Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Daily Devotional Wednesday 1st February

“You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.” Psalm 86:5 NIV
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon


"The Lord our Righteousness."
Jeremiah 23:6

It will always give a Christian the greatest calm, quiet, ease, and peace, to think of the perfect righteousness of Christ. How often are the saints of God downcast and sad! I do not think they ought to be. I do not think they would if they could always see their perfection in Christ. There are some who are always talking about corruption, and the depravity of the heart, and the innate evil of the soul. This is quite true, but why not go a little further, and remember that we are "perfect in Christ Jesus." It is no wonder that those who are dwelling upon their own corruption should wear such downcast looks; but surely if we call to mind that "Christ is made unto us righteousness," we shall be of good cheer. What though distresses afflict me, though Satan assault me, though there may be many things to be experienced before I get to heaven, those are done for me in the covenant of divine grace; there is nothing wanting in my Lord, Christ hath done it all. On the cross he said, "It is finished!" and if it be finished, then am I complete in him, and can rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, "Not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." You will not find on this side heaven a holier people than those who receive into their hearts the doctrine of Christ's righteousness. When the believer says, "I live on Christ alone; I rest on him solely for salvation; and I believe that, however unworthy, I am still saved in Jesus;" then there rises up as a motive of gratitude this thought--"Shall I not live to Christ? Shall I not love him and serve him, seeing that I am saved by his merits?" "The love of Christ constraineth us," "that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves but unto him which died for them." If saved by imputed righteousness, we shall greatly value imparted righteousness.


"Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran Cushi."
2 Samuel 18:23

Running is not everything, there is much in the way which we select: a swift foot over hill and down dale will not keep pace with a slower traveller upon level ground. How is it with my spiritual journey, am I labouring up the hill of my own works and down into the ravines of my own humiliations and resolutions, or do I run by the plain way of "Believe and live"? How blessed is it to wait upon the Lord by faith! The soul runs without weariness, and walks without fainting, in the way of believing. Christ Jesus is the way of life, and he is a plain way, a pleasant way, a way suitable for the tottering feet and feeble knees of trembling sinners: am I found in this way, or am I hunting after another track such as priestcraft or metaphysics may promise me? I read of the way of holiness, that the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein: have I been delivered from proud reason and been brought as a little child to rest in Jesus' love and blood? If so, by God's grace I shall outrun the strongest runner who chooses any other path. This truth I may remember to my profit in my daily cares and needs. It will be my wisest course to go at once to my God, and not to wander in a roundabout manner to this friend and that. He knows my wants and can relieve them, to whom should I repair but to himself by the direct appeal of prayer, and the plain argument of the promise. "Straightforward makes the best runner." I will not parlay with the servants, but hasten to their master.

In reading this passage, it strikes me that if men vie with each other in common matters, and one outruns the other, I ought to be in solemn earnestness so to run that I may obtain. Lord, help me to gird up the loins of my mind, and may I press forward towards the mark for the prize of my high calling of God in Christ Jesus.


Today's reading: Exodus 25-26, Matthew 20:17-34 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Offerings for the Tabernacle

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. 3 These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze;4 blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; 5 ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood; 6 olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; 7 and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.

8 “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. 9 Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.

The Ark

10 “Have them make an ark of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high.11 Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it. 12 Cast four gold rings for it and fasten them to its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other. 13 Then make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 14 Insert the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry it. 15 The poles are to remain in the rings of this ark; they are not to be removed. 16 Then put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law, which I will give you.

17 “Make an atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. 18 And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. 19Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. 20 The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. 21 Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law that I will give you. 22 There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.

The Table

23 “Make a table of acacia wood—two cubits long, a cubit wide and a cubit and a half high. 24 Overlay it with pure gold and make a gold molding around it. 25 Also make around it a rim a handbreadth wide and put a gold molding on the rim. 26Make four gold rings for the table and fasten them to the four corners, where the four legs are. 27 The rings are to be close to the rim to hold the poles used in carrying the table. 28 Make the poles of acacia wood, overlay them with gold and carry the table with them. 29 And make its plates and dishes of pure gold, as well as its pitchers and bowls for the pouring out of offerings. 30 Put the bread of the Presence on this table to be before me at all times.

The Lampstand

31 “Make a lampstand of pure gold. Hammer out its base and shaft, and make its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms of one piece with them. 32 Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand—three on one side and three on the other. 33Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand. 34 And on the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. 35 One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair—six branches in all. 36 The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold.

37 “Then make its seven lamps and set them up on it so that they light the space in front of it. 38 Its wick trimmers and trays are to be of pure gold. 39 A talent of pure gold is to be used for the lampstand and all these accessories. 40 See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.

Exodus 26

The Tabernacle

1 “Make the tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim woven into them by a skilled worker. 2 All the curtains are to be the same size—twenty-eight cubits long and four cubits wide. 3Join five of the curtains together, and do the same with the other five. 4 Make loops of blue material along the edge of the end curtain in one set, and do the same with the end curtain in the other set. 5 Make fifty loops on one curtain and fifty loops on the end curtain of the other set, with the loops opposite each other. 6 Then make fifty gold clasps and use them to fasten the curtains together so that the tabernacle is a unit.

7 “Make curtains of goat hair for the tent over the tabernacle—eleven altogether. 8 All eleven curtains are to be the same size—thirty cubits long and four cubits wide. 9 Join five of the curtains together into one set and the other six into another set. Fold the sixth curtain double at the front of the tent. 10 Make fifty loops along the edge of the end curtain in one set and also along the edge of the end curtain in the other set. 11 Then make fifty bronze clasps and put them in the loops to fasten the tent together as a unit. 12 As for the additional length of the tent curtains, the half curtain that is left over is to hang down at the rear of the tabernacle. 13 The tent curtains will be a cubit longer on both sides; what is left will hang over the sides of the tabernacle so as to cover it. 14 Make for the tent a covering of ram skins dyed red, and over that a covering of the other durable leather.

15 “Make upright frames of acacia wood for the tabernacle. 16Each frame is to be ten cubits long and a cubit and a half wide,17 with two projections set parallel to each other. Make all the frames of the tabernacle in this way. 18 Make twenty frames for the south side of the tabernacle 19 and make forty silver bases to go under them—two bases for each frame, one under each projection. 20 For the other side, the north side of the tabernacle, make twenty frames 21 and forty silver bases—two under each frame. 22 Make six frames for the far end, that is, the west end of the tabernacle, 23 and make two frames for the corners at the far end. 24 At these two corners they must be double from the bottom all the way to the top and fitted into a single ring; both shall be like that. 25 So there will be eight frames and sixteen silver bases—two under each frame.

26 “Also make crossbars of acacia wood: five for the frames on one side of the tabernacle, 27 five for those on the other side, and five for the frames on the west, at the far end of the tabernacle. 28 The center crossbar is to extend from end to end at the middle of the frames. 29 Overlay the frames with gold and make gold rings to hold the crossbars. Also overlay the crossbars with gold.

30 “Set up the tabernacle according to the plan shown you on the mountain.

31 “Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim woven into it by a skilled worker. 32Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. 33 Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. 34 Put the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law in the Most Holy Place. 35 Place the table outside the curtain on the north side of the tabernacle and put the lampstand opposite it on the south side.

36 “For the entrance to the tent make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen—the work of an embroiderer. 37 Make gold hooks for this curtain and five posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold. And cast five bronze bases for them.

Matthew 20

Jesus Predicts His Death a Third Time

17 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”

A Mother’s Request

20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.

21 “What is it you want?” he asked.

She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”

22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

“We can,” they answered.

23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Two Blind Men Receive Sight

29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”

34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.


Zadok [Zā'dŏk]—righteous, justified.

The Man Who Remained Loyal

1. The son of Ahitub and father of Ahimaaz, a priest in David’s time (2 Sam. 8:17; 15:24-36; 17:15; 18:19,27; 19:11; 20:25). Other references may be found in 1 Kings, 1, 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Ezekiel.

This Zadok was appointed priest by Solomon in the place of Abiathar, because of his own loyalty (1 Kings 1:8), and the disloyalty of Abiathar (1 Kings 1:7).

Zadok was the founder of an important part of the priesthood and from Solomon’s time his descendants constituted the most prominent family among the order of priests.

As a young man, he was mighty of valor (1 Chron. 12:27, 28).

As a friend of David, Zadok remained true to him during Absalom’s rebellion ( 2 Sam. 15:24-29).

As a priest he remained faithful to David although his colleague deserted the king (1 Kings 1:7, 8). For his loyalty he retained his high and holy office till his death ( 1 Kings 2:26, 27).

2. The father of Jerusha, wife of Uzziah and mother of Jotham, king of Judah (2 Kings 15:33 ; 2 Chron. 27:1).

3. Son of Ahitub, grandson of Azariah, high priest in Solomon’s great Temple (1 Chron. 6:12; 9:11).

4. The son of Baana who shared in the repair of the wall of Jerusalem ( Neh. 3:4).

5. A priest, son of Immer (Neh. 3:29).

6. One of the chiefs of the people who sealed the covenant (Neh. 10:21).

7. A son of Meraioth, of priestly ancestry (Neh. 11:11).

8. The scribe or priest appointed by Nehemiah to take charge of the treasuries of the Lord’s house (Neh. 13:13). He may have been the same Zadok of Nehemiah 3:29.


January 31, 2012

Looking for God?

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

Praise the LORD! For he has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength, my shield from every danger. I trust in him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving (Psalm 28:6-7, NLT).

Friend to Friend

God is constantly at work in our lives, preparing us to do with joy what He created us to do. A.B. Simpson said: "God is preparing His heroes. And when the opportunity comes He can fit them into their place in a moment. And the world will wonder where they came from." When we understand that God integrates every life detail to accomplish His will, a deeper level of trust is born in our hearts.

God wants us to trust Him in every circumstance. Trust is letting go, knowing that God is more than enough. Trust is obedience because what I do reveals what I believe about God regardless of what I say. I don't think God wastes His direction on a disobedient heart but does, in fact, reveal His plans to those who will obey them. Trust and obedience go hand in hand. The more we obey, the more we will trust and the more we trust, the more we will obey, understanding that He is indeed Lord of all. The result is joy.

We should be women of joy. That is life at its best. However, if we live under the burden of circumstances instead of seeing God in their midst, our hearts will be filled with emotional chaos or spiritual rebellion, and there will be no joy. As Christians, we should be the most joyful people on earth, heart and soul at rest, because we serve the God of all circumstances, Lord of every mountain and Shepherd of every valley. However, this week alone, I have talked with both men and women who are ready to walk away from their lives all because in their hearts, marriages and ministries, there is neither joy nor peace. They cannot see God in their circumstances. The darkness is closing in as they struggle to stay afloat on the storm-tossed seas of strained relationships fueled by exhaustion, burnout, depression and a lack of purpose for living. Anger is a constant companion, and bitterness shadows each step. This is not the way life is supposed to be - is it?

When we fail to faithfully and continually seek God, we will likely forfeit our joy to human idols and lifeless activities in which we often exchange holiness for tolerance. No wonder we sometimes find life impotent and dismal when it should be powerful and filled with unshakable joy. We are to be vessels containing, and naturally spilling out, the joy of the Lord on those in our lives. That joy is our strength and the salt that makes others thirst to know Him more. Instead of focusing on what is wrong in life, we need to look on the "right" side of life.

A little girl and her father were taking a walk one night. They lived way out in the country on a remote farm far from the neon signs of the city. The night was still and dark, cloaked in reverent silence. Lightning bugs pranced through the tall grass and the onyx skies, celebrating life itself. Father and daughter walked in comfortable silence, satisfied just to be together. With a contented sigh, the little girl looked up into the dark skies filled with winking stars that seemed on the verge of bursting into sparkling worship of their Creator, God Himself. The little girl was overwhelmed and cried out, "Oh, Daddy! If the wrong side of heaven is so beautiful, I wonder what the right side looks like!"

We live on the wrong side of heaven. This world is not our home. It is a broken place filled with unspeakable pain and crushed dreams. Even so, we can live in this foreign land for a while - with joy -- knowing that home is waiting, celebrating here because of what we have there. "The Message" translates the words of Paul in Philippians 4:4 this way, "Celebrate God all day, every day. Revel in him!" I love it! Paul is calling us to party! That's right! We are to celebrate God every minute of every day for as many days as we have. "Revel" literally means "to party, to raise the roof" or, as my Mama used to say, "paint the town red." Every day we have a choice to make when it comes to our perspective on life. That choice then determines our attitudes which then lead to the actions that determine success or failure and the quality with which we live and serve.

Paul is serious about joy, and his instructions are clear. We are to be joyful - always. I know that many times, life makes it impossible to be happy but happiness is not what Paul is talking about. Happiness is a cheap imitation of true joy, depending totally upon man-made circumstances, while joy is an inside job and depends totally upon God's presence in the midst of those circumstances. Nehemiah 8:10 reminds us that "the joy you have in the LORD is your strength" (GWT). Remember that joy is not a feeling but rather a chosen perspective that recognizes the fact that God is in control. I am not talking about the power of positive thinking. I am talking about a real, honest-to-goodness transformation of the perspective from which we live. I'm talking about the power of God, active and present in every circumstance. Don't settle for Pharisaical religion or slot-filling, box-checking church activity. Settle for nothing less than the unexplainable but undeniable power of God's presence at work in your life.

Let's Pray

Father, thank You for the joy you have given me through Your love, mercy and grace. Forgive me for the times I take that joy for granted. Teach me how to look for you in the circumstances of my daily life. I want to celebrate Your presence even when I may not understand or even like Your process. I want to learn to trust You more and walk by faith.

In Jesus' name,


Now It's Your Turn

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How can I train my heart and mind to look for God at work in my life?
  • In what ways does an awareness of God's presence change the way I live each day?

Begin each day by setting the focus of your heart and mind on seeking God. Look for His handprint in every person you encounter. Keep John 3:16 in the forefront of your thoughts. Praise Him the minute you recognize His power at work around you. Share that revelation with a friend and record it in your journal.

More from the Girlfriends

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

Need help experiencing peace in your life? Mary's E-Bible Study, How to Find Your Missing Peace for practical and powerful steps you can take to live a life of victory. .

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.

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Lynn Cowell

January 31, 2012

Not the Same
Lynn Cowell

"When the people of the land come before the LORD at the appointed feasts, whoever enters by the north gate to worship is to go out the south gate; and whoever enters by the south gate is to go out the north gate. No one is to return through the gate by which he entered, but each is to go out the opposite gate." Ezekiel 46:9 (NIV 1984)

As soon as my eyes opened I knew it was going to be one of "those" days. I think that saying, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" was created for days like this. I was sad, disappointed, frustrated and empty.

But I couldn't put my finger on why I felt all of these emotions. I just knew I had to get out of the house before everyone woke up and my feelings steered our day in the wrong direction.

I put on my tennis shoes and started out the front door. Though unsure of where I was going to run, I was certain of the length: far! Far enough for me to come back with a different perspective. What I needed was to get alone with Jesus, to have Him fill me, and exchange my negative emotions with His peace, truth and life.

As I started my run, old thoughts poured into my head.You are not beautiful. You are not special. Your life doesn't count. After years of reading, studying and even teaching the Truth, it was hard to believe I still struggled with these dark thoughts.

As lies poured in, I remember scriptures stored in my mind and heart. He sees me as beautiful. He says He is wild about me. He is more than enough for me. He is all I need.

Mulling over these precious promises from God's Word, tears began to pour. This is what I needed.

I didn't need more words of affirmation from my husband. I didn't need another pat on the back from a friend. I needed a new outpouring of love from my Love. I needed to be reminded of who He says I am, to give up the old lies and replace them with His Truths.

When we come into God's presence, He fills us. The Lord changes us so that we are not the same as we were when we came to Him. Ezekiel 46:9 represents this exchange of old for new. The people of Israel were told when they came into the temple area to worship, they were to enter through one gate and exit through the opposite gate.

So the same should be true with us; we are "not to go back as we came, but more holy, and heavenly, and spiritual" (Matthew Henry). As we enter into our special times with God, we need to come out the "opposite gate," different than the way we went in.

After an hour of running, crying and talking to God, I was not the same when I returned home. Now, I was ready. Ready to be the wife and mom my family needed. Restored into a vessel that God could use. Being with Jesus had changed me.

Dear Lord, I need You today. Living this life sometimes drains me and leaves me empty. As I come through Your gates and into Your presence, change me. Pour Your life and heart into me so that as I leave through the "opposite gate," I am not the same woman as when I came in. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Want a friend to walk with you in understanding this life-changing Love? Check out Lynn's book His Revolutionary Love

Visit Lynn's blog to enter a give-away of her book His Revolutionary Love and a Starbucks gift card!

Reflect and Respond:
What brings up old, negative thoughts? Harsh words with my husband? Rejection at work? Communication patterns in broken relationships? I'll begin to recognize these triggers so I can make a point to run to Jesus for truth each time they resurface.

Do I need help coming into the Lord's presence? Today I'll play worship music and let God's truth pour into my heart. As it does, I'll respond to Him in words of praise for who He is and what He means to me.

Power Verses:
Titus 3:5b-7, "He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." (NIV 1984)

Ephesians 4:21-2223, "Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of lifeÖ Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes." (NLT)

© 2012 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105



The two talents

“He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Matthew 25:22-23

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Chronicles 29:1-17

If by divine grace—(and it is only by divine grace that this can ever be accomplished)—our two talents be rightly used, the fact that we did not have five, will be no injury to us. You say, when such a man dies, who stood in the midst of the church, a triumphant warrior for the truth, the angels will crowd to heaven’s gates to see him, for he has been a mighty hero, and done much for his Master. A Calvin or a Luther, with what plaudits shall they be received!—men with talents, who have been faithful to their trust. Yes, but know ye not, that there is many a humble village pastor whose flock scarcely numbers fifty, who toils for them as for his life, who spends hours in praying for their welfare, who uses all the little ability he has in his endeavour to win them to Christ; and do ye imagine that his entry into heaven shall be less triumphant than the entry of such a man as Luther? If so, ye know not how God dealeth with his people. He giveth them rewards, not according to the greatness of the goods with which they were entrusted, but according to their fidelity thereunto, and he that hath been faithful in the least, shall be as much rewarded, as he that hath been faithful in much. I want you briefly to turn to the chapter to see this. You will note first, that the man with two talents came to his Lord with as great a confidence as the man that had five. “And he said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents; behold, I have gained two talents beside them.”

For meditation: These words, spoken exactly 34 years before the day on which Spurgeon died, remind us not to covet the gifts of a Spurgeon. Our concern, as believers, should not be how much we have got from God, but how much we gladly use whatever we have got for God (1 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Corinthians 8:12).

Sermon no. 175
31 January (1858)


Jesus Overcomes Satan

Matthew 4:8-11

Matthew Henry comments that "the best of saints may be tempted to the worst of sins." Though Jesus never sinned, Satan left the worst temptation of all for last - blatant idolatry. If our Lord faced such a test, we too cannot be surprised if we are tempted to do the worst. But take heart, for Jesus can strengthen us to defeat the enemy. When tempted, run to Him in prayer and study His Word so that you can resist the Devil.

For further study:

Genesis 39:6b-12

The Bible in a year:

Exodus 39-Lev. 1

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.



Jesus Overcomes Satan

Matthew 4:8-11 "Be gone, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve'" (v. 10).

Fame, power, and authority are so enticing that many people embrace wickedness in their drive to be known and followed. Men lie and cheat in order to climb the corporate ladder. Starlets try to outdo one another's outrageous behavior in order to keep their names in the spotlight. Politicians lie and stab others in the back in their pursuit of the highest offices in the land. Matthew Henry is right to say that "the glory of the world is the most charming temptation to the unthinking and unwary and that by which men are most deceived. The pride of life is the most dangerous snare."

In today's passage, Satan presents Jesus with a prize - authority over all the kingdoms of this world ( Matt. 4:8-9). This rule is not sinful in itself since the Messiah is promised reign over the nations (Ps. 2:8). The problem is the means the Devil offers. Worship of a false god, the evil one himself, can bring the Son of David immediately to a position of authority in the world (Matt. 4:9 ). Satan is tempting Jesus to take a shortcut and bypass the cross to receive the name by which every tongue on heaven and earth will bow (Phil. 2:5-11). John Calvin says this temptation is that "Christ should seek, in another manner than from God, the inheritance that he has promised to his children."

Adam failed this test. Instead of submitting to the Creator, he embraced godless autonomy. He ate the forbidden fruit so that he could be a law unto himself instead of looking to the Almighty to define right and wrong ( Gen. 3). God's son Israel (Hos. 11:1) disobeyed as well by going after other gods (Ex. 32). However, Jesus will not make the same mistake. On a mountain He will declare that He has received authority, but it will not be on the mount of temptation. No, it will be on a mountain after He is faithful to His Father's will ( Matt. 28:16-20). Jesus will not avoid the cross in His drive to regain the righteous dominion given to man (Gen. 1:26-27). He will not become an idolater (Matt. 4:10).

Thus, Jesus triumphs over Satan (v. 11 ). This is good news for us indeed. In staring down temptation, Jesus experienced suffering, and thus He is able to help us when we are tempted (Heb. 2:18).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Matthew Henry comments that "the best of saints may be tempted to the worst of sins." Though Jesus never sinned, Satan left the worst temptation of all for last - blatant idolatry. If our Lord faced such a test, we too cannot be surprised if we are tempted to do the worst. But take heart, for Jesus can strengthen us to defeat the enemy. When tempted, run to Him in prayer and study His Word so that you can resist the Devil.

For further study:

Genesis 39:6b-12

The Bible in a year:

Exodus 39-Lev. 1

INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

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Do you know him?

‘That I may know him.’ Philippians 3:10

Suggested Further Reading: Acts 8:9–24

Let me warn you of second-hand spirituality; it is a rotten soul-deceiving deception. Beware of all esteeming yourself according to the thoughts of others, or you will be ruined. Another man’s opinion of me may have great influence over me. I have heard of a man in perfectly good health killed by the opinion of others. Several of his friends had foolishly agreed to play him a practical trick; whereupon one of them met him and said, ‘How ill you look this morning.’ He did not feel so; he was very much surprised at the remark. When he met the next, who said to him, ‘Oh! dear, how bad you look,’ he began to think there might be something in it; and as he turned smart round the corner, a third person said to him, ‘What a sight you are! How altered from what you used to be!’ He went home ill, he took to his bed and died. So goes the story, and I should not marvel if it really did occur. Now, if such might be the effect of persuasion and supposed belief in the sickness of a man, how much more readily may men be persuaded into the idea of spiritual health! A believer meets you, and by his treatment seems to say, ‘I welcome you as a dear brother’—and means it too. You are baptised, and you are received into church fellowship, and so everybody thinks that you must be a follower of Christ; and yet you may not know him. O I do pray you, do not be satisfied with being persuaded into something like an assurance that you are in him, but do know him—know him for yourself.

For meditation: We should all take it for granted that by nature we are all hell-deserving sinners. None of us have any right to take it for granted that we are heaven-bound saints. Even with the kindest of motives, spiritual flattery is a killer. For God to wound us by telling us the awful truth about ourselves is an amazing offer of friendship (Proverbs 27:6), a merciful warning to flee from the wrath to come by trusting in Christ crucified ( 2 Corinthians 5:19–21).

Sermon no. 552
31 January (1864)

Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional


There are only so many different views on the question of God. Do you know what you believe?

Atheism, or materialism, is the view that there really is no God. As a dogma or philosophy, atheism says that there is a physical universe and nothing else. Belief in God is a weak-minded explanation or naïve wishful thinking preventing people from standing on their own two feet.

Polytheism is the belief that there are many gods. The polytheist says, "in our tribe we worship this god, but you live on the other side of the river (or across the ocean, or in a different culture), and you worship a different god. We choose to accept a plurality of gods because we're not about to believe in your god, and we don't care a bit if you believe in our god." There is no absolute God to whom you are fully accountable.

Pantheism holds that there is a divine nature in the universe, but it is indistinguishable from the physical universe itself. God is not separate; God is what is; God is an "it." Pantheism deifies the earth and the self. It holds that if we have within us an urge to find the divine, it is because we are divine, and part of a spiritual unity that binds together all reality. Pantheism says that your search for God doesn't need to stretch any further than what you can see. What it does not offer is a God who is better than us, higher than us, stronger than us.

Deism is the belief that there is a God who created the universe, but then stepped back from it all and has no controlling influence over or involvement in the world. There are no miracles-never have been. There is no word from heaven-never has been. Don't expect any direct divine involvement in your life-never will be. The Bible is a human book with spiritual aspirations, but ignore the miracles (including the resurrection of Jesus) because we know better than that today.

Theism is the biblical view. A confidence that when you pray, there is a God who hears you. An anticipation about what new movement God is going to initiate in the world today. An attentiveness to the voice of God. A confidence in divine love. A belief that God acts with intelligent purpose. Theism is the belief that there is a God who is singular, transcendent, all-powerful, consistent, and wise. And he is personal.

Next time: how is God "personal"?

[Mel expands on all this, including explanations of how Christianity is different from Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other world religions in his book I Want to Believe: Finding Your Way in an Age of Many Faiths.You can get this book free today when you order a copy of Patterns: Ways to Develop a God-Filled Life. OrderHERE.]

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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.

What about those who never hear about Jesus?

This week's reading: Acts 4:12

There may be no satisfactory answer to this question. The Bible is clear about the exclusive claims of Christ (see Jn 14:6). Yet we also know God is merciful and absolutely just. It would seem to contradict what we know of his nature if he did not account for the disadvantages of those who, through no fault of their own, have never heard of Jesus.

From another perspective we have to say that even those who have heard the name of Jesus do not deserve to be saved. Salvation is always the result of God’s love for us, not our love for him. It is his grace—not our efforts—that saves us.

Still, God’s grace requires a human response. Christians have a responsibility to make Christ known in all the world so people have the opportunity to respond (see Mt 28:19–20). Ultimately, we can trust God to judge the world justly.



Today's reading is from the
NIV Quest Study Bible
by Zondervan

This unique Bible addresses the common, uncommon, and perplexing questions people ask about Scripture.

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