Friday, January 27, 2012

Daily Devotional Friday 27th January

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:10 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Your heavenly Father."
Matthew 6:26

God's people are doubly his children, they are his offspring by creation, and they are his sons by adoption in Christ. Hence they are privileged to call him, "Our Father which art in heaven." Father! Oh, what precious word is that. Here is authority: "If I be a Father, where is mine honour?" If ye be sons, where is your obedience? Here is affection mingled with authority; an authority which does not provoke rebellion; an obedience demanded which is most cheerfully rendered--which would not be withheld even if it might. The obedience which God's children yield to him must be loving obedience. Do not go about the service of God as slaves to their taskmaster's toil, but run in the way of his commands because it is your Father's way. Yield your bodies as instruments of righteousness, because righteousness is your Father's will, and his will should be the will of his child. Father!--Here is a kingly attribute so sweetly veiled in love, that the King's crown is forgotten in the King's face, and his sceptre becomes, not a rod of iron, but a silver sceptre of mercy--the sceptre indeed seems to be forgotten in the tender hand of him who wields it. Father!--Here is honour and love. How great is a Father's love to his children! That which friendship cannot do, and mere benevolence will not attempt, a father's heart and hand must do for his sons. They are his offspring, he must bless them; they are his children, he must show himself strong in their defence. If an earthly father watches over his children with unceasing love and care, how much more does our heavenly Father? Abba, Father! He who can say this, hath uttered better music than cherubim or seraphim can reach. There is heaven in the depth of that word--Father! There is all I can ask; all my necessities can demand; all my wishes can desire. I have all in all to all eternity when I can say, "Father."

Evening

"All they that heard it wondered at those things."
Luke 2:18

We must not cease to wonder at the great marvels of our God. It would be very difficult to draw a line between holy wonder and real worship; for when the soul is overwhelmed with the majesty of God's glory, though it may not express itself in song, or even utter its voice with bowed head in humble prayer, yet it silently adores. Our incarnate God is to be worshipped as "the Wonderful." That God should consider his fallen creature, man, and instead of sweeping him away with the besom of destruction, should himself undertake to be man's Redeemer, and to pay his ransom price, is, indeed marvellous! But to each believer redemption is most marvellous as he views it in relation to himself. It is a miracle of grace indeed, that Jesus should forsake the thrones and royalties above, to suffer ignominiously below for you. Let your soul lose itself in wonder, for wonder is in this way a very practical emotion. Holy wonder will lead you to grateful worship and heartfelt thanksgiving. It will cause within you godly watchfulness; you will be afraid to sin against such a love as this. Feeling the presence of the mighty God in the gift of his dear Son, you will put off your shoes from off your feet, because the place whereon you stand is holy ground. You will be moved at the same time to glorious hope. If Jesus has done such marvellous things on your behalf, you will feel that heaven itself is not too great for your expectation. Who can be astonished at anything, when he has once been astonished at the manger and the cross? What is there wonderful left after one has seen the Saviour? Dear reader, it may be that from the quietness and solitariness of your life, you are scarcely able to imitate the shepherds of Bethlehem, who told what they had seen and heard, but you can, at least, fill up the circle of the worshippers before the throne, by wondering at what God has done.

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Today's reading: Exodus 14-15, Matthew 17 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

1 Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. 3 Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” So the Israelites did this.

5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!” 6 So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. 7 He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them. 8 The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly. 9 The Egyptians—all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops—pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon.

10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

15 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 17 I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”

19 Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

23 The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. 24During the last watch of the night the LORD looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. 25 He jammed the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The LORD is fighting for them against Egypt.”

26 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” 27 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the LORD swept them into the sea. 28 The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.

29 But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 30 That day the LORD saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31 And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

Exodus 15

The Song of Moses and Miriam

1 Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD:

“I will sing to the LORD,
for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
he has hurled into the sea.

2 “The LORD is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
3 The LORD is a warrior;
the LORD is his name.
4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his army
he has hurled into the sea.
The best of Pharaoh’s officers
are drowned in the Red Sea.
5 The deep waters have covered them;
they sank to the depths like a stone.
6 Your right hand, LORD,
was majestic in power.
Your right hand, LORD,
shattered the enemy.

7 “In the greatness of your majesty
you threw down those who opposed you.
You unleashed your burning anger;
it consumed them like stubble.
8 By the blast of your nostrils
the waters piled up.
The surging waters stood up like a wall;
the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea.
9 The enemy boasted,
‘I will pursue, I will overtake them.
I will divide the spoils;
I will gorge myself on them.
I will draw my sword
and my hand will destroy them.’
10 But you blew with your breath,
and the sea covered them.
They sank like lead
in the mighty waters.
11 Who among the gods
is like you, LORD?
Who is like you—
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
working wonders?

12 “You stretch out your right hand,
and the earth swallows your enemies.
13 In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
to your holy dwelling.
14 The nations will hear and tremble;
anguish will grip the people of Philistia.
15 The chiefs of Edom will be terrified,
the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling,
the people of Canaan will melt away;
16 terror and dread will fall on them.
By the power of your arm
they will be as still as a stone—
until your people pass by, LORD,
until the people you bought pass by.
17 You will bring them in and plant them
on the mountain of your inheritance—
the place, LORD, you made for your dwelling,
the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established.

18 “The LORD reigns
for ever and ever.”

19 When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the LORD brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground.20 Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. 21 Miriam sang to them:

“Sing to the LORD,
for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
he has hurled into the sea.”

The Waters of Marah and Elim

22 Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) 24 So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”

25 Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink.

There the LORD issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. 26 He said, “If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.”

27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.


Matthew 17

The Transfiguration

1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

10 The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”

11 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.

Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Boy

14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” [21]

Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time

22 When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.

The Temple Tax

24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”

25 “Yes, he does,” he replied.

When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”

26 “From others,” Peter answered.

“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

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Amos [Ā'mos]—burden-bearer or one with a burden.

1. This prophet of “judgment,”; which is the key word of the book he wrote, was a citizen of Tekoa, west of the Dead Sea (Amos 1:1; 7:8-16; 8:2).

The Man Who Was a Dresser of Sycamore Trees

Although he was one of the oldest of the prophets, we know little about Amos save what he himself tells us. He does not appear to have belonged to any rank or influence. The opposite is the case, seeing he styles himself a herdsman (Amos 7:14 ). He was no “professional prophet, speaking for a living.” Amos did not belong to the order of the prophets, nor had he been educated in the school of the prophets. The prophetic office was thrust upon him (Amos 7:14, 15). When the call came he exchanged the life of a shepherd and cultivator of sycamore trees for that of a prophet.

The desert life of Amos exercised great formative influences upon him. With time to think and pray, he was qualified to form clear judgments. The art of the seer is not cultivated in crowds.

Contemporary with Hosea, Amos prophesied in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah and in the time of Jeroboam. Most of the prophets confined their message in the main to Israel, but to Amos, Israel was only one of the nations. He took in a whole range of various nationalities and indicted them for their sins and proclaimed the judgment of God alike upon nations and individuals.

Amos pronounced judgment upon the oppression of the poor, commercial dishonesty, selfish indulgence and idolatrous worship, and was the first prophet to predict the captivity of Israel, and to announce God’s rejection of His chosen people. The great lessons of the Book of Amos are:

I. Sin is sin in all its blackness, against the bright background of God’s grace.

II. Mere ritual is not pleasing to God. The very worship of Israel was sin ( Amos 4:4, 5; 5:21-24). Israel thought of God as a vain monarch, pleased with gifts and empty phrases. Amos had nothing but utter contempt for forms of religion that did not disturb one’s conscience or change one’s life.

III. The greatest perils, both of nations and men, lie not in poverty, but in prosperity.

IV. God’s dealings with men are for their discipline, not their doom. Discipline, however, if unheeded, only hastens doom and determines destiny. Thus Amos is rightly called “the prophet of divine law.”

2. An ancestor of Joseph, husband of Mary, our Lord’s mother (Luke 3:25).

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A secret and yet no secret

‘A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.’ ‘A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.’ Song of Solomon 4:12, 15

Suggested Further Reading: Philippians 2:12–16

The believer has three principles, the body, the soul, and the indwelling spirit, which is none other than the Holy Spirit of God abiding in the faithful continually. Just such a relationship as the soul bears to the body does the spirit bear to the soul; for as the body without the soul is dead, so the soul without the spirit is dead in trespasses and sins; as the body without the soul is dead naturally, so the soul without the spirit is dead spiritually. And, contrary to the general teaching of modern theologians, we do insist upon it that the Spirit of God not only renovates the faculties which were there already, but does actually implant a new principle—that he does not merely set to rights a machinery which had before gone awry, but implants a new life which could not have been there. It is not a waking up of dormant faculties—it is the infusion of a supernatural spirit to which the natural heart is an utter stranger. Now, we think the first verse, to a great extent, sets forth the secret and mysterious work of the Holy Spirit in the creation of the new man in the soul. Into this secret no eye of man can look. The inner life in the Christian may well be compared to an enclosed garden—to a spring shut up—to a fountain sealed. But the second verse sets forth the manifest effects of grace, for no sooner is that life given than it begins to show itself. No sooner is the mystery of righteousness in the heart, than, like the mystery of iniquity, it ‘doth already work.’ It cannot lie still; it cannot be idle; it must not rest; but, as God is ever active, so this God-like principle is active too; thus you have a picture of the outer life, proceeding from the inner.

For meditation: Whenever God does a work on the inside, it will result in works on the outside. Otherwise the obvious conclusion is that it is not a work of God in the first place. ‘As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.’ (James 2:26 ) Saving faith is a secret and yet no secret.

Sermon no. 431
26 January (1862)

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January 26, 2012

Just Give Up!

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2, NIV).

Friend to Friend

I will never forget the day I discovered that our son is not perfect. In fact, I came to the horrifying realization that he is a sinner - just like his mother. Jered was about six months old and crawling everywhere. I had just returned from running errands and was busy putting groceries away in the kitchen, which had a pass-through opening that enabled me to keep an eye on Jered while I worked. He seemed content as he played with his toys, occasionally taking a break to terrorize our two cats.

When Jered first began to crawl, we removed anything that could hurt him, most of our breakables and everything of sentimental value. We had, however, left a beautiful conch seashell on the living room coffee table and used it to begin the arduous but vital task of teaching Jered the meaning of "no." We would repeatedly point to the shell, touch it and say, "No, no!" Of course, he was a brilliant child, but I was not sure if he had really grasped the whole concept - until that momentous day.

With the last of the groceries put away, I dumped a bag of potatoes into the kitchen sink and began peeling them for dinner. Glancing up, I saw Jered staring at the alluring shell, a mischievous grin of anticipation on his face. He suddenly launched into a fast crawl straight toward the forbidden shell. I winced as I pictured what he could do to that shell and what the sharp-edged shell could do to his small, tender hands. I called out in a firm but confident voice, "Jered, do not touch that shell!" Immediately, in mid-crawl, he stopped, sat up and looked back at me while seeming to consider his options and weigh the consequences. As I repeated the warning, he joyfully clapped his hands, flashing me his most adorable smile. What a great kid! He's got it! I started around the corner to give him a hug and praise him for his obedience when he took off like a shot, crawling as fast as his chubby little hands and knees would carry him. Reaching the coffee table, Jered grabbed the shell and plopped it in his lap like a hard-earned trophy. I gasped in disbelief as his face reflected total triumph. He knew exactly what he was doing, and he was not one bit sorry! My perfect little boy had a rebellious streak -- just like his mother.

Each and every one of us was born with a nature that loves to rebel and feed a natural "bent" toward selfish, wrong choices. However, when we come to Christ, we receive a new nature that naturally desires to obey God. The result is internal civil war. The Apostle Paul struggled with sin just like we do today. In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul describes his frustration with his own sin: "I don't understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate" (Romans 7:15, NLT). Sound familiar? I will never forget the first time I read those ardent words written by this zealous man of God. I was so relieved! It sometimes seems as if I am the only believer engaged in major battles with sin. Paul's words, however, assure me that I am not in this battle alone. Neither are you, girlfriend. The reality is that as long as we live in this broken and fallen world, our sinful nature and our God nature will constantly be at war.

How do we win that war? The solution is very simple, but very expensive. In fact, it will cost us everything, beginning with the total control of our lives. To win this war between the old and new nature, we must constantly surrender to God, allowing Him to guide, direct and empower us to live for Him. I love how one man described his own war against sin. "It is like there are two dogs fighting within me, an old dog and a new dog. The one who will win is the one I feed the most."

While the old nature is fed by the world and encouraged to enjoy the sin it so freely offers, God lovingly urges us to strengthen the new nature He has given us by reading, studying and applying the Bible, by praying and spending time with other believers and by serving Him. Certain victory is ours when we constantly choose against the old nature while surrendering to the power of the Holy Spirit. Join me in giving up! Victory is on the way!

Let's Pray

Lord, I want to please You and obey You. So many times, I make the wrong choice and give in to the sin that constantly draws me. Today, I choose against that sin and give myself to You. Thank You for the power of Your Word and for the precious gift of prayer, through which I find the strength to stand firm.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the sin in your life that you have refused to face. Write that sin down, confess it and ask God to forgive you. Now destroy the paper on which you wrote the sin and thank God for His forgiving power. Consider the following questions and write your responses in your journal.

What is the most powerful sin in my life?

How does this sin influence my relationships, behavior, attitudes, etc?

What is the first step I need to take to rid my life of this sin?

What specific actions can I take to strengthen the choice I have made to turn from this sin?

Read, memorize and record the following verses in your journal.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 "But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one" (NIV).

Isaiah 41:10 "Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand" (NLT).

More from the Girlfriends

Be sure to check out the FREE MP3s on Mary's website.

Need help dealing with the sin and temptation you encounter in your life? Get Mary's E-Bible Study, Winning the War With Temptation for practical and powerful steps you can take to live a life of victory. .

Need help getting the Word of God into your life? Check out Mary's Weekly Online Bible Study, When I Am Afraid, to learn how to face, deal with and surrender your fears to God.

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The Last Adam

Matthew 4:1

Matthew Henry captures the significance of the temptation of Jesus, commenting on today's passage that "the offspring of the woman suffers, being tempted, and so has his heel bruised, but the serpent is quite baffled in his temptations, and so has his head crushed." Though we look to our Lord as a model for overcoming temptation, let us remember it is His success, not ours, that enables us to stand before God. Worship Him for this amazing grace!

For further study:

Genesis 3

The Bible in a year:

Exodus 26-28

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

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Lysa TerKeurst

January 26, 2012

Easy Isn't the New Good
Lysa TerKeurst

"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8 (NIV 1984)

It's good to invest wisely in my relationships. It's easy to simply coast.

It's good to go the speed limit. It's easy to speed a little.

It's good to make a healthy choice. It's easy to grab junk.

It's good to read my Bible. It's easy to check my phone for texts and emails first.

It's good to think about others. It's easy to think about myself.

Several years ago I had a friend who decided to leave her husband for another man. Things were easier with this other man. The feelings were giddy. The fights were few. And they didn't have years of issues that needed to be dealt with.

So she went with what felt easy over what was good. She divorced. She remarried. She started over with what seemed so much easier.

After all, she'd been slipping into the pattern of easy for years. When we set our heart on the pattern of choosing easy over good in the little things, we run the risk of using the same justifications with the bigger things.

I'm not saying if I don't read my Bible today, I'm headed for divorce court tomorrow. But setting a pattern of choosing easy over good in my life is a slippery slope.

Easy isn't the new good.

Just because the world waves a big banner that we deserve easy... do what feels easy... why stress yourself when there's an easier way... doesn't mean it's good.

Eventually, my friend didn't feel like her new man was so easy. The feelings weren't so giddy. The fights were many. And over the years they too developed a whole host of issues.

One day she came home and her second husband was gone. He found it easy to leave.

Like the old cliché says, "Easy come, easy go."

I think about this and I'm challenged. Where are little compromises sneaking into my life? Where am I establishing a pattern of choosing what is easy over what is good? And does it really matter?

I think it does.

"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)

I so desire this "good" way. To treat others fairly. To love those in my life faithfully. And to live the way God wants me to live- choosing good over easy.

Dear Lord, please help me to see today the times where I may choose the easy way over the good way. My desire is to please You in all that I do. Help me to establish healthy patterns of living according to Your purpose. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
If you are looking for a book to help you really get to know God in a deep and personal way, Lysa's Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl would make the perfect resource for your personal or group Bible Study this year!

To learn more about the book or her DVD teaching series and accompanying Bible Study workbook, click here.

If you enjoy Lysa's devotions, be sure to sign up for notes of encouragement she sends out from her blog by clicking here. They are free and great for passing along to friends.

Come see the downloadable Freebies on Lysa's website! Encouraging articles for lots of situations to print and share with a friend! www.LysaTerKeurst.com

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We wish we could, but we simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you!

Reflect and Respond:
Just because the world waves a big banner that we deserve easy... do what feels easy... why stress yourself when there's an easier way... doesn't mean it's good.

Where are little compromises sneaking into my life? Where am I establishing a pattern of choosing what is easy over what is good? And does it really matter?

Power Verses:
Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for good of those who loves him, who have been called according to his purpose." (NIV)

Philippians 2:13, "For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." (NIV 1984)

© 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

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Marvellous increase of the church

“Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?” Isaiah 60:8

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 10:5-16

They were not doves by nature; they were ravens; but they are doves now. They are changed from ravens into doves, from lions into lambs. Beloved, it is very easy for you to pretend to be the children of God; but it is not easy for you to be so. The old fable of the jackdaw dressed up in peacock’s feathers often takes place now. Many a time have we seen coming to our church, a fine strutting fellow, with long feathers of prayer behind him. He could pray gloriously; and he has come strutting in, with all his majesty and pride, and said, “Surely I must come; I have everything about me; am I not rich and polite: have I not learning and talent?” In a very little while we have found him to be nothing but an old prattling jackdaw, having none of the true feathers belonging to him; by some accident one of his borrowed feathers has dropped out, and we have found him to be a hypocrite. I beseech you, do not be hypocrites. The glory of the gospel is not that it paints ravens white, and whitewashes blackbirds, but that it turns them into doves. It is the glory of our religion not that it makes a man seem what he is not, but that it makes him something else. It takes the raven and turns him into a dove; his ravenish heart becomes a dove’s heart. It is not the feathers that are changed, but the man himself. Glorious gospel, which takes a lion, and does not cut the lion’s mane off, and then cover him with a sheep’s skin, but makes him into a lamb! O church of God! these that have come like doves to their windows are trophies of regenerating grace, which has transformed them, and made them as new creatures in Christ Jesus.

For meditation: We should expect to be among wolves in the world, but beware of them when they are in the church, undetected and unconverted (Matthew 7:15).

Sermon no. 63
26 January (Preached 27 January 1856)

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Ministry in Galilee

Matthew 4:12-17 "From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand'" (v. 17).

Upon hearing of John the Baptist's arrest, Jesus returns to minister in Galilee (Matt. 4:12). It is important to note that this is a "new phase" of ministry, for our Savior does not enter Galilee immediately after His baptism. According to John's gospel, Jesus has already spent time ministering in Jerusalem and Judea after His baptism (1:29-42). In fact, the ministry of our Lord and His forerunner actually overlap (3:22-24), if only for a brief period.

When Jesus comes to Galilee, He settles in a small village on the northwest edge of the Sea of Galilee named Capernaum (Matt. 4:13). Matthew tells us this fulfills biblical prophecy, specifically the words of Isaiah 9:1-2, which the evangelist paraphrases in Matthew 4:15-16. The original setting of Isaiah's text helps us understand how Christ fulfills this passage. Isaiah predicted that God would use the Assyrian empire as His rod to judge the northern kingdom of Israel ( chap. 7-8), and as was foretold, Israel fell and the people were exiled over a period of many decades culminating in 722 b.c. (2 Kings 15:29; 17:7-23).

However, our Father also said this sad state of His people would not last forever. He said that He would raise up a Son of David who would restore the glory of the nation, beginning first with a restoration of joy in the north (Isa. 9:1-7). In some sense this began when the exiles returned to their land in 538 b.c. , but the full restoration had to wait for the coming of the Christ. John Calvin comments, "The commencement of this light, and, as we might say, the dawn, was the return of the people from Babylon. At length, Christ, 'the Sun of Righteousness' (Mal. 4:2), arose in full splendor, and, by his coming, utterly 'abolished' (2 Tim. 1:10 ) the darkness of death." Since Jesus is ministering in the north and bringing God's light to a dark land, He must be the long-awaited Messiah who comes to restore His people. This is Matthew's point in 4:12-17.

Scripture often uses light to refer to the knowledge of God and obedience to Him (Ps. 119:105; Prov. 4:18). As the light of the world ( John 8:12), Jesus gives us true knowledge of our Creator (12:44-50) and frees us from sin's oppression (Rom. 6:17-18), which makes us unable in and of ourselves to serve the Lord.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Today's passage is a powerful example of God's grace. Those who sit in darkness get to see the light, not those who think they are in the light already. Jesus came to call sinners to repentance, not the righteous (Luke 5:32). This does not mean that there are some who are righteous in themselves. It means that He saves only those who confess their darkness and admit their need of His light. Do you understand your desperate situation apart from God's grace?

For further study:

Micah 7:8

The Bible in a year:

Leviticus 2-3

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What Attributes of God Do We See in Jesus?

Today's reading: 2 Timothy 2:1–13

In Jesus we see God’s attributes of love, wisdom and grace. In2 Timothy 2:11–13, Paul mentions some other divine attributes that Jesus clearly possesses. Verse 12 declares God’s justice: if we reject Christ, then God has no choice but to also reject us. God’s moral purity (see Isaiah 6:3–5) necessitates his justice; he cannot, will not and does not ignore sin. Jesus also possesses moral purity. As both Hebrews 4:14–15 1 John 3:5attest, Jesus lived a sinless life. God the Father also endorsed Jesus’ moral purity (see Matthew 17:5).

Following the stern warning of 2 Timothy 2:12, Paul highlights Jesus’ faithfulness. Although we may turn away from Jesus, he gives us many undeserved chances to be reconciled with him. God’s faithfulness is well chronicled in the Old Testament’s accounts of the Israelites’ cycles of disobedience that were met with God’s mercy.

Both God and his Son, Jesus, possess moral purity, justice and faithfulness. These traits could not belong to an ordinary human but rather describe God incarnate. The fact that Jesus possessed these traits gives powerful testimony to his claims to be.

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Today's reading is from the
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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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Storms of Life

This week's reading: Matthew 8:23-27

Recommended Reading: Psalm 27:1-14; Isaiah 41:10-11; Matthew 6:31-34; 14:30-31

Billy Tyne, a down-on-his-luck captain of a sword-fishing boat, set out with his crew in October, 1991, for one last try at a big catch. However, when a unique confluence of weather conditions combined in the North Atlantic to form what meteorologists later called "The Perfect Storm," Tyne and the rest of the crew of the Andrea Gail perished.

According to locals, weather over the Sea of Galilee in Israel can be equally unpredictable. A squall can rise up at a moment's notice, hitting with such a fury that fishermen in the area must be quick on their feet and ready for anything. At least four of Jesus' disciples-Peter, Andrew, James and John-made their living as fishermen. Certainly they knew of Galilee's infamous storms. Yet as Jesus slept in the ship's bow, even these seasoned sailors panicked when the storm rose. After waking Jesus from his slumber, they pleaded, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!" (Matthew 8:25). Imagine a storm so intense that even hardened fishermen cowered in fear.

Jesus responded with a rebuke: "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" (Matthew 8:26). As the disciples faced the greatest storm Galilee had ever thrown at them, Jesus expected them to trust him first. And then he calmed the storm.

Life often seems to rise up against us when we least expect it. A dark spot shows up on an X-ray. A pink slip lands on our desk at work. A quarterly report reveals a serious downturn in revenues. Suddenly our deepest fears rise to the surface. So we look to the sky and plead, "Lord, save us!"

And Jesus responds, "Don't be afraid. Trust me first."

The next time the turbulence of life's trials blows into your life, remember what Jesus asks. Trust him first, no matter how overwhelming the storm appears.

To Take Away

  • What storms in life do you find most difficult to face?
  • Why do most of us struggle with trusting God first?
  • When you've trusted God during difficult times, what has resulted? How can those experiences help you place your trust in him during the next trial you face?

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