Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Daily Devotional Wednesday 29th February

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"My expectation is from him."
Psalm 62:5

It is the believer's privilege to use this language. If he is looking for aught from the world, it is a poor "expectation" indeed. But if he looks to God for the supply of his wants, whether in temporal or spiritual blessings, his "expectation" will not be a vain one. Constantly he may draw from the bank of faith, and get his need supplied out of the riches of God's lovingkindness. This I know, I had rather have God for my banker than all the Rothschilds. My Lord never fails to honour his promises; and when we bring them to his throne, he never sends them back unanswered. Therefore I will wait only at his door, for he ever opens it with the hand of munificent grace. At this hour I will try him anew. But we have "expectations" beyond this life. We shall die soon; and then our "expectation is from him." Do we not expect that when we lie upon the bed of sickness he will send angels to carry us to his bosom? We believe that when the pulse is faint, and the heart heaves heavily, some angelic messenger shall stand and look with loving eyes upon us, and whisper, "Sister spirit, come away!" As we approach the heavenly gate, we expect to hear the welcome invitation, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." We are expecting harps of gold and crowns of glory; we are hoping soon to be amongst the multitude of shining ones before the throne; we are looking forward and longing for the time when we shall be like our glorious Lord--for "We shall see him as he is." Then if these be thine "expectations," O my soul, live for God; live with the desire and resolve to glorify him from whom cometh all thy supplies, and of whose grace in thy election, redemption, and calling, it is that thou hast any "expectation" of coming glory.

Evening

"The barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah."
1 Kings 17:16

See the faithfulness of divine love. You observe that this woman had daily necessities. She had herself and her son to feed in a time of famine; and now, in addition, the prophet Elijah was to be fed too. But though the need was threefold, yet the supply of meal wasted not, for she had a constant supply. Each day she made calls upon the barrel, but yet each day it remained the same. You, dear reader, have daily necessities, and because they come so frequently, you are apt to fear that the barrel of meal will one day be empty, and the cruse of oil will fail you. Rest assured that, according to the Word of God, this shall not be the case. Each day, though it bring its trouble, shall bring its help; and though you should live to outnumber the years of Methuselah, and though your needs should be as many as the sands of the seashore, yet shall God's grace and mercy last through all your necessities, and you shall never know a real lack. For three long years, in this widow's days, the heavens never saw a cloud, and the stars never wept a holy tear of dew upon the wicked earth: famine, and desolation, and death, made the land a howling wilderness, but this woman never was hungry, but always joyful in abundance. So shall it be with you. You shall see the sinner's hope perish, for he trusts his native strength; you shall see the proud Pharisee's confidence totter, for he builds his hope upon the sand; you shall see even your own schemes blasted and withered, but you yourself shall find that your place of defence shall be the munition of rocks: "Your bread shall be given you, and your water shall be sure." Better have God for your guardian, than the Bank of England for your possession. You might spend the wealth of the Indies, but the infinite riches of God you can never exhaust.

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Note: there will be no Bible reading on Wednesday, February 29, due to the "extra day" in the leap year. See you on March 1!

Today's reading: Numbers 17-19; Mark 6:30-56 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
The Budding of Aaron’s Staff

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and get twelve staffs from them, one from the leader of each of their ancestral tribes. Write the name of each man on his staff.3 On the staff of Levi write Aaron’s name, for there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral tribe. 4 Place them in the tent of meeting in front of the ark of the covenant law, where I meet with you. 5 The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.”

6 So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and their leaders gave him twelve staffs, one for the leader of each of their ancestral tribes, and Aaron’s staff was among them. 7 Moses placed the staffs before the LORD in the tent of the covenant law.

8 The next day Moses entered the tent and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the tribe of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds. 9 Then Moses brought out all the staffs from the LORD’s presence to all the Israelites. They looked at them, and each of the leaders took his own staff.

10 The LORD said to Moses, “Put back Aaron’s staff in front of the ark of the covenant law, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die.” 11 Moses did just as the LORD commanded him.

12 The Israelites said to Moses, “We will die! We are lost, we are all lost! 13 Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the LORD will die. Are we all going to die?”

Numbers 18

Duties of Priests and Levites

1 The LORD said to Aaron, “You, your sons and your family are to bear the responsibility for offenses connected with the sanctuary, and you and your sons alone are to bear the responsibility for offenses connected with the priesthood. 2Bring your fellow Levites from your ancestral tribe to join you and assist you when you and your sons minister before the tent of the covenant law. 3 They are to be responsible to you and are to perform all the duties of the tent, but they must not go near the furnishings of the sanctuary or the altar. Otherwise both they and you will die. 4 They are to join you and be responsible for the care of the tent of meeting—all the work at the tent—and no one else may come near where you are.

5 “You are to be responsible for the care of the sanctuary and the altar, so that my wrath will not fall on the Israelites again. 6I myself have selected your fellow Levites from among the Israelites as a gift to you, dedicated to the LORD to do the work at the tent of meeting. 7 But only you and your sons may serve as priests in connection with everything at the altar and inside the curtain. I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift. Anyone else who comes near the sanctuary is to be put to death.”

Offerings for Priests and Levites

8 Then the LORD said to Aaron, “I myself have put you in charge of the offerings presented to me; all the holy offerings the Israelites give me I give to you and your sons as your portion, your perpetual share. 9 You are to have the part of the most holy offerings that is kept from the fire. From all the gifts they bring me as most holy offerings, whether grain or sin or guilt offerings, that part belongs to you and your sons. 10 Eat it as something most holy; every male shall eat it. You must regard it as holy.

11 “This also is yours: whatever is set aside from the gifts of all the wave offerings of the Israelites. I give this to you and your sons and daughters as your perpetual share. Everyone in your household who is ceremonially clean may eat it.

12 “I give you all the finest olive oil and all the finest new wine and grain they give the LORD as the firstfruits of their harvest.13 All the land’s firstfruits that they bring to the LORD will be yours. Everyone in your household who is ceremonially clean may eat it.

14 “Everything in Israel that is devoted to the LORD is yours.15 The first offspring of every womb, both human and animal, that is offered to the LORD is yours. But you must redeem every firstborn son and every firstborn male of unclean animals.16 When they are a month old, you must redeem them at the redemption price set at five shekels of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs.

17 “But you must not redeem the firstborn of a cow, a sheep or a goat; they are holy. Splash their blood against the altar and burn their fat as a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD. 18 Their meat is to be yours, just as the breast of the wave offering and the right thigh are yours. 19 Whatever is set aside from the holy offerings the Israelites present to the LORD I give to you and your sons and daughters as your perpetual share. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the LORD for both you and your offspring.”

20 The LORD said to Aaron, “You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites.

21 “I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting. 22 From now on the Israelites must not go near the tent of meeting, or they will bear the consequences of their sin and will die. 23 It is the Levites who are to do the work at the tent of meeting and bear the responsibility for any offenses they commit against it. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. They will receive no inheritance among the Israelites. 24 Instead, I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the LORD. That is why I said concerning them: ‘They will have no inheritance among the Israelites.’”

25 The LORD said to Moses, 26 “Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the LORD’s offering. 27 Your offering will be reckoned to you as grain from the threshing floor or juice from the winepress. 28 In this way you also will present an offering to the LORD from all the tithes you receive from the Israelites. From these tithes you must give the LORD’s portion to Aaron the priest. 29 You must present as the LORD’s portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you.’

30 “Say to the Levites: ‘When you present the best part, it will be reckoned to you as the product of the threshing floor or the winepress. 31 You and your households may eat the rest of it anywhere, for it is your wages for your work at the tent of meeting. 32 By presenting the best part of it you will not be guilty in this matter; then you will not defile the holy offerings of the Israelites, and you will not die.’”

Numbers 19

The Water of Cleansing

1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: 2 “This is a requirement of the law that the LORD has commanded: Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect or blemish and that has never been under a yoke. 3 Give it to Eleazar the priest; it is to be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence. 4 Then Eleazar the priest is to take some of its blood on his finger and sprinkle it seven times toward the front of the tent of meeting. 5 While he watches, the heifer is to be burned—its hide, flesh, blood and intestines. 6 The priest is to take some cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet wool and throw them onto the burning heifer. 7 After that, the priest must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water. He may then come into the camp, but he will be ceremonially unclean till evening. 8The man who burns it must also wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he too will be unclean till evening.

9 “A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and put them in a ceremonially clean place outside the camp. They are to be kept by the Israelite community for use in the water of cleansing; it is for purification from sin. 10 The man who gathers up the ashes of the heifer must also wash his clothes, and he too will be unclean till evening. This will be a lasting ordinance both for the Israelites and for the foreigners residing among them.

11 “Whoever touches a human corpse will be unclean for seven days. 12 They must purify themselves with the water on the third day and on the seventh day; then they will be clean. But if they do not purify themselves on the third and seventh days, they will not be clean. 13 If they fail to purify themselves after touching a human corpse, they defile the LORD’s tabernacle. They must be cut off from Israel. Because the water of cleansing has not been sprinkled on them, they are unclean; their uncleanness remains on them.

14 “This is the law that applies when a person dies in a tent: Anyone who enters the tent and anyone who is in it will be unclean for seven days, 15 and every open container without a lid fastened on it will be unclean.

16 “Anyone out in the open who touches someone who has been killed with a sword or someone who has died a natural death, or anyone who touches a human bone or a grave, will be unclean for seven days.

17 “For the unclean person, put some ashes from the burned purification offering into a jar and pour fresh water over them. 18Then a man who is ceremonially clean is to take some hyssop, dip it in the water and sprinkle the tent and all the furnishings and the people who were there. He must also sprinkle anyone who has touched a human bone or a grave or anyone who has been killed or anyone who has died a natural death. 19 The man who is clean is to sprinkle those who are unclean on the third and seventh days, and on the seventh day he is to purify them. Those who are being cleansed must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and that evening they will be clean. 20 But if those who are unclean do not purify themselves, they must be cut off from the community, because they have defiled the sanctuary of the LORD. The water of cleansing has not been sprinkled on them, and they are unclean. 21 This is a lasting ordinance for them.

“The man who sprinkles the water of cleansing must also wash his clothes, and anyone who touches the water of cleansing will be unclean till evening. 22 Anything that an unclean person touches becomes unclean, and anyone who touches it becomes unclean till evening.”


Mark 6

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”

They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”

38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”

When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”

39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.

Jesus Walks on the Water

45 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.

47 Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. 48 He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50 because they all saw him and were terrified.

Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 51 Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.

53 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. 54 As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. 55 They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

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Joash, Jehoash [Jō'ash,Jēhō'ăsh]—jehovah supports, is strong orhastens to help.

  1. A son of Becher, a Benjamite (1 Chron. 7:8).
  2. An officer who had charge of David’s oil-cellars (1 Chron. 27:28).
  3. A son of Manasseh and father of Gideon, of the family of Abiezer ( Judg. 6:11-31; 7:14;8:12, 32).
  4. A son of Ahab , king of Israel (1 Kings 22:26; 2 Chron. 18:25).
  5. A son of Ahaziah, king of Judah (2 Kings 11:2). Also called Jehoash.
  6. A son of Jehoahaz, and grandson of Jehu ( 2 Kings 13).
  7. A descendant of Shelah, son of Judah (1 Chron. 4:22).
  8. A Benjamite of Gibeah who joined David at Ziklag (1 Chron. 12:3).
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February 28, 2012

God's Gifts in Dark Times

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also graciously give us all things?(Romans 8:32, NIV)

Friend to Friend

I stood at Steven's bedroom door, watching this now 17-year-old son asleep in a tangle of sheets and limbs. He was six feet tall, needed a shave and sported a mass of shaggy, thick brown hair. I thought about how much I loved this boy.

When Steven was born, we had no idea we would be raising him as an only child. Years of infertility struggles and the loss of our second child left us with a hollow echo of the heart that we feared would never be filled. And yet, when I looked at this sleeping man-child, loved filled every nook and cranny of my heart till I thought it would burst. Still, there was always the wondering what life would have been like had more Jaynes children filled the rooms, scattered their toys, and left handprints on the walls.

"Lord," I prayed, "You know how much I love children and how I always longed to be a mom to a house full of children. I know your ways are higher than our ways, and that You are my heavenly Father who knows what's best for me, but God could you show me a purpose behind the pain of those difficult years of longing? You certainly don't owe me an explanation, but I'd love to have a bit of encouragement today. I'd love a nugget of gold."

Standing in the door frame, watching the rhythmic rise and fall of Steven's steady breathing, God's Word washed over me.

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.

"Is that You, Lord?" I asked. "Is that my nugget of gold?"

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.

The words washed over me again like a spring rain on parched ground, and my breath caught. It was if the Holy Spirit illuminated Steven like a lone actor on the stage. Steven … my one and only son. For the first time in my life I truly grasped the height, the depth and the breadth of those familiar words. Jesus … God's one and only Son.

Yes, I have a one and only son. I love many people in this world, but none enough to sacrifice my only son. And yet God loved me that much. He loved you that much. He loved us enough to sacrifice His one and only Son in order to make eternal life with Him possible.

All through those years of infertility and loss, Satan, the enemy, taunted me with words of doubt. God doesn't love you, he'd say. If He loved you, He'd give you what you asked for. He doesn't love you. You can't trust Him with your heart.

And yet, at that moment standing in Steven's door frame, I realized just how much God did love me. He had shone the light of His love on the enemy's lie and revealed the truth.

With tears spilling down my cheeks, I thanked God for helping me understand His great love — for giving me a living, breathing daily reminder of that love every time I looked at my boy. If that was the only purpose behind the years of infertility and loss of a child, then that was enough.

The Bible says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).What does God really mean by "all things?" Most likely He means all things — the good, the bad and the ugly. In every dark circumstance of life, I believe that there is a nugget of gold or a hidden treasure just waiting to be discovered. However, for that to happen, we must look beyond the dirt, push it aside, and search beneath the surface.

Is it easy? No. Is it messy? Usually. It is worth it? Always.

Has there been a trial or loss in your life? If so, I wonder if God has a valuable treasure hidden beneath the surface of the pain, just waiting to be discovered. Do you trust Him enough to push the dirt aside and see?

Let's Pray

Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me so much that You gave Your only Son so that I could receive eternal life the moment I believed in Him. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

You know, it brings tears to my eyes every time I think of that day standing in Steven's doorframe. How about you? Was there a particular time when you knew that you knew just how much God loves you?

Perhaps it came on the heels of a difficult situation? Perhaps it came during a time of joy? Think about that today. Praise God for that today. Remember.

I'd love to hear about your glory moment. In one sentence, join me on www.facebook.com and share it with your GiGs. Here's how we'll start…One day I was reminded of God's love for me when…

More from the Girlfriends

Today's devotion was taken from the GiGs new book, Trusting God. To download a free excerpt, watch a video, or order, you can visit www.sharonjaynes.com or www.girlfriendsinGod.com.

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Where to find fruit

‘From me is thy fruit found.’ Hosea 14:8

Suggested Further Reading: John 15:1–8

If I could bear fruit without my God, I would loathe the accursed thing, for it would be the fruit of pride—the fruit of an arrogant setting up of myself in independence of the Creator. No; the Lord deliver us from all faith, all hope, all love which do not spring from himself! May we have none of our own-manufactured graces about us. May we have nothing but that which is minted in heaven, and is therefore made of the pure metal. May we have no grace, pray no prayer, do no works, serve God in nothing except as we depend upon his strength and receive his Spirit. Any experience which comes short of a knowledge that we must get all from God, is a deceiving experience. But if you have been brought to find everything in him, beloved, this is a mark of a child of God. Cultivate a spirit of deep humiliation before the Most High; seek to know more your nothingness, and to prove more the omnipotence of the eternal God. There are two books I have tried to read, but I have not got through the first page yet. The first is the book of my own ignorance, and emptiness, and nothingness—what a great book is that! It will take us all our lives to read it, and I question whether Methuselah ever got to the last page. There is another book I must read, or else the first volume will drive me mad—it is the book of God’s all-sufficiency. I have not got through the first word of that, much less the first page, but reading the two together, I would spend all my days. This is heaven’s own literature, the wisdom which comes from above. Less than nothing I can boast, and yet ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.’ ‘Having nothing yet possessing all things.’

For meditation: Apparent fruit produced by our own efforts independently of God is no better than a mirage; it will vanish upon inspection on the Last Day (1 Corinthians 3:12–15 ). Fruit which is derived from Christ and acknowledged to be produced in us by him will abide in abundance to God’s glory (John 15:5,8,16). Joseph did not forget the source of his fruitfulness (Genesis 41:52).

Sermon no. 557
28 February (1864)

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Retaliation and the Kingdom

Matthew 5:38-42 "I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also" (v. 39).

One of the best helps for interpreting the Sermon on the Mount properly is to remember that Jesus' stipulations deal directly with interpersonal relationships within the covenant community and, secondarily, with those outside the church. It is not as if He has nothing to say to the structures of society, it is just that we err if we treat Christ's words here as primarily dealing with law courts, warfare, and other broad societal and governmental concerns.

Consider today's passage in which Jesus discusses the Law's "eye-for-an-eye" justice (Matt. 5:38-42; see Ex. 21:23-25). Many assume He is saying that the so-called lex talionis is wrong, but such interpretations make Christ one who denies the goodness of God's law (Rom. 7:7), not the one who fulfills it (Matt. 5:17-20 ). As God Himself, Jesus knows that eye-for-an-eye justice is wise, instituted to ensure that the punishment fits the crime. Justice in ancient Israel's tribal system could have easily become endless feuding without this law. Without the lex talionis, in ancient times my family might kill you to avenge your breaking of my leg, your family might then kill my family, and so on. Today, news of young girls being raped or killed as punishment in some Islamic countries for "violating" their family's "honor" reveals the righteousness of the lex talionis.

Eye-for-an-eye justice was given to the courts in Israel to ensure that victims received adequate restitution. However, thelex talionis was never intended to justify retaliation for everyday, personal offenses. This is what Jesus is talking about in today's passage. A slap on the "right cheek," which basically amounts to a personal insult, must not be returned in kind (Matt. 5:39). Believers give up their law-given right to keep their outer cloak (5:40; see Ex. 22:26-27), that is, we may not appeal to our legal rights every time we are wronged. The lex talionis restrains vengeance to help us cultivate a generous heart that overlooks personal offenses and forgives for the kingdom's sake. In short, Matthew Henry says, "Christians must not be litigious; small injuries must be submitted to, and no notice taken of them; and if the injury is such as requires us to seek reparation, it must be for a good end, and without thought of revenge."

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

The last point of Matthew Henry's quote is important since there are times when seeking reparation may in fact be the best way to love our neighbor and keep him from sinning further. Such occasions, however, will be few and far between. We are to endure insults and offenses meekly, doing extra even for those who do not deserve it (Matt. 5:41). When someone asks you for a favor, volunteer to go above and beyond their request.

For further study:

Genesis 34; 49:5-7

The Bible in a year:

Numbers 34-35

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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Retaliation and the Kingdom

Matthew 5:38-42

The last point of Matthew Henry's quote is important since there are times when seeking reparation may in fact be the best way to love our neighbor and keep him from sinning further. Such occasions, however, will be few and far between. We are to endure insults and offenses meekly, doing extra even for those who do not deserve it (Matt. 5:41). When someone asks you for a favor, volunteer to go above and beyond their request.

For further study:

Genesis 34; 49:5-7

The Bible in a year:

Numbers 34-35

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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Particular redemption

“Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 27:45-54

See the Saviour’s limbs, how they quiver! Every bone has been put out of joint by the dashing of the cross into that socket! How he weeps! How he sighs! How he sobs! Indeed, how at last he shrieks in agony, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” O sun, no wonder thou didst shut thine eye, and look no longer upon a deed so cruel! O rocks! no wonder that ye did melt and rend your hearts with sympathy, when your Creator died! Never man suffered as this man suffered. Even death itself relented, and many of those who had been in their graves arose and came into the city. This however, is but the outward. Believe me, brethren, the inward was far worse. What our Saviour suffered in his body was nothing, compared with what he endured in his soul. You cannot guess, and I cannot help you to guess, what he endured within. Suppose for one moment—to repeat a sentence I have often used—suppose a man who has passed into hell—suppose his eternal torment could all be brought into one hour; and then suppose it could be multiplied by the number of the saved, which is a number past all human enumeration. Can you now think what a vast aggregate of misery there would have been in the sufferings of God’s people, if they had been punished through all eternity? And recollect that Christ had to suffer an equivalent for all the hells of all his redeemed. I can never express that thought better than by using those oft-repeated words: it seemed as if hell was put into his cup; he seized it, and, “At one tremendous draught of love, he drank damnation dry.” So that there was nothing left of all the pangs and miseries of hell for his people ever to endure.

For meditation: The secret things of the sufferings of Christ belong to the Lord our God (Deuteronomy 29:29)—we could never begin to take them in. But God has given us a glimpse behind the scenes—meditate on the alternate torment and trust recorded in Psalm 22:1-21.

Sermon no. 181
28 February (1858)

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T. Suzanne Eller

February 28, 2012

No Different
T. Suzanne Eller

"The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure." 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)

"I'm just having a good time," she said. "What's wrong with it?"

I wish I could have put a movie in her hands, one that would reveal one week, one month, five years down the road.

Somehow my friend couldn't see what others noticed so easily. That the intentional choices she was making were going to lead her on a path of destruction. She said it felt good. She said it made her feel things she hadn't felt in a long time.

But it was also making her ordinary life, the life that she would miss one day when it was no longer hers, feel like a burden. Things she once treasured were overshadowed, and eventually shattered.

Have you ever been tempted and felt justified in giving way to it?

To flirt. What is the harm?

To share private thoughts. No one listens to me at home.

To take a risk. No one will find out.

I remember a time that I lay beside my husband. He was unhappy at work and the unhappiness had changed him. Joy had slipped away and left a silent partner in its place.

I was tempted.

To anger.

To dismay.

To frustration over what I could not fix.

My negative emotions simmered. But I knew, if left to themselves, they could take my heart to a place of discontentment. I'd seen the results of allowing temptation to grow, and I knew something had to change. That night I wrapped my arms around my sleeping husband and prayed for him. Then I prayed for me. "Father, change my heart. Give me compassion. Help me to love him through this difficult time. Show me what to do."

Maybe, like me, you might look at a friend who has given in to temptation and say, "That would never happen to me."

But we are no different. No one is immune from temptation. To think that way is to forget who tempts us, and why.

Satan desires to harm not just us, but those we love. It is often only after we sit in devastation that we recognize the enemy was leading us away from all that matters most.

The good news is - we are offered a way out.

The night I lay beside my husband, God led me to Himself. To prayer. And that prayer led to hope. Eventually my husband and I took a step. . .together. In the process the man I loved, had always loved, returned and our marriage re-ignited.

Are you in the crossroads of temptation today?

Stop. There's a different choice and a different path you can take.

Dear Lord, today I offer up my feelings to You. I pray for my marriage, for Your best for my spouse and for my family. Last, I pray for me. Help me to follow You and not temptation. Thank You for a way out. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus, the One who can set you free?

Want to bring the message of this devotion to the women of your church? Click here to find out more about considering Suzie Eller as your next event speaker.

When a Woman Meets Jesus: Finding the Love Every Woman Longs For by Dorothy Valcarcel.

Visit Suzie's blog for a downloadable "Way Out" PDF file for scriptural truth to trust in during temptation. Also, join Suzie in her "Live Free" Facebook community to find daily encouragement on how to live free.

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:
We don't like it when someone lies to us, but how often do we lie to ourselves? Today, be truthful with temptation. Unmask it! How will giving into temptation hurt those you love? How will it hurt you? Where is the enemy trying to lead you?

Write a prayer and keep it close. Often, temptation can cloud our thoughts. When you are tempted, read your prayer out loud and invite God into the battle.

Power Verses:
Hebrews 4:15, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we areóyet he did not sin." (NIV)

2nd Corinthians 5:21, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (NIV)

© 2012 by T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.

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

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What's wrong with adultery?

This week's reading: Proverbs 5:3-10

First, it violates God's holy standard (see Ex 20:14). Second, its consequences are devastating. Proverbs focuses on the consequences, stressing the practical reasons that adultery should be avoided at all costs.

The writer acknowledges the powerful and tantalizing appeal of adultery. Adultery pretends to offer pleasure and sexual release with few risks. The secrecy, intrigue and forbidden nature of the act only seem to add to its relentless pull.

Yet appearances are deceiving. What begins as sweet desire quickly turns bitter. Adultery destroys reputations, character and marriages; the permanent costs immeasurably outweigh the momentary rewards.

Even adultery done and kept in secret is fully exposed to a God who judges righteously.

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Day 7

Nothing more is known about the boy Jesus until he appears in Jerusalem at age 12. Most likely he learned carpentry skills as a youngster from Joseph and studied in the synagogue. His mind grew strong, along with his body and soul. While still a youth, his agile mind was ready to engage in discussion with synagogue leaders. One time Jesus became so engrossed in learning and questioning that he lost track of time.

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

Who was this Jesus? A new prophet? A scholar destined to be a great rabbi? Perhaps a political leader with the charisma to finally send the oppressive Roman armies, who controlled Judea, back across the sea? None of these expectations turned out to describe him adequately. In fact, Jesus defied expectations as the people watched and wondered.

What impact has the birth of Christ had on your life?

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Today's Lent reading: Matthew 15-16 (NIV)

View today's Lent reading on Bible Gateway
That Which Defiles

1 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!"

3 Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.' 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is 'devoted to God,' 6 they are not to 'honor their father or mother' with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

8 "'These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.'"

10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone's mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them."

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?"

13 He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit."

15 Peter said, "Explain the parable to us."

16 "Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them. 17 "Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person's mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts-murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them."

The Faith of a Canaanite Woman

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly."

23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us."

24 He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."

25 The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said.

26 He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs."

27 "Yes it is, Lord," she said. "Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table."

28 Then Jesus said to her, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

29 Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way."

33 His disciples answered, "Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?"

34 "How many loaves do you have?" Jesus asked.

"Seven," they replied, "and a few small fish."

35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. 37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 38 The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.

Matthew 16

The Demand for a Sign

1 The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.

2 He replied, "When evening comes, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,' 3 and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah." Jesus then left them and went away.

The Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees

5 When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 "Be careful," Jesus said to them. "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

7 They discussed this among themselves and said, "It is because we didn't bring any bread."

8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, "You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread?9 Do you still not understand? Don't you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don't understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Peter Declares That Jesus Is the Messiah

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"

14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

15 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"

16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."

17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." 20Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Jesus Predicts His Death

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns."

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

28 "Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."


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