Saturday, January 21, 2012

Daily Devotional Saturday 21st January

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Abel was a keeper of sheep."
Genesis 4:2

As a shepherd Abel sanctified his work to the glory of God, and offered a sacrifice of blood upon his altar, and the Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering. This early type of our Lord is exceedingly clear and distinct. Like the first streak of light which tinges the east at sunrise, it does not reveal everything, but it clearly manifests the great fact that the sun is coming. As we see Abel, a shepherd and yet a priest, offering a sacrifice of sweet smell unto God, we discern our Lord, who brings before his Father a sacrifice to which Jehovah ever hath respect. Abel was hated by his brother--hated without a cause; and even so was the Saviour: the natural and carnal man hated the accepted man in whom the Spirit of grace was found, and rested not until his blood had been shed. Abel fell, and sprinkled his altar and sacrifice with his own blood, and therein sets forth the Lord Jesus slain by the enmity of man while serving as a priest before the Lord. "The good Shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep." Let us weep over him as we view him slain by the hatred of mankind, staining the horns of his altar with his own blood. Abel's blood speaketh. "The Lord said unto Cain, The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.'" The blood of Jesus hath a mighty tongue, and the import of its prevailing cry is not vengeance but mercy. It is precious beyond all preciousness to stand at the altar of our good Shepherd! to see him bleeding there as the slaughtered priest, and then to hear his blood speaking peace to all his flock, peace in our conscience, peace between Jew and Gentile, peace between man and his offended Maker, peace all down the ages of eternity for blood-washed men. Abel is the first shepherd in order of time, but our hearts shall ever place Jesus first in order of excellence. Thou great Keeper of the sheep, we the people of thy pasture bless thee with our whole hearts when we see thee slain for us.

Evening

"Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way."
Psalm 119:37

There are divers kinds of vanity. The cap and bells of the fool, the mirth of the world, the dance, the lyre, and the cup of the dissolute, all these men know to be vanities; they wear upon their forefront their proper name and title. Far more treacherous are those equally vain things, the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches. A man may follow vanity as truly in the counting-house as in the theatre. If he be spending his life in amassing wealth, he passes his days in a vain show. Unless we follow Christ, and make our God the great object of life, we only differ in appearance from the most frivolous. It is clear that there is much need of the first prayer of our text. "Quicken thou me in thy way." The Psalmist confesses that he is dull, heavy, lumpy, all but dead. Perhaps, dear reader, you feel the same. We are so sluggish that the best motives cannot quicken us, apart from the Lord himself. What! will not hell quicken me? Shall I think of sinners perishing, and yet not be awakened? Will not heaven quicken me? Can I think of the reward that awaiteth the righteous, and yet be cold? Will not death quicken me? Can I think of dying, and standing before my God, and yet be slothful in my Master's service? Will not Christ's love constrain me? Can I think of his dear wounds, can I sit at the foot of his cross, and not be stirred with fervency and zeal? It seems so! No mere consideration can quicken us to zeal, but God himself must do it, hence the cry, "Quicken thou me." The Psalmist breathes out his whole soul in vehement pleadings: his body and his soul unite in prayer. "Turn away mine eyes," says the body: "Quicken thou me," cries the soul. This is a fit prayer for every day. O Lord, hear it in my case this night.

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Today's reading: Genesis 49-50, Matthew 13:31-58 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Jacob Blesses His Sons

1 Then Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.

2 “Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob;
listen to your father Israel.

3 “Reuben, you are my firstborn,
my might, the first sign of my strength,
excelling in honor, excelling in power.
4 Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel,
for you went up onto your father’s bed,
onto my couch and defiled it.

5 “Simeon and Levi are brothers—
their swords are weapons of violence.
6 Let me not enter their council,
let me not join their assembly,
for they have killed men in their anger
and hamstrung oxen as they pleased.
7 Cursed be their anger, so fierce,
and their fury, so cruel!
I will scatter them in Jacob
and disperse them in Israel.

8 “Judah, your brothers will praise you;
your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons will bow down to you.
9 You are a lion’s cub, Judah;
you return from the prey, my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs shall come
and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
11 He will tether his donkey to a vine,
his colt to the choicest branch;
he will wash his garments in wine,
his robes in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes will be darker than wine,
his teeth whiter than milk.

13 “Zebulun will live by the seashore
and become a haven for ships;
his border will extend toward Sidon.

14 “Issachar is a rawboned donkey
lying down among the sheep pens.
15 When he sees how good is his resting place
and how pleasant is his land,
he will bend his shoulder to the burden
and submit to forced labor.

16 “Dan will provide justice for his people
as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan will be a snake by the roadside,
a viper along the path,
that bites the horse’s heels
so that its rider tumbles backward.

18 “I look for your deliverance, LORD.

19 “Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders,
but he will attack them at their heels.

20 “Asher’s food will be rich;
he will provide delicacies fit for a king.

21 “Naphtali is a doe set free
that bears beautiful fawns.

22 “Joseph is a fruitful vine,
a fruitful vine near a spring,
whose branches climb over a wall.
23 With bitterness archers attacked him;
they shot at him with hostility.
24 But his bow remained steady,
his strong arms stayed limber,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25 because of your father’s God, who helps you,
because of the Almighty, who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
blessings of the deep springs below,
blessings of the breast and womb.
26 Your father’s blessings are greater
than the blessings of the ancient mountains,
than the bounty of the age-old hills.
Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,
on the brow of the prince among his brothers.

27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
in the morning he devours the prey,
in the evening he divides the plunder.”

28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.

The Death of Jacob

29 Then he gave them these instructions: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 31There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.”

33 When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.

Genesis 50

1 Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. 2 Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, 3 taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.

4 When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, “If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him, 5 ‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’”

6 Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.”

7 So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him—the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt— 8 besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. 9 Chariots and horsemen also went up with him. It was a very large company.

10 When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father. 11When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.” That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abel Mizraim.

12 So Jacob’s sons did as he had commanded them: 13 They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 14 After burying his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, together with his brothers and all the others who had gone with him to bury his father.

Joseph Reassures His Brothers

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.

18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.

19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

The Death of Joseph

22 Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years 23 and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees.

24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” 25 And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.”

26 So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.


Matthew 13

The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast

31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

34 Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. 35 So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:

“I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”

The Parable of the Weeds Explained

36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.

The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

The Parable of the Net

47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

51 “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.

“Yes,” they replied.

52 He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”

A Prophet Without Honor

53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.

But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”

58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

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Abner, Abiner [Ăb'nûr]—father of light. The son of Ner, cousin of Saul and captain of his army. Because of his relationship to the king and his force of character he exercised great influence during Saul’s reign and afterwards (1 Sam. 14:50, 51 ; 17:55,57).

The Man Who Was Destitute of Lofty Ideals

Although Abner was the only capable person on the side of Saul and his family, he had little time for the lofty ideas of morality or religion ( 2 Sam. 3:8, 16).

As Saul’s commander-in-chief, he greatly helped his cousin to maintain his military prowess. After Saul’s death, he set Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, on the throne.

As an enemy of Joab, David’s general, he fought long and bravely against him, and after a severe defeat, killed Asahel in self-defense (2 Sam. 2).

As a proud man, he resented most bitterly the remonstrance of Ish-bosheth, over the matter of Saul’s concubines, and negotiated with David to make him king of Israel (2 Sam. 3:7-22).

As an unprincipled man, he reaped what he sowed. Joab, dreading the loss of his own position, and thirsting for revenge, murdered Abner at Hebron. David gave him a public funeral, and afterwards charged Solomon to avenge Abner’s murder ( 2 Sam. 3:26-37; 1 Kings 2:5, 6).

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Let not your hearts be troubled

‘Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.’ John 14:1

Suggested Further Reading: John 16:1–15

Let me say it ought to be a great deal easier for you and me to live above heart trouble than it was to the apostles; I mean easier than it was to the apostles at the time when the Saviour spoke to them and for forty days afterwards. You say, ‘How was that?’ Because you have three things which they had not. You have experience of many past troubles out of which you have been delivered. They had only been converted at the outside three years; they had not known much trouble, for Jesus in the flesh had dwelt among them to screen off troubles from them. Some of you have been converted thirty—forty—what if I say sixty years, and you have had abundance of trouble—you have not been screened from it. Now all this experience ought to make it easier for you to say, ‘My heart shall not be troubled.’ Again, you have received the Holy Spirit, and they had not. The Holy Spirit was not given, as you remember, until the day of Pentecost. His direct government in the church was not required while Christ was here. You have the Spirit, the Comforter, to abide with you for ever; surely you ought to be less distracted than they were. Thirdly, you have the whole of Scripture, they had but a part. They certainly had not the richest Scriptures of all, for they had not the evangelists nor any of the New Testament, and having, as we have, all that store of promise and comfort, we ought surely to find it no hard work to obey the sweet precept, ‘Let not your heart be troubled.’

For meditation : Have you ever wished you had been a contemporary of the Lord Jesus Christ and an eyewitness of his life on earth? That would have been an experience to be valued and never to be forgotten (John 1:14; 2 Peter 1:16–18; 1 John 1:1–3). However, he pronounced a particular blessing upon those of us who have trusted in him without having seen him ( John 20:29). We too are able to love him and experience great joy in the midst of trials and temptations (1 Peter 1:6–8).

Sermon no. 730
20 January (1867)

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The First Gospel

Genesis 3:14-15 "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel" ( v. 15).

Since the early days of the church, scholars and theologians have found in Genesis the first announcement of the coming Messiah. Today's passage gives us what is called theprotevangelium - the "first gospel."

The context of this passage is well-known to most of us. Having thumbed their noses at God by eating the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve find themselves alienated from their Creator (Gen. 3:1-13 ). Before He pronounces His righteous judgment upon them, however, the Lord curses the tempter. The serpent will crawl upon the ground and lick the dust. He will bruise the heel of the woman's offspring or, in other translations, "her seed," and her seed will bruise the serpent's head (vv. 14-15).

This pronouncement has cosmic significance. The serpent in this passage is no ordinary reptile, he is Satan, the adversary of God and His people (Rom. 16:20; Rev. 12:9). The Lord pledges to put enmity between the serpent and the woman's seed (Gen. 3:15). This conflict is God-initiated and perpetuated. It has a visible reminder in snakes who lick the dust of defeat, but the one whose head will be bruised - the one who will suffer a crushing blow - is the Devil himself.

It is the identity of the woman's seed that tells us this passage is messianic. Grammatically, "seed" is a collective singular and can refer to a whole group of people. The woman's seed cannot be every child of Eve because Scripture calls God's human enemies "the children of the Devil" (John 8:39-47 ), thereby identifying some people as the serpent's seed. If the Lord's enemies are the seed of the serpent, then His friends among mankind must be the victorious woman's seed. These will suffer bruising from the evil one before bruising his head. God's people will suffer, but they will win in the end (for example, Ex. 1, 14).

However, even the friends of the Almighty cannot defeat Satan themselves. They need a representative to fight on their behalf. We have seen that this One is King Jesus, who as the Son of David defeated Satan on the cross for our sake. He is the seed of the woman par excellence who suffered the worst bruising of all so that He might crush the Devil (Col. 2:13-15).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Proverbs 21:31 tells us that "the victory belongs to the L ord." Jesus defeated death, sin, and the evil one on the cross and now shares with us the benefits of His conquest. No problem of ours is too formidable for the Lord. There is no sin that we cannot overcome if we are in Him. There is no enemy of ours that can finally defeat us. Be encouraged today that our Savior has won a great victory, and, therefore, we who are in Him need not worry about tomorrow.

For further study:

Deut. 20:1-4

The Bible in a year:

Exodus 11-12

For the weekend:

Exodus 13-16

INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

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

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The First Gospel

Genesis 3:14-15

Proverbs 21:31 tells us that "the victory belongs to the Lord. " Jesus defeated death, sin, and the evil one on the cross and now shares with us the benefits of His conquest. No problem of ours is too formidable for the Lord. There is no sin that we cannot overcome if we are in Him. There is no enemy of ours that can finally defeat us. Be encouraged today that our Savior has won a great victory, and, therefore, we who are in Him need not worry about tomorrow.

For further study:

Deut. 20:1-4

The Bible in a year:

Exodus 11-12

For the weekend:

Exodus 13-16

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

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

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January 20, 2012

What Really Matters

Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33, NIV).

Friend To Friend

Far too often I seek God's blessings instead of seeking God. I seek His hand instead of His heart. Like a child with a long Christmas list, at times I run to my heavenly Father as if He's a celestial Wal-Mart purposed to satisfy my every want. Instead of leaning in to hear the whispered will of the Lord, I selfishly shout my will. My desires. My demands. I'd rather have relief from life-pressures than gain the strength to endure them and the lessons I'm intended to learn from them. When I'm desperate to fill my over-sized heart-cart with things that I think I need, I rob myself of what really matters: the pursuit of God and the blessings found in Him alone.

Why do we desire God's intervention in our lives more than His presence? Why do we think that we know what we need? It's so arrogant of us to tell God how to be God. Isn't that what we do when we stomp our feet before His throne and whine about all of the things that need fixing instead of praising Him for the strength He graciously gives us to endure? While we're certainly encouraged by Scripture to make our requests known to the Father (Philippians 4:6), the highest calling on our lives is to love God with all of our hearts, souls, bodies and minds (Matthew 22:37). What really matters is seeking God first.

God knew we would struggle with this truth. His Word promises that when we chase His heart, we can relax. Our needs will be met because He loves us.

"And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

"So don't worry about these things, saying, 'what will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?' These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

"So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today" (Matthew 6:30-34, NLT).

The Message version of the Bible says it like this:

"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers-most of which are never even seen-don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, and God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes" (Matthew 6:30-34, MSG).

Set your list of wants aside today and seek God. Go before Him with a heart of worship and adoration. Get lost in His presence. Remember His mercy. Relish His grace. Love Him. Seek Him. Put first things first.

God loves us so much. His plan is perfect and His ways are mysterious. He knows our needs and He knows our desires. When we remember what really matters we can rest in the knowledge that He's working on our behalf, and in our best interest, to bring glory to Himself through our lives.

Let's Pray

Dear Lord, You are all I need. Please forgive me for the times when I seek Your blessings before I seek Your heart. Help me to trust Your plan and rest in Your grace.

In Jesus' Name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

How has God met your needs in the past? Do you trust that He is able to meet them today?

He's not just concerned with your needs - God also cares about your heart matters. Read, meditate on and memorize this verse: "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4, ESV).

More From The Girlfriends

Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:28-29). Please know that today's devotion is not suggesting that we shouldn't go to God with our burdens. We must! But God wants your love before your list.

God delights to heal and transform lives ... including your own. In her book, Broken Into Beautiful, Gwen Smith invites you to experience how the unconditional love of Jesus can change your life and bring strength and healing to your heart. He can transform your life into something beautiful. To order the book, go to Amazon or, for a signed copy, order from Gwen's website: www.gwensmith.net.

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

Connect with Gwen on Facebook here:www.Facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic.

Seeking God?

Click here to find out more about

how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God

P.O. Box 725

Matthews, NC 28106

info@girlfriendsingod.com
www.girlfriendsingod.com



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Words of expostulation

“And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?” Jeremiah 2:18

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:14-7: 1

In the life of Madame Guyon, who, though professedly a Papist, one must ever receive as being a true child of God, I have read an anecdote something to this effect. She had been invited by some friends to spend a few days at the palace of St. Cloud. She knew it was a place full of pomp, and fashion, and, I must add, of vice also; but being over-persuaded by her friend, and being especially tempted with the idea that perhaps her example might do good, she accepted the invitation. Her experience afterwards should be a warning to all Christians. For some years that holy woman had walked in constant fellowship with Christ; perhaps none ever saw the Saviour’s face, and kissed his wounds more truly than she had done. But when she came home from St. Cloud, she found her usual joy was departed; she had lost her power in prayer; she could not draw near to Christ as she should have done. She felt in going to the lover of her soul as if she had played the harlot against him. She was afraid to hope that she could be received again to his pure and perfect love, and it took some months before the equilibrium of her peace could be restored, and her heart could yet again be wholly set upon her Lord. He that wears a white garment must mind where he walks when the world’s streets are as filthy as they are. He that has a thousand enemies must take care how he shows himself. He that has nothing on earth to assist him towards heaven should take care that he does not go where the world can help towards hell. O believer, keep clear of fellowship with this world, for the love of this world is enmity against God.

For meditation: Commonsense should tell us that when something clean and something unclean brush against one another, the unclean object is not improved but the clean object is changed for the worse (Haggai 2:11-14).

Sermon no. 356
20 January (1861)

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Tracie Miles

January 20, 2012

What If I Were Broken?
Tracie Miles

"Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy." Micah 7:18 (NIV 1984)

His question made me stop and think. It was a simple comment, said in a teasing manner, but instantly struck a chord in my heart.

One afternoon I was cleaning out a kitchen cabinet full of items I rarely used when I found an old broken can opener. I handed it to my nine year-old son and asked him to throw it away. Instead of just tossing it into the trashcan, he asked if he could keep it.

Why in the world would a little boy want an old, dirty, useless can opener? I thought.

He insisted he needed to keep it. Finally I said, "Honey, it is broken. I don't want it or need it anymore, so throw it away please."

"Well if I were broken, would you just throw me away?" he asked.

Huh? Our conversation about a silly can opener had gotten way too complicated. I assured him I would never throw him away, no matter what, because he was too valuable to me. Then I gave him a hug and he skipped off into the den to watch TV, while I stood there stunned, pondering his question.

I remembered being like that can opener. Broken, dirty and useless - at least in my eyes. A horrible decision I made as a young girl convinced me for years that I had no redeeming value in God's eyes. Regret suffocated my heart for years, and plagued me with lies that God could never really love a sinner like me.

I stood there in my kitchen vividly remembering the overwhelming pain and regret of feeling broken, and void of worth, beauty or value. But then a smile slipped across my face as I remembered the day God healed my brokenness. Sitting alone on a pew during a worship service several years before, tears pouring down my face, I begged God to forgive me for my sins. I had asked before, fourteen years before in fact, but this time it was different.

I felt God's presence and believed His promise of forgiveness. For the first time, I heard His voice ring in the ears of my heart, reassuring me that I was too valuable to be thrown away. The following day I realized something was different. My past was still my past, but I was no longer broken.

The damaged pieces of my heart were mended, and I set out on a wonderful journey to discover my worth in God's eyes. Over time I read His promises and started to believe I really was valuable and that He not only loved me, He liked me!

Are you feeling broken today? Do you ever feel like God could love everyone else, but not you? Do you spend each day condemning yourself for past sins, current habits, damaged relationships, poor choices, or even self-harming behavior?

Do you ever feel like you are just too messed up to be "fixed?" Do you wish you could stop feeling broken, or break the cycle of sin in your life, but simply do not know how?

Despite what you think, you are not beyond repair. As a child of God, you are precious, beautiful and part of God's inheritance, just as today's verse says.

Whatever your situation, God can mend that crushing feeling of hopelessness and brokenness. With faith, ask Him to. Then delight in Him by accepting His grace, mercy and forgiveness.

Dear Lord, forgive me and heal me. Mend my brokenness. Give me hope. Help me to see myself through Your eyes only. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know the Mender of broken hearts?

Reinventing Your Rainbow by Tracie Miles

Visit Tracie's blog for more encouragement about spiritual healing and the journey of discovering how God can turn your past into your purpose.

Would you like to bring the message of this devotion to the women of your church? Click here to find out more about considering Tracie as a retreat / key note speaker.

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:
Has something or someone ever made me feel worthless? How often do I think negative thoughts about myself?

When will I take time this week to ask God to mend my brokenness and help me truly believe He can and wants to?

Power Verses:
Matthew 9:12-13, "On hearing this, Jesus said, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'" (NIV 1984)

Psalm 147:3, "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." (NIV 1984)

Isaiah 54:11-12, 14, "O you afflicted one, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems, and lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of rubies, your gates of crystal, and all your walls of precious stones. In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you." (NKJV)

© 2012 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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



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Pope Joan: Legend and Legacy

That a woman would sit in the papal throne is not so inconceivable in light of the fact that some popes in this era were unordained teenagers. Furthermore, women often held an honored place in the church, sometimes, like Lioba, overseeing large monastic complexes.

John Anglicus was reportedly an English scientist who relocated in Rome and gained a reputation for erudite scholarship. His status and renown paved the way for church office. Indeed, the scientist soon became a cardinal and, with the death of Pope Leo IV, was elevated to the papacy in 853. All went well until one day, while in procession to the Lateran from St. Peter's Basilica, the carriage was forced to make a quick stop while the pope gave birth to a baby "in a narrow lane between the Coliseum and St Clement's church." One of the earlier sources tells the story with a slightly different slant. She "disguised herself as a man and became, by her character and talents, a curial secretary, then a cardinal, and finally pope. One day, while mounting a horse, she gave birth to a child."

Following the birth, the narrative is muddled. Pope John VIII, who was actually Pope Joan, reigned for less than three years. But when she was found to be disguising herself as a man, there was no mercy. By one account she was tied by the feet and dragged over the cobblestones while citizens of Rome stone her to death. She was then buried at the very spot where she gave birth - the whereabouts of the baby unknown. She was not "placed on the list of the holy pontiffs, both because of her female sex and on account of the foulness of the matter." Another version suggests a more humane post-partum ending. She was secreted away to an undisclosed convent, where she repented and raised her son, who grew up to become bishop of Ostia.

From the thirteenth century into the Renaissance, the report of Pappess Joanna was widely disseminated - in one instance to defend a pope who was a heretic. If being a woman does not disqualify one from being pope, so the argument went, why should heresy? Although the church officially denied the account, the rumors persisted - one asserting that for a time there was a statue near the Lateran called "The Woman Pope with Her Child." Likewise, the church was rumored to be so nervous about the possibility of electing another woman pope that the chair used for the papal consecration was designed with a hole so that an inspector can verify gender with certainty. Sixteenth-century Reformers used the story to disparage the church. Since that time the account of the female pope has continued to resurface, but it is generally considered to be no more than a fascinating, albeit false, story.


If you enjoyed the above article, please take a minute to read about the book that it was adapted from:

ParadeofFaith-Bookcover

Parade of Faith: A Biographical History of the Christian Church

by Ruth A. Tucker
Buy the book!
The story of Christianity centers on people whose lives have been transformed by the resurrected Lord. Tucker puts this front and center in a lively overview peppered with sidebars; historical "what if?" questions; sections on everyday life; drawings and illustrations; bibliographies for further reading.




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Myth: "If we don't love each other anymore, we should go our separate ways."

1 Peter 4:8

My parents stopped loving each other years ago. It's as if they're strangers living together in the same house. Mom says divorce is not an option, no matter what. And Dad refuses to talk with me about it. But it's obvious to everyone that they're unhappy.

It hasn't always been this way. I remember my dad taking my mom out for romantic dinner dates for Valentine's or their anniversary. But over the past few years, it seems like they've simply fallen out of love. Aside from being devoted parents to my brother and me, I wonder what they still have in common with each other.

I would never come right out and say that I want my parents to get divorced. But I wonder if they could find happiness with someone else. It seems to me that people change. Things change. That's just life. So why stay trapped in a relationship that isn't working anymore? Just so the neighbors won't talk? So you can go to Bermuda with your "couple friends"? It seems to me that if you no longer love each other, then going your separate ways is something you have to consider-for both of your sakes.

Which is why I'm taking my time when it comes to getting married. I've heard the statistics. They say one out of every two marriages ends in divorce. That means divorce is basically inevitable for half of all couples. It's a fact. With any luck, I'll be in the 50 percent whose marriage doesn't self-destruct. But I know one thing. I'm not following my mother's example. I refuse to endure a relationship God meant for me to enjoy.

-Allison

Some women justify walking out on their marriages after the love dies. Well, they reason, we had a 50 percent chance of failure anyway. But that's not true. The one-in-two statistic originated from misinterpreting the research originally released by the National Center for Health Statistics during the late 1970s when the introduction of the no-fault divorce contributed to a skyrocketing incidence of divorces. The research stated that the number of divorces in one year was precisely half the number of marriages. The media helped deduce the one-in-two theory, and the rest is history. However, what about the millions of existing marriages (more than 50 million at the time) who neither married nor divorced that year? Those who propagated the 50-percent headline "forgot" to account for this second category. The result was a skewed representation of research that still makes its way into articles and news reports (and even well-meaning pastors' sermons), bemoaning the "inevitability" of divorce in the U.S.

It's no wonder that many women who sense a pall wash over the passion in their marriages assume it's the beginning of the end. They conclude with fatalistic resolve that they must have wound up on the other side of the one-in-two dividing line-just the luck of the draw.

So, what do you do when your marriage seems to be waning? When you don't feel in love anymore? When you wonder if you made a mistake?

Beyond the fact that this statistic simply isn't true, the reality is that "going our separate ways" is not as easy as it initially sounds. Divorce court is no picnic-alimony, custody battles, division of property. Any divorce is a life-altering decision with lasting effects. Women and men may heal from the emotional damage divorce causes, but the scars remain for a lifetime.

The Bible endorses a mature marriage commitment based on love. It's a choice we make-whether we feel like being loving or not (see Colossians 3:12-14). In every relationship, we will face times when we feel as if the love is lacking. Like the Israelites who didn't feel like they could go on (see Exodus 16:3), we may desperately want to give up during difficult seasons. While fluctuating feelings are a reality in marriage, they are not a loophole in the marriage vows.

"Fifty percent of all marriages do not end in divorce. While any divorce is tragic, recent research suggests that one marriage in four is closer to the true divorce rate."

-Rich Bulher and Jim Killan

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."
1 Peter 4:8

See also

1 Corinthians 13:4-7; 1 John 3:11
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