Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Daily Devotional Tuesday 24th January

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"I have exalted one chosen out of the people."
Psalm 89:19

Why was Christ chosen out of the people? Speak, my heart, for heart-thoughts are best. Was it not that he might be able to be our brother, in the blest tie of kindred blood? Oh, what relationship there is between Christ and the believer! The believer can say, "I have a Brother in heaven; I may be poor, but I have a Brother who is rich, and is a King, and will he suffer me to want while he is on his throne? Oh, no! He loves me; he is my Brother." Believer, wear this blessed thought, like a necklace of diamonds, around the neck of thy memory; put it, as a golden ring, on the finger of recollection, and use it as the King's own seal, stamping the petitions of thy faith with confidence of success. He is a brother born for adversity, treat him as such.

Christ was also chosen out of the people that he might know our wants and sympathize with us. "He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin." In all our sorrows we have his sympathy. Temptation, pain, disappointment, weakness, weariness, poverty--he knows them all, for he has felt all. Remember this, Christian, and let it comfort thee. However difficult and painful thy road, it is marked by the footsteps of thy Saviour; and even when thou reachest the dark valley of the shadow of death, and the deep waters of the swelling Jordan, thou wilt find his footprints there. In all places whithersoever we go, he has been our forerunner; each burden we have to carry, has once been laid on the shoulders of Immanuel.

"His way was much rougher and darker than mine

Did Christ, my Lord, suffer, and shall I repine?"

Take courage! Royal feet have left a blood-red track upon the road, and consecrated the thorny path forever.

Evening

"We will remember thy love more than wine."
Song of Solomon 1:4

Jesus will not let his people forget his love. If all the love they have enjoyed should be forgotten, he will visit them with fresh love. "Do you forget my cross?" says he, "I will cause you to remember it; for at my table I will manifest myself anew to you. Do you forget what I did for you in the council-chamber of eternity? I will remind you of it, for you shall need a counsellor, and shall find me ready at your call." Mothers do not let their children forget them. If the boy has gone to Australia, and does not write home, his mother writes--"Has John forgotten his mother?" Then there comes back a sweet epistle, which proves that the gentle reminder was not in vain. So is it with Jesus, he says to us, "Remember me," and our response is, "We will remember thy love." We will remember thy love and its matchless history. It is ancient as the glory which thou hadst with the Father before the world was. We remember, O Jesus, thine eternal love when thou didst become our Surety, and espouse us as thy betrothed. We remember the love which suggested the sacrifice of thyself, the love which, until the fulness of time, mused over that sacrifice, and long for the hour whereof in the volume of the book it was written of thee, "Lo, I come." We remember thy love, O Jesus as it was manifest to us in thy holy life, from the manger of Bethlehem to the garden of Gethsemane. We track thee from the cradle to the grave--for every word and deed of thine was love--and we rejoice in thy love, which death did not exhaust; thy love which shone resplendent in thy resurrection. We remember that burning fire of love which will never let thee hold thy peace until thy chosen ones be all safely housed, until Zion be glorified, and Jerusalem settled on her everlasting foundations of light and love in heaven.

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Today's reading: Exodus 7-8, Matthew 15:1-20 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. 2You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, 4 he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites.5 And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.”

6 Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD commanded them.7 Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.

Aaron’s Staff Becomes a Snake

8 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 9 “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Perform a miracle,’ then say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,’ and it will become a snake.”

10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. 11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the LORD had said.

The Plague of Blood

14 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go. 15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the river. Confront him on the bank of the Nile, and take in your hand the staff that was changed into a snake. 16 Then say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness. But until now you have not listened. 17 This is what the LORD says: By this you will know that I am the LORD: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. 18 The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.’”

19 The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt—over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs—and they will turn to blood.’ Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in vessels of wood and stone.”

20 Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. 21 The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.

22 But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said. 23Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart. 24 And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile to get drinking water, because they could not drink the water of the river.

The Plague of Frogs

25 Seven days passed after the LORD struck the Nile.

Exodus 8

1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 2 If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague of frogs on your whole country. 3 The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs.4 The frogs will come up on you and your people and all your officials.’”

5 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the streams and canals and ponds, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.’”

6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land. 7 But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.

8 Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to the LORD to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the LORD.”

9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile.”

10 “Tomorrow,” Pharaoh said.

Moses replied, “It will be as you say, so that you may know there is no one like the LORD our God. 11 The frogs will leave you and your houses, your officials and your people; they will remain only in the Nile.”

12 After Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh, Moses cried out to the LORD about the frogs he had brought on Pharaoh. 13 And the LORD did what Moses asked. The frogs died in the houses, in the courtyards and in the fields. 14 They were piled into heaps, and the land reeked of them. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said.

The Plague of Gnats

16 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the ground,’ and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats.” 17 They did this, and when Aaron stretched out his hand with the staff and struck the dust of the ground, gnats came on people and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnats. 18 But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not.

Since the gnats were on people and animals everywhere, 19the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the LORD had said.

The Plague of Flies

20 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes to the river and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 21 If you do not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you and your officials, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies; even the ground will be covered with them.

22 “‘But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the LORD, am in this land. 23 I will make a distinction between my people and your people. This sign will occur tomorrow.’”

24 And the LORD did this. Dense swarms of flies poured into Pharaoh’s palace and into the houses of his officials; throughout Egypt the land was ruined by the flies.

25 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God here in the land.”

26 But Moses said, “That would not be right. The sacrifices we offer the LORD our God would be detestable to the Egyptians. And if we offer sacrifices that are detestable in their eyes, will they not stone us? 27 We must take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God, as he commands us.”

28 Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the LORD your God in the wilderness, but you must not go very far. Now pray for me.”

29 Moses answered, “As soon as I leave you, I will pray to the LORD, and tomorrow the flies will leave Pharaoh and his officials and his people. Only let Pharaoh be sure that he does not act deceitfully again by not letting the people go to offer sacrifices to the LORD.”

30 Then Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to the LORD, 31 and the LORD did what Moses asked. The flies left Pharaoh and his officials and his people; not a fly remained. 32 But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go.


Matthew 15

That Which Defiles

1 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’”

10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”

16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

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Martha

The Woman Who Was More Practical Than Spiritual

Scripture ReferencesLuke 10:38-41; John 11; 12:1-3

Name Meaning—As a Chaldee or Syriac word, Martha is the feminine of moro or more, meaning “lord,” “master.” We find this in the formmaran in the well-known phrase Maran-atha, “The Lord cometh” (1 Corinthians 16:22). There are those who think that Kyria, translated “lady” in 2 John 1, is a proper name, the Greek equivalent of this word. Carpzov supposes that this Kyria was the same person as Martha of Bethany.

Family Connections—Of the history of Martha, the Bible tells us nothing save that she was the sister of Mary and Lazarus, and lived with them at Bethany. Some early writers have made Martha, the daughter, wife, or widow of Simon the Leper, and that on his death the house became hers, hence the reference to the house when the resurrection of Lazarus was celebrated (Matthew 26:6; Mark 14:3 ). Others think that Martha may have been a near relative of Simon for whom she acted as hostess. But the narrative seems to suggest the home belonged to Martha and being older than Mary and Lazarus, she carried the responsibility of all connected with household affairs in a home where “Jesus found the curse of the sojourner lifted from Him, and, in reversal of His own description of His loneliness and penury, found where to lay His head.” What strikes us forcibly is that after Jesus left His natural home at the age of thirty to enter upon His public ministry we do not read of Him returning to it for rest and relaxation. It was to the warm, hospitable home at Bethany to which He retired, for He loved the three who lived in it, Martha, Mary and Lazarus—in this order—which is something we do not read concerning His own brothers and sisters according to the flesh.

Martha and Mary seem to belong together in God’s portrait gallery, just as Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau do. Expositors also bracket the two sisters together, comparing and contrasting their respective traits. Martha, busy with household chores—Mary, preferring to sit before Jesus for spiritual instruction. Martha, ever active and impulsive—Mary, meditative and reticent. Truly drawn are the characters of these two sisters, Martha usually busy supervising the hospitality of the home, Mary somewhat indifferent to house work, anxious only to seek that which was spiritual. But we have no Scriptural warrant for affirming that the difference between the quiet, pious Mary and her industrious sister is that of the opposite of light to darkness. In the church there are vessels of gold and others of silver, but we are not justified in saying that the character of Mary is worked in gold and that of Martha in silver. These two sisters in that Bethany family had their respective, appropriate talents, and each of them served the Master accordingly.

George Matheson deprecates the effort to always bracket Mary and Martha together. Each figure stands for itself alone. These sisters have “both suffered from being uniformly viewed in combination, and the bracketing has been more injurious to Mary than to Martha. To say that Mary stands in contrast to Martha is true, but it is inadequate.” Too often “Martha has been held up to fine scorn as a worldly-minded and jealous creature, and Mary exalted for an indifference to the duties of hospitality, concerning which, for aught that we know, she may at various times have been quite as zealous as Martha.” Let us, therefore, take these female characters separately, and beginning with Martha note how she nobly fulfilled her mission in life.

The majority of the women of the Bible are revealed to us in passing hints. None of them are as fully pictured as we would like. But when we look at Martha it does seem as if her character is more fully revealed than that of many other females. Luke gives us our first glimpse of her in “a piece of writing which is one of the marvels of literature,” as H. V. Morton expresses it. “There is not one word we could do without, yet the picture is complete, and framed, as it were, by a kitchen door. Luke tells it in ninety-eight words” ( Luke 10:38-42 ). We have scattered evidence as to Martha’s ability to care for Jesus and the saints in the practical ways she did. Her home at Bethany was one of the few of social standing and substance with whom Jesus was on friendly terms. The hospitality afforded Him, the supper of some pretensions Martha provided for invited guests, the number and quality of friends who gathered around the sisters in the hour of their deep grief, and the wealth displayed in the anointing of Jesus, all alike bespeak of affluence. When Bethany is referred to as “the village of Mary and her sister, Martha,” the implication is that they were important figures in the community and that their home was the chief one in the village.

What, then, are the characteristics of Martha, the only Bible woman to have her name repeated, as Jesus did, when affectionately He said, “Martha! Martha!”?

She Was Most Hospitable

The first glimpse we have of Martha is that of one “given to hospitality,” for we read she “received Jesus into her house”—her house, suggesting she was its owner. Then, when Jesus was sent for to hurry to the aid of her sick brother, Lazarus, we read that when Martha heard that Jesus was coming “she met Him,” and bade Him welcome ( John 11:20, 30). And the provision of that home meant much to Jesus. One day we have Him saying, “The Son of man hath not where to lay his head,” but the next day, “He came to Bethany ... and Martha made him a supper.” His lonely heart found in that loving, hospitable home a woman waiting to minister to His weariness and exhaustion, and from the swift-handed care of gentle womanhood Jesus received the physical refreshment He needed. Even when there was death in the home, the energetic and practical Martha dried her tears and went out to meet the Lord of life, leaving the mystical Mary sitting in the house still weeping. What a superb life-like touch that is! “Martha went and met Him: but Mary sat still in the house.”

Knowing Martha as we do, we can be assured of this fact, that whenever Jesus visited Martha’s home she never had any need to apologize for untidy rooms, a neglected household, or lack of necessary provisions. To her, home responsibilities were never a drudgery. Martha loved her home, was house-proud, kept it “spick and span,” and was ever ready to entertain her divine Guest or others seeking a refuge beneath her hospitable roof. Eugenia Price expresses this aspect of Martha’s character when she says—

The superb hospitality He found in Martha’s home was extremely important to Him. No one enjoyed her cooking more than He enjoyed it. No one found her spacious home more beautiful, more inviting. But always He had the real issues in full view. He could not be distracted from them, even by His tired body and His human need of Martha’s services.

She Was Meditative

We do not read the record of Martha and Mary aright if we think that the former did all the serving, and the latter all the sitting. Too often, we think of Mary as the meditative one, and Martha as the practical one. But the next glimpse we have of Martha shows us that she was found at Jesus' feet—“which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard His word.” So both sisters studied in the College of the Feet. Conversely the phrase, “she has left me to serve alone,” suggests that Mary joined her sister in the reception of Jesus, and worked with her for a while but betook herself to her place at Jesus' feet. We must not for a moment feel that Mary thought serving beneath her, or that Martha had the idea that sitting was beyond her spiritual capacity. Both sat before the Master, but while Mary thought that listening was better, Martha felt that feeding Jesus was just as necessary as waiting upon His word. Martha’s practical service on His behalf was inspired by what she had heard from His lips and came of her love for Him. As George Matheson puts it—

Every article on Martha’s table was constructed out of sympathy, built of the fibres of her heart. The feast which she devised was the fruit of solicitude for Jesus and would have had no existence apart from that solicitude.

She Was Guilty of Complaint

Luke, who must have gone with Jesus to the house, noticed that “Martha was cumbered about much serving.” The word “cumbered” means “distracted.” It is God’s will “that we attend upon the Lord without distraction” (1 Corinthians 7:35 ). But being the one who managed the household and served, Martha found herself drawn hither and thither by conflicting cares. She loved Jesus and wanted all in the house to do their best for Him. So we have her double complaint, with the first part of it directed to Jesus Himself, “Dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?” The next half of the complaint was a command, “Bid her therefore that she help me.” This means that if Jesus were still speaking to Mary sitting at His feet, her somewhat vehement complaint must have interrupted our Lord’s calm demeanor while conversing with Mary. It irritated Martha to see Mary, cool and idle, while she was busy getting the meal ready for the visitors, and most likely their accommodation for a night or so.

It may have been that Martha was “secretly vexed with herself as much as with Mary, that the latter enjoyed the privilege of hearing Jesus' word seated at His feet, while she could not persuade herself to do the same for fear that a varied enough repast should not be served up to Him.” It was as if Martha had said to Jesus, “Lord, here am I with everything to do, and this sister of mine will not lay her hand to anything; thus I miss something from Thy lips, and Thou from our hands—bid her, therefore, that she help me.”

Martha would not presume to call her sister away from Jesus to help. In her vexed state of mind she included Jesus in her rebuke, and asked Him to release Mary from the season of meditation to help out with practical duties.

She Was Rebuked by Jesus

In our Lord’s answer to Martha’s complaint there was no condemnation of her activity, for He must have appreciated her warmhearted, practical management of the household. He knew that she was seeking to entertain Him with her best, and so lovingly warned her of the danger of forgetting amid her many cares the one thing needful. In the repetition of her name, Martha! Martha! there is an affectionate reproof. The only other example of a twofold utterance of a name during our Lord’s ministry was when He said, Simon! Simon! (Luke 22:31). From glory He said Saul! Saul! ( Acts 9:4). Following His repetition in which there was a gracious blending of kindness, sadness and surprise Jesus went on to remind Martha that she was careful and troubled about many things but that one thing was needful—the good part Mary had chosen and which He would not take away from her.

Jesus did not tell Martha that she had neither part nor lot in Him, or that she was allowing the cares of this life to choke the seed. He recognized that she was working for Him, but reminded her that she was permitting her outward activities to hinder her spiritually. Because of wrong emphasis regarding her necessary labor, her inner communion with her Lord was being hindered. In her restless activity Martha felt that her sister carried “her quiet, peaceful, faith-engendered mysticism” too far. H. V. Morton says that in our Lord’s reply to Martha’s complaint there can be traced a play of ideas, and that His words can be interpreted—

Martha, Martha, you are busy with many courses when one dish would be quite sufficient. Mary has chosen the best dish, which shall not be taken away from her.

The term “careful” refers to inward worrying anxiety. Martha was mentally solicitous, anxious with a divided mind which is forbidden (Matthew 6:22-31; 1 Corinthians 7:32). “Troubled,” means disturbed, distracted outwardly about many things or dishes. Fausset comments that “Much serving has its right place and time (1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 Timothy 5:14), but ought to give place to hearing when Jesus speaks, for faith whereby the good and abiding portion is gained, cometh by hearing” (Romans 10:17). The “good part” Mary chose was bias in the direction of that which is spiritual.

She Was Loved of the Lord

In a marvelous way John takes up where Luke leaves off, and with his skillful brush fills in the details of the character study of Martha the “practical.” First of all, the “apostle of love” tells us that “Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus.” How different were their personalities and temperaments, yet Jesus loved each of them with an equal love! He had a human heart enabling Him to love those who loved and cared for Him. So all three in that Bethany home had a place in His heart, and were embraced in His holy kindness. Such a love must have knit those sisters and their brother more closely and tenderly together than did even the bond of natural affection. Knowing all about Martha, Jesus loved her, and she in turn ardently loved Him and shared His confidence and became the recipient of a sublime revelation of her Lord.

She Was a Woman of Deep Sorrow

Sickness and death shadowed that loving, hospitable Bethany home. Lazarus fell sick, and his sister sent word to Jesus, “Behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick.” Jesus did not hurry to Bethany but abode where He was, and by the time He reached Bethany Lazarus had been in his grave four days. Was He indifferent to the call and grief of Martha and Mary? Loving them, how could He be? He wanted them to learn that His delays are not denials; that He knows the exact moment to display His power. He knew that this was a death that would result in Him being glorified as the Son of Man (John 11:4).

While many of the Jewish friends came to comfort grief-stricken Martha and Mary, they eagerly awaited the coming of the divine Comforter Himself and as soon as they heard He was on the way, Martha dried her tears and went out to meet Him, leaving Mary sitting disconsolate in the house. As soon as Martha met Jesus she uttered a rebuke in her usual blunt fashion, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” Then uncovering the real depths of her soul she hurried on to say, “But I know, that even now [with my dear brother in the grave] whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.”

What unbounded faith and confidence in her Lord’s omnipotence she had! A most remarkable conversation on the Resurrection followed between the Master and Martha. Immediately Jesus healed her broken heart by assuring her that her brother would rise again. No explanation of His delayed arrival was given. Jesus began right away to unfold the truth He meant both His delay and the death of Lazarus to convey.

A desolate heart now, in the presence of the Prince of Life, expressed its faith in a resurrection of the dead in “the jubilee of the ages,” as Martha knew the ancient Hebrew Scriptures taught. What she was not prepared for was the revelation that the One before her was the Resurrection and the Life. Jesus sought to lead the thoughts of Martha away from her dead brother to Himself, the One in whom the yonder becomes the here. Martha thought of the resurrection of her much-loved brother as a far-off event, but Jesus asserts His claim to be in Himself the power by which the dead are raised. Martha’s reply provided the Master an occasion to present one of the most outstanding statements in the Bible as to His deity, power and authority—“I am the resurrection and the life.” How astounded Martha must have been as she listened in awe to the tremendous truths flowing from the lips of Jesus. When He challenged her with “Believest thou this?” she uttered a remarkable confession of faith which some professed Christians today, alas, cannot subscribe to—

“Yea, Lord: I believe that Thou art

The Christ,

The Son of God,

which should come into the world.”

Although Martha could not fathom the depths of the Master’s revelation of Himself, she believed and implied three well-known titles to Him who loved her—

The Christ—The One of whom glorious things had been predicted as the anointed prophet, priest and king.

The Son of God—A confession of His deity, for this is a title pertaining not to His office or position, but to His nature and Person as the Only Begotten of the Father.

He that should come into the world—This was a common description among the Jews of Him who was at once the heart of prophecy, the object of the aspirations of all illuminated and reborn souls, and the desire of all nations ( Haggai 2:7;Matthew 11:3).

With her heart stilled by the mighty and mysterious message of the Master, and yet more by the calm majesty of His presence, Martha confessed her faith, and while she did not fully understand the depth of her own words, the Lord’s Resurrection from the dead enabled her to understand in some measure why He came into the world. Leaving Him after such an overwhelming experience, Martha went back to the home and called her sister “secretly,” perhaps for fear of the Jews. This precious touch reveals how concerned Martha was for the safety and cause of Him who had done so much for her. Mary was told that the Master asked for her, and rose up “hastily” and went to Him.

'Tis love that makes our willing feet

In swift obedience move.

Meeting Jesus, she fell down at the feet she had loved to sit at, and between her sobs repeated the complaint of Martha, “Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died.” Mary was in no way behind her sister in her love for her departed brother (John 11:19), her faith in the Lord Jesus (11:21 ), and in her belief in the final resurrection. The tears of Mary and of the mourning Jews moved the sympathetic spirit of Jesus, and affected by such sorrow He groaned in His spirit (11:33, 38 ). The groaning here was possibly an innner indignant feeling over the mockery of sorrow of the Jews whom He knew would try to kill Lazarus after his resurrection (11:47; 12:10), as well as kill Jesus also (11:53 ). It was this hypocrisy that stirred His spirit to anger so intense that it caused nerve and muscle and limb to tremble beneath its force. Then came the spectacle of “A God in Tears,” for we come to the shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept!”

How true it is that in every pang that rends the heart, the Man of Sorrows shares a part! Here was the evidence of His humanity.

At the grave Martha gives vent to her feelings again, and implied by her statement that as her dead brother’s body had passed to corruption, it would be terrible to see him thus. But the miracle happened and the glory of God was manifested. Jesus uttered the all-commanding word, and Lazarus came forth, with a body fresher than it had been for years. Thus Jesus justified His claim to Martha of being “The Resurrection,” not merely able to raise the dead, but also the Life-Power conquering the death-power in its own domain. The great I Amis the Resurrection for in Himself He has the keys of death. Then when He spoke of Himself as “The Life,” He gave utterance to one of the most profound expressions in the Gospel (John 14:6). He is Life—the primal, all-originating, all-comprehending, everlasting life. It is in Him we live.

She Was a Joyful Woman

What tears of joy both Martha and Mary must have shed as they embraced their brother risen from the dead! That physical miracle resulted in spiritual miracles, for many believed on Jesus. The last mention of Martha was at the supper in her home to celebrate the resurrection of Lazarus, and as usual she was active and served. While the guests were seated at her hospitable table, Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with costly spikenard, but Martha raised no objection. She acquiesced in her sister’s preparatory act associated with Christ’s own burial. For all that we know Martha may have had a large share in the purchase of the precious ointment, which Judas Iscariot thought was being wasted. While the service of Martha was the same, her spirit was blessedly changed. She was no longer “distracted” over her tasks, nor mentally anxious and outwardly bustling, but calm, trustful and in full agreement with her sister’s act of love and devotion to the Master. At last Martha, too, has chosen that good part which could not be taken from her. It is more than likely that Martha was present with the two Marys and other devout women at the cross and then at the empty tomb of the Saviour, and joined them as a herald to the disciples that Christ was risen indeed (Matthew 28:1-11 ).

What are some of the lessons to glean as we think of the life and character of Martha? One of her noblest acts was to open her home to Jesus and entertain Him. She little knew at the beginning of His visits that He was the Son of God with power, and when we receive Him into our hearts as Saviour we do not know all there is to know of His majesty and power. Eternity alone will bring us the full revelation of why and what He is.

Further, Martha represents those dear religious women who allow themselves to be distracted overmuch with their home cares and obligations. Some are all Martha, and no Mary. Others are all Mary and no Martha. The happy combination is that of Martha and Mary, the practical and the spiritual making possible the glory of the commonplace. The church requires both the Marys and the Marthas for both are necessary to complete the Christian character ( 1 Timothy 4:13-16; James 1:25-27). From the records we have considered we surely learn, do we not?—
1. To sit at the feet of Jesus and learn of Him.
2. To keep so-called secular service in its right place, conscious that both serving and learning are duties, and in both we should honor God.
3. To trust the Lord with our cares, responsibilities and sorrows knowing that He is able to undertake for us. If His help appears to be delayed we must remember that He is never before His time, and that He never lags behind.
4. To offer our best to Him who broke the alabaster box of His own body that heavenly forgiveness and fragrance might be ours.

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Herod [Hûr'od]—son of the hero orthe glory of the skin. Space forbids a detailed account of the genealogical table of the family of Herod. From Antipater, Governor of Idumaea, there were many branches. Elaborating on the history of the Herods, Henry S. Nash in his Hastings Dictionaryarticle says that they brought into history a considerable amount of vigor and ability, and that the main interest attaching to the Herods is not concerned with their characters as individual rulers.

“They acquire dignity when they are viewed as parts of a supremely dramatic situation in universal history. The fundamental elements in the situation are two.

“The course of world-power in antiquity, and the relation between it and the political principle in the constitution of the Chosen People.

“The religious genius of Judaism, and its relation to the political elements in the experience of the Jews.”

Among the many of the Herodian house, mention can be made of three, prominent in New Testament history.

  1. Herod the Great. This son of Antipater had shown himself before his father’s death both masterful and merciless. Because of his rule he earned the tile “Herod the Great.” He is remembered for his massacre of the innocents, the murder of several of his sons and for his own appalling death. Stewart Perowne in his recent monumental study, The Life and Times of Herod the Great, tells us that Herod’s life was as “eventful as his buildings were magnificent... His charm made him a close personal friend, first of Mark Antony, later of Augustus and Agrippa . . . Herod’s greatest achievement was the building of the Temple in Jerusalem” ( Matt. 2:1-22; Luke 1:5).
  2. Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great by his Samaritan wife, Matthaec. He became tetrarch of Galilee and Pernea. A man of craft, his cunning served him well. “The corroding immorality of his race shows itself in his marriage with Herodias, his brother’s wife.” His lust proved his undoing and also cost John the Baptist his head. Ultimately he was banished ( Matt. 14:1-6; Mark 6:14-22; 8:15; Luke 3:1, 19; 8:3; 9:7, 9; 13:31; 23:7-15;Acts 4:27; 13:1).
  3. The grandson of Herod the Great, and the son of Aristobulus and Bernice. He became Herod Agrippa I. Caligula gave him the governments of the tetrarchs Philip and Lysanias with other marks of royal favor. Parading as a little tin god, he was smitten with a foul disease and died in great agony ( Acts 12; 23:35).
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A Virgin Shall Conceive

Isaiah 7:14

It is important for all of us to grasp and embrace the core doctrines of Christianity. Otherwise, we will be unable to defend the truth delivered to the saints of God ( Jude 3). Take some time today to review one of the main summaries of Christian truth such as the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed. Determine which parts of the creeds you can explain well and study the Bible's teaching on those parts to which you have not devoted much attention.

For further study:

Isaiah 40:5

The Bible in a year:

Exodus 17-19

Coram Deo from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

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Our Secret Weapon

1 Chronicles 5:18-22

Imagine ranks of warriors stretching as far as the eye can see. Their weapons glinting in the morning sunlight, spread over the villages and pastures of the land God had given them. Nearly 45,000 strapping young men-weapon-savvy, war-hungry and expertly trained-fingering their bows and sword hilts impatiently. They had trained for this battle.

In the silence you could have heard a horse snort, a fish jump in the Jordan, a scabbard ring hollow against a shield. But as the battle got underway and the screams tore at their eardrums, you could hear something else: the cries of the warriors calling out to God for help. He was the secret weapon in the battle. And they trusted him for the victory.

Let's face it; life is more a battlefield than a playground. Every day we face enemies we can't even see. We are at war "against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12 ). We fight battles within ourselves-against insecurity, anxiety, depression. We fight for spiritual territory rather than for plots of land. We fight against the fallen things in this world: materialism, greed, selfishness, addiction, violence, apathy, prejudice, injustice . . . and the list goes on. Daunting enemies, indeed.

As soldiers in God's army we are called to do battle with evil by putting on the armor of God (see Ephesians 6:10-18 ). Every morning, picture yourself donning each piece like a modern-day Joan of Arc: the belt of God's truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace. Take up your shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. And then, like the Israelites, employ your "secret weapon": prayer. Ask God for help, "pray[ing] in the Spirit . . . with all kinds of prayers and requests" (Ephesians 6:18 ). One commentator said, "Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees." Don't hesitate to utilize your secret weapon by praying to the Lord of hosts, and trust him to hear your prayers. He's the one who will lead you to win your battle because he has already won the war.

Reflection

  1. Are most of your battles fought against "inward" or "outward" foes?
  2. What weapons are you finding most effective against your foe?
  3. How often do you utilize your "secret weapon" (prayer)?

1 Chronicles 5:20
They were helped in fighting them, and God delivered the Hagrites and all their allies into their hands, because they cried out to him during the battle. He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him.

Related Readings

Psalm 24:1-10; Philippians 4:6; James 4:1-8; 1 Peter 3:10-16

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A Virgin Shall Conceive

Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (v. 14).

Today we return to Isaiah 7:14, a passage we examined several weeks ago because Matthew cites it in the birth narrative of the Savior (1:23). Since Isaiah's text has inspired so much controversy, we will look at its fulfillment again from a slightly different angle in order to understand it better.

That Jesus was supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary has always been a defining tenet of Christianity. The virgin birth appears in every major creed and confession, and it sets our Lord apart from all of Israel's prophets, indeed, from every person that has ever lived.

Yet when many church leaders began to embrace the naturalism increasingly prevalent at the beginning of the twentieth century, they repudiated the virgin birth as an essential truth. Even today some believe the virgin birth is impossible even if they accept other aspects of the Christian faith. However, as J. Gresham Machen wrote, picking and choosing which parts of Scripture to believe is the first step toward a wholesale rejection of orthodoxy. "The overwhelming majority of those who reject the virgin birth reject also the whole supernatural content of the New Testament, and make of the 'resurrection' just what the word 'resurrection' most emphatically did not mean - a permanence of the influence of Jesus or a mere spiritual existence of Jesus beyond the grave" (Christianity and Liberalism, p. 108).

Our study of Isaiah 7:14 a few weeks ago demonstrated that the passage had been fulfilled in the time of Isaiah (with the birth of his son), yet it was realized in a greater way in the birth of Jesus, God's Son. Jesus is thus a sign that God will bless all those who follow Him and curse all those who reject His way. And clearly, the New Testament teaches that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary, who at the time of conception had not yet known a man sexually (Luke 1:34). To reject the virgin birth is to reject God's testimony and incur His curse.

The virgin birth is essential to the Christian faith. It clearly reveals Jesus as the Son of David to whom the prophets looked as the king of God's supernatural kingdom (Ps. 110;Dan. 7:13-14).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

It is important for all of us to grasp and embrace the core doctrines of Christianity. Otherwise, we will be unable to defend the truth delivered to the saints of God ( Jude 3). Take some time today to review one of the main summaries of Christian truth such as the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed. Determine which parts of the creeds you can explain well and study the Bible's teaching on those parts to which you have not devoted much attention.

For further study:

Isaiah 40:5

The Bible in a year:

Exodus 17-19

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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The fainting warrior

“O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”Romans 7:24,25

Suggested Further Reading: Galatians 2:1-13

It is Paul the apostle, who was not less than the very greatest of the apostles—it is Paul, the mighty servant of God, a very prince in Israel, one of the King’s mighty men—it is Paul, the saint and the apostle, who here exclaims, “O wretched man that I am!” Now, humble Christians are often the dupes of a very foolish error. They look up to certain advanced saints and able ministers, and they say, “Surely, such men as these do not suffer as I do; they do not contend with the same evil passions as those which vex and trouble me.” Ah! if they knew the hearts of those men, if they could read their inward conflicts, they would soon discover that the nearer a man lives to God, the more intensely has he to mourn over his own evil heart, and the more his Master honours him in his service, the more also does the evil of the flesh vex and tease him day by day. Perhaps, this error is more natural, as it is certainly more common, with regard to apostolic saints. We have been in the habit of saying, Saint Paul, and Saint John, as if they were more saints than any other of the children of God. They are all saints whom God has called by his grace, and sanctified by his Spirit; but somehow we very foolishly put the apostles and the early saints into another list, and do not venture to look on them as common mortals. We look upon them as some extraordinary beings, who could not be men of like passions with ourselves. We are told in Scripture that our Saviour was “tempted in all points like as we are;” and yet we fall into the serious error of imagining that the apostles, who were far inferior to the Lord Jesus, escaped these temptations, and were ignorant of these conflicts.

For meditation: Are there Christians—missionaries perhaps—to whom you look up in the wrong way? These deserve your respect, but they need your prayers, not your pedestals. They surely feel their own weakness and very probably look up to their own Christian heroes! The apostles knew their own and one another’s weaknesses and pointed away from themselves to their God ( Acts 14:15).

Sermon no. 235
23 January (1859)

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January 23, 2012

Pursued

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

My lover spoke and said to me, "Arise my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me" (Song of Songs 2:10, NIV)

Friend to Friend

I was in college when I first eyed my husband. He was sitting on the floor at a friend's Bible study gathering with his back against the wall, dressed in scruffy jeans and a red flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled halfway up his muscular forearms. His thick brown hair and chocolate-brown eyes left me weak in the knees. And the best part was that this handsome hunk of a man had a tattered Bible in his lap. He laughed easily, prayed humbly, and read intently. I was smitten from the first time I laid eyes on Steve.

After a few weeks, he finally asked me out on a date. We continued seeing each other over the next several weeks, but I was still accepting invitations from others as well. One night, Steve asked me to a college football game, and I agreed to go. Then he said, "Can I just ask you? Will you go with me to all of the football games for the rest of the year?"

"I'm not going to answer that question," I replied. "You'll just have to ask me each week."

Looking back on those early days, what I was really saying was that I wanted to be pursued. None of this blanket invitation for the entire fall business. I wanted to be wooed and won. Even though he had me the moment I saw him sitting on the shag carpet floor, I didn't want him to know that. I wanted him to show me I was worth putting forth the effort to capture my heart. Isn't that the desire of every woman's heart?

And nobody does it better than God.

I love what Simon Tugwell once said: "So long as we imagine it is we who have to look for God, we must often lose heart. But it is the other way about. He is looking for us."

Oh friend, God has pursued and continues to pursue you every day. A sunset. A dandelion growing through a crack in a concrete sidewalk. A favorite song on the radio. He is pursuing you like a love-struck beau. Pay attention and enjoy His advances as He pursues you today.

Let's Pray

Dear Lord, I swoon thinking of how you pursue me. Me, one so unworthy of Your advances. Help me to recognize Your love notes throughout the day. I am my beloved's and He is mine.

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Today, consider reading the story of the Samaritan woman that Jesus met at the well (John 4:1-26, 39-42). Look at the great lengths he went to to pursue her heart.

Remember, this was a time in history when men did not speak to women in public. Jews did not enter Samaria. Women were not allowed to study under a rabbi's teaching. And here's another tidbit. This was the first person that Jesus told that He was the Messiah.

After you read her story, tell me what strikes you about the lengths Jesus went to to pursue her heart. www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes.

More from the Girlfriends

We tend to read the gospels with our twenty-first century eyes. But when we understand how oppressive the culture Jesus stepped into was against women, we begin to understand just how radical Jesus' ministry, messages, and miracles were at setting women free. He risked His reputation to save theirs...and yours. Sharon's book, What God Really Thinks about Women: Finding Your Significance through the Women Jesus Encounteredis an insightful look at every encounter Jesus had with women while here on earth. To order this life-changing book, download a free sample chapter, or watch a video, visit www.sharonjaynes.com. You'll fall in love with Jesus all over again.

Seeking God?

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The Gospel’s power in a Christian’s life

‘Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ.’ Philippians 1:27

Suggested Further Reading: Titus 3:1–8

The word ‘conversation’ does not merely mean our talk and converse one with another, but the whole course of our life and behaviour in the world. The Greek word signifies the actions and the privileges of citizenship, and we are to let our whole citizenship, our actions as citizens of the new Jerusalem, be such as ‘becometh the gospel of Christ.’ Observe, dear friends, the difference between the exhortations of the legalists and those of the gospel. He who would have you perfect in the flesh, exhorts you to work that you may be saved, that you may accomplish a meritorious righteousness of your own, and so may be accepted before God. But he who is taught in the doctrines of grace, urges you to holiness for quite another reason. He believes that you are saved, since you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and he speaks to as many as are saved in Jesus, and then he asks them to make their actions conformable to their position; he only seeks what he may reasonably expect to receive; ‘Let your conversation be such as becometh the gospel of Christ. You have been saved by it, you profess to glory in it, you desire to extend it; let then your conversation be such as becometh it.’ The one, you perceive, bids you to work that you may enter heaven by your working; the other exhorts you to labour because heaven is yours as the gift of divine grace, and he would have you act as one who is ‘made meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light.’

For meditation: If you call the Lord Jesus Christ your Lord and Saviour and God your Father, does your lifestyle fit in with his character (1 Peter 1:14–17)? Would any aspects of your life be more appropriate for an atheist or for somebody following a false god?

Sermon no. 640
23 January (Undated Sermon)

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Amy Carroll

January 23, 2012

Treasured
Amy Carroll

"For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession." Deuteronomy 7:6 (NIV)

It changes your life to know you're treasured. Grasping this truth transforms a woman. I know; I saw it happen right before my eyes.

Our little band of four women and one very brave man set off to India last November to lead two women's conferences. We packed light, but our hearts were ladened with prayers, messages and plans grown over months of preparation. Although we dreamed big, we couldn't fathom the God-sized outcomes.

We also couldn't imagine the magnitude of the hurts needing to be healed. I was astounded and grief-stricken by the stories my new Indian friends shared.

One woman returned late the second day of the conference, bruised and cut by a beating with a fan blade by her husband, enraged because of her attendance at a Christian conference.

A gifted, young leader sobbed as she told us that her father wished her replaced with a boy or dead.

An exhausted pastor's wife confessed that she and her husband were preparing to leave the ministry because of the extreme persecution they faced.

A beautiful, teenaged orphan solely supporting her grandmother and sister returned home one evening to the announcement of her arranged marriage.

A grieving young woman related how family members silently brushed by her after her conversion, as if she didn't exist.

The stories of women with scars on their bodies and wounds on their hearts went on and on and on...

Our team passionately poured the truth God's heart and the promise of today's key verse into these hurting women. "You are treasured by God. You are created in His image. He could never love you any more or any less. He desires you so much that He calls you His own bride. Because you are His, He has a calling and a purpose for your life. You are chosen by Him."

Slowly but surely, tears of sorrow transformed into tears of joy. Understanding began to light the faces around us. Confessions of God's goodness abounded.

The beaten woman not only bravely returned, she came back with her precious son so he could hear he is God's treasure.

The young leader cried through worship knowing she's cherished by God and the women surrounding her.

The pastor's wife testified she was excited to return and teach the women in her town.

The engaged teenager declared she would face marriage to a stranger knowing that Jesus is her true husband.

The "invisible" woman prayed that she would be Jesus' love to her parents and brothers.

At the end of the first conference, one attendee approached my teammate, Peggy. She looked Peggy in the eyes and said, "Thank you for making us important." Peggy quickly replied, "Honey, God made you important." The woman answered, "But we didn't know."

Knowing we are God's treasure is a transforming realization. If you know this truth, then rejoice and spread the news! If you haven't heard or haven't believed, then let me whisper to you...

You are treasured by God.

Let the truth transform you and free you to live the life of joy and purpose for which you were created.

Dear Lord, help me to really grasp that I am Your treasure. Once I've basked in the gift, help me pass it on. I want to join with You and experience the miracle of seeing others transformed by Your truth. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Visit Amy's blog to hear more about her time in India and learn ways that you can pass on the truth to women next door and around the world.

Share this truth with a child in need through Compassion International.

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:
Do I know and believe I am God's treasure? If I believed this truth, how would it change me? My actions?

Who in my world needs to know God treasures them? How can I share this truth?

Power Verse:
I Peter 2:9, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (NIV)

© 2012 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

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Skill: Communication Skills

PROVERBS 18:13

For three of the past five days we've been studying the listening aspects of good communication. But how does one go about learning to listen before speaking? No one wakes up in the morning planning how to look like a fool. (Some of us can pull that off nicely without planning at all!) But for those who don't learn how to listen, looking like a fool is almost inevitable. Before leaving this crucial leadership skill, let's "listen" to one more sage.

James gives us a different look at this concept of "understanding before being understood." In James 1:19 he teaches an attitude that is essential to effective communication: "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak . . . "

Communication, like every other leadership issue, begins with values. James's values reflect an urgency about listening. For James, listening is a priority. He says, "Be slow about speaking. Be slow about becoming angry. Being understood is not an urgent matter. Take your time. But listening? Now that's another matter. Be quick about that." In James there is some urgency attached to this crucial skill.

Listening is a particularly apt word for a discussion of the art of communication. Hearing is a natural function and something we sometimes work hard not to do. When we attempt to study in a noisy room we work to "tune out" or screen out the sound. Researchers tell us that we need to expend that same kind of effort if we want to listen. Hearing deals with noise; listening deals with meaning. We have to want to listen.

James said that our best effort, our initial commitment, our first priority, must be to listen. "Be quick to listen." Then, slowly, speak. Solomon stated the same priority in asserting that "He who answers before listening-" (or is quick to speak and slow to hear) "that is his folly and his shame."

First listen-then speak.

Communication Skills and Who God Is

God communicated with his people through the prophets using various means. Since God is the ultimate Leader, we need to take the time to examine the manner in which he communicated to these prophets-and through them, to the people. Turn to Joel 1:1-20 for strategies that you can use in your own leadership position.

This Week's Verse to Memorize MATTHEW 15:10-11

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.'"

Communication Skills and How They Work

Building mutual understanding between two people is often a difficult task. But when a leader seeks to help another to understand his or her own failure, that leader has entered the realm of seriously delicate communication. The prophet Nathan modeled a masterful approach to this most difficult communication process.

Communication Skills and Who I Am

Today we take a closer look at the story of Nathan and David. Turn back to 2 Samuel 12 to examine in more detail the nature of Nathan's communication with his friend. In doing so, you'll gain insight into how you can handle such delicate situations with both tact and power.

Communication Skills and What I Do

Communication must flow from the heart and not simply from the mouth. Jesus stressed that truth, and John Hardwig adds additional insights aimed at helping us to cultivate hearts that facilitate effective communication. Turn to Matthew 12:33-37 for today's reading.


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NIV Devotions for Moms

Wise Up

Proverbs 24:3-4

Additional Scripture Readings: Joshua 24:15; Proverbs 2:1-6

When we think of the wise, we might picture esteemed scholars padding through hallowed halls of learning. In their hushed offices and remote library stacks, they seem to have a monopoly on wisdom and understanding.

But where does wisdom really come from? How do moms like you and me wise up?

From living life well. Wisdom grows when moms and dads make careful choices about their priorities and the amount of time they spend with their children. It arises when arguments are settled with sane solutions and siblings are coaxed to peace. It develops when families work together to squeeze extras from meager incomes. It blossoms when celebrations mark special achievements. Most of all, wisdom comes from living all of life's days with an attitude of desiring and working toward God's best in our families.

Wisdom doesn't necessarily come from hallowed halls of learning. Sure, learned folks are smart enough. But the truly wise are those who learn to live life well, day in and day out.

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