Sunday, January 08, 2012

Daily Devotional Sunday 8th January

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV
===
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"For me to live is Christ."
Philippians 1:21

The believer did not always live to Christ. He began to do so when God the Holy Spirit convinced him of sin, and when by grace he was brought to see the dying Saviour making a propitiation for his guilt. From the moment of the new and celestial birth the man begins to live to Christ. Jesus is to believers the one pearl of great price, for whom we are willing to part with all that we have. He has so completely won our love, that it beats alone for him; to his glory we would live, and in defence of his gospel we would die; he is the pattern of our life, and the model after which we would sculpture our character. Paul's words mean more than most men think; they imply that the aim and end of his life was Christ--nay, his life itself was Jesus. In the words of an ancient saint, he did eat, and drink, and sleep eternal life. Jesus was his very breath, the soul of his soul, the heart of his heart, the life of his life. Can you say, as a professing Christian, that you live up to this idea? Can you honestly say that for you to live is Christ? Your business--are you doing it for Christ? Is it not done for self- aggrandizement and for family advantage? Do you ask, "Is that a mean reason?" For the Christian it is. He professes to live for Christ; how can he live for another object without committing a spiritual adultery? Many there are who carry out this principle in some measure; but who is there that dare say that he hath lived wholly for Christ as the apostle did? Yet, this alone is the true life of a Christian--its source, its sustenance, its fashion, its end, all gathered up in one word--Christ Jesus. Lord, accept me; I here present myself, praying to live only in thee and to thee. Let me be as the bullock which stands between the plough and the altar, to work or to be sacrificed; and let my motto be, "Ready for either."

Evening

"My sister, my spouse."
Song of Solomon 4:12

Observe the sweet titles with which the heavenly Solomon with intense affection addresses his bride the church. "My sister, one near to me by ties of nature, partaker of the same sympathies. My spouse, nearest and dearest, united to me by the tenderest bands of love; my sweet companion, part of my own self. My sister, by my Incarnation, which makes me bone of thy bone and flesh of thy flesh; my spouse, by heavenly betrothal, in which I have espoused thee unto myself in righteousness. My sister, whom I knew of old, and over whom I watched from her earliest infancy; my spouse, taken from among the daughters, embraced by arms of love, and affianced unto me forever. See how true it is that our royal Kinsman is not ashamed of us, for he dwells with manifest delight upon this two-fold relationship. We have the word "my" twice in our version; as if Christ dwelt with rapture on his possession of his Church. "His delights were with the sons of men," because those sons of men were his own chosen ones. He, the Shepherd, sought the sheep, because they were his sheep; he has gone about "to seek and to save that which was lost," because that which was lost was his long before it was lost to itself or lost to him. The church is the exclusive portion of her Lord; none else may claim a partnership, or pretend to share her love. Jesus, thy church delights to have it so! Let every believing soul drink solace out of these wells. Soul! Christ is near to thee in ties of relationship; Christ is dear to thee in bonds of marriage union, and thou art dear to him; behold he grasps both of thy hands with both his own, saying, "My sister, my spouse." Mark the two sacred holdfasts by which thy Lord gets such a double hold of thee that he neither can nor will ever let thee go. Be not, O beloved, slow to return the hallowed flame of his love.

===

Today's reading: Genesis 18-19, Matthew 6:1-18 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

1 The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

3 He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”

“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”

6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”

7 Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8 He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.

9 “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.

“There, in the tent,” he said.

10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

13 Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”

But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”

16 When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. 17 Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

20 Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

26 The LORD said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

27 Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”

“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”

29 Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”

He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”

30 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”

He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

31 Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”

He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”

32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”

He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

33 When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.

Genesis 19

1 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2“My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”

“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”

3 But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. 4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

9 “Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.

10 But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. 11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.

12 The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”

14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”

16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

18 But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! 19 Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. 20 Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”

21 He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.)

23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the LORD out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the LORD. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.

29 So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.

30 Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. 31 One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children—as is the custom all over the earth. 32 Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.”

33 That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and slept with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

34 The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I slept with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” 35 So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went in and slept with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

36 So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father.37 The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. 38 The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.

Matthew 6:1-18

Matthew 6

1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
===
Spurgeon-NewParkStreet-Header-3

The immutability of God

“I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” Malachi 3:6

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 11:33-12:2

It has been said by some that “the proper study of mankind is man.” I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, “Behold I am wise.” But when we come to this master-science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought, that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild ass’s colt; and with the solemn exclamation, “I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.” No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God. We shall be obliged to feel:

“Great God, how infinite art thou,
What worthless worms are we!”

But while the subject humbles the mind it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe.

For meditation: “In the beginning God” (Genesis 1:1) could well describe these opening sentences of Spurgeon’s “New Park Street Pulpit”. But who or what comes first in our thoughts and lives?

Sermon no. 1
7 January (1855)

ADVERTISEMENT

Buy the book this devotional is from!


365 Days with C.H. Spurgeon, Vol. 1: A unique collection of 365 daily readings from sermons preached by Charles Haddon Spurgeon from his New Park Street Pulpit! Edited by Terence Peter Crosby.



===

Spurgeon-MetropolitanTabernacle-Header-1

Unity in Christ

‘Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.’ John 17:20–21

Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 4:4–16

If you would promote the unity of Christ’s church, look after his lost sheep, seek out wandering souls. If you ask what is to be your word, the answer is in the text—it is to be concerning Christ. They are to believe in him. Every soul that believes in Christ is built into the great gospel unity in its measure, and you will never see the church as a whole while there is one soul left unsaved for whom the Saviour shed his precious blood. Go out and teach his Word! Tell out the doctrines of grace as he has given you ability. Hold up Christ before the eyes of men, and you will be the means in God’s hand of bringing them to believe in him, and so the church shall be built up and made one. Here is work for the beginning of the year; here is work till the end of the year. Do not sit down and scheme and plot and plan how this denomination may melt into the other; you leave that alone. Your business is to go and ‘tell to sinners round what a dear Saviour you have found’, for that is God’s way of using you to complete the unity of his Church. Unless these be saved, the Church is not perfect. That is a wonderful text, ‘That they without us should not be made perfect.’ That is to say, saints in heaven cannot be perfect unless we get there. What! the blessed saints in heaven not perfect except the rest of believers come there? So the Scripture tells us, for they would be a part of the body and not a whole body; they cannot be perfect as a flock unless the rest of the sheep come there.

For meditation: God’s instrument for furthering and completing true unity is spiritual—the ongoing addition of souls to his kingdom through the proclamation of Christ crucified. Man’s instrument for promoting organisational unity is political and carnal. Unity, just like the new birth, is ‘not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God’ (John 1:13).

Sermon no. 668
7 January (1866)

ADVERTISEMENT

Buy the book this devotional is from!


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



===

COUPLESenewsheader-Bibles-Sep2011

When You Have to Say No

Esther 1:1-22

"This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen's conduct will respond to all the king's nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord."
Esther 1:18

King Xerxes, the military leader of the Medes and Persians, tried to fulfill his father's failed plan to conquer Greece. Darius had been defeated at Marathon in 490 B.C. and had died soon after. Xerxes amassed one of the largest armies ever and marched back toward Greece. His army managed to get around the Spartan forces at Thermopylae but went down outside Athens when the Persian fleet was sunk in the bay of Salamis.

Esther 1 records what may have been Xerxes' planning meeting for the military campaigns of 482-479 B.C. During this lengthy meeting (lasting 180 days), the men feasted and drank extensively. At one point, Xerxes commanded his wife, Vashti, to appear before the assembled men. We are not told why Vashti refused, but given the circumstances and the rate at which we can assume the men were consuming alcohol, perhaps Vashti was afraid they would ask her to act immodestly-or worse.

Xerxes reacted like a spoiled child. He was furious that his order had not been obeyed. His advisers encouraged the king's stupidity. They proposed deposing Vashti as queen and banishing her from the presence of the king. Then they planned the first Miss Universe pageant to replace Vashti with someone more beautiful and (hopefully) more compliant.

Enter Mordecai and Esther, two Jews who were still living in Persia. Although Mordecai may have also had a Hebrew name, his Babylonian name may betray the comfort his family had with Babylonian life; it is derived from Marduk, the god Nebuchadnezzar followed and to whom he dedicated Babylon, his capital.

Ultimately, Esther was chosen to be the new queen, placing her in a position to intervene at a time when her people were threatened. Esther and Mordecai were able to save the Jews, but the dire threat made to exterminate them as a people during that time made its mark. Perhaps it was an impetus for Ezra and Nehemiah to go back to Jerusalem to help the Jews there rebuild the city's walls and reclaim their spiritual foundations.

Within this story, Vashti often goes unrecognized as a heroine. Yet perhaps that should be acknowledged, particularly within the context of marriage. For while Vashti had been obedient to her husband in all things, there came a point when her moral fiber pulled taut and would not allow her to cross a line that required her to do something she knew was wrong.

In our marriages we need mutual submission and respect, as the apostle Paul wrote (see Ephesians 5:21-33 ). But we also need personal courage to say no to one another when decency is twisted or when obedience to little things would deny obedience to God's greater ways.
Wayne Brouwer

Let's Talk

  • What iffy spots of moral behavior have caused disagreement in our marriage?
  • Has one of us ever asked the other to do something morally questionable? How do we balance mutual submission to each other with saying no to behavior that compromises our integrity?
  • How can we keep our relationship unified so that we avoid situations that cause conflict when our morals differ?
NIVSocialicons

ADVERTISEMENT

NIVCouplesbibleToday's reading is from the
NIV Couple's Devotional Bible
by Zondervan


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


===

The Word Incarnate

Today's reading: John 1:1-18

Jesus the Word is the creator of everything; this is his world. This passage not only underscores Jesus' full ownership of all creation as his rightful possession but also serves as a foundation of his love and providential care for all he has made. Jesus, the Creator of the world, was unwilling to leave his "very good" creation to the destructive powers of sin, but rather, he came to redeem his handiwork. The incarnation has profound implications for Christian stewardship. Pastor Robert Simms says,

In the wisdom of God, to redeem man from his sin required the Son to become a man himself ... The Word himself had to become flesh. John's Gospel begins with the astounding declaration of the act of God in becoming one of his own creation ...

If stewardship, in its simplest implication, is about giving, thenJohn 1:1 confronts the world with the most sublime gift ever given, the most astounding act of generosity that can be imagined. As a monument to the unsurpassed stewardship of the Son of God, the Incarnation rises high above the horizon of all other demonstrations of giving ...

God presented his most valuable gift to man in the Eternal Word made flesh. Once in the world, Jesus the Incarnate Son then gave himself to the Father in complete submission and to the world as the Servant from God. In his earthly existence, Jesus was a steward charged with a divine mandate. Stewardship can be defined as "the obedient management of life and all its resources under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God and the advancement of his kingdom."

Jesus fulfilled his role of steward perfectly:

No matter how difficult the testing became, no matter how demanding the giving of self, no matter how costly in terms of friendship, following, or popularity, Jesus managed his life faithfully. When ultimately such perfect management meant giving up his life for the cause of the kingdom of God, Jesus was willing, and he did so. He made no exception to his total stewardship of life for anything, including his life itself ...

Looking at a world filled with people facing the death sentence of sin, Jesus Christ laid aside the riches of heaven and came to be Savior. As he walked the earth, he continued to give his all, managing every opportunity, every gift, every resource, for the glory of God and the building of his kingdom. Even faced with death, he gave his last treasure, his own life, to save the lives of others. He went to the cross with no regret that if he had been a better steward, he might have done more. He had done everything God wanted of him, and he became the master steward, both Savior of humanity and example to those who would follow him.

Think About It

  • How is the Word made flesh the most valuable gift ever?
  • In what ways was Jesus a servant and a steward?
  • How does the Spirit guide your endeavors as a steward?

Pray About It

Thank you, Lord, for the gifts of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit, who enables me to be a steward of all you have entrusted to me.

NIVSocialicons

ADVERTISEMENT


Today's reading is from the
NIV Stewardship Study Bible
by Zondervan


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


Post a Comment