Thursday, February 23, 2012

Daily Devotional Thursday 23rd February

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"His bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob."
Genesis 49:24

That strength which God gives to his Josephs is real strength; it is not a boasted valour, a fiction, a thing of which men talk, but which ends in smoke; it is true--divine strength. Why does Joseph stand against temptation? Because God gives him aid. There is nought that we can do without the power of God. All true strength comes from "the mighty God of Jacob." Notice in what a blessedly familiar way God gives this strength to Joseph--"The arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob." Thus God is represented as putting his hands on Joseph's hands, placing his arms on Joseph's arms. Like as a father teaches his children, so the Lord teaches them that fear him. He puts his arms upon them. Marvellous condescension! God Almighty, Eternal, Omnipotent, stoops from his throne and lays his hand upon the child's hand, stretching his arm upon the arm of Joseph, that he may be made strong! This strength was also covenant strength, for it is ascribed to "the mighty God of Jacob." Now, wherever you read of the God of Jacob in the Bible, you should remember the covenant with Jacob. Christians love to think of God's covenant. All the power, all the grace, all the blessings, all the mercies, all the comforts, all the things we have, flow to us from the well-head, through the covenant. If there were no covenant, then we should fail indeed; for all grace proceeds from it, as light and heat from the sun. No angels ascend or descend, save upon that ladder which Jacob saw, at the top of which stood a covenant God. Christian, it may be that the archers have sorely grieved you, and shot at you, and wounded you, but still your bow abides in strength; be sure, then, to ascribe all the glory to Jacob's God.

Evening

"The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power."
Nahum 1:3

Jehovah "is slow to anger." When mercy cometh into the world she driveth winged steeds; the axles of her chariot-wheels are red hot with speed; but when wrath goeth forth, it toileth on with tardy footsteps, for God taketh no pleasure in the sinner's death. God's rod of mercy is ever in his hands outstretched; his sword of justice is in its scabbard, held down by that pierced hand of love which bled for the sins of men. "The Lord is slow to anger," because he is great in power. He is truly great in power who hath power over himself. When God's power doth restrain himself, then it is power indeed: the power that binds omnipotence is omnipotence surpassed. A man who has a strong mind can bear to be insulted long, and only resents the wrong when a sense of right demands his action. The weak mind is irritated at a little: the strong mind bears it like a rock which moveth not, though a thousand breakers dash upon it, and cast their pitiful malice in spray upon its summit. God marketh his enemies, and yet he bestirs not himself, but holdeth in his anger. If he were less divine than he is, he would long ere this have sent forth the whole of his thunders, and emptied the magazines of heaven; he would long ere this have blasted the earth with the wondrous fires of its lower regions, and man would have been utterly destroyed; but the greatness of his power brings us mercy. Dear reader, what is your state this evening? Can you by humble faith look to Jesus, and say, "My substitute, thou art my rock, my trust"? Then, beloved, be not afraid of God's power; for by faith you have fled to Christ for refuge, the power of God need no more terrify you, than the shield and sword of the warrior need terrify those whom he loves. Rather rejoice that he who is "great in power" is your Father and Friend.

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Today's reading: Numbers 3-4, Mark 3:20-35 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
The Levites

1 This is the account of the family of Aaron and Moses at the time the LORD spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai.

2 The names of the sons of Aaron were Nadab the firstborn and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 3 Those were the names of Aaron’s sons, the anointed priests, who were ordained to serve as priests. 4 Nadab and Abihu, however, died before the LORD when they made an offering with unauthorized fire before him in the Desert of Sinai. They had no sons, so Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests during the lifetime of their father Aaron.

5 The LORD said to Moses, 6 “Bring the tribe of Levi and present them to Aaron the priest to assist him. 7 They are to perform duties for him and for the whole community at the tent of meeting by doing the work of the tabernacle. 8 They are to take care of all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, fulfilling the obligations of the Israelites by doing the work of the tabernacle. 9 Give the Levites to Aaron and his sons; they are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to him. 10 Appoint Aaron and his sons to serve as priests; anyone else who approaches the sanctuary is to be put to death.”

11 The LORD also said to Moses, 12 “I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine, 13 for all the firstborn are mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set apart for myself every firstborn in Israel, whether human or animal. They are to be mine. I am the LORD.”

14 The LORD said to Moses in the Desert of Sinai, 15 “Count the Levites by their families and clans. Count every male a month old or more.” 16 So Moses counted them, as he was commanded by the word of the LORD.

17 These were the names of the sons of Levi:
Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

18 These were the names of the Gershonite clans:
Libni and Shimei.

19 The Kohathite clans:
Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel.

20 The Merarite clans:
Mahli and Mushi.

These were the Levite clans, according to their families.

21 To Gershon belonged the clans of the Libnites and Shimeites; these were the Gershonite clans. 22 The number of all the males a month old or more who were counted was 7,500.23 The Gershonite clans were to camp on the west, behind the tabernacle. 24 The leader of the families of the Gershonites was Eliasaph son of Lael. 25 At the tent of meeting the Gershonites were responsible for the care of the tabernacle and tent, its coverings, the curtain at the entrance to the tent of meeting, 26the curtains of the courtyard, the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard surrounding the tabernacle and altar, and the ropes—and everything related to their use.

27 To Kohath belonged the clans of the Amramites, Izharites, Hebronites and Uzzielites; these were the Kohathite clans. 28The number of all the males a month old or more was 8,600. The Kohathites were responsible for the care of the sanctuary.29 The Kohathite clans were to camp on the south side of the tabernacle. 30 The leader of the families of the Kohathite clans was Elizaphan son of Uzziel. 31 They were responsible for the care of the ark, the table, the lampstand, the altars, the articles of the sanctuary used in ministering, the curtain, and everything related to their use. 32 The chief leader of the Levites was Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest. He was appointed over those who were responsible for the care of the sanctuary.

33 To Merari belonged the clans of the Mahlites and the Mushites; these were the Merarite clans. 34 The number of all the males a month old or more who were counted was 6,200. 35The leader of the families of the Merarite clans was Zuriel son of Abihail; they were to camp on the north side of the tabernacle. 36 The Merarites were appointed to take care of the frames of the tabernacle, its crossbars, posts, bases, all its equipment, and everything related to their use, 37 as well as the posts of the surrounding courtyard with their bases, tent pegs and ropes.

38 Moses and Aaron and his sons were to camp to the east of the tabernacle, toward the sunrise, in front of the tent of meeting. They were responsible for the care of the sanctuary on behalf of the Israelites. Anyone else who approached the sanctuary was to be put to death.

39 The total number of Levites counted at the LORD’s command by Moses and Aaron according to their clans, including every male a month old or more, was 22,000.

40 The LORD said to Moses, “Count all the firstborn Israelite males who are a month old or more and make a list of their names. 41 Take the Levites for me in place of all the firstborn of the Israelites, and the livestock of the Levites in place of all the firstborn of the livestock of the Israelites. I am the LORD.”

42 So Moses counted all the firstborn of the Israelites, as the LORD commanded him. 43 The total number of firstborn males a month old or more, listed by name, was 22,273.

44 The LORD also said to Moses, 45 “Take the Levites in place of all the firstborn of Israel, and the livestock of the Levites in place of their livestock. The Levites are to be mine. I am the LORD. 46 To redeem the 273 firstborn Israelites who exceed the number of the Levites, 47 collect five shekels for each one, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs. 48 Give the money for the redemption of the additional Israelites to Aaron and his sons.”

49 So Moses collected the redemption money from those who exceeded the number redeemed by the Levites. 50 From the firstborn of the Israelites he collected silver weighing 1,365 shekels, according to the sanctuary shekel. 51 Moses gave the redemption money to Aaron and his sons, as he was commanded by the word of the LORD.

Numbers 4

The Kohathites

1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: 2 “Take a census of the Kohathite branch of the Levites by their clans and families.3 Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work at the tent of meeting.

4 “This is the work of the Kohathites at the tent of meeting: the care of the most holy things. 5 When the camp is to move, Aaron and his sons are to go in and take down the shielding curtain and put it over the ark of the covenant law. 6 Then they are to cover the curtain with a durable leather, spread a cloth of solid blue over that and put the poles in place.

7 “Over the table of the Presence they are to spread a blue cloth and put on it the plates, dishes and bowls, and the jars for drink offerings; the bread that is continually there is to remain on it. 8 They are to spread a scarlet cloth over them, cover that with the durable leather and put the poles in place.

9 “They are to take a blue cloth and cover the lampstand that is for light, together with its lamps, its wick trimmers and trays, and all its jars for the olive oil used to supply it. 10 Then they are to wrap it and all its accessories in a covering of the durable leather and put it on a carrying frame.

11 “Over the gold altar they are to spread a blue cloth and cover that with the durable leather and put the poles in place.

12 “They are to take all the articles used for ministering in the sanctuary, wrap them in a blue cloth, cover that with the durable leather and put them on a carrying frame.

13 “They are to remove the ashes from the bronze altar and spread a purple cloth over it. 14 Then they are to place on it all the utensils used for ministering at the altar, including the firepans, meat forks, shovels and sprinkling bowls. Over it they are to spread a covering of the durable leather and put the poles in place.

15 “After Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy furnishings and all the holy articles, and when the camp is ready to move, only then are the Kohathites to come and do the carrying. But they must not touch the holy things or they will die. The Kohathites are to carry those things that are in the tent of meeting.

16 “Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, is to have charge of the oil for the light, the fragrant incense, the regular grain offering and the anointing oil. He is to be in charge of the entire tabernacle and everything in it, including its holy furnishings and articles.”

17 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 18 “See that the Kohathite tribal clans are not destroyed from among the Levites. 19 So that they may live and not die when they come near the most holy things, do this for them: Aaron and his sons are to go into the sanctuary and assign to each man his work and what he is to carry. 20 But the Kohathites must not go in to look at the holy things, even for a moment, or they will die.”

The Gershonites

21 The LORD said to Moses, 22 “Take a census also of the Gershonites by their families and clans. 23 Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work at the tent of meeting.

24 “This is the service of the Gershonite clans in their carrying and their other work: 25 They are to carry the curtains of the tabernacle, that is, the tent of meeting, its covering and its outer covering of durable leather, the curtains for the entrance to the tent of meeting, 26 the curtains of the courtyard surrounding the tabernacle and altar, the curtain for the entrance to the courtyard, the ropes and all the equipment used in the service of the tent. The Gershonites are to do all that needs to be done with these things. 27 All their service, whether carrying or doing other work, is to be done under the direction of Aaron and his sons. You shall assign to them as their responsibility all they are to carry. 28 This is the service of the Gershonite clans at the tent of meeting. Their duties are to be under the direction of Ithamar son of Aaron, the priest.

The Merarites

29 “Count the Merarites by their clans and families. 30 Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work at the tent of meeting. 31 As part of all their service at the tent, they are to carry the frames of the tabernacle, its crossbars, posts and bases, 32 as well as the posts of the surrounding courtyard with their bases, tent pegs, ropes, all their equipment and everything related to their use. Assign to each man the specific things he is to carry. 33 This is the service of the Merarite clans as they work at the tent of meeting under the direction of Ithamar son of Aaron, the priest.”

The Numbering of the Levite Clans

34 Moses, Aaron and the leaders of the community counted the Kohathites by their clans and families. 35 All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to serve in the work at the tent of meeting, 36 counted by clans, were 2,750. 37 This was the total of all those in the Kohathite clans who served at the tent of meeting. Moses and Aaron counted them according to the LORD’s command through Moses.

38 The Gershonites were counted by their clans and families.39 All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to serve in the work at the tent of meeting, 40 counted by their clans and families, were 2,630. 41 This was the total of those in the Gershonite clans who served at the tent of meeting. Moses and Aaron counted them according to the LORD’s command.

42 The Merarites were counted by their clans and families. 43All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to serve in the work at the tent of meeting, 44 counted by their clans, were 3,200. 45 This was the total of those in the Merarite clans. Moses and Aaron counted them according to the LORD’s command through Moses.

46 So Moses, Aaron and the leaders of Israel counted all the Levites by their clans and families. 47 All the men from thirty to fifty years of age who came to do the work of serving and carrying the tent of meeting 48 numbered 8,580. 49 At the LORD’s command through Moses, each was assigned his work and told what to carry.

Thus they were counted, as the LORD commanded Moses.


Mark 3

Jesus Accused by His Family and by Teachers of the Law

20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. 28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”

30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”

31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”

33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.

34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

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Felix [Fē'lĭx]—happy, prosperous. A cruel Roman governor of Judea, appointed by the Emperor Claudius, whose freedman he was (Acts 23:24,26; 24:2-27; 25:14). Felix is described by Tacitus as a bad and cruel governor, even though the title of “most excellent” was given to him.

The Man Who Procrastinated

As a true preacher, Paul pressed home the truth until it pricked the conscience of Felix so much so that he “trembled.” He did not resent Paul’s plain speaking but postponed the interview “till a more convenient season.” Such a “convenient season,” however, did not come, and Felix became a type of many whose consciences are stirred by the preached Word, but whose hopes of eternal security are ruined by a like procrastination. The two sworn enemies of the soul are “Yesterday” and “Tomorrow.”

Yesterday slays its thousands. Past sins plunge many into darkness and despair. Priceless opportunities were trampled upon, and the harvest is past. But God says there is mercy still and free forgiveness through repentance.

Tomorrow slays its tens of thousands. Vows, promises, resolutions are never fulfilled. “Some other time,” many say, when urged to repent and believe. They fail to realize that nowis the acceptable time. How pitiful it is that the convenient season never dawns for them! The pathway to their hell is strewn with good resolutions, and as they cross “The Great Divide,” the mocking voice cries out: “Too late! Too late!”

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The Full Meaning of Moses

Matthew 5:21-26 "I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment...and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be subject to the hell of fire" ( v. 22).

Yesterday we saw how Jesus comes to fulfill the Mosaic law, not to set it aside (Matt. 5:17). Our Lord, being the goal of the Law and the Prophets, by no means intends to do away with them. In fact, as the end of the Law, Jesus reveals the depth of Scripture, making it clear that God's demands are actually much stricter than the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees ( v. 20).

The meaning of this last point is determined from the practice of the Pharisees and Jesus' teaching regarding the Law in the life of Israel. Among our Savior's contemporaries, no one keeps the letter of the Law better than the Pharisees. Few Israelites can imagine outdoing their righteous practice, so exacting is their observation of the commandments. Yet as Christ will show us, outward conformity to the Law's details, while important, is not enough. Outward observance does not necessarily arise from a righteous motive ( Isa. 29:13-14). When inner purity and outward goodness concur, one's righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees. Of course, sinners can never meet this standard, and so Jesus pushes us to see that we all need His righteousness to be reckoned to us in order to be accepted by God (Gal. 2:15-16).

Beginning with today's passage, Jesus draws a series of antitheses between what has been said and what He Himself is teaching. We must understand at the outset that Jesus is not contradicting the teaching of the Old Testament. What has been "said" (Matt. 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43) is not what is "written" in the Law (4:4, 7, 10 ). In these antitheses Christ is giving the full meaning of what Moses originally delivered on Sinai and correcting the sayings - the traditions - that have unpacked the text falsely or incompletely. John Calvin comments: "As the law had been corrupted by false expositions, and turned to a profane meaning, Christ vindicates it against such corruptions, and points out its true meaning."

Regarding the law against murder (Ex. 20:13 ), we may think we have kept the commandment if we never kill anyone. Yet hatred provokes all murder, and the anger that produces hatred is actually murder to a lesser degree. Therefore, obeying God requires us to mortify our ungodly anger (Matt. 5:21-26).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Matthew Henry writes that the Pharisees made the fundamental error in thinking that "the divine law prohibited only the sinful act, not the sinful thought." The unseen sins of the mind and heart are the easiest for us to justify, but God detests our inner wickedness as much as He hates the evil we do before the eyes of men. Seek to reconcile yourself to someone with whom you have been angry unjustly so that your heart and your deeds may be purified.

For further study:

Genesis 4:1-8

The Bible in a year:

Numbers 21-22

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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The Full Meaning of Moses

Matthew 5:21-26

Matthew Henry writes that the Pharisees made the fundamental error in thinking that "the divine law prohibited only the sinful act, not the sinful thought." The unseen sins of the mind and heart are the easiest for us to justify, but God detests our inner wickedness as much as He hates the evil we do before the eyes of men. Seek to reconcile yourself to someone with whom you have been angry unjustly so that your heart and your deeds may be purified.

For further study:

Genesis 4:1-8

The Bible in a year:

Numbers 21-22

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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The greatest trial on record

‘The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed.’Psalm 2:2

Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 4:17–24

This day I put before you Christ Jesus, or your sins. The reason why many come not to Christ is because they cannot give up their lusts, their pleasures, their profits. Sin is Barabbas; sin is a thief; it will rob your soul of its life; it will rob God of his glory. Sin is a murderer; it stabbed our father Adam; it slew our purity. Sin is a traitor; it rebels against the king of heaven and earth. If you prefer sin to Christ, Christ has stood at your tribunal, and you have given in your verdict that sin is better than Christ. Where is that man? He comes here every Sunday; and yet he is a drunkard! Where is he? You prefer that reeling demon Bacchus to Christ. Where is that man? He comes here. Yes; and where are his midnight haunts? The harlot and the prostitute can tell! You have preferred your own foul, filthy lust to Christ. I know some here that have their consciences often pricked, and yet there is no change in them. You prefer Sunday trading to Christ; you prefer cheating to Christ; you prefer the theatre to Christ; you prefer the harlot to Christ; you prefer the devil himself to Christ, for he it is that is the father and author of these things. ‘No,’ says one, ‘I don’t.’ Then I do again put this question, and I put it very pointedly to you—‘If you do not prefer your sins to Christ, how is it that you are not a Christian?’ I believe this is the main stumbling-stone, that ‘Men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.’ We come not to Christ because of the viciousness of our nature, and depravity of our heart; and this is the depravity of your heart, that you prefer darkness to light, put bitter for sweet, and choose evil as your good.

For meditation: We ought to fear and serve God (Joshua 24:14–24 ); if we won’t, the only choice left to us is to follow one false way or another and serve sin in either its scandalous or more sophisticated forms. The intention to serve God is not something to be professed lightly, but by God’s grace it is possible to serve him. Whom do you serve ‘this day’?

Sermon no. 495
22 February (1863)

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The blood-shedding

“Without shedding of blood is no remission” Hebrews 9:22

Suggested Further Reading: John 6:52-59

Here is a garden dark and gloomy; the ground is crisp with the cold frost of midnight; between those gloomy olive trees I see a man, I hear him groan out his life in prayer; hearken, angels, hearken, men, and wonder; it is the Saviour groaning out his soul! Come and see him. Behold his brow! O heavens! Drops of blood are streaming down his face, and from his body; every pore is open, and it sweats! but not the sweat of men that toil for bread; it is the sweat of one that toils for heaven—he sweats “great drops of blood!” That is the blood-shedding, without which there is no remission. Follow that man further; they have dragged him with sacrilegious hands from the place of his prayer and his agony, and they have taken him to the hall of Pilate; they mock him; a robe of purple is put on his shoulders in mockery; and mark his brow—they have put about it a crown of thorns, and the crimson drops of gore are rushing down his cheeks! Ye angels! the drops of blood are running down his cheeks! But turn aside that purple robe for a moment. His back is bleeding. Tell me, demons, who did this. They lift up the thongs, still dripping clots of gore; they scourge and tear his flesh, and make a river of blood to run down his shoulders! That is the shedding of blood without which there is no remission. Not yet have I done: they hurry him through the streets; they fling him on the ground; they nail his hands and feet to the transverse wood, they hoist it in the air, they dash it into its socket, it is fixed, and there he hangs the Christ of God. Blood from his head, blood from his hands, blood from his feet! In agony unknown he bleeds away his life; in terrible throes he exhausts his soul. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.” And then see! they pierce his side, and forthwith runneth out blood and water. This is the shedding of blood, sinners and saints; this is the awful shedding of blood, the terrible pouring out of blood, without which for you, and for the whole human race, there is no remission.

For meditation : Even with the shedding of Christ’s blood there is still no forgiveness of sins unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood (John 6:53); that is by coming to him and trusting in him (John 6:35).

Sermon no. 118
22 February (1857)

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February 22, 2012

How Much of Your Life do You Want God to Change?

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

"Jesus said to the servants, 'Fill the jars with water'; so they fill them to the brim," (John 2:7 NIV).

Friend to Friend

Shortly after Jesus was baptized, he attended a wedding reception in the town of Cana, in Galilee. Apparently Jesus felt very comfortable at such a party, and I imagine Him laughing, mingling, and having a good time with His friends. Near the end of the festivities, the servants let Mary in on a dilemma – they were out of wine. To run out of wine at a Jewish wedding celebration was an embarrassment and disgrace to the hosting family. Mary turned to her son and said, "They have no more wine," (John 2:3 NIV) as if she expected Him to do something about it. I can almost see her raised eyebrow and the mischievous twinkle in her eye.

Jesus said, "Dear woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come" (John 2:4).

Mary turned to the servants and said, "Do what ever He tells you." Mary seemed to understand Jesus' power before anyone else.

Jesus told the servants to fill six large thirty gallon stone pots with water. So they filled them "to the brim." Then He told them to draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.

When they did so, the master tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He then called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."

I often wonder what would have happened if the servants had filled the pots half full or three fourths full. I imagine Jesus would have transformed exactly what they put in. Likewise, God will transform just as much of our lives as we give Him. As for me, I want to "fill it to the brim," give Him all of my life – every bit of it. It is the same with my marriage. I want to give Jesus all of my marriage…to the brim. So in our winter years, my husband and I will agree…we have saved the best till now.

Let's Pray

Dear Lord, I pray that I will be like the servants who did exactly what you told them to do. My desire is to obey you fully…to the brim. Help me not to hold back anything but give You all of me so that you can transform me totally.

In Jesus' Name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

How much of your life do you want Jesus to transform?

How much of your marriage do you want Jesus to transform? How much of your marriage have you given Him?

How much of your attitude do you want Jesus to transform? How much of your attitude have you given Him?

How much of your __________ do you want Jesus to transform? (You fill in the blank.)

How much have you given Him?

I'd love to know what you filled in that blank. Let's share at www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes.

More from the Girlfriends

Today's devotion was taken from Becoming the Woman of His Dreams: Seven Qualities Every Man Longs For. If there is one area of our lives that we need to give totally to Christ, it is our marriages. Perhaps that's why Jesus' first miracle was at a wedding. To learn more about how to be the woman your husband longs for, click on the bookstore link above. And while you are on my webpage, check out the articles and past blogs/devotions on marriage. There are even a few free resources.

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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Samantha Reed

February 22, 2012

Please Don't Judge Me
Samantha Reed

"You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." Mark 10:21b (ESV)

I had some priorities misplaced. Suppose I'd known for some time, but didn't fully recognize them until a trip to El Salvador with Compassion International.

I met two children on a home visit. They lifted their tarp door and invited me in. Into mud puddles and dirt walls with just one bed where five rested their heads at night. One bed for dreaming dreams of being a doctor and police officer.

They filled my hands not with silver or gold, but with selfless love. Love shared in stories and smiles and what few tangible gifts they owned.

I'd come to extend gifts myself; gifts of detergent and food. But they exceeded anything I had to give. A tiny beaded bracelet smudged with dirt, drenched in love. They wanted it to be mine.

Feeling too shy to hand it to me herself, she nudged her brother. He presented it to me as if it were a royal crown and gently slid it on my wrist.

I declare, diamonds couldn't match the worth of their hearts, their gift in that moment.

The next morning as I was getting ready I felt a nudge.Give your bracelet away like those children gave theirs to you.

You see, I had another precious bracelet with me. One my dad had given me over twenty years ago. Just a simple wooden bracelet from South Africa, but it meant the world to me.

How could I part with it? I wrestled with indecision. My heart soared, anticipating the moment I'd spot a little girl or mama to give my bracelet. But then my heart sank, anxious at the thought of giving up one of my most precious treasures.

And there lay the problem. My misplaced treasure.

Please, don't judge me.

I'm embarrassed... more than that. Heartbroken. I'm sickto say I couldn't give it away. Couldn't? No; more like Iwouldn't. Both bracelets journeyed back to the United States.

One bearing selflessness; the other, selfishness.

I thought I was really something, bringing gifts to those kids in the form of beans and rice, soap and smiles. Little did I know, I was the one in need.

I needed God's mercy {and I'm so glad it's available}. I needed new perspective. I don't want possessions if I'm not willing to use them to love others.

More than anything though, I needed the one thing I lacked... more love for the Lord than for my belongings. My heart held tighter to my bracelet than to what God had asked me to do. He beckoned, "give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven." A seemingly simple request, yet so difficult for me to follow.

You know what the crazy thing is? I've since lost my dad's bracelet. Isn't that the way it is with earthly treasures? They're meant to easily slip through open hands and giving hearts.

I've decided I don't want to be lacking in love for the Lord or those He cares for. Next time I'm giving it all. I'm starting by opening my hands and heart and looking for opportunities today. Are you with me?

Dear Lord, You are the perfect example of giving. You gave Your Son, and He gave His very life on the cross. Thank You for giving new mercies, second chances and hearts that respond to Your prompting. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Might you open your hands and heart with a sponsorship of a Compassion International child, like the two who blessed Samantha?

Click here to visit Samantha's blog for pictures of these two generous children and enter to win a special bracelet.

Reflect and Respond:
"Sometimes love requires the sacrifice of your possessions, your time, or some other precious commodity." ~John MacArthur

How can you respond to this beckoning by Jesus, "...give to the poor"?

Power Verses:
Matthew 6:20, "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." (NIV 1984)

Lamentations 3:22-23, "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (NIV 1984)

© 2012 by Samantha Reed. All rights reserved.

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

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Day 1

God. Lord. Messiah. Redeemer. Lamb of God. Bread of Life. Throughout the Bible, Jesus is called by many different names. And each one refers to an important place that Jesus holds in God’s plan for the salvation of humankind. "The Story of Jesus" provides you with an intimate look into the life, death, resurrection and everlasting glory of God’s son.

Excerpted from "The Story," the text of this newsletter is the actual, God-breathed words of the Bible. The Scripture text used in "The Story of Jesus" is taken from the New International Version (NIV). Sections in italics are transition text or discussion questions. Our goal was to make the Bible read smoothly and easily, so that you can read it just like you’d read a novel. But what you’re reading isn’t any ordinary story. You are reading a story that has the power to change who you are, what you think and how you view life. You are exposing yourself to deep, transforming truth.

So sit back and spend some time discovering "The Story of Jesus."

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Why did Jesus come into this world?

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At Issue - Anger at God

Job 10:1-22

Your husband abandons you. Cancer claims a loved one. Your baby doesn't make it. You've been sexually assaulted. And you want to know: Is it OK to be angry with God? First answer this: Does being angry with God mean that you think God is wrong or has made a mistake? When Job directed his anger at God, God reminded Job (for four chapters!) of his incomparable wisdom and power. He reminded Job that he's never wrong. If you're angry with God, talk to him about it. In your anger, don't sin by turning from God, blaming God or believing he's wrong (see Psalm 4:4; Ephesians 4:26). Ask him to help you accept his wisdom and work through your feelings.

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by Zondervan


The Bible that helps you see yourself as God sees you! Find your true identity in Christ through your relationship with him.
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The Last Enemy: Why believe in life after death?

Today's reading: 1 Corinthians 15

1 Corinthians 15:55 "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"

Much of 1 Corinthians centers on issues of personal behavior involving rambunctious church members. After tackling each of those problems, Paul turns his attention to a question of doctrine, one that looms before him as the most important issue of all. People are challenging the Christian belief in an afterlife. Death, they say, is the end.

Throughout history, many people have taken such a position. In Jesus' day, a Jewish sect called Sadducees denied the resurrection from the dead. Doubters persist today, such as Black Muslims, Buddhists, Marxists and most atheists. Some New Age advocates present death as a natural part of the cycle of life. "Why resist it or consider it bad?" they ask.

No Fairy Tale

The Corinthian church soon learns not to voice that opinion around the apostle Paul. To him, life after death is no fairy tale, but rather the fulcrum of his entire faith. If there is no afterlife, he thunders, the Christian message is a lie. If there is no afterlife, he has no reason to continue as a minister, Christ's death is merely wasted blood, and Christians are the most pitiable of all people.

The Bible presents a gradually developing emphasis on the afterlife. Old Testament Jews had only the vaguest conception of life after death. As Paul points out, Jesus' resurrection from the dead changed all that, giving the world decisive proof that God has the power and the will to overcome death. First Corinthians 15 weaves together the threads of Christian belief about death. With no hesitation, Paul brands death "the enemy," the last enemy to be destroyed (see 1 Corinthians 15:26).

This chapter often gets read at funerals, with good reason. As people gather around a casket, they sense, as if by instinct, the unnaturalness and horror of death. To such people, to all of us, this passage offers soaring words of hope. It shows how death is finally conquered and becomes not an end, but a beginning.

Life Question

How does a belief in the afterlife affect your life now?

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Today's Lent reading: Matthew 1-3 (NIV)

View today's Lent reading on Bible Gateway
The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah

1 This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
4 Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
6 and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife,
7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
9 Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.

12 After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud,
Abihud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
14 Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Elihud,
15 Elihud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.

17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.

Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "God with us").

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Matthew 2

The Magi Visit the Messiah

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."

3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:

6 "'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.'"

7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

The Escape to Egypt

13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."

14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son."

16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18 "A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more."

The Return to Nazareth

19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead."

21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Matthew 3

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

1 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

"A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
'Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.'"

4 John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

11 "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

The Baptism of Jesus

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"

15 Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

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Lent has begun, and Easter is coming! Today, on Ash Wednesday, we begin the somber, reflective season of Lent--a time to repent of our sin and look ahead to the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through Lent (and on select special days throughout), you'll receive an email with Easter-themed Scripture, prayers, and/or other devotional reflections.

Today's Prayer

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. -- The Book of Common Prayer

Today's Scripture Reading: Joel 2:1-2,12-17

1 Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy hill.

Let all who live in the land tremble,
for the day of the LORD is coming.
It is close at hand--
2 a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was in ancient times
nor ever will be in ages to come.

12 "Even now," declares the LORD,
"return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning."

13 Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent
and leave behind a blessing--
grain offerings and drink offerings
for the LORD your God.

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion,
declare a holy fast,
call a sacred assembly.
16 Gather the people,
consecrate the assembly;
bring together the elders,
gather the children,
those nursing at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room
and the bride her chamber.
17 Let the priests, who minister before the LORD,
weep between the portico and the altar.
Let them say, "Spare your people, LORD.
Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
'Where is their God?'"

Today's Quote

The following quote is from an Easter sermon by Friedrich Schleiermacher, an influential 19th-century theologian known as the "Father of Modern Protestant Theology." This quote, on the necessity of putting to death the "old man" of our sinful nature, is appropriate for Ash Wednesday:

Thus, my friends, we know what is the new life that is to be like the resurrection life of the Lord. A previous life must die; the apostle calls it the body of sin, the law of sin in our members, and this needs no lengthened discussion. We all know and feel that this life, which Scripture calls a being dead in sins, pleasant and splendid as may be the form it often assumes, is yet nothing but what the mortal body of the Saviour also was, an expression and evidence of the power of death, because even the fairest and strongest presentation of this kind lacks the element of being imperishable. Thus with the mortal body of the Saviour, and thus also with the natural life of man, which is as yet not a life from God. -- "Christ's Resurrection An Image of Our New Life"

Something to Think About

Many Christians opt to give up something for Lent--a particular habit, luxury, food, or activity. Are you giving up anything for Lent this year? Why or why not?
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Today's Lent reading: Matthew 1-3 (NIV)

View today's Lent reading on Bible Gateway
The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah

1 This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
4 Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
6 and Jesse the father of King David....


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