Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Daily Devotional Wednesday 28th December

“Of David. Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—” Psalm 103:1-2 NIV
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon


"Can the rush grow up without mire?"
Job 8:11

The rush is spongy and hollow, and even so is a hypocrite; there is no substance or stability in him. It is shaken to and fro in every wind just as formalists yield to every influence; for this reason the rush is not broken by the tempest, neither are hypocrites troubled with persecution. I would not willingly be a deceiver or be deceived; perhaps the text for this day may help me to try myself whether I be a hypocrite or no. The rush by nature lives in water, and owes its very existence to the mire and moisture wherein it has taken root; let the mire become dry, and the rush withers very quickly. Its greenness is absolutely dependent upon circumstances, a present abundance of water makes it flourish, and a drought destroys it at once. Is this my case? Do I only serve God when I am in good company, or when religion is profitable and respectable? Do I love the Lord only when temporal comforts are received from his hands? If so I am a base hypocrite, and like the withering rush, I shall perish when death deprives me of outward joys. But can I honestly assert that when bodily comforts have been few, and my surroundings have been rather adverse to grace than at all helpful to it, I have still held fast my integrity? Then have I hope that there is genuine vital godliness in me. The rush cannot grow without mire, but plants of the Lord's right hand planting can and do flourish even in the year of drought. A godly man often grows best when his worldly circumstances decay. He who follows Christ for his bag is a Judas; they who follow for loaves and fishes are children of the devil; but they who attend him out of love to himself are his own beloved ones. Lord, let me find my life in thee, and not in the mire of this world's favour or gain.


"And the Lord shall guide thee continually."
Isaiah 58:11

"The Lord shall guide thee." Not an angel, but Jehovah shall guide thee. He said he would not go through the wilderness before his people, an angel should go before them to lead them in the way; but Moses said, "If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence." Christian, God has not left you in your earthly pilgrimage to an angel's guidance: he himself leads the van. You may not see the cloudy, fiery pillar, but Jehovah will never forsake you. Notice the word shall--"The Lord shall guide thee." How certain this makes it! How sure it is that God will not forsake us! His precious "shalls" and "wills" are better than men's oaths. "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Then observe the adverb continually. We are not merely to be guided sometimes, but we are to have a perpetual monitor; not occasionally to be left to our own understanding, and so to wander, but we are continually to hear the guiding voice of the Great Shepherd; and if we follow close at his heels, we shall not err, but be led by a right way to a city to dwell in. If you have to change your position in life; if you have to emigrate to distant shores; if it should happen that you are cast into poverty, or uplifted suddenly into a more responsible position than the one you now occupy; if you are thrown among strangers, or cast among foes, yet tremble not, for "the Lord shall guide thee continually." There are no dilemmas out of which you shall not be delivered if you live near to God, and your heart be kept warm with holy love. He goes not amiss who goes in the company of God. Like Enoch, walk with God, and you cannot mistake your road. You have infallible wisdom to direct you, immutable love to comfort you, and eternal power to defend you. "Jehovah"--mark the word--"Jehovah shall guide thee continually."


Today's reading: Zechariah 1-4, Revelation 18 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Zechariah 1-4

A Call to Return to the LORD

1 In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo:

2 “The LORD was very angry with your ancestors. 3 Therefore tell the people: This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the LORD Almighty. 4 Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the LORD. 5 Where are your ancestors now? And the prophets, do they live forever? 6 But did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your ancestors?

“Then they repented and said, ‘The LORD Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do....’” the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Revelation 18

Lament Over Fallen Babylon

1 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. 2 With a mighty voice he shouted:

“‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’
She has become a dwelling for demons
and a haunt for every impure spirit,
a haunt for every unclean bird,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal.
3 For all the nations have drunk
the maddening wine of her adulteries.
The kings of the earth committed adultery with her,
and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”

Warning to Escape Babylon’s Judgment

4 Then I heard another voice from heaven say:

“‘Come out of her, my people,’
so that you will not share in her sins,
so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
5 for her sins are piled up to heaven,
and God has remembered her crimes.
6 Give back to her as she has given;
pay her back double for what she has done.
Pour her a double portion from her own cup.
7 Give her as much torment and grief
as the glory and luxury she gave herself.
In her heart she boasts,
‘I sit enthroned as queen.
I am not a widow;
I will never mourn.’
8 Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her:
death, mourning and famine.
She will be consumed by fire,
for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.... the rest on Bible Gateway



We place this peerless name first because it is the ineffable name of Him who wrapped Himself around with the garment of our humanity. Other names are dear, but His is dearer. Jesus was the name divinely given before His birth. “Thou shalt call His name Jesus” (Matt. 1:21). This familiar name, so sweet in a believer’s ear, occurs some seven hundred times in the New Testament.

The name Joshua is equivalent to Jesus , and the Old Testament warrior is a fitting type of our Lord. Joshua saved the people of Israel by leading them through the River Jordan, He fought their battles and was steadfast in his allegiance to God and His people. Jesus is our heavenly Joshua, who fought the grim battle on our behalf at Calvary, providing thereby a blood-bought deliverance for sin-bound souls. He is now our Leader, our Protector, and will never cease in His care of us until He has us safely in the sheepfold on the other side.

Among English-speaking peoples the names of Jehovah and Jesus are considered too sacred for sinful human beings to adopt, but in Spain, Portugal and South America, the people have no qualms about using Jesus as a Christian name. Among the Greeks and Scandinavians, there is no hesitancy about using Christ as a Christian name.



The Great Commission

Matthew 28:16-20

According to His promise, Christ is with us to the end of the age; thus, we may confidently go forth to fulfill the Great Commission, knowing that He will ensure its success. What is your role in His plan? Are you a gifted teacher who builds up disciples? Do your talents lie in producing goods that enable people to be sent? Are you sharing the gospel with friends and family? Let us go out and obey Christ's command to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.

For further study:

Joshua 1:1-9

The Bible in a year:

Malachi 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.


Glynnis Whitwer

December 27, 2011

Between the Promise and the Promised Land
Glynnis Whitwer

"Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands." Deuteronomy 8:2(NIV)

"If you follow this plan, you will lose weight!" I loved reading that promise. I wanted to lose weight and the program made it so sound simple. All I had to do was follow a plan. At the end of the plan was a thinner, healthier me. My "promised land" awaited.

When I read the plan, my confidence shook a bit. But still, the promised land sounded so good. So I started out carefully following the plan that first week, and saw some great results on the scale.

But the next week, I started missing crackers. So I snuck a few. The promise still sounded great, but the plan was harder than I thought. Could I make it from the promise to the promised land? I wasn't sure.

My struggle reminded me of a story in the Bible about another journey from a promise to a promised land. In Genesis, God promised Abraham (known as Abram at this time) that a great nation would descend from him, and they would have a place of their own ... the "Promised Land" (Gen. 12:1-4).

So Abraham gathered up his family and possessions and traveled to this wonderful land. He arrived in Canaan and for the most part lived happily ever after, dying at the age of 175 after seeing God's promises fulfilled.

If that were the end of the story, this message would be wrapped up in a pretty bow. If only all promises were so easily achieved.

Sadly, not all of Abraham's descendants enjoyed the same long life in the Promised Land. Due to a famine, God's people left Canaan for Egypt and there the story takes a dramatic turn with their enslavement for 400 years.

But they never forgot God's promise of a home of their own. I imagine they held on to that promise during days of back-breaking work and persecution. So when God set them free from slavery through Moses, they must have been ecstatic! Finally, the fulfillment of God's promise!

If I were them, I would have expected to be whisked right into that wonderful piece of land after suffering for so long. Instead they ended up in a desert. For 40 years. And that's where our story sits for a while. In the desert. Wondering what happened to God's promise.

I've been there before ... in that desert. It's the place where it's not so fun to obey any more. The healthy eating plan gets hard. Parenting a willful child is frustrating. Writing that tithe check makes me cringe with worry. Forgiving someone who has betrayed me just "feels" wrong.

I'd much rather move through the desert ... quickly ... and get on to the good stuff.

In my times in the desert, I've found myself harboring bitterness, doubt, complaining and pouting. Here's what those responses get me: more time in the desert. That's what happened to the Israelites too. In fact, they complained so much, God forbade that whole grumbling generation from entering the Promised Land.

But I've also discovered the desert of waiting can be a fruitful place. Our key verse shows us that God used the desert time to test His followers' hearts. This wasn't to be a time of empty suffering. It was a time to demonstrate trust and obedience.

When we look at it that way, the desert can be a place of personal growth. But, this only happens when I choose to trust that God will fulfill His promises in His perfect way and time. The fruit of that choice is patience, discipline, obedience, an increased alertness to God's involvement in my life, and a deeper dependence upon Him.

God gave the Israelites their Promised Land through a miraculous conquering of the city. But between the promise and the Promised Land there was a desert - for them and us. And that desert is fertile ground. The decision we all have to make is whether we will grow in faith and character, or negativity.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness - to Your followers of old and to me. Thank You for always keeping your promises. Forgive me times when I have doubted You. I want to have faithful patience and a gracious spirit during times in the desert. Please help me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Glynnis' blog where she shares a list of God's promises to rely on during your desert times.

I Used to Be So Organized by Glynnis Whitwer

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!

Application Steps:
Identify a promise from God's Word to memorize and hold on to during your own time in the desert. Visit Glynnis' blog for some ideas.

Why is it difficult to trust that God will keep His promises?

What do I struggle most with when I'm waiting on God?

Power Verses:
Romans 4:20-21, "Yet he (Abraham) did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised." (NIV)

© 2011 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105


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December 27, 2011

On Our Way Home

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4-7).

Friend to Friend

Have you noticed how hard "re-entry" is?

One of my favorite movies is "Apollo 13" in which we first heard those famous words, "Houston, we have a problem," an understatement, to say the least. The astronauts faced seemingly impossible odds of getting back to earth but refused to give up the fight until they splashed down in the waters of home.

Life is much the same. We are often thrust into a daily life of foreign and often frightening worlds, shaky circumstances, and impossible trials with no obvious way of escape. It seems like we will never get home and our world will never be right again.

I have discovered a truth that surfaces in my heart every Christmas holiday. We all come into this world with a sense of being lost. Tucked into the corner of our souls is a feeling of restlessness, a longing for home, for something eternal. That longing will never be satisfied outside of a relationship with God. God holds each today and every tomorrow in His hands. Nobody and nothing can fill the "God-shaped" hole in our hearts.

I have come to cherish that desperate heart cry that drives me to my knees and into the lap of my Father. Each and every time I come to Him, He whispers, "It will be all right. You are not home - yet."

I do not want this broken and torn world to be my final home, but merely a place I am passing through. While I am here, I have a God-sized job to do, an extraordinary mission to complete and a wonderful purpose to fulfill. Is that awesome or what? Absolutely! But it is only the beginning of the eternity for which I was created. It doesn't get any better than that, my friends.

So as you dive into your hectic schedule, remember that one day, we will be home - with Him - but until then, let's celebrate here! Guard your hearts and mind by filling them with God's Word. Hold fast to the true meaning of the season and don't let go/ Look for ways to share the message of the manger, embracing that longing for home as a sweet reminder that one day we will celebrate His birth in Heaven. What a Christmas that will be! And we are on our way home!

Let's Pray

Oh God, I love You and am so thankful for the hope that eternity holds because I know You. I am not alone, nor will I ever be. I will lack nothing because You are my Provider. I can sing in the midst of the storm because You are sufficient. I praise You and long for Home. But while I'm here, help me to be all that You created me to be.

In Jesus' name,


Now It's Your Turn

Have you ever experienced loneliness or a sense of loss during or after the Christmas season? I encourage you to prepare for it beforehand. The best way to get ready for a difficult time is to stay ready for a difficult time. In other words, now is the time to prepare your heart and mind for the holidays.

  • Make time each day to be alone with God.
  • Pour out your dreams and desperation to Him.
  • Read Psalm 23 once a day.
  • Invest at least 15 minutes in solitude each day, allowing your soul to "catch up."
  • Make a list of the top five joy thieves in your life and make a plan to eliminate them.
  • Prayerfully choose five verses of Scripture about peace. Write these verses on a 3X5 card and carry it with you through the holidays, referring to it while you wait in line, while you are stuck in traffic, at every meal, etc. Consider doing the same as a family project.
  • After the holidays are over, evaluate the difference this preparation made in your holiday celebration.

More from the Girlfriends

A new year is just around the corner. Is one of your resolutions for 2012 to have a daily quiet time? Need help? Check out Mary's Weekly Online Bible Study, Light for the Journey. And be sure to get your copy of our new 12-week devotion book,Trusting God.

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



The Great Commission

Matthew 28:16-20 "Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" ( vv. 19-20).

After His resurrection, Jesus visited with His disciples and instructed them for forty days before ascending into heaven (Luke 24:36-49; John 21; Acts 1:1-11 ). The only event Matthew records following the resurrection, besides the payoff of the Roman guards (28:11-15), is the commission Christ gave His followers on a mountain in Galilee (vv. 16-20).

We are not sure when this event occurred during those forty days, but its precise chronological placement is unimportant. Apparently, our Lord told His followers to meet Him in Galilee after His resurrection, and the eleven remaining disciples found Him there ( vv. 10, 16). Seeing Christ, many of them worshiped Him, though others doubted (v. 17). This doubt, however, is not to be confused with rejection. Distazein , the Greek verb translated "doubted," reflects hesitation, not a refusal of truth. The doubting disciples did not doubt whether or not Jesus was the Messiah, they were just unsure how to respond to Him. Being notoriously slow to understand, it may be that some of them had not yet come to grips with the fact that Jesus was (and is) the incarnate God Himself.

In Galilee Jesus announced that all authority in heaven and earth was given to Him in His resurrection (28:18 ). Vindicated as God's spotless lamb, the atonement for the sins of His people, the Father makes plain even today to all with eyes to see that His Son is the Messiah - whose kingdom has no end. Seated at God's right hand, the Christ exercises His dominion, subduing His enemies through the preaching of the gospel, proving that He, the God-man, received the name above all names in His resurrection (Phil. 2:5-11; Heb. 1:1-4).

John Calvin comments that by nothing other than divine authority could Jesus "command us to promise eternal life in his name, to reduce the whole world under his sway, and to publish a doctrine which subdues all pride, and lays prostrate the whole of the human race." Only the authority of God Almighty, revealed to us in Jesus and with us by the Holy Spirit, enables us to obey the Great Commission, teaching people to cast off self-reliance and put all their hope for salvation in Jesus alone (Matt. 28:18-20).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

According to His promise, Christ is with us to the end of the age; thus, we may confidently go forth to fulfill the Great Commission, knowing that He will ensure its success. What is your role in His plan? Are you a gifted teacher who builds up disciples? Do your talents lie in producing goods that enable people to be sent? Are you sharing the gospel with friends and family? Let us go out and obey Christ's command to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.

For further study:

Joshua 1:1-9

The Bible in a year:

Malachi 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.



What will eternal life be like?

This week's reading: Revelation 21:22-27

Some think the new Jerusalem is an actual city, while others think it is a symbolic representation of the church triumphant. Some think it will hover over the earth during the Millennium and throughout eternity; others think it only pictures the eternal state.

Whatever the details, the image is one of indescribable beauty and glory. Eternal life means a whole new dimension of living: People will have new life, purpose and action. God is the focus of this city, the source of its light (and everything else). God's spectacular glory illuminates the city as is illustrated by the lack of night. His presence fills the whole city, making the need for a temple obsolete-the new Jerusalem itself is a temple filled with the glory of God.

Eternal life will be pure, untainted by anything evil. In the new Jerusalem we can escape not only the power and penalty of sin, but also its very presence.



Today's reading is from the
NIV Quest Study Bible
by Zondervan

This unique Bible addresses the common, uncommon, and perplexing questions people ask about Scripture.

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