Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Daily Devotional Wednesday 15th February

““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”” John 13:34-35 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life."
2 Kings 25:30

Jehoiachin was not sent away from the king's palace with a store to last him for months, but his provision was given him as a daily pension. Herein he well pictures the happy position of all the Lord's people. A daily portion is all that a man really wants. We do not need tomorrow's supplies; that day has not yet dawned, and its wants are as yet unborn. The thirst which we may suffer in the month of June does not need to be quenched in February, for we do not feel it yet; if we have enough for each day as the days arrive we shall never know want. Sufficient for the day is all that we can enjoy. We cannot eat or drink or wear more than the day's supply of food and raiment; the surplus gives us the care of storing it, and the anxiety of watching against a thief. One staff aids a traveller, but a bundle of staves is a heavy burden. Enough is not only as good as a feast, but is all that the greatest glutton can truly enjoy. This is all that we should expect; a craving for more than this is ungrateful. When our Father does not give us more, we should be content with his daily allowance. Jehoiachin's case is ours, we have a sure portion, a portion given us of the king, a gracious portion, and a perpetual portion. Here is surely ground for thankfulness.

Beloved Christian reader, in matters of grace you need a daily supply. You have no store of strength. Day by day must you seek help from above. It is a very sweet assurance that a daily portion is provided for you. In the word, through the ministry, by meditation, in prayer, and waiting upon God you shall receive renewed strength. In Jesus all needful things are laid up for you. Then enjoy your continual allowance. Never go hungry while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy.

Evening

"She was healed immediately."
Luke 8:47

One of the most touching and teaching of the Saviour's miracles is before us tonight. The woman was very ignorant. She imagined that virtue came out of Christ by a law of necessity, without his knowledge or direct will. Moreover, she was a stranger to the generosity of Jesus' character, or she would not have gone behind to steal the cure which he was so ready to bestow. Misery should always place itself right in the face of mercy. Had she known the love of Jesus' heart, she would have said, "I have but to put myself where he can see me--his omniscience will teach him my case, and his love at once will work my cure." We admire her faith, but we marvel at her ignorance. After she had obtained the cure, she rejoiced with trembling: glad was she that the divine virtue had wrought a marvel in her; but she feared lest Christ should retract the blessing, and put a negative upon the grant of his grace: little did she comprehend the fulness of his love! We have not so clear a view of him as we could wish; we know not the heights and depths of his love; but we know of a surety that he is too good to withdraw from a trembling soul the gift which it has been able to obtain. But here is the marvel of it: little as was her knowledge, her faith, because it was real faith, saved her, and saved her at once. There was no tedious delay--faith's miracle was instantaneous. If we have faith as a grain of mustard seed, salvation is our present and eternal possession. If in the list of the Lord's children we are written as the feeblest of the family, yet, being heirs through faith, no power, human or devilish, can eject us from salvation. If we dare not lean our heads upon his bosom with John, yet if we can venture in the press behind him, and touch the hem of his garment, we are made whole. Courage, timid one! thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God."

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Today's reading: Leviticus 15-16, Matthew 27:1-26 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Discharges Causing Uncleanness

1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When any man has an unusual bodily discharge, such a discharge is unclean. 3 Whether it continues flowing from his body or is blocked, it will make him unclean. This is how his discharge will bring about uncleanness:

4 “‘Any bed the man with a discharge lies on will be unclean, and anything he sits on will be unclean. 5 Anyone who touches his bed must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. 6 Whoever sits on anything that the man with a discharge sat on must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.

7 “‘Whoever touches the man who has a discharge must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.

8 “‘If the man with the discharge spits on anyone who is clean, they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.

9 “‘Everything the man sits on when riding will be unclean, 10and whoever touches any of the things that were under him will be unclean till evening; whoever picks up those things must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.

11 “‘Anyone the man with a discharge touches without rinsing his hands with water must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.

12 “‘A clay pot that the man touches must be broken, and any wooden article is to be rinsed with water.

13 “‘When a man is cleansed from his discharge, he is to count off seven days for his ceremonial cleansing; he must wash his clothes and bathe himself with fresh water, and he will be clean. 14 On the eighth day he must take two doves or two young pigeons and come before the LORD to the entrance to the tent of meeting and give them to the priest. 15 The priest is to sacrifice them, the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. In this way he will make atonement before the LORD for the man because of his discharge.

16 “‘When a man has an emission of semen, he must bathe his whole body with water, and he will be unclean till evening.17 Any clothing or leather that has semen on it must be washed with water, and it will be unclean till evening. 18 When a man has sexual relations with a woman and there is an emission of semen, both of them must bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.

19 “‘When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening.

20 “‘Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean. 21 Anyone who touches her bed will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. 22Anyone who touches anything she sits on will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. 23 Whether it is the bed or anything she was sitting on, when anyone touches it, they will be unclean till evening.

24 “‘If a man has sexual relations with her and her monthly flow touches him, he will be unclean for seven days; any bed he lies on will be unclean.

25 “‘When a woman has a discharge of blood for many days at a time other than her monthly period or has a discharge that continues beyond her period, she will be unclean as long as she has the discharge, just as in the days of her period. 26 Any bed she lies on while her discharge continues will be unclean, as is her bed during her monthly period, and anything she sits on will be unclean, as during her period. 27 Anyone who touches them will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.

28 “‘When she is cleansed from her discharge, she must count off seven days, and after that she will be ceremonially clean. 29 On the eighth day she must take two doves or two young pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 30 The priest is to sacrifice one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. In this way he will make atonement for her before the LORD for the uncleanness of her discharge.

31 “‘You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place, which is among them.’”

32 These are the regulations for a man with a discharge, for anyone made unclean by an emission of semen, 33 for a woman in her monthly period, for a man or a woman with a discharge, and for a man who has sexual relations with a woman who is ceremonially unclean.

Leviticus 16

The Day of Atonement

1 The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they approached the LORD. 2 The LORD said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die. For I will appear in the cloud over the atonement cover.

3 “This is how Aaron is to enter the Most Holy Place: He must first bring a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. 4 He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on. 5 From the Israelite community he is to take two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.

6 “Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household. 7 Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 8 He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat. 9Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the LORD and sacrifice it for a sin offering. 10 But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.

11 “Aaron shall bring the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household, and he is to slaughter the bull for his own sin offering. 12 He is to take a censer full of burning coals from the altar before the LORD and two handfuls of finely ground fragrant incense and take them behind the curtain. 13 He is to put the incense on the fire before the LORD, and the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover above the tablets of the covenant law, so that he will not die. 14He is to take some of the bull’s blood and with his finger sprinkle it on the front of the atonement cover; then he shall sprinkle some of it with his finger seven times before the atonement cover.

15 “He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull’s blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it. 16 In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been. He is to do the same for the tent of meeting, which is among them in the midst of their uncleanness. 17 No one is to be in the tent of meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel.

18 “Then he shall come out to the altar that is before the LORD and make atonement for it. He shall take some of the bull’s blood and some of the goat’s blood and put it on all the horns of the altar. 19 He shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times to cleanse it and to consecrate it from the uncleanness of the Israelites.

20 “When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. 21 He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. 22 The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness.

23 “Then Aaron is to go into the tent of meeting and take off the linen garments he put on before he entered the Most Holy Place, and he is to leave them there. 24 He shall bathe himself with water in the sanctuary area and put on his regular garments. Then he shall come out and sacrifice the burnt offering for himself and the burnt offering for the people, to make atonement for himself and for the people. 25 He shall also burn the fat of the sin offering on the altar.

26 “The man who releases the goat as a scapegoat must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; afterward he may come into the camp. 27 The bull and the goat for the sin offerings, whose blood was brought into the Most Holy Place to make atonement, must be taken outside the camp; their hides, flesh and intestines are to be burned up. 28 The man who burns them must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; afterward he may come into the camp.

29 “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any work—whether native-born or a foreigner residing among you— 30 because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins. 31 It is a day of sabbath rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance. 32 The priest who is anointed and ordained to succeed his father as high priest is to make atonement. He is to put on the sacred linen garments 33and make atonement for the Most Holy Place, for the tent of meeting and the altar, and for the priests and all the members of the community.

34 “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.”

And it was done, as the LORD commanded Moses.


Matthew 27

Judas Hangs Himself

1 Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. 2 So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.

3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

6 The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. 8 That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10 and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

Jesus Before Pilate

11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.

15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.

19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”

20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.

“Barabbas,” they answered.

22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.

They all answered, “Crucify him!”

23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”

25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”

26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

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Adam [Ăd'ăm]—of the ground ortaken out of the red earth. The first human son of God (Luke 3:38), and God’s masterpiece and crowning work of creation.

The Man God Made

All men should be interested in the history of the first man who ever breathed, man’s great ancestor, the head of the human family, the first being who trod the earth. What a beautiful world Adam found himself in with everything to make him happy, a world without sin and without sorrow! God first made, as it were, the great house of the world, then brought His tenant to occupy it. And it was not an empty house, but furnished with everything needed to make life content. There was not a single need God had not satisfied.

The Bible does not tell us how long Adam’s state of blessedness and innocence lasted. But Paradise was lost through listening to the voice of the tempter. Relieved of his occupation as a gardener, Adam was condemned to make his livelihood by tilling the stubborn ground, and to eat his bread in the sweat of his face.

I. Adam was a necessary complement to the divine plan. “There was not a man to till the ground” (Gen. 2:5). The accomplishment of God’s plan required human instrumentality. God made the earth for man, and then the man for the earth.

II. Adam was fashioned a creature of God, bearing the image of God and possessing God-like faculties (Gen. 1:27; Ps. 8:6;Eccles. 7:29).

III. Adam was created a tripartite being, having a spirit, soul and body ( Gen. 2:7; 1 Thess. 5:23).

IV. Adam was alone and needed companionship to satisfy his created instincts (Gen. 2:18), thus Eve was formed.

Society, friendship and love

Gifts divinely bestowed upon man.

V. Adam was enticed and sinned (Gen. 3:6). After the satanic tempter there came the human tempter, and the act of taking the forbidden fruit offered by Eve ruined Adam and made him our federal head in sin and death. “In Adam we die.”

VI. Adam received the promise of the Saviour. The first promise and prophecy of One, able to deal with Satan and sin was given, not to Adam, but to the one responsible for Adam’s trangression ( Gen. 3:15), and in the coats of skins God provided to cover the discovered nakedness of Adam and Eve we have a type of the sacrifice of the Cross. In Adam we die, but in Christ we can be made alive. The first man Adam was of the earth earthy, but the Second Man, the last Adam, was from heaven and kept His first estate of sinless perfection.

Adam was not only the name of earth’s first man and the joint name of both Adam and Eve (Gen. 5:2 ), but also the name of a town on the east of Jordan (Josh. 3:16).

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February 14, 2012

Chosen

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

The LORD spoke his word to me, saying: "Before I made you in your mother's womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work (Jeremiah 1:4-5, New Century Version).

Friend to Friend

It had been a wonderful day. We were all tired after hiking Grandfather Mountain and stopping on the way home to picnic beside a pristine North Carolina creek. Bedtime preparation was proceeding amazingly well. All that mountain air and country cooking was a natural sedative for our two pleasantly exhausted children. I looked forward to joining my husband, Dan, in the front porch swing to cuddle, gaze at the stars and dream of what might be.

Danna, our three-year-old daughter, was out like a light - one down and one to go. Jered, our six-year-old son scrambled into bed, ready to recap the hiking adventure and make a plan for tomorrow. We snuggled under the fluffy down comforter, talking and laughing about how much fun the day had been, then settled into a cozy, comfortable silence.

His question ripped through the still, silent night and my heart, exposing every fear and insecurity carefully buried there. "Why didn't she want me?" Jered softly asked. I knew immediately what he meant. After years of trying to have children naturally, Dan and I had discovered God had a wonderfully different plan for us. We adopted both Jered and Danna as infants and marveled daily at the precious gift of our two children. For years, I had known this question was inevitable but I was still caught off guard by Jered's probing words. My uncertain heart cried out to my Father. I needed an answer – for Jered and for me. Instantly, it came. Bruno!

When Jered was four-years-old, we were given a chocolate colored Labrador puppy that quickly outgrew our small yard, our not-so-understanding neighbors and our apprehensive children. We named this gentle giant Bruno. With each passing day, Bruno became an increasingly frustrated dog. Our postage stamp sized back yard offered little freedom or room for him to romp. Our elderly neighbors did not appreciate his early morning barking alarm and our kids soon refused to venture into the back yard because Bruno, who loved them and wanted to play, delighted in pinning them to the ground with his massive paws. It soon became clear to all of us that we were not the right family for Bruno.

After an intensive search, we discovered "Adopt a Pet," a remarkable organization that finds homes for animals whose owners, for one reason or another, cannot keep them. We were promised Bruno would be placed in just the right home where he would be loved, well cared for and have plenty of room to run and play. We talked and explained, struggling our way to the difficult decision that it was time to put Bruno up for adoption. Still, on the day they came to pick up Bruno, we all cried. Yes, we knew it was the best plan for Bruno, for us, and for a very excited family that wanted a Labrador, but it still hurt. Sometimes, doing the right thing - the best thing - the highest thing - is also the most painful thing.

As I looked into the beautiful, blue eyes of the little boy I loved more than life itself, I prayed for just the right words. "Jered, do you remember Bruno?" At the memory of the dog, Jered smiled and sadly whispered, "I still miss him." I nodded in agreement and replied, "I know, Son. I know you loved Bruno and were sad when we had to give him away. But do you remember why we gave Bruno away?" Jered thought for a moment and carefully answered, "Because we loved him so much and we knew we couldn't take care of him right ... and because he wasn't very happy ... and because we wanted the best home in the whole wide world for him."

I paused for a moment, basking in the simple and faithful wisdom of my Father, spoken through the heart of my only son. Now I was ready to answer his unsettling question. "She did want you, honey. And she did love you ... so much, in fact, that she was willing to give you away, just like we gave Bruno away. Just as we wanted what was best for Bruno, your birth mother wanted what was best for you!" I fully recognize that it was an extremely simple illustration for a profoundly complex life circumstance – but it was enough.

I lay there in the darkness, holding this chosen baby in my arms, listening to him breathe as he drifted into a peaceful, trust-filled sleep. My heart filled with wonder and awe at the faultless plan and complete provision of God in our lives. With tears of gratitude spilling down my face I thanked God for two courageous young birth mothers, for the plan of adoption that brought our children to us and for God's perfect work through an unusual servant named Bruno. With a contented smile on his face, Jered sighed, turned over and whispered the precious words, "I love you, Mom."

We are all desperate to be loved and to love. We innately search for significance and are created with the powerful need to belong. We pursue worth in worthless places. We demand validation from invalid sources. In the darkness of that mountain cabin, I caught a new perspective of God's stubborn love and the absolute sacrifice He made by giving up His son, Jesus Christ. It is only through a personal relationship with Him that we experience authentic love; a love that displaces thoughts of rejection and banishes feelings of abandonment. It is in this priceless gift that we comprehend the amazing truth that even if we were never wanted or planned by human heart and mind, we were planned and wanted in the heart and mind of God! And that, dear friend, is enough!

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Let's pray

Thank You for loving me, God. Honestly, I don't understand that kind of love; a love that sent Jesus Christ to the cross so that I can live. But today, I celebrate Your love. Help me remember I am chosen and because of Your love, I will never be alone or abandoned. You created me for a personal relationship with You. I am not an accident and I am not a mistake. I was created in response to Your plan. Today, I celebrate the fact that I am a chosen child of the King.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.

Now it's your turn

  • In your Bible, find seven verses that talk about the love of God. Begin by reading Psalm 139. Write each verse on a 3x5 card. Memorize one verse a day for the next seven days and share the verse with someone you love.
  • Who or what makes you feel abandoned and unloved?
  • Journal your thoughts and feelings about your significance. Then determine one step that you can take in order to see yourself through the eyes of God.

More from the Girlfriends

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

Be sure to check out the FREE MP3s on Mary's website.

Need help getting the Word of God into your life? Check out Mary's Weekly Online Bible Study, When I Am Afraid, to learn how to face, deal with and surrender your fears to God.

Are you ready to begin a new faith adventure? Get a copy of our new book, Trusting God.

Seeking God?

Click here to find out more about

how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God

P.O. Box 725

Matthews, NC 28106

info@girlfriendsingod.com
www.girlfriendsingod.com

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P31Header
Renee Swope

February 14, 2012

Because You are His
Renee Swope

"For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)

Startled by the silence, I shot up in bed so I could see the neon red lights that told me it was three in the morning, time to feed the baby. But Andrew hadn't made a sound.Was something wrong? Or was he sleeping through the night?

Wavering between panic and joy, I felt my way down the hall to the nursery and leaned over Andrew's crib. I listened for the sound of his breathing and carefully rested my hand on his tiny chest to feel the gentle rhythm of its rising and falling.

Moonlight slipped through the blinds helping me see he was perfectly fine. Most sane mothers would have gone back to bed, but not me. I stood there for a while just delighting in my child.

The love and joy I felt at that moment was almost overwhelming. How could I love someone so much? My heart longed just to be with this little guy who set my days in motion with his cries and smiles.

Andrew developed a routine of sleeping through the night soon after, yet I would listen for him, hoping for a good excuse to see if he was okay. While he was sleeping, I'd sneak into his room just because I wanted to be with him. Then I'd tiptoe into my older son Joshua's room, and watch him slumber.

Looking at their faces, I'd imagine the boys God was shaping them into. I'd whisper prayers for them to know Jesus and love Him with all their hearts. I'd ask God to calm their fears, fulfill their dreams and establish their steps to follow His ways.

My sons are teenagers now, but sometimes I still sneak into their rooms to pray over them and watch them. They aren't doing anything to make me feel proud or happy. In fact, they may have even driven me to my wit's end that day, but I delight in them because they are mine.

You know, God feels the exact same way about you and me. He loves to be with us and watch over us. And it's not because we are doing anything for Him, but simply because we are His. We might have even disappointed Him that day, but it doesn't change how He feels about us.

I sense God wants you to know that He delights greatly in you. And with His love, He is there today to quiet your fears, insecurities and doubts. I have a feeling the joy-filled songs He sings over you are written just for you, describing the beautiful woman He's created you to be, while gently leading your heart to know and rely on His love more and more each day.

What a great reminder for times when nothing's going right; when we feel like the whole world is against us and nobody understands what we're going through. I hope the next time you have one of those days you'll imagine the love of a mother watching her child sleeping. And remember that your Heavenly Father loves and delights in you even more than that - because you belong to Him.

Dear Lord, thank You for the reminder that You are always with me and that You love to watch over me, every minute of every day - even while I am sleeping! Help me to completely believe the truth about Your love towards me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Rest Assured: How to Rest, Be Renewed & Remain in God's Promises and Plans - a message on CD by Renee Swope

A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself and Start Living in the Security of God's Promises by Renee Swope

Visit Renee's website/blog for a list of Bible promises and prayers to help you live in God's love today!

Reflect and Respond:
Do I believe God is watching over me, smiling and delighting in the fact that I am HIS?

As I close my eyes, I'll picture God watching over me at this moment. No matter what I've done or what has been done to me, God's love reaches down to hold me in His arms. Bowing my head and tilting my heart, I'll listen to Him whisper, "You are precious in my sight and I love you" (Is. 43:4 NIV). I'll rest in the promise that He loves me, He knows my needs, and He's constantly by my side, watching over me.

Power Verses:
Psalm 34:15, "The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry." (NIV 1984)

Psalm 139:1-3, "O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways." (NIV 1984)

Psalm 33:18, "But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love..." (NIV 1984)

© 2012 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

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Meekness and Mourning

Matthew 5:4-5 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (vv. 4-5).

Some translators render the Greek term for blessing (makarios) as "happy," but this is not entirely accurate. Of course, happiness is often linked to blessing, but God's favor brings far more than mere happiness. To be blessed by our Creator is to find His approval. God claims us as His child when He blesses us.

Jesus has said our Father approves of the poor in spirit - those who know their need for divine forgiveness (Matt. 5:3). This makes sense, for we are God's people only if we come to the end of ourselves and turn to Him alone for salvation ( Isa. 66:1-2; Luke 18:9-14; 1 John 1:8-9). In today's passage, our Savior declares "blessed" those who mourn and those who are meek (Matt. 5:4-5).

Many think verse 4 refers to any mourner, but the context renders this view impossible. As the note in The Reformation Study Bible indicates, the second beatitude develops the first. Jesus describes here mourning over sin and its effect on the world. Believers feel sorrow for the ways they have offended God (Ps. 51:4) and for the ruin that mankind's evil has brought to this earth ( Dan. 9:1-19). Even Jesus weeps for Jerusalem because of what her sin brings upon her (Luke 19:41-44). Mourning is not constant despair or low self-esteem; these manifest a preoccupation with the self. True mourning over sin is focused Godward and finds comfort there, since the holiness of the Lord that reveals our desperation is joined with His grace, which offers forgiveness in the Gospel.

Christ also tells us God's blessing, or approval, comes to the meek ( Matt. 5:5). John Calvin offers the best description of meek people in his commentary. They are "persons of mild and gentle dispositions, who are not easily provoked by injuries, who are not ready to take offense, but are prepared to endure anything rather than do the like actions to wicked men." Meek people do not lack assertiveness, nor are they wishy-washy. Moses was meek (Num. 12:3 ), but he was not weak or cowardly. Being meek means being aware of our limitations, enabling us to be gentle and good to others (James 3:13-18). When we are meek we understand that we are just as guilty before God as the next person, and we therefore find it difficult to hold grudges against those who offend us.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Meekness rejects any thought of self-sufficiency. It is antithetical to our aggressive, dog-eat-dog world that teaches people never to be satisfied with what they have and therefore to pursue more and more "stuff," even if it means they lack the time to enjoy it. The meek inherit the earth because they have not seized their inheritance; they are content with God's provision. What does your attitude towards your "stuff" say about your meekness?

For further study:

Psalm 37

The Bible in a year:

Numbers 2-3

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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Meekness and Mourning

Matthew 5:4-5

Meekness rejects any thought of self-sufficiency. It is antithetical to our aggressive, dog-eat-dog world that teaches people never to be satisfied with what they have and therefore to pursue more and more "stuff," even if it means they lack the time to enjoy it. The meek inherit the earth because they have not seized their inheritance; they are content with God's provision. What does your attitude towards your "stuff" say about your meekness?

For further study:

Psalm 37

The Bible in a year:

Numbers 2-3

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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Enduring to the end

‘He that endureth to the end shall be saved.’ Matthew 10:22

Suggested Further Reading: 1 John 2:18–25

You do not find in Scripture many cases of young people going astray. You do find believers sinning, but they were mostly getting old men. There is Noah—no youth. There is Lot, when drunken—no child. There is David with Bathsheba—no young man in the heat of passion. There is Peter denying his Lord—no boy at the time. These were men of experience and knowledge and wisdom. ‘Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.’ With sorrow do we remember one whom, years ago, we heard pray among us, and sweetly too; esteemed and trusted by us all. I remember a dear brother saying very kindly, but not too wisely, ‘If he is not a child of God, I am not.’ But what did he, my brethren, to our shame and sorrow, but go aside to the very worst and foulest of sins. But this is the badge of a true child of God: that a man endures to the end; and if a man does not hold on, but slinks back to his old master, and wears again the Satanic yoke, there is sure proof that he has never come out of the spiritual Egypt through Jesus Christ, and has never obtained that eternal life which cannot die, because it is born of God. I have thus then, dear friends, said enough to prove, I think, beyond dispute, that the true badge of the Christian is perseverance, and that without it, no man has proved himself to be a child of God.

For meditation : The perseverance of the saints is not a theoretical concept; the fact that we are God’s children can only be proved by practice. It is a bad sign when those professing to be Christians will not endure, for example, affliction (Mark 4:17) or sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3). Our endurance in the Christian faith points to a glorious future (2 Thessalonians 1:4–5; James 1:12).

N.B. This sermon was preached after the death of Spurgeon’s grandfather, James Spurgeon, on 12 February 1864 at the age of 87. He had endured ‘to the end as a minister of Christ,’ said Spurgeon in a glowing tribute.

Sermon no. 554
14 February (1864)

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God, the all-seeing One

“Hell and destruction are before the Lord: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?” Proverbs 15:11

Suggested Further Reading: Jeremiah 17:9,10

God knows the heart so well that he is said to ‘search’ it. We all understand the figure of a search. There is a search-warrant out against some man who is supposed to be harbouring a traitor in his house. The officer goes into the lower room, opens the door of every cupboard, looks into every closet, peers into every cranny, takes the key, descends into the cellar, turns over the coals, disturbs the wood, lest anyone should be hidden there. Up stairs he goes: there is an old room that has not been opened for years,—it is opened. There is a huge chest: the lock is forced and it is broken open. The very top of the house is searched, lest upon the slates or upon the tiles some one should be concealed. At last, when the search has been complete, the officer says, “It is impossible that there can be anybody here, for, from the tiles to the foundation, I have searched the house thoroughly; I know the very spiders well, for I have seen the house completely.” Now, it is just so God knows our heart. He searches it—searches into every nook, corner, crevice and secret part; and the figure of the Lord is pushed further still. “The candle of the Lord,” we are told, “searches the inward parts of the belly.” As when we wish to find something, we take a candle, and look down upon the ground with great care, and turn up the dust. If it is some little piece of money we desire to find, we light a candle and sweep the house, and search diligently till we find it. Even so it is with God. He searches Jerusalem with candles, and pulls everything to daylight. No partial search, like that of Laban, when he went into Rachel’s tent to look for his idols. She put them in the camel’s furniture and sat upon them; but God looks into the camel’s furniture, and all.

For meditation: God does not need a search-warrant or a torch to search your heart (Hebrews 4:13). What does he see there?

Sermon no. 177
14 February (1858)

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Due to a technical error, this morning's "Questions Answered" contained the incorrect devotional reading. Below is the corrected version.

Can someone who is saved fall away?

This week's reading: 2 Peter 2:20-22

There are basically two positions on this question. Some say the people in these verses were saved, but by falling away, lost their salvation. They support their view by observing that: (1) These people had a relationship with Christ; (2) they had escaped corruption; (3) they had since become entangled again, worse than before. They also see the tragic results as reasons why the New Testament warnings against falling away are so vital (see, for example, Gal 5:4; Heb 6:4-6).

Others disagree and see salvation as an irrevocable gift. They believe people can appear to be saved-they know about Jesus and that their lifestyles appear to improve. But this view concludes that such changes are merely superficial and that such people were never truly saved in the first place. Those who hold this position see a distinction between genuine Christians and those who merely dabble in Christianity for a time (see, for example, Ro 8:38-39; 1Jn 2:19).

A third view incorporates elements of both of these positions. This view says some people fall away because they were never sincere in their faith while others fall away because they neglected their faith. The dividing line in these various opinions seems to depend on one's view of God's grace: Are God's promises irrevocable or do they depend on our response? Do we have eternal security in Christ or do we have conditional security in Christ? These questions may never be reconciled this side of heaven.

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Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional

THE DAY GOD INTRODUCED HIMSELF

After Blaise Pascal, the famous French mathematician and philosopher, died in 1662, they found a piece of paper in the lining of his coat. So important were these words to him (which he had written eight years earlier) that he kept them close to his body day after day. The scrap, which contained his central convictions, read: Dieu d'Abraham, Dieu d'Isaac, Dieu de Jacob, non des philosophes et savants. (God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of the philosophers and the learned.) And then these words follow: Certitude. Certitude. Sentiment. Joie. Paix. (Certainty. Certainty. Feeling. Joy. Peace.)

According to the calculations of this mathematician and vivid believer, among the multitude of competing deities there is one who is a real, live God, who moved in history, and who introduced himself by name to people like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And if he was known to them, he could be known by Blaise-and by anybody named Juan, Jessica, Michael, and Kwame, and you, and me.

It was not Pascal, however, who invented this attribution for God. It was when Moses stood before a mysterious bush on fire that was not consumed that he heard his name "Moses! Moses!," and then a name for God, a grand introduction at a watershed moment in history: "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob," and Moses hid his face (Exodus 3:6).

Though God does not have a physical face, he does dynamically interact, as when, in the desert of Sinai, he introduced himself as "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." This is no ethereal description of a divine force, no abstract set of metaphysical ("above the physical") characteristics. God said to Moses, I am the one who came to people such as Abraham, called them, motivated them, instructed them, inspired them, protected them, fed them, and corrected them. I am the one who made promises and entered into covenants, who had compassion when they suffered, and who stood with them against evildoers. I am a personal God, which is why you can speak with me and listen to me. Most important, you can trust me. Had God not said that, perhaps Moses would have thought of him as "the god of mysterious fire," or "the god of desert magic," or "Bush-baal."

God is the "I am," and would soon tell Moses to tell the people that "I am" had sent him. Imagine the world if human beings stopped thinking of God as an "it" that they are trying to discover like some new astrophysical phenomenon, and realized that "I am" is searching us out.

[Exerpt from Putting the Pieces Back Together: How Real Life and Real Faith Connect. Click for More.]

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About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for thirty years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, the most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement.
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