Friday, February 17, 2012

Daily Devotional Friday 17th February

"For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.” 1 John 3:11NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content."
Philippians 4:11

These words show us that contentment is not a natural propensity of man. "Ill weeds grow apace." Covetousness, discontent, and murmuring are as natural to man as thorns are to the soil. We need not sow thistles and brambles; they come up naturally enough, because they are indigenous to earth: and so, we need not teach men to complain; they complain fast enough without any education. But the precious things of the earth must be cultivated. If we would have wheat, we must plough and sow; if we want flowers, there must be the garden, and all the gardener's care. Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated; it will not grow in us by nature; it is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then we must be specially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has sown in us. Paul says, "I have learned ... to be content;" as much as to say, he did not know how at one time. It cost him some pains to attain to the mystery of that great truth. No doubt he sometimes thought he had learned, and then broke down. And when at last he had attained unto it, and could say, "I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content," he was an old, grey-headed man, upon the borders of the grave--a poor prisoner shut up in Nero's dungeon at Rome. We might well be willing to endure Paul's infirmities, and share the cold dungeon with him, if we too might by any means attain unto his good degree. Do not indulge the notion that you can be contented without learning, or learn without discipline. It is not a power that may be exercised naturally, but a science to be acquired gradually. We know this from experience. Brother, hush that murmur, natural though it be, and continue a diligent pupil in the College of Content.

Evening

"Thy good Spirit."
Nehemiah 9:20

Common, too common is the sin of forgetting the Holy Spirit. This is folly and ingratitude. He deserves well at our hands, for he is good, supremely good. As God, he is good essentially. He shares in the threefold ascription of Holy, holy, holy, which ascends to the Triune Jehovah. Unmixed purity and truth, and grace is he. He is good benevolently, tenderly bearing with our waywardness, striving with our rebellious wills; quickening us from our death in sin, and then training us for the skies as a loving nurse fosters her child. How generous, forgiving, and tender is this patient Spirit of God. He is good operatively. All his works are good in the most eminent degree: he suggests good thoughts, prompts good actions, reveals good truths, applies good promises, assists in good attainments, and leads to good results. There is no spiritual good in all the world of which he is not the author and sustainer, and heaven itself will owe the perfect character of its redeemed inhabitants to his work. He is good officially; whether as Comforter, Instructor, Guide, Sanctifier, Quickener, or Intercessor, he fulfils his office well, and each work is fraught with the highest good to the church of God. They who yield to his influences become good, they who obey his impulses do good, they who live under his power receive good. Let us then act towards so good a person according to the dictates of gratitude. Let us revere his person, and adore him as God over all, blessed forever; let us own his power, and our need of him by waiting upon him in all our holy enterprises; let us hourly seek his aid, and never grieve him; and let us speak to his praise whenever occasion occurs. The church will never prosper until more reverently it believes in the Holy Ghost. He is so good and kind, that it is sad indeed that he should be grieved by slights and negligences.

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Today's reading: Leviticus 19-20, Matthew 27:51-66 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Various Laws

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.

3 “‘Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the LORD your God.

4 “‘Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the LORD your God.

5 “‘When you sacrifice a fellowship offering to the LORD, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf.6 It shall be eaten on the day you sacrifice it or on the next day; anything left over until the third day must be burned up. 7If any of it is eaten on the third day, it is impure and will not be accepted. 8 Whoever eats it will be held responsible because they have desecrated what is holy to the LORD; they must be cut off from their people.

9 “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest.10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.

11 “‘Do not steal.

“‘Do not lie.

“‘Do not deceive one another.

12 “‘Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.

13 “‘Do not defraud or rob your neighbor.

“‘Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight.

14 “‘Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the LORD.

15 “‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.

16 “‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.

“‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the LORD.

17 “‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.

18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

19 “‘Keep my decrees.

“‘Do not mate different kinds of animals.

“‘Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.

“‘Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.

20 “‘If a man sleeps with a female slave who is promised to another man but who has not been ransomed or given her freedom, there must be due punishment. Yet they are not to be put to death, because she had not been freed. 21 The man, however, must bring a ram to the entrance to the tent of meeting for a guilt offering to the LORD. 22 With the ram of the guilt offering the priest is to make atonement for him before the LORD for the sin he has committed, and his sin will be forgiven.

23 “‘When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, regard its fruit as forbidden. For three years you are to consider it forbidden; it must not be eaten. 24 In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD. 25 But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit. In this way your harvest will be increased. I am the LORD your God.

26 “‘Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it.

“‘Do not practice divination or seek omens.

27 “‘Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.

28 “‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.

29 “‘Do not degrade your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the land will turn to prostitution and be filled with wickedness.

30 “‘Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the LORD.

31 “‘Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.

32 “‘Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.

33 “‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

35 “‘Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. 36 Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt.

37 “‘Keep all my decrees and all my laws and follow them. I am the LORD.’”

Leviticus 20

Punishments for Sin

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing in Israel who sacrifices any of his children to Molek is to be put to death. The members of the community are to stone him. 3 I myself will set my face against him and will cut him off from his people; for by sacrificing his children to Molek, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. 4 If the members of the community close their eyes when that man sacrifices one of his children to Molek and if they fail to put him to death, 5 I myself will set my face against him and his family and will cut them off from their people together with all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molek.

6 “‘I will set my face against anyone who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute themselves by following them, and I will cut them off from their people.

7 “‘Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the LORD your God. 8 Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the LORD, who makes you holy.

9 “‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head.

10 “‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.

11 “‘If a man has sexual relations with his father’s wife, he has dishonored his father. Both the man and the woman are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

12 “‘If a man has sexual relations with his daughter-in-law, both of them are to be put to death. What they have done is a perversion; their blood will be on their own heads.

13 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

14 “‘If a man marries both a woman and her mother, it is wicked. Both he and they must be burned in the fire, so that no wickedness will be among you.

15 “‘If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he is to be put to death, and you must kill the animal.

16 “‘If a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

17 “‘If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or his mother, and they have sexual relations, it is a disgrace. They are to be publicly removed from their people. He has dishonored his sister and will be held responsible.

18 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a woman during her monthly period, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them are to be cut off from their people.

19 “‘Do not have sexual relations with the sister of either your mother or your father, for that would dishonor a close relative; both of you would be held responsible.

20 “‘If a man has sexual relations with his aunt, he has dishonored his uncle. They will be held responsible; they will die childless.

21 “‘If a man marries his brother’s wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother. They will be childless.

22 “‘Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out.23 You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them. 24 But I said to you, “You will possess their land; I will give it to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am the LORD your God, who has set you apart from the nations.

25 “‘You must therefore make a distinction between clean and unclean animals and between unclean and clean birds. Do not defile yourselves by any animal or bird or anything that moves along the ground—those that I have set apart as unclean for you. 26 You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.

27 “‘A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.’”


Matthew 27

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

The Burial of Jesus

57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

The Guard at the Tomb

62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

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Purity and Peacemaking

Matthew 5:8-9

By the Holy Spirit, we are "sons of God" and partake of His nature (2 Peter 1:3-4 ). Since our Father loves peace so much that He sent His Son to reconcile Himself to His people, we have not partaken of His nature and cannot claim to be Christians if we are not peacemakers. We must be willing to put ourselves and our desires in second place to make peace as long as we do not compromise essential biblical truth. Make peace today where you have caused strife.

For further study:

Jeremiah 4:4

The Bible in a year:

Numbers 6-7

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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Quartus [Quär'tus]—the fourth.

This name is associated with a quarternion of soldiers, that is, a file of four, the usual number for a night watch. Peter was placed under the guard of four quarternions of soldiers, or sixteen soldiers, in order that each might guard him three hours at a time (Acts 12:4).

It may be fitting at this point to discover the significance of the many friends Paul speaks of. Romans and Colossians are unique for their number of personal salutations. Paul himself was such a friendly person that friends gathered around him as moths do around a lighted lamp. In the majority of cases all we have is the mention of a name. Now and again Paul adds a brief, endearing term. But the fact that he mentions many by name, as in the case of Quartus, proves that he must have had some contact with them. Either he had met them on his journeys and they were blessed by his ministry, or they had ministered unto the apostle of their substance. By including their names in his letters, he gave them an imperishable memory.

There were multitudes of others who had labored with Paul in the Gospel, too numerous perhaps to be called by name. The apostle rejoiced, however, that their names, although not mentioned in his lists, were written in the Book of Life, and fully known of the Lord (Phil. 4:3). John also besought Demetrius to greet all his friends by name (3 John 14).

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February 16, 2012

And I love Me!

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-38, NIV).

Friend to Friend

I love being a grandmother. I absolutely adore our three grandchildren and work hard at finding any and every excuse to spend time with them. The games I played with their parents, I now play with them. I read many of the same stories that I read to their parents and have come up with new renditions of old songs I once sang as a young mother. I am convinced that my grandchildren keep me young. I am also convinced that they are some of my greatest and most profound teachers. Maybe that is because they are so "fresh" from Heaven and the presence of God. Whatever the reason, when I spend time with them, I always come away with new truth.

I recently visited our son and daughter-in-law in Charlotte, North Carolina because two of our three grandchildren live with them. They are twins. As you can imagine, life is anything but dull as Jered and Jodi try to keep up with three-year-old Lelia and Jaydan. It seems like the twins do or say something new every day and I can now testify to the fact that are learning to talk … a lot! They are also learning how to pray.

As we sat down at the dinner table one night, I watched Lelia and Jaydan bow their heads and begin to sing the blessing. It was one of those life moments I will never forget. But there was more. When the song was finished, Jered prayed, "Thank You, God, for our food and our home. Thank You for Mommy, Daddy, Lelia, Jaydan and for Mimi." I waited for the usual "amen" but instead, heard two sweet voices offer their own thanks. Lelia ended their prayer time by pointing to each person seated at the table and declaring, "I love Mommy and Daddy. I love JayJay. I love Mimi." Then came the "amen" from daddy. However, Lelia was not done. With sparkling eyes and a smile that would melt any heart, she pointed to herself and said, "And I love me!"

And there you have the three-year-old translation of the two most important commandments Jesus ever gave. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself" Matthew 22:37-38 (NIV).

Jesus is responding to a question he was asked by an interpreter of the law. I suspect the motive behind the question was far from pure, but Jesus responded with pure truth when He said that the love of God is the "first and greatest commandment." In other words, our love of God must not only be not sincere but radical. If we love God, we sell out to Him and will naturally serve Him by loving and serving others. Too often, we stop right there and never get to the second most important commandment. Jesus said we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Yes, there is a self-love that is corrupt, and the root of the greatest sins we can possibly commit. That kind of self-love must die. However, Jesus teaches that we are to love ourselves enough to take care of and be concerned with the welfare of our own bodies and souls. Our body houses the Holy Spirit. Our soul is eternal. We are responsible for the care of both. And we must love our neighbor as truly and sincerely as we love ourselves. That kind of love often asks us to deny ourselves for the good of others because people could care less how much we know, until they know how much we care. Our choice to obey these two commandments will mold our heart and life into something beautiful that honors and pleases God.

The psalmist writes, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well" (Psalm 139:13-14). You can judge the value and the worth of a product by looking at the one who made it. You are no accident. You were created by God – for God – and even if you were never wanted or planned by human heart and mind, you were planned and wanted by God. So, love your neighbor and while you are at it, love yourself.

Let's Pray

Father, I celebrate the fact that You created me. You planned my life and chose me to be Your daughter because You love me. Help me to love others, God, and then help me to see and love myself through Your eyes.

In Jesus' name,
Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Read the following verses of Scripture and answer the questions listed below.

Ephesians 2:10 "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

  • How does this verse of Scripture emphasize the fact that you and I were created in response to God's plan, not as an afterthought or as an accident?

Psalm 8:3-5 "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor."

  • How do these verses line up with the way you see yourself right now? What one immediate change do you need to make in order to see yourself the way God sees you?

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

  • Are you living a life plan that gives you hope and a future? Is it the right plan?

Read and memorize Isaiah 43:4 and make it one of your life verses. "You are precious and honored in my sight, and I love you."

More from the Girlfriends

Learning to see ourselves through the eyes of God – no more and no less – is fundamental to a life of power and victory. The enemy would love for us to think that we are worthless and of little or no value to God. Do not buy his lies! You are loved and wanted by God, friend. Now live like it!

Need help? Check out these resources that will help you discover your worth and value to God:

Getting Good at Being You (CD)

How to Get Past Your Past (CD)

In His Eyes (MP3)

Join women from across the world in Mary's Online Bible Study, Light for the Journey. When I Am Afraid is the current series and will help you discover how to face and deal with the fear in your life.

Need a friend? Connect with me on Facebook or through email. I love hearing what God is doing in your life! Tell me how praising God has made a difference in your life. Let's talk about it, girlfriend!

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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Obtaining promises

‘Who through faith…obtained promises.’ Hebrews 11:33

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 7:7–11

There are three ways of ‘obtaining the promise.’ Many of them only need the outstretched hand to grasp them; you may go with believing faith at once and take the promise—‘Ask and ye shall receive.’ There are many of the promises so readily attainable, that if you are in Christ you may see them fulfilled by simply believing them. Believe them to be true, and you shall have what they promise you. Some of God’s promises are like cheques; you present them at the counter and the cash is given; you have but to take the promise stamped by God’s own hand, signed and sealed, believe it to be God’s, and you shall have the mercy now. This is true of a very large number of the promises. Of some others I must give a second direction. You must not simply believe them, but exercise importunate prayer about them. ‘Knock and it shall be opened.’ These promises are not to be had for the mere believing. Of some kind of devils it was said, ‘This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.’ Of some sort of promises it may be said, ‘This kind is not fulfilled but by prayer and importunity.’ You must knock, and if the gate does not open you must knock again, and continue so to do until God shall give the favour. You are certain to have the blessing if you know how to wrestle with the angel, and declare that you will not let him go unless he shall bestow it upon you. A third kind of these promises is not even to be fulfilled by prayer or by faith alone; you must obtain them by earnest seeking after them. ‘Seek and ye shall find.’ Where God has appended to the promise a something that is to be done, diligently do it, and you shall obtain the blessing.

For meditation: God’s promises to us in Christ are all ‘Yes’ (2 Corinthians 1:20); he is not reluctant to fulfil the promises he has made. However, his promises are also both ‘great and precious’ (2 Peter 1:4 ); they are not handed to everybody on a plate, but reserved for those who value them enough to approach God for them. We are to blame if we fail to ask or ask wrongly (James 1:5–8; 4:2–3).

Sermon no. 435
16 February (1862)

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Lysa TerKeurst

February 16, 2012

The Courageous Choice
Lysa TerKeurst

"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death." Philippians 1:20 (NIV)

I had the most interesting conversation with a friend who lives in Hollywood. Although her family lives in the midst of glitz, glamour and extreme excess, she said they are determined to teach their kids something rare... the courageous choice.

You see, there are two kinds of courage. There's the courageous act that makes our heart beat fast when the knight fights the dragon or the firefighter rushes into the burning building. These are extreme events most of us won't ever face. And because most of us aren't put in positions to participate in a courageous act, we don't necessarily think of ourselves as courageous.

But there's a second kind of courage that, dare I might say, is widely available but not widely embraced. It's thecourageous choice. This is the decision to do the right thing even when it's unpopular, uncelebrated and probably even unnoticed.

Have you been faced with one of these kinds lately? Probably one of my toughest courageous choices has been in the area of my food choices. It was my hidden struggle. The one I didn't want to deal with or talk about. Not with my friends and certainly not with God.

But then I started coming across verse after verse in the Bible that spoke directly to my issue. Though I didn't want to talk to God about it, God certainly seemed to want to speak to me. Verses like Philippians 1:20 as well as many more:

Deuteronomy 2:3, "You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north..." (NASB)

Psalm 73:26, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (NIV)

2 Corinthians 7:1, "Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." (NIV 1984)

God assured me He loved me exactly how I was, but He loved me too much to leave me in a state of defeat.

I made a courageous choice to read the Bible looking for God to speak to me about my struggle. I made the courageous choice to walk willingly on the path of discipline. I made the courageous choice to pick something healthy even in the quietness of my pantry when no one else was looking.

I made the courageous choice to put a stake in the ground and say, I'm more than the sum total of my screaming taste buds. My heart doesn't want that junk food. My arms don't want that junk food. My legs don't want that junk food. And my soul certainly doesn't want that junk food.

It is possible to layer one courageous choice upon another and find victory in your area of struggle. No matter what your struggle is, are you willing to make one courageous choice today?

Make that choice.

And then make it again.

And then make it again.

You are a courageous woman. Now, go out and prove it to yourself.

Dear Lord, I acknowledge that I need Your divine help with each choice I make every day. I don't ever want to step outside Your will and direction for my life. I am courageous only with You, in You and through You. Please help me embrace Your courageous choices for me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
If this devotion resonated with you, Lysa's book Made to Crave is just what you need. Click here to order your copy! And if you already have the Made to Crave book, check out the just released 60 day Made to Crave Devotional.

This book can be a group Bible Study by using these life-changing resources: Made to Crave Participant's Guideand Made to Crave DVD teaching series, also by Lysa.

Join us next Monday, February 20th, on Lysa's next FREE Webcast "How Big is Your BUT?" We all face obstacles too big to overcome yet some find victory while others live in defeat. Could the difference be our buts? Learn how to turn your "but I..."excuses into "but God..." exclamations with every obstacle you face! If you've ever struggled to overcome an area of defeat in your life, this 30 minute Biblical teaching will give you an amazing fresh start. Sign up here today!

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

Reflect and Respond:
"It is possible to consume only that which will add to your health and not take away from it. It is possible." Do I believe this choice is possible for me right now?

Remember, it's coming to the realization that changes need to be made and making those changes when no one else is looking is courageous. How can I begin to make these deliberate steps of change and courageous choices?

Power Verses:
2 Chronicles 19:11b, "Act with courage, and may the LORD be with those who do well." (NIV)

Deuteronomy 31:6a, "Be strong and courageous..." (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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The resurrection of the dead

“There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” Acts 24:15

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:35-44

There are some faint glimmerings in men of reason which teach that the soul is something so wonderful that it must endure for ever. But the resurrection of the dead is quite another doctrine, dealing not with the soul, but with the body. The doctrine is that this actual body in which I now exist is to live with my soul; that not only is the “vital spark of heavenly flame” to burn in heaven, but the very censer in which the incense of my life smokes is holy unto the Lord, and is to be preserved for ever. The spirit, every one confesses, is eternal; but how many there are who deny that the bodies of men will actually start up from their graves at the great day! Many of you believe you will have a body in heaven, but you think it will be an airy fantastic body, instead of believing that it will be a body like to this—flesh and blood (although not the same kind of flesh, for all flesh is not the same flesh), a solid, substantial body, even such as we have here. And there are yet fewer of you who believe that the wicked will have bodies in hell; for it is gaining ground everywhere that there are to be no positive torments for the damned in hell to affect their bodies, but that it is to be metaphorical fire, metaphorical brimstone, metaphorical chains, metaphorical torture. But if you were Christians as you profess to be, you would believe that every mortal man who ever existed shall not only live by the immortality of his soul, but his body shall live again, that the very flesh in which he now walks the earth is as eternal as the soul, and shall exist for ever. That is the peculiar doctrine of Christianity. The heathens never guessed or imagined such a thing.

For meditation: Spurgeon went on to quote Job 19:25,26;Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2; Hosea 6:1,2; Hebrews 11:19, 35 . Does your hope match up to the hope of the Old Testament saints and the experience of Enoch and Elijah who rose bodily into heaven without suffering death?

Sermon nos. 66-67
16 February (Preached 17 February 1856)

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Purity and Peacemaking

Matthew 5:8-9 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (vv. 8-9 ).

Dr. Sinclair Ferguson's book The Sermon on the Mount reminds us that Christians are not free to embody only some of the traits in the Beatitudes (pp. 35-36). As believers, we must possess all the qualities of Matthew 5:2-12, at least in some measure, lest our claim to have faith be proven false.

The text chosen for today's study tells us the "pure in heart" receive God's blessing and will one day see Him (v. 8 ). Jesus' instruction in this verse is not new information for those well-versed in the Old Testament. It is based on Psalm 24, which says that only those with "clean hands and a pure heart" can stand in the Lord's presence (vv. 3-4). According to Augustine, seeing God face-to-face when He renews all things (the beatific vision, 1 Cor. 13:12 ) is "the end and purpose of all our loving activity" (Fathers of the Church: A New Translation, 11:214). This privilege is only for those who have hearts characterized by purity.

Those pure in heart, Psalm 24 tells us, are wholly devoted to our Father in heaven. They do not lift up their souls (in worship) to falsehoods (v. 4). As a result, their actions and motives line up so that a pure intent lies behind what appear to be their good deeds. In his commentary on Matthew 5:8, John Calvin says to be pure in heart is to "take no delight in cunning, but converse sincerely with men, and express nothing, by word or look, which is not felt in the heart."

Jesus also pronounces God's blessing upon "the peacemakers" (v. 9 ), and this saying cannot be separated from the peace Christ brought through the cross and thus be used to support pacifism. Peacemaking is tied intimately to the work of Christ, which is "to bring together things divided and to reconcile the alienated" (Chrysostom, Sermon on the Mount, 1.2.9). First and foremost, the Son of God came to reconcile sinners to God (Rom. 5:1), and He uses His church to extend this reconciliation. We are peacemakers whenever we share the Gospel in word and deed ( Isa. 52:7). Yet our Lord, by destroying the power of sin, also effects peace between people in the church. We are called to be "eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3). In both the church and the world, contention and strife are not to follow in our wake.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

By the Holy Spirit, we are "sons of God" and partake of His nature ( 2 Peter 1:3-4). Since our Father loves peace so much that He sent His Son to reconcile Himself to His people, we have not partaken of His nature and cannot claim to be Christians if we are not peacemakers. We must be willing to put ourselves and our desires in second place to make peace as long as we do not compromise essential biblical truth. Make peace today where you have caused strife.

For further study:

Jeremiah 4:4

The Bible in a year:

Numbers 6-7

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

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Due to a technical error, this morning's devotional was a duplicate of last week's. A corrected version is below. We apologize for the mistake.

Zacchaeus: The Rich, Short Ruler

This week's reading: Luke 19:1-10

He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. (Luke 19:3)

Everyone in town knew him, but nobody liked him. He threw the worst parties and was always the first one drunk on his horribly cheap wine. It's not as though he couldn't afford anything better. Zacchaeus sat atop the whole dirty, tax-collecting heap, and from their years of overpaying collectors, the savvy residents of Jericho knew their money could buy better wine.

So when rumor started that a well-known teacher from the backwater of Galilee who had a penchant for waxing eloquent about money matters was making his way to Jericho, you can bet the person everyone least expected to see in the welcoming party was Zacchaeus. To everyone's surprise the little man, dressed to the nines, showed up anyway. This teacher was, after all, growing extremely popular, and maybe it would do the collection agency's reputation some good to see its chief officer rubbing shoulders with a hero of the working class. But when the day arrived, if Zacchaeus had come to be seen, the irony was only too apparent when it was he who had trouble seeing.

The crowds had started at the city gate where Jericho's main drag began its meandering path through the city. Despite his compromised stature, Zacchaeus had always loved a crowd-crowds meant influence and power, not to mention a concentration of taxable pocketbooks. This small-town teacher's people skills and crowd-gathering ability could come in handy for an unpopular political figure. If only Zacchaeus could see how this teacher did it.

Zacchaeus knew the parade route well, as he'd been a key figure in many of Jericho's past spectacles. Picking up the fine linen hem of his garment, the short-legged tax collector hightailed it to a certain bend where the road took a dogleg left to get around a large sycamore tree near the center of town. He hadn't climbed a tree since all his friends were still his height, and if all of Jericho hadn't been down the road heralding the teacher, the crowd would have relished watching Zacchaeus fumble his way up the branches.

The only thing sillier than watching Zacchaeus climb up the tree was to see him come barreling out of it when the teacher called him by name: "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today" (Luke 19:5). The crowd must have groaned, knowing the dismal reputation of the tax collector's social insensitivity. However, over the huffs, Zacchaeus's voice rose up, "Here and now I'm a different person." Whether or not he realized at that moment that the crowd was standing there has been a topic of conjecture ever since.

Back to the Future

  • Why do you think Zacchaeus wanted so badly to see Jesus?
  • What measures are you willing to take to gain a clearer "sight" of Jesus?
  • Jesus invites himself into your heart: "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me" (Revelation 3:20). What can you do to show Jesus that you want him to "come in and eat with you"?

The Story Continues ...

Get the whole story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10.

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Did Muhammad Perform Miracles Like Jesus Did?

Today's reading: Exodus 4:1-17

Biblical prophets performed miracles to establish their credentials. For example, Moses said to God in Exodus 4:1, "What if [the Israelites] do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The LORD did not appear to you'?" How did God respond? He told Moses to throw his staff to the ground; instantly, it turned into a snake. He told Moses to pick it up by its tail; it turned back into a staff. Then God said in Exodus 4:5, "This ... is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob-has appeared to you."

A similar thing happened to Elijah on Mount Carmel: He was challenged, and God sent down fire from heaven to confirm he was a true prophet (see 1 Kings 18:16-39). As for Jesus, he actually came out and said, "Do not believe me unless I do [miracles] of my Father" (John 10:37). And then he did them. Even Nicodemus conceded this when he said to Jesus, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him" (John 3:2).

This kind of confirmation never happened on Muhammad's behalf. In fact, Muhammad, the founder of Islam, actually believed Jesus was a prophet who performed miracles, including raising the dead. Muslims also believe Moses and Elijah performed miracles. However, in the Koran when unbelievers challenged Muhammad to perform a miracle, he refused. He merely said they should read a chapter in the Koran. (See Sura 2:118; 3:181-84; 4:153; 6:8,9,37 in the Koran.) And yet Muhammad himself said, "God hath certainly power to send down a sign" (Sura 6:37). He even said, "They [will] say: 'Why is not a sign sent down to him from his Lord?'" (Sura 6:37). Unlike Jesus, miracles were not a sign of Muhammad's ministry. It wasn't until 150 or 200 years after Muhammad's death that his followers invented miracles and ascribed them to him.


Adapted from interview with Dr. Norman Geisler.

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