gospel of Christ are not soothsayers or crystal-ball gazers. This knowledge is about the way things have been, about the way things are, and about the way things will be-as they must-depending on how we respond to God's direction.

Christianity is not a horoscope with saints names attached. It is a way of life and a view of the world as it was, is, and will be. Many things that God knows remain secrets or mysteries to us. But many other things are uncovered, especially the consequences of the weighty spiritual and moral decisions we make every day.

God knows everything. Only God knows everything. And only God knows everything about us. That should give us healthy fear (respect), and great assurance.

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

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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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