Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Daily Devotional Tuesday 20th December

“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven” Luke 1:76-78 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord."
Proverbs 16:33

If the disposal of the lot is the Lord's whose is the arrangement of our whole life? If the simple casting of a lot is guided by him, how much more the events of our entire life--especially when we are told by our blessed Saviour: "The very hairs of your head are all numbered: not a sparrow falleth to the ground without your Father." It would bring a holy calm over your mind, dear friend, if you were always to remember this. It would so relieve your mind from anxiety, that you would be the better able to walk in patience, quiet, and cheerfulness as a Christian should. When a man is anxious he cannot pray with faith; when he is troubled about the world, he cannot serve his Master, his thoughts are serving himself. If you would "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness," all things would then be added unto you. You are meddling with Christ's business, and neglecting your own when you fret about your lot and circumstances. You have been trying "providing" work and forgetting that it is yours to obey. Be wise and attend to the obeying, and let Christ manage the providing. Come and survey your Father's storehouse, and ask whether he will let you starve while he has laid up so great an abundance in his garner? Look at his heart of mercy; see if that can ever prove unkind! Look at his inscrutable wisdom; see if that will ever be at fault. Above all, look up to Jesus Christ your Intercessor, and ask yourself, while he pleads, can your Father deal ungraciously with you? If he remembers even sparrows, will he forget one of the least of his poor children? "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain thee. He will never suffer the righteous to be moved."

My soul, rest happy in thy low estate,

Nor hope nor wish to be esteem'd or great;

To take the impress of the Will Divine,

Be that thy glory, and those riches thine.

Evening

"And there was no more sea."
Revelation 21:1

Scarcely could we rejoice at the thought of losing the glorious old ocean: the new heavens and the new earth are none the fairer to our imagination, if, indeed, literally there is to be no great and wide sea, with its gleaming waves and shelly shores. Is not the text to be read as a metaphor, tinged with the prejudice with which the Oriental mind universally regarded the sea in the olden times? A real physical world without a sea it is mournful to imagine, it would be an iron ring without the sapphire which made it precious. There must be a spiritual meaning here. In the new dispensation there will be no division--the sea separates nations and sunders peoples from each other. To John in Patmos the deep waters were like prison walls, shutting him out from his brethren and his work: there shall be no such barriers in the world to come. Leagues of rolling billows lie between us and many a kinsman whom tonight we prayerfully remember, but in the bright world to which we go there shall be unbroken fellowship for all the redeemed family. In this sense there shall be no more sea. The sea is the emblem of change; with its ebbs and flows, its glassy smoothness and its mountainous billows, its gentle murmurs and its tumultuous roarings, it is never long the same. Slave of the fickle winds and the changeful moon, its instability is proverbial. In this mortal state we have too much of this; earth is constant only in her inconstancy, but in the heavenly state all mournful change shall be unknown, and with it all fear of storm to wreck our hopes and drown our joys. The sea of glass glows with a glory unbroken by a wave. No tempest howls along the peaceful shores of paradise. Soon shall we reach that happy land where partings, and changes, and storms shall be ended! Jesus will waft us there. Are we in him or not? This is the grand question.

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Today's reading: Jonah 1-4, Revelation 10 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Jonah 1-4

Jonah Flees From the LORD

1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

3 But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.

4 Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. 5 All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.

But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. 6 The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish....”

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Revelation 10

The Angel and the Little Scroll

1 Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. 2 He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, 3 and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. 4And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.”

5 Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. 6 And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, “There will be no more delay! 7 But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets....”

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

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Abigail

The Woman With Beauty and Brains

Scripture References1 Samuel 25:1-42; 2 Samuel 3:3

Name Meaning—Father of Joy, orCause of Joy

Family Connections —Scripture gives us no clue as to Abigail’s parentage or genealogy. Ellicott suggests that the name given this famous Jewish beauty who became the good angel of Nabal’s household was likely given her by the villagers of her husband’s estate. Meaning “Whose father is joy,” Abigail was “expressive of her sunny, gladness-bringing presence.” Her religious witness and knowledge of Jewish history testify to an early training in a godly home, and acquaintance with the teachings of the prophets in Israel, Her plea before David also reveals her understanding of the events of her own world.

The three conspicuous characters in the story of one of the loveliest females in the Bible are Nabal, Abigail and David. Nabal is described as “the man churlish and evil in his doings” (1 Samuel 25:3), and his record proves him to be all that. Churlish means, a bear of man, harsh, rude and brutal. Destitute of the finer qualities his wife possessed, he was likewise avaricious and selfish. Rich and increased with goods and gold, he thought only of his possessions and could be classed among those of whom it has been written—

The man may breathe but never lives

Whoe'er receives but nothing gives—

Creation’s blot, creation’s blank,

Whom none can love and none can thank.

Nabal was also a drunken wretch, as well as being unmanageable and stubborn and ill-tempered. Doubtless he was often “very drunken.” This wretch of a man was likewise an unbeliever, “a son of Belial,” who bowed his knee to the god of this world and not to the God of his fathers. Further, as a follower of Saul he shared the rejected king’s jealousy of David. Added to his brutal disposition and evil doings was that of stupidity, as his name suggests. Pleading for his unworthy life, Abigail asked for mercy because of his foolishness. “As his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him” ( vs 25). Nabal means “a fool,” and what Abigail actually meant was, “Pay no attention to my wretched husband for he’s a fool by name, and a fool by nature.” Truly, such a man will always provoke the profoundest perversion in all who read his story.

Abigail is as “a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance.” In her, winsomeness and wisdom were wed. She had brains as well as beauty. Today, many women try to cultivate beauty and neglect their brains. A lovely face hides an empty mind. But with Abigail, loveliness and intelligence went hand in hand, with her intelligence emphasizing her physical attractiveness. A beautiful woman with a beautiful mind as she had is surely one of God’s masterpieces.

Added to her charm and wisdom was that of piety. She knew God, and although she lived in such an unhappy home, she remained a saint. Her own soul, like that of David, was “bound in the bundle of life with the Lord God.” Writing of Abigail as “A Woman of Tact” W. Mackintosh Mackay says that, “she possessed in harmonious combination these two qualities which are valuable to any one, but which are essential to one who has to manage men—the tact of a wise wife and the religious principle of a good woman.” Eugenia Price, who writes of Abigail as, A Woman With God’s Own Poise , says that, “only God can give a woman poise like Abigail possessed, and God can only do it when a woman is willing to cooperate as Abigail cooperated with Him on every point.” True to the significance of her own name she experienced that in God her Father there was a source of joy enabling her to be independent of the adverse, trying circumstances of her miserable home life. She must have had implicit confidence in God to speak to David as she did about her divinely predestined future. In harmony with her many attractions was “the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is more lustrous than the diamonds that decorate the delicate fingers of our betters, shone as an ornament of gold about her head, and chains about her neck.”

David is the other outstanding character in the record. He it was who fought the battles of the Lord, and evil had not been found in him all his days (25:28). He could match Abigail’s beauty, for it was said of him that he was “ruddy...of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to” (1 Samuel 16:12 ). When Abigail and David became one they must have been a handsome pair to look upon! Then, in addition to being most musical, David was equal with Abigail in wisdom and piety for he was “prudent in matters,...and the Lord [was] with him” (1 Samuel 16:18).

The sacred historian tells us how these three persons were brought together in a tragic way. David was an outlaw because of Saul’s hatred, and lived in the strongholds of the hills with his loyal band of 600 followers. Having often helped Nabal’s herdsmen out, being in need of food for his little army, David sent a kind request to Nabal for help. In his churlish fashion, Nabal bluntly refused to give David a crumb for his hungry men, and dismissed David as a marauding hireling. Angered, David threatened to plunder Nabal’s possession and kill Nabal and all those who emulated his contempt. Abigail, learning from the servants of David’s request and her husband’s rude refusal, unknown to Nabal, acted with thought, care and great rapidity. As Ellicott comments &--;

Having often acted as peace-maker between her intemperate husband and his neighbours, on hearing the story and how imprudently her husband had behaved, saw that no time must be lost, for with a clever woman’s wit she saw that grave consequences would surely follow the churlish refusal and the rash words, which betrayed at once the jealous adherent of Saul and the bitter enemy of the powerful outlaw.

Gathering together a quantity of food and wine, sufficient she thought for David’s immediate need, Abigail rode out on an ass and at a covert of a hill met David and his men—and what a momentous meeting it turned out to be. With discreet tact Abigail averted David’s just anger over Nabal’s insult to his messengers, by placing at David’s feet food for his hungry men. She also revealed her wisdom in that she fell at the feet of David, as an inferior before a superior, and acquiesced with him in his condemnation of her brutal, foolish husband.

As a Hebrew woman was restricted by the customs of her time to give counsel only in an emergency and in the hour of greatest need, Abigail, who had risked the displeasure of her husband whose life was threatened, did not act impulsively in going to David to plead for mercy. She followed the dictates of her disciplined will, and speaking at the opportune moment her beautiful appeal from beautiful lips, captivated the heart of David. “As his own harp had appeased Saul, the sweet-toned voice of Abigail exorcised the demon of revenge, and woke the angel that was slumbering in David’s bosom.” We can never gauge the effect of our words and actions upon others. The intervention of Abigail in the nick of time teaches us that when we have wisdom to impart, faith to share, and help to offer, we must not hesitate to take any risk that may be involved.

Abigail had often to make amends for the infuriated outbursts of her husband. Neighbors and friends knew her drunken sot of a husband only too well, but patiently she would pour oil on troubled waters, and when she humbly approached with a large peace offering, her calmness soothed David’s anger and gave her the position of advantage. For her peace-making mission she received the king’s benediction (25:33 ). Her wisdom is seen in that she did not attempt to check David’s turbulent feelings by argument, but won him by wise, kind words. Possessing heavenly intelligence, self-control, common sense and vision, she exercised boundless influence over a great man, and marked herself out as a truly great woman. After Abigail’s successful, persuasive entreaty for the life of her worthless husband, the rest of her story reads like a fairy tale. She returned to her wicked partner to take up her hard and bitter life again.

It is to the credit of this noble woman that she did not leave her godless husband or seek divorce from him, but remained a loyal wife and the protector of her worthless partner. She had taken him for better or for worse, and life for her was worse than the worst. Wretched though her life was, and spurned, insulted and beaten as she may have been during Nabal’s drinking bouts, she clung to the man to whom she had sworn to be faithful. Abigail manifested a love stronger than death. But the hour of deliverance came ten days after her return home, when by a divine stroke, Nabal’s worthless life ended. When David hearkened to the plea of Abigail and accepted her person, he rejoiced over being kept back by her counsel from taking into his own hands God’s prerogative of justice (Romans 12:19).

When David said to Abigail, “Blessed be thy advice,” he went on to confess with his usual frank generosity that he had been wrong in giving way to wild, ungovernable passion. If Abigail had not interceded he would have carried out his purpose and destroyed the entire household of Nabal, which massacre would have included Abigail herself. But death came as the great divorcer or arbiter, and Nabal’s wonderful wife had no tears of regret, for amid much suffering and disappointment she had fulfilled her marriage vows. In that farmer’s house there had been “The Beauty and the Beast.” The Beast was dead, and the Beauty was legally free of her terrible bondage.

After Nabal’s death, David “communed with Abigail” (1 Samuel 25:39)—a technical expression for asking one’s hand in marriage (Song of Solomon 8:8)—and took her as his wife. Married to Israel’s most illustrious king, Abigail entered upon a happier career. By David, she had a son named Chileab, or Daniel (compare 2 Samuel 3:3 with 1 Chronicles 3:1). The latter name means, “God is my Judge,” and one has an inkling that the choice of such a name was Abigail’s because of her experience of divine vindication. She accompanied David to Gath and Ziklag (1 Samuel 27:3; 30:5, 18). Matthew Henry’s comment at this point is, “Abigail married David in faith, not questioning but that, though now he had not a house of his own, yet God’s promise to him would at length be fulfilled.” Abigail brought to David not only “a fortune in herself,” but much wealth so useful to David in the meeting of his manifold obligations.

Among the lessons to be learned from the life of Abigail, the first is surely evident, namely, that much heartache follows when a Christian woman marries an unbeliever. Unequal yokes do not promote true and abiding happiness. The tragedy in Abigail’s career began when she married Nabal, a young man of Naon. Already we have asked the question, Why did she marry such a man? Why did such a lovely girl throw herself away upon such a brute of a man? According to the custom of those times marriages were man-made, the woman having little to say about the choice of a husband. Marriage was largely a matter of family arrangement. Nabal was of wealthy parentage and rich in his own right with 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats and thus seemed a good catch for Abigail. But character should be considered before possessions.

Many a woman in the world today made her own choice of a partner. Perhaps she knew of his failures and thought that after marriage she would reform him, but found herself joined to one whose ways became more evil. Then think of those brave, unmurmuring wives who have to live with the fool of a husband whose drunken, crude ways are repellant, yet who, by the grace of God accept and live with their trial; and who, because of a deep belief in divine sufficiency retain their poise. Such living martyrs are among God’s heroines. All of us know of those good women chained with the fetters of a wretched married life for whom it would be infinitely better for them—

To lie in their graves where the head, heart and breast,

From care, labour and sorrow forever should rest.

Thinking of modern Abigails the appropriate lines of noble Elizabeth Barrett Browning come to mind—

The sweetest lives are those to duty wed,

Whose deeds, both great and small, and closeknit strands

Of an unbroken thread; where love ennobles all.

The World may sound no trumpets, ring no bells:

The Book of Life the shining record tells.

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Ahaz [Ā'hăz]—jehovah hath seized orsustains.

  1. A Benjamite of the family of Saul (1 Chron. 8:35, 36; 9:41,42).
  2. The son of Jotham, king of Judah and father of Hezekiah, Ahaz became the eleventh king of Judah and reigned for sixteen years (2 Kings 16). He is called Achaz in Matthew 1:9. An Assyrian inscription gives the name of the king as Jehoahaz. But the abbreviation Ahaz was commonly used and was found on the seal ring of one of his courtiers. Perhaps the consistent omission of the first part of the name Jeho, meaning “Jehovah” was deliberate because of the abhorrent apostasy of Ahaz.

The Man Who Rejected a Message of Hope

Let it not be forgotten that it was to king Ahaz that Isaiah’s first evangelistic announcement was made in the promise of Emmanuel. The prophet sent a message to terrified Ahaz, but he would not turn to God and trust His deliverance. In order to help restore the faith of the wavering king, Isaiah urged Ahaz to ask for a sign from Jehovah, but he refused and in rejecting the message of hope, forfeited his soul.

It is interesting to observe that Ahaz came between two good men—between his father, Jotham, and his son, Hezekiah.

Summarizing the chief aspects of the reign of Ahaz we note his:

I. Pursuit of the religious policy of Jehoram ( 2 Kings 8:18); of Ahaziah (2 Kings 8:27); of Joash (2 Chron. 24:18). The religious vices of Ahaz were possible because of a corrupt church and a corrupt state (Isa. 1:4 , 13).

II. Rejection of David’s way to tread Jeroboam’s way. This bad ruler exceeded the idolatry of his time by burning his children in the fire (2 Chron. 28:3). Ahaz did honor to the gods of Assyria who were reckoned to be more powerful than Jehovah. The terrible slaughter of one hundred twenty thousand valiant men of Judah had no salutary effect upon Ahaz ( 2 Chron. 28:6).

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December 19, 2011

Singing the Gospel

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ - the Lord (Luke 2:10-11, NIV).

Friend to Friend

I love hearing children sing Christmas carols! One little girl was heard singing that the shepherds were "washing their socks by night!" When my son was four-years-old, I overheard him singing "O Holy Night" in his best vibrato voice. I chuckled as I heard him boom, "Long lay the world in sin and ever whining!"Sin and error pining wasn't in his vocabulary, but he definitely understood the concept of ever whining.

When I became a Christian, the words to familiar Christmas carols began jumping off the pages of the hymnal. It seems the gospel was right there in the words to the carols, and I had missed it before. I began to see what God had done in my life in the words of Silent Night, O Little Town of Bethlehem, andHark! The Herald Angels Sing.

For example, let's look at the words to Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.

First, look at all those exclamation marks in the song! These angels must have been very excited, and no wonder! They were proclaiming the birth of Jesus, the "newborn King."

The second line says "Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled." Some people are not too crazy about the word "sinner." But originally it was an archery term that meant the distance between the bull's eye and where the arrow landed on the target. Therefore, "sin" meant "to miss the perfect mark." And it still means that today. Sin means to miss the mark of God's perfection. The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And because of that sin, we have been separated from God. The first verse of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing tells us WHY Jesus came - to reconcile or join us back together with God. It also tells us TO WHOM Jesus came - "to all nations." No wonder the angels were so excited!

Verse one tells us why Jesus came. Verse two tells us WHO He was. He is adored in heaven. He is the everlasting Lord. He is the offspring of a Virgin's womb. He is God with flesh and bones. He is Deity. He is Emmanuel - God with us.

Verse three tells us HOW the Christ child made eternal life available to all mankind. He laid aside His glorious heavenly position, came to Earth as a man, and gave His life so that we could experience second birth (be born again) and live eternally in heaven.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing tells us WHY Jesus came, WHO He was, and HOW He would accomplish His purposes to reconcile a lost world to God. That's the gospel in a nutshell, and it's all packed into one Christmas Carol.

This holiday season, as you sing the familiar Christmas Carols, look for the gospel among the verses and let the melody of God's great Gift fill your heart.

Let's Pray

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you so much for the men and women who have gone before us to pen the words to the carols we sing today. I pray that as I sing the familiar words, You will stir me to praise You afresh. And I also pray for those who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior. I pray that as they sing the words to carols or even hear them on the radio, they will recognize the gospel and understand that Jesus came as the babe in the manger to die on the cross...because of His great love for them. I pray that they will hear the gospel and embrace the truth.

In Jesus' Name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Pretend that you did not have a Bible handy, but only a hymnal or book of Christmas carols. Could you explain the gospel through the words in the songs? Why not give it a try.

If you have children, consider using a hymnal for a family devotion, explaining the meaning to various Christmas songs.

More from the Girlfriends:

It is hard not to get caught up in the pre-Christmas swirl of activity and lose focus on what's important. If you would like ways to keep Jesus the focus of your holiday season, you'll love Celebrating a Christ Centered Christmas by Sharon Jaynes. It's packed with helpful ideas and inspiration.

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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Micca Campbell

December 19, 2011

Room Enough for Jesus
Micca Monda Campbell

"And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:7 (NASB)

One of the first words that comes to mind when most think about the holiday season is "busy." Sad, but true.

I know it's true in my life. I can get so busy decorating the house, baking goodies, shopping for presents, going to parties and sending Christmas cards. Then, just when I think I've got a handle on it, I receive an unexpected card in the mail or a plate of cookies from a neighbor. What do I do? I find time to return the gesture.

It's usually a challenge, but somehow we find time and make room to do all sorts of things during the holidays.

We make room for company to come. We make room for a Christmas tree in front of the picture window. We make room in our crowded schedule for activities we don't have time for.

Let's take time to consider: Have I made room for Jesus in my busy life this month?

In the familiar story of Christ's birth, I've always been bothered that there was no room in the inn for Jesus. I can't help but think didn't they know who He was? What could have been so important that they couldn't stop to make room for Jesus? My best guess is they were thinking only about themselves and their own busy agenda.

Likewise, we can become so busy with our Christmas plans that we run out of room for Jesus, too.

One of my mother's Christmas traditions is to withhold baby Jesus from her nativity set until Christmas morning. One year, when her first grandson was three years old, he asked, "Grandmamma, where is baby Jesus?"

"He's not been born yet," she explained to Patrick. "Jesus comes on Christmas Day. Then, you'll find Him right here," she added while pointing to the manger.

Like years past, Mom and Dad's house was full of excitement as family members arrived with arms full of presents. We expected to exchange gifts and enjoy a time for food, fun and celebration. But Patrick expected something different. He ran into the house shouting, "Is He here, yet? Is He here? Has Jesus come?"

Mom took Patrick over to the nativity and there, cradled in the manger, was baby Jesus. He had come just like He'd promised.

Over 2,000 years ago, God promised us a Savior. In a little town called Bethlehem, God kept His promise and Christ our Lord was born. While most missed what was happening that holy night, Christ's birth didn't escape the attention of heaven, a few shepherds, three wise men and some cattle. They pushed aside their duties and agendas to make room for Jesus. In fact, like Patrick, some of them anticipated His arrival. In doing so, their lives were forever changed.

Every year Jesus still searches for hearts to fill. But He can only fill space where we have left room for Him.

Christ's presence may go unnoticed by the world, but you and I, along with others who have made room in their hearts, can experience all the glorious wonder He brings. Let's cast aside the busyness of our lives this month to make room for Christ as we anticipate His arrival!

Dear Lord, the best I know how, I lay down my busy agenda to make room for You. Jesus, I don't want to miss a thing. Give me fresh eyes to see You this holiday season. I want to experience Your birth like never before so that I never close You out again. Welcome home, Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Visit Micca's blog for Christmas Gift Pack Give-away that includes her book An Untroubled Heart and her messageCultivating a Heart of Contentment on CD.

An Untroubled Heart: Finding Faith that is Stronger than My Fears by Micca Campbell

My Utmost for His Highest: An Updated Edition in Today's Language by Oswald Chambers

Application Steps:
Be intentional about letting go of the unnecessary things in order to make room for Christ this season.

Think of ways you can worship Jesus as you decorate your tree, purchase your gifts and make your treats.

Reflections:
How can I make more room in my life for the Christ child this coming year?

Power Verses:
Matthew 6:33, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (NIV 1984)

Deuteronomy 6:5, "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (NIV 1984)

Exodus 20:3, "You shall have no other gods before me." (NIV 1984)

© 2011 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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

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Skills: Time Management

READ PSALM 90:12

In Psalm 90 Moses prayed that God would "establish the work of our hands" (v. 17). This old man had seen his entire generation wandering aimlessly in the desert. For forty years the Israelites had roamed, with no specific destination in sight. In view of that seemingly futile drifting, Moses had cried out to God for some assurance of significance. With that in mind, carefully read verse 12. Moses essentially said, "Unless we are gripped by life's brevity and place proper value on the time we have, no matter how long or short it is, we will never gain a wise heart."

We can employ the skills and principles of time management, buy a new calendar (even a high priced electronic one), employ a better scheduling system-all are of little benefit until we understand the value of time. Granted, we may do a better job of scheduling our time, but that doesn't mean we're doing a better job of spending that time. Knowing the difference defines wisdom!

According to Moses, the years of our lives "quickly pass" (v. 10). As we grow older, we look back and wonder where the time went. Each of us is allotted a finite number of days. Are we spending those days wandering aimlessly, with no goal, no purpose in sight? Or are we numbering those days and thereby gaining a heart of wisdom? "Lord teach us . . . "

Time Management and Who God Is

We are locked into time and space. Because of this, it is impossible for us to fully grasp what it would be like to be unhampered by temporal restraints. But we serve a God for whom all events are equally present. Turn to 2 Peter 3:8-9 for an extraordinary statement about God's relationship to time.

This Week's Verse to Memorize ECCLESIASTES 3:1

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.

Time Management and Who I Am

Henry David Thoreau once observed: "As if we could kill time without injuring eternity." Time is our most precious resource, and Scripture assures us that our stewardship of the time we have been allotted is not something we should ignore. Turn to Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 to consider the important implications of this passage for time management.

Time Management and How It Works

All the literature and hype about time management! Really-just how important is it to use our time wisely? What's at stake? Notice carefully the advice given to the Ephesian Christians in Ephesians 5:15-17 about what it means to walk as a wise person.

Time Management and What I Do

David accomplished great things during the course of his life. And so can we. Turn to Psalm 39:4-5 for further insight.


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by Kenneth Boa
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The Handbook to Leadership includes: 52-Week Leadership Guide, Topical Leadership Guide, Leadership Character Studies, and Books of the Bible Leadership Guide.


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The Soldiers Recognize Jesus

Matthew 27:52-54 "When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake...they were filled with awe and said, 'Truly this was the Son of God!'" (v. 54).

Given the emphasis in Matthew's gospel on how Jesus fulfills the old covenant (5:17; 12:15-21; 26:47-56), it is hard to miss the significance of the hour of His death. Our Savior dies at the ninth hour ( 27:45-50) - three o'clock p.m. - the same hour at which the daily sacrifices begin in the Jerusalem temple. By this we see that Christ fulfills all of the old covenant sacrifices. After His atonement, there is no need to offer up the blood of bulls and goats; sin has been dealt with and the temple rituals therefore pass away (Heb. 10:1-18).

The earthquake following the death of Jesus ( Matt. 27:51), Matthew Henry writes, signifies "the mighty shock, indeed, the fatal blow now given to the devil's kingdom." God's people can now, by His Spirit, defeat temptation, for sin can no longer enslave us (Heb. 2:14-15). Jesus came to destroy the Devil (1 John 3:8 ), vanquishing the evil one on the cross. In the new covenant era, Satan's kingdom is crumbling and the nations are granted the obedience of faith (Rom. 1:1-6).

Today's passage reports that the earthquake also opens several tombs, from which appear many resurrected saints after our Lord rises from the dead (vv. 52-53). We do not know their identities, but these holy ones clearly died before Jesus inaugurated the new covenant and are raised only after He is resurrected. By this we see that the only way believers, whether they live under the old covenant or the new, can find final salvation (resurrected life in a new heavens and earth,Rev. 20:1-6 ; 21) is through Christ's death and resurrection. Scripture does not say whether the people of Matthew 27:52die again or ascend to heaven. In any case, their resurrection is a sign that Jesus' death has inaugurated the last days, for this raising to life is the signal event of judgment day (Dan. 12:1-2). The resurrection of others, John Calvin says, also makes evident that Jesus died and rose again not only for Himself, but also to restore life to His people.

Ironically, many Jewish leaders will not believe even after these signs (Matt. 27:62-66; 28:11-15). To the soldiers guarding Jesus, however, these supernatural events prove they have killed a divine man (27:54). This may not be saving faith, but it does reveal that their hearts are not so hard as to miss the obvious.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Because of the influence Greek philosophy has long had on Christian thought, we can never say too often that Scripture never teaches that we are complete persons without a body. Rather, we look forward to the resurrection of the body at the last day and our final state of life forever, body and spirit, in the presence of God. Whatever physical defects and problems we have now, they will all be gone in the new heavens and earth. Let us rejoice in that today.

For further study:

2 Kings 4:8-37

The Bible in a year:

Habakkuk 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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O Come O Come Emmanuel

Hymn Story:

With its haunting minor melody, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is a much-loved Advent hymn. Its lyrics come from the Advent events of the medieval Christian church. Each night, for seven days before Christmas, the church would sing one of the "Great O Antiphons"-anthems sung to a short verse.

The word "antiphon" implies that the lines of each anthem were sung alternately by two choirs sitting opposite each other in the chancel. Each antiphon featured a prayer beginning with "O Come" and including an Old Testament reference for the Messiah:

The Great O Antiphons

"O Sapientia, quae ex ore altissimi. . ." (O Wisdom from on high...)

"O Adonai et dux domus Israel. . ." (O Lord and leader of the house of Israel...)

"O Racix Jesse qui stas in signum populorum. . ." (O Root of Jesse who stood as a standard of the people)

"O Clavis David et sceptrum domus. . ." (O Key of David and scepter of our home...)

"O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae. . ." (O Dayspring, splendor of eternal light...)

"O Rex gentium et desideratus. . ." (O longed-for King of the nations...)

"O Emmanuel, rex et legiter noster. . ." (O Emmanuel, our king and lawgiver...)

Read backward as an acrostic, the first letters of these antiphons spell ero cras, which translates into a hopeful advent message: "tomorrow I shall be there."

About the twelfth century five antiphons were put together as verses of a single hymn and a chorus was added, creating the words for "O Come, O Come, Emmanual." John Mason Neale translated this hymn to English, originally beginning "Draw nigh, draw nigh, Emmanuel." A year later, he changed the opening lines to "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," the well-known words we use today.

The hymn's five antiphons include five Old Testament references to the coming Messiah, including:

Emmanuel (God with us) Isa. 7:14 Lord of Might Ex. 19:16 Rod (Branch) of Jesse Isa. 11:1, Isa. 11:10 Dayspring (Morning Star) Num. 24:17 Key of David Isa. 22:22 The other two "O Great Antiphons," less commonly sung are: Wisdom Isa. 28:29 Desire of nation Hag. 2:7

The chorus echoes the desire of Zechariah 9:9, "See, your king comes to you" and Revelation 22:20, "Amen, Come Lord Jesus." We echo the glorious last plea of the New Testament as we meditate on the names and person of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Devotional:

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him ‘Emmanuel’, which means ‘God with us.’ Matthew 1:23

The season of Advent is often a whirl of buying gifts, decorating the tree and a non-stop succession of programs and parties. It was, however, not that way for the Monks of the Middle Ages.

In the monastery, Advent was a time of meditation on serious subjects: death, judgment, heaven and hell. And the month in which we think of Christ’s first coming was used by monks to reflect on His second coming. In the same way, this should be true for Christians today. We glance backward to Bethlehem, but we look forward to the Great White Throne, that is, eternity with God.

Our hymn has its origin in seven prose Latin sentences which were sung during medieval monastic vespers leading up to Christmas. Its usage dates all the way back to the 9th century. Each stanza (originally, the stanzas were short sentences) salutes the returning Messiah by one of the many titles ascribed to Him in Scripture.

The ancient hymnwriter refers to Jesus as "Emmanuel" and "God with us". He implores Jesus to come and end the Christian’s separation from God. "Israel", used three times in the stanzas and each time in the refrain, signifies the waiting Church. While we can experience reconciliation and friendship with God right now, the hymn longs for that perfect, completed fellowship which will be enjoyed in eternity.

Jesus is also referred to as the "Dayspring" (or the "Rising Sun"—see Luke 1:78) and is asked to remove the gloom of spiritual night and the shadows of death. Whether writing in the 9th or 21st century, these words still address the yearning of Christians everywhere for Christ’s return.

Another name for Jesus is the "Rod of Jesse" (see Isaiah 11:1). It is a term found in the King James Version of the Bible and signifies Christ’s fight to free His people from Satan, hell and the grave. It hearkens back to the time when a rod, the club used by shepherds to fight wild animals, played a significant role in defending the sheep.

This hymn is one of the oldest to be found in any Christian hymnal. It is a treasure (see Matthew 13:52) and illustrates our great debt to our spiritual ancestors.

But it is also vital for today’s Christian, who with the seeming obsession for this present world, must be reminded to prepare for the world that is to come.

"And He shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead" and He will announce "the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come."

Nicene Creed, 325 AD

Facts:

Lyricist: Latin Hymn Lyrics Date: 1710 Translator: John Mason Neale Translation Date: 1851 Key: e minor Theme: Christ's coming, Advent, Christmas Music: Plainsong Music Date: 13th Century Tune Title: VENI EMMANUEL Arranger: Thomas Helmore Arrange Date: 1856 Meter: L.M.ref

Scripture: Isaiah 7:14

Copyright © 2011 Center for Church Music


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The Soldiers Recognize Jesus

Matthew 27:52-54

Because of the influence Greek philosophy has long had on Christian thought, we can never say too often that Scripture never teaches that we are complete persons without a body. Rather, we look forward to the resurrection of the body at the last day and our final state of life forever, body and spirit, in the presence of God. Whatever physical defects and problems we have now, they will all be gone in the new heavens and earth. Let us rejoice in that today.

For further study:

2 Kings 4:8-37

The Bible in a year:

Habakkuk 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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Seeing and Believing
by Nancy Guthrie

Think about a time when someone told you something that seemed so incredible you said, "I will have to see it to believe it." It must have been that sense of amazement and curiosity that caused the shepherds to hurry to Bethlehem. Luke wrote:

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. (Luke 2:15-17)

Don't you wish there had been a modern-day news crew on the scene so we could see what the shepherds saw? While we see pretty Christmas cards drawn of this scene with a glow around the baby and his mother, the truth is that the baby Jesus looked like an ordinary infant, and his parents like ordinary people. The shepherds believed what the angels told them about this ordinary-looking baby, and because they believed, the baby became their Savior. Their lives were never the same after seeing and believing in Jesus.

But it must have been difficult for them when they "told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child" ( Luke 2:17). Apparently, "all who heard the shepherds' story were astonished" (Luke 2:18). The story the shepherds told was so amazing and unusual, many must have found it hard to believe. Some people probably said, "That sounds crazy." Some people probably shrugged their shoulders, saying "That's interesting, but I don't need anybody to save me--especially a baby." But other believed that Jesus was the one God promised to send so long ago, and because they believed, their lives were completely changed.

We all have the same choice to make when we hear the astonishing news that God became a baby and that he is the only Savior. Our reaction to this astonishing news is all-important. Will we shrug our shoulders in disbelief, or will we bend our knees and believe in our hearts?

Prayer

Jesus, we have never seen you with our physical eyes, but by faith we see you with spiritual eyes, and we believe.

Discussion starters
  • What do you think it looked like, felt like, and smelled like in the place where Jesus was born?
  • Imagine what kinds of comments the people who listened to the shepherds might have said about their story. How do you imagine the shepherds might have responded?
  • The shepherds got to see Jesus and therefore believed. But we have not seen Jesus with our eyes, and yet we choose to believe. How is it possible to believe in Jesus without seeing him with our eyes?
Today's devotional reading is taken from Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room by Nancy Guthrie. Used by permission.
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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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FRB-Christmas-Story-BookCover-SmallReading 14: Mary and Joseph Present Jesus at the Temple

Forty days after his birth, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem. They were obeying religious laws that Moses had given the Israelites long before. They went to dedicate their firstborn son to God and to offer sacrifices.


Luke 2:21-40
Jesus Presented in the Temple
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.

22 When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

Further Study

JUST THE FACTS
  1. Why did Mary and Joseph go to Jerusalem? (vv. 22 – 24)
  2. How did Mary and Joseph react to what Simeon said? (v. 33)
  3. How old was Anna? What did she do every day? (v. 37)
LET’S TALK
  1. How did Simeon’s blessing confirm who Jesus was?
  2. Why did Mary and Joseph marvel at what was said about their son?
  3. What were Simeon and Anna waiting for? What kind of people were they?
WHY THIS MATTERS

Simeon and Anna were faithful people with hearts that were open to God. Even though Jesus was very young, it was clear to Simeon and Anna that he was the Messiah the Jewish people had been waiting and hoping for.

POINTS OF INTEREST

2:24 To observe the Law of Moses, a woman who had given birth to a son was to wait 40 days; then she was to sacrifice a lamb and either a dove or a pigeon. If a woman could not afford to bring a lamb and a dove or pigeon, she was allowed to bring two doves or two pigeons.
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Family Reading BibleToday's reading is from:
The Family Reading Bible

Additional resources:

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A Christmas Devotional

MAGI

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." -Matt. 2:1-2

Mary and Joseph stayed in Bethlehem many months after the birth of Jesus, yet we know nothing about that time. How was Mary treating her baby, knowing she would have to submit to him as her Lord? How much attention were they getting from the townspeople? What were they telling people, if anything? We simply don't know. But we do know that one day some travelers from the east-maybe Persia or Mesopotamia (the regions of modern day Iran or Iraq)-suddenly showed up in Bethlehem, claiming to have been guided to a new king by a star.

The word Magi refers to people who belonged to a priestly caste that focused on special knowledge, interpretation of dreams, and astrology. Despite popular depictions, they were not kings; we don't know their names, and we don't know for certain that there were three of them (that is a tradition inferred from the fact that they bore three gifts: gold, incense, and myrrh). There may have been two; there may have been twelve.

But what we do know of them is startling. They saw a sign. They were motivated. They traveled. No wonder they are sometimes called "wise men." They were not merely astrologers. They were worshippers. Jerusalem was their first stop, where they inquired about a new king (which is a sure way to set off an alarm for the existing king); but then they found Bethlehem. They delivered their valuable gifts, and they bowed in worship. If people in Bethlehem weren't paying much attention in the months following the birth of Jesus, they surely were now.

Though foreign to this land, Jesus was of keen interest to them. These stories remind us that we can often overlook the miracles taking place in our own neighborhoods. If we are not careful, the celebration of Christmas can become so familiar to us, that we let it come and go without taking time to truly contemplate the miracles and blessing we celebrate each season. Men from far east went out of their way to find Christ and to set treasures before him: would it take strangers to remind us too of the blessings in our midst?

One of the best things we can do in this retail-obsessed Christmas season is to bring the gift of worship to him.

Prayer for today:

Lord, I know that what you want me to give you is my life. Help me with my motivation. With my willingness to go the distance. Show me what gifts I can bring you.

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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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NIV Devotions for Moms

What Are You Waiting For?

Psalm 40:1–5

Additional Scripture Readings: Psalm 130:5–6; Jude 20

We wait for everything. For the dryer to finish. For our husbands to get home. For the phone to ring. For the baby to wake. For the mail to come. For a car to pull up, returning our child safely home. For a job. For answers to prayer.

With so much experience, we’re remarkably unskilled at waiting well. Waiting seems to us a colossal waste of time.

But the fact is that while we are waiting, God is working. To move us where he wants us to be. To readjust the lives of others so that his ultimate desires will be fulfilled. To bring about what will make us eventually Christlike, though not necessarily immediately comfortable.

What are you waiting for? And more to the point, how well are you waiting for it?

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Mom's Devotional Bible
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Mom, you don't have to go it alone! The Mom's Devotional Bible is a trusted source of wisdom to help you along the path of mothering.


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Diamonds on Black Velvet

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

"Why won't God heal me? Doesn't he love me?" Perhaps you've asked similar questions. Maybe you've been frustrated because God didn't answer a prayer the way you had hoped. Could it be that he is using those very difficulties to keep you dependent on him? Like placing sparkling diamonds on black velvet, our human weakness provides a contrasting backdrop against which God's power can be displayed.

Paul was faced with such a dilemma. He came from the best family line, studied at the best schools and encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus. He experienced revelations from God. It would have been easy for him to be proud. But Paul suffered a thorn in the flesh. Three times Paul asked God to remove his thorn. Three times God said no. Did that mean God didn't love Paul? Absolutely not! It simply meant that God decided to empower Paul despite his thorn, to keep Paul dependent on God's strength. God proved to Paul that God's power was made perfect in Paul's weakness.

Paul didn't tell his readers the nature of his thorn. If he had, we might be able to dismiss his words as not applying to us. Because he did not, we can identify with him-and wonder what our own thorns are. Is it a chronic illness, a debilitating disease we've suffered with or a painful injury we've sustained? Is it a chemical depression or bipolar illness? Is it cancer or chronic fatigue?

All of these "thorns" are hard to live with, especially if we've asked repeatedly for healing. They can make us feel weak and spiritually deficient. They can make us feel isolated, undeserving and ineffective. They can cause us to become self-absorbed and self-pitying. But there is another way to look at them: We can offer our illness or disability sacrificially to God and allow it to keep us on our knees, asking God for strength. We can allow God's love and power to push us through difficult and painful times, to use our "thorns" to make us more tenderhearted toward others. We can see them as the black velvet against which God's grace glitters.

Memorize God's words to Paul, and every time you are tempted to feel that your "thorn" disqualifies you from God's work, remember them: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Reflection

  1. What would you say is your particular "thorn in the flesh"?
  2. How might you have grown prideful had it not been for this "thorn"?
  3. How has God proven himself strong on your behalf?

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Related Readings

Proverbs 18:12; James 1:6-10; 1 Peter 1:6-7

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NIV Women's Devotional Bible
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The New Women's Devotional Bible helps a new generation of Christian women apply God's Word to their lives.


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