Friday, February 24, 2012

Daily Devotional Friday 24th February

“Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.” Proverbs 14:22 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"I will never leave thee."
Hebrews 13:5

No promise is of private interpretation. Whatever God has said to any one saint, he has said to all. When he opens a well for one, it is that all may drink. When he openeth a granary-door to give out food, there may be some one starving man who is the occasion of its being opened, but all hungry saints may come and feed too. Whether he gave the word to Abraham or to Moses, matters not, O believer; he has given it to thee as one of the covenanted seed. There is not a high blessing too lofty for thee, nor a wide mercy too extensive for thee. Lift up now thine eyes to the north and to the south, to the east and to the west, for all this is thine. Climb to Pisgah's top, and view the utmost limit of the divine promise, for the land is all thine own. There is not a brook of living water of which thou mayst not drink. If the land floweth with milk and honey, eat the honey and drink the milk, for both are thine. Be thou bold to believe, for he hath said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."In this promise, God gives to his people everything. "I will never leave thee." Then no attribute of God can cease to be engaged for us. Is he mighty? He will show himself strong on the behalf of them that trust him. Is he love? Then with lovingkindness will he have mercy upon us. Whatever attributes may compose the character of Deity, every one of them to its fullest extent shall be engaged on our side. To put everything in one, there is nothing you can want, there is nothing you can ask for, there is nothing you can need in time or in eternity, there is nothing living, nothing dying, there is nothing in this world, nothing in the next world, there is nothing now, nothing at the resurrection-morning, nothing in heaven which is not contained in this text--"I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

Evening

"Take up the cross, and follow me."
Mark 10:21

You have not the making of your own cross, although unbelief is a master carpenter at cross-making; neither are you permitted to choose your own cross, although self-will would fain be lord and master; but your cross is prepared and appointed for you by divine love, and you are cheerfully to accept it; you are to take up the cross as your chosen badge and burden, and not to stand cavilling at it. This night Jesus bids you submit your shoulder to his easy yoke. Do not kick at it in petulance, or trample on it in vain-glory, or fall under it in despair, or run away from it in fear, but take it up like a true follower of Jesus. Jesus was a cross-bearer; he leads the way in the path of sorrow. Surely you could not desire a better guide! And if he carried a cross, what nobler burden would you desire? The Via Crucis is the way of safety; fear not to tread its thorny paths.

Beloved, the cross is not made of feathers, or lined with velvet, it is heavy and galling to disobedient shoulders; but it is not an iron cross, though your fears have painted it with iron colours, it is a wooden cross, and a man can carry it, for the Man of sorrows tried the load. Take up your cross, and by the power of the Spirit of God you will soon be so in love with it, that like Moses, you would not exchange the reproach of Christ for all the treasures of Egypt. Remember that Jesus carried it, and it will smell sweetly; remember that it will soon be followed by the crown, and the thought of the coming weight of glory will greatly lighten the present heaviness of trouble. The Lord help you to bow your spirit in submission to the divine will ere you fall asleep this night, that waking with to-morrow's sun, you may go forth to the day's cross with the holy and submissive spirit which becomes a follower of the Crucified.

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Today's reading: Numbers 5-6, Mark 4:1-20 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
The Purity of the Camp

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Command the Israelites to send away from the camp anyone who has a defiling skin disease or a discharge of any kind, or who is ceremonially unclean because of a dead body. 3 Send away male and female alike; send them outside the camp so they will not defile their camp, where I dwell among them.” 4 The Israelites did so; they sent them outside the camp. They did just as the LORD had instructed Moses.

Restitution for Wrongs

5 The LORD said to Moses, 6 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any man or woman who wrongs another in any way and so is unfaithful to the LORD is guilty 7 and must confess the sin they have committed. They must make full restitution for the wrong they have done, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the person they have wronged. 8 But if that person has no close relative to whom restitution can be made for the wrong, the restitution belongs to the LORD and must be given to the priest, along with the ram with which atonement is made for the wrongdoer. 9 All the sacred contributions the Israelites bring to a priest will belong to him. 10 Sacred things belong to their owners, but what they give to the priest will belong to the priest.’”

The Test for an Unfaithful Wife

11 Then the LORD said to Moses, 12 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him 13 so that another man has sexual relations with her, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), 14 and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure— 15 then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah of barley flour on her behalf. He must not pour olive oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a reminder-offering to draw attention to wrongdoing.

16 “‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the LORD. 17 Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. 18 After the priest has had the woman stand before the LORD, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. 19 Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. 20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”— 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the LORD cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”

“‘Then the woman is to say, “Amen. So be it.”

23 “‘The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash them off into the bitter water. 24 He shall make the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering will enter her. 25The priest is to take from her hands the grain offering for jealousy, wave it before the LORD and bring it to the altar. 26The priest is then to take a handful of the grain offering as a memorial offering and burn it on the altar; after that, he is to have the woman drink the water. 27 If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse.28 If, however, the woman has not made herself impure, but is clean, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children.

29 “‘This, then, is the law of jealousy when a woman goes astray and makes herself impure while married to her husband,30 or when feelings of jealousy come over a man because he suspects his wife. The priest is to have her stand before the LORD and is to apply this entire law to her. 31 The husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing, but the woman will bear the consequences of her sin.’”

Numbers 6

The Nazirite

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of dedication to the LORD as a Nazirite, 3 they must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or other fermented drink. They must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins. 4 As long as they remain under their Nazirite vow, they must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins.

5 “‘During the entire period of their Nazirite vow, no razor may be used on their head. They must be holy until the period of their dedication to the LORD is over; they must let their hair grow long.

6 “‘Throughout the period of their dedication to the LORD, the Nazirite must not go near a dead body. 7 Even if their own father or mother or brother or sister dies, they must not make themselves ceremonially unclean on account of them, because the symbol of their dedication to God is on their head. 8Throughout the period of their dedication, they are consecrated to the LORD.

9 “‘If someone dies suddenly in the Nazirite’s presence, thus defiling the hair that symbolizes their dedication, they must shave their head on the seventh day—the day of their cleansing. 10 Then on the eighth day they must bring two doves or two young pigeons to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 11 The priest is to offer one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering to make atonement for the Nazirite because they sinned by being in the presence of the dead body. That same day they are to consecrate their head again.12 They must rededicate themselves to the LORD for the same period of dedication and must bring a year-old male lamb as a guilt offering. The previous days do not count, because they became defiled during their period of dedication.

13 “‘Now this is the law of the Nazirite when the period of their dedication is over. They are to be brought to the entrance to the tent of meeting. 14 There they are to present their offerings to the LORD: a year-old male lamb without defect for a burnt offering, a year-old ewe lamb without defect for a sin offering, a ram without defect for a fellowship offering, 15 together with their grain offerings and drink offerings, and a basket of bread made with the finest flour and without yeast—thick loaves with olive oil mixed in, and thin loaves brushed with olive oil.

16 “‘The priest is to present all these before the LORD and make the sin offering and the burnt offering. 17 He is to present the basket of unleavened bread and is to sacrifice the ram as a fellowship offering to the LORD, together with its grain offering and drink offering.

18 “‘Then at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the Nazirite must shave off the hair that symbolizes their dedication. They are to take the hair and put it in the fire that is under the sacrifice of the fellowship offering.

19 “‘After the Nazirite has shaved off the hair that symbolizes their dedication, the priest is to place in their hands a boiled shoulder of the ram, and one thick loaf and one thin loaf from the basket, both made without yeast. 20 The priest shall then wave these before the LORD as a wave offering; they are holy and belong to the priest, together with the breast that was waved and the thigh that was presented. After that, the Nazirite may drink wine.

21 “‘This is the law of the Nazirite who vows offerings to the LORD in accordance with their dedication, in addition to whatever else they can afford. They must fulfill the vows they have made, according to the law of the Nazirite.’”

The Priestly Blessing

22 The LORD said to Moses, 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:

24 “‘“The LORD bless you
and keep you;
25 the LORD make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’

27 “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”


Mark 4

The Parable of the Sower

1 Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. 2 He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: 3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”

9 Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that,

“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’”

13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

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Shimri, Simri [Shĭm'rī,Sĭm'rī]—jehovah is watching.

  1. A Simeonite and head of a tribal family (1 Chron. 4:37).
  2. Father of Jediael, one of David’s heroes (1 Chron. 11:45).
  3. A son of Hosah and Tabernacle gatekeeper (1 Chron. 26:10).
  4. A son of Elizaphan who assisted in Hezekiah’s reformation (2 Chron. 29:13).
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Adultery of the Heart

Matthew 5:27-30 "I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (v. 28).

Note that the antitheses found in the Sermon on the Mount do not say that all sins are equal in degree. For example, ungodly anger and the act of murder both violate the intent of Exodus 20:13 (Matt. 5:21-22), but the hot-head and the murderer do not get the same punishment (Num. 35:9-29 ). Both sins make men guilty before our Creator and bring eternal death if there is no repentance (Rom. 3:23). Nevertheless, God punishes sinners in hell in proportion to the gravity of their sin and what has been revealed to them (Matt. 11:20-24).

Furthermore, Christ's teaching on anger also shows us that we must not only refrain from forbidden acts, we must do all we can to encourage their opposite. It is not enough to keep from being angry unjustly with a Christian brother or sister; we must do all we can to ensure that they have no cause to be angry with us. We must pursue reconciliation and loving relationships as far as we are able (5:23-26). Thus we can see why theWestminster Larger Catechism says that "where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden; and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded" (Q. 99).

According to this principle, a thorough exegesis (interpretation) of today's passage tells us we must also encourage chastity in the church and the world in addition to refraining from lustful intent in the heart (Matt. 5:27-28). In fact, the apostles elsewhere give us this precise command (1 Tim. 2:8-10; Heb. 13:4). Male and female alike, we violate the command against adultery and do not love our brothers and sisters in Christ if we act and dress in a manner that might provoke another to stumble into lust (Rom. 14:13-23; 1 John 4:21).

Jesus is teaching us the end to which the command against adultery points. Since, as the church father Jerome said, "what we conceive in the mind we might complete with an act" (Commentary on Matthew, 1.5.29), it is not enough to refrain from the physical act of fornication (Matt. 5:27-28). God's law, our Savior shows us, has a pure heart as its final goal. The pursuit of this purity is to be among our most urgent tasks, and we must do whatever it takes to keep our minds free from lust's pollution ( vv. 29-30).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Unfortunately, lust is rampant in the church today, and many are in bondage to pornography and other sexual sins. If this is a problem for you, cut off your access to outlets where you may find temptation. Whether or not lust has a particularly strong grip in your life, consider how you dress and act in the world and in the church. Are you a stumbling block for others with revealing clothes or with a flirtatious personality?

For further study:

2 Samuel 11

The Bible in a year:

Numbers 23-25

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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February 23, 2012

How to Stay Young

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10, NIV).

Friend to Friend

In April, I will celebrate my 61st birthday! Honestly, I didn't think I would live this long. Seriously! Where have the years gone? It seems every day of life has been jam-packed full of both wonderful and horrible things I wondered if I would survive and yet, here I am, going strong and wondering why there always seems to be some kind of helicopter still landing in my life.

I have some advice for you, girlfriend. If you are a young woman, it really is true that you should cherish every day and every moment with your friends and family because the older you get, the quicker the days fly by. I look at my children who are married and having children of their own and wonder where all of those years went. How did this happen?

If you are an older woman, take a deep breath and celebrate the fact that you are breathing. I believe if you are alive, God has a purpose and plan for your life. Give yourself a pat on the back for your survival skills. Take a few moments to reflect on your life and don't get hung up on what might have been. Celebrate what is and what will be.

I have discovered some wonderful advantages to growing older and have learned some valuable lessons along the way. Each chapter of life seems to grow more exciting and I keep wondering when that "slow down" thing is going to kick in. I am no longer overly concerned with a lot of things that once kept me awake at night. There is great freedom in having paid a lot of "life dues" because I have already been there, done that and don't really care about getting the T-shirt.

I can say with authority that you probably will live through that crisis you think will be the death of you. What defines you today may very well seem ridiculous in ten years or even ten days. Stupidity will give way to wisdom learned the hard way. I now give myself permission to do or not do things I once would have felt compelled to do simply because it was someone's ridiculous expectation … not God's plan. My audience has certainly changed over the years from the people who love to leer at me through the glass bowl in which I live to running the race of life for an audience of One.

Yes, there are moments when I have made a frenzied and desperate attempt to stay young. But then, why would I want to do that? There are many years of my life I really do not want to revisit and there is so much of my life now that I love. During one of those youth seeking moments, I came across the following list of ways to stay young and found it quite interesting.

How to Stay Young

1. Throw out non-essential numbers such as your age, weight and height.

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down. If you really need a grouch, there are probably family members to fill that need.

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Just never let the brain idle.

4. Enjoy the simple things. When the children are young, that is all you can afford. When they are in college that is all you can afford. When they are grown, and you are on retirement, that is all you can afford.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath. Laugh so much that you can be tracked in the store by your distinctive laughter.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person that is with us our entire life is ourselves.

7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it is family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies or whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health. If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Go to the mall, the next county, a foreign country - but not guilt.

10. Tell the people you love how much you love them every chance you get. Never assume they know.

11. Don't worry about things you cannot change or do anything about. Accept them and move on.

12. Read more and dust less.

13. Spend more time with your family and friends and less time working.

14. Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experiences to savor, not to endure. Recognize these moments now and cherish them.

15. Do not "save" anything. Use your good china and crystal for every special event such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, or the next blossom of flowers you see.

16. Wear your best outfit to the market.

17. Don't save your good perfume for only special occasions. Use it even if you are going shopping or just to the bank.

18. "Someday" and "one of these days" should vanish from your vocabulary. If it is worth seeing or hearing or doing, go and see or hear or do it now.

What about you? Are you living each day to the fullest? Jesus is all about living an abundant life in the here and now … whatever stage of life that may be for you. Jesus came so that we can live abundantly and eternally. Eternity began the moment you accepted Him as your Lord and Savior. Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Let's Pray

Father, I want to live life to the fullest. I want everything you have for me and don't want to miss a single blessing or trial that is for my good. Please help me keep my eyes on You and celebrate every day and all that it holds. I trust You, Lord, to work all things together for my good and Your glory.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

Who or what is stealing the joy from your life?

What circumstance are you facing that you need to see through God's eyes and boldly trust Him for?

Look around. What can you find in your life to celebrate?

Are you living out God's purpose for your life or are you bowing to the wrong audience and listening to the wrong voices?

Today, make the decision to celebrate life and all God has for you.

Read Romans 8:28 and know God is at work to make your life exactly what He wants it to be.

More from the Girlfriends

As a pastor's wife, I have talked with so many women who feel as if they were worthless, a freakish accident. Listen, my friend, you were planned and wanted by God. God is crazy about you and wants an intimate relationship with you. I pray that you will see yourself in the eyes of God, a chosen child. Need help? Check out one of Mary's MP3 downloads, Come as You Are to discover how to see yourself through the eyes of God.

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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Glynnis Whitwer

February 23, 2012

Seeing Beyond the Dent
Glynnis Whitwer

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." 1 Thessalonians 5:11(NIV)

A close call with a truck on the freeway left rubbery black smears on my oldest son's car. Unfortunately, Josh's younger brother had borrowed it and caused the accident. Relief and annoyance mixed together in Josh's heart.

Even though apologies and assurances to pay were offered, Josh knew his brother didn't have the money to repair the damage. And since the cost of the repair was probably less than the insurance deductible, Josh decided to barter babysitting services for a friend's detailing services. It was a smart and gracious solution.

His friend worked for eight hours painstakingly removing the black streaks, and we all thought the car looked great. Josh was proud of his decision to not charge his brother and find a creative way to repair the car.

At least, until he showed his car to some friends. Rather than see the good, all one person said was: "You can still see the dent!"

Later that day, Josh complained in private, "All that work, and she only saw the dent!"

I reaffirmed his generous choices and tried to bring back his joy in the repair. But the damage was done. My son left me standing in the kitchen pondering the careless comment. And wondering how many times I've only seen the dents.

There was a time when I could have made that comment. Too often I had neglected the efforts my children made and only seen the negative. Too often I had failed to acknowledge progress in others and only seen what remained to be done. Even in my own life I tend to focus on what isn't instead of celebrating what is.

The critical spirit displayed in a careless comment flourished in me at one time. Yet I knew that disapproving attitude wasn't compatible with the Jesus-follower I wanted to be. It was opposite to scriptures I'd read, like today's verse in 1 Thessalonians which tells us to encourage and build each other up.

So years ago I asked God to remove any remnant of unhealthy pride from my heart. I begged His forgiveness for judgmental, critical thoughts and words, and asked for His spirit of love and mercy to fill all those unkind places. I wanted to stop looking at the "dents" and instead see the beauty of effort.

It took lots of honesty and confession to deal with my ingrained habit of seeing the problem. Even after I reined in my words, my heart still needed attention. Yet each time I faced the ugly truth about what was going on inside, criticism loosened its grip, allowing me to celebrate imperfect progress ñ in others and myself.

Do those critical thoughts still pop up? Yes they do. I'll be honest, I saw the dent that remained on my son's car too. But I immediately redirected my thoughts towards the generosity of a brother who forgave. I chose to focus on his creative solution and the kindness of his friend. And I thanked God my response that time had been to see the positive and to celebrate with my son.

Repairs are happening all around me. God is working in the lives of those I love; He is working in mine too. My prayer is to get to the place where I don't even see the dents. Instead, I want eyes and a heart that rejoice with the smallest improvement, that praise potential and acknowledge effort. As I seek to live out Jesus' request to love others, a critical spirit needs to die, and a loving one needs to take its place.

Dear Lord, thank You for seeing the good in me. Your thoughts are not critical and condemning, instead You celebrate every little bit of progress I make. Your belief in me makes me want to do better. Help me to give that gift to others and myself. In Jesus name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Glynnis' blog for more on changing a critical spirit into a gracious and loving one.

I Used to Be So Organized by Glynnis Whitwer

It's No Secret, Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know by Rachel Olsen

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:
A critical spirit is often rooted in underlying emotions. What are some of the reasons women are critical of others?

To start to change a critical spirit, commit to identifying and affirming verbally or in writing, positive progress in three people you know.

Power Verses:
Hebrews 3:13, "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today," so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." (NIV)

Colossians 3:16, "Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts." (NIV)

© 2012 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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

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Adultery of the Heart

Matthew 5:27-30

Unfortunately, lust is rampant in the church today, and many are in bondage to pornography and other sexual sins. If this is a problem for you, cut off your access to outlets where you may find temptation. Whether or not lust has a particularly strong grip in your life, consider how you dress and act in the world and in the church. Are you a stumbling block for others with revealing clothes or with a flirtatious personality?

For further study:

2 Samuel 11

The Bible in a year:

Numbers 23-25

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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Spurgeon-MetropolitanTabernacle-Header-1

A sermon for Spring

‘My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; the fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.’ Song of Solomon 2:10–13

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 74:9–17

The things which are seen are types of the things which are not seen. The works of creation are pictures to the children of God of the secret mysteries of grace. The very seasons of the year find their parallel in the little world of man within. We have our winter when the north wind of the law rushes forth against us, when every hope is nipped, when all the seeds of joy lie buried beneath the dark clods of despair, when our soul is fast fettered like a river bound with ice. Thanks be unto God, the soft south wind breathes upon our soul, and at once the waters of desire are set free, the spring of love comes on, flowers of hope appear in our hearts, the trees of faith put forth their young shoots, the time of the singing of birds comes in our hearts, and we have joy and peace in believing through the Lord Jesus Christ. That happy springtide is followed in the believer by a rich summer, when his graces, like fragrant flowers, are in full bloom, loading the air with perfume; and fruits of the Spirit like citrons and pomegranates swell into their full proportion in the genial warmth of the Sun of Righteousness. Then comes the believer’s autumn, when his fruits grow ripe, and his fields are ready for the harvest; the time has come when his Lord shall gather together his ‘pleasant fruits,’ and store them in heaven; the feast of ingathering is at hand—the time when the year shall begin anew, an unchanging year, like the years of the right hand of the Most High in heaven.

For meditation: Until we trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, our souls languish in an eternal winter’s night. Faith in him is the gateway to a new life in which we advance through the seasons of the soul towards eternal day (Zechariah 14:7; Revelation 21:25; 22:5).

Sermon no. 436
23 February (1862)

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A solemn warning for all churches

“Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.” Revelation 3:4

Suggested Further Reading: John 14:18-24

Do you meet with many men who hold communion with Christ? Though they may be godly men, upright men, ask them if they hold communion with Christ, and will they understand you? If you give them some of those sweetly spiritual books, that those who hold fellowship love to read, they will say they are mystical, and they do not love them. Ask them whether they can spend an hour in meditation upon Christ, whether they ever rise to heaven and lay their head on the breast of the Saviour, whether they ever know what it is to enter into rest and get into Canaan; whether they understand how he has raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; whether they can often say,

“Abundant sweetness while I sing
Thy love, my ravish’d heart o’erflows;
Secure in thee my God and King
Of glory that no period knows.”

Ask them that, and they will say, “We don’t comprehend you.” Now, the reason of it is in the first part of my sermon—they have defiled their garments, and therefore Christ will not walk with them. He says “Those that have not defiled their garments shall walk with me.” Those who hold fast the truth, who take care to be free from the prevailing sins of the times, “These,” he says, “shall walk with me; they shall be in constant fellowship with me; I will let them see that I am bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh; I will bring them into the banqueting-house; my banner over them shall be love; they shall drink wine on the lees well refined; they shall have the secrets of the Lord revealed unto them, because they are the people who truly fear me: they shall walk with me in white.”

For meditation: Do you have to confess that you have no idea what Spurgeon is talking about? If so, he must be talking about you!

Sermon no. 68
23 February (Preached 24 February 1856)

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What Miracles Were Required of the Messiah?

Today's reading: Isaiah 35:1-10

Isaiah 35 speaks of the advent of the Messiah, when God will come with his "divine retribution" to save those who have trusted in him (Isaiah 35:4). When this time comes, Isaiah prophesies, many miracles will accompany him, specifically the healing of those who are blind, deaf, lame and mute (seeIsaiah 35:5-6).

When John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah (see Matthew 11:2-3), Jesus answered by alluding to Isaiah 35:5-6. "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor" (Matthew 11:4-5). John's disciples and many other eyewitnesses could testify firsthand that Jesus had done these supernatural acts and that the lives that he touched were changed forever (see also Matthew 12:22-23; Mark 7:31-37; John 9:1-12).

In Jesus' loaded answer to John's question of whether he was the Messiah, Jesus made clear not only that he was the Anointed One but also that his public miracles signified his true identity: the Son of God.

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Today's reading is from the
The Case for Christ Study Bible
by Zondervan


Investigate the Bible's most compelling claims: the existence of a compassionate God and the promise of eternal life through His Son, Jesus.


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The Highly Effective Christian

This week's reading: Luke 19:11-27

Recommended Reading: Exodus 4:10-12; Isaiah 6:8; Ezekiel 2:1-7; 1 Corinthians 12:4-31

In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen Covey recommends the following mental exercise: Imagine that you've died and that four people representing different aspects of your life speak at your funeral: a relative, a fellow church member, a business colleague and someone else from your community. What would each one honestly say about your life?

While it's not easy to imagine others testifying to the effectiveness of our lives in the context of a funeral, this exercise does provide some much needed perspective. There's nothing like the end of a life to get others to consider the course of their days. Take a few minutes to seriously think about what these individuals might say about you to a gathered crowd.

Now take a few moments to imagine what Jesus would say about your Christian life to this point. What does he think about your faith? What does he think about your accomplishments for his kingdom? Would he describe you as someone growing closer to him each day?

Jesus told a story about three servants in order to illustrate that God expects each of us to be faithful with what he has given us. Of course, any number of fears might hinder us from using the gifts God gives us: fear of failure, fear of ridicule, fear of God's disapproval, to name a few biggies. Failure to invest represents the most serious potential shortfall of all. Only when we use our faith does it stand a chance of growing. If we don't exercise it, it becomes stagnant and lifeless. Can you think of anyone whose faith looks like that?

Let's look ahead ten years and repeat the mental exercise. If you spend the next ten years investing your faith and wholeheartedly using the gifts God gives you to serve him, what would a relative, a fellow church member, a business colleague and someone else from your community be likely to say at your funeral? What would Jesus say?

To Take Away

  • What gifts and opportunities has God provided that you can use for him?
  • Be honest with yourself. How have you done at living a life of faith in God?
  • What aspects of your life have you been withholding from God? What steps can you take to invest these areas in faithful service to him?

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Day 2

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”

How did Mary, a virgin, become pregnant? She and Joseph were engaged but had not had sexual relations. No medical doctor could answer this question, but such was the mysterious nature of Mary’s conception and Jesus’ birth—a miraculous beginning ordained by God’s power alone. Imagine Mary’s problem explaining this incredible experience! She couldn’t understand it herself, much less explain it to her friends and family.

In that day and time, an engagement was considered as strong a commitment as marriage although Joseph and Mary were not officially married. Although he probably wanted to believe Mary, Joseph was in a difficult situation. Engaged and committed to a woman whom his family and friends would now despise, Joseph decided it was best to break off the engagement . . . until an unusual visitor changed his perspective.

What can you learn from Mary's reaction to her surprising and somewhat disturbing news?

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Today's Lent reading: Matthew 4-6 (NIV)

View today's Lent reading on Bible Gateway
Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness

1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Jesus Begins to Preach

12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:

15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”

17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Jesus Calls His First Disciples

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.

21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Jesus Heals the Sick

23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.

Matthew 5

Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount

1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes

He said:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

The Fulfillment of the Law

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Murder

21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

Adultery

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Divorce

31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Oaths

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

Eye for Eye

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Love for Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 6

Giving to the Needy

1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Prayer

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Fasting

16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Treasures in Heaven

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.


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