Saturday, January 28, 2012

Daily Devotional Saturday 28th January

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:12-13 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"And of his fulness have all we received."
John 1:16

These words tell us that there is a fulness in Christ. There is a fulness of essential Deity, for "in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead." There is a fulness of perfect manhood, for in him, bodily, that Godhead was revealed. There is a fulness of atoning efficacy in his blood, for "the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin." There is a fulness of justifying righteousness in his life, for "there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." There is a fulness of divine prevalence in his plea, for "He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him; seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." There is a fulness of victory in his death, for through death he destroyed him that had the power of death, that is the devil. There is a fulness of efficacy in his resurrection from the dead, for by it "we are begotten again unto a lively hope." There is a fulness of triumph in his ascension, for "when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and received gifts for men." There is a fulness of blessings of every sort and shape; a fulness of grace to pardon, of grace to regenerate, of grace to sanctify, of grace to preserve, and of grace to perfect. There is a fulness at all times; a fulness of comfort in affliction; a fulness of guidance in prosperity. A fulness of every divine attribute, of wisdom, of power, of love; a fulness which it were impossible to survey, much less to explore. "It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell." Oh, what a fulness must this be of which all receive! Fulness, indeed, must there be when the stream is always flowing, and yet the well springs up as free, as rich, as full as ever. Come, believer, and get all thy need supplied; ask largely, and thou shalt receive largely, for this "fulness" is inexhaustible, and is treasured up where all the needy may reach it, even in Jesus, Immanuel--God with us.

Evening

"But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart."
Luke 2:19

There was an exercise, on the part of this blessed woman, of three powers of her being: her memory--she kept all these things; her affections--she kept them in her heart; her intellect--she pondered them; so that memory, affection, and understanding, were all exercised about the things which she had heard. Beloved, remember what you have heard of your Lord Jesus, and what he has done for you; make your heart the golden pot of manna to preserve the memorial of the heavenly bread whereon you have fed in days gone by. Let your memory treasure up everything about Christ which you have either felt, or known, or believed, and then let your fond affections hold him fast for evermore. Love the person of your Lord! Bring forth the alabaster box of your heart, even though it be broken, and let all the precious ointment of your affection come streaming on his pierced feet. Let your intellect be exercised concerning the Lord Jesus. Meditate upon what you read: stop not at the surface; dive into the depths. Be not as the swallow which toucheth the brook with her wing, but as the fish which penetrates the lowest wave. Abide with your Lord: let him not be to you as a wayfaring man, that tarrieth for a night, but constrain him, saying, "Abide with us, for the day is far spent." Hold him, and do not let him go. The word "ponder," means to weigh. Make ready the balances of judgment. Oh, but where are the scales that can weigh the Lord Christ? "He taketh up the isles as a very little thing:"--who shall take him up? "He weigheth the mountains in scales"--in what scales shall we weigh him? Be it so, if your understanding cannot comprehend, let your affections apprehend; and if your spirit cannot compass the Lord Jesus in the grasp of understanding, let it embrace him in the arms of affection.

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Today's reading: Exodus 16-18, Matthew 18:1-20 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Manna and Quail

1 The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. 2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”

6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?” 8 Moses also said, “You will know that it was the LORD when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the LORD.”

9 Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.’”

10 While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud.

11 The LORD said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’”

13 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.

Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. 16 This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’”

17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.

19 Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”

20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.

21 Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. 22 On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much—two omers for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. 23 He said to them, “This is what the LORD commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.’”

24 So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. 25 “Eat it today,” Moses said, “because today is a sabbath to the LORD. You will not find any of it on the ground today. 26 Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.”

27 Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. 28 Then the LORD said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? 29 Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where they are on the seventh day; no one is to go out.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

31 The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. 32Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the wilderness when I brought you out of Egypt.’”

33 So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the LORD to be kept for the generations to come.”

34 As the LORD commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna with the tablets of the covenant law, so that it might be preserved. 35 The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.

36 (An omer is one-tenth of an ephah.)

Exodus 17

Water From the Rock

1 The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”

Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?”

3 But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”

4 Then Moses cried out to the LORD, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”

5 The LORD answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

The Amalekites Defeated

8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”

10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

14 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.”

15 Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner.16 He said, “Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the LORD, the LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”

Exodus 18

Jethro Visits Moses

1 Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt.

2 After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro received her 3 and her two sons. One son was named Gershom, for Moses said, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land”; 4 and the other was named Eliezer, for he said, “My father’s God was my helper; he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.”

5 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and wife, came to him in the wilderness, where he was camped near the mountain of God. 6 Jethro had sent word to him, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.”

7 So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. They greeted each other and then went into the tent. 8 Moses told his father-in-law about everything the LORD had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the LORD had saved them.

9 Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the LORD had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. 10 He said, “Praise be to the LORD, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.” 12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.

13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”

15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.

27 Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country.


Matthew 18

The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Causing to Stumble

6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! 8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

The Parable of the Wandering Sheep

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. [11]

12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

Dealing With Sin in the Church

15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

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Ahimelech [Ăhĭm'elĕch]—brother of the king or my brother is king.

  1. A son of Ahitub and chief at Nob, who was slain for assisting David when he fled from Saul (1 Sam. 21:1-8;22:9-20; 23:6; 30:7).
  2. A Hittite officer and follower of David (1 Sam. 26:6).
  3. The son of Abiathar the priest who escaped slaughter at Nob ( 2 Sam. 8:17; 1 Chron. 18:16; 24:6). Some writers feel that the names of Abiathar and Ahimelech in these verses have been transposed.
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Christ Embraces His Mission

Matthew 4:2-4 "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" (v. 4).

Having come into the world to save His people (Matt. 1:21), Jesus begins His ministry when He identifies with God's chosen, Israel, in His baptism and follows the Spirit into the wilderness to face Satan (3:13-4:1). In the desert, Jesus shows Himself to be the new Israel, the second Adam and true Son of God, so that His disciples can be adopted as the Father's children ( John 1:9-13).

When the Devil comes to Jesus in today's passage, the Messiah has been "fasting forty days and forty nights" and is obviously hungry (Matt. 4:2). This reveals the hard place in which Jesus finds Himself. Scripture often associates forty days and nights with difficult circumstances. For example, Elijah endured the same period without food while on the run from Ahab and Jezebel ( 1 Kings 19:1-8). The setting of Jesus' testing is similarly arduous and presents a challenge that Adam, who lived in Eden's bliss, never faced.

Satan wants Jesus to turn from His vocation as the Suffering Servant when he challenges Him to turn stones to bread (Matt. 4:3). We know this to be true because the Devil's challenge is just like the one the crowd hurls at Jesus in Matthew 27:40, where the people mock Him, calling upon Him to come down from the cross. Of course, doing this would mean that Jesus distrusts both His Father's promises to save the elect through His death and to vindicate His Son's affliction (Isa. 53). Jesus has been sent into the desert to endure fasting and suffering until His appointed time (Matt. 4:1 ). To seek sustenance contrary to God's appointment would repeat the mistake of Israel who was similarly tested for faithfulness (Deut. 8:1-3) and disobeyed when they grumbled and refused to follow the Lord's directions when He sent manna from heaven (Ex. 16).

Yet Christ refuses to use His divine power to circumvent His task of suffering service. He is not willing to stuff His belly and stand before the Father emptied of righteousness. Jesus will be satisfied to eat the food given Him - doing the will of God (John 4:34) - even if His physical hunger is not satiated. Our Lord understands, as the church father Jerome said, that "if anyone does not feed upon God's Word, that one will not live" (Commentary on Matthew, 1.4.4).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Matthew Henry comments, "Lack and poverty are a great temptation to discontent and unbelief, and the use of unlawful means for our relief, under the pretence that necessity has no law." Despite His hunger pains, our Lord chose the food of His Father and embraced His mission of suffering. Let us follow Him and not let a potential loss of money or fame prevent us from embracing the mission of service He has given to us.

For further study:

Psalm 107:1-9

The Bible in a year:

Exodus 29-30

For the weekend:

Exodus 31-35

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

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January 27, 2012

Trusting God with Your Tomorrows

Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say (Exodus 4:11-12, NIV).

Friend to Friend

On the far side of a desert, high upon the mountain of God, a voice called out to Moses from within a curious, fiery bush. He had been tending the sheep of his father-in-law's flock, minding his own business, going about his normal day-in-day-out tasks when God spoke to him from the flames. On the day that God called Moses to a fresh and fiery mission. A mission of deliverance.

Once a noble prince of Egypt with the world at his feet, Moses had become a lowly shepherd with dust on his sandals. His crown had been traded in for a staff. The palace days were far behind Moses now. He fled them because of what he had done. Glancing to his left and his right to be sure that no one would see what he was about to do, Moses took a horrible situation into his own hands and killed a man. He had murdered an Egyptian and covered the body with sand.

Fear and shame bombarded his heart so he fled-away from his dream-filled, royal future to a desert place of humble hiding. The door to his yesterdays was closed. Moses had moved on to a new place. His past was his past and he had no intention of returning to it. His life was different now. Normal, not noble.

Then God interrupted Moses's new normal. He made it undeniably clear that His plans for Moses were different. Bigger. God's intentions were for freedom-the freedom of His people, the Israelites, who were captives, slaves to Egypt. God called Moses to face the pains of his past so that the Israelites could face a future of freedom. His plans of emancipation required that Moses obey Him, listen to His voice, follow His instructions, and trust Him.

Moses quivered and doubted. He made excuses about why he couldn't do it. He felt completely unfit and unqualified for such a task. It was risky. But God met Moses at his doubts. He called him to courage and went on to use Moses as an instrument of deliverance, truth, power, and freedom. Yes, Moses made mistakes along the way, but God was powerful in, through, and in spite of each one. Through it all, God led as only God can. He led with power. He led with purpose. He led with love. And through Moses, God led His people to a new place of promise and freedom.

On the far side of Charlotte, North Carolina, high upon a mountain in a retreat center, a voice called out to me from within a curious and fiery story. I had been tending to my husband and children, to the laundry and the dishes, writing songs and leading worship at women's events, minding my own business, and going about my normal

day-in-day-out tasks on the day that God spoke to my heart through the testimony of another woman. On the day that God called me to a fresh and fiery mission. A mission of deliverance.

Once a sold-out, dream-filled God-girl, I had become a grace-embracing yet disqualified-for-anything-big-because-of-what-I-had-done God-girl. My use-me-in-a-big-way-Lord prayers had been traded in for average can't-have-a-dream-anymore faith-living. My God-dream days were far behind me. I had fled them because of what I had done in my junior year of college. Glancing to my left and right to be sure that no one would know what I was about to do, I took a horrible situation-an unplanned pregnancy-into my own hands and killed a baby. I robbed life from my own child when I had an abortion, and I covered over the death of my precious child with sands of compartmentalization and reason.

Fear and shame bombarded my heart, so I fled-away from God, away from my dream-filled, royal future to a desert place of heart-hiding. After a season of brokenness, God brought me to a place of beauty, forgiveness, and healing. I was restored and redeemed by scandalous, merciful grace. The door to my yesterdays was closed. I moved on to a new place in Christ. My past was my past and I had no intentions of returning to it-or to the God-dreams that swelled my heart when I was a young, sold-out Jesus lover. My life was different now. Normal, not dream-worthy.

Then God interrupted my new normal. He made it undeniably clear that His plans for me were different. Bigger. God's intentions were for freedom-the freedom of His people, the women who were captives, slaves to their life-wounds. God called me to face the pains of my past so that my Girlfriends in God might face a future of freedom

when they hear my testimony. His plans of emancipation required that I obey Him, listen to His voice, follow His instructions, and trust Him.

I quivered and doubted. I made excuses about why I couldn't do it. I felt completely unfit and unqualified for such a task. It was risky. But God met me at my doubts. He called me to courage and is using my broken-into-beautiful story as an instrument of deliverance, truth, power, and freedom. Yes, I make mistakes along the way, but God is powerful in, through, and in spite of each one. Through each surrendered day, God is leading as only He can. With power, with purpose, with love. And I pray right now that this story-my story-will bring you to a new place of promise and freedom through the grace of Jesus Christ.

What fresh and fiery mission is God calling you to trust Him with, friend? Let me encourage you to stop with the excuses. I'm living proof that God will free anyone from her shame and can use anyone for His purpose. Step up to the burning bush-into God's presence. Listen to His voice. Obey. Follow. Take courage. Trust Him with your past and with your tomorrows. Allow His grace and love to decide what your mission should look like.

But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power
and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.

(Exodus 9:16)

Let's Pray

Dear God, with a trembling heart, I approach Your throne of grace today in reverence and humility, fully aware that You are holy and I am not. Speak, Lord. Show me the plans You have for me. Bind me to Your Word and to Your strength so I will have the courage to obey. May my brokenness be restored for the beauty of Your glory. Please help me to trust You with my today and my tomorrows. In Jesus's name I pray, amen.

Now It's Your Turn

  • Take a few moments to consider where you've come from and where you feel God is leading you.
  • Do you trust Him? Are you concerned about not being "able" or "qualified"?
  • Commit your today and tomorrows to Him. Journal about what that might look like.

More from the Girlfriends

Welcome to my personal pulse. This type of transparency is always risky. My pulse races each time I expose the broken places of my past and my present - but GOD is always faithful to use it in some beautiful way. Some of you may feel this devotion was written specifically for you. Don't ignore that. Explore it. Please come to my Facebook page today and share your heart with me. www.facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic. We will pray over each of you!

Gwen's full testimony is featured in her book, Broken into Beautiful, along with Scriptural truths and stories of how God has brought restoration the hearts of many other women who had painful life wounds. God delights to transform lives ... including your own. Experience God's healing and hope in your life today as you read Broken Into Beautiful! To order the book, go to Amazon or, for a signed copy, visit Gwen's website:www.gwensmith.net.

Today's GiG devotion is adapted from Trusting God by Sharon Jaynes, Gwen Smith, & Mary Southerland by permission of Multnomah, division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Seeking God?

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how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God

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www.girlfriendsingod.com

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P31Header
Rachel Olsen

January 27, 2012

Nothing More and Nothing Less
Rachel Olsen

"God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth." Matthew 5:5 (NLT)

Lord, how can I become content with just who I am, nothing more and nothing less?

I'm certainly prone to want to be more, or less than I am. To be smarter, prettier, funnier, fitter. To be more productive, happier and higher energy. And then also to be lower key, calmer, more level-headed and focused.

I want to have better self-awareness, and yet I want to be less concerned about what others think of me.

I want to be a better cook, to sing on key, and to keep the house neat without so much perceived effort. And did I mention fuller, thicker hair would be nice too?

I want to be a better writer - one that's both highly creative and meticulously organized. And I want fewer propensities to run late, slack off or procrastinate.

Yes, I want to be both more and less of me.

Jesus shushes my endless listing of the things I want to change or improve about myself. Things I'm certain would give me be a better life. He asks me instead to humbly make peace with it all. To lay down my notions of a better woman and life by letting Him be the judge of that. To simply take what I'm given and offer it back to Him, in surrender and service.

Today's verse in the book of Matthew is among several in the Bible that fuels one of my core convictions: When I stop striving to create a life for myself, I find the life God creates for me. This is a powerful truth, indeed a divine secret.

His life for me begins precisely where mine ends. My life ends in my sin and striving and begins again in God's grace and power.

His empowering indwelling affords me everything I truly need and nothing I truly don't.

Do you too long to be content with just who you are in Christ - nothing more and nothing less? Jesus addresses us both in Matthew 23:11-12. Eugene Peterson describes that passage this way: ""Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you'll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you're content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty" (MSG).

Amazingly, God's grace humbles a woman without degrading her, and His favor lifts her up without inflating her.

The life she finds in Him makes her the proud owner of everything money can't buy. As Jesus put it, "the whole earth." What she gets with humility is a life of contentment. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Dear Lord, help me quiet my critical, striving spirit today and gratefully accept who I am and where I'm at in this moment. For You are here, ready to empower my life to count for plenty right where I am. Help me also to seek and hold Your definition of "plenty" - nothing more and nothing less. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Jesus personally?

Connect with Rachel at her blog where she describes an everyday moment when she needed and learned to be contentment with who she is.

If you enjoyed this devotion, you'll want to get a copy of Rachel's book It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know.

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:
Am I content with who I am and where I'm at in life? What can I do to find that contentment when it is missing?

It is possible to improve and grow - with dreams, plans and goals - and at the same time still be content. Take time today to journal about yours - and schedule a time later this month to return and read those notes.

Power Verses:
1 Peter 5:6-7, "So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you." (NLT)

Matthew 5:5, "You're blessed when you're content with just who you areóno more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought." (MSG)

© 2012 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
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Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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Anselm of Canterbury: Scholastic Theologian

art_08_02_anselmQuote: "I believe in order to understand."

As one of the early proponents of scholasticism, Anselm (1033 – 1109) exemplifies the theological mindset of the eleventh century. Even as he develops his philosophical approach, he does not challenge the given wisdom of the age. His monastic theology grows out of his spiritual underpinnings: "I believe in order to understand" is his motto, and his best-known philosophical writing — his ontological proof for God — is presented as a prayer.

Born into landed nobility, Anselm is encouraged by his mother to become a monk at a nearby monastery — a calling delayed until he is twenty-seven because of his father's objections. Anselm blossoms at the Benedictine abbey of Bec in Normandy, under the scholarly leadership of Lanfranc. At thirty he is selected to succeed Lanfranc, who transfers to another monastery.

The emotional bonds formed amid monastic living are often closer than family ties. In a letter written in his mid-forties, Anselm reveals pain comparable to that of a spouse forsaken by the other:

Brother Anselm to Dom Gilbert, brother, friend, beloved lover . . . sweet to me, sweetest friend, are the gifts of your sweetness, but they cannot begin to console my desolate heart for its want of your love. . . . But you have gained from our very separation the company of someone else, whom you love no less — or even more — than me; while I have lost you, and there is no one to take your place.

Despite such pain — or perhaps because of it — Anselm focuses his attention on God and on spiritual exercises and rigorous asceticism, writing devotions and prayers and songs. For him, meditation and prayer open minds to an understanding of God. His poetry captures visual images of God:

Jesus, as a mother you gather your people to you:

You are gentle with us as a mother with her children;

Often you weep over our sins and our pride:

tenderly you draw us from hatred and judgment.

You comfort us in sorrow and bind up our wounds:

in sickness you nurse us,

and with pure milk you feed us.

The most difficult problem Anselm tackles is Does God exist? His ontological argument for the existence of God is still discussed today by theologians and philosophers. God's nonexistence is inconceivable, he argues; therefore, God exists. One cannot speak of God and then claim he does not exist. But his "proof," according to critics, is tangled in circuitous arguments. Almost immediately another theologian writes a response, and Aquinas likewise rejects Anselm's argument, as do many philosophers of the Enlightenment and since. But his proof has had an astoundingly long shelf life, and a history of philosophy textbook would not be complete without it.

In 1092 Anselm journeys to England, is named a bishop, and later is appointed archbishop of Canterbury. After a clash with King William Rufus, Anselm is exiled. His exile allows him time to complete his writing on the atonement that is still widely referenced today. In Cur Deus Homo (Why a God-Man?), he argues that there is a rational explanation for the incarnation directly tied to Christ's death on the cross. He asks why it was necessary for God to send his son to die for sin. He answers that sin robs God of his honor, and for God's honor to be preserved there must be either satisfaction or punishment. Satisfaction for sin requires far more than an individual can render. But man's sin must be satisfied by a man. Thus, in the incarnation God-man offered satisfaction for man's sin.

Protestant Reformers draw on Anselm in explaining the atonement, although John Calvin emphasizes God's holiness and justice over his honor. Of all the theories put forward, the one that draws the most attention is set forth by a young upstart more than forty years Anselm's junior, Peter Abelard, who comes of age just as Anselm is finalizing his atonement theory.

After the death of King Rufus, Anselm returns to his post as archbishop. But the new king creates even more problems for him. Once again he journeys to Rome and is vindicated by the pope. Considered a saintly man in his lifetime, Anselm is still honored as a saint by both Catholics and Anglicans today.


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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Christ Embraces His Mission

Matthew 4:2-4

Matthew Henry comments, "Lack and poverty are a great temptation to discontent and unbelief, and the use of unlawful means for our relief, under the pretence that necessity has no law." Despite His hunger pains, our Lord chose the food of His Father and embraced His mission of suffering. Let us follow Him and not let a potential loss of money or fame prevent us from embracing the mission of service He has given to us.

For further study:

Psalm 107:1-9

The Bible in a year:

Exodus 29-30

For the weekend:

Exodus 31-35

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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The heart—a den of evil

‘For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.’ Matthew 15:19

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 58:1–6

Your child will have evil thoughts without your sending him to a diabolical infant school; children who have been brought up in the midst of honesty, will be found guilty of little thefts early enough in life. False witness, which is one form of lying, is so common, that perhaps to find a tongue which never did bear false witness would be to find a tongue that never spoke. Is this caused by education or by nature? It is so common a thing that even when the ear has heard nothing but the most rigid truth, children learn to lie and men commonly do lie and love to tell an evil tale against their fellow men whether it be true or not, bearing false witness with an avidity which is perfectly shocking. Is this a matter of education, or is it a depraved heart? Some men will wilfully invent a slanderous lie, knowing that they need not take any special care of their offspring, for they may lay it in the street and the first passer-by will take it up and nurse it, and the lie will be carried in triumph round the world; whereas a piece of truth which would have done honour to a good man’s character, will be left to be forgotten till God shall remember it at the day of judgment. You never need educate any man into sin. The serpent is scarcely born before it rears itself and begins to hiss. The young lion may be nurtured in your parlour, but it will develop ere long the same thirst for blood as if it were in the forest. So is it with man; he sins as naturally as the young lion seeks for blood, or the young serpent stores up venom.

For meditation: Adam and Eve were created sinless in God’s image (Genesis 1:27; 5:1); they became sinners and as the result of disobedience Adam’s children were born sinful in his image (Genesis 5:3 ). Everybody since has sinned as the result of being born a sinner—except for the Son of God who was born in the likeness of sinful flesh i.e. in real, but sinless, flesh. Are you trusting in him alone as the one who was punished in his own flesh for your sin (Romans 8:3)?

Sermon no. 732
27 January (1867)

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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



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The Christ of Patmos

“… one like unto the Son of man,… His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow… And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.” Revelation 1:12-18

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 22:41-46

“His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow.” When the Church described him in the Canticles she said “His locks are bushy and black as a raven’s.” How do we understand this apparent discrepancy? My brethren, the Church in the Canticles looked forward, she looked forward to days and ages that were to come, and she perceived his perpetual youth; she pictured him as one who would never grow old, whose hair would ever have the blackness of youth. And do we not bless God that her view of him was true? We can say of Jesus, “Thou hast the dew of thy youth;” but the Church of to-day looks backward to his work as complete; we see him now as the ancient of eternal days. We believe that he is not the Christ of 1800 years ago merely, but, before the day-star knew its place, he was one with the Eternal Father. When we see in the picture his head and his hair white as snow, we understand the antiquity of his reign. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” When all these things were not, when the old mountains had not lifted their hoary heads into the clouds, when the yet more hoary sea had never roared in tempest; ere the lamps of heaven had been lit, when God dwelt alone in his immensity, and the unnavigated waves of ether, if there were such, had never been fanned by the wings of seraphim, and the solemnity of silence had never been startled by the song of cherubim, Jesus was of old in eternity with God. We know how he was despised and rejected of men, but we understand, too, what he meant when he said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” We know how he who died, when but a little more than thirty years of age, was verily the Father of the everlasting ages, having neither beginning of days nor end of years.

For meditation: Glory in the paradoxes of Christ—seen as old, yet young; God and man; A.D. yet B.C.; David’s Son, yet David’s Lord; a Shepherd, yet a Lamb; the Master, yet a Servant; the Great High Priest, yet the Sacrifice; the Immortal who died and rose again!

Sermon no. 357
27 January (1861)

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At Issue - Unprejudiced

Ruth 2:8-10

As a member of a despised people, Ruth was defenseless in the nation of Israel. But Boaz, a picture of Jesus Christ, had heard how the Moabitess showed kindness to Naomi, so he offered to protect her as a daughter. Later, he came to love her as a wife. Like God, Boaz was unprejudiced and gladly welcomed a foreigner into his family.

Because God is unprejudiced, he welcomes anyone of any race into his family (see Romans 2:11 ). He doesn't care where you're from, the color of your skin or what name you bear. And that same color-blind impartiality is what he expects his children to show others.

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