Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Daily Devotional Tuesday 10th January

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"I will be their God."
Jeremiah 31:33

Christian! here is all thou canst require. To make thee happy thou wantest something that shall satisfy thee; and is not this enough? If thou canst pour this promise into thy cup, wilt thou not say, with David, "My cup runneth over; I have more than heart can wish"? When this is fulfilled, "I am thy God", art thou not possessor of all things? Desire is insatiable as death, but he who filleth all in all can fill it. The capacity of our wishes who can measure? But the immeasurable wealth of God can more than overflow it. I ask thee if thou art not complete when God is thine? Dost thou want anything but God? Is not his all-sufficiency enough to satisfy thee if all else should fail? But thou wantest more than quiet satisfaction; thou desirest rapturous delight. Come, soul, here is music fit for heaven in this thy portion, for God is the Maker of Heaven. Not all the music blown from sweet instruments, or drawn from living strings, can yield such melody as this sweet promise, "I will be their God." Here is a deep sea of bliss, a shoreless ocean of delight; come, bathe thy spirit in it; swim an age, and thou shalt find no shore; dive throughout eternity, and thou shalt find no bottom. "I will be their God." If this do not make thine eyes sparkle, and thy heart beat high with bliss, then assuredly thy soul is not in a healthy state. But thou wantest more than present delights--thou cravest something concerning which thou mayest exercise hope; and what more canst thou hope for than the fulfilment of this great promise, "I will be their God"? This is the masterpiece of all the promises; its enjoyment makes a heaven below, and will make a heaven above. Dwell in the light of thy Lord, and let thy soul be always ravished with his love. Get out the marrow and fatness which this portion yields thee. Live up to thy privileges, and rejoice with unspeakable joy.

Evening

"Serve the Lord with gladness."
Psalm 100:2

Delight in divine service is a token of acceptance. Those who serve God with a sad countenance, because they do what is unpleasant to them, are not serving him at all; they bring the form of homage, but the life is absent. Our God requires no slaves to grace his throne; he is the Lord of the empire of love, and would have his servants dressed in the livery of joy. The angels of God serve him with songs, not with groans; a murmur or a sigh would be a mutiny in their ranks. That obedience which is not voluntary is disobedience, for the Lord looketh at the heart, and if he seeth that we serve him from force, and not because we love him, he will reject our offering. Service coupled with cheerfulness is heart-service, and therefore true. Take away joyful willingness from the Christian, and you have removed the test of his sincerity. If a man be driven to battle, he is no patriot; but he who marches into the fray with flashing eye and beaming face, singing, "It is sweet for one's country to die," proves himself to be sincere in his patriotism. Cheerfulness is the support of our strength; in the joy of the Lord are we strong. It acts as the remover of difficulties. It is to our service what oil is to the wheels of a railway carriage. Without oil the axle soon grows hot, and accidents occur; and if there be not a holy cheerfulness to oil our wheels, our spirits will be clogged with weariness. The man who is cheerful in his service of God, proves that obedience is his element; he can sing,

"Make me to walk in thy commands,

'Tis a delightful road."

Reader, let us put this question--do you serve the Lord with gladness? Let us show to the people of the world, who think our religion to be slavery, that it is to us a delight and a joy! Let our gladness proclaim that we serve a good Master.

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Today's reading: Genesis 23-24, Matthew 7 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
The Death of Sarah

1 Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old. 2She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her.

3 Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites. He said, 4 “I am a foreigner and stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead.”

5 The Hittites replied to Abraham, 6 “Sir, listen to us. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead.”

7 Then Abraham rose and bowed down before the people of the land, the Hittites. 8 He said to them, “If you are willing to let me bury my dead, then listen to me and intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf 9 so he will sell me the cave of Machpelah, which belongs to him and is at the end of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for the full price as a burial site among you.”

10 Ephron the Hittite was sitting among his people and he replied to Abraham in the hearing of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of his city. 11 “No, my lord,” he said. “Listen to me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. I give it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead.”

12 Again Abraham bowed down before the people of the land13 and he said to Ephron in their hearing, “Listen to me, if you will. I will pay the price of the field. Accept it from me so I can bury my dead there.”

14 Ephron answered Abraham, 15 “Listen to me, my lord; the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver, but what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.”

16 Abraham agreed to Ephron’s terms and weighed out for him the price he had named in the hearing of the Hittites: four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weight current among the merchants.

17 So Ephron’s field in Machpelah near Mamre—both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field—was deeded 18 to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. 19 Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20 So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.

Genesis 24

Isaac and Rebekah

1 Abraham was now very old, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. 2 He said to the senior servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh. 3 I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, 4 but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.”

5 The servant asked him, “What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?”

6 “Make sure that you do not take my son back there,” Abraham said. 7 “The LORD, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’—he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. 8 If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.” 9 So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter.

10 Then the servant left, taking with him ten of his master’s camels loaded with all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim and made his way to the town of Nahor. 11 He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was toward evening, the time the women go out to draw water.

12 Then he prayed, “LORD, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”

15 Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milkah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. 16 The woman was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever slept with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again.

17 The servant hurried to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.”

18 “Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink.

19 After she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have had enough to drink.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. 21Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the LORD had made his journey successful.

22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels. 23 Then he asked, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”

24 She answered him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milkah bore to Nahor.” 25 And she added, “We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night.”

26 Then the man bowed down and worshiped the LORD, 27saying, “Praise be to the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the LORD has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.”

28 The young woman ran and told her mother’s household about these things. 29 Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban, and he hurried out to the man at the spring. 30 As soon as he had seen the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man said to her, he went out to the man and found him standing by the camels near the spring. 31 “Come, you who are blessed by the LORD,” he said. “Why are you standing out here? I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.”

32 So the man went to the house, and the camels were unloaded. Straw and fodder were brought for the camels, and water for him and his men to wash their feet. 33 Then food was set before him, but he said, “I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say.”

“Then tell us,” Laban said.

34 So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35 The LORD has blessed my master abundantly, and he has become wealthy. He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys. 36 My master’s wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. 37 And my master made me swear an oath, and said, ‘You must not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live, 38 but go to my father’s family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son.’

39 “Then I asked my master, ‘What if the woman will not come back with me?’

40 “He replied, ‘The LORD, before whom I have walked faithfully, will send his angel with you and make your journey a success, so that you can get a wife for my son from my own clan and from my father’s family. 41 You will be released from my oath if, when you go to my clan, they refuse to give her to you—then you will be released from my oath.’

42 “When I came to the spring today, I said, ‘LORD, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come. 43 See, I am standing beside this spring. If a young woman comes out to draw water and I say to her, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar,” 44and if she says to me, “Drink, and I’ll draw water for your camels too,” let her be the one the LORD has chosen for my master’s son.’

45 “Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’

46 “She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too.’ So I drank, and she watered the camels also.

47 “I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’

“She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel son of Nahor, whom Milkah bore to him.’

“Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms, 48 and I bowed down and worshiped the LORD. I praised the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. 49 Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn.”

50 Laban and Bethuel answered, “This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. 51 Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has directed.”

52 When Abraham’s servant heard what they said, he bowed down to the ground before the LORD. 53 Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewelry and articles of clothing and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother. 54 Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night there.

When they got up the next morning, he said, “Send me on my way to my master.”

55 But her brother and her mother replied, “Let the young woman remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.”

56 But he said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the LORD has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.”

57 Then they said, “Let’s call the young woman and ask her about it.” 58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?”

“I will go,” she said.

59 So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,

“Our sister, may you increase
to thousands upon thousands;
may your offspring possess
the cities of their enemies.”

61 Then Rebekah and her attendants got ready and mounted the camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left.

62 Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. 63 He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. 64Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel 65 and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?”

“He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.

66 Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. 67 Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.


Matthew 7

Judging Others

1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Ask, Seek, Knock

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

The Narrow and Wide Gates

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

True and False Prophets

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

True and False Disciples

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

The Wise and Foolish Builders

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

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Meshullam [Mēshŭl'lam]—associateor a friend.

  1. An ancestor of Shaphan, the scribe of King Josiah’s time (2 Kings 22:3).
  2. A son of Zerubbabel and descendant of Jeconiah, son of King Jehoiakim (1 Chron. 3:19).
  3. A leading man among the Gadites in the reign of Jothan (1 Chron. 5:13).
  4. A Benjamite, descended from Shaharaim through Elpaal (1 Chron. 8:17).
  5. A Benjamite, father of Sallu, who dwelt in Jerusalem (1 Chron. 9:7; Neh. 11:7).
  6. Another Benjamite, son of Shephathiah, also of Jerusalem (1 Chron. 9:8).
  7. A priest, son of Zadok and father of the high priest, Hilkiah, who lived in Josiah’s reign (1 Chron. 9:11; Neh. 11:11).
  8. A priest, son of Mishilemith of the house of Immer (1 Chron. 9:12).
  9. A Kohathite Levite who, with others, superintended the repair of the Temple in Josiah’s time (2 Chron. 34:12).
  10. A chief man who, with others, returned from exile with Ezra ( Ezra 8:16).
  11. One who assisted in the numbering of those who had married foreign wives (Ezra 10:15).
  12. A son of Bani who had married a foreign wife (Ezra 10:29).
  13. A son of Berechiah who helped to repair two portions of the wall ( Neh. 3:4, 30; 6:18).
  14. The son of Besodeiah who also repaired a part of the city wall (Neh. 3:6).
  15. A prince or priest who stood beside Ezra as he read and explained the Law ( Neh. 8:4).
  16. A priest who, on behalf of his father’s house, signed the covenant with Nehemiah (Neh. 10:7).
  17. A chief of the people who also signed the covenant (Neh. 10:20).
  18. A priest of the family of Ezra who assisted at the dedication of the wall ( Neh. 12:13, 33).
  19. Another priest, head of his father Ginnethon’s house, in the days of Joiakim the priest (Neh. 12:16).
  20. A Levite, and sanctuary porter after the exile ( Neh. 12:25).
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January 9, 2012

Where Are You Going?
Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life, (John3:16, NASB).

Friend to Friend
I was traveling to Canada to speak at a women's conference. As I approached the passport checker, I held out my little book like a seasoned traveler.

"Are you here for business or pleasure," the guard asked?

"Well, I'm not sure what to call it. I'm here for ministry. I'm speaking at a women's event and it is my pleasure to be here."

"Where are you going?"

"I'm not sure where the event is, "I answered. "They have someone picking me up."

"Where are you staying?" she continued.

"You know, I have no idea," I answered with a smile.

"Excuse me, ma'am. Will you please set aside and follow me?"

"Of course."

I followed what looked like a police officer as she led me to a little room. All of a sudden, a twinge of fear rose up in my throat, and I realized I might not have answered her questions with the best answers. I was entering a foreign country and I couldn't tell them where I was going or where I was staying. I sat in the plastic chair and noticed a security camera in the corner.

In quick order, another man came in the room with an official looking note pad. He asked me a battery of questions. I quickly learned that when those border patrol people ask you where you are going and where you are staying, you'd better have a ready answer. You do not want to be ushered into the little white room with the camera recording your every move.

Thankfully, they let me in the country, and I spoke at the women's retreat. But I can assure you, every other time I've crossed the border, whether north, south, east or west, I've had a ready answer to the questions that I know will be coming my way.

That brings me to a couple of questions we're all going to have to answer one day. Do you know where you are going? Do you know where you are staying? Not tomorrow or the next day, but for eternity? If you were to die today, do you know where you're headed? If you're not sure, Click here to find out more about how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the assurance of heaven as your final destination.

Let's Pray

Dear Jesus, thank You for giving Your life for me so that I can have eternal life in heaven. I know that I could never earn my salvation...that I could never be good enough. But You were good enough for me. Because of Your finished work on the cross, God has made a way for everyone to believe on You, confess your Name, and be saved.

In Your Name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Picture yourself at the customs counter trying to get into heaven. What about your passport would make the agent let you in?

Do you know where you're going?

Do you know where you're staying?

More from the Girlfriends
Once I became a Christian, I knew I was going to heaven, but I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do until I got there. I had no idea who I was as a child of God, so I lived in continual defeat. It wasn't until I learned who I was and what I had as a child of God that I began living the victorious life. I want that for you! To learn more about how to live in victory because of who you are, what you have, and where you are in Christ, see my book, Becoming Spiritually Beautiful and get ready to put on your holy glow!

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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P31Header
Melissa Taylor

January 9, 2011

Today is Tomorrow
Melissa Taylor

"Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." Proverbs 16:3 (NIV 1984)

I didn't want to do or think about what needed to be done today, so I put it off until tomorrow. Then tomorrow got pushed back until the next tomorrow. When I finally did what I'd put off, I was stressed out, rushed, in a bad mood or convinced I didn't need to do my task at all. Here are a few of my I'll do it tomorrow's:

I'll start my diet...tomorrow.
I'll read my Bible and pray...tomorrow.
I'll clean my house...tomorrow.
I'll call my friend...tomorrow.
I'll have lunch with my son...tomorrow.
I'll take brownies to my neighbor...tomorrow.
I'll spend quality time with my husband...tomorrow.

God gave us 24 hours in each day. How I use them is up to me. I may not be able to complete every task assigned to me in a single day. But to continue to put off important things that need doing is not being a good steward of the time and tasks God has given me.

There was a season of my life I was so bad about putting goals and tasks off until another day that I got behind in everything. I wanted things to change, but my choices didn't reflect that. Sleeping took precedence over getting up for quiet time. Burgers and fries filled my plate instead of healthy soup and salad. Magazines occupied my hands instead of laundry. Television was preferable to exercise. And time with friends was chosen over time with my husband.

Day after day, I had good intentions to make changes.
Day after day, I put them off until tomorrow.
Eventually, I felt like a failure.

It took a simple sentence from my then three-year-old daughter to move me from apathy to action. A few years ago we planned a family trip to Walt Disney World. I made the mistake of telling Haley Grace months in advance. Each day she'd ask, "Are we going to Disney World today?"

Repeatedly, I'd answer, "Not today. We aren't going for three more months... five more weeks... eight more days..." The night before we left, I announced the news she'd been waiting for. "Hayley Grace, we are going to Disney World tomorrow!"

The next morning she woke early and ran into my room before I was out of bed. "Mommy, Mommy, is todaytomorrow?" I was thrilled to reply, "Yes! Today is tomorrow!"

Things clicked for me and I decided then that I was going to start making today my tomorrow.

Instead of wasting precious time, I started spending it in prayer, asking God to show me what tasks He'd like me to complete that day. I prayed for strength and perseverance to accomplish what He'd given me. And I brought a few friends along with me to be encouraged and to be an encouragement to them in finishing their goals.

I put into action today what I'd been putting off till tomorrow.

What changes, goals, or intentions have you been putting off until tomorrow? Let's make our "to-do" list our "to-day" list. Not only will we have a sense of accomplishment, but we'll also make an impact today. Today is tomorrow!

Dear Lord, it never seems like there are enough hours in the day to do everything. Help me discern the difference between what's important and what's unimportant and set my priorities in a way that is pleasing to You. I pray for discipline and motivation to get started each and every today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Join us online tonight where Melissa will be Lysa TerKeurst's guest on her FREE webcast: No More Excuses. This is the exact motivation you need to make today your tomorrow, and embrace a healthy journey that is fun and successful. Find out more and reserve your spot now by clicking here.

Visit Melissa's blog for a chance to win a Made to Cravebook and conference call series. Also, be sure to sign up for her upcoming Made to Crave online study. For more information, click here.

Application Steps:
Make a list of changes you've been putting off making. Rank them in the order you believe God would have you do them. Pray and decide how you can implement these changes. Call a friend and ask her for accountability.

Reflections:
What is keeping me from doing what needs to be done today?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." (NIV 1984)

© 2012 by Melissa Taylor. All rights reserved.

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

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LeadershipBible-Header-550

Personal Development: Wisdom

READ PROVERBS 8:1-36

When a person demonstrated exceptional ability in a craft or art, that person was said to have what the Hebrew language calls hokma. English-speaking translators render it as "skill." Solomon selected that Hebrew word to describe the quality needed by anyone who wanted to live life in the superlative-a life of excellence. When Solomon used this word this way, English translators use the word "wisdom." Wisdom, then, is that quality that enables one to live a noticeably, recognizably outstanding life. Imagine how much this wonderful thing called wisdom can contribute to effective leadership.

Not all leaders think about wisdom, per se, as a character trait that needs to be carefully cultivated. Certainly, wisdom can and often is the end result of long experience in the leader's field of expertise. But the leader who gains wisdom by making poor decisions and learning from them is much farther behind than the leader who seeks the right kind of wisdom from the start.

In Proverbs 8 wisdom is portrayed as a woman calling out for all to embrace her. Notice especially what she claims in verses 12-21. What leader in his or her right mind would not want such a priceless tool? Spend some time with this chapter. Heed wisdom's invitation. Imagine this wise and wonderful woman gazing strongly into your eyes and saying the words recorded in verses 32-36. Can you think of anything more valuable to leadership than this?

Wisdom and Who God Is

Wisdom is elusive, and it seems to be in short supply. Some people are crafty and shrewd, others are well-informed and highly educated, but few of us manifest the quiet depth of wisdom. What is the secret and the source of wisdom? Turn to Job 28:12-28 for the answer to the question, "Where can wisdom be found?"

This Week's Verse to Memorize JAMES 1:5

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Wisdom and Who I Am

Wisdom is the ability to use the best means at the best time to accomplish the best ends. It is not merely a matter of information or knowledge, but of skillful and practical application of the truth to the ordinary facets of life. Turn to 1 Kings 3:5-14 to consider the implications of Solomon's request for wisdom.

Wisdom and How it Works

How many of us have looked back across the ruins of failure and said, "I knew better. Why didn't I listen?" Solomon offers an essential fact about wisdom that scares the discerning reader into thinking twice about heeding wisdom's invitation (Proverbs 1:20-33).

Wisdom and What I Do

Where is wisdom found and how can it be exercised? John Piper draws on several Old Testament passages to provide us with a practical answer. Turn to Proverbs 24:14 for today's reading.


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by Kenneth Boa
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The Handbook to Leadership includes: 52-Week Leadership Guide, Topical Leadership Guide, Leadership Character Studies, and Books of the Bible Leadership Guide.


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Worship and Wisdom

1 Kings 3:4-15

Dark clouds slip between the guardian mountain peaks and scurry across the empty skies above Death Valley in California. Heat waves tremble over the parched earth as cloud shadows nibble at the eroded badlands and salt pans. Thunder rumbles in the distance. By late afternoon, the rain-gorged sky swings low. Suddenly the heavens burst! Fat raindrops jump like marbles on the hard-packed earth. Gradually the thirsty brown clods drink in water, softening to soak in more. A curtain of silver rain hangs between the churning sky and muddy valley floor. In a few weeks, Death Valley will explode to life in an astonishing feast of wildflowers.

Upon ascending to the throne, young Solomon traveled ten miles northwest to the hills of Gibeon to offer an extravagant sacrifice-a thousand burnt offerings. This was the same place where the sun stood still for Joshua and where twelve of David's strong men defeated twelve of Saul's men (see Joshua 10:1-14; 2 Samuel 2:12-17). In the middle of the night, God burst through to Solomon in a dream. Solomon could have requested anything in all the earth. Through time spent in worship, Solomon realized that wisdom was the greatest of all God's gifts.

Worship is like the rains that prepare the earth for God's blessings. The story of the youthful Solomon preparing to take the throne is a beautiful reminder to us of the importance of worship. The story of God granting him the gift of wisdom opens with a swell of costly and reverent worship. For us, too, worship creates a context for us to encounter God; it sets our souls in motion in an upward spiral by which we pursue God, and he gladly responds.

Worship book-ended the exchange between the Sovereign God and the new sovereign of Israel. Solomon returned from his heavenly encounter and again made an offering to the God of Israel in Jerusalem before the ark of the covenant.

Like a gathering cloud, worship encircles and protects God's people. It softens the soil of our hearts like nourishing rain. When we've been in a dark place and long for colorful beauty to replace the hardness that has settled into our scorched souls, simple acts of worship can prepare the way for God's words of wisdom to permeate our hearts. If your life seems parched, won't you allow God to paint a palette of colorful joy by spending time worshiping your Lord?

Reflection

  1. Why is worship so important to God?
  2. What kinds of extravagant (or at least consistent) worship characterize your life?
  3. If God offered you anything you wish, what would you ask for? Has it changed having read this passage?

1 Kings 3:5, 15
At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you" . . . He returned to Jerusalem, stood before the ark of the Lord's covenant and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings.

Related Readings

Psalms 29; 100; Proverbs 3:13-24; Isaiah 55:10-12

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The New Women's Devotional Bible helps a new generation of Christian women apply God's Word to their lives.
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NIV Devotions for Moms

What the Elderly Can Offer

Psalm 145:3–7

Additional Scripture Readings: Job 12:12; Psalm 92:12–15

According to recent statistics, the average church has an “experience bank” of about 3,700 years in their senior citizens. What a reservoir! What a storehouse! How many years of wisdom do the experts of your own family possess?

Those experts preserve traditions passed down from one generation to another. They provide continuity and stability. They demonstrate a living faith that links the past, the present and the future. However it is passed down, the generations of your own family have much to offer you.

The greatest gift you may be able to offer the elderly is the opportunity to share their offering with you. Record on video or audio tape their memories of earlier times. Ask them for that family recipe and then write it down for those who follow. Pull out the family Bible or genealogy and transcribe the births, weddings and deaths of those they remember so that you will never forget. Seek the offerings of the elderly. You and your children will be the beneficiaries.

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Candace

Scripture ReferenceActs 8:27

Name Meaning—Queen or Ruler of Children

The exact name of this Ethiopian queen is not given by Luke. It was the name of a dynasty, not of an individual, and was used for many years by the queens of Ethiopia, just as Pharaoh was the hereditary title given to ancient Egyptian kings and Caesar to Roman emperors. The fascinating context Luke gives us is taken up with the eunuch, a man of great authority, a potentate in his way, returning through the desert to Meroe, Ethiopia, interested in Old Testament Scripture. Philip the Evangelist found him sitting in his chariot reading Isaiah 53, and from this chapter so full of the truth of the cross, preached unto him Jesus. The eunuch was converted to God, and baptized there in the desert, and returned to his country rejoicing. Tradition has it that he witnessed to the Candace of his newly-found Saviour and that she, too, embraced the Christian faith. Such was the influence of this converted eunuch, that many souls were saved and ultimately he became bishop of the first Christian Church in Ethiopia. It is interesting to note that the present emperor of Ethiopia is a professed believer.

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True Israel

Matthew 2:13-15 "This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, 'Out of Egypt I called my son'" (v. 15b).

Scripture is clear that God is the architect of history. Time does not march forward by means of chance, nor is it an endless, repetitive cycle. Instead, history's flow is linear and marches toward a goal. History at times can seem to repeat itself, but even such instances are ordained by the Lord for His purposes.

Consider Joseph, adopted father of the Christ. Like his namesake, a notable old covenant saint, he receives dreams from heaven (Gen. 37:5-11; Matt. 1:20 ). Moreover, the first Joseph took his clan to Egypt to save their lives (Gen. 45-46) just as the second Joseph goes there to keep his family safe (Matt. 2:13-15a).

This tie between the history of Jacob's sons (the Israelites) and the history of Jesus is the key to interpreting today's passage rightly. The evangelist writes that Jesus' flight into the land of the Nile and return to Palestine fulfills a prophecy recorded inHosea 11:1 (Matt. 2:15b). What, then, does he mean?

Remember that the fulfillment of biblical prophecy is more than just one-to-one correspondence between prediction and realization. Hosea, in the passage Matthew cites, was not even predicting anything. The nation of Israel is God's son in Hosea 11, which retells the nation's history from exodus ( v. 1) to idolatry (vv. 2-4) to exile (vv. 5-7), and finally to deliverance from its sin and enemies (vv. 8-11). Matthew surely knows this to be the case and is not twisting the Old Testament passage to make it about Jesus as opposed to the Israelites.

"Fulfill" means to "fill up to overflowing." A later person or event fulfills a prior person or event when what is later fills up, or completes the purpose of what came earlier. In this fulfillment, the later person or event engulfs what came before and becomes its truest and fullest expression. Our Creator redeemed His son Israel from Egypt to be His light to the world (Isa. 42:6 ), but this son failed to complete his mission. Jesus also flees to Egypt and then returns, showing us that our Savior recapitulates, or repeats, the story of Israel and is a second opportunity for the Father's intent to be realized. He is the true Israel, the true Son of God who will endure what His people endured and yet will be faithful to His Father and accomplish His purpose for the nation.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Our sovereign Lord has ordered history to accomplish His purposes and bring His plan for His people to pass. Even when His people failed, the Father sent Jesus so that He might live out the design God has for them. Christ's success where we have failed is reckoned to our account when we trust in Him, and we are therefore called to imitate His faithfulness. Pray that you will succeed where you failed in the past when you have the opportunity to do so.

For further study:

Exodus 4:22

The Bible in a year:

Genesis 34-35

INTO the WORD daily Bible studies 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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Free grace

“Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.” Ezekiel 36:32

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Timothy 1:12-17

My God! I have rebelled against thee, and yet thou hast loved me, unworthy me! How can it be? I cannot lift myself up with pride, I must bow down before thee in speechless gratitude. Remember, my dear brethren, that not only is the mercy which you and I have received undeserved, but it was unasked. It is true you sought for mercy, but not till mercy first sought you. It is true you prayed, but not till free grace made you pray. You would have been still today hardened in heart, without God, and without Christ, had not free grace saved you. Can you be proud then?—proud of mercy which, if I may use the term, has been forced upon you?—proud of grace which has been given you against your will, until your will was changed by sovereign grace? And think again—all the mercy you have you once refused. Christ sups with you; be not proud of his company. Remember, there was a day when he knocked, and you refused—when he came to the door and said, “My head is wet with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night; open to me, my beloved;” and you barred it in his face, and would not let him enter. Be not proud, then of what you have, when you remember that you once rejected him. Does God embrace you in his arms of love? Remember, once you lifted up your hand of rebellion against him. Is your name written in his book? Ah! there was a time when, if it had been in your power, you would have erased the sacred lines that contained your own salvation. Can we, dare we, lift up our wicked heads with pride, when all these things should make us hang our heads down in the deepest humility?

For meditation: For meditation: Whatever we have become or achieved in the Christian life must always be attributed to God’s grace and directed to his glory. The apostle Paul needed no reminder (1 Corinthians 15:10).

Sermon no. 233
9 January (1859)

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True Israel

Matthew 2:13-15

Our sovereign Lord has ordered history to accomplish His purposes and bring His plan for His people to pass. Even when His people failed, the Father sent Jesus so that He might live out the design God has for them. Christ's success where we have failed is reckoned to our account when we trust in Him, and we are therefore called to imitate His faithfulness. Pray that you will succeed where you failed in the past when you have the opportunity to do so.

For further study:

Exodus 4:22

The Bible in a year:

Genesis 34-35

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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No illusion

‘And wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.’ Acts 12:9

Suggested Further Reading: Habakkuk 2:1–4

Peter’s case was put into God’s hands. The company that met at the house of Mary, the mother of Mark, were appealing to the great Advocate. If any man be in prison, ‘we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.’ With their humble prayers and tears they were pleading for their brother, whose valuable life they could ill afford to spare, for the infant church needed the apostles at least for a season. I think I hear them pleading one after the other—‘Lord, remember Peter! Thou knowest how we love him; our desires go up for him. Let not Peter be slain! Oh, take not thou the prop from under us! Remove not the pillar from the wall, nor the stone from its place.’ The Lord has heard their cries. Peter’s cause is in his hand. He will interfere in due time. The assurance that prayer is heard is the earnest that prayer will be answered. The petition is accepted, though no answer has yet been received. Well, we can leave it there. But see, brethren, Peter has been lying in prison the whole week. The feast of unleavened bread is over, it is the last night—the last night! The evening has crept on; the dark hours have set in; it is midnight. The sun will soon be rising—in a few more hours—and then where is Peter? Lord, if thou do not interfere, where is Peter? If thou come not now to help him his blood shall make the populace of Jerusalem glad while they gloat and delight in his slaughter! Yes, but just at that last and darkest hour of the night, God’s opportunity overtook man’s extremity. A light shone in the dungeon. Peter was awakened. God never is before his time; nor is he ever too late; he comes just when he is needed.

For meditation: Many of our problems and much false doctrine (e.g. evolution, the mass, instant sanctification, purgatory and annihilation) illustrate the fact that God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8–9); the human heart displays a strong resistance to God’s time scales and speeds ( 2 Peter 3:8–9). Sometimes his apparent delays and slowness to act test our faith to its limits (John 11:6,21,32,39).

Sermon no. 526
9 January (Undated Sermon)

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