Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Daily Devotional Tuesday 21st February

“Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”Proverbs 17:9 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"God, that comforteth those that are cast down."
2 Corinthians 7:6

And who comforteth like him? Go to some poor, melancholy, distressed child of God; tell him sweet promises, and whisper in his ear choice words of comfort; he is like the deaf adder, he listens not to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely. He is drinking gall and wormwood, and comfort him as you may, it will be only a note or two of mournful resignation that you will get from him; you will bring forth no psalms of praise, no hallelujahs, no joyful sonnets. But let God come to his child, let him lift up his countenance, and the mourner's eyes glisten with hope. Do you not hear him sing--

"'Tis paradise, if thou art here;

If thou depart, 'tis hell?"

You could not have cheered him: but the Lord has done it; "He is the God of all comfort." There is no balm in Gilead, but there is balm in God. There is no physician among the creatures, but the Creator is Jehovah-rophi. It is marvellous how one sweet word of God will make whole songs for Christians. One word of God is like a piece of gold, and the Christian is the gold beater, and can hammer that promise out for whole weeks. So, then, poor Christian, thou needest not sit down in despair. Go to the Comforter, and ask him to give thee consolation. Thou art a poor dry well. You have heard it said, that when a pump is dry, you must pour water down it first of all, and then you will get water, and so, Christian, when thou art dry, go to God, ask him to shed abroad his joy in thy heart, and then thy joy shall be full. Do not go to earthly acquaintances, for you will find them Job's comforters after all; but go first and foremost to thy "God, that comforteth those that are cast down," and you will soon say, "In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul."

Evening

"Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil."
Matthew 4:1

A holy character does not avert temptation--Jesus was tempted. When Satan tempts us, his sparks fall upon tinder; but in Christ's case, it was like striking sparks on water; yet the enemy continued his evil work. Now, if the devil goes on striking when there is no result, how much more will he do it when he knows what inflammable stuff our hearts are made of. Though you become greatly sanctified by the Holy Ghost, expect that the great dog of hell will bark at you still. In the haunts of men we expect to be tempted, but even seclusion will not guard us from the same trial. Jesus Christ was led away from human society into the wilderness, and was tempted of the devil. Solitude has its charms and its benefits, and may be useful in checking the lust of the eye and the pride of life; but the devil will follow us into the most lovely retreats. Do not suppose that it is only the worldly-minded who have dreadful thoughts and blasphemous temptations, for even spiritual-minded persons endure the same; and in the holiest position we may suffer the darkest temptation. The utmost consecration of spirit will not insure you against Satanic temptation. Christ was consecrated through and through. It was his meat and drink to do the will of him that sent him: and yet he was tempted! Your hearts may glow with a seraphic flame of love to Jesus, and yet the devil will try to bring you down to Laodicean lukewarmness. If you will tell me when God permits a Christian to lay aside his armour, I will tell you when Satan has left off temptation. Like the old knights in war time, we must sleep with helmet and breastplate buckled on, for the arch-deceiver will seize our first unguarded hour to make us his prey. The Lord keep us watchful in all seasons, and give us a final escape from the jaw of the lion and the paw of the bear.

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Today's reading: Leviticus 26-27, Mark 2 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Reward for Obedience

1 “‘Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the LORD your God.

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

3 “‘If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, 4 I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. 5 Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.

6 “‘I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove wild beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country. 7 You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you. 8 Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.

9 “‘I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you.10 You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new. 11 I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. 12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.13 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.

Punishment for Disobedience

14 “‘But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, 15 and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, 16 then I will do this to you: I will bring on you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and sap your strength. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it. 17 I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you.

18 “‘If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over. 19 I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze. 20 Your strength will be spent in vain, because your soil will not yield its crops, nor will the trees of your land yield their fruit.

21 “‘If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions seven times over, as your sins deserve. 22 I will send wild animals against you, and they will rob you of your children, destroy your cattle and make you so few in number that your roads will be deserted.

23 “‘If in spite of these things you do not accept my correction but continue to be hostile toward me, 24 I myself will be hostile toward you and will afflict you for your sins seven times over. 25 And I will bring the sword on you to avenge the breaking of the covenant. When you withdraw into your cities, I will send a plague among you, and you will be given into enemy hands. 26 When I cut off your supply of bread, ten women will be able to bake your bread in one oven, and they will dole out the bread by weight. You will eat, but you will not be satisfied.

27 “‘If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me, 28 then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over. 29 You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters. 30 I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you. 31 I will turn your cities into ruins and lay waste your sanctuaries, and I will take no delight in the pleasing aroma of your offerings. 32 I myself will lay waste the land, so that your enemies who live there will be appalled. 33 I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins. 34 Then the land will enjoy its sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. 35 All the time that it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not have during the sabbaths you lived in it.

36 “‘As for those of you who are left, I will make their hearts so fearful in the lands of their enemies that the sound of a windblown leaf will put them to flight. They will run as though fleeing from the sword, and they will fall, even though no one is pursuing them. 37 They will stumble over one another as though fleeing from the sword, even though no one is pursuing them. So you will not be able to stand before your enemies. 38 You will perish among the nations; the land of your enemies will devour you. 39 Those of you who are left will waste away in the lands of their enemies because of their sins; also because of their ancestors’ sins they will waste away.

40 “‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors—their unfaithfulness and their hostility toward me, 41which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, 42 I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43 For the land will be deserted by them and will enjoy its sabbaths while it lies desolate without them. They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees. 44Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the LORD their God. 45 But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the LORD.’”

46 These are the decrees, the laws and the regulations that the LORD established at Mount Sinai between himself and the Israelites through Moses.

Leviticus 27

Redeeming What Is the LORD’s

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If anyone makes a special vow to dedicate a person to the LORD by giving the equivalent value, 3 set the value of a male between the ages of twenty and sixty at fifty shekels of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel; 4 for a female, set her value at thirty shekels; 5 for a person between the ages of five and twenty, set the value of a male at twenty shekels and of a female at ten shekels; 6 for a person between one month and five years, set the value of a male at five shekels of silver and that of a female at three shekels of silver;7 for a person sixty years old or more, set the value of a male at fifteen shekels and of a female at ten shekels. 8 If anyone making the vow is too poor to pay the specified amount, the person being dedicated is to be presented to the priest, who will set the value according to what the one making the vow can afford.

9 “‘If what they vowed is an animal that is acceptable as an offering to the LORD, such an animal given to the LORD becomes holy. 10 They must not exchange it or substitute a good one for a bad one, or a bad one for a good one; if they should substitute one animal for another, both it and the substitute become holy. 11 If what they vowed is a ceremonially unclean animal—one that is not acceptable as an offering to the LORD—the animal must be presented to the priest, 12 who will judge its quality as good or bad. Whatever value the priest then sets, that is what it will be. 13 If the owner wishes to redeem the animal, a fifth must be added to its value.

14 “‘If anyone dedicates their house as something holy to the LORD, the priest will judge its quality as good or bad. Whatever value the priest then sets, so it will remain. 15 If the one who dedicates their house wishes to redeem it, they must add a fifth to its value, and the house will again become theirs.

16 “‘If anyone dedicates to the LORD part of their family land, its value is to be set according to the amount of seed required for it—fifty shekels of silver to a homer of barley seed. 17 If they dedicate a field during the Year of Jubilee, the value that has been set remains. 18 But if they dedicate a field after the Jubilee, the priest will determine the value according to the number of years that remain until the next Year of Jubilee, and its set value will be reduced. 19 If the one who dedicates the field wishes to redeem it, they must add a fifth to its value, and the field will again become theirs. 20 If, however, they do not redeem the field, or if they have sold it to someone else, it can never be redeemed. 21 When the field is released in the Jubilee, it will become holy, like a field devoted to the LORD; it will become priestly property.

22 “‘If anyone dedicates to the LORD a field they have bought, which is not part of their family land, 23 the priest will determine its value up to the Year of Jubilee, and the owner must pay its value on that day as something holy to the LORD.24 In the Year of Jubilee the field will revert to the person from whom it was bought, the one whose land it was. 25 Every value is to be set according to the sanctuary shekel, twenty gerahs to the shekel.

26 “‘No one, however, may dedicate the firstborn of an animal, since the firstborn already belongs to the LORD; whether an ox or a sheep, it is the LORD’s. 27 If it is one of the unclean animals, it may be bought back at its set value, adding a fifth of the value to it. If it is not redeemed, it is to be sold at its set value.

28 “‘But nothing that a person owns and devotes to the LORD—whether a human being or an animal or family land—may be sold or redeemed; everything so devoted is most holy to the LORD.

29 “‘No person devoted to destruction may be ransomed; they are to be put to death.

30 “‘A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD. 31 Whoever would redeem any of their tithe must add a fifth of the value to it. 32 Every tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod—will be holy to the LORD. 33 No one may pick out the good from the bad or make any substitution. If anyone does make a substitution, both the animal and its substitute become holy and cannot be redeemed.’”

34 These are the commands the LORD gave Moses at Mount Sinai for the Israelites.


Mark 2

Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man

1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Jesus Calls Levi and Eats With Sinners

13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.

15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus Questioned About Fasting

18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?”

19 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.

21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath

23 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

25 He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”

27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

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Salome No. 1

The Woman Whose Dancing Meant Death

Scripture ReferencesMatthew 14:6-11; Mark 6:22-28

Name Meaning —Salome is the feminine form of Solomon, and according to Wilkinson, is the Greek form in shalom meaning “peace.” Cruden, however, says that Salome implies, “very shady,” which is truer of the debased character of the daughter of Herodias—which was indeed shady, morally. The New Testament does not name her. It is Josephus the Jewish historian who identifies her as Salome.

Family Connections—She was the daughter of Herodias by her first husband, Herod Philip, a son of Herod the Great. Josephus tells us that Salome was married first to Philip the tetrarch, and afterward to Aristobulus, king of Chalcis, the grandson of Herod, and brother of Agrippa.

Mention has already been made of the part Salome played at the birthday of Herod, and how through her sensual dancing John the Baptist was beheaded, and Herod lost his kingdom (see Herodias ). Kitto, the eminent expositor tells us that, “In the age of Herod, dancing was exceedingly rare and almost unheard of, and therefore the condescension of Salome, who volunteered to honour that monarch’s birthday by exhibiting her handsome person as she led the mazy dance in the saloons of Machaerus, felt it to be a compliment that merited the highest reward.” It was more at the instigation of her evil-minded mother, however, than her own initiative that Salome took part in her dance of death.

What must be borne in mind in our modern times with its evils of mixed dancing is that the Bible nowhere speaks of the mixing of the sexes in the dance. The only social dancing for mere amusement was engaged in by men void of shame whom Michal alluded to when she rebuked her husband for dancing alone before the Lord ; the godless families described by Job, which produced increased impiety, and ended in destruction; and that of Salome which terminated in Herod’s rash vow and in the murder of John the Baptist, our Lord’s forerunner. As almost all forms of mixed dancing are taught and practiced in schools and colleges, and alas, countenanced by some churches, Christian parents are deeply concerned about the moral effect of dancing on the lives of their children. If they refuse permission for their children to dance, parents are daubed as being too tight-laced, old-fashioned, or out of fashion. Well, Noah was certainly out of fashion, but with his family was saved from the terrible deluge, while the giddy and corrupt world around perished. As the fashion of this world is to pass away, why should Christians shrink from non-participation in it? Moses, we are told, chose “affliction” rather than “enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25). The evil heart of Herodias planned the evil act of Salome’s dance, and God’s greatest prophet died. Surely such a tragedy is sufficient to condemn dancing as we know it?

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Thaddaeus [Thăddae'us]—breast, one that praises or man of heart. One of the twelve apostles of Christ (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18 ), also called Labbeus, or Lebbeus, and sometimes identified as Jude, who wrote the epistle bearing his name. This apostle then, was known by three names, two of which were terms of endearment used toward him from early days. In this least known among the apostles, we have a man who discovered that love is the secret of obedience and that obedience is the secret of blessedness.
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Salt and Light

Matthew 5:13-16

Christ's call for us to be salt and light is not an impossible one. In keeping with New Testament ethics, Jesus first tells us what we are and then calls us to live up to that standard. In Him we are salt and light ( Matt. 5:13-16), and so we are to live out by faith what He has made us to be. If you are discouraged by your saltlessness or darkness, remember that Jesus declares you to be salt and light and press on, knowing that by the power of the Spirit you can obey His charge.

For further study:

Isaiah 42:1-9

The Bible in a year:

Numbers 16-18

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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Salt and Light

Matthew 5:13-16 "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (v. 16).

Jesus identifies Himself with Yahweh in the Sermon on the Mount when He compares His disciples to the persecuted prophets of old (Matt. 5:11-12; Jer. 37-38). The disciples who speak for Jesus are like the prophets who spoke for the Lord of the covenant; therefore, Christ implies His divine sovereignty.

The prophets carried out their ministries in full view of the people of Israel, and so we are not surprised to see that their successors, the disciples of Jesus, do not build the kingdom of God in secret. This is the point of today's passage. Our Savior calls His disciples the "salt of the earth" (Matt. 5:13) and the "light of the world" (v. 14 ), two substances that permeate and transform the food, or the darkness, in which they are found. Like salt and light, the church is to have a transformative effect on the surrounding society.

Salt is often produced as tiny grains and is not expensive given its prevalence. Yet its value far outweighs its apparent insignificance. Christians are to be like salt and have a positive impact on the culture far beyond what is expected from the powerless. The meaning of Jesus' metaphor is probably not limited to any single benefit we get from salt, but we will highlight its preservative quality. The church must have a preserving effect on society and by its influence prevent the world from rushing headlong toward ungodliness. Christianity has fulfilled this role historically, leading the way in the advance of human rights. But take note that we are salt only if we maintain our difference from the world around us. In the Near East, salt can be found mixed with gypsum or sand, diluting its "saltiness" and worth. The same fate can befall us if we bend over backward to show the world how much we are like them (v. 13; 1 Peter 1:14-16).

Rural communities like the one Jesus addresses in Matthew 5well know how blinding darkness can be. Yet the glow of a city in the distance can give those living in the pitch black of night a sense of direction and bearing. Just as walking around the camp at night is dangerous without a lighted torch, Jesus calls us to be the light of the world, to live as those transformed by the Spirit so that the world will take notice and be led to glorify the Father (vv. 14-16).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Christ's call for us to be salt and light is not an impossible one. In keeping with New Testament ethics, Jesus first tells us what we are and then calls us to live up to that standard. In Him we are salt and light (Matt. 5:13-16), and so we are to live out by faith what He has made us to be. If you are discouraged by your saltlessness or darkness, remember that Jesus declares you to be salt and light and press on, knowing that by the power of the Spirit you can obey His charge.

For further study:

Isaiah 42:1-9

The Bible in a year:

Numbers 16-18

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 centurion: or, an exhortation to the virtuous

‘They came to Jesus…saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: for he…hath built us a synagogue…; the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:…but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed…When Jesus heard these things, he…said…I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.’ Luke 7:4–9

Suggested Further Reading: Proverbs 26:28–27:2

This centurion certainly had a high reputation. Two features of character blend in him which do not often meet in such graceful harmony. He won the high opinion of others and yet he held a low estimation of himself. There are some who think little of themselves; and they are quite correct in their feelings, as all the world would endorse the estimate of their littleness. Others there are who think great things of themselves; but the more they are known, the less they are praised. Nor is it unusual for men to think great things of themselves because the world commends or flatters them; so they robe themselves with pride and cloak themselves with vanity, because they have by some means, either rightly or wrongly, won the good opinion of others. There are very few who have the happy combination of the text. The elders say of the centurion, that he is worthy; but he says of himself, ‘Lord, I am not worthy!’ They commend him for building God a house; but he thinks that he is not worthy that Christ should come under the roof of his house. They plead his merit; but he pleads his demerit. Thus he appeals to the power of Christ, apart from anything that he felt in himself or thought of himself. O that you and I might have this blessed combination in ourselves; to win the high opinion of others, so far as it can be gained by integrity, by uprightness, and by decision of character, and yet at the same time to walk humbly with our God!

For meditation: A good reputation amongst outsiders and an absence of pride are characteristics which must be true of those appointed as church leaders (1 Timothy 3:6–7). They should also be amongst the aims of every believer (Matthew 5:3,16).

Sermon no. 600
20 February (Undated Sermon)

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The great reservoir

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 12:33-37

If I should vainly attempt to fashion my discourse after lofty models, I should this morning compare the human heart to the ancient city of Thebes, out of whose hundred gates multitudes of warriors were wont to march. As was the city such were her armies, as was her inward strength, such were they who came forth of her. I might then urge the necessity of keeping the heart, because it is the metropolis of our manhood, the citadel and armoury of our humanity. Let the chief fortress surrender to the enemy, and the occupation of the rest must be an easy task. Let the principal stronghold be possessed by evil, the whole land must be overrun thereby. Instead, however, of doing this, I shall attempt what possibly I may be able to perform, by a humble metaphor and a simple figure, which will be easily understood; I shall endeavour to set forth the wise man’s doctrine, that our life issues from the heart, and thus I shall labour to show the absolute necessity of keeping the heart with all diligence. You have seen the great reservoirs provided by our water companies, from which the water which is to supply hundreds of streets and thousands of houses comes. Now, the heart is just the reservoir of man, and our life is allowed to flow in its proper season. That life may flow through different pipes—the mouth, the hand, the eye; but still all the issues of hand, of eye, of lip, derive their source from the great fountain and central reservoir, the heart; and hence there is no difficulty in showing the great necessity that exists for keeping the reservoir, the heart, in a proper state and condition, since otherwise that which flows through the pipes must be tainted and corrupt.

For meditation: God is the only one who knows the natural wickedness of our hearts (Jeremiah 17:9), the only one who can renew them (Ezekiel 36:25-26 ) and the only one who can produce good from them (John 7:38-39).

Sermon no. 179
20 February (Preached 21 February 1858)

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February 20, 2012

Lost that Lovin' Feeling?

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

"Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love" (Revelation 2:4 NIV).

Friend to Friend

(If you aren't married, I want you to read this devotion through the lens of this…have you lost that lovin' feeling towards Jesus? Now, read on sister and consider Jesus as your heavenly groom.)

If you're married, what do you do when you've lost that loving' feelin'? Maybe you truly adored your husband in the beginning, but now you can't remember why. Maybe you honestly admired his finer qualities, but now you can't remember what they were. Maybe you appreciated his wonderful attributes, but now take them for granted. What do you do now?

Here's a statistic you might find interesting. According to an analysis of the National Survey of Families and Households, 86 percent of unhappily married people who stick it out find that, five years later, their marriages are happier. In fact, nearly 60 percent of those who rated their marriage as unhappy in the late 1980's, and who stayed married, rated their same marriage "very happy" or "quite happy" when re-interviewed five years later ( Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage (New York: Doubleday, 2000) 148). In comparison, those who divorced and remarried, divorced again at a rate of 60 percent (Judith Wallerstein and Julia A. Lewis, and Sandra Blakeslee, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, Hyperion, 2000) p295).

So, starting over may very well be the answer … as long as it's with the same man.

In the book of Revelation in the Bible, God had this to say to the church at Ephesus. "Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love" (Revelation 2:4). Ephesus was one of the most loving churches in the New Testament and yet, somewhere along the way, they lost that initial thrill of knowing Christ. Their love for each other and for God had grown cold.

As I read God's lament, I whispered a prayer. "Oh Lord, how many of us women have forgotten our first love. We've forgotten the thrill we felt when we first met our husbands: the spine tingling chills when he walked into a room, the heart skipping flutter when he called on the phone, the tender wooing when we opened a letter penned by his hand, the electricity of sexual desire stirred with a kiss. Somewhere between taking out the garbage, paying the bills, running carpool, mowing the lawn, disciplining the kids, folding the laundry…somewhere among the mundane routine of life, we've lost that lovin' feelin'.

How do we get it back? God gave the church two simple steps for the Bride of Christ to renew her passion for her Beloved, and I believe we can apply the same principles to renewing our passion for the man of our dreams.

Remember and Return

Remember what drew you to your husband in the first place? Remember how you tried to please him, capture his heart, and win his affection? That may have been fifty pounds and a full head of hair ago, but that young man who longed to be adored, admired, and appreciated still lives within his heart. He wants to know if he still "has what it takes." Let him know that he does.

Everyone loves a love story. Tell your children the story of how you first met and fell in love. Remember special days such as your first date, your first kiss, or when you first realized he was the man you wanted to marry. Listen to a tape or watch a video of your wedding. Steve and I celebrate not only our wedding anniversary but also the day he asked me to marry him. I'm sure my son has tired of hearing the story time and time again, but he's never doubted that his parents are crazy about each other.

(If you are single, think of the day you first came to Jesus. Tell someone about it. Praise God for it. Each year we celebrate our son's spiritual birthday…July 4th.)

Let's Pray

Dear Lord, I so want to be a woman that is on fire for You. I want my spiritual passion to be ablaze and never cool. Likewise, I want my marriage to be a passionate example of Christ and the Church. Help me to always remember what drew me to my husband and show me ways to keep that love strong. Help me to remember the day I first came to You, and help me to keep the fire ablaze.

In Jesus' Name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

If you have kids, tell them the story of how you met and fell in love with your husband at the dinner table tonight.

If you aren't married, tell someone how you met Jesus Christ and gave your life to Him.

If you are married, write down what drew you to your husband initially.

If you are not married, write down what you long for in the man of your dreams.

Let's share some ideas. Visit www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes and tell one way you keep the love alive in your marriage.

More from the Girlfriends

February is the month of love and a wonderful time to contemplate our marriages. Do you want to become the woman of your husband's dreams? The woman who makes him sorry to leave in the morning and eager to come home at night? Then you'll want to read Becoming the Woman of His Dreams – Seven Qualities Every Man LongsFor by Sharon Jaynes. And get ready to fan that flame once again!

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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Amy Carroll

February 20, 2012

God, Could You Please Hurry?
Amy Carroll

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV 1984)

I completely lost my patience and started yelling, "Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!"

Those of us who have lived in rural areas know that tractors on the road are a fact of life. However, just because they're the norm doesn't make them any less irritating if you're in a rush! I followed a tractor down one of our narrow two-lane roads recently. I could only take the snail's pace for so long before blowing up. But all that yelling, "Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!" didn't speed up the tractor.

How often have I approached God's timing the same way? And it never hurries Him up either.

When God doesn't operate at a pace that pleases me, and I want Him to hurry, I'm reminded of Sarah, Abraham's wife. I have feeling she felt the same way. After waiting ten years for a baby that God had promised (read Genesis 12-21 for the complete story), Sarah decided to "help" God.

Surely ten years was too long for anybody to wait. So Sarah gave her maidservant Hagar to her husband, and the two of them had a child. Soon the two women were at odds. Talk about a soap opera!

Finally, fifteen years later, the child promised by God to Abraham and Sarah was born. God was not late. His timing was perfect. It was Sarah who was in a hurry and rushing things, but she found out there was a price to pay for manipulating her circumstances.

I know Sarah and I are not alone in our desire for God to hurry up. I once heard it said that we are people with gods on our wrists.

In Isaiah 55:9 God says, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (NIV). God's timing is part of His ways. I may be tapping my watch, but He is never late. He may seem slow, but He is always right on time.

Has God made a promise to you that seems sluggish in coming? Has He planted a dream in your heart that has yet to come to fruition?

Don't give up hope! God is faithful, and you can rely on His perfect timing. Fix your eyes on Him and enjoy the journey to your destination. There are things to be learned along the way that will enhance the joy of a promise fulfilled.

Dear Lord, sometimes I don't understand Your timing. It's often very hard to wait, but I trust You. I want to rely on Your ways and Your timing. Help me to learn what I need to learn as I wait. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Visit Amy's blog for more encouragement.

What to do in the W.A.I.T., message on CD by Wendy Pope

Reflect and Respond:
What are some of the plans or dreams you believe God has placed in your heart?

Have you manipulated circumstances to try to see those dreams come true, or are you focused and committed to waiting for God's timing?

What does God want you to learn in times of waiting?

Power Verses:
Psalm 130:5, "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope." (NIV 1984)

2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (NIV 1984)

© 2012 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

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Personal Development: Dependence on God

READ MATTHEW 6:25-34

All people who lead others or carry organizational responsibility find more than enough reasons to worry-deadlines, financial pressures, market instability and other pressures (you fill in your own blanks here) make stomachs churn and account for many a sleepless night. But Jesus cautions us against worrying about anything-even the food we eat or the clothes we wear. In this passage, Jesus gives his disciples (and us) six reasons for trusting in God rather than worrying.

First, the same God who gives us the greater gift of life will certainly supply the lesser gifts of food and clothing (v. 25). Second, the God who cares for birds will care for his people. After all, humans are of much greater value than any bird (v. 26). Third, worry expends energy pointlessly-it doesn't change the reality of the situation a single bit (v. 26). Fourth, worry ignores God's demonstrated faithfulness in our lives (vv. 28-30). The same God who so wonderfully clothes the flowers of the field is responsible to care for them. Every blossoming flower is a reminder of God's faithfulness to us. Fifth, we are God's children (vv. 31-33). God will never treat us as orphans who need to fend for themselves. Sixth, when we worry about tomorrow we miss out on today (v. 34). Any problem we face can be handled, with God's help, one day at a time.

As leaders who want to impact our generation for Christ, we need to lead in a way that allows others to see our faith in God. One way we can do that is by depending on God in the face of our daily pressures. The next time you're under pressure, pray for the grace you need to depend on God, who is perfectly and eternally worthy of your trust. Remember that those you lead will see how you respond to such pressures and will follow your actions.

Dependence on God and Who God Is

We live in a time when all forms of external authority are being challenged in favor of subjective, inner authority. The quest for autonomy rather than accountability has become rampant. Yet the Scriptures tell us that an autonomous mindset is a mark of foolishness, since it ignores our fundamental need for dependence on God. Turn to Lamentations 3:22-26 to consider the importance of an attitude of ongoing dependence on God.

This Week's Verse to Memorize PSALM 118:6,8-9

The LORD is with me;I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?...It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.

Dependence on God and Who I Am

Faith is a universal experience-everyone, including the atheist, lives by faith. The issue is not whether we will trust in a belief system or trust in people or things, but whether we are trusting in that which is reliable or untrustworthy. Faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed. Turn to Jeremiah 17:5-8 to look at two conflicting sources of personal dependence.

Dependence on God and How it Works

Ever feel overwhelmed? Zerubbabel's task was so huge he needed a prophet of God to give him perspective. And man, did he receive a helpful truth for harried leaders! Thankfully, Zerubbabel's encouragement is as true today as ever before. Turn to Zechariah 4:6 .

Personal Development-Dependence on God

Every leader will discover there are times when it's hard to trust in God. In an effort to help us do that R.C. Sproul reminds us of the absolute dependence of God as demonstrated in his promise to Abraham . Read this amazing story in Genesis 15:9-21.


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by Kenneth Boa
Buy the Handbook!
The Handbook to Leadership includes: 52-Week Leadership Guide, Topical Leadership Guide, Leadership Character Studies, and Books of the Bible Leadership Guide.


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NIV Devotions for Moms

How to Build an Idol

Isaiah 46

Additional Scripture Readings: Isaiah 44:9-20; Luke 18:18-30

We dislike the unknown, the undesired, the impossible. When we face infertility, unexpected singleness, unemployment, marital conflict or other kinds of suffering, we point faces full of question marks to heaven. When we don't find answers to our perplexities, we may decide God isn't worth it.

Unhappy with the God we've chosen to worship, we may create another. Discontent with God, we make money into our god. Dissatisfied with God, we fashion power into an idol. We replace God-and our gripe-filled relationship with him-with popularity, careers, ministry or even children and hope they'll make us happier than he did. When we are disappointed with God and look elsewhere for what we want, we lay the foundation for idolatry.

How does an idol become an idol? By our choice. But what other choice is there? To immunize ourselves with praise for who God is and what he does: "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Psalm 73:25-26).

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Today's reading is from the
Mom's Devotional Bible
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Mom, you don't have to go it alone! The Mom's Devotional Bible is a trusted source of wisdom to help you along the path of mothering.


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Too Tired?

Esther 7:1-10

Rosa Louise Parks was tired. The petite African American woman sat quietly, grateful to find a seat on the bus after spending most of the day on her feet. When a white passenger demanded she give up her seat, Rosa looked up. Segregation was the law in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. Blacks were expected to yield their seats on public transportation to whites. To refuse meant arrest. Rosa stayed seated, and her actions helped change the landscape of the United States. Years later, Rosa wrote that it wasn't physical weariness that gave her such inner strength. She said, "Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of it."

Centuries earlier, another woman was faced with a decision. Like Rosa, Esther had two strikes against her in the Persian Empire: She was female and a member of an oppressed people, the Jews. Although King Xerxes had chosen Esther to be queen, she was forbidden to approach the powerful king without an invitation. And an evil prime minister named Haman was plotting to annihilate the Jews. Esther's cousin Mordecai's plea to intervene meant risking her own life. It took courage for Queen Esther to take a stand, just as it took courage for Rosa Parks to remain seated. Both women's actions opened the door to freedom for their people.

Many of us may think we're safe from the type of persecution Rosa Parks and Esther faced. But Christians are being persecuted throughout the world in places like China, the Sudan and North Korea. Every day people die for the privilege of worshiping Jesus. It is estimated that more Christians died for their faith in the twentieth century than all the previous 19 centuries combined, and the numbers appear to be rising in the twenty-first century. Even in places where there is no outright persecution, many people think Christians are naive and out of touch with so-called reality. Some people do not really know or understand the person and mission of Jesus and will take every opportunity to slander his followers.

Wherever God has placed you, he can use you to speak his truth-words of love, justice and faith to a lost world-even if it means being misunderstood or ridiculed. Yes, it may be difficult and you may be weary; but, sister, "never tire of doing what is good" (2 Thessalonians 3:13).

Reflection

  1. How did reading about Rosa Parks and Queen Esther inspire you?
  2. Have you ever felt God nudging you to speak up about a situation? What happened?
  3. What do you need to take a stand on in your home, neighborhood or in the political arena?

Esther 7:3-4
Then Queen Esther answered, "If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life-this is my petition. And spare my people-this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king."

Related Readings

Psalm 118:6-9; Luke 21:5-19 ; 2 Timothy 3:10-17

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NIV Women's Devotional Bible
by Zondervan


The New Women's Devotional Bible helps a new generation of Christian women apply God's Word to their lives.

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