Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Daily Devotional Tuesday 27th December

“Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”” Luke 2:28-32 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"The last Adam."
1 Corinthians 15:45

Jesus is the federal head of his elect. As in Adam, every heir of flesh and blood has a personal interest, because he is the covenant head and representative of the race as considered under the law of works; so under the law of grace, every redeemed soul is one with the Lord from heaven, since he is the Second Adam, the Sponsor and Substitute of the elect in the new covenant of love. The apostle Paul declares that Levi was in the loins of Abraham when Melchizedek met him: it is a certain truth that the believer was in the loins of Jesus Christ, the Mediator, when in old eternity the covenant settlements of grace were decreed, ratified, and made sure forever. Thus, whatever Christ hath done, he hath wrought for the whole body of his Church. We were crucified in him and buried with him (read Col. 2:10-13), and to make it still more wonderful, we are risen with him and even ascended with him to the seats on high (Eph. 2:6). It is thus that the Church has fulfilled the law, and is "accepted in the beloved." It is thus that she is regarded with complacency by the just Jehovah, for he views her in Jesus, and does not look upon her as separate from her covenant head. As the Anointed Redeemer of Israel, Christ Jesus has nothing distinct from his Church, but all that he has he holds for her. Adam's righteousness was ours so long as he maintained it, and his sin was ours the moment that he committed it; and in the same manner, all that the Second Adam is or does, is ours as well as his, seeing that he is our representative. Here is the foundation of the covenant of grace. This gracious system of representation and substitution, which moved Justin Martyr to cry out, "O blessed change, O sweet permutation!" this is the very groundwork of the gospel of our salvation, and is to be received with strong faith and rapturous joy.

Evening

"Lo, I am with you alway."
Matthew 28:20

The Lord Jesus is in the midst of his church; he walketh among the golden candlesticks; his promise is, "Lo, I am with you alway." He is as surely with us now as he was with the disciples at the lake, when they saw coals of fire, and fish laid thereon and bread. Not carnally, but still in real truth, Jesus is with us. And a blessed truth it is, for where Jesus is, love becomes inflamed. Of all the things in the world that can set the heart burning, there is nothing like the presence of Jesus! A glimpse of him so overcomes us, that we are ready to say, "Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me." Even the smell of the aloes, and the myrrh, and the cassia, which drop from his perfumed garments, causes the sick and the faint to grow strong. Let there be but a moment's leaning of the head upon that gracious bosom, and a reception of his divine love into our poor cold hearts, and we are cold no longer, but glow like seraphs, equal to every labour, and capable of every suffering. If we know that Jesus is with us, every power will be developed, and every grace will be strengthened, and we shall cast ourselves into the Lord's service with heart, and soul, and strength; therefore is the presence of Christ to be desired above all things. His presence will be most realized by those who are most like him. If you desire to see Christ, you must grow in conformity to him. Bring yourself, by the power of the Spirit, into union with Christ's desires, and motives, and plans of action, and you are likely to be favoured with his company. Remember his presence may be had. His promise is as true as ever. He delights to be with us. If he doth not come, it is because we hinder him by our indifference. He will reveal himself to our earnest prayers, and graciously suffer himself to be detained by our entreaties, and by our tears, for these are the golden chains which bind Jesus to his people.

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Today's reading: Haggai 1-2, Revelation 17 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Haggai 1-2

A Call to Build the House of the LORD

1 In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest:

2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the LORD’s house.’”

3 Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”

5 Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it....”

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Revelation 17

Babylon, the Prostitute on the Beast

1 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. 2 With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”

3 Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

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WOMAN WITH ISSUE OF BLOOD

The Woman Who Was Healed by a Touch

Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34;Luke 8:43-48

This sick, anonymous woman must have been emaciated after a hemorrhage lasting for twelve years, which rendered her legally unclean. She could not throw herself, therefore, at the feet of Christ and state her complaint. Her modesty, humility, uncleanness and pressure of the crowd made close contact well-nigh impossible, hence her eagerness to touch in some unnoticed way the hem of His garment. Who was this woman of faith? The primitive church, feeling she was entitled to a name, called her Veronica, who lived in Caesarea Philippi, but in the gospels she is enrolled in the list of anonymous female divines. There are several aspects of her cure worthy of note—

She Was Cured After Many Failures

What this poor woman really endured at the hands of the medical men of the time is left to the imagination. What a touch of reality is given to her story by the knowledge that she had suffered many things of many physicians and was no better but rather “grew worse.” Where men failed, Christ succeeded. Down the ages men and women which no agency could reclaim have been restored by Christ. What is not possible with men is blessedly possible with God. Her disease was of long standing yet she was swiftly healed, for as soon as she touched the hem of His garment, “straight-way the fountain of her blood was dried up.” If a person suffers for a while from a complaint and seeks no medical advice, but in the end goes to the doctor, he invariably says, “You should have come to me sooner.” But it is the glory of Christ that He can heal those who come late to Him.

She Was Cured With the Utmost Rapidity

Mark’s favorite word, “straightway,” which he uses 27 times in his gospel, is in most cases related to Christ’s rapid cures. How swift He was in His relief for the suffering! As at creation, so in His miracles of healing, “He spake and it was done.” Spiritual parallels of His instantaneous power can be seen in the conversions of Matthew, Paul and the dying thief. Many of us, too, can testify to the fact that He can transform character in a moment of time. The term Jesus used in addressing the nameless sufferer suggests that she was still young, though wasted and faded by her malady which made her look older than she was. But the nature of her disease and the age of the one afflicted made no difference to Him in healing the sick and saving the lost. As Jesus passed by the withered fingers of the woman brushed the border of Christ’s sacred dress, and all at once her thin body felt the painless health of her girlhood return. A strength she had not known for 12 years renewed her being, and she knew that Christ had made her whole.

She Acknowledged Receipt of the Benefit Bestowed

As soon as the woman touched Christ’s garment, He felt that “virtue had gone out of Him,” and turned about and said, “Who touched me?” The disciples mildly rebuked Jesus by saying, “Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?” Perhaps her touch had been unnoticed by the eyes of those around, and she must have been one of many who touched the Master that day as he proceeded on His errand of love, but a touch of faith could not be hidden from Him. Quickly the Physician saw the patient, and trembling with self-consciousness but too glad and grateful to falter, she confessed to her touch of His robe. “She told him all the truth.” She experienced that open confession is good for the soul. What a glow of gratitude her countenance must have had, as she publicly stated that her burden for twelve years had rolled away!

She Was Commended for Her Faith

The crowd who listened to her confession also heard the Saviour’s benediction, “Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” As a true daughter of Abraham (Luke 13:16), her faith is crowned by the Master. Hers was not faith without a touch, or a touch without faith. Believing, she appropriated and was healed. “Daughter,” was an endearing term for Jesus to use. Some tender insight of His own must have prompted Him to use it. As Theron Brown puts it so beautifully—

The restored sufferer would never forget the friendly benignity that assailed her with one indulgent epithet or the sympathy in that endearing term by which the Messiah of Israel recognized her as His own.... She cherished her debt to the Man of Galilee.

She Has a Place in Legend

It is said that this woman who was healed of her plague walked with Jesus as He went to His cross, and that seeing His blood and sweat, she drew out her handkerchief and wiped His brow. Later on, as she reverently caressed the piece of linen, she found the image of the blood-stained face of Jesus imprinted on it. Face cloths for the Roman catacombs alleged to hold the impress of His features were called Veronicas. About a.d. 320, Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea and a dependable historian records that when he visited Caesarea Philippi, he heard that the woman healed of her issue of blood out of gratitude for her cure had erected two brazen figures at the gate of her house, one representing a woman bending on her knee in supplication—the other, fashioned in the likeness of Jesus, holding out His hand to help her. The figure had a double cloak of brass. Eusebius adds this explicit statement as to these figures, “They were in existence even in our day and we saw them with our own eyes when we stayed in the city.” The well-known Sankey gospel hymn recalls and applies the story of the nameless woman whom Jesus healed—

She only touched the hem of His garment,

As to His side she stole,

Amid the crowd that gathered around Him,

And straightway she was whole.

It is encouraging to know that His saving power this very hour can give new life to all who by faith take hold of His skirt (Zechariah 8:23).

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Jezreel [Jĕz'reel]—god sows.

  1. A descendant of the father of Etam (1 Chron. 4:3).
  2. The symbolic name of Hoseathe prophet’s eldest son, who was so named seeing God had avenged the blood of Jezreel (Hos. 1:4, 5). Also symbolic name of Israel (Hos. 1:4, 11), and the name of towns ( Josh. 15:56; 1 Kings 21:23).
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The Guards Sell Their Souls

Matthew 28:11-15

Most of us are probably not guilty of accepting payment to make up a lie about the Christ. However, all of us are tempted in various ways to sell our souls at the expense of broadcasting the truth. Perhaps we keep silent at work so that we can get that promotion. Maybe we never preach the gospel to our neighbors because we do not want to be ridiculed. Ask the Lord to enable you to stand firm for His gospel no matter the consequences.

For further study:

Exodus 23:8

The Bible in a year:

Zechariah 13-14

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

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

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The Guards Sell Their Souls

Matthew 28:11-15 "They took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day" (v. 15).

Regarding the resurrection of our Lord, it is ironic that the thing the Sanhedrin tried to prevent with the placing of a guard became the story they made up to hide what really happened. The Pharisees and chief priests had Pilate seal Jesus' tomb so that His disciples would not steal His body and claim that He rose from the dead (Matt. 27:62-66). Yet when Jesus was resurrected (28:1-10 ), His opponents did not repent; rather, they concocted a tale of theft to deceive Israel (vv. 11-15), preferring to save face instead of admitting the truth.

Many enemies of Christianity still say the disciples stole Jesus' body and fraudulently preached His resurrection, an assertion that is filled with holes. The theory originates in the tall tale for which the soldiers were paid hush money (vv. 12-15 ); but how could sleeping soldiers have known what happened to the body? Furthermore, the disciples at this point were merely trying to save their own skins (26:56; John 20:19). John Chrysostom writes, "These were men hiding out to simply stay alive" (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, first series, vol. 10, p. 530), not those who would risk arrest and execution for robbing a grave.

If they made up the resurrection, why did the apostles not cover up their unfaithfulness at the point of our Lord's death? Passages like Matthew 26:56, 69-75 show that the apostles report the truth even when it hurts and refuse to concoct stories to make themselves look good; loving truth, they "determined not to conceal even their own shortcomings" (Chrysostom, p. 531). Moreover, the record of women as the first to see the resurrection ( Matt. 28:1-10) strongly corroborates the account's accuracy. First-century Jews thought women were untrustworthy witnesses, and recording them as the first to see the risen Lord was not the best way to prove that Jesus rose from the dead. Making men the first witnesses of the resurrection would be an easier way to convince readers; that the apostles do not do this reveals that they are not out to deceive us.

Matthew Henry says that the best evidence will not convince people unless the Holy Spirit is working within them. Like the soldiers who guarded Jesus' grave, we will readily sell our souls for a lie if the Spirit does not intervene.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Most of us are probably not guilty of accepting payment to make up a lie about the Christ. However, all of us are tempted in various ways to sell our souls at the expense of broadcasting the truth. Perhaps we keep silent at work so that we can get that promotion. Maybe we never preach the gospel to our neighbors because we do not want to be ridiculed. Ask the Lord to enable you to stand firm for His gospel no matter the consequences.

For further study:

Exodus 23:8

The Bible in a year:

Zechariah 13-14

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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T. Suzanne Eller

December 26, 2011

On Eagle's Wings
T. Suzanne Eller

"But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31(NLT)

My children ran up the steep path, unaware mom was left behind. Their shouts of "I'll beat you to the top!" filtered down. I sat on the large rock, my head on my arms, tears running down my face.

The park, rich with multi-colored azalea bushes and dignified shade trees, was our favorite place to picnic and explore. My children and I hadn't visited in a long time because chemotherapy, radiation and two surgeries filled my calendar.

Treatment had finally ended and I wanted nothing more than normal life again. Except I was exhausted. Things that once came easy seemed impossible. Like climbing the steep, rocky path to the top of the hill. I used to run up those rocks, laughing with my children. But now I could only walk part of the way up. My stamina dipped below zero.

As I sat on the rocks, I asked God: Will life ever be the same? Will I ever be the same?

This week I celebrate 20 years as a cancer survivor. It hardly seems possible! My young children are grown and I'm a grandma to three beautiful grandbabies!

Looking back, advanced-stage breast cancer had robbed me of much. Certainty of my future. My children's security. For a time, my health.

But it didn't rob me of my faith. When I picture that moment I don't see a young mom sitting alone on the rocks; I see God holding her tight.

There are times when our strength isn't enough, when our wings feel molten and heavy. Those are the times God reminds us to rely on Him. Maybe I couldn't walk up the steep path, but I could find renewed emotional strength as I trusted God.

God's promise through Isaiah in our verse above was that when we are weary, we'll soar like eagles. How is that even possible? The underlying promise is that our wings will be lifted and the wind will catch underneath. It's not our strength that causes us to soar, but He lifts you and me up and out of our weary places-in His might.

It took months before I recovered fully and could run up the trail. But the path I learned to follow most closely during that time was into the pages of His Word where encouragement filled this embattled mom with hope. After two major surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation, I wasn't strong enough physically to do anything on my own, but I found spiritual strength in the pages of God's promises. I journaled my thoughts. I depended on God to give me energy when I felt weak. And I celebrated the smallest of victories even when they didn't seem like much.

When I look back on the pages of that journal, I don't see a young mom with cancer, but a woman of faith putting her trust in God during a difficult time.

Are you exhausted today? Do you feel faint? You aren't alone. You can trust Him to lift your wings, to give you new strength and power, as you depend on Him each day.

Dear Father, I'm tired and I cannot do this on my own. Today I take my eyes off of what I cannot do and I place my focus on You. On Your promises. On Your Word. Lift my wings with Your strength and help me fly again. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Visit Suzie's blog to discover three practical steps you can take when you feel under pressure.

Making It Real: Whose Faith is it Anyway? by T. Suzanne Eller

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:
• Focus on one encouraging scripture from this devo. Write it down. Internalize it.

• Lift your hands and praise Him.

• You were never intended to battle alone. Invite God into the midst of your challenge.

Reflections:
It's not our strength that causes us to soar, but He lifts you and me up and out of our weary places-in His might.

Power Verses:
Psalms 103:5, "He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle's! (NLT)

Exodus 19:4, "You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself." (NLT)

© 2011 by T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.

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



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December 26, 2011
Taking a Leap of Faith
Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1 NIV).

Friend to Friend
Several years ago, on a trip to Kauai, my husband and our friends, Larry and Cynthia Price, decided to go on a zip line through the jungle. After being jostled and tossed like ragdolls in the back of a retired army jeep, we finally made it to the top of the mountain from which we were going to zip down - risking life and limb I might add. Crazy, I know.

I hopped out of the jeep and eyed the cable suspended high above the valley below. After watching Cynthia fly through the trees, I climbed up onto a wooden platform and surrendered to Jack, a jovial, burly Hawaiian, who strapped me into a harness and placed a helmet on my head. With a simple click of a metal buckle, he attached my harnessed body onto a seemingly flimsy steel cable. As I stood on the edge of the platform eyeing the disappearing earth below my feet, I had a choice. I could say, "no thanks" and asked to be released from the cable, or I could jump.

I chose to jump. My body flew over the treetops and the stunningly beautiful gorge. I was Tarzan's Jane and this was my jungle. Airborne. Exhilarating. Risky.

Jacob was with us that day. He was a stranger among our little band of adventures. Jacob was alone. No friends. No spouse. No family.

"Jacob, what brings you up to this mountain today?" I asked.

"I'm afraid of heights," he answered.

I then began to notice the thin line of perspiration beading over his upper lip. The slight tremble in his voice. The mechanical one-foot-in-front-of-the-other halted gait up the hill.

"You're afraid of heights?" I asked. "Then why are you here?"

"I'm going to conquer it today," he determinedly answered.

I was struck. We were here to have fun. He was here for a totally different reason. When Jacob stood on that platform, I prayed for my new friend. For Jacob this was not just a joy ride...or just maybe it was.

I'm not saying that God told Jacob to go to the top of a mountain and attach his body to a flimsy cable, and fly over the gorge at the risk of life and limb. But I am saying that obedience often requires a leap of faith. Too often we say yesto God, but live the no because of fear. We stand at the precipice of belief and a decision has to be made. Am I going to trust God or not? Am I going to attach my heart to the cable of His love and take a leap of faith, or am I going to freeze in fear because I don't trust that He has my best interest in mind? Am I going to settle for safety and miss the thrill of seeing God work through me?

As we live and move and have our being in Jesus, God will take us to some amazing places. But there will always be a choice. Will we jump headlong into the adventurous journey of His perfect plan, or will we hang back because of lack of faith?

Jacob stood on the platform, took a deep breath, and jumped. He flew over the treetops, careened over the river, and landed safely on the other side of his greatest fear.

We clapped and cheered. Jacob took a bow. God smiled.

(If you want to see a video clip of my crazy ride, log onto my Facebook page and take a look.)

Let's Pray
Father, I am so thankful that You always have my best interest in mind. Today, help me to have the courage to take a leap of faith if I need to. I trust You. I'm attaching my heart to the cable of Your love, and I'm going to jump!

In Jesus' Name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn
Can you think of a time when obeying God took a leap of faith?

What happened when you jumped?

Perhaps God is calling you to do something right now that requires a leap of faith. What's holding you back?

Did this devotion bring something to mind that you've been putting off? Is God calling you to take a leap of faith? The first step might be to simply tell someone about it! Log ontowww.facebook.com/sharonjaynes and tell me about what leap God is prompting you to make.


More from the Girlfriends

It's finally here! Sharon, Gwen and Mary's new 12-week devotion book, Trusting God, is now available. This is the perfect book for individual study or for gathering a group of friends in what we call GiG Groups. With impactful devotions, study questions, journal pages, free on-line video intros, and an index of trust-building Scriptures...this book is a resource you'll refer to time-and-time again.

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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Personal Development: Character

READ PROVERBS 2:1-11

Solomon provides us with an excellent jumping off point for developing the character qualities essential to good leadership. Leaders cultivate character by acquiring wisdom and understanding. Of course, those possessions don't come without a price. They require the kind of dedicated and patient labor exercised in mining for gold and silver. Leaders must diligently "search" for the wisdom that is buried within God's Word like treasure covered by layers of earth and rock. That means using the right tools and exercising patience and diligence as we spend time immersed within this life-changing volume. The writer uses words that call his readers to energetic and passionate action. Take a moment to reread verses 1-4, and note the quality of effort Solomon is talking about here.

As we dig, we must ask God to provide us with insight and understanding. Ultimately, only God can open our eyes to see spiritual truth and then enable us to apply that truth to our lives (Ephesians 1:18). As God fills our minds with wisdom, our character will develop so that we'll possess the ability to consistently make right choices-choices that are just, fair and moral.

As we seek to possess God's wisdom, we'll be able to move beyond simply expressing the vision and values of a leader. We'll possess the kind of character from which lofty visions and values flow. Our character will be truly godly, so that others will delight in following us.

Character and Who God Is

Who are the people you admire? The chances are that the common quality in the people you esteem is inward character. If we admire quality people, how much more should we value the perfection of the living God from whom all truth, goodness and beauty are derived? Turn to Exodus 34:6-7 and its accompanying study note to catch a glimpse of the exquisite character of the God of Israel.

This Week's Verse to Memorize GALATIANS 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Character and Who I Am

People are not impressed by facades or manipulation, but by authenticity and by those who are genuinely other-centered. Character is not a matter of outward technique but of inner reality. What are you really like when no one is looking? Turn to 2 Peter 1:5-8, and reflect on the qualities of life and godliness that God wants for each of his children.

Character and How It Works

Today we'll return to Peter's inspirational words in the first chapter of 2 Peter. When you read such material, do you ever ask yourself, "Who writes this? Where do people with such ideals and insights come from?"

Character and What I Do

It's amazing what God can do with a person who wants to grow personally and develop character. The great news is that God wants you to grow as much as you can. He redeemed you for that purpose. Today's reading, Matthew 26:69-75 is designed to further encourage you to believe the amazing fact that God wants to help you to develop your character.


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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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Are You Listening?

1 Samuel 3:1-21

When was the last time you heard from God? Think about it. Has God's still, small voice been drowned out by the hum of too much noise from work, family, church and friends?

The adolescent boy Samuel was lying in the temple. It was still night because "the lamp of God had not yet gone out" (the lamp would not have been allowed to go out before morning). Samuel was probably lonely, having been separated from his family and dedicated by his mother Hannah to work for the old, blind priest Eli in the temple. It seems to have been a discouraging time to work there: "The word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions." But as Samuel drowsed on his pallet, the sound of his name cut through the flickering dimness.

"Samuel!"

Naturally, Samuel thought Eli had called. "Here I am," replied the boy. Again, "Samuel!" Again, "Here I am." Samuel listened keenly, but the summons didn't come from Eli. God himself called Samuel that evening, and Eli taught the boy the right response: "Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening."

What made Samuel so ready to hear God's voice? For one thing, he was a faithful and obedient servant. He was ready to respond to his master, and his willingness made him ready to respond to God as well. He was being faithful in the small things of his everyday life and was therefore entrusted with a great thing, to be a prophet of God and to restore the priesthood's honor.

Samuel was also in the right place to listen. Are you? His posture invited God to speak to him: faithful, obedient, humble, waiting, receptive. His willingness to respond became instrumental in restoring holiness to the land: "[God] revealed himself to Samuel through his word. And Samuel's word came to all Israel."

If you want to hear God speak, do what you can to be ready. Be prepared when you're in a place of outward silence and sanctuary: as you lay awake in the early hours of the morning, while you wait in your car for your children to get out of school, when you walk the dog in the evening. Seek an inner silence and sanctuary also: Let go of mental noise and emotional confusion. Take deep breaths in and out until your heart and respiration rate slow. Humbly and receptively invite God to speak to you, and wait with faithful and obedient readiness. When God calls your name, respond, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening."

Reflection

  1. What are some things that drown out God's voice for you? What makes it difficult for you to be still in God's presence?
  2. Are personal sins blocking you from hearing God's voice? Take time to confess any wrongs you've committed and ask God to cleanse you.
  3. Read Psalm 84 to prepare you to spend time in God's presence.

1 Samuel 3:10
The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."

Related Readings

Psalms 84:1-12; 86:1-17; Matthew 5:8; John 10:1-6

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NIV Women's Devotional Bible
by Zondervan


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

The Prison of Resentment

Psalm 73:21–22

Additional Scripture Readings: Matthew 6:14; 2 Timothy 2:24

Resentment puts us in prison. Like a ball and chain, it holds us back from experiencing the positive emotions of joy and peace. Are you imprisoned by resentment?

Resentment is an inevitable result of being damaged and wounded by the words or actions of another. We will feel it. To try to squelch the pain that comes when we’ve been hurt is to deny our human ability to feel.

But we don’t have to make resentment our permanent home. When we choose to live, day in and day out, within the confines of resentment, we imprison ourselves, trapped in bitterness, incarcerated in a grudge. When our energy is poured into these negative emotions, we are barred from experiencing life-giving emotions like forgiveness, love and hope.

We can’t choose whether or not we will be hurt. The mistakes of others are out of our control. But we can determine how we will respond to the pain that comes by the hand of another. Release resentment. In so doing, we set our hearts free.

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Today's reading is from the
Mom's Devotional Bible
by Zondervan


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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Thanks for accompanying us on our journey through Advent!

The Advent devotional is complete! We hope that these daily reflections were a blessing to you throughout Advent. We're sending this final email to thank you for your participation and to encourage you to take a look at some of our other email devotionals now that the Advent devotional is finished.

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January is a time for New Year's resolutions, and one of the most rewarding resolutions you can make is to read through the Bible in 2012. Reading the entire Bible is a daunting task--but our daily Bible reading plan emails make it easy. Sign up for one of our Bible reading plans and you'll have each day's Bible reading sent straight to your inbox; with just a few minutes spent reading Scripture each day, you'll make it through the entire Bible by the end of the year! We've just added a newNew Testament in a Year plan as well, for those of you who'd rather focus on just the New Testament in 2012.

Happy New Year from Bible Gateway

We're glad you joined us for the Advent devotional and we hope it helped to focus your thoughts on Christ in anticipation of Christmas. Have a blessed 2012!

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Thanks for accompanying us on our journey through Advent!

The Advent devotional is complete! We hope that these daily reflections were a blessing to you throughout Advent. We're sending this final email to thank you for your participation and to encourage you to take a look at some of our other email devotionals now that the Advent devotional is finished.

More email devotionals

If you liked receiving a daily devotional in your inbox, you'll be happy to hear that there is more email devotional content available for you at Bible Gateway. Our email Verse of the Day (available in NIV and KJV, and now also in Spanish!) sends you a daily Scripture verse, and our Men of the Bible andWomen of the Bible devotionals offers an inspiring glimpse at the great heroes (and a few villains) of the Bible. You can sign up for any of these at ourNewsletters page.

Resolution: Read through the Bible in 2012

January is a time for New Year's resolutions, and one of the most rewarding resolutions you can make is to read through the Bible in 2012. Reading the entire Bible is a daunting task--but our daily Bible reading plan emails make it easy. Sign up for one of our Bible reading plans and you'll have each day's Bible reading sent straight to your inbox; with just a few minutes spent reading Scripture each day, you'll make it through the entire Bible by the end of the year! We've just added a new New Testament in a Year plan as well, for those of you who'd rather focus on just the New Testament in 2012.

Happy New Year from Bible Gateway

We're glad you joined us for the Advent devotional and we hope it helped to focus your thoughts on Christ in anticipation of Christmas. Have a blessed 2012!

Sincerely,
Your friends at Bible Gateway

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