Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Daily Devotional Tuesday 17th January

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”Galatians 5:16 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"I will help thee, saith the Lord."
Isaiah 41:14

This morning let us hear the Lord Jesus speak to each one of us: "I will help thee." "It is but a small thing for me, thy God, to help thee. Consider what I have done already. What! not help thee? Why, I bought thee with my blood. What! not help thee? I have died for thee; and if I have done the greater, will I not do the less? Help thee! It is the least thing I will ever do for thee; I have done more, and will do more. Before the world began I chose thee. I made the covenant for thee. I laid aside my glory and became a man for thee; I gave up my life for thee; and if I did all this, I will surely help thee now. In helping thee, I am giving thee what I have bought for thee already. If thou hadst need of a thousand times as much help, I would give it thee; thou requirest little compared with what I am ready to give. 'Tis much for thee to need, but it is nothing for me to bestow. Help thee?' Fear not! If there were an ant at the door of thy granary asking for help, it would not ruin thee to give him a handful of thy wheat; and thou art nothing but a tiny insect at the door of my all-sufficiency. I will help thee.'"

O my soul, is not this enough? Dost thou need more strength than the omnipotence of the United Trinity? Dost thou want more wisdom than exists in the Father, more love than displays itself in the Son, or more power than is manifest in the influences of the Spirit? Bring hither thine empty pitcher! Surely this well will fill it. Haste, gather up thy wants, and bring them here--thine emptiness, thy woes, thy needs. Behold, this river of God is full for thy supply; what canst thou desire beside? Go forth, my soul, in this thy might. The Eternal God is thine helper!

"Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismay'd!

I, I am thy God, and will still give thee aid."

Evening

"The Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself."
Daniel 9:26

Blessed be his name, there was no cause of death in him. Neither original nor actual sin had defiled him, and therefore death had no claim upon him. No man could have taken his life from him justly, for he had done no man wrong, and no man could even have lain him by force unless he had been pleased to yield himself to die. But lo, one sins and another suffers. Justice was offended by us, but found its satisfaction in him. Rivers of tears, mountains of offerings, seas of the blood of bullocks, and hills of frankincense, could not have availed for the removal of sin; but Jesus was cut off for us, and the cause of wrath was cut off at once, for sin was put away forever. Herein is wisdom, whereby substitution, the sure and speedy way of atonement, was devised! Herein is condescension, which brought Messiah, the Prince, to wear a crown of thorns, and die upon the cross! Herein is love, which led the Redeemer to lay down his life for his enemies!

It is not enough, however, to admire the spectacle of the innocent bleeding for the guilty, we must make sure of our interest therein. The special object of the Messiah's death was the salvation of his church; have we a part and a lot among those for whom he gave his life a ransom? Did the Lord Jesus stand as our representative? Are we healed by his stripes? It will be a terrible thing indeed if we should come short of a portion in his sacrifice; it were better for us that we had never been born. Solemn as the question is, it is a joyful circumstance that it is one which may be answered clearly and without mistake. To all who believe on him the Lord Jesus is a present Saviour, and upon them all the blood of reconciliation has been sprinkled. Let all who trust in the merit of Messiah's death be joyful at every remembrance of him, and let their holy gratitude lead them to the fullest consecration to his cause.

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Today's reading: Genesis 39-40, Matthew 11 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife

1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.

2 The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”

8 But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.

11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home.17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.

But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

Genesis 40

The Cupbearer and the Baker

1 Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. 2 Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3 and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. 4The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them.

After they had been in custody for some time, 5 each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.

6 When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?”

8 “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.”

Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”

9 So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, 10 and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.”

12 “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days. 13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. 14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. 15 I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.”

16 When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread. 17 In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.”

18 “This is what it means,” Joseph said. “The three baskets are three days. 19 Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and impale your body on a pole. And the birds will eat away your flesh.”

20 Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials:21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand— 22 but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation.

23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.


Matthew 11

Jesus and John the Baptist

1 After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.

2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10This is the one about whom it is written:

“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’

11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 Whoever has ears, let them hear.

16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

Woe on Unrepentant Towns

20 Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

The Father Revealed in the Son

25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

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LOT’S WIFE

Genesis 19:15-26; Luke 17:29-33

When Abraham heard that his nephew, Lot, had been taken captive by the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, he pursued the enemies and freed Lot, and “the women, and the people.” Who the women were, Scripture does not say. They may have been Lot’s wife and daughters, or Sodomite female servants. The first direct reference we have of Lot’s unnamed wife is when the angels came to hasten the family out of doomed Sodom (Genesis 19:15 ). Who she was, of what race and family, of what life and character, by what name she was known, the Bible is silent. All the information we have about her is packed into one short verse, “His wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” Yet we must give attention to her for it is written in burning words by the finger of God—

“Remember Lot’s wife.”

Some dozen words in the Old Testament, and three words in the New Testament, then, are all we have of this female character.

When, because of strife, Abraham and his nephew, Lot, came to part, Abraham gave Lot the pick of the land before them. Lot selfishly chose the best stretch of the country, “well watered everywhere ... even as the garden of the Lord” (13:10). But such a greedy choice had dire consequences. Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom, and before long was in Sodom where its inhabitants “were wicked and sinners before the Lordexceedingly” (13:13 ). Lot became a citizen of Sodom, sat at its gate as the city’s mayor, and was treated with honor and reverence as a relative of the mighty Abraham who had delivered Sodom from the Elamite invasion. While Peter speaks of Lot as being just and of having a righteous soul vexed with the filthy lives of the Sodomites (2 Peter 2:7-9), he yet somehow closed his eyes to the wickedness of the people, married a woman of Sodom and consented for his two daughters born in Sodom to marry Sodomites.

Sodom was such a cesspool of iniquity that God said He would destroy it. But because of Lot’s presence in the city Abraham interceded for its preservation. If only there had been ten righteous people in it God said the city would be spared. The only apparent righteous person in it—whose righteousness had been made ineffective through compromise—was Lot. So the two angels came to deliver Lot and his family from the terrible judgment about to fall on Sodom. They were entertained overnight, and Lot’s wife doubtless shared in the hospitality shown. Early the next morning the angels sought to hasten Lot and his family out of the city, but they lingered. They were loathe to leave the luxury, pleasure, and sin of Sodom, so the angelic deliverers had to remove them forcibly from the city and compel them to escape for their life.

The account of the tragedy is briefly related. As fire and brimstone out of heaven fell upon Sodom, Lot’s wife looked back from behind her husband. In oriental countries it was the rule for the wife to walk some distance behind her husband, but as Lot’s wife lingered and looked back she was overtaken by sulphurous vapors, and, encrusted with salt, perished where she stood. Entombed as a pillar, she became “as a monument of an unbelieving soul” in a desolate region, “of whose wickedness even to this day the waste land that smoketh is a testimony” ( Wisdom 10:7). The wife of Lot looked back upon her own city with regrets at having to part with its sinful pleasures. She had been compelled to leave Sodom as a city, but all that Sodom represented was very much in her heart.

All the while Lot’s wife was in Sodom, its “filthy communications” soaked into her soul, so much so that when the angel of mercy sought to save her from the angel of judgment, she could not be saved. In the look back to Sodom was regret for all she was leaving for an unknown life before her, and as she sighed the salt air whitened her body into marble, and “nature made for her at once a grave and a monument.” “She became a pillar of salt,” and in that word we have a symbol of character as well as a monument of destiny . A pillar of salt is the picture of many a society woman today. All the sweet blood of a true woman’s heart has become brackish by the life she leads. Instead of a woman, you have only a pillar of salt. In Sodom, Lot’s wife lived in pleasure but was dead as she lived. As the wife of a righteous man, she had a name to live, but the gay life of Sodom asphyxiated her soul. Thus when the warning voice of God sounded in her ear, she may have heard it but did not heed it. Sodom with its society and sin had been her whole life.

When dealing with the truth of His Second Advent, our Lord used the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot’s deliverance from their destruction as an illustration of His emancipation of His own from the catastrophe to overtake a godless world, and warns believers to remember Lot’s wife and not linger, look, and be lost. As those who wait His coming we are not to look back nor draw back, but look up for our redemption draweth nigh. How arrestive is Christ’s exhortation! “Remember Lot’s wife.” Mary’s one act of piety in breaking her alabaster box of precious spikenard brought her a perpetual memorial, and in like manner the one tragic act of Lot’s wife brought her a different kind of remembrance. For all who preach the Gospel what an appeal for immediate decision there is in the urgent summons of the angels to Lot and his family, “Escape for thy life, look not behind thee ... lest thou be consumed.” That stirring evangelistic hymn has led many a sinner to escape to the arms of the Saviour—

The Gospel bells give warning,

As they sound from day to day,

Of the fate which doth await them

Who forever will delay—

Escape thou for thy life;

Tarry not in all the plain.

Nor behind thee look, oh, never,

Lest thou be consumed in pain.

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Barabbas [Bārăb'bas]—son of a father or son of return. The notable prisoner, committed to prison for robbery and murder, but preferred to Christ (Matt. 27:16-26).

The Man Who Had a Substitute

Barabbas should have died for his crimes but Jesus occupied his cross, along with the two other thieves. What a night Barabbas must have spent before Christ was selected in his place! The thief and murderer had visions of a terrible death. All the torture of crucifixion came up before him. Then as the light of morning looked in through the bars of his prison he hears the march of soldiers coming to take him out to his horrible death.

Can we not imagine how stupefied he must have been when he heard the officer of the guard say, “Barabbas you are free. Another is to die in your stead”? When Barabbas came to himself and realized how true the news was, out he went, grateful to the One condemned to die as his substitute. A just and holy Man to die in the place of a thief and murderer? Yes, Barabbas was saved at such a cost. What a picture of divine grace this substitutionary death presents! Thereafter, whenever Barabbas thought of Christ, he could say, “He died for me.”

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The Fruit of Repentance

Matthew 3:7-10 " But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for the baptism, he said to them, '... Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance'" ( vv. 7-8).

After centuries of silence, the covenant Lord spoke to His people again through John the Baptist. Beginning around 27a.d., John prepared the way for the Messiah to inaugurate God's kingdom, calling Israel to repentance because the nation as a whole had not shown contrition for the sins that led to exile from Palestine. In John's day, the people were not ready for the kingdom to come.

John's call is laid on all of us throughout the Bible. "Repentance" is the English translation of the Greek termmetanoia , which literally means "change of mind." Repentance expresses sorrow for the ways in which we have offended God (Ps. 51:4), but it is also much more. Repentance is a change of mind and actions wherein we cease our approval of wickedness and justification of bad behavior. It is foremost a decisive reorientation of one's life away from the self and toward the Lord. This does not mean we repent only once at the start of the Christian life and then go our merry way, for confession of sin is needed until life's end ( 1 John 1:8-9). But this subsequent repentance flows from and confirms the initial act wherein we realize our desperate state, admit our need of pardon, and come to Jesus in a childlike manner (Matt. 19:13-15).

John Calvin comments on today's passage, saying, "Repentance is an inward matter, which has its seat in the heart and soul, but afterwards yields its fruits in a change of life." It is not enough to profess sorrow for transgression; we have not truly turned from sin if our lives are unchanged (Isa. 29:13-14; James 2:14-26 ). Scripture does not teach that sinless perfection is possible before we are glorified, nor does it deny that some sins are harder to overcome than others. What it does say is that those who are truly repentant do what they can to "resist the devil" (James 4:7) and flee temptation. They also look for others to help them bear their burdens, to hold them accountable and help them find strength when they are weak (Gal. 6:1-2 ). The truly repentant lapse into sin on occasion, but they always return to the narrow path of righteousness. True converts will not find their assurance in denominational membership (Matt. 3:9-10) or in a past act of devotion. They find it in a justified life of repentance and faith.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

One of the more neglected tools that can help us grow in our holiness is the confession of sins one to another (James 5:16). It can be difficult to admit to other people that we have sinned, but loving brothers and sisters in Christ can help assure us of His forgiveness and help us overcome persistent temptations. Without being involved in the lives of other believers we will not find these opportunities. Take the initiative and be a part of the lives of other Christians.

For further study:

2 Chronicles 7:14

The Bible in a year:

Gen. 50-Exodus 1

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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January 16, 2012

God's Glory Revealed to you and Through You

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth - everyone who is called by my name whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made, (Isaiah 43:7, NIV).

Friend to Friend

Have you ever wondered why you were created? You were created for God's glory and to glorify God, (Isaiah 43:7) because it pleased Him to do so (Ephesians 1:5 ). The concept of glory can be a difficult concept to wrap our human minds around. It seems so otherworldly. We can catch glimpses of its meaning throughout Scripture, but then like a shooting star that appears for a just a moment, it quickly slips away into the vast expanse of God's infinite wisdom. But let's see what we can know about this bigger-than-life word.

In the Old Testament, the most common Hebrew word for gloryis kabod meaning "weight, honor, esteem." The Bible associates God's glory with how He manifests Himself or makes His presence known. Some theologians refer to these as theophanies. He made His presence known in a devouring fire (Exodus 24:16-17), a moving cloud (Exodus 13:21) and a still small voice (Exodus 33:18 ). His glory is reflected in creation (Psalm 19:1) and in His sovereign control of history (Acts 17:26). His glory is made known through the life of simple human beings like you and me.

The same concept of God's glory is in the New Testament in the Greek word, doxa, which means glory, honor and splendor.(William D. Munce, General Editor , Munce's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006, 290). John wrote, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen hisglory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14 ). After Jesus' first miracle, turning the water into wine, John wrote: "This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him" (John 2:11). In Hebrews 1:3, the writer reveals this about Jesus: "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word" (Hebrews 1:3).

The verb form of glory, to glorify, is doxazo, and primarily denotes "to magnify, extol, praise, to ascribe honor to God, acknowledging Him as to His being, attributes and acts, i.e., His glory. It is the revelation and manifestation of all that He has and is. When we glorify God, we are giving a display or manifestation-or a reflection-of His character. To magnify God is to make Him easy to see. Jesus said that the disciples would glorify God when they bore fruit (John 15:8). Through their actions, they would point others to God and make Him easy to see.

God's glory is how He makes Himself known. It is almost incomprehensible to think that He would choose mere human beings to accomplish such a task. But as Scripture tells us, we were created in His image (Genesis 1:26) and as a display of His glory (Isaiah 43:7 ). You were created to make God recognizable to others-to show others what God is like. He makes Himself recognizable to us and through us. The glory of any created thing is when it is fully fulfilling the purpose for which it was created...and that includes you and me.

Glory. It's a big word-a weighty word.

Today, look for ways that God makes Himself known to you and through you.

Let's Pray

Lord, I pray that I will glorify You today. I pray that my actions and words will make You easier to see. I pray that You will open my eyes to see Your glory as I live and move and have my being in You today.

In Jesus' Name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Look up all the verses mentioned in today's devotion and write down what you learn about the word glory.

If someone were to ask you to define "glory," what would say?

What are some ways that you can glorify God today? Let's share our answers at www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes.

More from the Girlfriends

One way that we glorify God is in the words we speak. If you would like to learn more about how to control your tongue and use your words to speak life to those around you, then check out Sharon's book, The Power of a Woman's Words. On her website you can watch a video and download a free chapter of this life-changing book. It also has a Bible study guide and DVD for group or individual study.

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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The Fruit of Repentance

Matthew 3:7-10

One of the more neglected tools that can help us grow in our holiness is the confession of sins one to another (James 5:16). It can be difficult to admit to other people that we have sinned, but loving brothers and sisters in Christ can help assure us of His forgiveness and help us overcome persistent temptations. Without being involved in the lives of other believers we will not find these opportunities. Take the initiative and be a part of the lives of other Christians.

For further study:

2 Chronicles 7:14

The Bible in a year:

Gen. 50-Exodus 1

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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Corn in Egypt

“Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.” Genesis 42:1, 2

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 13:24-34

God in his wisdom has made the outward world, so that it is a strange and wonderful picture of the inner world. Nature has an analogy with grace. The wonders that God does in the heart of man, each of them finds a parallel, a picture, a metaphor, an illustration, in the wonders which God performs in providence. It is the duty of the minister always to look for these analogies. Our Saviour did so. He is the model preacher: his preaching was made up of parables, pictures from the outer world, accommodated to teach great and mighty truths. And so is man’s mind constituted, that we can always see a thing better through a picture than in any other way. If you tell a man a simple truth, he does not see it nearly so well as if you told it to him in an illustration. If I should attempt to describe the flight of a soul from sin to Christ, you would not see it one half so readily as if I should picture John Bunyan’s pilgrim running out of the city of destruction, with his fingers in his ears, and hastening with all his might to the wicket gate. There is something tangible in a picture, a something which our poor flesh and blood can lay hold of; and therefore the mind, grasping through the flesh and the blood, is able to understand the idea, and to appropriate it. Hence the necessity and usefulness of the minister always endeavouring to illustrate his sermon, and to make his discourse as much as possible like the parables of Jesus Christ.

For meditation: How observant are you? The world around us is always teaching us lessons and underlining the truths of God’s Word (Matthew 6:26-30; Mark 13:28,29; Romans 1:20; 1 Corinthians 11:14,15).

Sermon no. 234
16 January (1859)

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



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Holly Good

January 16, 2012

A Different Kind of Church
Holly Good

"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." Romans 12:10 (NIV)

My normal carpool routine turned into a different kind of church one morning several years ago.

Twice a day, to and from school, we passed a tiny shack-like house. Surrounded by trash, old cars and unused items seemingly headed for the dump, it appeared neglected. It's front porch slowly detaching from the foundation made us wonder if it was uninhabitable.

The site of this dilapidated dwelling begged me to glance its way every single day.

After carpool, as I headed to the grocery store for my weekly shopping, I could not get this home off my mind. I walked the aisles, randomly loading my cart with many extra items.

Echoing repeatedly in my thoughts were the words fromRomans 12:10, "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." I knew I had to embrace this truth and live it out.

I had to do church differently that day.

For me, church had always consisted of four walls, worship songs, messages about the truth and love of God, and being surrounded by people. But a different kind of church was begging for my attention that morning.

On the way home from school, I casually told my teenaged daughter and her friends that we'd be making a quick stop. "We're going to do a different kind of church today," I quietly told them, hoping they didn't hear the nervousness in my voice.

My riders were not enthused as we pulled over at the dilapidated shack. They reluctantly helped me gather the bags of groceries from my trunk and timidly followed me to the leaning porch.

I apprehensively knocked on the worn screened door.

A middle-aged woman answered as I gently told her we had some groceries to share. She didn't welcome us into the dark room behind her, but eagerly accepted what we had to give.

"Thank you," she said. "They need this more than you know."

Not knowing any details or even who they were, I awkwardly told her we'd pray.

"Please do," she begged as she quickly closed the door on us.

As we headed back to the car, my anxiety began to subside. And God's peace filled my heart.

On our way home, I didn't wrap up our brief visit with a short sermonette or a confident 'well done' pat on our backs. We simply drove home in silence and reflected on our different kind of church that day.

And I couldn't help but smile as the verse in Romans continued to echo in my mind, "Be devoted to one another..."

Dear Lord, help me to always see where there is a need and look to fill it. Teach me to look beyond myself as I seek to represent You. Give me the boldness to show my children my love for You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
To read other writings from Holly please click here.

Resources that may help you in your walk with God:Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl and What Happens When Women Say Yes to God.

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We wish we could, but we simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you!

Reflect and Respond
Have I ever sensed God calling me to do church differently?

How can I step beyond my normal routine and be the hands and feet of Jesus for someone today?

Power Verses:
Romans 11:36, "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen." (NIV)

John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (NIV 1984)

© 2012 by Holly Good. All rights reserved.

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


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Skills: Communication Skills

READ PROVERBS 18:13

In his famous prayer, St. Francis of Assisi asked God to help him to “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This principle is the key to effective interpersonal communication.

Actually, the book of Proverbs offered identical advice ages before St. Francis penned this prayer. In Proverbs 18:13 we read, “He who answers before listening—that is his folly and his shame.” Earlierin 3 this same chapter Solomon offers a pointed evaluation of those who would rather talk than listen: “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions” (18:2).

No leader who cannot communicate can lead well or long. Most leaders spend vast amounts of time and energy developing other skills, such as long-term planning, time management and public speaking. But what about taking time to develop the skill of listening? Those who wish to be good leaders will develop this skill. They’ll practice such techniques as maintaining eye contact and rephrasing what they hear to be certain that they have understood correctly.

Closely tied in with the skill of listening is the ability to express oneself in a nonabrasive and affirming manner. After all, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (12:18). Wise leaders think before they speak; in so doing they select words that nurture rather than destroy. When faced with hostility they speak gently so as to subdue anger rather than stoke it (15:1).

Your degree of ability to communicate will either evoke trust or distrust in those you lead. It will instill either confidence or fear. It will determine to a large extent how eagerly your followers will follow you. How would those you lead evaluate your listening skills? What one thing could you do to strengthen your ability to listen?

Communication Skills and Who God Is

The foundational assumption of Scripture is not simply that God exists, but that he has communicated with us through the prophets and apostles, and most decisively through the personal revelation of his incarnate Son. As a personal and relational being, God is a communicator. Turn to Psalm 19:1–11 for a description of two ways in which God has communicated with us.

This Week's Verse to Memorize MATTHEW 15:18

“The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart.”

Communication Skills and Who I Am

Because we have been created in the likeness of God, we are personal, relational, communicating beings. The issue is not whether we will communicate, but how effective and appropriate our communication will be. Our speech can be a source of blessing or injury to others. Turn to James 3:1–16 to consider the significance of the words we speak.

Communication Skills and How It Works

Effective communication involves more than just speaking and hearing. Real communication only takes place when both parties move beyond speaking and hearing to understanding. See Isaiah 6:9 for God’s words to his prophet on this topic.

Communication Skills and What I Do

While you’ll no doubt agree that communication is essential to effective leadership, you may be surprised by the extent to which open, honest, two-way communication can actually benefit you and your organization. Solomon warns his readers to be on the alert for one-sided communication, and Ted W. Engstrom observes that listening, which leads to understanding, is one of the effective leader’s best communication strategies. Turn to Proverbs 18:2 for today’s reading.


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Frost and thaw

‘He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes. He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold? He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow.’ Psalm 147:16–18

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 19:1–6

A man puts his hand into a woolpack and throws out the wool; God giveth snow as easily as that. ‘He giveth snow like wool.’ A man stands upon a heap of ashes, takes up a handful, throws them into the air, and they fall around. ‘He scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes’—just as easily. There are wondrous marvels of nature in ice and snow; those who have looked at the crystals, and examined their marvellous beauty, must have been astonished at the inimitable skill displayed in them. ‘He casteth forth his ice like morsels’—just as easily as we cast crumbs of bread outside the window to the robins during these wintry days. When the rivers are hard frozen, and the earth held in iron chains, then the melting of the whole—how is that done? Not by the lighting of innumerable fires or the sending of electric shocks from huge batteries through the interior of the earth—no; ‘He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow’. The whole matter is accomplished with a word and a breath. See the magnificent ease with which God accomplishes all his purposes in nature! If you and I have any great thing to do, what puffing and panting, what straining and tugging there must be; and even the great engineers, who perform great things by machinery, must make much noise and stir about it. It is not so with the Almighty One. Here is this our world spinning round every day in four-and-twenty hours, and yet it does not make so much noise as a humming-top. If I enter a factory I hear a deafening din, but God’s great wheels revolve without noise or friction: all the divine work is simply, easily, and beautifully managed.

For meditation: God doesn’t need to make a lot of noise to speak to us (1 Kings 19:11–12); but we sometimes make too much noise to hear him and need to quieten down (Psalm 46:10).

Sermon no. 670
16 January (Preached 14 January 1866)

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Those Exceptions of Life

2 Kings 5:1-14

Is your life happy . . . except for one thing? Perhaps you enjoy a loving marriage, a beautiful home and financial ease . . . except you suffer from infertility. Maybe you have graduated with a master's degree, founded a business and are in top physical condition . . . except your parents are getting divorced. If you compiled a list of all the positives in your life, what would you include? I have great friends; I'm an accomplished pianist; I've inherited a green thumb. But what disrupts your sense of well-being? All of us possess at least one "except" that gets in the way of our happiness.

An unnamed slave girl experienced some poignant "excepts" in her young life. She was one of God's chosen people. She had faith in God . . . except she was a captive of war in a foreign land. The good news: She found herself in the household of a commander of the army.

Naaman, the commander, also experienced some significant "excepts." He had great authority and was highly regarded by the king. Although he was a Gentile, he found favor with the God of Israel and was granted military victory. One "except" plagued him: leprosy. If only he could find a cure, his life would be complete.

The slave girl and Naaman had choices to make concerning life's exceptions. Would they let the exceptions rule their lives? Or would they let God rule without exception? The slave girl could have let her situation make her bitter. Instead, she chose to help the man who was her master. And Naaman chose to take the advice of a servant girl, not allowing his pride to stand in the way of her help.

Is God asking you to take one step of obedience that may bring help and healing to another person? Perhaps it's as simple as taking up a pen and beginning a note of apology even though you're still hurting from what they did to you? Maybe you need to carve out time for the one thing you've been dreading to do. It could be you're compelled to take one act of firm discipline for the unruly child you love. That first step of obedience can bring your exception into a different light when you learn step by step what it means to trust God without exceptions

Reflection

  1. What except has disrupted your life?
  2. How have you handled your exception? How has this story lent some perspective on your own situation?
  3. What step has God asked you to take that you are reluctant to try?

2 Kings 5:1
Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

Related Readings

Luke 4:24-27; John 9:1-11

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NIV Devotions for Moms

The Tool Between Your Teeth

Proverbs 12:18-19

Additional Scripture Readings: Proverbs 15:4; Proverbs 31:26

The tongue is a two-edged instrument of power. With it we can lash apart a loved one, leaving deep scars. We've seen our child's confidence wilt after our tongue strikes a blow. We've grimaced after thoughtlessly slicing our husband apart with our words. The tongue has an unequaled power to destroy.

But it also has the power to build up and to heal. We can wield it to build a mole-sized self-image into one that is majestically confident. We can use it to offer solace for the open wounds of those around us. A variety of three-word groupings-"You look great!" "Good for you!" "I love you." "I forgive you."-can transform human life.

It has the power to destroy. It has the power to heal. How will you use the tool between your teeth?

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