Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Daily Devotional Tuesday 6th December

“Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:7, 9-10NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Ask, and it shall be given you."
Matthew 7:7

We know of a place in England still existing, where a dole of bread is served to every passerby who chooses to ask for it. Whoever the traveller may be, he has but to knock at the door of St. Cross Hospital, and there is the dole of bread for him. Jesus Christ so loveth sinners that he has built a St. Cross Hospital, so that whenever a sinner is hungry, he has but to knock and have his wants supplied. Nay, he has done better; he has attached to this Hospital of the Cross a bath; and whenever a soul is black and filthy, it has but to go there and be washed. The fountain is always full, always efficacious. No sinner ever went into it and found that it could not wash away his stains. Sins which were scarlet and crimson have all disappeared, and the sinner has been whiter than snow. As if this were not enough, there is attached to this Hospital of the Cross a wardrobe, and a sinner making application simply as a sinner, may be clothed from head to foot; and if he wishes to be a soldier, he may not merely have a garment for ordinary wear, but armour which shall cover him from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. If he asks for a sword, he shall have that given to him, and a shield too. Nothing that is good for him shall be denied him. He shall have spending-money so long as he lives, and he shall have an eternal heritage of glorious treasure when he enters into the joy of his Lord.

If all these things are to be had by merely knocking at mercy's door, O my soul, knock hard this morning, and ask large things of thy generous Lord. Leave not the throne of grace till all thy wants have been spread before the Lord, and until by faith thou hast a comfortable prospect that they shall be all supplied. No bashfulness need retard when Jesus invites. No unbelief should hinder when Jesus promises. No cold-heartedness should restrain when such blessings are to be obtained.

Evening

"And the Lord shewed me four carpenters."
Zechariah 1:20

In the vision described in this chapter, the prophet saw four terrible horns. They were pushing this way and that way, dashing down the strongest and the mightiest; and the prophet asked, "What are these?" The answer was, "These are the horns which have scattered Israel." He saw before him a representation of those powers which had oppressed the church of God. There were four horns; for the church is attacked from all quarters. Well might the prophet have felt dismayed; but on a sudden there appeared before him four carpenters. He asked, "What shall these do?" These are the men whom God hath found to break those horns in pieces. God will always find men for his work, and he will find them at the right time. The prophet did not see the carpenters first, when there was nothing to do, but first the "horns," and then the "carpenters." Moreover, the Lord finds enough men. He did not find three carpenters, but four; there were four horns, and there must be four workmen. God finds the right men; not four men with pens to write; not four architects to draw plans; but four carpenters to do rough work. Rest assured, you who tremble for the ark of God, that when the "horns" grow troublesome, the "carpenters" will be found. You need not fret concerning the weakness of the church of God at any moment; there may be growing up in obscurity the valiant reformer who will shake the nations: Chrysostoms may come forth from our Ragged Schools, and Augustines from the thickest darkness of London's poverty. The Lord knows where to find his servants. He hath in ambush a multitude of mighty men, and at his word they shall start up to the battle; "for the battle is the Lord's," and he shall get to himself the victory. Let us abide faithful to Christ, and he, in the right time, will raise up for us a defence, whether it be in the day of our personal need, or in the season of peril to his Church.

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Today's reading: Daniel 1-2, 1 John 4 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Daniel 1-2

Daniel’s Training in Babylon

1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.

3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— 4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. 5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: 1 John 4

On Denying the Incarnation

1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

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Mary, Mother of John Mark

Among the Marys mentioned in the New Testament, Mary, the mother of Mark who wrote the second gospel, is spoken of but once (Acts 12:12 - read 12:1-19), yet this brief description of her is suggestive of her life and labors. She was probably the aunt or sister of Barnabas, the one-time companion of Paul (Colossians 4:10), and such a relationship accounts for Barnabas' choice of Mark as his companion - a selection over which Paul and Barnabas parted. Further, being related to Mary would account for the leadership among the saints gathering in her spacious home. Evidently the family belonged to Cyprus, hence the choice of such by Barnabas as the first station in his journeyings (Acts 4:36; 13:4 ). Sir William Ramsay holds that the narrative of Mary in the Acts was by Mark, which would account for the details of his mother's large house becoming a well-known center of Christian life and worship. There is a legend to the effect that this same house was the scene of a still more sacred gathering when, in its upper room, Jesus observed the Lord's Supper on the night of His betrayal.

It was to Mary's home that Peter found his way after his miraculous escape, for he knew that a company of believers had gathered there to pray for his release. Peter had a peculiar affection for the godly home. He called Mark, "his son" ( 1 Peter 5:13) - a spiritual son, having led him to yield his life to the Saviour. The way in which the saints met in Mary's home bespeaks her tried steadfastness and the bond of intimacy that existed between them. That Rhoda was one of the maids indicates that the household was considerably large, implying that Mary was a widow with means to maintain such a commodious home. As Barnabas her relative gave up his land for Christ, Mary gave up her Jerusalem home to be used as an infant church.

Mary was a woman of sterling qualities and was loyal to her Christian ideals. At that time Christians were a persecuted sect, yet she faced the consequences of yielding up her home as a center of spiritual power and influence, and was self-sacrificing in time, effort and money to serve the Lord. It has been suggested that young Rhoda who went to open the door for Peter was hesitant thinking perhaps it was the soldiers of Herod who had come to arrest some of the homeless Christian friends whose benefactress and patron Mary had become.

As for Mark the evangelist, her son, he was deeply attached to his mother which was probably one reason why he returned to Jerusalem from Perga (Acts 13:13). He wanted to be nearer the one who had meant so much in his life. Doubtless he derived something of Mary's straightforward and decided character so prominent in the gospel he wrote portraying Jesus as the lowly servant of God.

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Amram [Ăm'răm]—exalted people orinexperience.

  1. A grandson of Levi, son of Kohath and father of Aaron, Moses and Miriam. Amram died at 137 years of age (Exod. 6:18, 20).
  2. A son of Bani, who married a foreign wife during the exile (Ezra 10:34).
  3. A son of Dishon and grandson of Anah (1 Chron. 1:41). This name should be Hamram or Hamran.
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December 5, 2011

Forgive Us our Christmases
Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given... (Isaiah 9:6, NIV).

Friend to Friend

Once upon a time, a little girl named Mary Beth found herself caught in the pre-Christmas swirl of activity, all of which seemed to be coming to a head on Christmas Eve. Her dad was always scurrying about, loaded down with bundles and burdens. Her mom, under the pressure of getting ready for the great occasion, had succumbed to tears several times during the day. The little girl tried to help her weary parents, but always found that she was in the way.

"Not now, Mary Beth! Can't you see I'm busy!" her parents would say.

Finally, near tears herself, she was hustled off to bed. There kneeling to pray the Lord's Prayer, her heart and tongue became intertwined, "Forgive us our Christmases as we forgive those who Christmas against us."

Perhaps Mary Beth's prayer was not such a great mistake after all. Many times we leave Christ out of Christmas. Many times our Christmas spirit is not of good will but of exhaustion, causing us to trample on our loved ones' feelings. And many times we are so busy planning the birthday celebration that we forget to invite the guest of honor.

Imagine for a moment, that you have never heard the Christmas story and you visit a shopping mall on December 22. You listen to the music being played over the intercom system and eavesdrop on a few shoppers' conversations. Next, you stop by a greeting card shop and browse through the rows and rows of red and green envelopes with cards sporting colorful and comical messages. Window displays grab your attention, enticing you with promises of low prices for the last minute shoppers. Stress laden faces rush by carrying stacks of boxes in various shapes and sizes. What conclusions would you draw about the event that culminates on December 25?

Much has changed since the God of the universe decorated the night sky with the star of Bethlehem and directed the choir of angels in a chorus announcing the birth of Our Savior, Jesus Christ. But the commercialism doesn't have to rule in our hearts and homes. This year, let's focus on the Christ Child and remember the true meaning of the holiday season. As we turn our eyes to the Babe in the manger, we will not view Christmas as a dreaded obligation or a major retail event. It will be a time of joyous celebration, honoring the One Who came to give us eternal life and worshipping our Heavenly Father.

Let's focus on celebrating a Christ-centered Christmas!

Let's Pray

Dear God, sometimes I get too caught in the Christmas commercialism. OK, a lot of times. Today, I'm going to refocus my heart and remember why I'm celebrating this wonderful day in the first place. I'm celebrating Jesus today...and every day!

In Jesus' Name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

What stirs in your heart when you see how retailers are trying to cash in on Christmas?

What do you think Jesus would say about all that?

What are some ways that you keep Jesus the focus of your holiday season? Let's share some ideas. Log ontowww.facebook.com/sharonjaynes and share your ideas.

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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T. Suzanne Eller

December 5, 2011

Tree Speak
T. Suzanne Eller

"That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not withe r- whatever they do prospers." Psalm 1:3 (NIV)

"Suzie, do you see that tree?" My friend, Vera, pointed out a massive tree that was dying. There were a few leaves trying to hang on, but dead branches were fractured and falling.

"We had such a hard summer," she said. "That tree needed deeper roots...just like us." As we walked she shared that if our roots of faith are shallow in hard times and we aren't nurtured spiritually, the heat could harm us.

Tree speak. It's my friend's language. She sees spiritual truths in all aspects of nature. Funny, but as much as I wanted to see the same things she did, all I saw was a tree.

My friend, Vera, is now in a hard place. The heat is on. She has cancer.

And as I pray for her I am finding comfort in today's key verse, Psalm 1:3. In it, a faithful woman (or man) is compared to a tree planted along a riverbank. The tree's roots are so continually nourished that it bears fruit season in, and season out. The tree's leaves never wither. Regardless of conditions outside the river, the tree flourishes. Just like my friend.

Vera had surgery. Chemotherapy. She lost her hair and, for awhile, she was very sick. But she didn't lose her smile or her joy. She didn't lose her faith. When she walked into church with a cheeky pink hat on her bald head, she reached for me with a huge hug.

Now, when I walk by trees that are strong, fruitful and offer shade, I think of Vera. She has taught me to learn from the trees.

We need to nourish our faith so that our roots will grow deep and strong. Maybe today you and I can get by with shallow roots, but where do we turn for truth and comfort when the sun is blazing or the storm is blowing?

Vera taught me that we are nurtured when we spend time reading the Bible and praying. We grow from small saplings with a limited knowledge of who God is into a mature woman of faith who can offer shade to those who come alongside us.

She also showed me how to bear fruit in all seasons. In the good and the bad. Vera's deep roots have caused her to be strong and tall in a season that is anything but easy.

A few months ago I went for a walk by myself. I passed a tree. The leaves were changing colors to orange and vivid red and yellow. It was a show of God's majesty after a summer that was bleak.

And I suddenly thought of Vera. I turned and made my way home, excited. I couldn't wait to share the news with my beautiful friend. I had finally learned the beauty of tree speak.

Dear Lord, I nurture my body with food. I nurture myself with rest. But often I fail to nurture my spirit with Your presence. Help me to place my roots deep in You daily, and grow strong and be fruitful, no matter the season. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Visit Suzie's blog to find out 5 Ways to Grow Spiritually.

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

The Woman I Am Becoming: Embrace the Chase for Faith, Identity, and Destiny by T. Suzanne Eller

Shop with us for Christmas! Did you know when you purchase anything through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity? Your purchase supports the many areas of life-changing ministry we provide at no cost. Although we'd love to offer more discounts, we simply can't compete with online warehouses. So, we're extremely grateful when you shop with us. Thank you!

Application Steps:
In the book, The Divine Mentor by Wayne Corderio, the author says, "The Bible is the predominant way God speaks to us." He suggests you break down one scripture or passage that speaks to you and share an observation, an application and your prayer based on that scripture.

Let's do that today. Read one passage. Write down a scripture that inspired or challenged you. Share why it made you feel the way it did. Then write down one way you can live it out in your every day life. Last, write a prayer.

Reflections:
Be sure to bring your Bible to your devotional time. It's the key that opens the gates that need to be open for you this week. God knows what the doors are. He will take care of the opening; you bring the key. ~ Wayne Corderio, The Divine Mentor

What is one scripture verse that nourishes my roots?

Power Verses:
Jeremiah 17:8, "They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit." (NLT)

Psalm 92:12, "But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon." (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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Relationships: Power/Influence

READ PSALM 82:1-8

Power is essential to leadership. Without it leaders can't lead. Unfortunately, power and influence are not always used to help others. If you're a leader, you have some share in these commodities. You have power over others; they listen to you, and you influence them. What you do with that power and influence matters more than you may realize.

The author of Psalm 82 describes a scene in which God chastises and challenges Israel's judges. Because of their role as God's delegates and imagebearers, these men were referred to as "gods." Rather than defending the unjust and judging with partiality, they were accountable to defend the "weak and fatherless" and to protect the rights of the "poor and oppressed" (v. 3). They were to exercise their power in a godly manner, a manner that would rescue the needy and deliver them from the domination of wicked individuals (v. 4).

These men were assigned godlike functions in their roles as judges, but the psalmist predicted that they would fall like mere men (vv. 6-7). While their power may have given them a sense of invincibility, they would one day be called upon to answer to the Judge (v. 8). Since all leaders face the same fate, we must exercise our power and influence with grace and love.

What mistake did the judges of Israel make with regard to their power? How can you avoid that same mistake?

Power/Influence and Who God Is

People are typically more impressed by human power and influence than they are by the everpresent, but generally overlooked, evidences of God's limitless power and influence. Why are we so often impressed by people and unimpressed by our Creator? Turn to Daniel 7:9-14 to consider the Biblical view of the boundless divine authority that overshadows all human authority.

This Week's Verse to Memorize REVELATION 4:11

"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."

Power/Influence and Who I Am

Has God ever allowed you to come to the end of your resources in order to get your attention? During such times of adversity, we are usually sufficiently humbled to get a better grip on the truth that life is not about us, but about the One who created us. Turn to Daniel 4:34-37 for an account of a powerful man who lost everything until he learned the lesson that power is a trust, not a prerogative.

Power/Influence and How It Works

Without influence there is no leadership. But how do we influence others? We can learn a great deal about this subject by understanding the manner in which God exercises his influence. An event recorded in Acts 10:9-22 demonstrates how God influenced Peter to do something that he, on the basis of deep conviction, was adamantly opposed to doing. By leading Peter in the right direction, God facilitated self-discovery that eventually resulted in a major paradigm shift-both in Peter's life and in the life of the early church.

Power/Influence and What I Do

Rosabeth Moss Kanter contends that "power" is America's "last dirty word." Yet she also asserts that the appropriate exercise of power is necessary and good. Her explanation, along with the example of early church leaders, will help you learn how to better utilize your power.


jesusexperimentpaddedhandbookleadership150Handbook to Leadership: Leadership in the Image of God
by Kenneth Boa
Buy the Handbook!
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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Denying God's Transcendence

1 Chronicles 29:11 "Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty.... Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all" (v. 11).

Theological controversy did not end at the Council of Nicea, and in the following centuries the church had to deal with errors regarding the humanity of Christ, the authority of Scripture, justification, and others. Despite the various positions taken on these issues, however, most theologians still insisted on the transcendence of God. That all changed in the nineteenth century.

Our Creator's transcendence is affirmed throughout Scripture and is reflected in today's passage. When we say God is transcendent, we mean that He is separate from His creation and not dependent on the created order in any way. The Almighty made the universe and He is therefore its sovereign ruler (Gen. 1:1). A biblical view of transcendence does not mean that God is unable to enter into His creation or communicate with it. He is also immanent, present within the universe that He has made ( Ps. 139:7). Nevertheless, creation is not God (pantheism), nor does God depend upon it. Creation, instead, depends upon our Creator for its continual existence (Eph. 4:4-6).

Due to the work of the philosopher Immanuel Kant in the eighteenth century, many thinkers began to question whether we could ever know anything about the transcendent realm. This was based on an unbiblical view of transcendence, one that says God is so "wholly other" that it is impossible for His creation to communicate with Him at all. In any case, these ideas trickled down into theology, and through a variety of alterations they produced a new emphasis on immanence. However, the immanence promoted was also an unbiblical one, which basically said that God is so closely identified with His creation as to be virtually indistinguishable from it. The new focus on immanence is known as "immanentism" and ultimately amounts to pantheism.

The result for Christology was to remove any sense that Jesus was unique as an incarnation of God. If all is God, then God is all, not only Jesus. At best, the philosopher G.W.F. Hegel said, Jesus is a picture of what it means that humanness and deity are ultimately one. This humanization of God and deification of man is antithetical to biblical orthodoxy.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

The immanentism we have discussed today is still with us. The New Age idea that we are all divine is a further alteration of immanentistic thought and also draws upon Eastern religions. We must be on guard against any view that would make God identical to His creation, for then He would be identified with the wickedness His creation has promulgated. To lose God's transcendence is to lose any hope that He will overcome the evil of this world.

For further study:

Psalm 8:1; 96:4

The Bible in a year:

Hosea 3-4

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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Denying God's Transcendence

The immanentism we have discussed today is still with us. The New Age idea that we are all divine is a further alteration of immanentistic thought and also draws upon Eastern religions. We must be on guard against any view that would make God identical to His creation, for then He would be identified with the wickedness His creation has promulgated. To lose God's transcendence is to lose any hope that He will overcome the evil of this world.

For further study:

Psalm 8:1; 96:4

The Bible in a year:

Hosea 3-4

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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I am the Lord's Servant
by Nancy Guthrie

It's hard to imagine how frightening it must have been for teenage Mary to see an angel and hear him speaking to her. The Bible says that "Gabriel appeared to her and said, 'Greetings, favored women! The Lord is with you!' Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 'Don't be afraid, Mary,' the angel told her, 'for you have found favor with God!'" (Luke 1:28-30). We can't help but wonder what the angel looked like and what he sounded like.

As frightening as it must have been to see and hear an angel speaking to her, it must have been even more frightening for Mary to process what the angel was telling her--that she was going to become pregnant, even though she had never been intimate with a man. This would be a scandal in her village. Everyone would whisper about her. She would be shunned and perhaps sent away by her fiance, Joseph, because he would think she had been unfaithful to him. And yet, even though she probably had a million questions and concerns, Mary responded to the angel by welcoming whatever God wanted to do. She said, "I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true" ( Luke 1:38). In a sense she said to God, "I'm yours. You can do anything you want with me," even though she must have known that this situation would be very hard for her, for Joseph, and for her whole family.

It's easy to label what we consider "good things" in our lives as gifts from God and to welcome them with gratitude. But when difficult things happen, we don't look at them as part of God's good plan for us. Mary's example shows us we can also welcome those things we would not necessarily label "good," confident that God's gifts sometimes come in perplexing and even painful packages. When we belong to God, we know he will use whatever he allows into our lives for good. Somehow, in God's hands, these things also become gifts of his grace toward us.

It takes faith--faith to rest in who God is and his love for us; faith to be confident that he is doing something good in and through our difficult circumstances--to see the hard things in our lives as gifts of God's grace.

Prayer

God, give us faith to surrender ourselves to you even in the hard places of life. We want to be your servants. We believe that anything you ask of us will be good and right because you love us. Fill us with faith to trust you with whatever you ask of us.

Discussion starters
  • What thoughts do you think went through Mary's mind when the angel was speaking to her?
  • What did Mary believe about God and his promises that allowed her to respond with a song of praise?
  • What difficult things has God asked our family to do or endure? How might these difficult things be God's gifts to us?

Today's devotional reading is taken from Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room by Nancy Guthrie. Used by permission.

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Today's Advent reading is taken from:
Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room
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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Away In a Manger

Hymn Story:

The first two verses of "Away In A Manger" are anonymous. They have been attributed to Martin Luther, but this is not clear. An extensive article, Not So Far Away In A Manger: Forty One Settings of an American Carol, gives reasons that this might not be the case. These verses first appeared in Little Children’s Book for Schools and Families, by J. C. File (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America, 1885).

In Dainty songs for little lads and lasses, for use in the kindergarten, school and home, by James R. Murray, (Cincinnati, The John Church Co., 1887), "Away in a Manger" is entitled "Luthers’ Cradle Hymn (Composed by Martin Luther for his children and still sung by German mothers to their little ones)." However Luther is not listed as the composer, instead are the initials J.R.M. The hymn in this publication is set to the tune we know as MUELLER. Later publications attribute this hymn tune to Carl Mueller, of which nothing is known.

Stanza 3, not originally part of the hymn, first was included in Gabriel"s Vineyard Songs, (Louisville, 1892) published by Charles H. Gabriel, with no author given. However, Robert Guy McCutchan, in Our Hymnody: a manual of the Methodist hymnal (New York, etc., The Methodist Book Concern, 1937, p. 436) includes this statement from Bishop William F. Anderson of the writing of the third stanza:

When I was Secretary of the Board of Education, 1904-08, I wanted to use "Away in a manger," which I found with the designation "Martin Luther’s Cradle Song," in the Children’s Day program one year. It had but two stanzas, 1 and 2. Dr. John T. McFarland, then Secretary of our Board of Sunday Schools, was my near neighbor in his office at 150 Fifth Avenue (New York). I asked him to write a third stanza. He went to his office and within an hour brought me the third stanza beginning, "Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay."

As the stanza had been published in 1892, it seems likely that McFarland copied the stanza from a source known to him but Bishop Anderson, seeing it in McFarland’s hand, assumed it to be written by him.

Devotional:

People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will ever enter it. And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

The following is a first person account told by Chaplain Gerald Oosterveen. The story describes his young son who died at age 9 as a result of cancer.

At times he was rebellious, or cried, "Why do I have to die now?"

I did not know either. But he kept fighting, even though there was always the pain. At times the massive quantities of medicine made him a bit delirious. But most of the time he was alert, thinking about the future. As the illness progressed, he became a philosopher, wise beyond young years. "Dad, when I was a kid, I never realized that kids can die too."

Drawing on what he had learned in church and Sunday School, he became a theologian: "Isn’t it amazing that Jesus should be preparing a place for me in His Father’s house. He loves me!"

When I wished we had more money to pay his mounting medical bills, he functioned as my teacher and gently rebuked me: "Don’t say we’re poor dad. Christians are never poor. When you have faith, you’re rich!" The words of Jesus came to my mind and somehow they were speaking to me:

Unless you become like one of these little ones, you shall not enter the Kingdom of God.

Some days I reflect that I too must die and will see my little son again. But when my time comes, will I have conquered fear and go out, as he did, in faith? Can I ever hope to become so trusting, believing as this child? My child.

Bless all the dear children in thy tender care And fit us for heaven to live with thee there.

Facts:

Lyricist: Anonymous Tune Name: MUELLER Composer: James R. Murray Music Date: 1887 Sheet Music Key: F Theme: Jesus Christ, His Birth Lyrics Date: 1885 Tune Name: CRADLE SONG Composer: William J. Kirkpatrick Music Date: 1895 Sheet Music Meter: 8.7. Scripture: Luke 2:7

Copyright © 2011 Center for Church Music


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NIV Devotions for Moms

Royal Privileges

Today's reading: Esther 4:1-14

Additional Scripture Readings: Proverbs 18:10; 1 Peter 5:7

When you're in a bad spot, there's nothing like calling for help from the king. Especially when you're related. When we trust Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we're adopted into his royal family. We can call on the protection of the King's power.

The Bible spells out the royal privilege of the King's protection all through its pages. Joseph was promoted to a high place in Pharaoh's courts. The Israelites were miraculously delivered from slavery in Egypt. Daniel saw God close the mouths of lions. Esther persuaded the ruler of her day and saved her people.

While we're never promised that we'll be untouched by the evil of our world, we are given the security that God will stand with us through it. God sits by our hospital bed and suffers as we suffer. He stands by us in our doubts without rejecting us. Even in the moments we don't feel the protection of the King, it is there for us. No matter what circumstances we face, it's good to know we're related to the King.

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Today's reading is from the
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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A Christmas Devotional

SHEPHERD

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby keeping watch over their flocks at night. - Luke 2:8

It may seem like a stretch of the imagination, but try it anyway: If you were God, and could announce the arrival of the savior of humanity, would you send your messengers to some shepherds out in the fields, as they whiled away their nighttime watch? Why not instead send angels to an assembly of the religious council in Jerusalem? Why not to the megalomaniac King Herod? How about Caesar? Wouldn't that be a night of work-to blow opens the doorways of society, to change everything with a few simple words.

Yet God chose the shepherds. Rough characters at that time, laborers who performed the tedious tasks that many others were unwilling to do. They appeared ragged, smelled of the flocks, and were used to sleeping on the cold, hard ground.

Often, the Bible tells of extraordinary shepherds. A millennia earlier, David, the "shepherd-king" of Israel, had cared for his people, just as he had cared for sheep when he was a boy shepherd in the fields outside Bethlehem. David could write the incredible words of Psalm 23, because he knew what it meant to be a good shepherd, and he knew that God was his good shepherd.

David tells us, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters" (vs. 1-2). And that isn't all. The Lord guides. He protects with his rod and staff.

Jesus, the descendant of David, came to be the good shepherd. In the Gospel of John, Jesus said that he knows us as his sheep, and we are to know him (10:14-15). He promised to defend us from wolves, and not run away. But most importantly, he said that the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.

So consider this: On the night Jesus' life began in this world, an inexorable process was set in motion-leading to the day when he would lay down his life for the world. All this in the fashion of a truly good shepherd. So an angelic visitation to shepherds in Bethlehem-men who understood feeding and guiding and saving-was the best way for Chapter One to begin.

Prayer for today, Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

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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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Ultimate Surrender

Today's reading: 1 Samuel 1:1-28

Probably the hardest thing for me to surrender to God-and this may sound silly because you may be expecting me to say, "My children"-was the huge, five-bedroom home I purchased five years after my divorce. I knew that my home belonged to God and that I was simply a steward of what he had entrusted to me, but that didn't keep it from becoming an idol. My wonderful house in its expensive zip code supplied status. I couldn't imagine giving it up, especially if God wanted me to live somewhere I didn't like.

I eventually realized I was supposed to sell that house, but for a full year I dug in my heels and refused to do it. What a nightmare I lived trying to untangle God's best for my life while still continuing to weave in my stubborn wishes. But God was persistent. He kept reminding me of his desire through the wise counsel of my brother Paul and sister Cathy. He continued to impress on me the need to downsize and simplify my life.

I finally came to the point where I knew I simply needed to obey God and sell the house. When I moved into a smaller home, I suddenly had much more time and energy. I found that I could focus more earnestly on my writing, which was something I had not been able to do previously with all the repairs, chores and decorating.

As terrible as it sounds, it was easier for me to surrender my children to God than it was to trust him with my home. Sad, huh? But I knew in my heart that my children would be in better hands with God than with me. While it was still excruciatingly hard to turn my children's lives over to him, I released them to his loving care by saying a simple, heartfelt prayer to that effect. Actually, I had to say that prayer many times. It seemed to take me forever to be able to voice words that were not a lie. Though I did not drop off my kids at the local temple to be raised by a holy man, like Hannah did with her son Samuel, I did choose to trust that God would love them and guide their lives better than I could.

-Katie Brazelton

Reflection

  1. What one thing are you holding back from God?
  2. What would happen if you released it?
  3. Why does God insist we sometimes give up things that seem to bring us joy?

1 Samuel 1:28
"So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD."

Related Readings

Genesis 22:1-19; Matthew 6:19-34

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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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