Sunday, January 22, 2012

Daily Devotional Sunday 22nd January

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:7-8 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"And so all Israel shall be saved."
Romans 11:26

Then Moses sang at the Red Sea, it was his joy to know that all Israel were safe. Not a drop of spray fell from that solid wall until the last of God's Israel had safely planted his foot on the other side the flood. That done, immediately the floods dissolved into their proper place again, but not till then. Part of that song was, "Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed." In the last time, when the elect shall sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and of the Lamb, it shall be the boast of Jesus, "Of all whom thou hast given me, I have lost none." In heaven there shall not be a vacant throne.

"For all the chosen race

Shall meet around the throne,

Shall bless the conduct of his grace,

And make his glories known."

As many as God hath chosen, as many as Christ hath redeemed, as many as the Spirit hath called, as many as believe in Jesus, shall safely cross the dividing sea. We are not all safely landed yet:

"Part of the host have crossed the flood,

And part are crossing now."

The vanguard of the army has already reached the shore. We are marching through the depths; we are at this day following hard after our Leader into the heart of the sea. Let us be of good cheer: the rear-guard shall soon be where the vanguard already is; the last of the chosen ones shall soon have crossed the sea, and then shall be heard the song of triumph, when all are secure. But oh! if one were absent--oh! if one of his chosen family should be cast away--it would make an everlasting discord in the song of the redeemed, and cut the strings of the harps of paradise, so that music could never be extorted from them.

Evening

"He was sore athirst, and called on the Lord, and said, thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant: and now shall I die for thirst?"
Judges 15:18

Samson was thirsty and ready to die. The difficulty was totally different from any which the hero had met before. Merely to get thirst assuaged is nothing like so great a matter as to be delivered from a thousand Philistines! but when the thirst was upon him, Samson felt that little present difficulty more weighty than the great past difficulty out of which he had so specially been delivered. It is very usual for God's people, when they have enjoyed a great deliverance, to find a little trouble too much for them. Samson slays a thousand Philistines, and piles them up in heaps, and then faints for a little water! Jacob wrestles with God at Peniel, and overcomes Omnipotence itself, and then goes "halting on his thigh!" Strange that there must be a shrinking of the sinew whenever we win the day. As if the Lord must teach us our littleness, our nothingness, in order to keep us within bounds. Samson boasted right loudly when he said, "I have slain a thousand men." His boastful throat soon grew hoarse with thirst, and he betook himself to prayer. God has many ways of humbling his people. Dear child of God, if after great mercy you are laid very low, your case is not an unusual one. When David had mounted the throne of Israel, he said, "I am this day weak, though anointed king." You must expect to feel weakest when you are enjoying your greatest triumph. If God has wrought for you great deliverances in the past, your present difficulty is only like Samson's thirst, and the Lord will not let you faint, nor suffer the daughter of the uncircumcised to triumph over you. The road of sorrow is the road to heaven, but there are wells of refreshing water all along the route. So, tried brother, cheer your heart with Samson's words, and rest assured that God will deliver you ere long.

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Today's reading: Exodus 1-3, Matthew 14:1-21 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
The Israelites Oppressed

1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with Jacob, each with his family: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; 3 Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; 4 Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher. 5 The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy in all; Joseph was already in Egypt.

6 Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, 7 but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.

8 Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. 9 “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. 10 Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”

11 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites 13 and worked them ruthlessly. 14 They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.

15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” 17The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”

19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”

20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”

Exodus 2

The Birth of Moses

1 Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, 2and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

5 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it.6 She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.

7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”

8 “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. 9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”

Moses Flees to Midian

11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”

14 The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”

15 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. 16 Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock.

18 When the girls returned to Reuel their father, he asked them, “Why have you returned so early today?”

19 They answered, “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock.”

20 “And where is he?” Reuel asked his daughters. “Why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat.”

21 Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. 22 Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land.”

23 During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. 24 God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. 25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.

Exodus 3

Moses and the Burning Bush

1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

4 When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

7 The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’

“This is my name forever,
the name you shall call me
from generation to generation.

16 “Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. 17 And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.’

18 “The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God.’ 19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.

21 “And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. 22 Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.”


Matthew 14

John the Baptist Beheaded

1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, 2 and he said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”

3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet.

6 On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much 7 that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10 and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

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When God Hides

Psalm 13:1-6

How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
Psalm 13:1

There are benefits to pastoral ministry. Recently a woman wrote about how thrilled her family was to receive their green cards for permanent residency in this country. We had prayed consistently for this family and supported them through their many struggles and setbacks. Now she shared her joy with her church family.

Of course, pastoral ministry also has tough times. Once I stood with a newly married wife as her husband yelled at her, calling her every name possible. He ripped her house keys out of her hands. Later, he replaced the locks on their house and boarded up the windows to prevent her from getting back in.

The ups and downs of pastoral ministry are echoed in Psalm 13. Among the delights of praise, we hear a litany of despair. Where is God when one of us gets a bad report from the doctor? Where is God when a marriage breaks under the stress of unemployment? Where is God when a spouse dies?

One of the hardest challenges I've faced is finding God in loss. I remember sitting with a mother in a hospital, praying for the recovery of her daughter. The daughter had been married only a year. While delivering the woman's baby, the doctor nicked something with his knife. Now the young woman was fighting for her life.

Her mother was inconsolable. When we prayed, she felt no peace. Within hours, her daughter was gone. After that, the mother stopped going to church. The young husband was angry and didn't know how to care for his baby alone. Where was God?

That question is often asked in suffering or loss. And often the only answer appears to be silence. The promises of Scripture fade in the agony of sorrow. The Holy Spirit seems to withdraw from hearts that grow chilly. Where is God when airplanes crash? Where is God when a spouse is unfaithful? Where is God when a baby dies? Where is God?

Psalm 13 echoes those concerns. In verse 1, the psalmist David asks God, "How long will you hide your face from me?" But this isn't the end of the psalm. Rather, the psalmist goes on to assure us that our God, who is enthroned on high, stoops low to see and hear and know us-even when we can't see his face and his words are like a foreign language to us.

"I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation," said David (Psalm 13:5 ). Likewise we continue to love and trust God, not for what we get out of it right now, but because it is the only way to make sense of this life. We trust in God, not because we always feel the wonder of his divine presence, but because there is truly no one else to turn to but God. And in time we will live to say, "He has been good to me" (Psalm 13:6).
Wayne Brouwer

Let's Talk

  • What suffering have we known? How did it affect us? What was our relationship with God like at the time?
  • How do we know that God cares for us today? What would we say as a testimony if asked to share our stories?
  • What do we need from each other during stressful times? How can we best echo back to one another the confident testimonies of Psalm 13?
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The reward of the righteous

‘Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come…inherit the kingdom…for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.’ Matthew 25:34–36

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 6:32–36

The Duke of Burgundy was waited upon by a very loyal subject, who brought him a very large root which he had grown. He was a very poor man indeed, but simply as a loyal offering he brought to his prince the largest his little garden produced. The prince was so pleased with the man’s evident loyalty and affection that he gave him a very large sum. The steward thought, ‘Well, I see this pays; this man has got fifty pounds for his large root, I think I shall make the duke a present.’ So he bought a horse, and he presented it: the duke, like a wise man, quietly accepted the horse, and gave the greedy steward nothing. So you say, ‘Well, here is a Christian, and he gets rewarded. He has been giving to the poor, helping the Lord’s church, and see he is saved; the thing pays, I shall make a little investment.’ Yes, but you see the steward gave the horse out of very great love to himself, and therefore had no return; and if you perform deeds of charity with the idea of getting to heaven by them, it is yourself that you are feeding and clothing; all your virtue is not virtue, it is rank selfishness, and Christ will never accept it; you will never hear him say, ‘Thank you’ for it. You served yourself, and no reward is due. You must first come to the Lord Jesus Christ, and look to him to save you; you will for ever renounce all idea of doing anything to save yourself, and being saved, you will be able to give to the poor without selfishness mixing with your motive.

For meditation: There is great gain in godliness with contentment, but regarding godliness as a means towards gain and gain as a motive for being godly is a sure mark of ungodliness (1 Timothy 6:5–6).

Sermon no. 671
21 January (1866)

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The personality of the Holy Spirit

“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever: Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him: for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” John 14:16,17

Suggested Further Reading: Acts 2:32-39

Observe here, that each person is spoken of as performing a separate office. “I will pray,” says the Son—that is intercession. “I will send,” says the Father—that is donation. “I will comfort,” says the Holy Spirit—that is supernatural influence. Oh! if it were possible for us to see the three persons of the Godhead, we should behold one of them standing before the throne with outstretched hands crying day and night, “O Lord, how long?” We should see one girt with Urim and Thummim, precious stones, on which are written the twelve names of the tribes of Israel; we should behold him crying unto his Father, “Forget not thy promises, forget not thy covenant;” we should hear him make mention of our sorrows, and tell forth our griefs on our behalf, for he is our intercessor. And if we could behold the Father, we should not see him a listless and idle spectator of the intercession of the Son, but we should see him with attentive ear listening to every word of Jesus, and granting every petition. Where is the Holy Spirit all the while? Is he lying idle? Oh, no; he is floating over the earth, and when he sees a weary soul, he says, “Come to Jesus, he will give you rest.” When he beholds an eye filled with tears, he wipes away the tears, and bids the mourner look for comfort on the cross. When he sees the tempest-tossed believer, he takes the helm of his soul and speaks the word of consolation; he helps the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds; and ever on his mission of mercy, he flies around the world, being everywhere present. Behold how the three persons work together.

For meditation: Salvation is all of God—the work is all done by him. And yet he grants to believers the privilege of being co-opted as his fellow-workers to advertise the gospel on his behalf (2 Corinthians 5:18-6: 1).

Sermon no. 4
21 January (1855)

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Life to the Full

Today's reading: John 10:10

Of all the gifts God has given us, life, both physical and spiritual, is the most fundamental and the most precious. In Jesus, God reaffirms the gift of life he bestowed on humanity in the beginning of time and provides the antidote to the culture of sin and death that was introduced by the fall. In the introduction to the encyclical Gospel of Life (Evangelium vitae), Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) proclaims the preciousness of the gift of life.

When he presents the heart of his redemptive mission, Jesus says: "[I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full]" (Jn 10:10). In truth, he is referring to that "new" and "eternal" life which consists in communion with the Father, to which every person is freely called in the Son by the power of the Sanctifying Spirit. It is precisely in this "life" that all the aspects and stages of human life achieve their full significance.

The encyclical also addresses "the incomparable worth of the human person."

Man is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God. The loftiness of this supernatural vocation reveals the greatness and the inestimable value of human life even in its temporal phase. Life in time, in fact, is the fundamental condition, the initial stage and an integral part of the entire unified process of human existence. It is a process which, unexpectedly and undeservedly, is enlightened by the promise and renewed by the gift of divine life, which will reach its full realization in eternity (cf. 1Jn 3:1-2). At the same time, it is precisely this supernatural calling which highlights the relative character of each individual's earthly life. After all, life on earth is not an "ultimate" but a "penultimate" reality; even so, it remains a sacred reality entrusted to us, to be preserved with a sense of responsibility and brought to perfection in love and in the gift of ourselves to God and to our brothers and sisters.

As stewards of God's gifts, the pope admonishes every believer to celebrate, value and guard the gift of human life.

Even in the midst of difficulties and uncertainties, every person sincerely open to truth and goodness can, by the light of reason and the hidden action of grace, come to recognize in the natural law written in the heart (cf. Ro 2:14-15) the sacred value of human life from its very beginning until its end, and can affirm the right of every human being to have this primary good respected to the highest degree. Upon the recognition of this right, every human community and the political community itself are founded.

Think About It

  • What is your definition of life?
  • What makes life so valuable?
  • How might you celebrate, value and guard the gift of life?

Pray About It

Lord, thank you for the life that you give "to the full." Help me to live in celebration of the life you have given to all people, and to be a good steward of this sacred reality-your life in myself and in all the people you have made.

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