Thursday, January 26, 2012

Daily Devotional Thursday 26th January

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”Philippians 4:8 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us."
Isaiah 63:7

And canst thou not do this? Are there no mercies which thou hast experienced? What, though thou art gloomy now, canst thou forget that blessed hour when Jesus met thee, and said, "Come unto me"? Canst thou not remember that rapturous moment when he snapped thy fetters, dashed thy chains to the earth, and said, "I came to break thy bonds and set thee free"? Or if the love of thine espousals be forgotten, there must surely be some precious milestone along the road of life not quite grown over with moss, on which thou canst read a happy memorial of his mercy towards thee? What, didst thou never have a sickness like that which thou art suffering now, and did he not restore thee? Wert thou never poor before, and did he not supply thy wants? Wast thou never in straits before, and did he not deliver thee? Arise, go to the river of thine experience, and pull up a few bulrushes, and plait them into an ark, wherein thine infant--faith--may float safely on the stream. Forget not what thy God has done for thee; turn over the book of thy remembrance, and consider the days of old. Canst thou not remember the hill Mizar? Did the Lord never meet with thee at Hermon? Hast thou never climbed the Delectable Mountains? Hast thou never been helped in time of need? Nay, I know thou hast. Go back, then, a little way to the choice mercies of yesterday, and though all may be dark now, light up the lamps of the past, they shall glitter through the darkness, and thou shalt trust in the Lord till the day break and the shadows flee away. "Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses, for they have been ever of old."

Evening

"Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law."
Romans 3:31

When the believer is adopted into the Lord's family, his relationship to old Adam and the law ceases at once; but then he is under a new rule, and a new covenant. Believer, you are God's child; it is your first duty to obey your heavenly Father. A servile spirit you have nothing to do with: you are not a slave, but a child; and now, inasmuch as you are a beloved child, you are bound to obey your Father's faintest wish, the least intimation of his will. Does he bid you fulfil a sacred ordinance? It is at your peril that you neglect it, for you will be disobeying your Father. Does he command you to seek the image of Jesus? Is it not your joy to do so? Does Jesus tell you, "Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect"? Then not because the law commands, but because your Saviour enjoins, you will labour to be perfect in holiness. Does he bid his saints love one another? Do it, not because the law says, "Love thy neighbour," but because Jesus says, "If ye love me, keep my commandments;" and this is the commandment that he has given unto you, "that ye love one another." Are you told to distribute to the poor? Do it, not because charity is a burden which you dare not shirk, but because Jesus teaches, "Give to him that asketh of thee." Does the Word say, "Love God with all your heart"? Look at the commandment and reply, "Ah! commandment, Christ hath fulfilled thee already--I have no need, therefore, to fulfil thee for my salvation, but I rejoice to yield obedience to thee because God is my Father now and he has a claim upon me, which I would not dispute." May the Holy Ghost make your heart obedient to the constraining power of Christ's love, that your prayer may be, "Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight." Grace is the mother and nurse of holiness, and not the apologist of sin.

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Today's reading: Exodus 12-13, Matthew 16 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread

1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 2 “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. 5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. 8 That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. 9 Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs and internal organs. 10 Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. 11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover.

12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD—a lasting ordinance. 15 For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do.

17 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. 18 In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. 19 For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And anyone, whether foreigner or native-born, who eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel. 20 Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.”

21 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. 23 When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.

24 “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. 25 When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ 27 then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. 28The Israelites did just what the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron.

29 At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. 30 Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.

The Exodus

31 During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the LORD as you have requested. 32 Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”

33 The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” 34 So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. 35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36The LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.

37 The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. 39 With the dough the Israelites had brought from Egypt, they baked loaves of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.

40 Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the LORD’s divisions left Egypt. 42 Because the LORD kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the LORD for the generations to come.

Passover Restrictions

43 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “These are the regulations for the Passover meal:

“No foreigner may eat it. 44 Any slave you have bought may eat it after you have circumcised him, 45 but a temporary resident or a hired worker may not eat it.

46 “It must be eaten inside the house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones. 47 The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.

48 “A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the LORD’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it. 49 The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.”

50 All the Israelites did just what the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on that very day the LORD brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.

Exodus 13

Consecration of the Firstborn

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether human or animal.”

3 Then Moses said to the people, “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the LORD brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast. 4 Today, in the month of Aviv, you are leaving. 5 When the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites—the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey—you are to observe this ceremony in this month: 6 For seven days eat bread made without yeast and on the seventh day hold a festival to the LORD. 7 Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders. 8 On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9 This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the LORD is to be on your lips. For the LORD brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand. 10 You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year.

11 “After the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites and gives it to you, as he promised on oath to you and your ancestors, 12 you are to give over to the LORD the first offspring of every womb. All the firstborn males of your livestock belong to the LORD. 13 Redeem with a lamb every firstborn donkey, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem every firstborn among your sons.

14 “In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD killed the firstborn of both people and animals in Egypt. This is why I sacrifice to the LORD the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.’ 16 And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the LORD brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand.”

Crossing the Sea

17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.

19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.”

20 After leaving Sukkoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. 21 By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.


Matthew 16

The Demand for a Sign

1 The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.

2 He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ 3 and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.

The Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees

5 When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”

8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread?9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Peter Declares That Jesus Is the Messiah

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Jesus Predicts His Death

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

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Sisera [Sĭs'eră]—meditation, battle array or sees a horse.
  1. Commander of the Canaanite army which held northern Israel in subjection. He was killed by Jael (Judg. 4:21, 22;1 Sam. 12:9; Ps. 83:9). In his flight after battle with the Israelites under Barak, Sisera, overcome by fatigue, sought shelter in the tent of Jael, who treacherously slew him while asleep—the death prophesied by Deborah (Judg. 4:9 ). The most tragic aspect of the murder of Sisera is that of his anxious mother awaiting the return of her son. Jael’s cruel act broke a mother’s heart.
  2. One of the Nethinims whose descendants returned with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:53; Neh. 7:55).
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A Small Town, a Great King

Micah 5:1-6

God's often uses what the world deems insignificant or unlovely. Across the world, His kingdom is spread by ordinary people who will probably themselves never be famous or remembered in the history books of men. Yet, those who know Christ are remembered by God and are the most significant people of all in His eyes, the only eyes that really matter. Each one of us, famous or not, can be used by the Lord in mighty ways.

For further study:

Numbers 12:3

The Bible in a year:

Exodus 23-25

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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At Issue - Rejection

2 Chronicles 11:13-17

Rejection hurts-when your boss hands you a pink slip, or your husband walks out on you, or a close friend deserts you. Rejection makes you doubt your abilities, your worth, your purpose in life. But not all rejection is bad. The Levites were rejected by Jeroboam, who wanted to choose his own priests to offer sacrifices to false gods. Painful as the rejection was, it motivated the Levites to move to Jerusalem to serve God there-a change they wouldn't have made otherwise. You may never welcome rejection, but you can trust that God will use even that to direct your life toward him.

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True Identity: The Bible for Women
by Zondervan


The Bible that helps you see yourself as God sees you! Find your true identity in Christ through your relationship with him.
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January 25, 2012

The Beauty of Romantic Love

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

"Show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely," (Song of Songs 2;14 NIV).

Friend to Friend

Aren't you glad that God refers to the Church as the Bride of Christ? I asked my husband what pictures come into his mind when he reads God's description of the Church as the Bride of Christ. He gave me a strange look and said, "none, really." I'll admit, I can't picture Steve walking down the aisle in a flowing wedding gown, but oh sister, I can see myself dressed in a satin and lace, pearl-studded gown with a flowing veil, and walking down the aisle of heaven to meet Jesus-my heavenly Bridegroom. Can't you? What glorious imagery God has given to His female image bearers.

Perhaps one of the most romantic books in the Bible is the Song of Songs, or as some translations title it, The Song of Solomon. While it can be read as King Solomon's wooing the Shulammite woman working in the fields, many theologians, including Augustine, Matthew Henry, Charles Spurgeon, Hudson Taylor, and at least one gal from the South, see it as an allegory of Jesus wooing the heart of His Bride.

I have been like the Shulammite woman who questioned God's pursuit. She felt unworthy of her suitor's advances. "Do not stare at me because I am dark, because I am darkened by the sun," she cried (Song of Songs 1:6). Her hands were stained from tending her brothers' vineyard. Her skin was burnt by the blazing sun. Her feet were calloused from walking bare on hardened ground. But the king looked past all the outward signs of a hard-lived life, and saw only her beauty.

When I first read those words through the lens of Jesus pursuing me, tears filled my eyes. And yet, the tears were not for the Shulammite woman. The tears were for myself.

I grew up in a home riddled with cyclical bursts of physical violence and constant emotional turmoil. My father drank very heavily and my parents fought, both verbally and physically, in front of me. Many nights I went to bed, pulled the covers up around my chin, and prayed that I would hurry up and go to sleep to shut out the noise of the yelling, screaming, and arguing in the next room. My parents were so wrapped up in their own problems, they were unsure how to show love to their children. I lived in a beautiful house and all my physical needs were cared for. But my heart was hungry for something I couldn't define. An undercurrent of inferiority, insecurity, and inadequacy ran through my entire existence and became the window through which I viewed my little world.

From my earliest remembrance, I felt that I wasn't good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough. Looking back through my scrapbook of photos, I was actually a cute little girl. However, when someone feels ugly, the mirror on the wall somehow bypasses the reflection in the glass and goes right to the heart. No wonder my daddy doesn't love me, I thought on many occasions.

And yet, the King spied me in the fields and wooed me. Through a two-year courtship, Jesus pursued my adolescent heart until I finally stopped shunning His advances and allowed myself to be caught. "I am my Beloved's and His desire is for me." Every girl's dream.

There are many different types of love: motherly love, friendship love, patriotic love, and a host of other shades and varieties. But romantic love brings with it colors and hues that are specific and unique to every other on the spectrum of emotions. Lovers are consumed with ways to make each other happy. They long for together times and feel a sense of loss when apart. Lovers are willing to sacrifice just about anything to be together. They lie awake at night dreaming up ways to make the other happy. An embrace. A kiss. A word. A look. Each of these ordinary movements between friends or acquaintances becomes rapturous between lovers. How lovely that God has chosen romantic love to describe how He feels about you. And what He really desires is for you to express that love in return in an intimate relationship.

Let's Pray

Jesus, I honestly don't know what you saw in me, but I'm so glad You thought I was worth pursuing. I do love You so. Thank You for pursuing me and catching me in your love net. I am captivated by Your love.

In Your Name, Amen

Now It's Your Turn

Look up the following verses in the Song of Songs and envision Jesus saying the words to you!

Song of Songs 1:9,15; 2:2,14; 4:1-7

More than the love story between a woman who felt unworthy of attention and a man captivated by her beauty-the Song of Songs is a beautiful picture of Jesus wooing and winning His Bride...you. You have captured Jesus' attention just as surely as the Shulammite maiden captured the young King's who eyed her in the fields.

More from the Girlfriends

Have you ever felt like you weren't smart enough, pretty enough, or just not good enough? Well, God thinks differently. If you would like to learn how to have the confidence of a woman who knows she is deeply loved, completely forgiven and powerfully equipped to do all God has called her to do, then Sharon's book, I'm Not Good Enough...and Other Lies Women Tell Themselves, is the book for you. Begin seeing yourself as God sees you and leave those lies behind.

Seeking God?

Click here to find out more about

how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God

P.O. Box 725

Matthews, NC 28106

info@girlfriendsingod.com
www.girlfriendsingod.com

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Preaching for the poor

“The poor have the gospel preached to them.” Matthew 11:5

Suggested Further Reading: Amos 7:10-17

There was a tinker once, who never so much as brushed his back against the walls of a college, who wrote a Pilgrim’s Progress. Did ever a doctor in divinity write such a book? There was a pot-boy once—a boy who carried on his back the pewter pots for his mother, who kept the Old Bell. That man drove men mad, as the world had it, but led them to Christ, as we have it, all his life long, until, loaded with honours, he sank into his grave, with the good will of a multitude round about him, with an imperishable name written in the world’s records, as well as in the records of the church. Did you ever hear of any mighty man, whose name stood in more esteem among God’s people than the name of George Whitefield? And yet these were poor men, who, as Wycliffe said, were taking to the preaching of the gospel. If you will read the life of Wycliffe, you will find him saying there, that he believed that the Reformation in England was more promoted by the labours of the poor men whom he sent out from Lutterworth than by his own. He gathered around him a number of the poor people whom he instructed in the faith, and then he sent them two and two into every village, as Jesus did. They went into the market-place, and they gathered the people around; they opened the book and read a chapter, and then they left them a manuscript of it, which for months and years after the people would assemble to read, and would remember the gospellers that had come to tell them the gospel of Christ. These men went from market-place to market-place, from town to town, and from village to village, and though their names are unknown to fame, they were the real reformers.

For meditation: Wycliffe’s translation of the text was “Poor men are taking to the preaching of the gospel.” A small percentage of Christians would be regarded as great in worldly terms (1 Corinthians 1:27 )—only a tiny fraction of preachers would be so described. Are your preachers suitably honoured and supported by your church (1 Corinthians 9:11; Galatians 6:6; 1 Timothy 5:17,18)?

Sermon no. 114
25 January (1857)

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Samantha Reed

January 25, 2012

But I Really Don't Like Her
Samantha Reed

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves."Philippians 2:3 (NIV 1984)

Guns were loaded. Ten paces taken. The showdown had begun. Her at one end of the table; me at the other. My plate a smoking gun; lima beans my bullets.

I wish I could say I was a two-year-old toddler, throwing a tantrum. Instead, I'm embarrassed to admit I was a 25-year-old adult, sticking it to a woman I couldn't stand. Neither of us was backing down. Meeting her stealthy gaze I methodically slid one lima bean after another to the side. I would not take one bite of her potpie until it was clear of the offending veggies.

Oh, it's not that I dislike lima beans. On the contrary. I like them. What I didn't like was her.

Her, my boyfriend's mother. Clinging tightly to her matronly apron strings. Sitting at the head of his table. Wedging herself between us. Serving his favorite meal.

Me, her son's girlfriend. Building bonds meant to last a lifetime. Sitting by his side. Wedging myself between mother and son. Resenting her home-cooked meal.

My own mother's voice grew louder in my head with each lima bean I pushed aside. "It doesn't matter what she's done, you eat the limas, Sam." I held my challenger's stare as I flicked another bean onto the growing mound. "Put down your disdain and put her above yourself, Samantha."

With determined purpose I jabbed the last lima. Without a word I said it all: I will not honor your meal. I will not honor your feelings. I will not honor you. My mom's voice shook my inner core. "Use your humility, Samantha Elaine!!"

After dishes were washed and guns put away, another voice resonated. The Lord spoke gently, yet firmly. Sam, I've asked you to not be selfish. This was a perfect opportunity to show humility. She took time to cook that meal; you should have put her needs above your desires and eaten all of it.

I was ready with my rebuttal. But I really don't like her! She's controlling and invasive. She doesn't respect me or my relationship with her son. She's impossible to get along with, much less honor.

As far as I was concerned, she was the enemy and it was my duty to draw the battle lines. Yet deep down I knew, my actions should not be determined by hers. After all, she had worked hard on that dinner. She was my boyfriend's mom. And most importantly, she was my sister in Christ.

On that premise alone I knew God called me to be humble toward her. Not only that, but to go above-by eating (all) of her meal, and beyond-by complimenting her special dish. It would have been a small thing, but it would have been the right thing... and the God thing.

Though my relationship with my boyfriend and his mom has since ended, my relationship with humility has grown. And continues to grow as I challenge myself. It may be something as small as eating food I don't care for, watching a television show that bores me, attending a function I'd rather not. Or maybe speaking kind words when I'm frustrated, praying for someone who has offended me, or taking a back seat when I want to be first.

And for the times my finger is on the trigger, I keep in mind that by being humble, I'm honoring God. There is joy in giving glory to the One who so humbly laid down His life so I can keep mine eternally. This truth gives me the grace I need to tuck my guns away and ask, "May I please have seconds of your delicious lima bean potpie?"

Dear Lord, thanks for being the best example of humility and honor. Please give me the grace to respect others, especially those who I find hard to respect. Thanks for Your Word and for reminding me to put others first. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Sharing Grace - Family Traditions - Gift ideas (E-Book) by LeAnn Rice

A Perfect Mess: Why You Don't Have to Worry About Being Good Enough for God by Lisa Harper

Visit Samantha's blog for her potpie recipe and a give-away of A Perfect Mess by Lisa Harper.

Reflect and Respond:
We must not only do that which is good, but we must cleave to it. All our duty towards one another is summed up in one word, love. ~Matthew Henry

Who do I struggle to be humble toward? What is one thing I can do to "tuck my guns away" and show them kindness?

Power Verses:
Romans 12:10, "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." (ESV)

Colossians 3:12-13, "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another..." (ESV)

© 2012 by Samantha Reed. All rights reserved.

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

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Gracious renewal

‘Renew a right spirit within me.’ Psalm 51:10

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:13–15

Let us be moved today to renew our covenant with Christ, or rather to ask him to renew our spirit, because every covenant transaction binds us to it. You believe in the doctrine of election. We do not blush to preach it, and you love to hear it. What does election mean? It means that God has chosen you; very well, if it be so, then you will acknowledge it anew today, by choosing his way and word. You believe in a special and efficacious redemption, that you were redeemed from among men; very well, then you are not your own, you are bought with a price. You believe in effectual calling; you know that you were called out; if it be so, recognise your distinction and separateness as a sacred people set apart by God. You believe that this distinction in you is perpetual, for you will persevere to the end: if you are to be God’s for ever, be his today. And are you not looking for a heaven from which selfishness shall be banished? Are you not expecting a heaven where glory shall consist in being wholly absorbed in Christ? Well then, this day, by all that is coming, as well as by all that is past, let your soul be bound as with cords that cannot be broken to the altar of your God. Backsliders, you that have gone astray, pray this prayer today. He bids you pray it, and he will therefore answer it. The text in the margin reads ‘renew a constant spirit within me.’ You have been froward, wayward, unstable, fickle. Poor backslider, he has put this prayer here for you—‘Renew a constant spirit within me.’

For meditation: While inward spiritual renewal is an ongoing process in the Christian life (2 Corinthians 4:16), it is not to be taken for granted—we are commanded to have our minds renewed (Romans 12:2: Ephesians 4:23 ). Our part in the process of renewal is to wait upon the Lord (Isaiah 40:31; 41:1).

Sermon no. 490
25 January (1863)

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The Love Chapter: Paul describes the highest spiritual gift of all

Today's reading: 1 Corinthians 13

1 Corinthians 13:2 If I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

During one of the most stressful times of his career, Paul makes his first visit to the Greek city of Corinth (see Acts 17-18 for the details). Lynch mobs chased him out of Thessalonica and Berea. The next stop, Athens, brought on a different kind of confrontation, with intellectual scoffers. Paul arrives at Corinth in a fragile emotional state.

Soon opposition springs up in Corinth too. Jewish leaders become abusive and haul Paul into court. It seems the harassed apostle will have no rest from his enemies. But in the midst of this crisis, God visits Paul with a special message of comfort: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city" (Acts 18:9-10).

Different Kind of Love

These last words must have startled Paul, for Corinth is known mainly for its lewdness and drunken brawling. The Corinthians revere the goddess of love, and their "worship" practices resemble orgies. Corinth seems the last place on Earth to expect a church to take root.

Yet, exactly that happens. A Jewish couple opens their home to Paul, and for the next 18 months he stays there to nurture an eager band of converts.

In his letters to the church in Corinth, Paul must deal with the many controversies that arise in such a diverse congregation. His intimate concern for them produces some of his most memorable writing. This chapter, "the love chapter," endures as one of his most famous. Often quoted at weddings and funerals, it was memorably read by the British prime minister at Princess Diana's funeral. The vision of love Paul describes contrasts sharply with that familiar to most Corinthians.

Life Question

First Corinthians 13 describes ideal love. Which of love's characteristics do you need to work on?
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A Small Town, a Great King

Micah 5:1-6 "He shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God" (v. 4a).

The final prophecy we will examine in our brief study of the Old Testament teachings about the Messiah is Micah 5:1-6, a passage cited in part by Matthew in 2:6 of his gospel. A more thorough reading of Micah's word to Israel than we undertook when we looked at Matthew 2:6 will help us better grasp the significance of our Savior's birthplace.

As always, we begin with the original context of the prophecy in order to interpret the text rightly. Micah prophesied during the second half of the eighth century and the first decade of the seventh century b.c., a time of great moral decline in the history of Judah and Israel. The poor were oppressed and some priests were sexually promiscuous. Because of such debauchery, God sent Micah to prosecute the covenant, that is, to convict His people of their violations. During this period, the people were told that the covenant curses would fall on them, finally culminating in exile to Assyria and Babylon ( Lev. 26:27-33; Micah 4:10).

However, this was not the prophet's final word. Though judgment would fall, Micah in today's passage says a ruler born in Bethlehem will redeem a faithful remnant (Micah 5:2, 7 ). As we have already seen, Bethlehem is the city from which David hailed (1 Sam. 16:1-13), which informs us that Micah is talking about a Davidic king. The Messiah will come to lead the people out of exile and back to their land where they will be sheltered from their foes.

King Jesus was born in Bethlehem while His people suffered under the hands of occupiers. Aside from being David's birthplace, Bethlehem in Hebrew means "house of bread," providing a fitting place for the Bread from heaven to become incarnate ( John 6:22-59). Micah's prophesy of the king also speaks of Him having an origin "from old" and "from ancient days" (5:2). This hints at His divinity, a truth more clearly revealed in the New Testament (John 1:1-18).

Bethlehem was tiny and seemingly insignificant ( Mic. 5:2). Yet, the Lord chose to reveal His glory and salvation in this village, not a mighty city (Luke 2:1-20). Needless to say, this is right in line with His character. He loves to fulfill His purposes through those things man has forsaken (1 Cor. 1:18-31).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

God's often uses what the world deems insignificant or unlovely. Across the world, His kingdom is spread by ordinary people who will probably themselves never be famous or remembered in the history books of men. Yet, those who know Christ are remembered by God and are the most significant people of all in His eyes, the only eyes that really matter. Each one of us, famous or not, can be used by the Lord in mighty ways.

For further study:

Numbers 12:3

The Bible in a year:

Exodus 23-25

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LeeStrobel-Newsletter-Header
LeeheadshotDear friend,

This is urgent . Countless people - young and old, male and female, inside and outside the church - are being spiritually crippled by questions they don't know how to answer. The result? Christians wavering in their faith, but afraid to talk about it. Young people exiting our ranks in droves, many never looking back. And people who don't know Christ increasingly searching elsewhere for answers.

Yet the Bible commands us - and every member of our churches - to "be ready to give an answer" (1 Pet. 3:15).

How are you equipping yourself - and those you lead in your church or small group - to answer the tough spiritual questions that people are asking?

We'd like to help. On Saturday morning, March 10, we are presenting powerful responses to six of the top questions that plague Christians today . These answers will be biblical and backed up with logic and evidence. I'll be speaking, along with popular apologist Mark Mittelberg and two leading scholars, Dr. Craig Hazen of Biola University and Dr. Douglas Groothuis of Denver Seminary. We'll be presenting these answers in ways that ordinary Christians can understand and later use in their own conversations with spiritually curious friends.

I know you are busy, and your church calendar seems full. But what could be more important than arming your congregation with clear and compelling answers to the questions of our times?

So please join us. Get more information and register at www.incastevents.com/questions
-and then invite your church (or small group) and the entire community to participate. Special rates are available until Feb. 1.

We'll see you March 10 as we equip and encourage Christians to engage in life-changing conversations with their friends, neighbors, and family members. We're sure you'll agree: the task is urgent, the stakes are high - but the potential is incredible!

- Lee Strobel

P.S. If you're not the one who can make the decision to sign up your church (or small group) for this important training event, please pass this information on to the appropriate person
-with your encouragement to participate!



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