Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Daily Devotional Tuesday 31st January

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"When thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, then thou shalt bestir thyself."
2 Samuel 5:24

The members of Christ's Church should be very prayerful, always seeking the unction of the Holy One to rest upon their hearts, that the kingdom of Christ may come, and that his "will be done on earth, even as it is in heaven;" but there are times when God seems especially to favour Zion, such seasons ought to be to them like "the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees." We ought then to be doubly prayerful, doubly earnest, wrestling more at the throne than we have been wont to do. Action should then be prompt and vigorous. The tide is flowing--now let us pull manfully for the shore. O for Pentecostal outpourings and Pentecostal labours. Christian, in yourself there are times "when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees." You have a peculiar power in prayer; the Spirit of God gives you joy and gladness; the Scripture is open to you; the promises are applied; you walk in the light of God's countenance; you have peculiar freedom and liberty in devotion, and more closeness of communion with Christ than was your wont. Now, at such joyous periods when you hear the "sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees," is the time to bestir yourself; now is the time to get rid of any evil habit, while God the Spirit helpeth your infirmities. Spread your sail; but remember what you sometimes sing--

"I can only spread the sail;

Thou! Thou! must breathe the auspicious gale."

Only be sure you have the sail up. Do not miss the gale for want of preparation for it. Seek help of God, that you may be more earnest in duty when made more strong in faith; that you may be more constant in prayer when you have more liberty at the throne; that you may be more holy in your conversation whilst you live more closely with Christ.

Evening

"In whom also we have obtained an inheritance."
Ephesians 1:11

When Jesus gave himself for us, he gave us all the rights and privileges which went with himself; so that now, although as eternal God, he has essential rights to which no creature may venture to pretend, yet as Jesus, the Mediator, the federal head of the covenant of grace, he has no heritage apart from us. All the glorious consequences of his obedience unto death are the joint riches of all who are in him, and on whose behalf he accomplished the divine will. See, he enters into glory, but not for himself alone, for it is written, "Whither the Forerunner is for us entered." Heb. 6:20. Does he stand in the presence of God?--"He appears in the presence of God for us." Heb. 9:24. Consider this, believer. You have no right to heaven in yourself: your right lies in Christ. If you are pardoned, it is through his blood; if you are justified, it is through his righteousness; if you are sanctified, it is because he is made of God unto you sanctification; if you shall be kept from falling, it will be because you are preserved in Christ Jesus; and if you are perfected at the last, it will be because you are complete in him. Thus Jesus is magnified--for all is in him and by him; thus the inheritance is made certain to us--for it is obtained in him; thus each blessing is the sweeter, and even heaven itself the brighter, because it is Jesus our Beloved "in whom" we have obtained all. Where is the man who shall estimate our divine portion? Weigh the riches of Christ in scales, and his treasure in balances, and then think to count the treasures which belong to the saints. Reach the bottom of Christ's sea of joy, and then hope to understand the bliss which God hath prepared for them that love him. Overleap the boundaries of Christ's possessions, and then dream of a limit to the fair inheritance of the elect. "All things are yours, for ye are Christ's and Christ is God's."

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Today's reading: Exodus 23-24; Matthew 20:1-16 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Laws of Justice and Mercy

1 “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.

2 “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, 3 and do not show favoritism to a poor person in a lawsuit.

4 “If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it. 5 If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it.

6 “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. 7Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.

8 “Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the innocent.

9 “Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt.

Sabbath Laws

10 “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, 11 but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what is left. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.

12 “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.

13 “Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.

The Three Annual Festivals

14 “Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me.

15 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv, for in that month you came out of Egypt.

“No one is to appear before me empty-handed.

16 “Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field.

“Celebrate the Festival of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.

17 “Three times a year all the men are to appear before the Sovereign LORD.

18 “Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast.

“The fat of my festival offerings must not be kept until morning.

19 “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God.

“Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.

God’s Angel to Prepare the Way

20 “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. 21Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. 22 If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. 23 My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out. 24Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces. 25 Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, 26 and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span.

27 “I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. 28 I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. 29 But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.

31 “I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you. 32 Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. 33 Do not let them live in your land or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you.”

Exodus 24

The Covenant Confirmed

1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You are to worship at a distance, 2 but Moses alone is to approach the LORD; the others must not come near. And the people may not come up with him.”

3 When Moses went and told the people all the LORD’s words and laws, they responded with one voice, “Everything the LORD has said we will do.” 4 Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said.

He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the LORD. 6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he splashed against the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.”

8 Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

9 Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up 10 and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. 11 But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.

12 The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.”

13 Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. 14 He said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them.”

15 When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16 and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud. 17 To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. 18 Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.


Matthew 20

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

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WOMAN OF SAMARIA

The Woman Who Left Her Waterpot

John 4

The pregnant phrase to underline in the incident at Sychar’s well which is so rich in spiritual instruction, is the announcement John gives at the beginning of the chapter, namely, “He must needs go through Samaria.” Why the necessity? While this was the shortest and most usual road for a traveler going from Galilee to Jerusalem ( Luke 9:52), the Pharisees avoided this customary route, and took a longer, round-about one through Peraea. They did this in order to avoid any contact with the Samaritans with whom, as Jews, they had no dealings. While the Jews and the Samaritans were physically alike in many ways, requiring the same food, following the same occupations, having the same hopes and ambitions, and suffering the same diseases, yet there was a racial hatred that kept them apart.

The origin of this hostility between these two peoples may be traced back to the Assyrian colonization of the land of Israel ( 2 Kings 17:21). From this followed the antagonism of the Samaritans to the Jews at the return from captivity (Ezra 4;Nehemiah 4 ), which led to the erection of rival temples on Mount Gerizim. This was in the mind of the woman at the well when she said, “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain” (John 4:20). From that time the spirit of religious bitterness lingered, and this accounts for the Jewish reproach.

“He who eats the bread of a Samaritan is as he who eats swine’s flesh.”

“No Samaritan shall be made a proselyte.”

“They have no share in the resurrection of the dead.”

Jesus spoke of a Samaritan as an alien ( Luke 10:33; 17:16,18), and in turn was accused by the Jews of being a Samaritan Himself and possessed by a demon ( John 8:48). While the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans, Jesus had. He spoke well of them, healed one of them of leprosy, and rebuked two of His disciples for wishing to destroy some of their number with fire from heaven (Luke 9:55, 56; 10:30-37). As the omniscient Lord, He knew all about the woman in Samaria and went there to show and teach that He was above all religious and racial prejudices and that true worship consisted of worshiping God in spirit and in truth.

Thus necessity brought Jesus to the place where the Samaritan woman lived, and reaching Jacob’s well, being wearied because of the long noontide journey, He sat by the well while His disciples went into the city to buy food. The reality of our Lord’s fatigue testifies to the reality of His humanity. As the Man, He was weary and required food and drink, but as the God He could tell the woman who met Him at the well all about her guilty past and her soul’s deepest need. Jesus was often weary in His work, but never weary of it. As Man, He knows all about our human and spiritual needs, and as God, He can meet every one of them. So about noon that day, Christ, a Jew, and the God-Man, met a Samaritan who was a woman, whose life was to be transformed as the result of that contact.

Her Individuality

Twice over this nameless female is referred to as “a woman of Samaria” (John 4:7, 9 ). Prominent in this phrase is her religious and national position. She was not only an alien as far as the Jews were concerned, but was also poor, for women of affluence did not draw water in those times. The Samaritan woman differs from many of the other women who came before Christ in His itinerant work. Some of them pressed into the kingdom or took it by violence with their earnest prayers. We think of Anna who spent her nights and days in fastings and prayers—of the sinful woman of Canaan who washed His feet with her tears—of the widow of Nain who moved His heart by her silent weeping in her great loss, but for the woman before us no petition was granted, no miracle was wrought except her spiritual transformation. Yet she was a privileged woman in that Christ confessed to her that He was indeed the Messiah which He did not usually confess even to His disciples, leaving them to discern for themselves the truth of His Godhead from His mighty works and miracles of mercy. Thus this woman has an individual prominence in that she was among the number who sought Him not (Isaiah 65:1 ). Further, He did not usually offer His gifts unasked, but waited until they were sought or importuned. Here He offered the woman the unspeakable gift of Himself. First of all, He asked relief of the woman, then He offered her relief, not common water to slake her thirst, but Himself, the Well of Everlasting Life.

Her Iniquity

What kind of a woman, morally, was this Samaritan water-carrier? When the disciples returned from their shopping errand they “marvelled that Jesus talked with the woman.” Perhaps they were surprised to see Him talking in public with a woman, which was directly contrary to the Rabbinic precepts affirming that a man should not speak in public to his own wife, and that the words of the Law should be burned rather than taught publicly to a woman. Probably there were three reasons why the disciples marveled at the sight of Jesus and the Samaritan woman in earnest conversation. First, they wondered that He, as a Rabbi or Teacher sent from God, talked with her because she was only a woman. Second, because she was a Samaritan woman with whom no Jew should have dealings. Third, because she was a sinner. Some versions speak of her as “thewoman of Samaria,” and she was likely well-known because of her association with men.

As a Samaritan, this woman had and knew the Pentateuchal law against adultery. When Jesus found her she was living with a man who was not her husband, but He did not expose her sin to others. He wanted her to feel the sense of sin herself. So when she asked Jesus for the living water of which He spoke, He replied: “Go, call thy husband.” Her life had to be a clean receptacle to hold the living spring, so Jesus revealed the foulness that had to be destroyed, and His thrust left its mark. Her past and present life had been laid bare by the omniscient Lord who said, “Thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband.” If death had invaded her home upon five occasions, and the five men she had lived with in succession were actual husbands, she certainly did not gather praise for her five marriages. But to bury her fifth husband and go and live with a man who was not a husband, revealed how she had fallen into the depths of sin. We can imagine how the people of her locality avoided her because of her lack of feminine modesty and purity.

Behind the questions, “What seekest thou?” “Why talked thou with her ?”—such a woman—is the thought that whatever His talk with such a woman, whose reputation the disciples may have heard about in the city, it must have been of the highest nature and was related to her spiritual welfare. Because those disciples believed that Jesus was perfect, and knew no sin, ulterior motives could not be ascribed to such a Holy One, as He talked with one whose sin became apparent in the white light of His holiness.

Her Ignorance

It is inferred that the woman complied immediately with the thirsty Man’s request for a drink of refreshing water, even though she could see by His features and dress that He belonged to the nation who hated her people. As she drew water from the well she asked Him, “How is it that thou, being aJew, asketh drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?” Little did she realize that in her willingness to give the Jew a drink she was fulfilling the Christian law toward Him, “If he thirst—even if he is thine enemy—give him drink,” and that cup of water she gave Him did not lose its reward ( Matthew 10:42). Jesus answered the woman’s question by bringing home to her mind her ignorance of the greatness of the One sitting at the well.

If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

What the Samaritan woman was so ignorant of was the fact that she had been coming daily to a deep well of water that had been God’s gift of refreshment to man and beast since Jacob’s time, yet there was a deeper well of spiritual truth so necessary for man’s hidden needs, of which she was unconscious. She was a traveler in the journey of life, travel-stained by her sins, but had not discovered as yet the fountain opened for uncleanness. Instead of Christ begging her for a refreshing draught of water, she should have been beseeching Him for the unfailing supply of spiritual water from the eternal well.

From her ungracious manner and slur at Christ’s people, she answered His comment in a tone of respect. There was something about His voice and manner that gripped her heart, and while she did not understand His message, she was conscious of its latent force, and felt that this traveler was no ordinary man. He seemed to speak with authority, and so passes in her address to Him from, “Thou, being a Jew”—the last word uttered in the tone of contempt—to the reverential, “Sir,” Having had five husbands she was not easily worsted in conversation and wanted to know where was the better well than Jacob’s from which the “living water” could be secured, and her ignorance begins to vanish as she asks Him, “Art thou greater than Jacob, our ancestor?”

Her Instruction

As the woman spoke of the deep well before her, and of Christ having no bucket to secure more vitalizing water from the depths of the well, Jesus, pointing to the ancient well, said, “Anyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but anyone who drinks of the water I shall give him will never thirst any more; the water I shall give him will turn into a spring of water, welling up to eternal life.”

What Jesus supplied was not external water to satisfy the recurring physical need, but an internal and eternal source of unfailing spiritual, life-giving water. Such living water was a divine gift (Isaiah 55:1), was Christ Himself (John 4:10), easily reached—the woman walked far to reach Jacob’s well, but the spiritual well is ever at hand—and a satisfying, unfailing gift for “whosoever drinketh” ( Revelation 22:17). As light broke in upon her darkened mind, the woman replied to Christ’s teaching, “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.”

But a full understanding of His words was not yet hers. Still thinking of them in their physical sense, she thinks of toilsome hours and weary journeys that could be saved if only she knew the marvelous well the Stranger was speaking about. Jesus answered her request, and cut short her argument with a command that went straight to her heart: “Go, call thy husband and come hither.” Our Lord wanted to turn her from a proud argumentative frame of mind to the humility of confession. Here was a sinful creature worth saving, but she must be made conscious of her sin, and when she humbly said, “I have no husband,” she became a different woman.

Proceeding gently, Jesus replied, and revealed His omniscience as He unmasked her secret: “Thou hast well said ... For thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband.”

The very wounds her shame would hide were seen by His all-searching eye, and her ignorance gives way to spiritual insight as she reverently confesses the prophetic gift of the One who knew all about her past and present life and asks Him to solve the problem of the right place of worship for both Jew and Samaritan. The woman was taken up with the place of worship, but Jesus sought to teach her that the spirit of worship is more important than the place. Alas, on any Lord’s Day there are thousands in the place of worship as they gather in churches, but they are strangers to the spirit of worship which is related to the worship of God in spirit and in truth—worship inspired by the Holy Spirit in conformity to the truth of the Word.

It was to this woman that Jesus revealed the only basis of acceptable worship, and also the truth of His Messiahship. Perceiving that Jesus was a Prophet, the woman felt He knew the nature of true worship, namely, the spiritual worship of a spiritual Being not only at Jerusalem or Gerizim, but wherever there is a heart seeking Him. With her mind opening to Christ’s instruction about spiritual worship, the Samaritan woman confessed the power of the coming Messiah to reveal all things, and perhaps now sensed that because the Jew before her had told her all things about her life, He must be the Messiah. Then came the dramatic word of Christ’s claim, “I that speak unto thee am the Messiah.” How privileged this sinful woman was to hear from the lips of Jesus Himself the divine secret of His Messiahship!

Her Influence

By the Spirit, the woman acknowledged the truth of Christ’s Messiahship and Omniscience, and immediately became a powerful witness to her remarkable discovery. With her mind full of the new truth she had learned, she left her water-pot and, full of her great discovery, hurried back to the city. In her enthusiasm she left her water-pot behind as a pledge of her return, not only for natural water, but also for a further spiritual draught from the living well she had found in Christ. Reaching the city, she met the men who knew her only too well, and declared the truth she had learned of Christ’s Messiahship. Because He had unveiled her past life, He must be the Christ for whom both Jew and Samaritan were looking.

Her ignorant mind had grasped the secret of true worship and of Christ’s mission, and her instinct for telling news became apparent as with the passion of an evangelist she said, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” He had awakened her to a new and better life and such was the effect of her earnest witness that many of those Samaritans went out and came to Jesus at the well. For two days they listened to His teaching, and came to believe in Him, and accept Him as the Christ, the Saviour of the world. This was not only because of what His first native woman evangelist in Samaria had said of Him, but also because they had heard Him for themselves, and hearing, believed. In the glow of her newborn faith, the woman had to tell others and share with them all she had heard and experienced. Some four years later, when Philip the Evangelist came to preach “in many villages of the Samaritans,” he doubtless met “the woman of Samaria” and realized how wonderfully the Holy Spirit had used her life and witness as well as the testimony of the Samaritans she had been the means of leading to Christ, to prepare the way for his miraculous ministry in Samaria. When the disciples returned from the city and saw Jesus talking with the woman, they knew what He meant by telling them that the fields were white already unto harvest. Because of the seed sown by the woman who, when she found the well, left her water-pot, Philip experienced a great ingathering of souls in Samaria, so much so that there was great joy in that city. The most joyful inhabitant was the woman who from her heart confessed, “Come see a man, who told me all things that ever I did; is not this the Christ?” (Acts 8:5-25). She had laid the foundation of that Samaritan Pentecost. At Jacob’s well she saw Jacob’s Star (Numbers 24:17 ), and ascending Jacob’s Ladder (John 1:51) became the means of others climbing to God.

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Jeconiah [Jĕco nī'ah]—jehovah doth establish or preparation of the lord.The next to last of the kings of Judah(1 Chron. 3:16, 17; Esther 2:6; Jer. 24:1; 27:20; 28:4; 29:2). Altered form of Jehoiachin, and called Jechonias in Matthew 1:11, 12.
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January 30, 2012

God is the God of Lost Things

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

"And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents," (Luke 15:9NIV).

Friend to Friend

It was New Year's Eve. Steve and I had shared a wonderful meal with friends and then circled a table for a feisty card game called Shanghi. As I reached to pick up my first hand, I noticed a void in my wedding ring. "Oh no," I cried, "Part of my wedding ring is missing. One of the diamonds is gone!"

My wedding ring (which I received on our twentieth anniversary) has one diamond solitaire in the middle with two little triangles, called trillions, on each side. It was one of the settings for the triangle that lay empty.

My mind retraced my steps through the day. I had cleaned the bathrooms, vacuumed the house, and crafted two new upholstered pillows for the living room sofa. I envisioned the little triangular diamond going down the drain, sucked up in the vacuum cleaner, or sewn into the inside of a pillow. Of course we retraced my steps at our friend's home, but most likely it had fallen out before I got there.

On New Year's Day, I woke up thinking about the diamond and chatting with God about it. "Lord, I know this is like looking for a needle in a haystack, but would you please help me find that sliver of diamond?"

I got up, fixed a cup of coffee, and decided to go up stairs and look in the very messy, beige carpeted, sewing room. A haystack if there ever was one. Of course stuck in a haystack is better than going down a drain.

As I turned to go up the wooden steps of the stairs, I saw a tiny sliver of sparkle. You guessed it! The little trillion sat poised as if placed by a Holy Hand. I believe it was. A Sudden Glory!

You know, sometimes God answers a prayer and remains anonymous, or hidden. We wonder…could that have been Him?

And then sometimes He is so obvious you know that you know that He has intervened in your life in a very real and miraculous way.

"Do you think God cares about diamonds?" Steve asked.

"I think He cares about lost things?" I replied.

The next day, I took the diamond to the jewelers to have it reset. "How in the world did you find this little thing?" the Jewish Jeweler asked. So I told him.

Let's Pray

Dear God, thank You for caring about the little things in my life. There are no coincidences. There is no luck. You are in it all.

In Jesus' Name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Have you ever lost anything and asked God to help you find it?

Did you suddenly realize where it was?

Did you find it in a strange place?

Hmmm. How do you think that happened?

Read Matthew 17:24- 27. How in the world did that coin end up in that fish's mouth?
Is that a fun story or what!

Would you like to see the little diamond on the step? I took a picture to help me remember the God of Lost Things. You can see it on my facebook page atwww.facebook.com/sharonjaynes

More from the Girlfriends

I have a new website with more videos, free resources, archived articles and fun pictures. Come by for a visit and tell me what you think. www.sharonjaynes.com.

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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Israel's Failure Undone

Matthew 4:5-7 "Again it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test'" (v. 7).

Luke's account of Jesus' temptation ( 4:1-13) differs a bit fromMatthew 4:1-11 . Today's passage in Matthew describes Jesus' second test, but it is placed third in Luke's gospel. Yet this should not trouble us. The Gospels are accurate histories, but they are not strict, chronological biographies like the ones we are accustomed to reading. At some points, material is rearranged to make a particular point. John Calvin comments that the Evangelists did not intend "to preserve, on all occasions, the exact order of time, but to draw up an abridged narrative of the events, so as to present, as in a mirror or picture, those things which are most necessary to be known concerning Christ."

After passing the first test, Jesus is taken to the "holy city" (Jerusalem) where the Devil challenges Him to throw Himself off the temple (Matt. 4:5-6). Jesus has shown His unwillingness to abandon His vocation of suffering and His commitment to living by Scripture, trusting His Father that His work will not be in vain (vv. 1-4; see Isa. 53:10-11 ). Now Satan wants Jesus to prove that the Creator is trustworthy. Basically he says, "So, Jesus, if you are going to live by God's Word, why don't you see if He will keep His pledge to protect you?"

However, Jesus embraces the principle Scriptura sui interpres, Latin for "Scripture is its own interpreter." Proper interpretation of God's Word always takes into account the entire canon of Scripture. True, the passage the Devil quotes (Ps. 91:11-12 ) does promise God's people protection, but it does not allow us to risk our lives needlessly. As Jesus says, quoting fromDeuteronomy 6:16, "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test" (Matt. 4:7).

Deuteronomy 6:16 refers originally to Israel's testing of Yahweh at Massah ( Ex. 17:1-7) when the nation in the wilderness demanded water immediately on their own terms. Their impatience showed that they did not trust His promise to meet their needs according to His timing. In the wilderness, Jesus believes His Father will keep His word and does not test God's promise of protection. Thus, our Savior is shown to be God's faithful Son, who, as the last Adam, undoes Israel's failure and brings life to His people (1 Cor. 15:22).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Dr. R.C. Sproul has said that God does not speak with a forked tongue - He cannot lie or contradict Himself. Jesus refuses to accept an interpretation of one passage that contradicts another. As we study the Bible we should be looking for ways to harmonize its teaching on various subjects. Make sure to let the clear parts of Scripture determine the interpretation of those parts that are less clear so that you will not create contradictions where none exist.

For further study:

Numbers 20:2-13

The Bible in a year:

Exodus 36-38

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

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Holly Good

January 30, 2012

What is Real?
Holly Good

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." James 1:12 (NIV 1984)

Has your trust ever been shattered by someone you love? A few years ago I was faced with a very unsettling situation. I was shocked when I learned of hidden sin that had spun its way into the life of someone I care about deeply.

For weeks, I pleaded with God on my knees for an explanation, for understanding, for clarity. My sense of reality had been threatened and betrayed. I desperately cried out, "What is real Lord? Tell me what is real. Because what I thought was real may not be."

One night as I went to bed, I tried to make peace with the fact that maybe I was never supposed to understand this devastating circumstance. There were many questions, but few answers. Many thoughts, but few explanations. The next morning, during my quiet time, the Lord gently began to reveal some answers to my wounded heart.

I was reminded of my need for Him ñ my never-ending, all-consuming need for Him. Too often I take my eyes off of the Lord and attempt to live difficult situations in my own strength. Colossians 3:1-2 profoundly challenged me, "Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things" (NIV 1984). Unfortunately, my focus had shifted to my questions and myself. And apart from God, my focus had become distorted.

I was reminded that I needed to continue to seek the Lord and patiently wait for what He had in store. I began to beg the Lord to take this hurt away. Make it disappear, Lord.But then I'd sense Him saying to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'" (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV). By admitting my frailty, God was able to affirm His strength in me.

And finally, He pointed me to what is real. He gently reminded me that He is real. My God is real. Though on this earth I will face many stressful situations, many disappointments, and many hurts, I know that my God is real and He will never leave me. I once again found loving comfort in the words from Moses to Joshua inDeuteronomy 31:8, "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged" (NIV 1984). I knew I had to completely depend on God and believe in His goodness.

My assignment in this difficult circumstance was clear. The Lord was asking me to continue to pray, believe, trust, seek, wait and focus on Him and Him alone. I am so thankful that nothing will ever separate me from His unfailing love. And THAT my friend is real.

Dear Lord, thank You for the life lessons You teach me each day. Give me renewed strength as I wait on You. Help me to continue to desire You and to seek You through each situation I will face. I want to completely depend on You, God. I love You Lord, and I trust You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

You won't want to miss "Holly Days" on Lysa TerKeurst's blog! Hop over now for more encouragement!

Reflect and Respond
When circumstances make me question the truth, I will remember "God is real" and He loves me completely.

What experiences or difficult circumstances have led to growth in my spiritual life because they made me depend more on God? How can I help others going through similar situations?

Power Verses:
Romans 5:3, "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance..." (NIV 1984)

John 16:33, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (NIV 1984)

Joshua 1:5, "No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. (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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Relationships: Interpersonal Relationships

READ HOSEA 2:1-23

According to Cavett Robert, "fifteen percent of the reason [people] get a job, keep that job and move ahead in that job, is determined by [their] technical skill and knowledge-regardless of their profession . . . What about the other 85 percent? Cavett quotes Stanford Research Institute, Harvard University and the Carnegie Foundation as having proved that 85 percent of the reason people get a job, keep that job, and move ahead in that job has to do with [their] people skills and people knowledge."*

That's impressive information. It underlines the importance of human relationships to our work. And if human relationships play such an important role at work, they're crucial to our role as leaders. After all, leadership is about people in relationships.

Sometimes strengthening those relationships requires both the grace of God and a deep reservoir of love. That was certainly the case with Hosea. As a prophet to Israel, Hosea's job was to predict the nation's exile and later restoration. In order to illustrate God's love for the nation, he was commanded to marry Gomer, a prostitute. Hosea did so, but his heart was broken when she proved unfaithful and eventually left him. Later, Hosea sought out an emotionally broken and financially destitute Gomer, forgave her and renewed their marriage relationship.

Hosea's love for Gomer serves as a picture of God's love for his unfaithful people. And it serves as an example for us to follow. At times, every leader is called upon by God to seek out, forgive and restore those who have wronged him or her. Such actions do indeed require both the grace and love of God.

How do you think Hosea felt when he learned that God wanted him to reconcile with his wife? Why did he do it? What relationship in your life has required such love? When God again calls on you to seek reconciliation with someone who has hurt you, how will you respond? Remember, great leaders are well acquainted with forgiveness.

*Taken from Top Performance by Zig Ziglar. Copyright © 1986 by Zig Ziglar. Used by permission of Fleming H. Revell, a division of Baker Book House Company.

This Week's Verse to Memorize ECCLESIASTES 4:9,10,12

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up . . . Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Interpersonal Relationships and Who God Is

The Bible is all about relationships. God is a personal being who has paid a great price to make it possible for us to enter a relationship with him through the merits of Jesus Christ. He wants this relationship, in turn, to be made visible in our relationships with others. Turn to 1 John 4:7-21 to read more about the vertical and horizontal expressions of God's love.

Interpersonal Relationships and Who I Am

"I may not have much money, but I'm filthy rich in relationships." The person who said this had his priorities in order, because he understood the true value of things on this earth. There is an enormous difference between loving things and using people and loving people and using things. Turn to 1 Kings 19:19-21 to witness the beginning of a mentoring relationship.

Interpersonal Relationships and How They Work

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 is a key leadership passage on interpersonal relationships. It demonstrates and highlights the principles we've been studying all week. And it's a refreshing reminder of the power of relationships, especially in the context of the competitive culture in which we live. Turn to Ecclesiastes 4:9 to find out exactly why "two are better than one".

Interpersonal Relationships and What I Do

Savvy leaders understand that the better their relationships with followers, the more effective their leadership. A man who worked at relationships was Barnabas. Two men in the New Testament, both better known than Barnabas, owe their success at least in part to the mentoring relationship they had with him. Read his story beginning at Acts 4:36, and discover the power of a mentoring relationship.


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


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Israel's Failure Undone

Matthew 4:5-7

Dr. R.C. Sproul has said that God does not speak with a forked tongue - He cannot lie or contradict Himself. Jesus refuses to accept an interpretation of one passage that contradicts another. As we study the Bible we should be looking for ways to harmonize its teaching on various subjects. Make sure to let the clear parts of Scripture determine the interpretation of those parts that are less clear so that you will not create contradictions where none exist.

For further study:

Numbers 20:2-13

The Bible in a year:

Exodus 36-38

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

Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living.

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The shameful sufferer

“Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

Suggested Further Reading: Luke 9:18-22, 51-53

You have an enemy who all his life long has been your enemy. His father was your enemy, and he is your enemy too. There is never a day passes but you try to win his friendship; but he spits upon your kindness, and curses your name. He does injury to your friends, and there is not a stone he leaves unturned to do you damage. As you are going home to-day, you see a house on fire; the flames are raging, and the smoke is ascending up in one black column to heaven. Crowds gather in the street, and you are told there is a man in the upper chamber who must be burnt to death. No one can save him. You say, “Why that is my enemy’s house;” and you see him at the window. It is your own enemy—the very man; he is about to be burnt. Full of lovingkindness, you say, “I will save that man if I can.” He sees you approach the house; he puts his head from the window and curses you. “An everlasting blast upon you!” he says; “I would rather perish than that you should save me.” Do you imagine yourself, then, dashing through the smoke, and climbing the blazing staircase to save him; and can you conceive that when you get near him he struggles with you, and tries to roll you in the flames? Can you conceive your love to be so potent, that you can perish in the flames rather than leave him to be burned? You say, “I could not do it; it is above flesh and blood to do it.” But Jesus did it. We hated him, we despised him, and, when he came to save us, we rejected him. When his Holy Spirit comes into our hearts to strive with us, we resist him; but he will save us; nay, he himself braved the fire that he might snatch us as brands from eternal burning.

For meditation: The wonderful determination of Christ and his insistence on carrying out his Father’s will despite all the attempts to distract him (Matthew 16:21-23; 26:51-54; Luke 13:31-33).

Sermon no. 236
30 January (1859)

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A voice from the Hartley Colliery

‘If a man die, shall he live again?’ Job 14:14

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Samuel 28:3–16

What would any of us who fear God think, if we were once in heaven? Would not the very suggestion of return, though it were to the most faithful spouse and best-beloved children, be a cruelty? What, bring back again to battle the victor who wears the crown? What, bring me back again to pain and sorrow, to temptation, and to sin? No. Blessed be God, that all the wishes of friends shall not accomplish this, for we shall be ‘Far from this world of grief and sin.’

This world is not so lovely as to tempt us away from heaven. Here we are strangers and foreigners; here we have no abiding city; but we seek one to come. There is one wilderness, but we bless God there are not two. There is one Jordan to be crossed, but there is not another. There is one season when we must walk by faith and not by sight, and be fed with manna from heaven; but blessed be God there is not another, for after that comes the Canaan—the rest which remaineth for the people of God. What man among you, immersed in the cares of business, would desire two lives? Who, that is tired today with the world’s noise, and vexed with its temptations, who that has come from a bed of sickness, who that is conscious of sin, would wish to leave the haven when once it is reached? As well might galley-slave long to return to his oar, or captive to his dungeon!

For meditation: The story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31) teaches plainly that, for sinner or saint, there is no way back from eternity. Longing for such a return is therefore fruitless, no matter how loved anyone has been. We should seek to be delivered from such desires.

N.B. This sermon was preached on the occasion of the Hartley Colliery disaster in which some 200 miners were killed. Several of them were Christians.

Sermon no. 432
30 January (1862)

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NIV Devotions for Moms

Monday Morning Blues

Ecclesiastes 7:13-18

Additional Scripture Readings: Psalm 42:5; Isaiah 61:1-3

Whether experienced as "Monday morning blues," "rainy day feelings," "winter blahs," or just "down days," folks struggle with bouts of depression. Moms are no exception.

Depression is generally defined as discouragement resulting from the experience of loss or internalized anger. We who walk through its valley of shadows tend to consider ourselves abnormal and even condemn our pessimistic periods, seeing them as detours from faith.

Many Christian psychologists and theologians are attempting to change this negative view. The truth is that life is tough. Adjusting to it is hard. While we are immeasurably strengthened through our relationship with Christ, we will still face difficult adjustments in life. In some cases, we may need the help of a trained professional to successfully travel through deep valleys.

But on other days, we do well to remind ourselves of the truth of Ecclesiastes 7:14 : "When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other." There are fifty-two Monday mornings each year. On your next blue Monday, take the advice of the writer of Ecclesiastes: stop and "consider."

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Something Beautiful for God

2 Chronicles 2:1-6

It's not wrong to want something for yourself-as long as you don't cling too tightly to it. When it comes to sharing, the fair split goes, "One for you, one for me."

Solomon had plenty of possessions, and he was generous and played fair. A temple for God, a palace for himself. Do you know someone who's done the same? They have the money to build a nice house for themselves, and they also fund a church project or a center for the homeless. We can be encouraged by their example and by Solomon's example: He knew that the most worthy God of the universe deserves the best workmanship, the finest materials and the choicest offerings.

What a daring project: building a house for Almighty God! Solomon understood the irony-that he, a mortal man, would do such a thing. He insisted that nothing be slipshod. He endeavored for seven years to produce the most magnificent temple possible, using gold, silver, precious stones, marble and cedar-most of it collected for years by his father, David, and the rest of it donated by the people of Israel. Even so, would it pass muster for Yahweh's majesty? Would it cause visitors and worshipers to think great and high thoughts of the God of Israel? Would it reflect God's beauty and grandeur?

God doesn't need our things. But he ordains our work and endows us with creativity and talent. He designed us to be busy about the business of doing things for him, of making all kinds of things that reflect his regenerating grace and that glorify him.

In what beautiful enterprise might God be directing you to be involved? It could be people or projects, aptitudes or art. You may have the ability to create something that reveals and reflects some of his greatness. If so, ask him to provide the resources. Find the helpers and materials needed to accomplish the goal. Go ahead and enjoy the process and the fruit of your labor, like Solomon did. But give fairly and generously to the author of your gifts and talents. Do a God-sized work for him.

Reflection

  1. What problems could you foresee in constructing a building for God? What satisfactions?
  2. How much of your time and possessions do you dedicate to God? Is it a fair percentage?
  3. What gifts or resources has God blessed you with? How can you use something of yourself to give back to God?

2 Chronicles 2:1
Solomon gave orders to build a temple for the Name of the LORD and a royal palace for himself.

Related Readings

Mark 14:3-9; Acts 7:44-50

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