Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Daily Devotional Tuesday 7th February

“Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.” Proverbs 21:21 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Praying always."
Ephesians 6:18

What multitudes of prayers we have put up from the first moment when we learned to pray. Our first prayer was a prayer for ourselves; we asked that God would have mercy upon us, and blot out our sin. He heard us. But when he had blotted out our sins like a cloud, then we had more prayers for ourselves. We have had to pray for sanctifying grace, for constraining and restraining grace; we have been led to crave for a fresh assurance of faith, for the comfortable application of the promise, for deliverance in the hour of temptation, for help in the time of duty, and for succour in the day of trial. We have been compelled to go to God for our souls, as constant beggars asking for everything. Bear witness, children of God, you have never been able to get anything for your souls elsewhere. All the bread your soul has eaten has come down from heaven, and all the water of which it has drank has flowed from the living rock--Christ Jesus the Lord. Your soul has never grown rich in itself; it has always been a pensioner upon the daily bounty of God; and hence your prayers have ascended to heaven for a range of spiritual mercies all but infinite. Your wants were innumerable, and therefore the supplies have been infinitely great, and your prayers have been as varied as the mercies have been countless. Then have you not cause to say, "I love the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplication"? For as your prayers have been many, so also have been God's answers to them. He has heard you in the day of trouble, has strengthened you, and helped you, even when you dishonoured him by trembling and doubting at the mercy-seat. Remember this, and let it fill your heart with gratitude to God, who has thus graciously heard your poor weak prayers. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."

Evening

"Pray one for another."
James 5:16

As an encouragement cheerfully to offer intercessory prayer, remember that such prayer is the sweetest God ever hears, for the prayer of Christ is of this character. In all the incense which our Great High Priest now puts into the golden censer, there is not a single grain for himself. His intercession must be the most acceptable of all supplications--and the more like our prayer is to Christ's, the sweeter it will be; thus while petitions for ourselves will be accepted, our pleadings for others, having in them more of the fruits of the Spirit, more love, more faith, more brotherly kindness, will be, through the precious merits of Jesus, the sweetest oblation that we can offer to God, the very fat of our sacrifice. Remember, again, that intercessory prayer is exceedingly prevalent. What wonders it has wrought! The Word of God teems with its marvellous deeds. Believer, thou hast a mighty engine in thy hand, use it well, use it constantly, use it with faith, and thou shalt surely be a benefactor to thy brethren. When thou hast the King's ear, speak to him for the suffering members of his body. When thou art favoured to draw very near to his throne, and the King saith to thee, "Ask, and I will give thee what thou wilt," let thy petitions be, not for thyself alone, but for the many who need his aid. If thou hast grace at all, and art not an intercessor, that grace must be small as a grain of mustard seed. Thou hast just enough grace to float thy soul clear from the quicksand, but thou hast no deep floods of grace, or else thou wouldst carry in thy joyous bark a weighty cargo of the wants of others, and thou wouldst bring back from thy Lord, for them, rich blessings which but for thee they might not have obtained:--

"Oh, let my hands forget their skill,

My tongue be silent, cold, and still,

This bounding heart forget to beat,

If I forget the mercy-seat!"

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Today's reading: Exodus 39-40, Matthew 23:23-39 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

The Priestly Garments

1 From the blue, purple and scarlet yarn they made woven garments for ministering in the sanctuary. They also made sacred garments for Aaron, as the LORD commanded Moses.

The Ephod

2 They made the ephod of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen. 3 They hammered out thin sheets of gold and cut strands to be worked into the blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen—the work of skilled hands. 4 They made shoulder pieces for the ephod, which were attached to two of its corners, so it could be fastened. 5 Its skillfully woven waistband was like it—of one piece with the ephod and made with gold, and with blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and with finely twisted linen, as the LORD commanded Moses.

6 They mounted the onyx stones in gold filigree settings and engraved them like a seal with the names of the sons of Israel.7 Then they fastened them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel, as the LORD commanded Moses.

The Breastpiece

8 They fashioned the breastpiece—the work of a skilled craftsman. They made it like the ephod: of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen. 9 It was square—a span long and a span wide—and folded double. 10Then they mounted four rows of precious stones on it. The first row was carnelian, chrysolite and beryl; 11 the second row was turquoise, lapis lazuli and emerald; 12 the third row was jacinth, agate and amethyst; 13 the fourth row was topaz, onyx and jasper. They were mounted in gold filigree settings. 14 There were twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.

15 For the breastpiece they made braided chains of pure gold, like a rope. 16 They made two gold filigree settings and two gold rings, and fastened the rings to two of the corners of the breastpiece. 17 They fastened the two gold chains to the rings at the corners of the breastpiece, 18 and the other ends of the chains to the two settings, attaching them to the shoulder pieces of the ephod at the front. 19 They made two gold rings and attached them to the other two corners of the breastpiece on the inside edge next to the ephod. 20 Then they made two more gold rings and attached them to the bottom of the shoulder pieces on the front of the ephod, close to the seam just above the waistband of the ephod. 21 They tied the rings of the breastpiece to the rings of the ephod with blue cord, connecting it to the waistband so that the breastpiece would not swing out from the ephod—as the LORD commanded Moses.

Other Priestly Garments

22 They made the robe of the ephod entirely of blue cloth—the work of a weaver— 23 with an opening in the center of the robe like the opening of a collar, and a band around this opening, so that it would not tear. 24 They made pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen around the hem of the robe. 25 And they made bells of pure gold and attached them around the hem between the pomegranates. 26The bells and pomegranates alternated around the hem of the robe to be worn for ministering, as the LORD commanded Moses.

27 For Aaron and his sons, they made tunics of fine linen—the work of a weaver— 28 and the turban of fine linen, the linen caps and the undergarments of finely twisted linen. 29 The sash was made of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn—the work of an embroiderer—as the LORD commanded Moses.

30 They made the plate, the sacred emblem, out of pure gold and engraved on it, like an inscription on a seal: HOLY TO THE LORD. 31 Then they fastened a blue cord to it to attach it to the turban, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Moses Inspects the Tabernacle

32 So all the work on the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, was completed. The Israelites did everything just as the LORD commanded Moses. 33 Then they brought the tabernacle to Moses: the tent and all its furnishings, its clasps, frames, crossbars, posts and bases; 34 the covering of ram skins dyed red and the covering of another durable leather and the shielding curtain; 35 the ark of the covenant law with its poles and the atonement cover; 36 the table with all its articles and the bread of the Presence; 37 the pure gold lampstand with its row of lamps and all its accessories, and the olive oil for the light; 38 the gold altar, the anointing oil, the fragrant incense, and the curtain for the entrance to the tent; 39 the bronze altar with its bronze grating, its poles and all its utensils; the basin with its stand; 40 the curtains of the courtyard with its posts and bases, and the curtain for the entrance to the courtyard; the ropes and tent pegs for the courtyard; all the furnishings for the tabernacle, the tent of meeting; 41 and the woven garments worn for ministering in the sanctuary, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when serving as priests.

42 The Israelites had done all the work just as the LORD had commanded Moses. 43 Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the LORD had commanded. So Moses blessed them.

Exodus 40

Setting Up the Tabernacle

1 Then the LORD said to Moses: 2 “Set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, on the first day of the first month. 3 Place the ark of the covenant law in it and shield the ark with the curtain. 4 Bring in the table and set out what belongs on it. Then bring in the lampstand and set up its lamps. 5 Place the gold altar of incense in front of the ark of the covenant law and put the curtain at the entrance to the tabernacle.

6 “Place the altar of burnt offering in front of the entrance to the tabernacle, the tent of meeting; 7 place the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it. 8 Set up the courtyard around it and put the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard.

9 “Take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and everything in it; consecrate it and all its furnishings, and it will be holy. 10 Then anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils; consecrate the altar, and it will be most holy. 11Anoint the basin and its stand and consecrate them.

12 “Bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance to the tent of meeting and wash them with water. 13 Then dress Aaron in the sacred garments, anoint him and consecrate him so he may serve me as priest. 14 Bring his sons and dress them in tunics.15 Anoint them just as you anointed their father, so they may serve me as priests. Their anointing will be to a priesthood that will continue throughout their generations.” 16 Moses did everything just as the LORD commanded him.

17 So the tabernacle was set up on the first day of the first month in the second year. 18 When Moses set up the tabernacle, he put the bases in place, erected the frames, inserted the crossbars and set up the posts. 19 Then he spread the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering over the tent, as the LORD commanded him.

20 He took the tablets of the covenant law and placed them in the ark, attached the poles to the ark and put the atonement cover over it. 21 Then he brought the ark into the tabernacle and hung the shielding curtain and shielded the ark of the covenant law, as the LORD commanded him.

22 Moses placed the table in the tent of meeting on the north side of the tabernacle outside the curtain 23 and set out the bread on it before the LORD, as the LORD commanded him.

24 He placed the lampstand in the tent of meeting opposite the table on the south side of the tabernacle 25 and set up the lamps before the LORD, as the LORD commanded him.

26 Moses placed the gold altar in the tent of meeting in front of the curtain 27 and burned fragrant incense on it, as the LORD commanded him.

28 Then he put up the curtain at the entrance to the tabernacle. 29 He set the altar of burnt offering near the entrance to the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, and offered on it burnt offerings and grain offerings, as the LORD commanded him.

30 He placed the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar and put water in it for washing, 31 and Moses and Aaron and his sons used it to wash their hands and feet. 32 They washed whenever they entered the tent of meeting or approached the altar, as the LORD commanded Moses.

33 Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and altar and put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. And so Moses finished the work.

The Glory of the LORD

34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

36 In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; 37 but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. 38So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.


Matthew 23

23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!

33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

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Dinah

The Woman Whose Sightseeing Had Fatal Results

Scripture ReferenceGenesis 34

Name Meaning—Dinah means “justice” or “one who judges,” and was doubtless given her as a token of her parents' belief in divine justice.

Family Connections—She was a daughter of Jacob and Leah, and as a member of a family under covenant blessing should have been more careful regarding her personal obligation in maintaining the honor of her home and nation.

Dinah’s love for sight-seeing set off a train of tragic consequences. Young and daring, and curious to know something of the world outside, she stole away one day from the drab tents of her father, to see how the girls in their gorgeous Oriental trappings fared in nearby Shechem. Roaming around, the eyes of Prince Shechem, son of Hamor lighted upon her. He saw her means he lusted after her (see Job 31:1), and then as the record puts it, “he took her, lay with her, and defiled her” ( Genesis 34:2). Although Dinah’s vanity was flattered at Shechem’s attention so that she went to his palace, she never meant to go so far. Took her implies he forced her, and although she may have resisted his advances, resistance was futile and she was seduced.

Had Dinah been content to remain a “keeper at home” (Titus 2:5), a terrible massacre would have been averted, but her desire for novelty and forbidden company spelled disaster. Josephus tells us that Dinah went to the Canaanite annual festival of nature worship (Numbers 25:2)—a forbidden association for an Israelite. Sin, shame and death came to Dinah and Shechem through the windows of their eyes and ears (see Genesis 39:7). The young prince offered the usual reparation for his seduction of Dinah—marriage and a payment to her father which was sufficient according to Hebrew law (Deuteronomy 22:28, 29 ). Evidently there was more than lustful desire on the part of Shechem, for we read—“His soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto her.” When Hamor went to Jacob and his sons to discuss the matter of marriage between his son and Dinah, he said, “The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter. I pray you give her him to wife.”

The sons of Jacob, angry over the shame brought to their sister and nation, said that such a thing “ought not to be done.” By what Dinah had become—a seduced woman—she caused her father to be a “stink among the inhabitants of the land.”

Seeming to acquiesce in Hamor’s suggestion that his son and Dinah should marry and that there should be established a friendlier association between the Israelites and Shechemites, the sons of Jacob, particularly Simeon and Levi, said that they would agree to Hamor’s proposition on one condition. The condition was that all the male Shechemites submit to the rite of circumcision—an act of priestly consecration. When the pain of the operation was at its height and movement was difficult, on the third day, Simeon and Levi attacked and slew all the males in the city, including young Shechem himself. For centuries, among the Arabs, seduction was punishable by death, the judgment being generally inflicted by the brothers of the one seduced. For their crime, Simeon and Levi received a curse instead of a blessing from Jacob their father, as he came to die.

One salutary effect of this tragedy was the reconsecration of Jacob who had lapsed somewhat as the result of his settlement near Shechem (Genesis 33:17-20 ). Remembering his vow to make an altar at Bethel to God who had appeared to him while fleeing from Esau years before, his family surrendered their strange gods and purified themselves, and at Bethel the forgotten covenant was fulfilled. In this way God overruled evil for good (Genesis 35:1-5).

How many young Dinahs there are today captivated by the glitter and glamor of the world, and, tired of life at home, leave without warning, and become lost in the whirl of a large city. There is an alarming increase in the numbers of girls who, anxious for change and wanting to see something of the world, turn aside from the shelter of a good home and are never heard of again. Many of them end up in sin, crime and degradation. May we never cease to pray for those who try to seek out and restore the lost, young womanhood of our day!

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Aquila [Ăq'uĭlă]—eagle. A Jew whom Paul found at Corinth on his arrival from Athens (Acts 18:2, 18, 26; Rom. 16:3; 1 Cor. 16:19; 2 Tim. 4:19).

The Man Who Is Always Linked with His Wife

A characteristic feature of Aquila and Priscilla is that their names are always mentioned together. In the truest sense they were “no more twain but one.” They were one in their common interest in Christ, and all they accomplished together in the name of the Lord was the result of that perfect unity of spiritual nature, of purpose and of aim.

I. By occupation they were tent-makers. Perhaps it was because Paul followed the same trade that he was attracted to them when he went to Corinth from Athens.

II. By their oneness in spiritual things they were hospitable. Being in full sympathy with Paul’s message they willingly received him unto their house, and he remained with them for a year and a half. What blessed times of fellowship the three of them must have had!

III. By their faithfulness they encouraged the saints. Paul tells us that these two devoted people were willing to “lay down their own necks” for the apostle. What they did for Paul earned the gratitude of all the churches.

IV. By their spiritual insight, Apollos and many other saints were helped. They had a “church in their house” and because of their spiritual quality and knowledge of Scripture many were blessed.

A fact that cannot escape our notice is that Priscilla is usually named first in the references to Aquila and herself. Perhaps this most “noble Roman lady” became a Christian before her husband. Maybe she was a more active worker than her husband! Chrysostom says that it was Priscilla’s careful expositions of the way of God that proved so helpful to Apollos. Together, Aquila and Priscilla are a pertinent example for Christian husbands and wives.

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Hypocrisy

“Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”Luke 12:1

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 23:23-28

Some people I know of are like inns, which have an angel hanging outside for a sign, but they have a devil within for a landlord. There are many men of that kind; they take good care to have an excellent sign hanging out; they must be known by all men to be strictly religious; but within, which is the all-important matter, they are full of wickedness. But I have sometimes heard persons mistake this matter. They say, “Ah! well, poor man, he is a sad drunkard, certainly, but he is a very good-hearted man at bottom.” Now, as Rowland Hill used to say, that is a most astonishing thing for any man to say of another, that he was bad at top and good at bottom. When men take their fruit to market they cannot make their customers believe, if they see rotten apples at the top, that there are good ones at the bottom. A man’s outward conduct is generally a little better than his heart. Very few men sell better goods than they put in the window. Therefore, do not misunderstand me. When I say we must attend more to the inward than the outward, I would not have you leave the outward to itself. “Make clean the outside of the cup and platter”—make it as clean as you can, but take care also that the inward is made clean. Look to that first. Ask yourself such questions as these—“Have I been born again? Am I passed from darkness to light? Have I been brought out of the realms of Satan into the kingdom of God’s dear Son? Do I live by private communion near to the side of Jesus? Can I say that my heart panteth after the Lord, even as the hart does after the water-brooks?”

For meditation: A true work of God both starts on the inside and shows on the outside (Philippians 2:12-13). The Christian is one who is “inside out”; the hypocrite is only “out”.

Sermon no. 237
6 February (1859)

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Consider before you fight

‘What king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.’ Luke 14:31–32

Suggested Further Reading: Judges 16:4–22

You may be enticed by friends who will be very pressing. You can give up sin just now, but you do not know who may be the tempter at some future time. If she should allure you, who has tempted so well before. If he should speak. He! the very word has wakened up your recollection; if he should speak as he alone can speak, and look as only he can look, can you then resist, and stand out? That witching voice, that fascinating eye! O how many souls have been damned for what men call love! O that they had but a little true love of themselves and others, and would not thus pander to the prince of hell. But alas, while the cup itself looks sweet, there is to be added to it the hand that holds it out. It is not so easy to contend with Satan when he employs the service of some one whom you esteem highly, and love with all your heart. Remember the case of Solomon whose wisdom was marvellous, but who was enticed by his wives, and fell a prey into the hands of the evil one. It needs a spirit like the Master’s, to be able to say, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan,’ to the tempter, when he has the appearance of one of your best loved friends. The devil is a crafty being, and if he cannot force the door, he will try and get the key which fits the wards of the lock, and, by the means of our tenderest love and affections, will make a way for himself into our hearts; you will find it no easy task therefore to contend with him.

For meditation: Even our nearest and dearest are sinners and possible sources of temptation to us ( Deuteronomy 13:6); if we expect too much from them, they will let us down sooner or later. It is far better to reserve our true confidence for God himself (Psalm 118:8–9; Micah 7:5–7).

Sermon no. 632
6 February (Undated Sermon)

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February 6, 2012

God Can Resurrect Your Marriage From the Ashes

Part 1

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

"Then he [God] said to me [Ezekiel], "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!' This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD,'" (Ezekiel 37:4-6 NIV).

Friend to Friend

It was January 7, 2005 when a group of friends gathered at Don and Jona's house to watch the Dr. Phil show. Jona had written in to a contest that Good Housekeeping, in conjunction with Dr. Phil, had on "life change." Of fifteen thousand applicants, Jona was the grand prize winner! As the winner, Don and Jona were guests on the Dr. Phil Show to tell their story. But I didn't need Dr. Phil to tell me the story, I lived it with them. Let Jona and I share how we remember it ...

Don was twenty-seven-years old when Jona first met him on a spring church beach retreat. Immediately, she knew he was exactly what she had always dreamed of in a husband. Don had a strong faith in God, a good job, a college degree, drive, and dreams for the future. He was physically fit, witty, adventurous, sexy, and "just plain gorgeous." On top of that, he was constantly surrounded by women at the retreat that were vying for his attention.

When they returned home, Jona could hardly believe her good fortune when Don asked her to dinner. Don and Jona dated only three months before he asked her to marry him, and on March 30, 1985, before the next spring beach retreat, they were husband and wife.

Their first year of marriage was a blissful blur of candlelight dinners, spontaneous lovemaking, and endless conversation. The icing on the one-year anniversary cake was the purchase of their first home. By their second anniversary, Don quit his job to start his own business. Life was clicking along at a steady pace toward acquiring the American Dream. By their fourth anniversary, Jona had their first child and joined the ranks of "stay-at-home-mom." But, after twenty-four months of Don's new business venture, the couple faced a second mortgage, a dwindling bank account, and a looming cloud of debt. Jona was forced to go back to work and seeds of discontentment, disrespect, and disenchantment began to take root.

"I was so mad at Don for the mistakes I felt he had made," Jona explained. "Deep down, I wanted him to be God and to fulfill all my needs. He made a poor God. When my mother died in 1993, I sank into a clinical depression. I spent most of my time at home in bed. And even though I had two children by this time, I withdrew from being a mom, as well as being a wife. I then began to eat...and eat. I went from 140 pounds to 240 pounds."

"Don and I had the perfect engagement, a beautiful wedding, and a fantasy honeymoon. But when the obstacles came along, I wasn't prepared to maneuver over, around, or through them. I thought, this is not the way the story goes. What happened to the fairy tale?"

"Don changed jobs about every other year, however, he always provided for our needs. It just drove me crazy that he couldn't stay put."

"I remember one day Don said, 'Why are you eating and gaining all this weight?' I shot back, 'I'm doing this because I don't want you to touch me. Besides, I can lose the weight if I want to, but you'll always be a loser.' Little by little, word by word, angry look by angry look, rejection by rejection; I began the process of destroying my husband. Comments like 'You're so stupid,' 'duh,' and 'can't you do anything right?' were constantly spewing from my mouth. I was in pain and I wanted Don to be in pain too. One day, I made a list of all of Don's faults. He found the list, but I didn't even care."

Jona always thought that since Don was a Christian, he would never leave her. However, there came a point where he could not take the emotional turmoil any longer. On May 6, 2001, Don left. Jona had destroyed her marriage and her man. On January 31, 2003, the divorce was final.

"A couple of months after our divorce, I woke up to God's still small voice," Jona explained. "He seemed to say, 'Is this what you wanted? Did you want a divorce? Do you want Don to marry another woman and have your children torn between spending time in two different households? Do you want to be alone? Were you the wife I called you to be?' Oh God," Jona cried, "What have I done?"

Now friends, the next part of the story is what Dr. Phil did not tell you. God began working on Jona's heart. She didn't change because of a self-help book or a ten step program, but because of the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit. Do you want to know what really happened? Do you want to know what Dr. Phil did not tell his viewers? Grab a cup of coffee and join me tomorrow for the rest of the story.

Let's Pray

Dear LORD, help me be the woman my husband needs for me to be. Help me to stop concentrating on his faults and failures, but start looking at my own. Show me. Teach me. Empower me.

In Jesus' Name,

Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

I know Today's Truth seems like a strange verse. It is! It is one of the strangest stories in the bible. Go back and read Ezekiel chapter 37. If God can do that with a bunch of dry bones, just think what He can do with your marriage! Your broken life! Your broken dreams!

Do you see yourself in Jona?

Is God telling you there is something you need to do differently in your marriage? In your relationships?

Let's chat, visit www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes and tell me how one little change has made a difference in one of your relationships.

More from the Girlfriends

Today's devotion was taken from Sharon's book, Becoming the Woman of His Dreams: Seven Qualities Every Man Longs For.Sharon interviewed hundreds of men to see what they really wanted in the woman of their dreams, and their answers are there for you to see! If you would like to have a husband who is sorry to leave home in the morning and eager to return, then this book is for you! And if you know someone who is struggling in her marriage, this would be a great gift.

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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Micca Campbell

February 6, 2012

Directionally Challenged
Micca Monda Campbell

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you." Psalm 32:8(NIV)

We were off the beaten path for about an hour when we realized we were lost. I pulled the car into a small motel to ask for directions. There were two elderly men sitting behind the counter with their feet up, watching a small television set.

Clearing my throat to get their attention, "Excuse me. Can either of you direct me back to the interstate?" I asked. They just looked at me with a blank stare. So I returned to the car and gave my friend the bad news. "Well, we're lost and we're going to die."

"No, we're not," she said in a comforting way. "Look! There's a gas station across the street. Maybe someone in there will be able to help us." There was hope in her voice, but not in my heart.

To me, the shady, rundown building across the street looked like a hang-out for serial killers. The paint was peeling and the shrubbery was overgrown. Nothing about the store said, "Welcome." There was no way I was gonna walk into a nest of potential murderers willingly. However, my friend persuaded me otherwise. "We won't talk to anyone," she promised. "We'll just go in and buy a map."

Once we were inside the creepy, timeworn building, I scanned the place for our killer. When it appeared to be safe, we got our directions and got out of the store.

And eventually, we made it home. But not without learning a great lesson: Life is full of dead ends and confusing directions that can lead us off course.

From time to time we can get lost spiritually if we don't look to God as our source for answers and guidance. When it happens to me, there are certain signs. Life seems dull, scary, uneventful and without purpose or clear direction.

Sadness sets in and my days look lonely, cold and dark. I lose confidence in decision-making, too. Without seeking clear directions from God, it's easy to become confused about which way to turn. Eventually I can start to feel like I'm lost.

It doesn't have to be this way. We can turn to God for help. In today's key verse, God makes this promise: "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will counsel you with my loving eye on you." We don't have to go it alone as if we're feeling our way through the darkness. God is there to light our path.

No matter how intentional we are about staying the course, without God's direction we'll end up in a place we never intended to go. Whenever we need direction - whether it's raising a strong-willed child, changing jobs or dealing with a difficult relationship - God will faithfully provide the counsel we need. And we can find God's counsel in His Word, through prayer and by relying on the Holy Spirit to pave the way before us. Practicing these principles is the only way we can be sure of reaching our destination.

It's true. There will be obstacles along life's way and, at times, the path we take will feel unknown, but God wants to guide, equip and lead us each day as we learn to depend more and more on Him.

Dear Lord, I've been wandering aimlessly alone. Today, I learned that You desire to guide and counsel me. Because You care about the details of my life, I will seek Your Word and follow the path You've set before me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

An Untroubled Heart: Finding Faith that is Stronger than My Fears by Micca Campbell

Visit Micca's blog and enter to win a copy of her Piecing It All Together (CD)

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

Reflect and Respond:
Do I feel lost or confused about God's direction in my life?

Set aside a time each day to read a portion of God's Word and journal about what you read. Journaling will help you map out God's course for your life.

Power Verses:
Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." (NIV)

John 8:32, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (NIV)

© 2012 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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

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Relationships: Interpersonal Relationships

READ READ PHILEMON 1-25

Leader/follower relationships are sometimes difficult to handle. Advice on doing so runs the gamut from "familiarity breeds contempt" to "you can't lead people you don't know." In his letter to Phile mon, Paul promotes a strong opinion by modeling an enviable leader-follower relationship with two evidently difficult followers.

This little gem of a book makes an important statement about leader-follower relationships. Paul had led Philemon's runaway slave, Onesimus, to ac cept Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. Onesimus was now a Christian. Ethically and, at the time, legally, Onesimus was bound to return to his master Philemon.

That's the point at which Paul stepped in and wrote this letter to his friend Philemon, who was also a Christian. Although Onesimus was still legally bound to Philemon, Paul urged Philemon to treat him "no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord" (v.16).

The Paul-Onesimus-Philemon set of relation ships described in this letter is rich in leader-follower principles. Underlying all of it is Paul's plea for this slave owner to treat his slave with human digni ty and brotherly love. Leaders lead more effectively when they bear in mind that they are leading fellow humans. Followers follow more willingly when they view their leaders as fellow humans. Not a bad starting point for the whole complicated subject of leadership, is it?

This Week's Verse to Memorize COLOSSIANS 3:15-17

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Interpersonal Relationships and How They Work

There is far too much of value in the Paul-Onesimus-Philemon story to leave it after only one day. Go back today and reexamine some of the relation ship lessons in this short text. Today, as you read see what you can discover about leader-follower relations.

Interpersonal Relationships and Who I Am

Even the strongest relationships break down. Trust ed allies will betray you. Key subordinates will fail. Does that mean that the relationship is finished? Let Jesus and Peter answer that question. Turn to Acts 2:14-40 and observe as a restored ally advocates for the friend he has so tragically wronged.

Interpersonal Relationships and Who God Is

Relationships should benefit all who are involved in them. The Bible deals throughout its pages with the manner in which God-human and person-to-person relationships work to the benefit of all concerned. Turn to Exodus 17:9-14 and read about how God related to a human leader, and how this leader in turn related to his trusted follower, in the midst of a desperate situation.

Interpersonal Relationships and What I Do

It's amazing how much we can learn by observing what God has built into his creation. All of his crea tures "relate" in some way to all of the others. Turn to Genesis 2:18 to discover a fundamental truth about effective leadership.


jesusexperimentpaddedhandbookleadership150Handbook to Leadership: Leadership in the Image of God
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

Reasonable Conflict

Isaiah 1:18-20

Additional Scripture Readings: Matthew 18:15; Ephesians 4:25-27

When you find yourself fighting with someone and you want to stop, you must start at the beginning. First, you need to figure out what you're fighting about.

  • Each of you should verbalize your view of the problem. What's the issue?
  • Step into the other person's shoes for a minute and identify how they would define the problem.
  • You can combine these two definitions until you come up with a mutually agreed-upon definition for the conflict you're facing. Sometimes it even helps to put the definition in writing to make it a bit more objective.
  • Once the problem is defined, list your options for solving it.

So often we lose the cause of a conflict in the emotion of the moment. Most conflicts can be handled with the application of care-filled logic and reasoning.

Resolution and forgiveness are often forged on the anvil of reason and compassion. Unreasonable disagreements become reasonable conflicts when you take the time to figure out what it is you're fighting about.

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Total Dependence

Ezra 8:21-34

Lisa realized she needed to depend on God when she discovered she was pregnant. She was excited and happy-but the timing wasn't perfect. Her husband had two years until he finished his degree. She was supporting both of them by working two jobs. Whenever she thought about the future, she broke out in a cold sweat. How would they make the rent? Would she have to quit one of her jobs? Would her husband have to quit school? She decided that the best course was to pray for God to show them the way.

Ezra sets a great example for anyone facing an unknown future. Before he and a group of returning exiles began their 900-mile trek back to Jerusalem, they all fasted and prayed for a safe journey-literally, a "straight way." They prayed for God's favor and protection and trusted "God's gracious hand" would guide them.

God is also with you to guide you, regardless of your circumstances. Perhaps you're venturing out, depending on God for the first time. Take a step of faith and follow where he leads. He will surely guide you to the next step . . . and the next. You'll discover that faith will lead you where reason may not.

Faith and reason have been compared to two travelers. Think of Faith as a woman who can walk 20 or 30 miles at a time without flagging, while Reason is a child who can only muster the strength to go two or three miles. One day Reason said to Faith, "Oh, Faith, let me walk with you." But Faith replied, "Oh, Reason, you can never walk with me!" Nevertheless, they set out together. When they came to a deep river, Reason said, "I can never ford this," but Faith waded through it, singing. When they reached a high mountain, Reason despaired. But Faith carried Reason on her back. The writer of this old tale said, "Oh, how dependent upon Faith is Reason!"

Why has God made faith the indispensable ingredient in our journey of faith? Perhaps so that we will become totally dependent upon him. Reason tells us to stay put. Faith calls us to step out, reassuring us that "no word from God will ever fail" (Luke 1:37).

Reflection

  1. How have you found that your reason some times interferes with your faith?
  2. What makes it difficult for you to depend on God?
  3. How can prioritizing prayer in your life make a difference in preparing you for your faith journey?

Ezra 8:22-23
I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, "The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him." So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.

Related Readings

Proverbs 3:5-6; Isaiah 58:6-9; Hebrews 11:1-2

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Campus Crusade for Christ International

Help bold evangelists distribute Bibles in the Middle East and North Africa

Dear Friend,

You can help brave staff missionaries shine the light of Jesus Christ into closed countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

Each $3.15 you give today will arm staff missionaries with a Bible and other evangelism materials they'll use to introduce people to Christ.

I'm Mike Duggins with Campus Crusade for Christ. With the help of friends like you, we've been proclaiming Christ around the world since 1951. Today, we're 25,000 missionaries strong, serving in 191 countries.

It's a risky job, being a missionary in a closed country.

But God doesn't call us to be safe. He calls us to obey. And these Campus Crusade staff missionaries are obeying God's call on their lives.

Please give today to help reach people for Christ in the Middle East and North Africa.

For His glory alone,


Mike Duggins
Director of Ministry Development

Give Bibles Now

If you would like to print a response form and send it in, please download the PDF here.

Missionaries need Bibles and other evangelism materials to reach people for Christ. Please help provide those materials today.

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Our promise of financial integrity

How your gifts are used -- General / Administrative: 8%. Fundraising / Marketing: 7%. U.S. and International Ministries: 85%.ECFAYour trust is important to us, so a full description of Campus Crusade for Christ's fundraising policies and guidelines are available online for you to view anytime. We invite you to read more about our commitment to good stewardship.

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How to Study the Bible

2 Timothy 3:14-17 "Continue in what you have learned... the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" ( vv. 14-15).

Beginning next week we will examine the Sermon on the Mount, which gives us some of the most important teaching on Christian discipleship in all of Scripture. As a preface to this study of the Christian life we will now spend five days looking at a few of the ways God has given us to help us fulfill His mandate so that we "go on to maturity" (Heb. 6:1). Dr. R.C. Sproul's teaching series Five Things Every Christian Should Know will guide our study.

The five topics we will cover - Bible study, prayer, worship, service, and stewardship - are what some theologians have called "means of grace," or those things God has given to help us grow spiritually. In the Reformed tradition, the sacraments and preaching have been considered the primary means of grace.

Growing into Christian maturity requires us to know and imitate the character of our Father (Eph. 5:1 ), which is revealed in Scripture. It is imperative that we read the Bible rightly, and today's passage points us to the foundational principle for our reading of God's Word. Paul tells Timothy that the Scriptures are able to make him "wise for salvation" (2 Tim. 3:14-15 ). Our first step in studying the Bible is to recognize that we sit under Scripture as the source of all wisdom. We have taken the first step down the road to unbelief if we try to judge the Bible instead of seeking to have it judge us. Sitting under Scripture requires the fear of the Lord, without which we cannot find wisdom (Prov. 1:7).

Therefore, we open the text with reverence, expecting the Spirit to illumine its meaning for us. But reverence is not passivity. We must study to present ourselves to God as those approved to handle His revelation ( 2 Tim. 2:15). This requires diligent work and relying on the wisdom of those Christians who have come before us. Reading commentaries by men like John Calvin and Matthew Henry is an excellent way to learn from those godly scholars whose work still greatly benefits the church centuries after they lived. Of course, the teaching ministry of the local church is indispensable to our personal study of Scripture. Studying the Bible in a community that affirms historic, biblical Christianity will help us avoid common mistakes in the interpretation of God's Word.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Many people find the study of Scripture to be an intimidating, if not impossible, endeavor. But God encourages us to put His Word on our hearts (Deut. 6:6), and He will open His Word to us if we are faithful to study it with diligence and humility. Consider joining a Bible study or class offered by your church so that you may learn from other Christians. Be sure to make some time each week for the study and contemplation of God's Word.

For further study:

Ezra 7:10

The Bible in a year:

Leviticus 13-15

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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How to Study the Bible

2 Timothy 3:14-17

Many people find the study of Scripture to be an intimidating, if not impossible, endeavor. But God encourages us to put His Word on our hearts ( Deut. 6:6), and He will open His Word to us if we are faithful to study it with diligence and humility. Consider joining a Bible study or class offered by your church so that you may learn from other Christians. Be sure to make some time each week for the study and contemplation of God's Word.

For further study:

Ezra 7:10

The Bible in a year:

Leviticus 13-15

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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