Friday, February 10, 2012

Daily Devotional Friday 10th February

“We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.” 2 Thessalonians 1:3NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"And David enquired of the Lord."
2 Samuel 5:23

When David made this enquiry he had just fought the Philistines, and gained a signal victory. The Philistines came up in great hosts, but, by the help of God, David had easily put them to flight. Note, however, that when they came a second time, David did not go up to fight them without enquiring of the Lord. Once he had been victorious, and he might have said, as many have in other cases, "I shall be victorious again; I may rest quite sure that if I have conquered once I shall triumph yet again. Wherefore should I tarry to seek at the Lord's hands?" Not so, David. He had gained one battle by the strength of the Lord; he would not venture upon another until he had ensured the same. He enquired, "Shall I go up against them?" He waited until God's sign was given. Learn from David to take no step without God. Christian, if thou wouldst know the path of duty, take God for thy compass; if thou wouldst steer thy ship through the dark billows, put the tiller into the hand of the Almighty. Many a rock might be escaped, if we would let our Father take the helm; many a shoal or quicksand we might well avoid, if we would leave to his sovereign will to choose and to command. The Puritan said, "As sure as ever a Christian carves for himself, he'll cut his own fingers;" this is a great truth. Said another old divine, "He that goes before the cloud of God's providence goes on a fool's errand;" and so he does. We must mark God's providence leading us; and if providence tarries, tarry till providence comes. He who goes before providence, will be very glad to run back again. "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go," is God's promise to his people. Let us, then, take all our perplexities to him, and say, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Leave not thy chamber this morning without enquiring of the Lord.

Evening

"Lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil [or, the evil one]."
Luke 11:4

What we are taught to seek or shun in prayer, we should equally pursue or avoid in action. Very earnestly, therefore, should we avoid temptation, seeking to walk so guardedly in the path of obedience, that we may never tempt the devil to tempt us. We are not to enter the thicket in search of the lion. Dearly might we pay for such presumption. This lion may cross our path or leap upon us from the thicket, but we have nothing to do with hunting him. He that meeteth with him, even though he winneth the day, will find it a stern struggle. Let the Christian pray that he may be spared the encounter. Our Saviour, who had experience of what temptation meant, thus earnestly admonished his disciples--"Pray that ye enter not into temptation."

But let us do as we will, we shall be tempted; hence the prayer "deliver us from evil." God had one Son without sin; but he has no son without temptation. The natural man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards, and the Christian man is born to temptation just as certainly. We must be always on our watch against Satan, because, like a thief, he gives no intimation of his approach. Believers who have had experience of the ways of Satan, know that there are certain seasons when he will most probably make an attack, just as at certain seasons bleak winds may be expected; thus the Christian is put on a double guard by fear of danger, and the danger is averted by preparing to meet it. Prevention is better than cure: it is better to be so well armed that the devil will not attack you, than to endure the perils of the fight, even though you come off a conqueror. Pray this evening first that you may not be tempted, and next that if temptation be permitted, you may be delivered from the evil one.

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Today's reading: Leviticus 6-7, Matthew 25:1-30 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

1 The LORD said to Moses: 2 “If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the LORD by deceiving a neighbor about something entrusted to them or left in their care or about something stolen, or if they cheat their neighbor, 3 or if they find lost property and lie about it, or if they swear falsely about any such sin that people may commit— 4 when they sin in any of these ways and realize their guilt, they must return what they have stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to them, or the lost property they found, 5 or whatever it was they swore falsely about. They must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day they present their guilt offering. 6 And as a penalty they must bring to the priest, that is, to the LORD, their guilt offering, a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value.7 In this way the priest will make atonement for them before the LORD, and they will be forgiven for any of the things they did that made them guilty.”

The Burnt Offering

8 The LORD said to Moses: 9 “Give Aaron and his sons this command: ‘These are the regulations for the burnt offering: The burnt offering is to remain on the altar hearth throughout the night, till morning, and the fire must be kept burning on the altar. 10 The priest shall then put on his linen clothes, with linen undergarments next to his body, and shall remove the ashes of the burnt offering that the fire has consumed on the altar and place them beside the altar. 11 Then he is to take off these clothes and put on others, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a place that is ceremonially clean. 12 The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. 13 The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.

The Grain Offering

14 “‘These are the regulations for the grain offering: Aaron’s sons are to bring it before the LORD, in front of the altar. 15 The priest is to take a handful of the finest flour and some olive oil, together with all the incense on the grain offering, and burn the memorial portion on the altar as an aroma pleasing to the LORD. 16 Aaron and his sons shall eat the rest of it, but it is to be eaten without yeast in the sanctuary area; they are to eat it in the courtyard of the tent of meeting. 17 It must not be baked with yeast; I have given it as their share of the food offerings presented to me. Like the sin offering and the guilt offering, it is most holy. 18 Any male descendant of Aaron may eat it. For all generations to come it is his perpetual share of the food offerings presented to the LORD. Whatever touches them will become holy.’”

19 The LORD also said to Moses, 20 “This is the offering Aaron and his sons are to bring to the LORD on the day he is anointed: a tenth of an ephah of the finest flour as a regular grain offering, half of it in the morning and half in the evening.21 It must be prepared with oil on a griddle; bring it well-mixed and present the grain offering broken in pieces as an aroma pleasing to the LORD. 22 The son who is to succeed him as anointed priest shall prepare it. It is the LORD’s perpetual share and is to be burned completely. 23 Every grain offering of a priest shall be burned completely; it must not be eaten.”

The Sin Offering

24 The LORD said to Moses, 25 “Say to Aaron and his sons: ‘These are the regulations for the sin offering: The sin offering is to be slaughtered before the LORD in the place the burnt offering is slaughtered; it is most holy. 26 The priest who offers it shall eat it; it is to be eaten in the sanctuary area, in the courtyard of the tent of meeting. 27 Whatever touches any of the flesh will become holy, and if any of the blood is spattered on a garment, you must wash it in the sanctuary area. 28 The clay pot the meat is cooked in must be broken; but if it is cooked in a bronze pot, the pot is to be scoured and rinsed with water. 29 Any male in a priest’s family may eat it; it is most holy. 30 But any sin offering whose blood is brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement in the Holy Place must not be eaten; it must be burned up.

Leviticus 7

The Guilt Offering

1 “‘These are the regulations for the guilt offering, which is most holy: 2 The guilt offering is to be slaughtered in the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered, and its blood is to be splashed against the sides of the altar. 3 All its fat shall be offered: the fat tail and the fat that covers the internal organs, 4both kidneys with the fat on them near the loins, and the long lobe of the liver, which is to be removed with the kidneys. 5 The priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering presented to the LORD. It is a guilt offering. 6 Any male in a priest’s family may eat it, but it must be eaten in the sanctuary area; it is most holy.

7 “‘The same law applies to both the sin offering and the guilt offering: They belong to the priest who makes atonement with them. 8 The priest who offers a burnt offering for anyone may keep its hide for himself. 9 Every grain offering baked in an oven or cooked in a pan or on a griddle belongs to the priest who offers it, 10 and every grain offering, whether mixed with olive oil or dry, belongs equally to all the sons of Aaron.

The Fellowship Offering

11 “‘These are the regulations for the fellowship offering anyone may present to the LORD:

12 “‘If they offer it as an expression of thankfulness, then along with this thank offering they are to offer thick loaves made without yeast and with olive oil mixed in, thin loaves made without yeast and brushed with oil, and thick loaves of the finest flour well-kneaded and with oil mixed in. 13 Along with their fellowship offering of thanksgiving they are to present an offering with thick loaves of bread made with yeast. 14 They are to bring one of each kind as an offering, a contribution to the LORD; it belongs to the priest who splashes the blood of the fellowship offering against the altar. 15 The meat of their fellowship offering of thanksgiving must be eaten on the day it is offered; they must leave none of it till morning.

16 “‘If, however, their offering is the result of a vow or is a freewill offering, the sacrifice shall be eaten on the day they offer it, but anything left over may be eaten on the next day. 17Any meat of the sacrifice left over till the third day must be burned up. 18 If any meat of the fellowship offering is eaten on the third day, the one who offered it will not be accepted. It will not be reckoned to their credit, for it has become impure; the person who eats any of it will be held responsible.

19 “‘Meat that touches anything ceremonially unclean must not be eaten; it must be burned up. As for other meat, anyone ceremonially clean may eat it. 20 But if anyone who is unclean eats any meat of the fellowship offering belonging to the LORD, they must be cut off from their people. 21 Anyone who touches something unclean—whether human uncleanness or an unclean animal or any unclean creature that moves along the ground—and then eats any of the meat of the fellowship offering belonging to the LORD must be cut off from their people.’”

Eating Fat and Blood Forbidden

22 The LORD said to Moses, 23 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Do not eat any of the fat of cattle, sheep or goats. 24 The fat of an animal found dead or torn by wild animals may be used for any other purpose, but you must not eat it. 25 Anyone who eats the fat of an animal from which a food offering may be presented to the LORD must be cut off from their people. 26 And wherever you live, you must not eat the blood of any bird or animal. 27Anyone who eats blood must be cut off from their people.’”

The Priests’ Share

28 The LORD said to Moses, 29 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Anyone who brings a fellowship offering to the LORD is to bring part of it as their sacrifice to the LORD. 30 With their own hands they are to present the food offering to the LORD; they are to bring the fat, together with the breast, and wave the breast before the LORD as a wave offering. 31 The priest shall burn the fat on the altar, but the breast belongs to Aaron and his sons. 32 You are to give the right thigh of your fellowship offerings to the priest as a contribution. 33 The son of Aaron who offers the blood and the fat of the fellowship offering shall have the right thigh as his share. 34 From the fellowship offerings of the Israelites, I have taken the breast that is waved and the thigh that is presented and have given them to Aaron the priest and his sons as their perpetual share from the Israelites.’”

35 This is the portion of the food offerings presented to the LORD that were allotted to Aaron and his sons on the day they were presented to serve the LORD as priests. 36 On the day they were anointed, the LORD commanded that the Israelites give this to them as their perpetual share for the generations to come.

37 These, then, are the regulations for the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sin offering, the guilt offering, the ordination offering and the fellowship offering, 38 which the LORD gave Moses at Mount Sinai in the Desert of Sinai on the day he commanded the Israelites to bring their offerings to the LORD.


Matthew 25

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

The Parable of the Bags of Gold

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

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Nehemiah [Nēhe mī'ah]—jehovah hath consoled.

  1. A chief man who returned from exile (Ezra 2:2; Neh. 7:7).
  2. The son of Hachaliah and cup-bearer to king Artaxerxes (Neh. 1:1).

The Man Who Had a Mind to Work

Nehemiah and Hanani were the sons of Hachaliah (Neh. 1:1; 2:5; 7:2 ), and the references suggest that the family belonged to the capital. Nehemiah, although born in exile, grew up in the faith of Israel’s God. Nehemiah’s name appears as a prince, not as a priest (Neh. 9:38; 10:1), and he was perhaps the chief man who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel ( Ezra 2:2; Neh. 7:7). As the king’s cup-bearer, he held a high place of honor in the palace of Shushan (Neh. 1:11), having confidential access to the king. His Persian name was Sheshbazzar ( Ezra 1:8). He was one of the princes who signed the covenant (Neh. 9:38; 10:1). He became Governor of Jerusalem (Neh. 10:1 ). Josephus says that Nehemiah died of old age and that the repaired walls of the city constituted his best and most enduring monument.

For his patriotic task (Neh. 1:1-4 ), Nehemiah was well qualified. As a true Israelite, he labored for the purity of public worship, the integrity of family life, the sanctity of the sabbath. Ezra was the student and preacher; Nehemiah, the soldier and statesman. He was courageous and God-fearing, and brought to his labors a noble disinterestedness, and unblemished rectitude, a dauntless spirit and unswerving loyalty to God. Alexander Whyte in his helpful essay of Nehemiah speaks of him:

As a self-contained man. A man of his own counsel. A man with the counsel of God alone in his mind and in his heart. A reserved and resolute man. A man to take command of other men. A man who will see things with his own eyes, and without all eyes seeing him. A man in no haste or hurry. He will not begin till he has counted the cost. And then he will not stop till he has finished the work.

While we are compelled to pass over a full exposition of the book of this patriotic Jew whose heart was stirred with sorrow over the derelict condition of Jerusalem, we must linger over some of its important aspects.

I. He illustrates the strength which comes from an inspiring purpose and definite aim. Open opposition and underhanded wiles had to be faced, but undauntedly Nehemiah persisted in his task (Neh. 6:3). Among the hostile methods directed against his noble mission were:

Ridicule (Neh. 2:19; 4:2). But Nehemiah prayed that such reproach might return to the reproachers which it did (Neh. 4:4-6).

Fear (Neh. 4:7-23). Enemies delivered an ultimatum but Nehemiah set a watch. Swords and trowels were united (Neh. 4:18).

Guile ( Neh. 6:2-4). Nehemiah knew that conferences were useless, and so shunned them.

False accusation (Neh. 6:5-9). This patriot had no selfish motives behind his endeavors.

Temptation to tempt God (Neh. 6:10-13). Nehemiah refused to hide himself in the Temple as if he was doing wrong.

Corruption of friends and associates ( Neh. 6:17-19). This was the meanest act of Nehemiah’s foes.

II. He sets forth the strength that comes from humble dependence upon God. True to God and his principles, Nehemiah surmounted all his enemies and obstacles. His sterling character stood the acid test, for he was a man of dependence upon God (Neh. 1:5-11 ), single-hearted in his devotion to God and his work, wise in taking proper precautions against surprise attacks, ever encouraging to those who labored with him. Making his prayer to God, Nehemiah knew that God would fight for him (Neh. 4:9, 20).

III. He manifested the strength which comes from the sense of union and of fellowship. All classes of people, even the daughters, were ready to take their place around the damaged walls. High and low worked together for the accomplishment of a God-inspired task (Neh. 3:12). With scorn, Nehemiah rebuked the pride and negligence of the nobles “who put not their necks to the work of their Lord” (Neh. 3:5 ). Fulfilling their obligation by repairing “every man over against his house,” the willing-heart with one mind to work illustrates the chain of living Christian fellowship set forth in Ecclesiastes 4:9. See 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.

3. A son of Azbuk and ruler of half the district of Jerusalen who repaired part of the wall—a common-sense enthusiast even as his illustrious namesake ( Neh. 3:16).

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How to Serve

Joshua 24:14-15 "And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve...as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (v. 15 ).

Unlike the topics we have discussed thus far - Bible study, prayer, and worship - some Christians do not recognize that service is a means of santification. This is unfortunate because service is vital for maturity in Christ.

Our call to be servants of the Lord is a theme woven throughout the Old and New Testaments. God sent Moses to the pharaoh thousands of years ago so that the king might release His people to serve Him (Ex. 8:1). Paul in Galatians 1:10 and many other passages refers to himself as a "servant" or "slave" (from the Greek doulos) of Christ. Few would argue with our Father's command to serve Him; however, we often forget that the major way in which we serve our Creator is through service to His people. As Jesus tells us in Matthew 20:26, greatness in the kingdom of God belongs to those who serve its citizens.

Whether we are compensated for our service or simply volunteer, we all have gifts that are to be used for the building up of Christ's body ( 1 Cor. 12:1-11). And we fulfill our roles only when we put our gifts to use. Certain tasks may seem less "glamorous" to us than others, but that is a function of our celebrity culture, which prizes those gifts that are most visible in the congregation. Yet God does not view some gifts as inherently better than others (vv. 12-31 ). The apostles appointed deacons to serve tables and meet the needs of the widows and orphans not because it was beneath their dignity to attend to these tasks. Instead, they gave this job to others because their primary gift and calling was to pray and teach (Acts 6:1-7). Those with more "prominent" roles in the local church are not greater in the Lord's eyes than those who work behind the scenes; they just have different gifts.

If your gift is to teach, then you must teach. If you are gifted to work with children, then you must volunteer to work in some aspect of family ministry. Whatever your gift, Jesus commands you to exercise it so that you will become skilled in its use and better help His church grow up into maturity (Eph. 4:11-14). May we work as He has gifted us, and may we never be called lazy and unfaithful servants (Luke 19:11-27).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Any one who leads Christian ministry in the church will tell you that his most challenging task is recruiting volunteers. Most churches depend on the same faithful people for everything while the rest of the congregation is content to just show up and watch. Which kind of Christian are you? Are you a faithful servant, or do you let others do the work? Call your pastor or elder today and ask him where you can serve in the ministry of the church.

For further study:

2 Chron. 2:11-16; 4:11

The Bible in a year:

Leviticus 18-20

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

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

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How to Serve

Joshua 24:14-15

Any one who leads Christian ministry in the church will tell you that his most challenging task is recruiting volunteers. Most churches depend on the same faithful people for everything while the rest of the congregation is content to just show up and watch. Which kind of Christian are you? Are you a faithful servant, or do you let others do the work? Call your pastor or elder today and ask him where you can serve in the ministry of the church.

For further study:

2 Chron. 2:11-16; 4:11

The Bible in a year:

Leviticus 18-20

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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Threefold sanctification

‘Through sanctification of the Spirit.’ 1 Peter 1:2

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:11–4:8

We may without the slightest mistake speak of sanctification as the work of the Spirit, yet we must take heed that we do not view it as if the Father and the Son had no part therein. It is correct to speak of sanctification as the work of the Father, of the Spirit, and of the Son. Jehovah says, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,’ and thus ‘we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.’ My brethren, I beg you to notice and carefully consider the value which God sets upon real holiness, since the Trinity is represented as co-working to produce a church without ‘spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.’ Holiness is the architectural plan upon which God builds up his living temple. We read in Scripture of the ‘beauties of holiness;’ nothing is beautiful before God but that which is holy. All the glory of Lucifer, that son of the morning, could not screen him from divine abhorrence when he had defiled himself by sin. ‘Holy, Holy, Holy,’—the continual cry of cherubim is the loftiest song that creature can offer, and the noblest that the divine Being can accept. See then, he counts holiness to be his choice treasure. It is as the seal upon his heart, and as the signet upon his right hand. I pray you who profess to be followers of Christ, set a high value upon purity of life and godliness of conversation. Value the blood of Christ as the foundation of your hope, but never speak disparagingly of the work of the Spirit.

For meditation: Some overemphasise the work of the Holy Spirit so much that they appear to worship him alone as a unity. Others in reaction seem to overlook the work of the Holy Spirit so much that they appear to worship only the Father and Son as a duality. Real Trinitarians give due honour to all three persons of the Godhead. Something is seriously wrong if any one is belittled or omitted (John 5:23; Acts 19:2).

Sermon no. 434
9 February (1862)

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February 9, 2012

A Balanced Life

Part 2

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

She (Martha) had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying (Luke 10:39).

Friend to Friend

A balanced life is focused on right things. Focus is always found at the feet of Jesus. Mary lived out this truth. In fact, Mary, more than any other person in the New Testament is associated with sitting at the feet of Jesus.

What does it mean to "sit at the feet of Jesus"? We must first stop. Now that is a novel idea for most women. Mary stopped what she was doing - helping Martha in the kitchen - and came to sit at the feet of Jesus. Of course, Martha immediately began complaining that she had been left to do all the work while her sister wasted time sitting at the feet of Jesus. I have discovered there will always be someone who will misunderstand or complain when you choose to do what Jesus told Martha was "the better part."

Luke 10: 40-42 "But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.' But the Lord answered her, 'Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.'"

Mary made a choice and so must we. Choosing to sit at the feet of Jesus requires decisive planning, purposeful scheduling and a willful determination. Every day, God wants relationship building time with us, which means that time at His feet, in His presence must be our highest priority. Jesus gently rebuked Martha because she had forgotten what was really important.

It is amazing to me how I can squander away the best part of my day, leaving Him with the leftover scraps of time and then have the audacity to complain that my life is void of power and purpose. Distractions come from every side. Some of those distractions are good and wonderful things, but they are all still wrong things if they keep us from stopping to spend time with God.

Every day, we choose where to invest our time. We plan everything from committee meetings and church activities to lunch appointments and choir practice - but fail to schedule the most important activity of all, spending time with God. Are you desperate for the peace and balance only He can bring? Then it's time to stop, take inventory of the demands upon your time and begin investing the best part of everyday sitting at His feet. Being wrapped up in God's work can easily become a shabby substitute for being wrapped up in His presence. And we can only be wrapped up in God's presence when we learn to wait on Him.

I absolutely hate to wait, on anyone or for anything. Waiting robs me of control and forces me to face the unknown. But waiting on God brings priorities into a right focus and releases the catalyst that may very well change my life course. Waiting is not a passive use of time. Waiting is active spiritual obedience. In each waiting room of life, He is at work preparing me for the circumstance and the circumstance for me. Psalm 5:3 (NLT) "Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly." From those still, quiet moments of waiting and seeking comes a balance and focus that takes root and grows. It is through the choice to wait on God that the seeking heart – the expectant heart finds every need met.

We not only must stop and be still in order to sit at the feet of Jesus, we must learn to listen. Time spent seeking God and listening for His voice is vital. Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NIV) "Now choose life…listen to his voice, and hold fast to him."

Countless voices clamor for our attention. The key to a balanced life is training our hearts toward God and teaching our spiritual ears to listen for His voice above all others. I taught third grade for several years while my husband attended seminary. My class was one of seven third grade classes, which meant that the first few days of school were chaotic. The PE teacher was a welcome sight when she appeared at my door to take the students outside. It was the responsibility of each teacher to pick up her students when PE was over. Seven teachers trying to get the attention of over two hundred students was especially interesting on the first or second day of school when the teachers didn't know their students and the third graders didn't know their teacher. However, after only a few days, an amazing thing happened every year. When the teachers lined up, it took only a word or two for the students to come running. They quickly learned to recognize the voice of their new teacher above all the rest because they listened to her voice all day long.

The voice of God comes to us in many ways but every voice must be held up and measured against His main voice, the Word of God. To sit at the feet of Jesus, we must learn to stop, be still, and listen for His voice and then rest. Rest will not come until we have heard His truth. However, when we have learned and applied the truth of God we can then rest in Him and our world falls into perfect balance. Resting in Him requires trust.

When our son, Jered, was seven years old, he fell while skateboarding, cut his chin and needed stitches. We raced to the nearest emergency clinic where we met a young doctor, who at first glance, seemed friendly enough. Jered, however, took one look at the strange doctor and panicked. It was his first experience with stitches. After several attempts to gain Jered's trust and cooperation, the doctor grew impatient and said, "Son, this won't hurt. If you cannot be still we will have to put you in restraints." Now I had two major problems with those statements. First of all, there were not going to be any restraints placed on my son. And secondly, of course it would hurt. Glaring at the doctor I explained, "If you will just tell Jered the truth and explain what you are doing he will be still for you." The doctor looked at me as if I had just arrived from another planet and said, "Right!" Before I could rip off his head, Dan told the doctor we had a plan. I knew what my plan was but thought it wise to consider Dan's. Holding Jered's head still, Dan softly explained what the doctor would do and told him to fix his eyes on me while I told a story. It worked. Jered calmed down and the stitches were done in a matter of minutes. Even though he did not fully understand or trust the process, Jered did fully understand and trust us.

Truth is always the basis for trust and trust is always the basis for rest. We rarely take time to stop, be still and listen, allowing His truth to soak into our hearts and minds where trust and faith grow strong on a steady diet of truth. As a result, our faith is weak and rest is hard to find. When we learn to sit at the feet of Jesus, we will know Him better, trust Him more and find the rest we so desperately crave. Clarity of purpose and a right focus will come. And that, my friend, is the cornerstone in a life of balance.

Now It's Your Turn

Oswald Chambers writes, "We can choke God's Word with a yawn; we can hinder the time that should be spent with God by remembering we have other things to do. 'I haven't time!' Of course you have time! Take time, strangle some other interests, and make time to realize that the center of power in your life is the Lord Jesus Christ." What is the main focus of your life? For the real answer, take a long, hard look at where you spend your time, money and energy. What changes do you need to make to bring your life into a right balance with God?

More from the Girlfriends

Is your life balanced? If you are like me, you need all the help you can get in maintaining a balanced life. My E-Bible Study,Time: Friend or Foe, offers three important steps you can take in learning how to balance your time and your life.

Be sure to check out the FREE MP3s on Mary's website.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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Lions lacking–but the children satisfied

“The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” Psalm 34:10

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 7:7-11

We take it concerning things spiritual. Are we wanting a sense of pardon? We shall not want it long. Are we desiring stronger faith? We shall not want it long. Do you wish to have more love to your Saviour, to understand more concerning inward communion with Jesus? You shall have it. “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” Do you desire to renounce your sins, to be able to overcome this corruption or that, to attain this virtue, or that excellency? “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” Is it adoption, justification, sanctification that you want? “You shall not lack any good thing.” But are your wants temporal? Do you want bread and water? No, I know you do not, for it is said, “Bread shall be given, and water shall be sure.” Or, if you do want it somewhat, it shall come before long; it shall not be to starvation. David said, “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” Do you want clothes? You shall have them. “He that clothes the lilies of the valley, will he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” Do you need temporary supplies? You shall receive them, for “your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.” Whatever your desire, there is the promise, only go and plead it at the throne, and God will fulfil it. We have no right to look for the fulfilment of the promises unless we put the Promiser in mind of them, although truly, at times, he exceeds our desires or wishes.

For meditation: A true seeking of God will mould our desires to the things which we need and which please him—as such he cannot but answer when we call (Psalm 37:3-5).

Sermon no. 65
9 February (Preached 10 February 1856)

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Lysa TerKeurst

February 9, 2012

Bad Moments Don't Make Bad Moms
Lysa TerKeurst

"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressionsóit is by grace you have been saved." Ephesians 2:4-5 (NIV)

Do you ever feel like the ping pong ball in a heated match bouncing between feeling like a good mom to a bad mom?

I volunteer to keep the class guinea pig over spring break much to my daughter's delight. After all, we have a hamster we adore so we're highly qualified... GOOD MOM!

Two weeks before spring break our pet hamster has an accident and makes an early exit from this world. I get a letter from the principal informing me after hearing about our unfortunate hamster situation, we are unfit class guinea pig babysitters... BAD MOM!

I delight the teacher by showing up on time to read to the class... GOOD MOM!

That same day I get an e-mail from a teacher listing three parents who haven't turned in permission slips and I'm on the list for all the world to see... BAD MOM!

I make sure my kids pack something healthy for lunch... GOOD MOM!

The schedule falls apart and I feed them sugary cereal for dinner... BAD MOM!

I so desperately want to be a good mom. And sometimes I feel like I am, when life is clicking along with good attitudes, healthy hamsters, turned in permission slips, and a pot roast for dinner. But let's be honest. The days where everything turns out right and there's a pot roast on the table are sometimes few and far between. And I find myself feeling like a failure. Have you ever been there?

The other day I was processing these things with my friend, Renee, when a strange theme seemed to arise. I just started laughing. I told Renee that many of my days tell the same story... I was on the verge of a breakdown and then I spent some time with Jesus and He made things better.

Renee quipped back, "Well, isn't that where most of us live?"

Not that we're on the edge of a breakdown, but we live in a place of utter dependence on God. I know I live in constant need of His love, encouragement, wisdom, perspective, strength, patience and grace.

Anything I do right as a mom is because of my constant dialogs with God. I've learned to talk with Him in honest plain language and say things like, "Hey God, I feel like a bad mom because I snapped at my kids. But my circumstances don't define me, right? You do. So, I'm receiving Your grace and letting go of those feelings pulling me down. Please help me."

I must remember the truth of today's promise inEphesians 2:4-5, "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressionsóit is by grace you have been saved."

God's grace is always willing to step in. Not that it excuses me from being more patient, organized or responsible. But it reminds me, "Lysa, you are doing better than you think you are. My love for you is great! Stop bouncing from feeling good to bad to good to bad. In the good times, rejoice and thank Me. In the not so good times, call out to Me quickly."

With God we're never a bad mom. We might be having a bad moment... or two... or seventeen. But a few bad moments do not define us.

God's grace is there to cover us. Teach us. And even in the middle of a bad moment, interrupt us, redirect us and change me.

Forgiveness is there.

Love is there.

A second chance is there. And another one after that.

You are a good mom my friend...even if, like me, you've had a few bad moments... you are the exact mom God knew these children needed. Let's live in that truth today.

And who cares if we are labeled unfit to watch the class guinea pig? As I stepped back from the situation I realized that saved us from some undue stress anyhow. Smiles.

Dear Lord, I know that only You can fill me. I am thankful Your grace is always there to cover me, especially on my tough mom days. Help me to stop bouncing from feeling good to bad. Teach me, redirect me and change me today. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Related Resources:
If you're having one of those "I feel like a bad mom" moments, read Lysa's blog today. It will be one you print off and save!

And if you'd like to make progress in transforming the mom inside you, consider getting a copy of Lysa's book,Am I Messing Up My Kids?

Lysa is speaking in over 40 cities this year and she'd love to meet you! To check for a city near you, click here.

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you!

Reflect and Respond:
With God I'm never a bad mom. I might be having a bad moment... or two... or seventeen. But a few bad moments do not define me as a bad mom. God's grace is there to cover me. Teach me. And even in the middle of a bad moment, interrupt me, redirect me and change me.

Power Verse:
Colossians 3:15, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." (NIV)

© 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

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Commit to pray for our nation in 2012In the face of widespread insecurity, fear, and hopelessness, our nation desperately needs your prayers.

Join us in praying for our nation, that God will heal our land.
Click here to learn more about Billy Graham's Evangelistic Association

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Did Jesus Perform Miracles?

Today's reading: Mark 6:1-6

Most New Testament critics today admit Jesus performed what we would call miracles. Granted, they may not all believe these were genuine miracles, but the idea of Jesus of Nazareth as a miracle worker and exorcist is part of the historical Jesus that's generally accepted by critics today.

Rudolf Bultmann, who is recognized as one of the most skeptical New Testament critics of the last century, wrote:

The Christian fellowship was convinced that Jesus had done miracles and they told many stories of miracles about him. Most of these stories contained in the Gospels are legendary or are at least dressed up with legend. But, there can be no doubt that Jesus did such deeds, which were, in his and his contemporaries' understanding, miracles; that is to say, events that were the result of supernatural divine causality. Doubtless he healed the sick and cast out demons.

Even Bultmann says miracles and exorcisms belong to the historical Jesus. In Bultmann's day these stories were considered legendary because of the supposed influence of Greco-Roman mythology on the Gospels, but scholars today realize this influence was virtually nil. They now believe the role of Jesus as a miracle worker must be understood against the backdrop of first-century Palestinian Judaism, where it fits right in.

The only reason to be skeptical that these were genuine miracles would be philosophical-do you believe that such events can occur or not?


Adapted from interview with Dr. William Lane Craig.

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First Serve

This week's reading: Mark 10:35-45

Recommended Reading: Joshua 24:14-27; Matthew 6:19-24; Ephesians 6:5-9

When was the last time you volunteered to do something in service to another person? If you're a father, you've probably done something selfless already to serve your child or children today. If you're a husband, chances are you can remember the last time you served your wife without her asking. But if you're a single guy in your first job, scraping together a living and trying to make ends meet, it's possible that it's been a while. Most of us know we should serve others, but we don't really know how. Talking about serving is a lot easier than actually doing it.

Jesus served throughout his ministry. When he served others, the act often involved self-sacrifice. Ultimately, he sacrificed his life for our sins. When we serve others, especially those who have no way of repaying us, we imitate Jesus. We represent Christ to those we serve. Kenneth Leech writes, "Christian spirituality is the spirituality of the Poor Man of Nazareth who took upon himself the form of a servant. To follow the way of the kingdom is therefore to follow him who fed the hungry, healed the sick, befriended the outcast, and blessed the peacemakers."

Even with Jesus living and serving right in front of them, the disciples didn't seem to get it. They wondered how they could be great. But Jesus answered, "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all" (Mark 10:43-44).

That's the paradox of serving. When we give ourselves away in service, we find ourselves. When we empty ourselves in service, we find fulfillment.

A lot of people search for identity and self-fulfillment. Most look for it in repeated highs of promotions, exotic vacations or an endless parade of worldly possessions. But real fulfillment comes from serving God by serving others. When we give ourselves away in service to others, we find meaning and joy in life that selfishness can never equal.

To Take Away

  • What opportunities do you have to serve others-even people who can't ever repay you?
  • What small and practical acts of service can you do at work or in your neighborhood to serve others?
  • What steps can you take to cultivate a selfless and humble heart of service?

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We're only six weeks into the new year, but it's been a busy 2012 here at Bible Gateway! There are several big pieces of news to share this week, so let's get right to it!

Reformation Study Bible Now Available

With thousands of study notes drawn from the work of more than 50 distinguished Bible scholars, the Reformation Study Bible is an invaluable tool for Bible reading and study. And it'snow available on Bible Gateway!

We've added the Reformation Study Bible to our library of Bible reference works, accessible right alongside your Scripture reading. Stop by and see why this Bible's study notes and insights, edited by respected theologian and pastor R.C. Sproul, is a favorite of Bible readers and students around the world. Here's how to access the Reformation Study Bible on Bible Gateway.

Two New Bible Translations: Czech Bible21 and Hawai'i Pidgin

The latest two additions to our library of Bible translations are the Czech Bible21 and Hawai'i Pidgin Bible.

The Czech Bible21 is a recent translation that has quickly become popular in the Czech Christian church. The unique Hawai'i Pidgin Bible speaks to hundreds of thousands of people in Hawai'i and elsewhere in the language they know best. Stop by our blog to learn more about these two Bible translations--they're both available through the Bible version drop-down menu on the Bible Gateway homepage.

Mobile App Coming Soon!

The long-awaited Bible Gateway mobile app is coming soon, with an iPad/Pod/Phone app planned for a spring release and an Android version to follow thereafter. Stop by the Bible Gateway App page to see what we've got planned for the mobile app!

That's all the news for now. Have a blessed week!

Sincerely,
the Bible Gateway team

P.S. The season of Lent is coming soon! Will you be observing Lent this year? Watch Bible Gateway in the coming weeks for Lent reading plans and other tools to help you focus on Jesus during the journey to Easter.

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