Thursday, January 19, 2012

Daily Devotional Thorsday 19th January

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God."
Hebrews 4:9

How different will be the state of the believer in heaven from what it is here! Here he is born to toil and suffer weariness, but in the land of the immortal, fatigue is never known. Anxious to serve his Master, he finds his strength unequal to his zeal: his constant cry is, "Help me to serve thee, O my God." If he be thoroughly active, he will have much labour; not too much for his will, but more than enough for his power, so that he will cry out, "I am not wearied of the labour, but I am wearied in it." Ah! Christian, the hot day of weariness lasts not forever; the sun is nearing the horizon; it shall rise again with a brighter day than thou hast ever seen upon a land where they serve God day and night, and yet rest from their labours. Here, rest is but partial, there, it is perfect. Here, the Christian is always unsettled; he feels that he has not yet attained. There, all are at rest; they have attained the summit of the mountain; they have ascended to the bosom of their God. Higher they cannot go. Ah, toil-worn labourer, only think when thou shalt rest forever! Canst thou conceive it? It is a rest eternal; a rest that "remaineth." Here, my best joys bear "mortal" on their brow; my fair flowers fade; my dainty cups are drained to dregs; my sweetest birds fall before Death's arrows; my most pleasant days are shadowed into nights; and the flood-tides of my bliss subside into ebbs of sorrow; but there, everything is immortal; the harp abides unrusted, the crown unwithered, the eye undimmed, the voice unfaltering, the heart unwavering, and the immortal being is wholly absorbed in infinite delight. Happy day! happy! when mortality shall be swallowed up of life, and the Eternal Sabbath shall begin.

Evening

"He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself."
Luke 24:27

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus had a most profitable journey. Their companion and teacher was the best of tutors; the interpreter one of a thousand, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The Lord Jesus condescended to become a preacher of the gospel, and he was not ashamed to exercise his calling before an audience of two persons, neither does he now refuse to become the teacher of even one. Let us court the company of so excellent an Instructor, for till he is made unto us wisdom we shall never be wise unto salvation.

This unrivalled tutor used as his class-book the best of books. Although able to reveal fresh truth, he preferred to expound the old. He knew by his omniscience what was the most instructive way of teaching, and by turning at once to Moses and the prophets, he showed us that the surest road to wisdom is not speculation, reasoning, or reading human books, but meditation upon the Word of God. The readiest way to be spiritually rich in heavenly knowledge is to dig in this mine of diamonds, to gather pearls from this heavenly sea. When Jesus himself sought to enrich others, he wrought in the quarry of Holy Scripture.

The favoured pair were led to consider the best of subjects, for Jesus spake of Jesus, and expounded the things concerning himself. Here the diamond cut the diamond, and what could be more admirable? The Master of the House unlocked his own doors, conducted the guests to his table, and placed his own dainties upon it. He who hid the treasure in the field himself guided the searchers to it. Our Lord would naturally discourse upon the sweetest of topics, and he could find none sweeter than his own person and work: with an eye to these we should always search the Word. O for grace to study the Bible with Jesus as both our teacher and our lesson!

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Today's reading: Genesis 43-45, Matthew 12:24-50 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
The Second Journey to Egypt

1 Now the famine was still severe in the land. 2 So when they had eaten all the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, "Go back and buy us a little more food."

3 But Judah said to him, "The man warned us solemnly, 'You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.' 4 If you will send our brother along with us, we will go down and buy food for you. 5 But if you will not send him, we will not go down, because the man said to us, 'You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.'"

6 Israel asked, "Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man you had another brother?"

7 They replied, "The man questioned us closely about ourselves and our family. 'Is your father still living?' he asked us. 'Do you have another brother?' We simply answered his questions. How were we to know he would say, 'Bring your brother down here'?"

8 Then Judah said to Israel his father, "Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die. 9 I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life. 10 As it is, if we had not delayed, we could have gone and returned twice."

11 Then their father Israel said to them, "If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift-a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds. 12 Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back into the mouths of your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake. 13 Take your brother also and go back to the man at once. 14 And may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man so that he will let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you. As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved."

15 So the men took the gifts and double the amount of silver, and Benjamin also. They hurried down to Egypt and presented themselves to Joseph. 16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, "Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare a meal; they are to eat with me at noon."

17 The man did as Joseph told him and took the men to Joseph's house. 18 Now the men were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought, "We were brought here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to attack us and overpower us and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys."

19 So they went up to Joseph's steward and spoke to him at the entrance to the house. 20 "We beg your pardon, our lord," they said, "we came down here the first time to buy food. 21But at the place where we stopped for the night we opened our sacks and each of us found his silver-the exact weight-in the mouth of his sack. So we have brought it back with us. 22 We have also brought additional silver with us to buy food. We don't know who put our silver in our sacks."

23 "It's all right," he said. "Don't be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver." Then he brought Simeon out to them.

24 The steward took the men into Joseph's house, gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for their donkeys.25 They prepared their gifts for Joseph's arrival at noon, because they had heard that they were to eat there.

26 When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed down before him to the ground. 27 He asked them how they were, and then he said, "How is your aged father you told me about? Is he still living?"

28 They replied, "Your servant our father is still alive and well." And they bowed down, prostrating themselves before him.

29 As he looked about and saw his brother Benjamin, his own mother's son, he asked, "Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?" And he said, "God be gracious to you, my son." 30 Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there.

31 After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, "Serve the food."

32 They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians. 33 The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment. 34 When portions were served to them from Joseph's table, Benjamin's portion was five times as much as anyone else's. So they feasted and drank freely with him.

Genesis 44

A Silver Cup in a Sack

1 Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: "Fill the men's sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man's silver in the mouth of his sack. 2Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one's sack, along with the silver for his grain." And he did as Joseph said.

3 As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. 4 They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, "Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, 'Why have you repaid good with evil? 5 Isn't this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.'"

6 When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them. 7 But they said to him, "Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that! 8We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master's house? 9 If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord's slaves."

10 "Very well, then," he said, "let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free from blame."

11 Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. 12 Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin's sack. 13 At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city.

14 Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him.15 Joseph said to them, "What is this you have done? Don't you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?"

16 "What can we say to my lord?" Judah replied. "What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants' guilt. We are now my lord's slaves-we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup."

17 But Joseph said, "Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace."

18 Then Judah went up to him and said: "Pardon your servant, my lord, let me speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself. 19 My lord asked his servants, 'Do you have a father or a brother?' 20 And we answered, 'We have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother's sons left, and his father loves him.'

21 "Then you said to your servants, 'Bring him down to me so I can see him for myself.' 22 And we said to my lord, 'The boy cannot leave his father; if he leaves him, his father will die.' 23But you told your servants, 'Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.' 24 When we went back to your servant my father, we told him what my lord had said.

25 "Then our father said, 'Go back and buy a little more food.'26 But we said, 'We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother is with us will we go. We cannot see the man's face unless our youngest brother is with us.'

27 "Your servant my father said to us, 'You know that my wife bore me two sons. 28 One of them went away from me, and I said, "He has surely been torn to pieces." And I have not seen him since. 29 If you take this one from me too and harm comes to him, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in misery.'

30 "So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father, and if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy's life, 31 sees that the boy isn't there, he will die. Your servants will bring the gray head of our father down to the grave in sorrow. 32 Your servant guaranteed the boy's safety to my father. I said, 'If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!'

33 "Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord's slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. 34 How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father."

Genesis 45

Joseph Makes Himself Known

1 Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, "Have everyone leave my presence!" So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh's household heard about it.

3 Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph! Is my father still living?" But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.

4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come close to me." When they had done so, he said, "I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

8 "So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. 9 Now hurry back to my father and say to him, 'This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don't delay. 10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me-you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11 I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.'

12 "You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. 13 Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly."

14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.

16 When the news reached Pharaoh's palace that Joseph's brothers had come, Pharaoh and all his officials were pleased.17 Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Tell your brothers, 'Do this: Load your animals and return to the land of Canaan, 18 and bring your father and your families back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you can enjoy the fat of the land.'

19 "You are also directed to tell them, 'Do this: Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come. 20 Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours.'"

21 So the sons of Israel did this. Joseph gave them carts, as Pharaoh had commanded, and he also gave them provisions for their journey. 22 To each of them he gave new clothing, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels of silver and five sets of clothes. 23 And this is what he sent to his father: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other provisions for his journey. 24 Then he sent his brothers away, and as they were leaving he said to them, "Don't quarrel on the way!"

25 So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. 26 They told him, "Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt." Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. 27 But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28 And Israel said, "I'm convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die."


Matthew 12

24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons."

25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

29 "Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house.

30 "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

33 "Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."

The Sign of Jonah

38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from you."

39 He answered, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. 42The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here.

43 "When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation."

Jesus' Mother and Brothers

46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you."

48 He replied to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."

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Isaac [Ī'zaac] he laugheth or laughing one. The son of Abraham and Sarah, who was born at Gerar when Abraham was one hundred years of age and Sarah was about ninety years old (Gen. 17:19, 21; 21:3-12;22:2-9).

The Man Whose Birth Caused a Laugh

Isaac is one of the few cases in the Bible in which God selected a name for a child and announced it before he was born. In the Old Testament we have Isaac, Ishmael, Solomon, Josiah, Cyrus and Isaiah’s son; in the New Testament, John the Baptist and Jesus.

Isaac’s beautiful and suggestive name, “he laughed,” commemorates the two laughings at the promise of God—the laughing of the father’s joy and the laughing of Sarah’s incredulity which soon passed into penitence and faith (Gen. 21:6). Isaac was the child of the covenant, “I will establish My covenant with him.” To three patriarchs in succession was this covenant specifically given: to Abraham, as he left Chaldea (Gen. 12:3); to Isaac , when in Canaan during the famine (Gen. 26:4); to Jacob, at Bethel (Gen. 28:14). Isaac, however, was the first to inherit the covenant, and to him God gave the whole inheritance of Abraham (Gen. 24:35).

We have no record of Isaac’s early life apart from the fact that he was circumcised when eight days of age ( Gen. 21:4). Doubtless as a lad he became God’s child in heart and life, ever mindful of the covenant he was heir to. When, according to Josephus, Isaac was twenty-five years of age, he was taken from Beer-sheba to the land of Moriah, where, as the burnt offering, Abraham presented him to God. While we have Abraham’s unquestioning faith in his submission to the divine command to offer up his only son, we must not forget Isaac’s supreme confidence in his father and also his willing consent to become the victim ( Gen. 22:12; 26:5; Heb. 11:17). Thus in Isaac we have a type of Him who gave Himself for our sins. From the day of his surrender to death, Isaac became a dedicated man. “The altar sanctified the gift.”

When his mother Sarah died, Isaac was a man of thirty-six, and was deeply grieved over the death of his mother. Comfort was his when he took Rebekah as his wife to help fill the vacant place in his heart. To the credit of Isaac it must be said that he was the only one of the patriarchs who had but one wife. It is also perfectly clear from the ancient idyll, one of the most beautiful in all literature, that Isaac left the choice of his wife to God. When the caravan bearing Rebekah neared home, Isaac was in the fields meditating or “praying,” as the margin expresses it (Gen. 24:63 ).

For many years Isaac and Rebekah were childless, but God heard Isaac’s prayers and Rebekah gave birth to twins, Jacob and Esau. Isaac seems to have outlived his wife, and died at the age of 180 (Gen. 35:28). For some fifty years Isaac was almost blind, a sad and pitiful lot for God’s chosen one.

The character of Isaac, beautiful though it was in many ways, yet carried a few blots. He followed his father, Abraham, in deceitfulness when he called his wife his sister, bringing upon himself the rebuke of Abimelech. He also loved “savoury food,” which should have been alien to a man so calm and still, lord of his passion and himself. Then in the matter of Esau and the blessing, Isaac surely rebelled against the Lord’s purpose.

Among the commendable features of his character, mention can be made of Isaac’s submission ( Gen. 22:6, 9); meditation (Gen. 24:63); instinctive trust in God (Gen. 22:7, 8); deep devotion (Gen. 24:67; 25:21); peaceableness (Gen. 26:20-22); prayerfulness ( Gen. 26:25); faith (Heb. 11:16, 17). “The fear of Isaac” ( Gen. 31:42, 53), means the God tremblingly adored by the patriarch.

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Jesus' Childhood

Jerry Bridges

Matthew 2, along with a few verses in Luke 2 , provides all the historical data we have concerning the early childhood of Jesus. And since the writers of the Gospels were masters of brevity and understatement, Matthew 2 fairly bristles with questions we long to have answered. Among them we'd like to know more about the wise men, the star they saw, and how they connected it to the one who was born king of the Jews. Obviously, if the Holy Spirit had wanted us to have more information, He would have guided Matthew to include it. So rather than being distracted by unanswered questions, we should look for the main purpose of the passage. What does the Holy Spirit want us to learn?

First, Jesus was sent, not only to be king of the Jews but also of the Gentiles. The wise men were prestigious and wealthy members of their Gentile society, so it was fitting that our Lord's birth would be announced to them as king of the Jews. This announcement anticipated the glorious day when the great commission to "make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:19) would be fulfilled and "all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you" ( Ps. 22:27).

To the Gentiles He is announced as king and to the shepherds as Savior. Perhaps this was God's way of announcing that Jesus was sent to be both Savior and king to both Jews and Gentiles, and to all levels of society from the lowest to the greatest.

But before the throne there would be the cross. And before the cross there would be a lifetime of suffering and humiliation. The wise men who worshiped Jesus had no sooner left than Joseph, Mary, and Jesus had to flee to Egypt to escape the sword of Herod. And when they did return to Israel, the town of Bethlehem was still not safe, forcing them to return to the city of Nazareth. So, instead of being known as a child of the royal city of King David's Bethlehem, Jesus grew up to be known as a Nazarene. Being called a Nazarene was not just a means of geographical identification, such as being called a New Englander. It was actually a demeaning term since Nazareth apparently had a bad reputation as evidenced by Nathaniel's sincere question: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (John 1:46). Being called a Nazarene then was like saying he came from "the other side of the tracks." Thus, Isaiah's prophecy that "he was despised and rejected by men...he was despised and we esteemed him not" (Isa. 53:3) began to be fulfilled even in His childhood.

Matthew records four specific incidents from the early childhood of Jesus, and he is careful to point out that all four incidents - the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the flight of the family to Egypt, the killing of the small boys and the final settlement of the family in Nazareth - occurred in fulfillment of prophetic utterances (see Matt. 2:5-6, 15-17, 23 ). Though Matthew's purpose at the time was to prove that Jesus was the fulfillment of Old Testament expectations concerning the Messiah, these prophecies should also give us confidence in God's prophetic promises about events yet to unfold, such as the return of Christ, the resurrection, and the ushering in of the new heavens and the new earth. What God has predicted prophetically, He will certainly bring to pass in His time.

The details of the actual fulfillment of the four prophecies concerning Jesus would have surprised us all. Who would have imagined that Joseph and Mary would journey all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem in response to a Roman decree so that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem - not Nazareth where he was conceived? Who would have guessed that Hosea 11:1, which referred originally to the exodus from Egypt, would have a further fulfillment in the life of Jesus? Or that Jeremiah 31:15written at the time of the Babylonian exile would be fulfilled in the killing of the small boys of Bethlehem. Who could have predicted the events that caused Joseph finally to settle in Nazareth in fulfillment of Scripture?

So let us hold our various views of end time events with humility. That those events will occur is something we can be certain of. But our views as to how those events will unfold are, for the most part, only speculation. So let's hold our views with humility and practice love and acceptance toward those who hold other views.

A good rule for us all would be to focus not on the more speculative parts of the Bible such as unanswered questions and unfulfilled prophecy, but on that which is clearly taught - that Christ is both Savior and king. As Savior He was despised and rejected and crucified for our sins, and as king He is to rule in each of our lives as both Savior and Lord.

Dr. Jerry Bridges is an author and speaker, as well as a part-time staff member with The Navigators in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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

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One with His People

Matthew 3:13-17

In His baptism, our Lord confirmed His willingness to identify with the plight of His people, a willingness first displayed when He became incarnate (see also Heb. 2:14-18). We who live under the new covenant experience the awesome benefit of knowing that God came down to our own level to identify with us and help us in our trials. If you lack strength this day, consider Jesus who is uniquely able to fortify you because He too suffered on this earth.

For further study:

2 Samuel 7

The Bible in a year:

Exodus 5-6

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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January 18, 2012

God Called Out

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

But the Lord God called to the man, "Where are you?" (Genesis 3:9 NIV)

Friend to Friend

Eden was full of God's glory-breathtaking beauty with unbroken union and constant communion with God. But as we know, something went terribly wrong, and Adam and Eve found themselves naked and ashamed. And what was the first thing they did when that happened?

They hid.

They hid from God.

"Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" (Genesis 3:9). God called out.

God.

Called.

Out.

"Where are you?" God asked. It was the very first question in the Bible, and it was asked by an all-knowing God. He still asks that very question today. Perhaps you've heard it as well. I have.

The real tragedy of Adam and Eve's disobedience was that union between God and man was broken. Shattered. Destroyed. But as soon as Eve sank her teeth into the forbidden fruit, the shadow of the cross rose on the horizon, and God's redemptive plan to restore all that we had lost was set in motion. All through the rest of the Old Testament, fromGenesis 3:9 to Malachi 4:6, we read of God calling humanity back to Himself.

We read of cycles of humanity's fellowship with God, followed by humanity's rebellion against God, followed by God's wooing humanity back in the midst of difficult circumstances, followed by humanity's repentance, followed by humanity's fellowship with God, followed by humanity's rebellion against God, followed by God's wooing humanity back in the midst of difficult situations, followed by humanity's repentance, followed by humanity's fellowship with God, followed by....

And all along God continues His passionate pursuit of the human heart as He relentlessly romances us, His image bearers, and calls out to us first one way, then another.

Interestingly, the Hebrew word for Bible is mikra, and it meansthe calling out of God. Isn't that what the Bible really is? The calling out of God to draw mankind back to Himself. To restore our original glory through the finished work of Jesus Christ? He begins with calling out that very first question: "Where are you?" He ends it the same. "I stand at the door and knock," (Revelation 3:20).

The Bible tells us, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). There is not one of us who is completely and perfectly living the life that God had intended in the Garden. But the good news is that Christ in us is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:24-27). It is through that union that glory moments occur. Without Christ in us, we are not even able to detect or reflect God's glory at all. And yet, that was God's original intent for us "in the beginning."

Most people would agree that we are born with an inherent inner nagging that there has to be something more than what we see. Solomon wrote: "He has also set eternity in the hearts of men" (Ecclesiastes 3:11). No matter how humanity has tried to satisfy the hunger, quench the thirst, or mask the reality of God's existence, eternity still pulls at the heart. A longing to experience God persists. The glory ache is a chronic throb.

But here is the good news! Aren't you ready for some good news? This is not our final home! We are merely passing through this thing called life. Until those who know Christ leave this earth and enter God's glory once and for all, until we inhale eternity, He gives us glimpses of glory right here on earth! Moments of sudden glory abound, if we will but take the time to recognize them, to embrace them, to enjoy them ... to taste and see that the Lord is good!

Let's Pray

Here I am, Lord. I'm right here in Your presence. Thank You for not leaving me hiding in shame, but called me out of hiding to join You in a relationship.

In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Have you ever felt like you were hiding from God?

Have you ever felt that He was calling out to you?

God still calls out. Jesus still knocks. Look for Him. Listen for Him.

I'd love to hear how God showed Himself to you today! Let's share at www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes.

More from the Girlfriends

Do you need a tune-up when it comes to tuning in to God? Do you want to know how to hear that still small voice? If so, check out Sharon's book, Becoming a Woman who Listens to God and sharpen your spiritual listening skills! And don't forget to check out our new Girlfriends in God devotion book, Trusting God.

Seeking God?

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how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God

P.O. Box 725

Matthews, NC 28106

info@girlfriendsingod.com
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Confession of sin–a sermon with seven texts

“I have sinned.” Exodus 9:27; Numbers 22:34; 1 Samuel 15:24;Joshua 7:20; Matthew 27:4; Job 7:20; Luke 15:18.

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 51

Unless there be a true and hearty confession of our sins to God, we have no promise that we shall find mercy through the blood of the Redeemer. “Whoso confesseth (his sins) and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” But there is no promise in the Bible to the man who will not confess his sins. Yet, as upon every point of Scripture there is a liability of being deceived, so more especially in the matter of confession of sin. There are many who make a confession, and a confession before God, who notwithstanding receive no blessing, because their confession has not in it certain marks which are required by God to prove it genuine and sincere, and which demonstrate it to be the work of the Holy Spirit.

the hardened sinner–pharaoh. It is of no use for you to say, “I have sinned,” merely under the influence of terror, and then to forget it afterwards.

the double-minded man—balaam. It is idle and useless for you to say, “I have sinned,” unless you mean it from your heart.

the insincere man—saul. To say, “I have sinned,” in an unmeaning manner, is worse than worthless, for it is a mockery of God thus to confess with insincerity of heart.

the doubtful penitent—achan . The most we can say is, that we hope their souls are saved at last, but indeed we cannot tell.

the repentance of despair—judas. If you have such a repentance as that, it will be a warning to generations yet to come.

the repentance of the saint—job. This is the repentance of the man who is a child of God already, an acceptable repentance before God.

the blessed confession—the prodigal. Here is that which proves a man to be a regenerate character–“Father, I have sinned.”

For meditation: All have sinned. ( Romans 3:23) “Thou art the man” (2 Samuel 12:7); but which one?

Sermon no. 113
18 January (1857)

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Renee Swope

January 18, 2012

Listening to God
Renee Swope

"So Jesus explained, 'I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.'"John 5:19 (NLT)

I want to be a woman who listens to God. But, sometimes I'm not sure if it's God talking or just me thinking.

And if I'm really honest, when I do sense Him whispering to my heart, I'm not always crazy about what I sense He's telling me to do. Like the time I knew without a doubt God wanted me to share my testimony publicly. I pretty much ran from that assignment for a decade.

Yet, I've learned over the past twenty something years when I listen to God, I discover His best for me. And, I grow my trust in Him.

I've seen again and again that His ways lead to His goodness, and when I follow Him, His mercy follows me. At the end of my ten-year spiritual sprint away from what scared me most - sharing the story of my brokenness with others - I surrendered to what God was calling me to do.

I started listening closely to Him and trusting completely inHim, so that I could experience a day-by-day abiding in His presence and promises. From there, His plans unfolded day-by-day.

I honestly thought I had been listening to Him all that time. But one day while I was seeking God's direction in some decisions, the Holy Spirit showed me I had a habit of asking God what He wanted me to do and where He wanted me to invest my time. Then I went about doing it, without depending on Him for direction each step of the way.

Oftentimes, I would seek God for the larger plans in life, convinced that if I figured out what He wanted me to do then I could become the person He created me to be, and fulfill the calling He had for me.

Have you ever thought: "If only God would show me what job to take; what man to marry; what church to attend; what ministry to serve in - then my life would be complete and I could trust Him with my whole heart?"

The problem is, sometimes we get a glimpse of where God wants us to go and then assume we know how to get there.

Or we get a peek at what He wants us to do and think we know how He wants us to do it. How many times have I made that mistake and then wondered why I wasn't getting anywhere?

Over time, God has taught me that He wants my spiritual ears more than my spiritual efforts.

He wants daily dependence, interaction and intimacy with me. And He is more concerned with my character than what I schedule for Him on my calendar.

In today's key verse, Jesus tells us that He depended on the Father for the large and fine print written in His life plan. He listened closely and obeyed quickly: "...'I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; He does only what He sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.'" (John 5:19 NLT)

Like Jesus, we will discover God's purpose for our lives through dependent hearts that seek to listen to His - day by day, moment by moment. Let's position our hearts, minds and souls to hear Him speak to us today.

Dear Lord, I want to become a woman who listens to You. I come to You today with a seeking heart, asking not only for direction but for discernment, humility and dependence on You -- each step of the way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Rest Assured: How to Rest, Be Renewed & Remain in God's Promises and Plans - a message on CD by Renee Swope

How do we know if God is speaking to us? Visit Renee's website/blog where she shares how we can learn to discern God's voice, and enter to win her "Listening to God" gift pack.

A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself and Start Living in the Security of God's Promises by Renee Swope

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity! Each purchase supports the many areas of life-changing ministry we provide at no cost. So, we are extremely grateful when you shop with us!

Reflect and Respond:
Do I read my Bible so God's words and ways are familiar to me? Do I intentionally listen for God's voice, or do I assume I know what He wants me to do?

• Take time to pull away from distractions and quiet your thoughts, even if it's just 10-15 minutes.
• Tell God you want to hear Him speak - through a verse, a song, a person or a whisper in your soul.
• Talk to Him about your plans for the day and ask Him to show you His. Give Him permission to interrupt your thoughts and agenda and lead you in a different direction if He wants to.
• Then get ready for a day filled with adventure and companionship as you walk hand in hand with your Maker.

Power Verses:
Psalm 119:16, "I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word." (NIV)

John 14:31, "...but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father." (NLT)

1 Samuel 3:10, "The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, 'Samuel! Samuel!' Then Samuel said, 'Speak, for your servant is listening.'" (NIV)

© 2012 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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



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Broad rivers and streams

‘Look upon Zion … thine eyes shall see Jerusalem … there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby. For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us.’ Isaiah 33:20–22

Suggested Further Reading: Exodus 14:10–31

In 1588, when the Armada sailed towards Britain, God blew with his winds and all Spain’s mighty hosts were broken, and God’s favoured isle was free. We were doubtless spared the horrors of war under Napoleon because of the Channel. It was especially so in the old times of ancient warfare; then a narrow trench was almost as useful as a broad channel would be now, for they had no ready means of crossing, though on old Assyrian sculptures we see galleys with oars crossing over rivers, and we have one or two sculptures, I believe, in the British Museum, of the Assyrian king turning the river into another channel so that he might the more easily take the city. But still, rivers were for a defence. O beloved, what a defence is God to his church! Ah, the devil cannot cross this broad river of God. Between me and you, O fiend of hell, is my God. Do remember this, Christian; between you and your arch-enemy is your God; Satan has to stand on the other side, and how he wishes he could dry up that stream, but God is omnipotent. How he wishes he could change the current, but fear not, for God abides immutably the same. How he wishes he could get at you and me; but only once let us get safe landed in Zion, we may look over its walls across the broad rivers and streams, and remember that we are out of gunshot of the enemy so far as our spiritual existence is concerned. He cannot destroy us; worry us he may; for we are such timid souls, but kill he cannot, for God, even our mighty God keeps us safe beyond all possibility of destruction.

For meditation: Others may have assumed the title ‘Defender of the Faith’ or even undermined it—‘Defender of faith’—but God is the true and everlasting defender of his people (Psalm 5:11; 20:1; 59:1; Isaiah 31:5; 37:35; 38:6; Zechariah 12:8).

Sermon no. 489
18 January (1863)

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One Final Meal Together: The longest night of Jesus' life

Today's reading: John 14

John 14:27 "Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

John devotes one-third of his book to the 24-hour period immediately preceding Jesus' death. Chapters 13-17 describe one of the scenes from that long day and night, and nothing like these chapters exists elsewhere in the Bible. In their slow-motion, realistic detail, they provide an intimate memoir of Jesus' most anguished evening.

Leonardo da Vinci immortalized the setting in his famous painting The Last Supper, with the participants arranged on one side of the table as if posing for the artist. John himself gives few physical details; instead, he focuses on a whirlpool of emotional currents.

John holds a light to the disciples' faces, and you can almost see the awareness flickering in their eyes. All that Jesus has told them is slowly settling in. As for Jesus, "having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end" (John 13:1).

Jesus Prepares to Leave

Never before has Jesus been so direct with them. Around the table he avoids parables and painstakingly answers the disciples' redundant questions. The world is about to undergo a convulsive trauma, and the 11 fearful men with him are his hope for that world.

Jesus patiently explains until at last the disciples show signs of understanding. God's Son, having entered the world to reside in one body, will soon leave the earth to return to the Father. Yet someone else-the Spirit of truth, the Advocate-will come to live inside them.

Yes, Jesus is planning to die. He is leaving them. But in some mysterious way, he is not leaving. He will not stay dead. For the disciples, caught up in the excitement of the Passover but sobered by Jesus' haunting focus on death, it is all too much to grasp. This night Jesus gives them an intimacy with the Father such as they have never known; even so, he promises an even greater intimacy to come. He seems aware that much at which they now nod their heads will not make sense until later.

Life Question

How would you describe Jesus' reaction to impending death? Panic? Confidence? Sober concentration? Resignation? Concern for others?
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At Issue - Guilt

2 Chronicles 7:13-14

What one sin from your past haunts you? Perhaps you fall into the more than 40 percent of women who've had an abortion. Perhaps you believed that it was your body, your choice. Perhaps you were told it would be hard, but you'd move on and forget. But you've never forgotten. For this sin or any other, do you feel like you crossed a line with God, a line past which he doesn't forgive? If you humble yourself, seek God and turn from your sin, you'll discover that he will do even more than forgive you-he'll heal you and make you whole.

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