Saturday, January 07, 2012

Daily Devotional Saturday 7th January

“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.”1 Peter 1:13 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

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

It is a happy way of soothing sorrow when we can feel--"HE careth for me." Christian! do not dishonour religion by always wearing a brow of care; come, cast your burden upon your Lord. You are staggering beneath a weight which your Father would not feel. What seems to you a crushing burden, would be to him but as the small dust of the balance. Nothing is so sweet as to

"Lie passive in God's hands,

And know no will but his."

O child of suffering, be thou patient; God has not passed thee over in his providence. He who is the feeder of sparrows, will also furnish you with what you need. Sit not down in despair; hope on, hope ever. Take up the arms of faith against a sea of trouble, and your opposition shall yet end your distresses. There is One who careth for you. His eye is fixed on you, his heart beats with pity for your woe, and his hand omnipotent shall yet bring you the needed help. The darkest cloud shall scatter itself in showers of mercy. The blackest gloom shall give place to the morning. He, if thou art one of his family, will bind up thy wounds, and heal thy broken heart. Doubt not his grace because of thy tribulation, but believe that he loveth thee as much in seasons of trouble as in times of happiness. What a serene and quiet life might you lead if you would leave providing to the God of providence! With a little oil in the cruse, and a handful of meal in the barrel, Elijah outlived the famine, and you will do the same. If God cares for you, why need you care too? Can you trust him for your soul, and not for your body? He has never refused to bear your burdens, he has never fainted under their weight. Come, then, soul! have done with fretful care, and leave all thy concerns in the hand of a gracious God.

Evening

"Now the hand of the Lord was upon me in the evening."
Ezekiel 33:22

In the way of judgment this may be the case, and, if so, be it mine to consider the reason of such a visitation, and bear the rod and him that hath appointed it. I am not the only one who is chastened in the night season; let me cheerfully submit to the affliction, and carefully endeavour to be profited thereby. But the hand of the Lord may also be felt in another manner, strengthening the soul and lifting the spirit upward towards eternal things. O that I may in this sense feel the Lord dealing with me! A sense of the divine presence and indwelling bears the soul towards heaven as upon the wings of eagles. At such times we are full to the brim with spiritual joy, and forget the cares and sorrows of earth; the invisible is near, and the visible loses its power over us; servant-body waits at the foot of the hill, and the master-spirit worships upon the summit in the presence of the Lord. O that a hallowed season of divine communion may be vouchsafed to me this evening! The Lord knows that I need it very greatly. My graces languish, my corruptions rage, my faith is weak, my devotion is cold; all these are reasons why his healing hand should be laid upon me. His hand can cool the heat of my burning brow, and stay the tumult of my palpitating heart. That glorious right hand which moulded the world can new-create my mind; the unwearied hand which bears the earth's huge pillars up can sustain my spirit; the loving hand which incloses all the saints can cherish me; and the mighty hand which breaketh in pieces the enemy can subdue my sins. Why should I not feel that hand touching me this evening? Come, my soul, address thy God with the potent plea, that Jesus' hands were pierced for thy redemption, and thou shalt surely feel that same hand upon thee which once touched Daniel and set him upon his knees that he might see visions of God.

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Today's reading: Genesis 16-17, Matthew 5:27-48 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

1
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”

Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.

When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me.”

6 “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.

7 The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”

“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.

9 Then the angel of the LORD told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”

11 The angel of the LORD also said to her:

“You are now pregnant
and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
for the LORD has heard of your misery.
12 He will be a wild donkey of a man;
his hand will be against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
toward all his brothers.”

13 She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” 14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.

15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

Genesis 17

1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. 2 Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

3 Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5 No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”

9 Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

15 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”

17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”

19 Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” 22When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.

23 On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him.24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, 25 and his son Ishmael was thirteen; 26 Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that very day. 27And every male in Abraham’s household, including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him.

Matthew 5:27-48

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. 31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. 33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
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Shamgar [Shăm'gär]—cupbearer or a surprised stranger.

The Man Who Was Ready When Need Arose

Shamgar was the son of Anath, and third judge of Israel after the death of Joshua. His spectacular deliverance of Israel from the Philistines is suggestive (Judg. 3:31). Shamgar the son of Anath was ready to serve God in the common working day.

When he drove his oxen out that morning he did not dream that before nightfall he would accomplish a memorable deliverance for his land. But the call came and he was ready.

Another lesson to be learned from Shamgar is that God can be served with unlikely instruments. “What is that in thy hand?” In Shamgar’s hand was an oxgoad with which he slew six hundred Philistines.

We may not have genius, brilliance, gifts of speech or song, but if we are in the hand of Christ, He can take foolish things to confound the wise.

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John Chrysostom: Preacher Par Excellence

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Quote: "I know my own soul, how feeble and puny it is: I know the magnitude of this ministry, and the great difficulty of the work; for more stormy billows vex the soul of the priest than the gales which disturb the sea."

John Chrysostom (c. 347 – 407) is a bishop of Constantinople and known for eloquence in preaching — hence, his name Chrysostom, meaning "golden mouth." So captivating are his words that his congregation is sometimes moved to tears. On other occasions they applaud and stomp their feet, a response he finds utterly out of place in a worship service. In fact, he is so disturbed that he devotes one sermon to proper worship conduct. So moved are the people that they give him rousing approval with their hands and feet.

Born in Antioch, John is raised by his widowed mother, Anthusa, who arranges for his education with Libanius, one of the most renowned teachers of rhetoric in the ancient world — and a pagan. On his deathbed, Libanius confides to a friend that John would naturally have been his successor "if the Christians had not taken him from us."

Initially living as a hermit, John denies himself sleep and stands most of the day and night reading and memorizing Scripture. After two years and in ill health, he returns to Antioch, where he is ordained a deacon and then a priest. In this capacity he develops his rhetorical skills. His sermons reveal a wide range of perspectives, from deep theological and spiritual insights to outright anti-Semitism and spiteful notions about women.

In the meantime he preaches thousands of sermons based on a literal rather than an allegorical interpretation of Scripture. His application is often pointed. He asks his wealthy parishioners if they believe they honor Christ, saying, "Do not imagine you are doing so when you show up at worship in your finest attire, bowing before an ornate altar, while you neglect the poor all around you." He also preaches on childrearing, instructing parents not to parade their boys around in "fine raiment and golden ornaments." Rather, funds should support a "strict tutor."

The home is to be ordered with husbands and wives fulfilling their assigned roles, though the husband, in Chrysostom's construct, is not head of the home.

To woman is assigned the presidency of the household. . . . She cannot express her opinion in a legislative assembly, but she can express it at home, and often she is more shrewd about household matters than her husband . . . and frees him from all such household concerns . . . about money.

With so much freedom for women, John might appear to be a fourth-century feminist, but he is not. He restricts women in church leadership because "the woman taught the man once, and made him guilty of disobedience, and wrought our ruin." But he is inconsistent. In reference to Junia, in Romans 16, he writes, "Think how great the devotion of this woman must have been, that she should be worthy to be called an apostle!" Yet again, he suggests that men would be better served by being taught by lower forms of animals than by women.

Women, however, fare much better in John's sermonizing than do Jews. His harshest attacks against Jews come in 386 while serving as a presbyter in Antioch. Christians are freely participating in Jewish holidays and rituals, which John regards as "Judaizing. " He preaches eight sermons timed to correspond with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Here he rails that the synagogue is no better than a theater or brothel. And worse: "The Jews have degenerated to the level of dogs. They are drunkards and gluttons. They beat their servants. They are ignorant of God. Their festivals are worthless. . . . [They are] the Christ killers" — words used by Christians (and Nazis) to persecute Jews in later generations.

In many ways, John is an equal-opportunity slanderer. His attacks reach the inner sanctums of power where Empress Eudoxia reigns in extravagant luxury. When a silver statue is erected in her honor within sight of his cathedral, he explodes. "Again Herodias raves, again she is troubled; she dances again; and again desires to receive John's head in a charger." He is banished a second and final time and dies in exile.


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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We accidentally sent the January 5th Girlfriends in God devotional again this morning. Thanks to everyone who wrote in to alert us of the error! We apologize for the inconvenience.

January 6, 2012

Wow Him!

Pam Farrel

We hope you are enjoying the Girlfriends in God daily devotions.

We (Mary, Sharon, and Gwen) would like to introduce you to some of our special friends.

From time-to-time, the Friday devotions will be written by one of our friends in ministry. We call them our "Friday Friends." So grab your Bible and a fresh cup of coffee and drink in the words from our "Friday Friend," Pam Farrel.

Today's Truth

Love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

Friend to Friend

My husband, Bill, loves his coffee. But along with his love of coffee, Bill also has a habit that can be very annoying - his aversion to getting the coffee mugs into the dishwasher. I find coffee cups every place imaginable: in the garage, in the car, in the truck, in the closet, on the sidewalk, on the deck and patio, in the shop, in the office, on the stairwell, in the bathroom-you name it, and I have probably found a coffee cup there. It is a good thing we are authors and speakers because we love collecting the coffee mugs from all the churches where we speak and all the TV and radio shows on which we appear -and we need every one of those mugs!

I am not a coffee drinker really. I might drink a nonfat latte, but for the most part, coffee makes my heart race, and I prefer that only Bill makes my heart skip a beat! Bill says I am naturally caffeinated by God and it takes Bill drinking three cups of coffee just to keep up with my energy. On the other hand, Bill has an internal homing device that helps him spot a Starbucks green awning!

How did I handle the mugs issue?

Appreciate the Difference: Coffee is a part of what makes Bill - well, Bill! One day, as we were preparing to move homes, I was doing that "last load of dishes" and I realized it was all coffee mugs - 47 of them to be exact! It made me smile because years ago, I decided to pray for Bill every time I saw one of his empty displaced mugs. I was seeking to apply the principle "love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8 ). I have embraced the ever-reappearing-dirty coffee mug with fond affection because it reminds me of my hard workin' man who requires caffeine to do all the wonderful acts of service that benefit so many - including me.

Celebrate the Difference: We celebratedBill's 50th birthday by having Bill select and then roast his own brand of coffee. It took one whole afternoon to visit a coffee farm, select the beans, roast them to perfection and then design the label. I knew I had a winning date as Bill sat and lingered a moment to savor the aroma of his Farrel Family blend of Mountain Thunder Vienna roast. He took a sip. I then watched a big grin appear on my husband's well-caffeinated soul.

Let's Pray

God, if anyone I love has something that is driving me crazy, please help me look for the upside, the flipside of that thing so I can see my family and friends the way You see them. Help me desire to bless them. Give me creative ways to express my love when I am irritated.

In Jesus's Name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Today, take that thing that is driving you crazy about your husband (sibling, parent, roommate or coworker) and pray about it. Then look for a way to celebrate them. If you are married, step out and create a date to WOW him!

More from the Girlfriends

Many times when something irritates us we allow it to fester or grow into a slow burn. We allow our mind to tell us the person is doing it on purpose-just to be irritating. Usually, that is far from the truth. Put yourself in the irritating person's shoes. How do you want others to treat you when some habit, some personality trait, some quirky behavior is bugging them? Before you lose your cool, shoot up a prayer, "God, make me a blessing." Take a breath and then respond with the words or actions God will give you. In my new book, 52 Ways to Wow Your Husband , I share how to make this year the best year of your man's life.

Bill and Pam Farrel are international speakers, authors of over 35 books including best selling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti. Free relationship articles and other books and resources like Pam's newest 52 Ways to Wow Your Husband can be found at www.Love-Wise.com.

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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Three Gifts for the King

Matthew 2:11-12

If our Lord at times seems "crazy" or "foolish" to the world because of His life and message (Mark 3:20-21 ), we can expect the world to feel the same about us when we are true to Him. Unfortunately, too many Christians miss this point and adopt positions or techniques that they believe will make Jesus "more attractive" to the unbeliever. Who or what in your life is pressuring you to "change" the Savior and His message? Pray that you would be faithful to Him.

For further study:

Hosea 2:14-23

The Bible in a year:

Genesis 27-28

For the weekend:

Genesis 29-33

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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Wendy Pope

January 6, 2012

Too Tired to Pray
Wendy Pope

"Then I prayed to the God of heaven..." Nehemiah 2:4b(NIV)

I'm the survivor of some tough challenges. Challenges with a sting that won't quit! As one day fades into the next, I wonder how I will have the energy to make it through. These challenges can steal my energy, my zest for life and my belief that things could change.

During difficult days, my godly friends offer wise counsel. They point me to Scripture with aspirations of encouraging me and bringing hope to what I deem hopeless. My friends hold me up in prayer and remind me to pray. However, there are times when the weight of my circumstances are so heavy, when I bow my head to pray, I sometimes find I am just too tired.

I am tired of moving forward one day, only to run into another obstacle that prohibits progress the next. I am tired of expelling my energies trying to make a difference, only to find myself right back where I was. When a situation robs me of spiritual, mental and physical energy, I feel too tired to pray.

Until I remember a man in the Bible who found himself in a challenge that had the potential to rob him of spiritual, mental and physical strength. He ran into one obstacle after another. He worked hard each day trying to make a difference. But, unlike me, this man was not too tired to pray.

Nehemiah wept and mourned over the seemingly hopeless and ruined condition of Jerusalem when the exiles returned home from captivity in Babylon. He was motivated to help his people rebuild. Having the favor of the king and the presence of God on his side, you wouldn't think the assignment would be a challenge. However, government officials made it their personal business to undermine the rebuilding. They leered and jeered and attempted to defeat the progress every step of the way. Nehemiah responded to each insult and obstacle the same way: he prayed.

For Nehemiah and the Israelites, prayer was the needed prescription to revive them, restore their energy and continue building! Through the power of prayer their enemies were defeated and the wall was rebuilt. What a wonderful lesson for anyone struggling through life's challenges, too tired to pray.

Nehemiah's prescription for those who are overwhelmed can be remembered easily with the acronym SAP (Stop and Pray). Interestingly, the word sap means energy and vitality. Vitality is defined as exuberant physical strength or mental vigor; power to live and grow. Nehemiah had it right. He made prayer his first choice, not his last resort. He discovered prayer would revive his spirit and restore the mental and physical energy needed to overcome challenges.

Do you find yourself facing a challenge? Have you felt just too tired to pray? Join me today as I SAP - stop and pray. Let's allow the power of prayer to revive our spirit and restore our physical and mental vigor. By following Nehemiah's example we will have the energy needed to defeat the enemy and thrive in the midst of our challenges.

Dear Lord, through the power of prayer, today's challenge can be tomorrow's victory. Forgive me when I make prayer my last resort instead of my first choice. Help me remember the truths You have taught me today. Help me SAP when adversity comes my way. Thank You for prayer and the power I receive when I turn to You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

What to do in the W.A.I.T: Finding Contentment in God's Pauses and Plans by Wendy Pope

Visit Wendy's blog to join her and thousands of women in an in-depth study of Psalms. You only need a Bible and your computer to participate.

Application Steps:
Write the word SAP and its meaning (energy and vitality) on several note cards. Place them in your home, car, work and Bible, to remind you to SAP.

Each time a difficult situation occurs, no matter how small, SAP.

Reflections:
How do I feel about my prayer life?

Am I currently in a tough life challenge? Do I really believe prayer can change it? Why or why not?

Nehemiah made prayer his first choice, not his last resort.

Power Verses:
Daniel 9:19a, "O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act!" (NLT)

Habakkuk 1:5, "Look at the nations and watch and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told." (NIV)

Ephesians 3:20, "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more�than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us." (NIV)

Romans 8:26-27, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." (NIV)

© 2012 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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



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Three Gifts for the King

Matthew 2:11-12 "Opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh" (v. 11b).

Yesterday we noted the historical inaccuracies regarding the magi found in Christmas crèches, but we failed to include among these errors their presence at the manger in most nativity scenes. The wise men do not gather with the shepherds only hours after Jesus' birth; they visit months or even years later.

Today's passage makes the case for a later visit of the magi. When the wise men find the Christ child in Bethlehem, He and His family are living in a house and are no longer staying in the stable (Matt. 2:11; Luke 2:1-20). Also, the magi first saw the star announcing the King's birth while they were in their own land (Matt. 2:1-2) and have made a long journey from the east to Judea. Therefore, a visit soon after Jesus' birth is impossible. Finally, when he issues the order to slaughter the Messiah, Herod has all the males in Bethlehem "two years old or under" killed according to the timing of the star he has ascertained from the wise men ( v. 16; see also v. 7). Apparently, there is at most a two-year window between the birth of Jesus and the adoration of the magi.

As soon as the wise men arrive at their destination, they worship the king and give Him gifts (v. 11 ). Interpreters throughout the ages have typically viewed the gifts symbolically. Gold represents royalty and the Messiah's reign. Frankincense, a glittery, fragrant gum from different Near Eastern trees, is useful in worship (Ex. 30:1-10) and symbolizes Jesus' deity. Myrrh, a scented resin obtained from Arabia and Greece, is an embalming spice (John 19:39-40 ) and points to our Lord's death. This reading of the text is insightful, but the wise men probably do not have such things specifically in mind when they present their costly gifts. In any case, these presents are resources that can potentially finance Joseph and Mary's later sojourn in Egypt (Matt. 2:13-15).

Questions of illegitimacy attend Jesus' birth (1:18-19 ), but as one scholar tells us, the magi's visit proves He is Israel's legitimate king. God often does the unexpected and uses what men consider foolish or illegitimate to reveal His wisdom to the world (1 Cor. 1:18-25). May we remember this principle and never make ourselves look respectable to the world at the expense of the Gospel.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

If our Lord at times seems "crazy" or "foolish" to the world because of His life and message ( Mark 3:20-21), we can expect the world to feel the same about us when we are true to Him. Unfortunately, too many Christians miss this point and adopt positions or techniques that they believe will make Jesus "more attractive" to the unbeliever. Who or what in your life is pressuring you to "change" the Savior and His message? Pray that you would be faithful to Him.

For further study:

Hosea 2:14-23

The Bible in a year:

Genesis 27-28

For the weekend:

Genesis 29-33

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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Good cheer for the New Year

‘The eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.’Deuteronomy 11:12

Suggested Further Reading: Job 23:1–17

Imagine that you and I have to live all the year without the eyes of God upon us, not finding a moment from the beginning of the year to the end of the year in which we perceive the Lord to be caring for us or to be waiting to be gracious to us. Imagine that there is none to whom we may appeal beyond our own fellow creatures for help. O miserable supposition! We have come to the opening of the year, and we have to get through it somehow, we must stumble through January, go muddling through the winter, groaning through the spring, sweating through the summer, fainting through the autumn, and grovelling on to another Christmas, and no God to help us. But I will suppose this in the case of you sinners. You know you have been living for twenty, or thirty, or forty years without God, without prayer, without trust, without hope, yet I should not wonder that if I were solemnly to tell you that God would not let you pray during the next year, and would not help you if you did pray, I should not wonder if you were greatly startled at it. Though I believe that the Lord will hear you from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, though I believe that he will watch over you and bless you if you seek him, yet I fear that the most of you are despising his care, living without fellowship with him; and so you are without God, without Christ, without hope, and will be so from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.

For meditation: This was Spurgeon’s position before his conversion on 6 January 1850. If you are not yet a Christian, this will remain your position until you are converted. But if you never are converted, this is what your condition will be throughout eternity—only it will be infinitely worse—for ever without hope and without God (Ephesians 2:12).

Sermon no. 728
6 January (1867)

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Life for a look

“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.” Isaiah 45:22

Suggested Further Reading: Acts 26:1-29

Six years ago, today, as nearly as possible at this very hour of the day, I was “in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity,” but had yet, by divine grace, been led to feel the bitterness of that bondage, and to cry out by reason of the soreness of its slavery. Seeking rest, and finding none, I stepped within the house of God, and sat there, afraid to look upward, lest I should be utterly cut off, and lest his fierce wrath should consume me. The minister rose in his pulpit, and, as I have done this morning, read this text—“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” I looked that moment; the grace of faith was vouchsafed to me in the self-same instant; and now I think I can say with truth:

“E’er since by faith I saw the stream His flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme, And shall be till I die.”

I shall never forget that day, while memory holds its place; nor can I help repeating this text, whenever I remember that hour when first I knew the Lord. How strangely gracious! How wonderfully and marvellously kind, that he who heard these words so little time ago for his own soul’s profit, should now address you from the same text, in the full and confident hope that some poor sinner may hear the glad tidings of salvation for himself also, and may today, on this 6th of January, be “turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.”

For meditation : Even if you cannot pinpoint an exact time or place, can you recall your conversion when the Lord Jesus Christ became real to you and you trusted him to be your Saviour? If you can, are the memories of that great event still as precious as they should be? If you have no such memories, Spurgeon, though dead, speaks to you today. Read again his testimony, obey his text and look to his Saviour so that you too may be saved.

Sermon no. 60
6 January (1856)

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Myth: "True success means always reaching for the next rung on the corporate ladder."

1 Timothy 6:6-7

I've achieved a level of success my parents only dreamed of. I was a National Merit Scholar and the valedictorian of my high school class with a perfect 4.0 GPA. I earned four academic scholarships (a full-ride) to college, and I was the first in my family to graduate from law school. I'm one of only a few attorneys in my firm who passed the Bar on my first attempt. And I'm on track to be a partner in five years. The workload is enormous. I'm working 17 hours a day, especially when I'm studying for a case. And for an African-American woman, the pressure to succeed is even greater.

So why am I frightened by what lies ahead? Why doesn't the idea of becoming senior partner in the firm excite me more? I own my own home and drive a sweet car. I'm dating a wonderful man who supports me in my career and is my undisputed biggest fan. Yet when I think about how I'm spending my life, I feel empty. When I dream about where I'll be in 10 years, I don't see myself as a power-hitter for Pryor and Schmitt. I picture myself as a mom. I see myself staying home with my kids, just like my mom did for my brothers and me.

I know my parents would support me in anything I choose to do, but I sense I would be letting them down if I didn't take advantage of all the opportunities they never had. They worked so hard so that I could be here. I don't want to be known as "The Woman Who Walked." I want them to be proud of me. I just don't know if I'm comfortable with the price of that success. I feel torn between being the person everyone else wants me to be and making the sacrifices I'm not yet willing to make.

-Toya

The refutation of this myth is not based on the premise that something is inherently wrong with a woman who's climbing the corporate ladder. Look at Miriam, who was a significant leader in the book of Exodus. It's worth celebrating that we live in an era where women have executive-level positions in many Fortune 500 companies. It wasn't always that way.

Rather, the idea that women should always reach for that next rung is dangerously misleading. Some women feel that in today's era of liberation they are somehow letting down their gender if they decide to step down from high-ranking corporate positions. They feel enormous pressure to stay.

Most women will agree that to continue enjoying the perks of a top-level position requires tradeoffs when family needs are involved. Early hours and late nights. Travel. Missed baseball games and dance recitals. Broken promises. These are inevitable components of the often-stressful juggle of career and family-for both women and men, though the price is often higher for women. At some point, we must ask ourselves, "Are these the tradeoffs that I'm willing to make?"

God has a specific plan for you that will maximize your talents and gifts, bring maximum glory to himself and provide for your maximum good. Ask yourself:

  • Is God able to carry out that plan where I am now?
  • Is God nudging me to make a change in my priorities?

Women in the workforce must take a good hard look at the price of corporate success. They have at least two valid choices. Some may decide that career advancement is not worth the price. They may continue to work and contribute but without the pressure of climbing the ladder. Other Christian women may feel called to rise higher in the corporate world, and they equally deserve our support so that they can represent Christ in spheres of great influence (see 2 Corinthians 5:20).

"No matter how much they make, most Americans believe twice as much income is required to 'live well' ... Americans seem programmed to deny that they are well-off, which only detracts from our ability to appreciate what's going well in our lives .... If there was ever doubt, modern American life proves that money cannot buy happiness."

-Gregg Easterbrook

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it."
1 Timothy 6:6-7

See also

Matthew 16:26; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Timothy 6:8-10
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