Friday, January 13, 2012

Daily Devotional Friday 13th January

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26-28NIV
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon


"Ye are Christ's."
1 Corinthians 3:23

"Ye are Christ's." You are his by donation, for the Father gave you to the Son; his by his bloody purchase, for he counted down the price for your redemption; his by dedication, for you have consecrated yourself to him; his by relation, for you are named by his name, and made one of his brethren and joint-heirs. Labour practically to show the world that you are the servant, the friend, the bride of Jesus. When tempted to sin, reply, "I cannot do this great wickedness, for I am Christ's." Immortal principles forbid the friend of Christ to sin. When wealth is before you to be won by sin, say that you are Christ's, and touch it not. Are you exposed to difficulties and dangers? Stand fast in the evil day, remembering that you are Christ's. Are you placed where others are sitting down idly, doing nothing? Rise to the work with all your powers; and when the sweat stands upon your brow, and you are tempted to loiter, cry, "No, I cannot stop, for I am Christ's. If I were not purchased by blood, I might be like Issachar, crouching between two burdens; but I am Christ's, and cannot loiter." When the siren song of pleasure would tempt you from the path of right, reply, "Thy music cannot charm me; I am Christ's." When the cause of God invites thee, give thy goods and thyself away, for thou art Christ's. Never belie thy profession. Be thou ever one of those whose manners are Christian, whose speech is like the Nazarene, whose conduct and conversation are so redolent of heaven, that all who see you may know that you are the Saviour's, recognizing in you his features of love and his countenance of holiness. "I am a Roman!" was of old a reason for integrity; far more, then, let it be your argument for holiness, "I am Christ's!"


"I have yet to speak on God's behalf."
Job 36:2

We ought not to court publicity for our virtue, or notoriety for our zeal; but, at the same time, it is a sin to be always seeking to hide that which God has bestowed upon us for the good of others. A Christian is not to be a village in a valley, but "a city set upon a hill;" he is not to be a candle under a bushel, but a candle in a candlestick, giving light to all. Retirement may be lovely in its season, and to hide one's self is doubtless modest, but the hiding of Christ in us can never be justified, and the keeping back of truth which is precious to ourselves is a sin against others and an offence against God. If you are of a nervous temperament and of retiring disposition, take care that you do not too much indulge this trembling propensity, lest you should be useless to the church. Seek in the name of him who was not ashamed of you to do some little violence to your feelings, and tell to others what Christ has told to you. If thou canst not speak with trumpet tongue, use the still small voice. If the pulpit must not be thy tribune, if the press may not carry on its wings thy words, yet say with Peter and John, "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee." By Sychar's well talk to the Samaritan woman, if thou canst not on the mountain preach a sermon; utter the praises of Jesus in the house, if not in the temple; in the field, if not upon the exchange; in the midst of thine own household, if thou canst not in the midst of the great family of man. From the hidden springs within let sweetly flowing rivulets of testimony flow forth, giving drink to every passer-by. Hide not thy talent; trade with it; and thou shalt bring in good interest to thy Lord and Master. To speak for God will be refreshing to ourselves, cheering to saints, useful to sinners, and honouring to the Saviour. Dumb children are an affliction to their parents. Lord, unloose all thy children's tongue.


Today's reading: Genesis 29-30, Matthew 9:1-17 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Jacob Arrives in Paddan Aram

1 Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples. 2 There he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. 3 When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well.

4 Jacob asked the shepherds, “My brothers, where are you from?”

“We’re from Harran,” they replied.

5 He said to them, “Do you know Laban, Nahor’s grandson?”

“Yes, we know him,” they answered.

6 Then Jacob asked them, “Is he well?”

“Yes, he is,” they said, “and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.”

7 “Look,” he said, “the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture.”

8 “We can’t,” they replied, “until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.”

9 While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherd. 10 When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of his uncle Laban, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud. 12 He had told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah. So she ran and told her father.

13 As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he hurried to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his home, and there Jacob told him all these things. 14 Then Laban said to him, “You are my own flesh and blood.”

Jacob Marries Leah and Rachel

After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, 15 Laban said to him, “Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be.”

16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. 18Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”

19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.

21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.”

22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. 24And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant.

25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”

26 Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.”

28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her attendant. 30 Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.

Jacob’s Children

31 When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”

33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon.

34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi.

35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.

Genesis 30

1 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”

2 Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?”

3 Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.”

4 So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her, 5 and she became pregnant and bore him a son. 6Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.” Because of this she named him Dan.

7 Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8 Then Rachel said, “I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won.” So she named him Naphtali.

9 When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 Then Leah said, “What good fortune!” So she named him Gad.

12 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13 Then Leah said, “How happy I am! The women will call me happy.” So she named him Asher.

14 During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”

15 But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?”

“Very well,” Rachel said, “he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.”

16 So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. “You must sleep with me,” she said. “I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he slept with her that night.

17 God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Then Leah said, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband.” So she named him Issachar.

19 Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. 20 Then Leah said, “God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun.

21 Some time later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.

22 Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. 23 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” 24She named him Joseph, and said, “May the LORD add to me another son.”

Jacob’s Flocks Increase

25 After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland. 26Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I’ve done for you.”

27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you.” 28 He added, “Name your wages, and I will pay them.”

29 Jacob said to him, “You know how I have worked for you and how your livestock has fared under my care. 30 The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I do something for my own household?”

31 “What shall I give you?” he asked.

“Don’t give me anything,” Jacob replied. “But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them: 32 Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages. 33 And my honesty will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me. Any goat in my possession that is not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is not dark-colored, will be considered stolen.”

34 “Agreed,” said Laban. “Let it be as you have said.” 35 That same day he removed all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats (all that had white on them) and all the dark-colored lambs, and he placed them in the care of his sons. 36 Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban’s flocks.

37 Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. 38 Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, 39 they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. 40Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban’s animals. 41 Whenever the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would place the branches in the troughs in front of the animals so they would mate near the branches, 42 but if the animals were weak, he would not place them there. So the weak animals went to Laban and the strong ones to Jacob. 43 In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.

Matthew 9

Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man

1 Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2 Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”

3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”

4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” 7 Then the man got up and went home.8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.

The Calling of Matthew

9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus Questioned About Fasting

14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”

15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.

16 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”


Zephaniah [Zĕpha nī'ah]—jehovah is darkness or god hides.

The Man of Moral Earnestness

1. A son of Cushi, who prophesied in the days of Josiah (Zeph. 1:1). The prophet Zephaniah gives us a most minute account of his genealogy—a rare thing for a prophet! Possibly he pursued this course for two reasons:

To distinguish himself from three others of the same name, mentioned below.

To point out his relation to the great monarch, Hezekiah. The Hizkiah of Zephaniah 1:1 is identical with King Hezekiah. Zephaniah was therefore of royal descent.

The prophecy of Zephaniah, ninth among the Minor Prophets, is one of reproof and judgment. George Adam Smith said of it, “No hotter book lies in all the Old Testament.” What a graphic picture of Judah’s spiritual pride this prophet of judgment paints! Worshippers of God were found sprawled on their housetops worshiping the moon and stars ( Zeph. 1:4, 5). The spirit of practical atheism had possessed the people (Zeph. 1:12), and their religious leaders had lost their moral seriousness ( Zeph. 3:4).

Zephaniah sees no way out of such departure from God but judgment, so he announces the day of the Lord, denounces idolaters, waverers and apostates and pronounces doom on wrongdoers (Zeph. 1:7, 8 ). Much that he predicted has been partially fulfilled, but ultimate fulfillment is still future.

The Lord is “in the midst” for judgment (Zeph. 1-3:8).

The Lord is “in the midst” for salvation (Zeph. 3:9-20).

The present value of the Book of Zephaniah must not be lost sight of. We have:

I. The revelation of social and moral conditions.

II. An earnest moral tone and deep sense of sin.

III. The disciplinary value of suffering ( Zeph. 3:7, 11, 13).

IV. The comforting doctrine of Providence.

V. Are we God’s Zephaniahs—His sheltered ones ( Ps. 17:8;27:5, 7)?

Other men with the name of Zephaniah are:

2. A Levite of the family of Kohath and of the house of Izhar, who is mentioned among the ancestors of Heman the singer ( 1 Chron. 6:36-38).

3. A priest, the son of Maaseiah, who ministered in Jerusalem in the reign of King Hezekiah and the prophet Jeremiah. This Zephaniah had the oversight of the Temple and was put to death at Riblah (2 Kings 25:18-30; Jer. 21:1; 29:25-29; 37:3;52:24-29).

4. The father of one Josiah who lived in the day of Zerubbabel and the prophet Zechariah, and into whose house in Jerusalem the messenger from the Jews went (Zech. 6:10-14).


January 12, 2012

Coming Out of the Dark

Part 2

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

Isaiah 45:3 "I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name."

Friend to Friend

Children are wonderfully different. When our son, Jered, was nine months old, he began to pull up on every piece of furniture he could find. For weeks, he maneuvered his way around our home until the day he took his first step alone. It was a step of inches, but we celebrated as if he had completed a marathon. On the other hand, our daughter, Danna, had a different plan. She never pulled up on a piece of furniture and never took "a" step. When she was ten months old, Danna stood up, looked around and trotted across the room. Jered and Danna both walk extremely well today as young adults, but they both began with tiny steps and in their own way.

Nobody gets depressed overnight and nobody overcomes depression overnight. The journey out of the pit is a process of steps uniquely planned by your Father. Let's look at some of the steps we must take in order to find our way out of the dark.

1. Wait. The psalmist simply says, "I waited." Waiting is not passive. Waiting is a time of preparation, a time of rest and healing, a time when God covers us with the shadow of His wing.

To wait means to accept the pit.

Isaiah 45:3 is a compelling verse, "I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name."

Any time the word, "LORD" is capitalized, it means "Father" or "Dearest Daddy." This verse indicates that our Father has gone before us and, in every dark moment or painful circumstance, has buried a treasure or stored a secret. The only way we can find the treasure or learn the secret is to pass through that darkness. Some things cannot be learned in the light. The pit of depression has become a hedge of protection in my life, a warning light that something is wrong or out of balance. To wait means to accept the pit, knowing it is for our good.

  • To wait means to admit there is a problem. Isaiah 40:29 "He gives power to the tired and worn out, and strength to the weak."

We must be willing to admit we are struggling, but pride often prevents us from doing so. Emotional health begins at the point of emotional integrity, being willing to say "I need help!" and being honest with ourselves and with others. When clinical depression first overwhelmed my life, my husband, Dan, was the pastor of a large, fast-growing church in South Florida. We could choose to be transparent and real or we could sweep my struggle under the rug. We concluded that to be right, we had to be real. Dan and I shared my battle with the staff, the deacons and then with the entire church. Yes, we took a risk but learned an important lesson in doing so. A shared load is a lighter load because we were created to need each other.

  • To wait means to be still. "I waited." To wait means to hope in and look for someone or something who will rescue us.

So much about God can never be known on the run. We can get so wrapped up in everyday life that we fail to be wrapped up in Him. The busier we are, the more stillness and rest we need. During those two years in the pit, I not only gave up every role of leadership in church, I could not even attend church at times because of panic attacks. The Father taught me an important truth. He is more concerned with who I am than what I do.

2. Cry out for help. Psalm 40:1 "I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry."

People struggling with depression often look for help in the wrong places. Let me share with you some of the right places.

  • God. Your Father stands waiting to hear your voice; and when you cry out to Him, He comes running - through His Word, through prayer and through His people. There was a terrible storm and the little girl was afraid. When she cried out in fear, her father came running down the hall, into the bedroom and scooped her up in his arms as he said, "Honey, God will take care of you." The tearful child replied, "I know God loves me and will take care of me but right now, I need somebody with skin on." If you cry out to God, He will come to you in some way.
  • Doctors and counselors. Proverbs 15:22 gives us an important truth when it says, "Plans go wrong with too few counselors; many counselors bring success." I encourage anyone experiencing depression to get a physical because depression is often rooted in a physical problem, requiring medication. The medication does not eliminate the depression but simply levels the playing field so whatever is triggering the depression can be addressed. Christian counselors are a gift from God. He knew we would need them.
  • Others. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 instructs us to "encourage each other and give each other strength." I would never have survived the pit of clinical depression without the help and encouragement of family and friends. Members of our church brought meals, cleaned house and helped take care of our kids. The deacons were guardian angels at church and other women took my place in leadership. I would still be in that pit if it were not for these people who helped rescue me. Has it affected their opinion of me? Yes! It has shown them that I am just like them and has given them permission to face their own weaknesses. You may be thinking, "I have no one in my life that will help me." If you cry out to God, He will bring you help.

3. Count on God to come through. One of the promises I clung to while sitting in the darkness of depression was Psalm 107:13-14. "Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains." The Psalmist promises that when you cry out to God, He will:

  • "lift you up out of the slimy pit"
  • "set your feet on a rock"
  • "give you a new place to stand"
  • "put a new song in your heart"
  • "use your pit so that others will "see and trust God".

God is drawn to broken people. Psalm 40:1 says "He turned to me." Notice it does not say David turned to God. Honestly, I doubt David had the strength to turn to God - so God turned to him. God heard the cry of David, and He will hear yours. I was angry at God but He never turned away from me. Instead, He surrounded me with His love and compassion and as Psalm 56:8 promises, He knew every tear I cried. "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." You can count on God to come through.

4. Be patient. "I waited patiently for the Lord." The word "patiently" means "without tiring and with perseverance." To come out of the darkness takes time and requires patience. It took me many years to hit rock bottom. It took me two years to climb out of that pit and I am still climbing. Yes, I still battle depression from time to time. I have asked God to deliver me, but He has said "no." Do you know what my name, Mary, means -- bitter, but when broken, sweet. Depression keeps me broken and anything that makes me cry out to God can be counted as a blessing. When we come to the end of ourselves, God begins.

The story is told of a little boy who was walking home when he spotted a caterpillar struggling to get out of its cocoon. Feeling sorry for the helpless creature, the little boy ran home, grabbed a pair of scissors and ran back to cut the caterpillar free. He watched it spread its wings and try to fly, only to discover that it couldn't. It is in the struggle out of the darkness of the cocoon that the butterfly's wings gain enough strength to fly. Be patient. I don't know if you are in a pit and need help or if someone you love is in that pit and you need to help them. One thing I do know is that the purpose of the pit is to purify then restore. Right now, surrender the broken pieces of your life to God and watch as he brings you out of the dark. Do not quit! Do not give up! God is at work in your life.

Philippians 1:6 "And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns."

Let's Pray

Father God, my heart is filled with chaos and confusion. I feel as if I am drowning in my circumstances, my heart filled with fear and confusion. I need the strength and peace that only You can give. Right now, I choose to rest in You.

In Jesus' name,


Now It's Your Turn

Read Philippians 4:7 (NIV) "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Make a list of the dark places in your life today. Surrender each one to God. Ask Him to bring light into your heart and mind and help you walk in His peace. Now, walk in that peace today. When the waves of darkness come, remember each one now belongs to your Father.

More from the Girlfriends

Can you believe 2012 is here, like a clean slate filled with new beginnings and fresh starts? However, what did we learn in 2011 that will make a difference in 2012? As the holiday season winds down, I pray your heart and mind will look ahead to all that this year holds. Guard your heart and mind against darkness. Stand firm in God's power and presence. He is faithful and He is sufficient for whatever tomorrow brings.

Need help getting the Word of God into your life? Check out Mary's Weekly Online Bible Study, Light for the Journey to learn how to face, deal with and surrender your fears to God. This new study, When I Am Afraid, begins January 16.

And be sure to get your copy of our new 12-week devotion book, Trusting God.

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Lysa TerKeurst

January 12, 2012

Why Shouldn't I Indulge
Lysa TerKeurst

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Psalm 139:14a (NIV)

God made you wonderful. Psalm 139 says so. You are beautiful and loved just the way you are, whether you're a size zero or a size thirty. But, if your size is a struggle or a place of defeat, God loves you so much He doesn't want you to stay there.

There was a time when I felt utterly defeated in the area of food and health. I knew I needed to make changes, but not because of the number on the scale or my clothing size. I knew it because of the battle that raged in my heart. I craved, I desired, I thought about, and arranged my life around food.

Yet I was a Bible teacher, a woman who loved Jesus. Why couldn't I figure this out? I had found victory in so many areas of my life, but this area alluded me. I constantly asked, "Why shouldn't I indulge?"

One day, I looked up the definition of the word indulge, which means to act in an unrestrained way. For me it was unrestrained eating. You see, eating in its proper context is not the problem. God gave us food for nourishment, strength and even celebration. The problem comes when pleasure is unrestrained.

I had to get honest enough to admit that I relied on food more than I relied on God. I craved food more than I craved God. Chocolate was my comfort and deliverer. Cookies were my reward. Salty chips were my joy. Food was what I turned to in times of stress and sadness Ö even in times of happiness.

I knew it was something God was challenging me to surrender to His control. Really surrender. Surrender to the point where I'd make radical changes for the sake of my spiritual healthóperhaps even more than my physical health.

Part of my surrender was asking myself a really raw question. May I ask you this same question?

Is it possible we love and rely on food more that we love and rely on God?

Now before you turn your computer off, hear me out. This question is crucial.

We have to see the purpose of our struggle with food as something more than getting to wear smaller sizes and receive compliments. Shallow desires produce shallow efforts. These good things are nice, but not as appealing in the moment as a cinnamon roll, or those chips, or that brownie.

The process of getting healthy has to be about more than just losing weight and focusing on ourselves. It's not about adjusting our diets and hoping for good physical results. It's about recalibrating our souls so that we want to change for the right reasons: because we are fearfully and wonderfully made by God. And created to live in victory, not in defeat.

I discovered that pursuing a healthy eating plan for these very reasons was one of the most significant spiritual journeys I'd ever dared to take with God. Today, I invite you to journey with me.

Dear Lord, if I'm being honest with myself and You, I know sometimes I rely on food more than I rely on You. I want to recalibrate my soul and change for the right reasons. I want to see You in and through this entire process. Please be with me, Lord, each day. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Related Resources:
If this devotion resonated with you, Lysa's book Made to Crave is just what you've needed. Click here to order your copy! This book can be a group Bible study by using these life-changing resources: Made to Crave Participant's Guide and Made to Crave DVD teaching series, also by Lysa.

Join a community of women who are doing a FREE Made to Crave online study led by Melissa Taylor. For more information, click here.

Visit Lysa's blog for a chance to win her book Made to Crave and her new 60 day Made to Crave Devotionsbook.

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Application Steps:
There are many times when we feel utterly defeated in the area of food and health. What little changes can you begin to make starting today?

The process of getting healthy has to be about more than just losing weight and focusing on myself. It's not about adjusting my diet and hoping for good physical results. It's about recalibrating my soul so that I want to change for the right reasons.

Power Verses:
Ephesians 1:18-19, "I pray that the eyes of your heart my be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe." (NIV)

© 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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



John Cries in the Wilderness

Matthew 3:1-3

John the Baptist was the primary herald of Christ in his day, but the task of bearing witness to the Savior was not laid solely upon him. Jesus Himself commissioned first the apostles, and secondly, the entire church to testify to the grace of God manifest in His life, death, and resurrection. Our witness will only be effective if, as with John, the surrounding culture sees that the church is different. Is your manner of life different than that of an unbeliever's?

For further study:

Deut. 30:1-10

The Bible in a year:

Genesis 41

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.




A cure for care

‘Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.’ 1 Peter 5:7

Suggested Further Reading: Jonah 4:6–11

Believe in a universal providence; the Lord cares for ants and angels, for worms and for worlds; he cares for cherubim and for sparrows, for seraphim and for insects. Cast your care on him, he that calls the stars by their names, and leads them out by numbers, by their hosts. ‘Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and thinkest O Israel, my way is passed over from God and he has utterly forgotten me?’ Let his universal providence cheer you. Think next of his particular providence over all the saints. ‘Precious shall their blood be in his sight.’ ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.’ ‘We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.’ While he is the Saviour of all men, he is specially the Saviour of them that believe. Let that cheer and comfort you, that special providence which watches over the chosen. ‘The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him.’ And then, let the thought of his special love to you be the very essence of your comfort. ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.’ God says that as much to you, as he said it to any saint of old. ‘Fear not, I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.’ O I would beloved, that the Holy Spirit would make you feel the promise as being spoken to you ; out of this vast assembly forget the rest and only think of yourself, for the promises are unto you, meant for you. O grasp them. It is ill to get into a way of reading Scripture for the whole church, read it for yourselves, and specially hear the Master say to you, ‘Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.’

For meditation: While we should not be so preoccupied with ourselves that we are unable to see the wood for the trees, there is also the danger of neglect or ingratitude resulting from a failure to see the trees for the wood. ‘They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.’ ( Song of Solomon 1:6). Never forget how personal the Saviour is—‘who loved me, and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20).

Sermon no. 428
12 January (1862)


Buy the book this devotional is from!

365 Days with C.H. Spurgeon, Vol. 2: A unique collection of 365 daily readings from sermons preached by Charles Haddon Spurgeon from his Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit! Edited by Terence Peter Crosby


The bed and its covering

“For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than he can wrap himself in it.”Isaiah 28:20

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 4:3-10

What a glorious thing, it is to be a Christian, to have faith in Christ. Come my soul, take thy rest, the great High Priest has full atonement made. Thou hast much good laid up, not for many years, but for eternity; take thine ease; eat spiritual things; drink wine on the lees and be merry; for it cannot be said of thee, “tomorrow thou shalt die,” for thou shalt never die, for “thy life is hid with Christ in God.” Thou art no fool to take thy ease and rest, for this is legitimate ease and rest, the rest which the God of Sabaoth hath provided for all his people. And then, O Christian! march boldly to the river of death, march calmly up to the throne of judgment, enter placidly and joyfully into the inheritance of thy Lord, for thou hast about thee an armour that can keep thee from the arrows of death, a wedding garment that makes thee fit to sit down at the banquet of the Lord. Thou hast about thee a royal robe that makes thee a fit companion even for Jesus, the King of kings, when he shall admit thee into his secret chambers, and permit thee to hold holy and close fellowship with him. I cannot resist quoting that verse of the hymn:

“With his spotless vesture on,
Holy as the Holy One.”

That is the sum and substance of it all. And on this bed let us take our rest, and during this week let us make Christ’s work our only garment, and we shall find it long enough, and broad enough, for us to wrap ourselves up in it.

For meditation: The Christian’s sufficiency is not his own but comes from God (2 Corinthians 3:5).

Sermon no. 244
12 January (Preached 9 January 1859)


Buy the book this devotional is from!

365 Days with C.H. Spurgeon, Vol. 1: A unique collection of 365 daily readings from sermons preached by Charles Haddon Spurgeon from his New Park Street Pulpit! Edited by Terence Peter Crosby.



John Cries in the Wilderness

Matthew 3:1-3 "This is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight'" ( v. 3).

Following Christ's move to Galilee, Matthew does not give any further details of Jesus' childhood. Instead, he picks up the story of his gospel three decades after Jesus returns from Egypt, as we learn elsewhere that He is about thirty when He begins His ministry (Luke 3:23). The events of Matthew 3 take place around a.d. 27, and Joseph has probably already passed on, as none of the other gospels mention him during Jesus' adult life. In all likelihood, Joseph has been gone for awhile, with the responsibility to support the family resting on Jesus and His brothers, that is, until His itinerant preaching begins.

Today's passage depicts John the Baptist's ministry in the "wilderness of Judea" (v. 1), a region covering the Jordan valley just north and west of the Dead Sea. His message is well-received by the Jews in Palestine, and crowds from all of Judea receive his baptism ( vv. 5-6). Importantly, in John's day the voice of prophecy has been silent for 400 years according to various extra-canonical writings. When John ministers in the wilderness wearing camel's hair, the people associate him with Elijah, who acted similarly (1 Kings 19; 2 Kings 1:7-8), and consider John a prophet ( Matt. 21:23-27). Through John the people realize that God is speaking to them again.

In 3:3, Matthew again says prophecy is fulfilled at the coming of Jesus and cites Isaiah 40:3. The meaning of this passage for Isaiah's original audience shows us how John fulfills it.Isaiah 40 is about the restoration promised to the exiled Israelites after they repent. A highway for God will be built, and the people will travel back to their land in glory (v. 3). The exiles longed for this day, but the promise of glory did not occur when they returned to Palestine, for the nation as a whole did not repent. In a real sense, life in exile away from the Lord's blessing continued even though many of the people had returned. John is the ultimate realization of Isaiah 40:3 because he sets the stage for the Lord's favor to come to the exiles. Jesus is the way through which God's blessing comes to His people (John 14:6), and in heralding His coming, John is the road that leads the nation to blessing and thus to God in Christ.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

John the Baptist was the primary herald of Christ in his day, but the task of bearing witness to the Savior was not laid solely upon him. Jesus Himself commissioned first the apostles, and secondly, the entire church to testify to the grace of God manifest in His life, death, and resurrection. Our witness will only be effective if, as with John, the surrounding culture sees that the church is different. Is your manner of life different than that of an unbeliever's?

For further study:

Deut. 30:1-10

The Bible in a year:

Genesis 41

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.



Life's "Do-Overs"

This week's reading: Joel 2:12-27

Recommended Reading: Psalm 32:1-11; Ezekiel 33:10-16; Acts 2:37-39

To kids on a playground, the concept of a "do-over" is well known. When they're playing kickball and the ball gets stuck in a tree, or when they're playing basketball and the ball sticks between the backboard and the rim, a chorus of "do over" spontaneously erupts. It's an unspoken rule that every kid knows.

Sometimes as adults we wish we could resurrect the rule in our own lives. When we miss a bill payment, we long to be able to appeal to the utility company for a "do-over." When we speak a thoughtless word that hurts another person, we wish for the same.

Through the prophet Joel God tells the Israelites they can have a "do-over." If they'll repent God will return what he has taken away in punishment. Apparently a plague of locusts has destroyed the nation's crops, and God promises to give the people abundant harvests once again.

So how can we make the reality of the "do-over" active in our life once again? Truth be told, this concept usually doesn't work in our adult lives and relationships without a good deal of work and humility on our part. We bear the consequences of our mistakes until regret grows and we ask for forgiveness. That's when grace can intervene, and the person we've harmed can forgive. The same is true in our relationship with God. If we understand that sin has kept us from realizing our potential, we need to do the same as the Israelites: repent. In this case, we don't really achieve the "do-over" ourselves; instead, we receive it from God. We simply turn to God with our confession.

Many men find confession especially difficult because it cuts at our dignity and self-worth. When we confess we admit our mistakes and failures. We assume that these admissions don't make us look very good. However, God loves to see us confess and repent of our sin, because in doing so we show that we desire to turn to him. When we're "man enough" to confess our wrongs, God can choose to pour out his blessings for the next phase of our lives.

To Take Away

  • What areas of your life feel so damaged by sin that they require a fresh start?
  • What do you hope your life will amount to? How does that mesh with God's plan for your life?
  • Do you trust God enough to confess your mistakes and failures to him? Why or why not? How can you gain this kind of trust in God?



New Men's Devotional BibleToday's reading is from the
New Men's Devotional Bible
by Zondervan

The New Men's Devotional Biblehelps apply God's Word to a new generation of Christian men. It includes a full year of all-new devotions by well-known and not-so-well-known men of God.


Did People Witness to the Fact That Jesus Was God?

Today's reading: Acts 5:29-32

Though some critics have called Jesus merely a prophet or a good man, many people were witnesses of his divine identity. In Acts 5:31 Peter declared that Jesus is "Prince and Savior" and that he is seated at God's right hand and able to forgive the sins of the very people who had crucified him. Peter clearly believed that Jesus is God. In Matthew 16:15-16, Jesus asked Peter about this very issue: "Who do you say I am?" and Peter replied, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." And the disciple Thomas, coming face to face with the resurrected Jesus, confessed, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28).

Even Gentiles proclaimed Jesus' divinity. When Jesus died, the sky grew dark and the earth shook. Seeing all this happen, the Roman centurion and soldiers who carried out the crucifixion exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!" (Matthew 27:54).

In Mark 2:1-12 (see also Matthew 9:1-8; Luke 5:17-26), Jesus not only forgave a paralyzed man's sins but also proved his authority to forgive by curing the man of his paralysis. Jesus ministered to this man publicly, in front of many witnesses and in full view of the hostile Pharisees. Although the Pharisees rejected Jesus' claim despite the evidence, those whose spiritual eyes were opened believed there was no room for doubt: Jesus was (and is) the Son of God.



Today's reading is from the
The Case for Christ Study Bible
by Zondervan

Investigate the Bible's most compelling claims: the existence of a compassionate God and the promise of eternal life through His Son, Jesus.

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