Sunday, February 12, 2012

Daily Devotional Sunday 12th February

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"And they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."
Acts 4:13

A Christian should be a striking likeness of Jesus Christ. You have read lives of Christ, beautifully and eloquently written, but the best life of Christ is his living biography, written out in the words and actions of his people. If we were what we profess to be, and what we should be, we should be pictures of Christ; yea, such striking likenesses of him, that the world would not have to hold us up by the hour together, and say, "Well, it seems somewhat of a likeness;" but they would, when they once beheld us, exclaim, "He has been with Jesus; he has been taught of him; he is like him; he has caught the very idea of the holy Man of Nazareth, and he works it out in his life and every-day actions." A Christian should be like Christ in his boldness. Never blush to own your religion; your profession will never disgrace you: take care you never disgrace that. Be like Jesus, very valiant for your God. Imitate him in your loving spirit; think kindly, speak kindly, and do kindly, that men may say of you, "He has been with Jesus." Imitate Jesus in his holiness. Was he zealous for his Master? So be you; ever go about doing good. Let not time be wasted: it is too precious. Was he self-denying, never looking to his own interest? Be the same. Was he devout? Be you fervent in your prayers. Had he deference to his Father's will? So submit yourselves to him. Was he patient? So learn to endure. And best of all, as the highest portraiture of Jesus, try to forgive your enemies, as he did; and let those sublime words of your Master, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do," always ring in your ears. Forgive, as you hope to be forgiven. Heap coals of fire on the head of your foe by your kindness to him. Good for evil, recollect, is godlike. Be godlike, then; and in all ways and by all means, so live that all may say of you, "He has been with Jesus."

Evening

"Thou hast left thy first love."
Revelation 2:4

Ever to be remembered is that best and brightest of hours, when first we saw the Lord, lost our burden, received the roll of promise, rejoiced in full salvation, and went on our way in peace. It was spring time in the soul; the winter was past; the mutterings of Sinai's thunders were hushed; the flashings of its lightnings were no more perceived; God was beheld as reconciled; the law threatened no vengeance, justice demanded no punishment. Then the flowers appeared in our heart; hope, love, peace, and patience sprung from the sod; the hyacinth of repentance, the snowdrop of pure holiness, the crocus of golden faith, the daffodil of early love, all decked the garden of the soul. The time of the singing of birds was come, and we rejoiced with thanksgiving; we magnified the holy name of our forgiving God, and our resolve was, "Lord, I am thine, wholly thine; all I am, and all I have, I would devote to thee. Thou hast bought me with thy blood--let me spend myself and be spent in thy service. In life and in death let me be consecrated to thee." How have we kept this resolve? Our espousal love burned with a holy flame of devoutedness to Jesus--is it the same now? Might not Jesus well say to us, "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love"? Alas! it is but little we have done for our Master's glory. Our winter has lasted all too long. We are as cold as ice when we should feel a summer's glow and bloom with sacred flowers. We give to God pence when he deserveth pounds, nay, deserveth our heart's blood to be coined in the service of his church and of his truth. But shall we continue thus? O Lord, after thou hast so richly blessed us, shall we be ungrateful and become indifferent to thy good cause and work? O quicken us that we may return to our first love, and do our first works! Send us a genial spring, O Sun of Righteousness.

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Today's reading: Leviticus 11-12, Matthew 26:1-25 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Clean and Unclean Food

1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: 3 You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud.

4 “‘There are some that only chew the cud or only have a divided hoof, but you must not eat them. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is ceremonially unclean for you. 5 The hyrax, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is unclean for you. 6 The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is unclean for you. 7 And the pig, though it has a divided hoof, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. 8 You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.

9 “‘Of all the creatures living in the water of the seas and the streams you may eat any that have fins and scales. 10 But all creatures in the seas or streams that do not have fins and scales—whether among all the swarming things or among all the other living creatures in the water—you are to regard as unclean. 11 And since you are to regard them as unclean, you must not eat their meat; you must regard their carcasses as unclean. 12 Anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales is to be regarded as unclean by you.

13 “‘These are the birds you are to regard as unclean and not eat because they are unclean: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, 14 the red kite, any kind of black kite, 15 any kind of raven, 16 the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, 18 the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, 19 the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat.

20 “‘All flying insects that walk on all fours are to be regarded as unclean by you. 21 There are, however, some flying insects that walk on all fours that you may eat: those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground. 22 Of these you may eat any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper. 23 But all other flying insects that have four legs you are to regard as unclean.

24 “‘You will make yourselves unclean by these; whoever touches their carcasses will be unclean till evening. 25 Whoever picks up one of their carcasses must wash their clothes, and they will be unclean till evening.

26 “‘Every animal that does not have a divided hoof or that does not chew the cud is unclean for you; whoever touches the carcass of any of them will be unclean. 27 Of all the animals that walk on all fours, those that walk on their paws are unclean for you; whoever touches their carcasses will be unclean till evening. 28 Anyone who picks up their carcasses must wash their clothes, and they will be unclean till evening. These animals are unclean for you.

29 “‘Of the animals that move along the ground, these are unclean for you: the weasel, the rat, any kind of great lizard, 30the gecko, the monitor lizard, the wall lizard, the skink and the chameleon. 31 Of all those that move along the ground, these are unclean for you. Whoever touches them when they are dead will be unclean till evening. 32 When one of them dies and falls on something, that article, whatever its use, will be unclean, whether it is made of wood, cloth, hide or sackcloth. Put it in water; it will be unclean till evening, and then it will be clean. 33 If one of them falls into a clay pot, everything in it will be unclean, and you must break the pot. 34 Any food you are allowed to eat that has come into contact with water from any such pot is unclean, and any liquid that is drunk from such a pot is unclean. 35 Anything that one of their carcasses falls on becomes unclean; an oven or cooking pot must be broken up. They are unclean, and you are to regard them as unclean. 36 A spring, however, or a cistern for collecting water remains clean, but anyone who touches one of these carcasses is unclean. 37If a carcass falls on any seeds that are to be planted, they remain clean. 38 But if water has been put on the seed and a carcass falls on it, it is unclean for you.

39 “‘If an animal that you are allowed to eat dies, anyone who touches its carcass will be unclean till evening. 40 Anyone who eats some of its carcass must wash their clothes, and they will be unclean till evening. Anyone who picks up the carcass must wash their clothes, and they will be unclean till evening.

41 “‘Every creature that moves along the ground is to be regarded as unclean; it is not to be eaten. 42 You are not to eat any creature that moves along the ground, whether it moves on its belly or walks on all fours or on many feet; it is unclean. 43Do not defile yourselves by any of these creatures. Do not make yourselves unclean by means of them or be made unclean by them. 44 I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves along the ground. 45 I am the LORD, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.

46 “‘These are the regulations concerning animals, birds, every living thing that moves about in the water and every creature that moves along the ground. 47 You must distinguish between the unclean and the clean, between living creatures that may be eaten and those that may not be eaten.’”

Leviticus 12

Purification After Childbirth

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. 3 On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. 4 Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over. 5 If she gives birth to a daughter, for two weeks the woman will be unclean, as during her period. Then she must wait sixty-six days to be purified from her bleeding.

6 “‘When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering. 7 He shall offer them before the LORD to make atonement for her, and then she will be ceremonially clean from her flow of blood.

“‘These are the regulations for the woman who gives birth to a boy or a girl. 8 But if she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’”


Matthew 26

The Plot Against Jesus

1 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2 “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”

3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 5 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

The Last Supper

17 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

18 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.

20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”

23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”

Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

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The Shunammite's Land Restored

Today's reading: 2 Kings 8:1-6

You may want to review 2 Kings 4:8-37 for the background of the Shunammite's story. This account teaches the importance of maintaining rightful ownership of property and also provides a window into God's extravagance in providing for our material needs.

Theologian Peter C. Phan summarizes social thought during the Old Testament period as follows:

Gerhard von Rad declares that there is no concept in the Old Testament as central and significant for all relationships of human life as justice or righteousness. Justice is the social principle that held the Hebrew social fabric together. It is the fidelity to the demands of a relationship as established by the law-the web of relationships between king and people, judge and complainants, family and tribe and kinsfolk, the community and the resident alien, the whole of humanity and God. Of course the law also commands love. Yet, in point of fact, the sense of solidarity is for the most part limited to fellow members of religion and race, even though the prophets often urge the Hebrew people to go beyond these narrow limits.

In Leviticus 25:23-24 God says, "The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers. Throughout the land that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land."

Naomi's situation in the book of Ruth seems similar. The family has resided in Moab for ten years, having migrated from Judah to escape a famine. Ruth 4:3 speaks of Naomi's desire to sell her husband's land, but two interpretations may be applied here: Either Naomi owns the land but is so poor that she feels she must sell it. Or alternatively, Elimelek may already have sold the plot prior to the family's departure. In this case, the law makes provision for his widow to "redeem" it-buy it back. Since Naomi is now destitute, she looks for a guardian-redeemer to purchase back the land on her behalf.

In the Shunammite's case, it is possible that the land has either been taken illegally during the family's absence or been appropriated by the king, most likely either Jehu or Joram, due to its apparent abandonment. Her husband was already elderly when their son was born (see 2Ki 4:14), and there is no mention of him in 2 Kings 8. Phan indicates that widows and orphans "in the ancient patriarchal society were economically the most helpless since they did not have the aid of a male head of the family."

An interesting detail in this story is the "fluke" of Elisha and Gehazi discussing her situation with the king at the very time the Shunammite arrives to plead for the return of her land.

Think About It

  • If true justice were served in your neighborhood, what would be different?
  • Could humans ever live in a truly just society this side of heaven? What would it look like?
  • What "coincidence" in your life has served to verify God's providence in some unforgettable way? How has this affected your stewardship of whatever was involved?

Pray About It

Lord God, your care and concern for justice in the details of our lives is amazing to me. Help me to see how you orchestrate all things to your ends. And help me to be a partner in your work.

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Spring in the heart

‘Thou blessest the springing thereof.’ Psalm 65:10

Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 2:1–7

God is blessing the springing thereof. In looking back upon my own ‘springing,’ I sometimes think God blessed me then in a way in which I desire he would bless me now. An apple tree when loaded with apples is a very comely sight; but give me, for beauty, the apple tree in bloom. The whole world does not present a more lovely sight than an apple blossom. Painters have declared that there is nothing in the whole world to excel it in beauty. Now, a full-grown Christian laden with fruit is a blessed sight, but still there is a blessedness, a peculiar blessedness about the young Christian in bloom. Let me just tell you what I think that blessedness is. You have probably now a greater tenderness about sin than some professors who have known the Lord for years; they might wish that they felt your tenderness of conscience. You have now a graver sense of duty, and a more solemn fear of the neglect of it than some who have known the Lord for years; and you have a greater zeal than many. You are now doing your first works for God, and burning with your first love; nothing is too hot for you or too hard for you. To go to a sermon, now—no matter what weather it may be—seems to you to be an imperative necessity; you would go over hedge and ditch to hear the Word. But some who are of older growth want soft cushions to sit upon; they cannot stand in the aisle now as they used to do, everybody must be particularly polite when they come in, or they care not to worship at all.

For meditation: The believer is the apple of God’s eye (Psalm 17:8; Zechariah 2:8); what kind of apple tree would you be in God’s eye? One that still produces pleasing fruit (Song of Solomon 7:8) or one that has withered away ( Joel 1:12)?

Sermon no. 675
11 February (1866)

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Marry Wisdom

Proverbs 1:1-19

Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching.
Proverbs 1:8

My father was a great teacher. When I was young, he drilled me on his favorite proverb: "Hindsight is better than foresight, but never as good as insight." As a child I was more intrigued by the fascinating twist of the words than by the wisdom it communicated. Time, however, has taught me the truth of this proverb (even though it isn't one of those found in the Bible): We see farther into the past than into the future, but those who are aware of how things fit into God's grand scheme are truly wise.

The book of Proverbs is the heart of Old Testament Wisdom Literature. Even though Proverbs does not lend itself to theological outlines, a clear understanding of the book's structure helps us to better understand it. Before the collections of proverbs fashioned in the definition of the English term (short, pithy sayings) begin in chapter 10, chapters 1-9 form a cohesive, well-developed introductory series of lectures. Although the words are addressed to a "son," this is more of a literary device than a reference to a historical person.

Both wisdom and folly in the Hebrew language are feminine nouns. So the writer of this section used these words to evoke possible partners for a masculine addressee. Throughout Proverbs 1-9, both Wisdom and Folly take turns declaring their attractions in a series of personified mating overtures. The speeches are biased in favor of Wisdom, of course, for this is the thesis stated in Proverbs 1:7.

The goal of Proverbs 1-9 is to show us how godly wisdom merges with real life. Along the way we get principles for building strong marriages, families and work relationships. The proverbs of chapters 10-31 are word pictures that describe the furnishings scattered throughout Wisdom's house. When we marry Wisdom, we begin to surround ourselves with her sayings, perspectives, tools and visual aids.

These words of introduction and the proverbs that follow are meant to be applied to all dimensions of life. But they resonate clearly with dating and marriage relationships. It is from our fathers and mothers that we first learn what marriage is like. If the lessons of marriage are taught well by parents who have lingered long in Wisdom's house, we gain invaluable perspectives on how to respect others, to enjoy the give-and-take of domestic living, and to create an environment of hospitality in which to bring children and friends.

The reverse is also true. Our parents are prone to sin and often tempted by Folly. So we may need to unlearn some of their bad lessons, such as deception, lack of discipline, immodesty or infidelity. But that mixed bag of instruction should only remind us that true wisdom, after all, is gained first from God.
Wayne Brouwer

Let's Talk

  • What lessons from our parents are healthy for our relationship?
  • What bad relationship habits did we learn from them? How should we do things differently? Where do we learn wisdom that transcends parental teachings?
  • How will we model wisdom for our children? What are some good things they will learn about marriage from us?
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Christ crucified

“But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:23, 24

Suggested Further Reading: Galatians 1:1-9

I do not believe it is preaching Christ and him crucified, to give our people a batch of philosophy every Sunday morning and evening, and neglect the truth of this Holy Book. I do not believe it is preaching Christ and him crucified, to leave out the main cardinal doctrines of the Word of God, and preach a religion which is all a mist and a haze, without any definite truths whatever. I take it that a man does not preach Christ and him crucified, who can get through a sermon without mentioning Christ’s name once; nor does that man preach Christ and him crucified who leaves out the Holy Spirit’s work, who never says a word about the Holy Ghost, so that indeed the hearers might say, “We do not so much know whether there be a Holy Ghost.” And I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and him crucified, unless you preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. I have my own ideas, and those I always state boldly. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in his dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering, love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the peculiar redemption which Christ made for his elect and chosen people; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having believed. Such a gospel I abhor. The gospel of the Bible is not such a gospel as that.

For meditation: To “know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2) may sound very limited. In fact it is a vast and glorious subject upon which everything else should be based and for which God should be given all the glory ( 1 Corinthians 1:30,31).

Sermon nos. 7/8
11 February (1855)

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