Sunday, January 01, 2012

Daily Devotional Sunday 1st January

“This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:16, 18-19 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink."
John 7:37

Patience had her perfect work in the Lord Jesus, and until the last day of the feast he pleaded with the Jews, even as on this last day of the year he pleads with us, and waits to be gracious to us. Admirable indeed is the longsuffering of the Saviour in bearing with some of us year after year, notwithstanding our provocations, rebellions, and resistance of his Holy Spirit. Wonder of wonders that we are still in the land of mercy!

Pity expressed herself most plainly, for Jesus cried, which implies not only the loudness of his voice, but the tenderness of his tones. He entreats us to be reconciled. "We pray you," says the Apostle, "as though God did beseech you by us." What earnest, pathetic terms are these! How deep must be the love which makes the Lord weep over sinners, and like a mother woo his children to his bosom! Surely at the call of such a cry our willing hearts will come.

Provision is made most plenteously; all is provided that man can need to quench his soul's thirst. To his conscience the atonement brings peace; to his understanding the gospel brings the richest instruction; to his heart the person of Jesus is the noblest object of affection; to the whole man the truth as it is in Jesus supplies the purest nutriment. Thirst is terrible, but Jesus can remove it. Though the soul were utterly famished, Jesus could restore it.

Proclamation is made most freely, that every thirsty one is welcome. No other distinction is made but that of thirst. Whether it be the thirst of avarice, ambition, pleasure, knowledge, or rest, he who suffers from it is invited. The thirst may be bad in itself, and be no sign of grace, but rather a mark of inordinate sin longing to be gratified with deeper draughts of lust; but it is not goodness in the creature which brings him the invitation, the Lord Jesus sends it freely, and without respect of persons.

Personality is declared most fully. The sinner must come to Jesus, not to works, ordinances, or doctrines, but to a personal Redeemer, who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree. The bleeding, dying, rising Saviour, is the only star of hope to a sinner. Oh for grace to come now and drink, ere the sun sets upon the year's last day!

No waiting or preparation is so much as hinted at. Drinking represents a reception for which no fitness is required. A fool, a thief, a harlot can drink; and so sinfulness of character is no bar to the invitation to believe in Jesus. We want no golden cup, no bejewelled chalice, in which to convey the water to the thirsty; the mouth of poverty is welcome to stoop down and quaff the flowing flood. Blistered, leprous, filthy lips may touch the stream of divine love; they cannot pollute it, but shall themselves be purified. Jesus is the fount of hope. Dear reader, hear the dear Redeemer's loving voice as he cries to each of us,

"IF ANY MAN THIRST,

LET HIM

COME UNTO ME

AND DRINK."

Evening

"The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved."
Jeremiah 8:20

Not saved! Dear reader, is this your mournful plight? Warned of the judgment to come, bidden to escape for your life, and yet at this moment not saved! You know the way of salvation, you read it in the Bible, you hear it from the pulpit, it is explained to you by friends, and yet you neglect it, and therefore you are not saved. You will be without excuse when the Lord shall judge the quick and dead. The Holy Spirit has given more or less of blessing upon the word which has been preached in your hearing, and times of refreshing have come from the divine presence, and yet you are without Christ. All these hopeful seasons have come and gone--your summer and your harvest have past--and yet you are not saved. Years have followed one another into eternity, and your last year will soon be here: youth has gone, manhood is going, and yet you are not saved. Let me ask you--will you ever be saved? Is there any likelihood of it? Already the most propitious seasons have left you unsaved; will other occasions alter your condition? Means have failed with you--the best of means, used perseveringly and with the utmost affection--what more can be done for you? Affliction and prosperity have alike failed to impress you; tears and prayers and sermons have been wasted on your barren heart. Are not the probabilities dead against your ever being saved? Is it not more than likely that you will abide as you are till death forever bars the door of hope? Do you recoil from the supposition? Yet it is a most reasonable one: he who is not washed in so many waters will in all probability go filthy to his end. The convenient time never has come, why should it ever come? It is logical to fear that it never will arrive, and that Felix like, you will find no convenient season till you are in hell. O bethink you of what that hell is, and of the dread probability that you will soon be cast into it!

Reader, suppose you should die unsaved, your doom no words can picture. Write out your dread estate in tears and blood, talk of it with groans and gnashing of teeth: you will be punished with everlasting destruction from the glory of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. A brother's voice would fain startle you into earnestness. O be wise, be wise in time, and ere another year begins, believe in Jesus, who is able to save to the uttermost. Consecrate these last hours to lonely thought, and if deep repentance be bred in you, it will be well; and if it lead to a humble faith in Jesus, it will be best of all. O see to it that this year pass not away, and you an unforgiven spirit. Let not the new year's midnight peals sound upon a joyless spirit! Now, now, NOW believe, and live.

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This is the last Bible reading for 2011! If you've made it all the way through this year-long reading plan, congratulations--you've read the entire Bible! This reading plan starts over from the beginning tomorrow (January 1).

Whether you read through the entire Bible this year or just part of it, we're glad you did and hope you've found it helpful in your spiritual walk.

Today's reading: Malachi 1-4, Revelation 22 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Malachi 1-4

1 A prophecy: The word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi.

Israel Doubts God’s Love

2 “I have loved you,” says the LORD.

“But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’

“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob, 3 but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”

4 Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.”

But this is what the LORD Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the LORD. 5 You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is the LORD—even beyond the borders of Israel!’

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Revelation 22

Eden Restored

1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever....

...read the rest on Bible Gateway

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COUPLESenewsheader-Bibles-Sep2011

Who Influences Us?

2 Chronicles 24:1-25

Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years of Jehoiada the priest.
2 Chronicles 24:2

Think about how other people have influenced your life. One couple I know, Brett and Kayla, were profoundly influenced by others. Brett had played multiple sports in high school and enjoyed a wonderful mentoring relationship with one of his coaches. But after he started playing sports in college, he found that it wasn't the game he cared about as much as it was his former coach, and he ended up dropping out of athletics. Similarly, Kayla became active in her church's women's ministries because of the great lessons she had learned from the women's leader in her previous church.

Influence is powerful. We often want to emulate good leaders and follow their examples. The high priest Jehoiada was a great influence on little King Joash, who was only seven years old when he became king. Joash needed some help ruling the kingdom, and Jehoiada stepped up as his helper and adviser. He chose two wives for Joash and helped Joash restore the temple in Jerusalem and resume worship of the Lord there.

Joash was heavily influenced by others-first by Jehoiada, who led him in the ways of God, and then, after Jehoiada died, by the officials of Judah, who abandoned God and worshiped other gods. When Jehoiada's son Zechariah spoke out against idol worship, warning the king and his people that God would forsake them because they had forsaken God, Joash and his leaders had Zechariah stoned to death.

Like Joash, we have people who have had a major impact on our lives, and we feel lost when they are no longer with us. We may even think that we need others to step in to fill that gap. But like Joash, depending too much on others can prevent us from learning to make critical decisions in our lives.

The best role of a parent, mentor, teacher or pastor is that of helping others to learn how to think for themselves. If Jehoiada had taught Joash to think for himself, the story of this king might have had a different ending. Instead of being led by others, Joash might have been a strong, decisive king who set before the people a lifelong pattern of trusting God for guidance and direction.

My friends James and Elaine relied on the leadership and guidance of key people until they were in a couples' group at church. The rule in that group was that everyone was expected to think about and discuss key issues and situations. The group then asked everyone to take one more step: Each couple was expected to reach their own conclusion on an issue, based on Scriptural guidelines, and explain to the group how they had come to that decision.

Learning and practicing that kind of decision making changed their marriage forever as James and Elaine learned how to think for themselves. Reaching their own conclusions on various issues became a lifelong pattern of learning God's lessons without leaning on others to do it for them.
John R. Throop

Let's Talk

  • Who has greatly influenced our lives? Did they teach us mostly what to think or how to think? Describe their approaches.
  • How are leaders or role models helpful for us? How can they be negative influences? How can we turn negative influences into positive results?
  • What are some good ways for us to blend the positive influences of others into our lives? How can their lessons shape our faith and our values?
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NIVCouplesbibleToday's reading is from the
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by Zondervan


Designed to help you build your relationship on the one foundation you can count on: God’s Word!


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Job's Restoration

Today's reading: Job 42:10

Job's spectacular turnaround isn't just a reward for righteousness but also a joyous act of God's generosity. The fact that God owes us nothing has never deterred him from giving us everything, freely and graciously (cf. 2Co 9:7). Notice that Job's restoration comes only after he forgives his friends and prays for them. As Jesus says, "Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (Lk 6:37-38).

Pastor and author Gordon MacDonald notes that in

"...the first forty chapters of the book of Job, this man faced a sample of nearly every imaginable kind of suffering. On a few occasions he appeared to bend under the weight of the stress, but he never broke. Given every reason to doubt himself and to revise his view of God, he stayed the course.

Every person who desires to live generously will want to acquaint himself with the journey of Job. His is a message from ancient times of a man with a soul that was bigger than the circumstances. Satan certainly got his answer: Job feared God in comfortable times and in chaotic times. No contest!

As this amazing book concludes, a couple of points stand out as worth pondering. Notice that God never told Job why all this was happening to him ... All of Job's anguish finds its roots in a strange conversation in which Job's character was impugned. One would like to hear God say to Job, "Now that this is all over, let me tell you what it was all about." But Job was left, apparently, to live out his days continuing to trust in God ...

More significantly, Job regained his prosperity ... (see Job 42:10). What does this tell us? First, that prosperity is not always a coincidence nor merely the result of hard work. In this case at least, God showered prosperity upon a man because the man had demonstrated his faithfulness.

Second, the prosperity came not simply because Job had endured the suffering but because he prayed for his friends ... Job had no reason to pray grace upon these "friends" of his. They'd done little more than add to his misery during his dark days. Still Job, through his prayer, wished for their best and prayed that God would act kindly toward them ...

Two important lessons to keep in mind: First, everything we own may be attributed to Providence as much as to hard work; remember, there are others who work hard without gaining material prosperity. Second, we must never forget that a grace-filled heart does more to trigger God's kindness than all the more visible things a person can do."

Think About It

  • How do you think this story would have ended had Job not prayed for his friends?
  • How is the story of Job tied not just to the topic of suffering but also to the idea of prosperity?
  • What life lessons can you take away from the story of Job?

Pray About It

Lord, Samuel reminds me that prayer is important when he says to the people, "As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you" (1Sa 12:23). Remind me, Lord, that my prayers on behalf of others are my duty as well as my privilege.

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Today's reading is from the
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Discover the remarkable privilege we have as stewards of God's design for life through the study of Scripture.


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Happy New Year from Bible Gateway! We hope you had a merry Christmas, and that 2012 holds blessings and spiritual growth for you. We've got several exciting announcements with which to kick off the New Year, so without further ado....

Resolve to Read the Bible in 2012

Are you making any resolutions for the New Year? Worried that you won't be able to keep up with them? How about a 2012 resolution that is both spiritually beneficial and easily accomplishable: read through the Bible in 2012 with one of our Bible reading plans!

Reading the entire Bible sounds like a daunting task, but our 365-day reading plans make it as easy as possible: a short daily Bible reading every morning (readable in just 10-15 minutes), sent straight to your email inbox, starting January 1. There are three different email reading plans to choose from, and even more options on the Reading Plan page at Bible Gateway.

Reading through God's Word is one of the most rewarding spiritual activities you can undertake. So even if you aren't the New Year's Resolution-making type, consider making 2012 the year you read the Bible. Signing up for a Bible reading plan is simple and free.

Verse of the Day, Now With the Common English Bible

Our popular Verse of the Day email is now available in a new Bible translation: the Common English Bible (CEB)! The Common English Bible combines translation accuracy with language that reads smoothly and naturally.

The Verse of the Day is a great way to start off each morning. In addition to the CEB, it's available in the NIV, KJV, NLT, and Spanish NVI translations. Sign up for one or more of them and see what a difference it makes to begin each day in God's Word!

Two New Charles Spurgeon Email Devotionals Now Available

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more eloquent, insightful, or quotable preacher than Charles Spurgeon. His "Morning and Evening" devotional is one of our most popular email newsletters. And so we're pleased to announce not one, but two new Spurgeon email devotionals at Bible Gateway!

The new devotionals collect Spurgeon's best sermons from the New Park Street Chapel and Metropolitan Tabernacle respectively. Whether you've enjoyed "Morning and Evening" or have never experienced Spurgeon's graceful and inspiring style, these two daily newsletters are an excellent way to get to know one of the church's most treasured writers and preachers. The two new devotionals begin on January 1; sign up today!

That's all the news for today. We hope you've found Bible Gateway helpful in 2011, and we look forward to serving you in 2012. Have a blessed New Year!

Sincerely,
the Bible Gateway team
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