Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Daily Devotional Wednesday 25th January

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”Galatians 6:1 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler."
Psalm 91:3

God delivers his people from the snare of the fowler in two senses. From, and out of. First, he delivers them from the snare--does not let them enter it; and secondly, if they should be caught therein, he delivers them out of it. The first promise is the most precious to some; the second is the best to others.

"He shall deliver thee from the snare." How? Trouble is often the means whereby God delivers us. God knows that our backsliding will soon end in our destruction, and he in mercy sends the rod. We say, "Lord, why is this?" not knowing that our trouble has been the means of delivering us from far greater evil. Many have been thus saved from ruin by their sorrows and their crosses; these have frightened the birds from the net. At other times, God keeps his people from the snare of the fowler by giving them great spiritual strength, so that when they are tempted to do evil they say, "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" But what a blessed thing it is that if the believer shall, in an evil hour, come into the net, yet God will bring him out of it! O backslider, be cast down, but do not despair. Wanderer though thou hast been, hear what thy Redeemer saith--"Return, O backsliding children; I will have mercy upon you." But you say you cannot return, for you are a captive. Then listen to the promise--"Surely he shall deliver thee out of the snare of the fowler." Thou shalt yet be brought out of all evil into which thou hast fallen, and though thou shalt never cease to repent of thy ways, yet he that hath loved thee will not cast thee away; he will receive thee, and give thee joy and gladness, that the bones which he has broken may rejoice. No bird of paradise shall die in the fowler's net.

Evening

"Martha was cumbered about much serving."
Luke 10:40

Her fault was not that she served: the condition of a servant well becomes every Christian. "I serve," should be the motto of all the princes of the royal family of heaven. Nor was it her fault that she had "much serving." We cannot do too much. Let us do all that we possibly can; let head, and heart, and hands, be engaged in the Master's service. It was no fault of hers that she was busy preparing a feast for the Master. Happy Martha, to have an opportunity of entertaining so blessed a guest; and happy, too, to have the spirit to throw her whole soul so heartily into the engagement. Her fault was that she grew "cumbered with much serving," so that she forgot him, and only remembered the service. She allowed service to override communion, and so presented one duty stained with the blood of another. We ought to be Martha and Mary in one: we should do much service, and have much communion at the same time. For this we need great grace. It is easier to serve than to commune. Joshua never grew weary in fighting with the Amalekites; but Moses, on the top of the mountain in prayer, needed two helpers to sustain his hands. The more spiritual the exercise, the sooner we tire in it. The choicest fruits are the hardest to rear: the most heavenly graces are the most difficult to cultivate. Beloved, while we do not neglect external things, which are good enough in themselves, we ought also to see to it that we enjoy living, personal fellowship with Jesus. See to it that sitting at the Saviour's feet is not neglected, even though it be under the specious pretext of doing him service. The first thing for our soul's health, the first thing for his glory, and the first thing for our own usefulness, is to keep ourselves in perpetual communion with the Lord Jesus, and to see that the vital spirituality of our religion is maintained over and above everything else in the world.

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Today's reading: Exodus 9-11, Matthew 15:21-39 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
The Plague on Livestock

1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: “Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” 2 If you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them back, 3 the hand of the LORD will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field—on your horses, donkeys and camels and on your cattle, sheep and goats. 4 But the LORD will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die.’”

5 The LORD set a time and said, “Tomorrow the LORD will do this in the land.” 6 And the next day the LORD did it: All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one animal belonging to the Israelites died. 7 Pharaoh investigated and found that not even one of the animals of the Israelites had died. Yet his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go.

The Plague of Boils

8 Then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from a furnace and have Moses toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh. 9 It will become fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, and festering boils will break out on people and animals throughout the land.”

10 So they took soot from a furnace and stood before Pharaoh. Moses tossed it into the air, and festering boils broke out on people and animals. 11 The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils that were on them and on all the Egyptians. 12 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said to Moses.

The Plague of Hail

13 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me, 14 or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. 15 For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. 16 But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. 17 You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go. 18Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now. 19 Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every person and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.’”

20 Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the LORD hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. 21But those who ignored the word of the LORD left their slaves and livestock in the field.

22 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that hail will fall all over Egypt—on people and animals and on everything growing in the fields of Egypt.”23 When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the LORD sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt; 24 hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. 25Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields—both people and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree. 26 The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were.

27 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. “This time I have sinned,” he said to them. “The LORD is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. 28 Pray to the LORD, for we have had enough thunder and hail. I will let you go; you don’t have to stay any longer.”

29 Moses replied, “When I have gone out of the city, I will spread out my hands in prayer to the LORD. The thunder will stop and there will be no more hail, so you may know that the earth is the LORD’s. 30 But I know that you and your officials still do not fear the LORD God.”

31 (The flax and barley were destroyed, since the barley had headed and the flax was in bloom. 32 The wheat and spelt, however, were not destroyed, because they ripen later.)

33 Then Moses left Pharaoh and went out of the city. He spread out his hands toward the LORD; the thunder and hail stopped, and the rain no longer poured down on the land. 34When Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he sinned again: He and his officials hardened their hearts. 35 So Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the LORD had said through Moses.

Exodus 10

The Plague of Locusts

1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them 2 that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the LORD.”

3 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 4 If you refuse to let them go, I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. 5 They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. They will devour what little you have left after the hail, including every tree that is growing in your fields. 6 They will fill your houses and those of all your officials and all the Egyptians—something neither your parents nor your ancestors have ever seen from the day they settled in this land till now.’” Then Moses turned and left Pharaoh.

7 Pharaoh’s officials said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that they may worship the LORD their God. Do you not yet realize that Egypt is ruined?”

8 Then Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. “Go, worship the LORD your God,” he said. “But tell me who will be going.”

9 Moses answered, “We will go with our young and our old, with our sons and our daughters, and with our flocks and herds, because we are to celebrate a festival to the LORD.”

10 Pharaoh said, “The LORD be with you—if I let you go, along with your women and children! Clearly you are bent on evil. 11 No! Have only the men go and worship the LORD, since that’s what you have been asking for.” Then Moses and Aaron were driven out of Pharaoh’s presence.

12 And the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over Egypt so that locusts swarm over the land and devour everything growing in the fields, everything left by the hail.”

13 So Moses stretched out his staff over Egypt, and the LORD made an east wind blow across the land all that day and all that night. By morning the wind had brought the locusts; 14they invaded all Egypt and settled down in every area of the country in great numbers. Never before had there been such a plague of locusts, nor will there ever be again. 15 They covered all the ground until it was black. They devoured all that was left after the hail—everything growing in the fields and the fruit on the trees. Nothing green remained on tree or plant in all the land of Egypt.

16 Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the LORD your God and against you. 17Now forgive my sin once more and pray to the LORD your God to take this deadly plague away from me.”

18 Moses then left Pharaoh and prayed to the LORD. 19 And the LORD changed the wind to a very strong west wind, which caught up the locusts and carried them into the Red Sea. Not a locust was left anywhere in Egypt. 20 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go.

The Plague of Darkness

21 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness spreads over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.” 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. 23No one could see anyone else or move about for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived.

24 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and said, “Go, worship the LORD. Even your women and children may go with you; only leave your flocks and herds behind.”

25 But Moses said, “You must allow us to have sacrifices and burnt offerings to present to the LORD our God. 26 Our livestock too must go with us; not a hoof is to be left behind. We have to use some of them in worshiping the LORD our God, and until we get there we will not know what we are to use to worship the LORD.”

27 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go. 28 Pharaoh said to Moses, “Get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die.”

29 “Just as you say,” Moses replied. “I will never appear before you again.”

Exodus 11

The Plague on the Firstborn

1 Now the LORD had said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely.2 Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold.” 3 (The LORD made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.)

4 So Moses said, “This is what the LORD says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. 5 Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the female slave, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. 6 There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. 7 But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any person or animal.’ Then you will know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. 8 All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow you!’ After that I will leave.” Then Moses, hot with anger, left Pharaoh.

9 The LORD had said to Moses, “Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you—so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.” 10Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.


Matthew 15

The Faith of a Canaanite Woman

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

29 Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”

33 His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”

34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”

35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. 37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 38 The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.

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Ehud [Ē'hŭd]—strong or union.

  1. The son of Bilhan, great-grandson of Benjamin (1 Chron. 7:10; 8:6).
  2. The son of Gera, the second judge of Israel ( Judg. 3:15-26;4:1).

The Man Who Was Left-Handed

This left-handed man was a ruler in Israel, and the peculiar thing about the tribe of Benjamin to which Ehud belonged was that in it were seven hundred left-handed men. So skillful had they all become in the use of the left hand that they could sling stones at a hair’s breadth and never miss.

Eglon, king of Moab, oppressor of Israel, imposed an outrageous tax upon the people, and Ehud received a divine commission to destroy the oppressor. Meeting the king in his summerhouse and saying that he had a secret message for him, Ehud, the left-handed man, put his left hand to his right side, pulled out a dagger and Eglon died. Thus for the salvation of Israel the left-handed weapon did its work. Wonderful is it not, that God can use all kinds for the fulfilment of His purpose?

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January 24, 2012

To Know Him More

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better (Ephesians 1:17, NIV).

Friend to Friend

It was Christmas Eve and I had a final errand to run. One of the gifts I ordered for our grandson still had not arrived. I ordered it several weeks earlier and patted myself on the back for the great deal I had gotten, but in all the delightful Christmas chaos, I had forgotten all about it until Christmas Eve when I made the final inspection of my Christmas list and stash of gifts for the kids and grandkids.

The Customer Service manager at the department store from which I ordered the gift had no idea where the gift was or what had happened to it but offered to trace it. I laughed. Trace it? He was obviously unaware that looking for a missing gift on Christmas Eve was not an option! I pressed on. After several frustrating and fruitless phone calls, I cancelled the order and decided to take matters into my own hands. I would simply go to the store and buy another gift for my grandson, Justus.

Justus is only two years old and would not really know the difference, but his Mimi would. For months, I had carefully researched and planned the number of gifts each grandchild would receive and could not bear the thought that Justus would have one less gift under the tree than the other two grandchildren. By the way, those other two grandchildren are four years old. I know. They wouldn't know the difference either, but again, Mimi would.

Did I have time to go to the mall? No! Did I want to go to the mall? Absolutely not! A root canal sounded more appealing at that precise moment. I still had cooking and baking to do, a few last minute gifts to wrap, a Christmas Eve service to attend and ... well, you get the idea. Ho! Ho! Ho! Help!

I quickly dressed, grabbed my coat and purse and raced down the stairs. My husband was sitting on the couch, eating a snack and having a little down time before heading to church to preach the final four Christmas Eve services of the week. He looked up in surprise and said, "Where are you going? I thought you had a lot to do this afternoon!" Couldn't he tell I was in a hurry and did not have time to answer his question or any question for that matter?

Sidebar: When I switch into my well-known and so very ridiculous "overdrive" mode, rational thinking flees and the results are nearly always ugly and disastrous. Today would be no exception.

I simply did not have time to explain the situation to my husband. After all, it would take a sixty whole seconds I could not spare. As I raced down the stairs, anger and frustration filled my heart and mind ... and I fell. I fell spiritually when I said, "I do not have time to explain the situation to you. I just have to run an errand. Okay?" And I fell physically when I stumbled, missed the bottom three stairs and landed on the floor at the bottom of the stairs. My sweet husband immediately jumped off the couch and was standing over me with a look of concern on his face. "Are you hurt?" he asked, practically carrying me to the couch. A quick exam left us with the conclusion that I would probably be sore for a few days and have a few bruises. I also had a severely sprained ankle. Did that stop me from going to the toy store? Oh, no. Not this Superwoman.

I mentally donned my Superwoman cape, swallowed a couple of aspirin and limped my way to the store and back, the cherished Christmas gift in hand. I then wrapped the gift, crammed my sprained ankle into a boot and hobbled to the Christmas Eve service at church. Still and quiet for the first time that day, the worship music carried me back to that night when Christ was born. Oh, what a night it must have been! As I finally and truly celebrated the birth of my King, the Holy Spirit whispered, "Be still and know that He is God." That truth should be the foundation for everyday life - not just for the Christmas holidays.

January is often referred to as the "blue" month. The blahs attack and a strange sense of discontentment fills our hearts and minds. A local radio host recently explained that since the holidays are over, there is a void or a vacuum left that causes those blues. I agree with part of that assessment. Something is definitely missing but I don't think it has as much to do with the Christmas holidays as with the way we live the rest of the year.

Christmas is not a season.

Christmas is not a date on the calendar.

Christmas is a way of life.

Every day should find us still and quiet before the manger as we celebrate the birth, life, death and resurrection of our coming Lord and King, Jesus Christ. We need to learn how to seek Him and pray continually about everything. If it is important to us, it is important to Him. It is time for us to focus on how we can serve instead of being so concerned about being served. We need to keep our gaze on Him and our glance on the circumstances that so often cause us to stumble and fall because we have forgotten what is really important - to nourish and cultivate our relationship with Jesus Christ. Our heart desire should center around becoming more like Him and serving others as He did during His time on earth.

My one resolution for 2012 is a simple one. I want to know Him more. I want others to wonder why I am so joyful when there doesn't seem to be one logical reason why I should be. I want to trust God as never before and choose to step out in faith with no visible safety net below. I want to pray with shameless audacity, knowing God absolutely loves it when I do! Join me in a new faith adventure of trusting God.

Let's Pray

Father, please forgive me for allowing anything or anyone to occupy first place in my life. I am tired of rushing through each day in an effort to prove my worth by what I do or whom I please. I want to live each day for You, an audience of One. Use me, Lord, to impact the lives of my family and friends. Help me learn how to see the needs of those around me and give me a holy discontent with the status quo. Right now, I surrender my heart and life to You in a new commitment to know You more.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Choose one Christmas decoration to leave out this year. Put it in a place where you will see it every day as a reminder that Christmas is a daily celebration and a way of life.

In your journal, write out a prayer of commitment to know and serve Jesus more this year. What would that look like in your life? Record your description in your journal. Recruit an accountability partner who will periodically ask you how you are doing in this new faith adventure.

More from the Girlfriends

Be sure to check out the FREE MP3s on Mary's website.

Need help with time management and learning how to set and reach the goals God has for your life? Mary's E-Bible Study, Time: Friend or Foe offers practical tools for bringing a holy order to your life.

Need help getting the Word of God into your life? Check out Mary's Weekly Online Bible Study, When I Am Afraid, to learn how to face, deal with and surrender your fears to God.

Are you ready to begin a new faith adventure? Get a copy of our new book, Trusting God.

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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T. Suzanne Eller

January 24, 2012

A Praying Momma
T. Suzanne Eller

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

When he first started drinking, she and her husband weren't sure what to do. Then he was arrested. Soon after they discovered he was using drugs. For the first time in her life, Mickey felt helpless as a mom.

Mickey's son was raised in church and he once served as a leader in his youth group. Their home was a safe place where faith was lived out. And yet her son continued to spiral downward, no matter what they did. The night he broke into their small business and emptied the cash register was the bleakest night of all.

Mickey looked around the church and realized there were other moms with similar struggles. She started a Prodigal Prayer Group that met on Tuesday nights. They prayed one year, two years and then three.

Mickey saw others' children come back to their faith, but her prayers for her own son seemed to be going nowhere. Nonetheless, she continued to show up, joining in strength and support with other praying mommas.

I wish my sweet friend had a video camera recording her son through those dark days. I wish she could have seen Austin rediscover his faith, overcome his addictions, and see him grow into the godly man he is today.

But the reality is that Mickey didn't have a video camera. All she had was her faith. Faith that was tested over and over.

She was aware of the realities of her son's choices, but she continued to pray. She continued to believe. She had to make hard choices like setting boundaries. She had to listen to other moms whose children were not straying and who did not understand her struggle.

Mickey says that during that time she began to see Austin through the eyes of faith. She knew that it wasn't in her power to change her son, but that God could be her source of strength as she stayed the course.

We often say we would do anything for our children. If someone had told Mickey that it would take years of praying and believing like she did without seeing any sign of change, I wondered would she still do it? Mickey says yes, she would.

Maybe you identify with my friend. You raised your son or daughter with love. You provided a safe place. You showed them Jesus, and yet somehow they lost their way. Today I want to encourage you. The Father loves you and your child. In Jesus' story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32, NIV) we see a son who has hit rock bottom. He finally decides to go home and this is the reaction of his father:

"So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.'

But his father said to the servants, 'Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger, and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening in the pen. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found." (verses 20-24)

Jesus told this story to illustrate the love of the Heavenly Father. The beauty of a praying momma is not lost in the chaos of your child's choices. You are not alone as you pray, because He's waiting, just as you are, to welcome your child in His embrace.

Dear Father, thank You that You love my child even more than I. I am not alone. You are with me. Walk with me today. Give me Your strength. Give me renewed hope and eyes of faith. In Jesus' powerful, precious Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

Real Issues, Real Teens: What Every Parent Needs to Know by T. Suzanne Eller. For more resources from Suzie, click here.

Building a Bridge: To Your Child's Heart Building a Bridge: To Your Child's Heart (CD) by Lynn Cowell

Visit Suzie's blog where Suzie shares five things to do when your child is in trouble.

Reflect and Respond:
"Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays." Soren Kierkegaard

How is my faith being stretched as a parent? What moms could I Invite to join together and commit to praying for our children?

Power Verse:
1 Thessalonians 5:11, "So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you'll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you're already doing this; just keep on doing it." (MSG)

© 2012 by T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.

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

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The King Shall Come

Isaiah 9:6-7

Jesus is the "Prince of Peace" for all those who come to Him on His terms. Sometimes, however, we find that we are not at peace with those who refuse to follow Him. This is because the Prince of Peace bears a sword - love and obedience to Him is unacceptable to those who hate Him, and they will often be hostile to us (Matt. 10:34-39). When this happens, we must hold to the truth and never compromise it for the sake of a peace that cannot last.

For further study:

Exodus 15:3

The Bible in a year:

Exodus 20-22

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

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The King Shall Come

Isaiah 9:6-7 "For to us a child is born...and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" ( v. 6).

Without a doubt, King David ushered in a golden age during the old covenant period (1 Chron. 18:14). This humble son of Jesse transformed Israel from a confederacy of tribes into a major power (2 Sam. 5 ), a remarkable achievement given the size of the country and the threats it faced as a place of strategic importance. He who controlled Palestine, a land bridge connecting Africa, Europe, and Asia, controlled commerce in the ancient Near East.

During the reign of David's son Solomon, things began falling apart as the king was led into idolatry (1 Kings 11). Eventually the kingdom was divided in two (12:16-20 ) and suffered, for the most part, under the reign of incompetent, godless, and foolish rulers. World powers including Assyria, Babylon, and Persia conquered the land and became the de facto kings of Palestine. Understandably, the people longed for a return to the golden age, a return of a king like David who would bring in an era of peace, justice, and security. This longing would be fulfilled in the Messiah, the "anointed one" (Amos 9:11-15).

Today's passage is a prophecy regarding what was to come after the Assyrian invasion of Israel and Judah. God's people are told that they will not suffer under judgment forever; He will send a deliverer, a Son of David beyond compare.

This child will one day have the government "upon his shoulder" (Isa. 9:6 ). Anyone in leadership knows what a burden that can be. Good leaders understand the responsibility of taking care of their followers. Yet this child will shoulder this office well. He will also be an "Everlasting Father," an image that tells us the Son of David will not look out for His own interests alone. Rather, like any good father, He will put the needs of His children first and work for their benefit. We have every reason to be confident that He will succeed, for He is also "Wonderful Counselor." The Hebrew term for counselor is the same term used of the king's most trusted advisor. This Son of David has no need for counsel. As wisdom incarnate ( 1 Cor. 1:24), He is His own advisor.

We know this Son of David is Christ Jesus Himself, the "Mighty God," the warrior who has defeated all the powers of death and hell (Rev. 1:1-18).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Jesus is the "Prince of Peace" for all those who come to Him on His terms. Sometimes, however, we find that we are not at peace with those who refuse to follow Him. This is because the Prince of Peace bears a sword - love and obedience to Him is unacceptable to those who hate Him, and they will often be hostile to us (Matt. 10:34-39). When this happens, we must hold to the truth and never compromise it for the sake of a peace that cannot last.

For further study:

Exodus 15:3

The Bible in a year:

Exodus 20-22

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

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Faith and life

‘Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.’ 2 Peter 1:4

Suggested Further Reading: Colossians 3:1–10

Rejoice in this, brethren, you are made partakers of the divine nature, and all these promises are given to you in order that you may show this forth among the sons of men, that you are like God, and not like ordinary men; that you are different now from what flesh and blood would make you, having been made participators of the nature of God. The other result which follows is this, ‘Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.’ Ah, beloved, it were ill that a man who is alive should dwell in corruption. ‘Why seek ye the living among the dead?’ said the angel to Magdalene. Should the living dwell among the dead? Should divine life be found amongst the corruptions of worldly lusts? A member of Christ’s body found intoxicated in the streets, or lying, or blaspheming, or dishonest! God forbid. Shall I take the members of Christ, and make them members of a harlot? How can I drink the cup of the Lord, and drink the cup of Belial? How can it be possible that I can have life, and yet dwell in the foul tomb of the world’s lusts? Surely, brethren, from these open lusts and sins you have escaped: have you also escaped from the more secret and more delusive temptations of Satan? O, have you come forth from the lust of pride? Have you escaped from laziness? Have you clean escaped from carnal security? Are you seeking day by day to live above worldliness, the love of the things of the world, and the ensnaring greed which they nourish? Remember, it is for this that you have been enriched with the treasures of God.

For meditation: Never treat evangelism as an excuse for worldly behaviour. We must meet unconverted people, but what will make an impression upon them is the fact that we have been transformed by the grace of God. This should be seen both positively (Matthew 5:16) and negatively (1 Peter 4:3–4).

Sermon no. 551
24 January (1864)

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The death of Christ

“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” Isaiah 53:10

Suggested Further Reading: Acts 4:23-31

He who reads the Bible with the eye of faith, desiring to discover its hidden secrets, sees something more in the Saviour’s death than Roman cruelty or Jewish malice: he sees the solemn decree of God fulfilled by men, who were the ignorant, but guilty instruments of its accomplishment. He looks beyond the Roman spear and nail, beyond the Jewish taunt and jeer, up to the sacred fount, whence all things flow, and traces the crucifixion of Christ to the breast of deity. He believes with Peter—“Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” We dare not impute to God the sin, but at the same time the fact, with all its marvellous effects in the world’s redemption, we must ever trace to the sacred fountain of divine love. So does our prophet. He says, “It pleased Jehovah to bruise him.” He overlooks both Pilate and Herod, and traces it to the heavenly Father, the first person in the divine trinity. “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.” Now, beloved, there be many who think that God the Father is at best but an indifferent spectator of salvation. Others belie him still more. They look upon him as an unloving, severe being, who had no love to the human race, and could only be made loving by the death and agonies of our Saviour. Now, this is a foul libel upon the fair and glorious grace of God the Father, to whom for ever be honour: for Jesus Christ did not die to make God loving, but he died because God was loving.

“‘Twas not to make Jehovah’s love ‘Twas not the death which he endured,
Towards his people flame, Nor all the pangs he bore,
That Jesus from the throne above, That God’s eternal love procured,
A suff’ring man became. For God was love before.”

For meditation: Who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son (John 3:16)?

Sermon no. 173
24 January (1858)

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Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional

GOD WAS NEVER ALONE

Once we did a survey in our church and one of the questions was: "Do you often feel lonely and unnoticed?" A full 75% of the respondents said no, which made me glad for those who had connected with other people. But my heart went out to the 25% who said yes. Loneliness is an awful place to live. I have only had passing experiences of loneliness in my life, but each time I have, usually when far from home and detached from the people and ordinary fixtures of my life, I have thought, "May I never be unsympathetic or glib about those who struggle in the darkened corners of aloneness. I hope I have eyes to notice the lonely person."

God's great sweeping plan of salvation, his way of pulling us out of the pit of separation and self-entrapment and isolation, includes bringing us into a new community. The blood of Jesus makes Christians blood brothers and sisters. It is the way of reconciliation and of humble leveling. It means finding a new kind of family.

So should it surprise any of us that God himself is a kind of divine communion? That's what we mean when we speak of God as the Trinity, or in biblical terms, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This was not our idea; it is the way God has shown himself. It is true that the word "Trinity" does not appear in the Bible, but that does not mean that the truth of the Trinity is not there. It was later Christians who tried to think of a single word that summarized this great revelation of the divine Father, eternal Son, and Holy Spirit, and so they usedtrinitas, "Trinity," the God who is one and three at the same time.

The first hint came when early in Genesis God said, "Let us make man in our image." This was not a chorus of gods speaking like the Greek gods whom people envisioned living on Mt. Olympus in a god-sized melodrama, for the rest of the Old Testament speaks radically of the oneness of God.

Go down any street in Jerusalem, a thousand years ago or today, and you will find inscribed on Jewish doorposts the heart of the faith of children of Abraham, the Shema: "Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One" (Deuteronomy 6:4). One God, not competing gods. One divine nature, not a clash of supernatural temperaments. One creator-over-all, not a bevy of regional lords with regional interests and personal idiosyncrasies.

It is the oneness of God that curtails our inclination to keep making new gods. It is the single voice, the sole object of devotion, the unambiguous source of revelation, the headwaters of spiritual life. God's oneness is his strength, his purity, and his simplicity. His oneness is our assurance that there is not a competing Dark Lord who pulls toward evil as hard as God pulls toward good, and we wait breathlessly, hoping that the good will win out in the end.

[Excerpt from Putting the Pieces Back Together: How Real Life and Real Faith Connect. Click for more.]

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About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for thirty years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, the most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement.
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If we sin, does that mean we aren’t born of God?

This week's reading: 1 John 3:9

No. There are difficulties in conveying the idea of the original language into English. As a result, some readers may feel that this passage indicates God doesn’t recognize our struggle with sin. They think that one sin causes them to lose their place in heaven.

In reality God sees our struggle all too well. He does not expect new Christians to mature and bear fruit over night. But John emphasizes an increasing conformity of a person’s will to the will of God. If, however, a person shows no sign of change, and in fact his life is characterized by sin, John says that the person has not been born of God. Also see verse 6. The word “continue” is the key to this answer.

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Today's reading is from the
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