Thursday, January 05, 2012

Daily Devotional Thursday 5th January

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
2 Peter 3:18

"Grow in grace"--not in one grace only, but in all grace. Grow in that root-grace, faith. Believe the promises more firmly than you have done. Let faith increase in fulness, constancy, simplicity. Grow also in love. Ask that your love may become extended, more intense, more practical, influencing every thought, word, and deed. Grow likewise in humility. Seek to lie very low, and know more of your own nothingness. As you grow downward in humility, seek also to grow upward--having nearer approaches to God in prayer and more intimate fellowship with Jesus. May God the Holy Spirit enable you to "grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour." He who grows not in the knowledge of Jesus, refuses to be blessed. To know him is "life eternal," and to advance in the knowledge of him is to increase in happiness. He who does not long to know more of Christ, knows nothing of him yet. Whoever hath sipped this wine will thirst for more, for although Christ doth satisfy, yet it is such a satisfaction, that the appetite is not cloyed, but whetted. If you know the love of Jesus--as the hart panteth for the water-brooks, so will you pant after deeper draughts of his love. If you do not desire to know him better, then you love him not, for love always cries, "Nearer, nearer." Absence from Christ is hell; but the presence of Jesus is heaven. Rest not then content without an increasing acquaintance with Jesus. Seek to know more of him in his divine nature, in his human relationship, in his finished work, in his death, in his resurrection, in his present glorious intercession, and in his future royal advent. Abide hard by the Cross, and search the mystery of his wounds. An increase of love to Jesus, and a more perfect apprehension of his love to us is one of the best tests of growth in grace.

Evening

"And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him."
Genesis 42:8

This morning our desires went forth for growth in our acquaintance with the Lord Jesus; it may be well tonight to consider a kindred topic, namely, our heavenly Joseph's knowledge of us. This was most blessedly perfect long before we had the slightest knowledge of him. "His eyes beheld our substance, yet being imperfect, and in his book all our members were written, when as yet there was none of them." Before we had a being in the world we had a being in his heart. When we were enemies to him, he knew us, our misery, our madness, and our wickedness. When we wept bitterly in despairing repentance, and viewed him only as a judge and a ruler, he viewed us as his brethren well beloved, and his bowels yearned towards us. He never mistook his chosen, but always beheld them as objects of his infinite affection. "The Lord knoweth them that are his," is as true of the prodigals who are feeding swine as of the children who sit at the table.

But, alas! we knew not our royal Brother, and out of this ignorance grew a host of sins. We withheld our hearts from him, and allowed him no entrance to our love. We mistrusted him, and gave no credit to his words. We rebelled against him, and paid him no loving homage. The Sun of Righteousness shone forth, and we could not see him. Heaven came down to earth, and earth perceived it not. Let God be praised, those days are over with us; yet even now it is but little that we know of Jesus compared with what he knows of us. We have but begun to study him, but he knoweth us altogether. It is a blessed circumstance that the ignorance is not on his side, for then it would be a hopeless case for us. He will not say to us, "I never knew you," but he will confess our names in the day of his appearing, and meanwhile will manifest himself to us as he doth not unto the world.

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Today's reading: Genesis 10-12, Matthew 4 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
The Table of Nations

1 This is the account of Shem, Ham and Japheth, Noah's sons, who themselves had sons after the flood.

The Japhethites

2 The sons of Japheth:
Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshek and Tiras.

3 The sons of Gomer:
Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah.

4 The sons of Javan:
Elishah, Tarshish, the Kittites and the Rodanites. 5 (From these the maritime peoples spread out into their territories by their clans within their nations, each with its own language.)

The Hamites

6 The sons of Ham:
Cush, Egypt, Put and Canaan.

7 The sons of Cush:
Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabteka.

The sons of Raamah:
Sheba and Dedan.

8 Cush was the father of Nimrod, who became a mighty warrior on the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; that is why it is said, "Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD." 10 The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Uruk, Akkad and Kalneh, in Shinar. 11 From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah12 and Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah-which is the great city.

13 Egypt was the father of
the Ludites, Anamites, Lehabites, Naphtuhites, 14Pathrusites, Kasluhites (from whom the Philistines came) and Caphtorites.

15 Canaan was the father of
Sidon his firstborn, and of the Hittites, 16 Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, 17 Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, 18Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites.

Later the Canaanite clans scattered 19 and the borders of Canaan reached from Sidon toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and then toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, as far as Lasha.

20 These are the sons of Ham by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.

The Semites

21 Sons were also born to Shem, whose older brother was Japheth; Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber.

22 The sons of Shem:
Elam, Ashur, Arphaxad, Lud and Aram.

23 The sons of Aram:
Uz, Hul, Gether and Meshek.

24 Arphaxad was the father of Shelah,
and Shelah the father of Eber.

25 Two sons were born to Eber:
One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided; his brother was named Joktan.

26 Joktan was the father of
Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29 Ophir, Havilah and Jobab. All these were sons of Joktan.

30 The region where they lived stretched from Mesha toward Sephar, in the eastern hill country.

31 These are the sons of Shem by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.

32 These are the clans of Noah's sons, according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.

Genesis 11

The Tower of Babel

1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

3 They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth."

5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."

8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel-because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

From Shem to Abram

10 This is the account of Shem's family line.

Two years after the flood, when Shem was 100 years old, he became the father of Arphaxad. 11 And after he became the father of Arphaxad, Shem lived 500 years and had other sons and daughters.

12 When Arphaxad had lived 35 years, he became the father of Shelah. 13 And after he became the father of Shelah, Arphaxad lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.

14 When Shelah had lived 30 years, he became the father of Eber. 15 And after he became the father of Eber, Shelah lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.

16 When Eber had lived 34 years, he became the father of Peleg. 17 And after he became the father of Peleg, Eber lived 430 years and had other sons and daughters.

18 When Peleg had lived 30 years, he became the father of Reu. 19 And after he became the father of Reu, Peleg lived 209 years and had other sons and daughters.

20 When Reu had lived 32 years, he became the father of Serug. 21 And after he became the father of Serug, Reu lived 207 years and had other sons and daughters.

22 When Serug had lived 30 years, he became the father of Nahor. 23 And after he became the father of Nahor, Serug lived 200 years and had other sons and daughters.

24 When Nahor had lived 29 years, he became the father of Terah. 25 And after he became the father of Terah, Nahor lived 119 years and had other sons and daughters.

26 After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.

Abram's Family

27 This is the account of Terah's family line.

Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. 28 While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth. 29 Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram's wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor's wife was Milkah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milkah and Iskah.30 Now Sarai was childless because she was not able to conceive.

31 Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there.

32 Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran.

Genesis 12

The Call of Abram

1 The LORD had said to Abram, "Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you.

2 "I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you."

4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.

9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

Abram in Egypt

10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, "I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you."

14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. 15 And when Pharaoh's officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.

17 But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram's wife Sarai. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. "What have you done to me?" he said. "Why didn't you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, 'She is my sister,' so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!" 20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.


Matthew 4

Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness

1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."

4 Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written:

"'He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'"

7 Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9"All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."

10 Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'"

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Jesus Begins to Preach

12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali- 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:

15 "Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles-
16 the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned."

17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."

Jesus Calls His First Disciples

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will send you out to fish for people." 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.

21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Jesus Heals the Sick

23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.

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Zechariah, Zecher [Zĕcha rī'ah]—jehovah remembers or jehovah is renowned.

The Man Who Preached Hope and Mercy

1. The prophet in Judah, whose Spirit-inspired book is the eleventh among the Minor Prophets (Ezra 5:1;6:14; Zech. 1:1; 7:1; 7:8).

Among the many bearing the name of Zechariah, the one who wrote the Book of Zechariah, was, like Haggai, a prophet of the Restoration. As a son of the priest named Iddo ( Neh. 12:4), Zechariah was of priestly descent, and likely a priest himself. Doubtless he was born in Babylon and exercised his ministry in times of political turbulence and great unrest. His call was one for righteousness in home life, in the political arena and in worship.

Zechariah’s mission was of a varied nature. He had to:

I. Arouse the people to activity in rebuilding the Temple.

II. Restore the theocratic spirit or recognition of God-government.

III. Rekindle the nation’s faith and hope during the coming desolation.

IV. Reorganize the true worship of God.

V. Remove idolatry from the nation.

As “the prophet of hope and mercy” Zechariah has given us a series of eight night visions which portrayed the final restoration of Israel and the security and blessing which will be their portion when the Lord reigns in their midst. The prophet uses the personal pronoun freely and is always careful to date his oracles. Note:

The scouts of Jehovah; He watches over His own (Zech. 1:7-17).

The four horns; enemies are destroyed ( Zech. 1:18-21).

God is surveyor; enlargement and security (Zech. 2:1-8).

Joshua consecrated; righteousness restored (Zech. 3).

The lampstand; the sufficiency of grace (Zech. 4).

The flying roll; sinners judged ( Zech. 5:1-4).

The woman; sin removed (Zech. 5-11).

The four chariots; judgment begins (Zech. 6:1-8).

One or two unique features of the Book of Zechariah are worthy of mention. His references to Christ are numerous and detailed. Next to Isaiah, Zechariah carries the most frequent prophecies of the Messiah, especially to Him as the suffering King. The prophet depicts Him as:

The meek King (Zech. 9:9 with Matt. 21:5; John 12:13).

The One sold for thirty pieces of silver (Zech. 11:13 with Matt. 26:15).

The pierced Saviour (Zech. 12:10 with John 19:37).

The smitten Shepherd (Zech. 13:7 with Matt. 26:31; Mark 14:27).

Zechariah is the first of the prophets to mention Satan. He recognized sin as an independent working power and personifies sin in the woman of his vision.

Numerous lessons can be gleaned from this Old Testament prophet who saw Christ’s day and rejoiced.

Calamity should not create despondency but inspire wisdom.

A lost vocation can be restored.

All past guilt can be atoned for.

The will of God abides and prevails.

The servant dies but the Master lives and His work continues.

The supplies of divine grace are continuous and abundant.

Fasting and feasting are nothing in themselves.

Faith and faithfulness are everything.

The key to the eastern situation is the Jew.

Many other Zechariahs are to be found in the Bible’s vast portrait gallery of men.

2. A chief Reubenite when genealogies were prepared (1 Chron. 5:7).

3. A son of Meshelemiah, a Levite, a gatekeeper of the Tabernacle in David’s time (1 Chron. 9:21; 26:2, 14).

4. A brother of Ner and uncle of Saul (1 Chron. 9:37), also called Zacher (1 Chron. 8:31).

5. A Levite musician in David’s reign ( 1 Chron. 15:18, 20;16:5).

6. A Tabernacle priest in David’s time (1 Chron. 15:24).

7. A son of Isshiah, a Levite of the family of Kohath ( 1 Chron. 24:25).

8. A son of Hosah, a gatekeeper of the Tabernacle (1 Chron. 26:11).

9. The father of Iddo and chief of the half tribe of Manasseh (1 Chron. 27:21).

10. A prince of Judah used by Jehoshaphat to teach the law (2 Chron. 17:7).

11. The father of Jahaziel, who encouraged the king’s army against Moab (2 Chron. 20:14).

12. The third son of Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 21:2).

13. Son of Jehoiada the priest , who was stoned to death for rebuking the people for their idolatry. Announcement of divine judgment was more than the idolaters could stand, so at the bidding of the king in the court of the Lord’s house he died a death similar to that of Stephen. His dying words, “The Lord look upon it, and require it,” were long remembered (2 Chron. 24:20, 21 ).

14. A person who understood the visions of God (2 Chron. 26:5).

15. A son of Asaph, a Levite who helped to cleanse the Temple (2 Chron. 29:13).

16. A son of Kohath, a Levite, and overseer of temple repairs (2 Chron. 34:12).

17. A prince of Judah in the days of Josiah ( 2 Chron. 35:8).

18. A chief man who returned with Ezra from exile (Ezra 8:3).

19. A son of Bebai who also returned (Ezra 8:11, 16 ).

20. A returned captive who put away his wife (Ezra 10:26).

21. A prince who stood beside Ezra (Neh. 8:4).

22. The son of Amariah, a descendant of Pharez (Neh. 11:4).

23. A Shilonite (Neh. 11:5).

24. Son of Pashur, a priest (Neh. 11:12).

25. A priest of Joiakim’s time (Neh. 12:16).

26. An Asaphite, who helped in the purification of the wall of Jerusalem (Neh. 12:35, 41).

27. A witness Isaiah used. Perhaps the same Zechariah of 2 Chronicles 26:5 and Isaiah 8:2.

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January 4, 2012

The Glory Ache

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full,(John 10:10 NIV).

Friend to Friend

Most of us come to Christ with a certain"inloveness"-a stirring of emotion mixed with an inexplicable knowing that we've discovered our reason for being. But some years into our spiritual journey, the wonder that swelled during the early years ebbs into routine religion laced with busyness. And we secretly question the point of it all. There has to be more than this, we muse. There has to be something more. What am I missing? What's wrong with me? I'm doing all the right things, but God seems so far away. I'm trying as hard as I can, but it never seems to be enough. What does God really want from me anyway?

For decades, as I have had the privilege of ministering to women, I have heard the same heart-cry from those who desire to have a deep, intimate, exuberant relationship with Christ but don't know how to find it.

Perhaps you can relate. You long to feel close to God but sense there's just something lacking, that you've missed the mysterious formula to make it happen. I call this a "glory ache" -a persistent longing to experience God's presence on a daily basis. Perhaps like most women, you've tried desperately to balance the montage of mundane demands and somehow slip God into the white spaces that are few and far between. You long to spend time in the sacred with God, but find the desire crowded out by the responsibilities of the secular-the daily demands-that lay claim to your attention. You yearn to experience God's presence, but feel far away from Him as you reach to click off the bedside lamp and collapse exhausted once again. Maybe tomorrow, you sigh.

Sound familiar? If so, you are not alone.

The travesty is that we allow the busyness of life to crowd out the Source of life. As the Psalmist wrote, "We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing" (Psalm 39:6 NLT). Ann Voskamp echoes that lament: "In a world addicted to speed, I blur the moments into one unholy smear."

And in that unholy smear, that blur of the world passing quickly by, we know something's not quite right. So we strike out to make it all better. And most of us are quick to think 'something more' means 'doing more.' We ramp it up and gun the engines-sign up for a new committee, volunteer for a new cause, bake one more casserole to feed the sick. We attempt to silence the hunger pains of the heart by feeding it the bread and water of duty. And at the end of the day, while we might feel a self-induced sense of well-being, the hollowness in our soul that can only be satisfied with God echoes with the grumblings of hunger still.

We long for a sense of closeness with God, but we have a hard time putting our finger on exactly what that closeness would look like. It's just something more. Something different. A flavor we have yet to taste. A country we have yet to visit. A sunset we have yet to experience. A lover we have yet to embrace. There has to be something more, we cry! And we are quite right. We are craving the closeness that comes with an intimate relationship with Jesus.

We try so harder. We go to Bible studies, attend church, say our prayers, and read our devotions. Check, check, check. And yet, we constantly feel that we are somehow letting God down. With the last amen of the day, we sigh, What more does God want from me?

I want to suggest that we're asking the wrong question. It is not what God wants from you. It is what God wants for you. John 10:10 gives you a hint.

So today, ask God THAT question. You might be surprised.

Let's Pray

God, I don't know quite what to do with this longing for something more...with this glory ache that pulls at my heart. Will you give me glimpses of Your glory today? Help me to see You? To Hear You? I'm expectantly waiting!

In Jesus' Name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Have you ever felt that "glory ache" I mentioned?

How did the following describe their glory ache? Isaiah 26:9Psalm 42:12, 63:1, 84:2

How did Jeremiah describe anything we go to other than God to satisfy the glory ache? Jeremiah 2:11-13

What does Jesus invite us to do? John 7:37-38

Let's talk about this...Have you tried to fill your ache for God with something on this earth, and came up hungry still? If so, what was it? What did you learn? Let's share onwww.facebook.com/sharonjaynes. Your honesty will help someone else. I'm sure of it.

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?

Click here to find out more about

how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God

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Matthews, NC 28106

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www.girlfriendsingod.com



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P31Header
Lysa TerKeurst

January 4, 2012

A Call to Action
Lysa TerKeurst

"Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food."Romans 14:20a (NIV)

Four years ago I was stuck in a rut of wishful thinking and excuses with my weight. At the beginning of each day I would say I wanted things to be different. I would vow in my heart to make things different. I would even make a plan to stop the snacks, increase the veggies, and say no to the desserts.

But then life would happen. And the excuses were so very plentiful. So, my resolve would melt away like butter on a hot yeast roll.

Of course the next morning I would always get up and weigh myself hoping that somehow, something would have happened over night. Despite my indulgences from the day before, maybe the numbers would have gone down.

But the scale was not impressed with my wishful thinking. It could only tell the truth.

And so you know who I'd get mad at?

God.

I'd beg Him to help me one minute while scarfing down an order of fries the next. And then I'd be doubly mad He didn't steer my car away from that drive-thru.

I deemed myself a victim of tragic genetics, overactive taste buds and a stomach that demanded large portions.

What I failed for years to realize is there was a much more significant issue going on.

More important than the ever increasing size of my jeans was the deception going on inside my heart. My weight wasn't God's curse on me. My weight was an outside indication of an internal situation.

Honestly, I might as well have taken Psalm 23 which talks about the Lord being my shepherd and my comfort and replaced His Name with various foods. I was relying on food to be my comfort, my ever present help, my guide. Food was the thing that got me through the valleys. It became the friend I wanted to celebrate with in the good times.

I don't write to point out anyone else's issue. There are certainly medical and genetic circumstances that can cause weight gain. But I discovered that my issue was truly a spiritual one. And no diet would have ever been permanently successful until I got to the real root of my problem.

The root of my issue was craving food more than God. I desired and depended on the instant high of physical gratification because I hadn't learned how to let God satisfy my deepest needs. This realization became a call to action.

Maybe as you read my story, something is stirring in your soul. I know this is a tough issue. I've walked through the tears and the feelings of failure. I was the girl mad at God about this whole deal. But I wanted freedom. And I realized that if I wanted to have my deepest desires met by God and not food, I would need to restore God to His rightful place by changing my old thought patterns. Here are some examples I wrote about in my book, Made to Crave:

Old thought patterns:
"I need these chips. I deserve this ice cream. I must have that extra large portion."

New thought patterns:
Chips will only taste good for the moment. But the calories are empty and will do nothing good for my body. 2 Corinthians 7:1 reminds me, "...Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit... out of reverence for God." (NIV 1984)

This ice cream will give me a sugar high but then I'll crash and feel terrible. Psalm 34:8...reminds me to get into God's Word and let it satisfy the deep hungry places of my soul, "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." (NIV 1984)

This extra large portion will overstuff me and make me feel sluggish. I can't look to this food to soothe me. Psalm 34:5 says, "Those who look to [God] are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame." (NIV 1984)

Learning to do this has been a process that I have to intentionally choose day after day. Eventually, I did lose the extra weight I needed to shed and have kept it off. But the real reward was what I gained with Jesus in the process. He became the best part of my journey. And I wouldn't have missed this new found closeness I now have with Him for anything in the world.

Dear Lord, if this devotion is a call to action that I need to make, please help me. I want to see the root of my issue, I really do. I want to learn to crave and depend on only You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa's blog for a chance to win her book Made to Crave and her new 60 day Made to Crave Devotionsbook.

Register for Lysa's FREE JANUARY 9th webcast: No More Excuses. We've all said, "I'll start again on Monday," but then Monday never comes. This will be the exact motivation you need to embrace a healthy journey that is fun and successful. Reserve your spot today byclicking here.

Join a community of women who are doing a FREE Made to Crave online study led by Melissa Taylor. For more information, click here.

If this devotion resonated with you, Lysa's book Made to Crave is just what you've needed. Click here to order your copy! This book can be a group Bible Study by using these life-changing resources: Made to Crave Participant's Guide and Made to Crave DVD teaching series, also by Lysa.

Application Steps:
Keep a pocket sized notebook nearby all of this week. Every time you crave food, ask yourself if you are hungry or if you are craving something else like comfort or peace. Write down your old thought patterns and then rewrite them using new thought patterns.

Reflections:
Have I learned to let God satisfy my deepest needs?

What is one healthy choice I can make today?

Power Verses:
Romans 14:17, "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit..." (NIV)

Psalm 18:1, "I love you, O LORD, my strength." (NIV 1984)

© 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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



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Visitors from the East

Matthew 2:1-6 "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him" (v. 2).

Soon after the sign of God's blessing or curse is born (Matt. 1:22-25), another sign appears to tell the world the Messiah has come. "Wise men from the east" come to Jerusalem because they have seen a great star in the heavens, a portent that to them signifies the birth of the king of the Jews (Matt. 2:1-2). These magi must think this birth is good news, for they want to find and honor Him.

However, there are some who do not rejoice when the magi come calling. In today's passage we read of Herod the king who is troubled by the rumors that a new king has been born (v. 3). It is the year 4 b.c. or so, and Herod, known as "Herod the Great" by historians, is serving as the client ruler over Roman-controlled Palestine. A skilled politician and capable ruler who loves power, he holds this position because he has wrangled himself into the good graces of Rome and not because his Jewish subjects want him on the throne. In fact, despite his monumental restoration of the Temple, he is detested by the populace largely due to his oppressive taxation. The fact that he also descends on his father's side from Edom, the ancient enemy of Israel, does not help matters. Herod constantly fears the loss of his authority, and thus, for him, the birth of a new king is not a happy occasion.

Herod moves immediately to determine where this child might be, and he turns for this information to the chief priests (the high priest, former high priests, and other priests of note) and the scribes (lawyers skilled in the Mosaic law and the oral traditions, v. 4). The Messiah's birthplace is easily located; according to the Scriptures it must be in the city of Bethlehem (vv. 5-6). A paraphrase of Micah 5:2 and 2 Samuel 5:2 is the proof-text for this location cited to the king. As King David's hometown (1 Sam. 16:1-13), Bethlehem is the fitting place for his greater Son's entry into the world.

Note especially the differing reactions to the Christ child's birth. Foreigners to the covenant with Israel are those most excited to see the Messiah, but Herod, one who has blood ties to this covenant, refuses to receive him gladly. This irony will be oft-repeated during the life of Jesus (Matt. 27:41-43, 54).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

The wise men are likely from Babylon and have had to take a long and arduous journey to find Jesus. Matthew Henry draws this application from this event: "Those who truly desire to know Christ, and find him, will not regard pains or perils in seeking after him." What has it cost you to follow Jesus? Consider whether your devotion has cost you friends, family, income, or reputation, and if not, consider how eagerly you seek after Him.

For further study:

Ruth 4

The Bible in a year:

Genesis 23-24

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

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Visitors from the East

Matthew 2:1-6

The wise men are likely from Babylon and have had to take a long and arduous journey to find Jesus. Matthew Henry draws this application from this event: "Those who truly desire to know Christ, and find him, will not regard pains or perils in seeking after him." What has it cost you to follow Jesus? Consider whether your devotion has cost you friends, family, income, or reputation, and if not, consider how eagerly you seek after Him.

For further study:

Ruth 4

The Bible in a year:

Genesis 23-24

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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A tempted Saviour—our best succour

‘For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.’ Hebrews 2:18

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 4:14–16

I am certain of this, that when through the deep waters he shall cause you to go, or you are made to pass through furnace after furnace, you cannot want a better rod and staff, nor a better table prepared for you in the wilderness than this my text, ‘In that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.’ Hang this text up in your house; read it every day; take it before God in prayer every time you bend the knee, and you shall find it to be like the widow’s cruse, which failed not, and like her handful of meal, which wasted not: it shall be unto you till the last of December what now it is when we begin to feed upon it in January. Will not my text suit the awakened sinner as well as the saint? There are timid souls here. They cannot say they are saved; yet here is a loophole of comfort here for you, you poor troubled ones that are not yet able to get a hold of Jesus. ‘He is able to succour them that are tempted.’ Go and tell him you are tempted; tempted, perhaps, to despair; tempted to self-destruction; tempted to go back to your old sins; tempted to think that Christ cannot save you. Go and tell him that he himself has suffered being tempted, and that he is able to succour you. Believe that he will, and he will, for you can never believe anything too much of the love and goodness of my Lord. He will be better than your faith to you. If you can trust him with all your heart to save you, he will do it; if you believe he is able to put away your sin, he will do it.

For meditation: Of all who have lived on earth the Lord Jesus Christ had the greatest experience possible of exposure to temptation, but was the one and only total stranger to sin. In this dual capacity he is uniquely and ideally qualified to help us in our ongoing conflicts with both temptation and sin (Hebrews 4:15). Are you one of those who seek his help?

Sermon no. 487
4 January (1863)

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A mighty Saviour

“Mighty to save.” Isaiah 63:1

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 7:23-28

Remember the case of John Newton, the great and mighty preacher of St. Mary, Woolnoth,—an instance of the power of God to change the heart, as well as to give peace when the heart is changed. Ah! dear hearers, I often think within myself, “This is the greatest proof of the Saviour’s power.” Let another doctrine be preached: will it do the same? If it will, why not let every man gather a crowd round him and preach it? Will it really do it? If it will, then the blood of men’s souls must rest upon the man who does not boldly proclaim it. If he believes his gospel does save souls, how does he account for it that he stands in his pulpit from the first of January till the last of December, and never hears of a harlot made honest, nor of a drunkard reclaimed? Why? For this reason, that it is a poor dilution of Christianity. It is something like it, but it is not the bold, broad Christianity of the Bible; it is not the full gospel of the blessed God, for that has power to save. But if they do believe that theirs is the gospel, let them come out to preach it, and let them strive with all their might to win souls from sin, which is rife enough, God knows. We say again, that we have proof positive in cases even here before us, that Christ is mighty to save even the worst of men—to turn them from follies in which they have too long indulged, and we believe that the same gospel preached elsewhere would produce the same results. The best proof you can ever have of God’s being mighty to save, dear hearers, is that he saved you.

For meditation: Does the church today lack the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ (Romans 15:29) because the church is ashamed of the fullness of the gospel, which is God’s power to save all who believe (Romans 1:16)?

Sermon no. 111
4 January (1857)

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At Issue - Weight

1 Samuel 4:18

Sure, we hate that our society tells us the "ideal" woman is 5'9'' and weighs 110 pounds. We aren't all meant to look like supermodels! Plus, we know that God loves us just the way we are. Of course that's true ... but hold on a second. Eli's life illustrates the fact that how we treat our bodies has serious consequences. So instead of thinking skinny-let's think healthy. Doesn't God want us to care for the bodies he gave us? Ask yourself what a healthy lifestyle looks like for you.

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Catastrophes through God's Eyes

Today's reading: Isaiah 21

An endless cycle of war and death-what did it mean?

Isaiah 21:3 At this my body is racked with pain, pangs seize me, like those of a woman in labor; I am staggered by what I hear, I am bewildered by what I see.

There is one easy way to picture the Middle East of Isaiah's day: Simply follow today's newspaper headlines and project backward in time. Then, as now, one nation would invade its neighbor, leveling cities and devastating the land and its people. The prophet Isaiah longed for an end to the cycle, much as modern-day residents of Lebanon or Israel do today.

Isaiah looked at the world with a kind of split vision. Around him he saw spiritual decay and the dreary cycle of war and death. Yet God had given him a clear vision of what his nation could one day become: a pure people, faithful to God, living in peace with "war no more."

A Kingdom for a Purpose

With God's view of the future shining brightly before him, Isaiah went about reinterpreting history. Others in Judah looked upon military invasions as terrible catastrophes. By contrast, Isaiah-though he felt anguish over the events-saw glimpses of a higher purpose.

Isaiah said that Judah had to endure pain and suffering in order to be purified. He counseled against making political alliances to forestall the punishment. God's people had to go through the fire, and from the trials a remnant-a small remaining number of persons-would emerge that God could then use to accomplish his work. Isaiah went so far as to name his own son "a remnant will return" (Shear-Jashub) as a walking object lesson of his message to Judah (see Isaiah 7:3).

Why had the Jews been called by God in the first place? They were to be a "light for the Gentiles," Isaiah said (see Isaiah 42:6), a nation used by God to bring his truth to other nations. And out of the land of Judah God would raise up a great Prince who would rule over all the earth.

Who Is in Charge?

In short, God had not discarded his people, no matter how bleak things looked. The Israelites would ultimately become a missionary nation, pointing others to God.

Above all other messages, Isaiah stressed this one: God is in charge of history. To Judah-surrounded by enemies, staggering from invasion, weary of bloodshed-God seemed far away and distant. Isaiah assured its inhabitants that the great powers of earth were mere tools in God's hands; he would use them and fling them aside.

Life Question

Isaiah described people who felt afraid and abandoned by God. Have you ever felt like that? How does Isaiah's message offer hope for us today?
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