Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Daily Devotional Wednesday 8th February

“Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 97:10 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Arise, and depart."
Micah 2:10

The hour is approaching when the message will come to us, as it comes to all--"Arise, and go forth from the home in which thou hast dwelt, from the city in which thou hast done thy business, from thy family, from thy friends. Arise, and take thy last journey." And what know we of the journey? And what know we of the country to which we are bound? A little we have read thereof, and somewhat has been revealed to us by the Spirit; but how little do we know of the realms of the future! We know that there is a black and stormy river called "Death." God bids us cross it, promising to be with us. And, after death, what cometh? What wonder-world will open upon our astonished sight? What scene of glory will be unfolded to our view? No traveller has ever returned to tell. But we know enough of the heavenly land to make us welcome our summons thither with joy and gladness. The journey of death may be dark, but we may go forth on it fearlessly, knowing that God is with us as we walk through the gloomy valley, and therefore we need fear no evil. We shall be departing from all we have known and loved here, but we shall be going to our Father's house--to our Father's home, where Jesus is--to that royal "city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." This shall be our last removal, to dwell forever with him we love, in the midst of his people, in the presence of God. Christian, meditate much on heaven, it will help thee to press on, and to forget the toil of the way. This vale of tears is but the pathway to the better country: this world of woe is but the stepping-stone to a world of bliss.

"Prepare us, Lord, by grace divine,

For thy bright courts on high;

Then bid our spirits rise, and join

The chorus of the sky."

Evening

"And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither."
Revelation 11:12

Without considering these words in their prophetical connection, let us regard them as the invitation of our great Forerunner to his sanctified people. In due time there shall be heard "a great voice from heaven" to every believer, saying, "Come up hither." This should be to the saints the subject of joyful anticipation. Instead of dreading the time when we shall leave this world to go unto the Father, we should be panting for the hour of our emancipation. Our song should be--

"My heart is with him on his throne,

And ill can brook delay;

Each moment listening for the voice,

Rise up and come away.'"

We are not called down to the grave, but up to the skies. Our heaven-born spirits should long for their native air. Yet should the celestial summons be the object of patient waiting. Our God knows best when to bid us "Come up hither." We must not wish to antedate the period of our departure. I know that strong love will make us cry,

"O Lord of Hosts, the waves divide,

And land us all in heaven;"

but patience must have her perfect work. God ordains with accurate wisdom the most fitting time for the redeemed to abide below. Surely, if there could be regrets in heaven, the saints might mourn that they did not live longer here to do more good. Oh, for more sheaves for my Lord's garner! more jewels for his crown! But how, unless there be more work? True, there is the other side of it, that, living so briefly, our sins are the fewer; but oh! when we are fully serving God, and he is giving us to scatter precious seed, and reap a hundredfold, we would even say it is well for us to abide where we are. Whether our Master shall say "go," or "stay," let us be equally well pleased so long as he indulges us with his presence.

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Today's reading: Leviticus 1-3, Matthew 24:1-28 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

The Burnt Offering

1 The LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting. He said, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When anyone among you brings an offering to the LORD, bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock.

3 “‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tent of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the LORD.4 You are to lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you. 5 You are to slaughter the young bull before the LORD, and then Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and splash it against the sides of the altar at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 6 You are to skin the burnt offering and cut it into pieces. 7 The sons of Aaron the priest are to put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. 8 Then Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, including the head and the fat, on the wood that is burning on the altar. 9 You are to wash the internal organs and the legs with water, and the priest is to burn all of it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.

10 “‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the flock, from either the sheep or the goats, you are to offer a male without defect. 11 You are to slaughter it at the north side of the altar before the LORD, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall splash its blood against the sides of the altar. 12 You are to cut it into pieces, and the priest shall arrange them, including the head and the fat, on the wood that is burning on the altar. 13 You are to wash the internal organs and the legs with water, and the priest is to bring all of them and burn them on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.

14 “‘If the offering to the LORD is a burnt offering of birds, you are to offer a dove or a young pigeon. 15 The priest shall bring it to the altar, wring off the head and burn it on the altar; its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar. 16 He is to remove the crop and the feathers and throw them down east of the altar where the ashes are. 17 He shall tear it open by the wings, not dividing it completely, and then the priest shall burn it on the wood that is burning on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.

Leviticus 2

The Grain Offering

1 “‘When anyone brings a grain offering to the LORD, their offering is to be of the finest flour. They are to pour olive oil on it, put incense on it 2 and take it to Aaron’s sons the priests. The priest shall take a handful of the flour and oil, together with all the incense, and burn this as a memorial portion on the altar, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD. 3 The rest of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons; it is a most holy part of the food offerings presented to the LORD.

4 “‘If you bring a grain offering baked in an oven, it is to consist of the finest flour: either thick loaves made without yeast and with olive oil mixed in or thin loaves made without yeast and brushed with olive oil. 5 If your grain offering is prepared on a griddle, it is to be made of the finest flour mixed with oil, and without yeast. 6 Crumble it and pour oil on it; it is a grain offering. 7 If your grain offering is cooked in a pan, it is to be made of the finest flour and some olive oil. 8 Bring the grain offering made of these things to the LORD; present it to the priest, who shall take it to the altar. 9 He shall take out the memorial portion from the grain offering and burn it on the altar as a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD. 10 The rest of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons; it is a most holy part of the food offerings presented to the LORD.

11 “‘Every grain offering you bring to the LORD must be made without yeast, for you are not to burn any yeast or honey in a food offering presented to the LORD. 12 You may bring them to the LORD as an offering of the firstfruits, but they are not to be offered on the altar as a pleasing aroma. 13 Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings.

14 “‘If you bring a grain offering of firstfruits to the LORD, offer crushed heads of new grain roasted in the fire. 15 Put oil and incense on it; it is a grain offering. 16 The priest shall burn the memorial portion of the crushed grain and the oil, together with all the incense, as a food offering presented to the LORD.

Leviticus 3

The Fellowship Offering

1 “‘If your offering is a fellowship offering, and you offer an animal from the herd, whether male or female, you are to present before the LORD an animal without defect. 2 You are to lay your hand on the head of your offering and slaughter it at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Then Aaron’s sons the priests shall splash the blood against the sides of the altar. 3From the fellowship offering you are to bring a food offering to the LORD: the internal organs and all the fat that is connected to them, 4 both kidneys with the fat on them near the loins, and the long lobe of the liver, which you will remove with the kidneys. 5 Then Aaron’s sons are to burn it on the altar on top of the burnt offering that is lying on the burning wood; it is a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.

6 “‘If you offer an animal from the flock as a fellowship offering to the LORD, you are to offer a male or female without defect. 7 If you offer a lamb, you are to present it before the LORD, 8 lay your hand on its head and slaughter it in front of the tent of meeting. Then Aaron’s sons shall splash its blood against the sides of the altar. 9 From the fellowship offering you are to bring a food offering to the LORD: its fat, the entire fat tail cut off close to the backbone, the internal organs and all the fat that is connected to them, 10 both kidneys with the fat on them near the loins, and the long lobe of the liver, which you will remove with the kidneys. 11 The priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering presented to the LORD.

12 “‘If your offering is a goat, you are to present it before the LORD, 13 lay your hand on its head and slaughter it in front of the tent of meeting. Then Aaron’s sons shall splash its blood against the sides of the altar. 14 From what you offer you are to present this food offering to the LORD: the internal organs and all the fat that is connected to them, 15 both kidneys with the fat on them near the loins, and the long lobe of the liver, which you will remove with the kidneys. 16 The priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering, a pleasing aroma. All the fat is the LORD’s.

17 “‘This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live: You must not eat any fat or any blood.’”


Matthew 24

The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times

1 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2“Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25See, I have told you ahead of time.

26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

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Nahum [Nā'hum]—compassionate, comforter or full of comfort.

1. The prophet who was born at Elkosh in Galilee, and who prophesied against Nineveh (Nah. 1:1).

The Man Who Preached Doom

Nothing is known of this Minor Prophet outside of what we find in the opening of his small yet strong book. He was born at Elkosh, a village of Palestine. But although Nahum is among the notable unknown of the Bible, he was a student of the history of his time and was raised up to comfort God’s people. He prophesied against Nineveh about 150 years after Jonah’s revival there. At that time the city was still at the height of its glory (Nah. 3:16,17). The empire was extremely cruel. The people gloated that “space failed for corpses of their enemies.” They made “pyramids of human heads.” Pillars were covered with the flayed skins of their rivals.

Nahum’s mission was to declare the terrible doom of Nineveh and one hundred years later it fell. So great was the destruction of the city of the most ferocious, sensual, diabolically atrocious race of men that ever lived, that Alexander the Great marched by and did not know that a great city was under his feet. Lucian wrote, “Nineveh is perished and there is no trace left where once it was.” Nahum, convinced that God was slow to anger but would yet take vengeance on His adversaries, “focusses the light of God’s moral government upon wicked Nineveh and chants the death and dirge of the world’s greatest oppressor.”

The leading lessons to be gleaned from the Book of Nahum are encouraging to faith:

I. The goodness and unchangeableness of Jehovah.

II. The limits of divine forbearance.

III. Right prevails in the end.

IV. Darkness comes before the dawn.

V. The universality of God’s government, its gracious purpose: its retributive character.

VI. Man’s extremity is faith’s hour and God’s opportunity.

2. Another Nahum. In the A. V. Naum is mentioned as an ancestor of Jesus Christ (Luke 3:25).

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When is a person old enough to "make a decision" for Christ?

This week's reading: Acts 16:33

Christians differ on the fitting age for full initiation into the life of the church. For those who practice infant baptism, the question centers on when someone is ready for confirmation and first Communion. Some think the "age of discretion" is age 12, because it's the age at which Jesus encountered the teachers of the Law and probably had his bar mitzvah, when he could fully participate in Jewish worship.

For those who believe baptism should be reserved for believers, the question centers on when one is capable of truly repenting and embracing Christ in wholehearted discipleship. Some emphasize the adult character of this decision, making baptism a post-puberty rite. For others, the age is much lower; some even baptize toddlers.

Some guidelines for determining an appropriate age: First, we should not impose some arbitrary age. God works sovereignly in the lives of all persons made in his image. Each child should be dealt with individually and encouraged toward every "step toward Jesus" without manipulating for an early decision. Second, we need to develop a proper understanding of God's relationship to children. The Bible seems to indicate that the children of believing parents stand in a special providential relationship to the people and promises of God (see 1Co 7:14). It is the responsibility of parents and the church to lead those children by prayers, instruction and example toward true faith in Christ.

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Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional

THE PERSONHOOD OF GOD

What is a person? You are a person; a stone isn't. You have self-awareness; a tree doesn't. You can be moral; electricity is amoral. You are alive; a corpse is not. "Person" usually refers to a living human being, although from a Christian point of view "person" also refers to God, and we assume that we are persons with personalities because it was a personal God who created us.

Some do acknowledge that God is absolute, mighty, and rational, but more a supernatural force than a divine person. But the God of the Bible is a person. He is intelligent, creative, and moral. He speaks of himself as "I."

Indeed, the idea that God speaks at all assumes that he is a personal being. God plans; God acts; God intends. He has will and wisdom. He has many names. He wants us to know him. If God were not personal, we could not pray, and we would not worship. If God were merely a force, we would have no guidance, no comfort, no discipline.

One of the defining characteristics of a person is the ability to engage in relationships. Rocks don't have relationships. Persons talk to each other, they seek to understand each other, they make choices that shape their relationships with each other. Persons (from persona, "mask") have faces, or public presentations of themselves. Unlike stars or water or trees, there is a dynamic interaction between persons. Persons know other persons-not just know about, or store information on, but comprehend, care for, and commit to.

I have to admit that when our children were born, I probably didn't really see them as persons. They appeared to be little creatures whom we served by putting food in one end and getting by-products out the other. My wife, of course, saw this as a wonderful relationship, but I was really waiting for the first ball game or the first swim in the lake. But it didn't take that long. All it took for me was the day the first responsive smile spread across that small face-eyes wide open, a gutteral "g-aaaaa," which meant something-or-other. See a smile, and the first thing you think is, there's a person in there! And I want to know what's behind the smile.

[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.
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How to Pray

James 5:16

As an illustration of Luther's advice, take some time today to pray through the Ten Commandments. Take each stipulation and confess how you have violated that particular law. Worship Him for the perfection of His character revealed in each commandment. Thank Him for enabling you by the Spirit to be faithful to His Law and ask for His kingdom to come so that all may love and obey Him. Make it your aim to pray to our heavenly Father without ceasing.

For further study:

Psalm 54

The Bible in a year:

Leviticus 16

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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Election no discouragement to seeking souls

‘I will be gracious upon whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy upon whom I will show mercy.’ Exodus 33:19

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 9:14–26

Our opponents put the case thus: suppose a father should condemn some of his children to extreme misery, and make others supremely happy, out of his own arbitrary will, would it be right and just? Would it not be brutal and detestable? My answer is, of course, it would; it would be detestable in the highest degree, and far, very far be it from us to impute such a course of action to the Judge of all the earth. But the case stated is not at all the one under consideration, but one as opposite from it as light from darkness. Sinful man is not now in the position of a well-deserving or innocent child, neither does God occupy the place of a complacent parent. We will suppose another case far nearer the mark, indeed, it is no supposition, but an exact description of the whole matter. A number of criminals, guilty of the most aggravated and detestable crimes, are righteously condemned to die, and die they must, unless the king shall exercise the prerogative vested in him, and give them a free pardon. If for good and sufficient reasons, known only to himself, the king chooses to forgive a certain number, and to leave the rest for execution, is there anything cruel or unrighteous here? If, by some wise means, the ends of justice can be even better answered by the sparing of the pardoned ones, than by their condemnation, while at the same time, the punishment of some tends to honour the justice of the lawgiver, who shall dare to find fault? None, I venture to say, but those who are the enemies of the state and of the king. And so may we well ask, ‘Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.’

For meditation: Our accusations of injustice against God arise from mistaken assumptions. Against the Lord Jesus Christ the Jews argued that they were all free and children of God (John 8:33,41 ); whereas the truth is that by nature they and we are all slaves of sin and children of the devil (John 8:34,44). What should amaze us is not that God would punish us for our sin, but that he chooses to have mercy upon any of us at all!

Sermon no. 553
7 February (1864)

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How to Pray

James 5:16 "Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working" (v. 16).

After explaining justification by faith alone (Rom. 1-4), Paul lists the benefits of being counted righteous in God's sight. The second blessing he describes is that we have "obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (5:2). As members of the new covenant, we are privileged to be able to enter into the most holy place and commune with the Lord because of Jesus ( Heb. 6:19-20).

Prayer has been given to us so that we may enter into this holy place to commune with our Father in heaven. As the bride of Christ, we know that He wants us to approach Him with our needs and with our petitions for the sake of the kingdom. After all, if a good marriage on earth depends on communication with one's spouse, how much more does a blessed relationship with our Lord depend on speaking with Him on a regular basis?

Unfortunately, many of us do not often take advantage of the awesome privilege of prayer. True, we mean well. We establish certain times of the day to approach God, but we find that our minds wander or that all we do is read off a laundry list of our own needs. God is, of course, concerned about these needs (Matt. 6:30), but we sense that we are too self-centered in our prayer lives when all we do is tell God what we need or what we want.

Not knowing how to pray is probably the main reason why we encounter these problems. Thankfully, we have a model in Scripture from our Savior Himself on the things we should pray for. The Lord's Prayer is not simply something that we should recite in church and at home; it is a guide Jesus gives us for structuring our communication with God (Luke 11:1-13). Fundamentally, this prayer tells us to ask that God's name be hallowed so that His kingdom may come and His will be done.

In A Simple Way to Pray , Martin Luther suggests that Christians pray through the Ten Commandments, the Apostles' Creed, and the Lord's Prayer, using each line as a springboard for adoring God, confessing sin, expressing gratitude and pouring forth supplications. Using such tools helps keep our minds focused on those things our Father is most concerned about.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

As an illustration of Luther's advice, take some time today to pray through the Ten Commandments. Take each stipulation and confess how you have violated that particular law. Worship Him for the perfection of His character revealed in each commandment. Thank Him for enabling you by the Spirit to be faithful to His Law and ask for His kingdom to come so that all may love and obey Him. Make it your aim to pray to our heavenly Father without ceasing.

For further study:

Psalm 54

The Bible in a year:

Leviticus 16

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

Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living.

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The prodigal’s return

“But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” Luke 15:20

Suggested Further Reading: John 3:16-21

When the light of God’s grace comes into your heart, it is something like the opening of the windows of an old cellar that has been shut up for many days. Down in that cellar, which has not been opened for many months, are all kinds of loathsome creatures, and a few sickly plants blanched by the darkness. The walls are dark and damp with the trail of slugs and snails; it is a horrid filthy place into which no one would willingly enter. You may walk there in the dark very securely, and except now and then for the touch of some slimy creature, you would not believe the place was so bad and filthy. Open those shutters, clean a pane of glass, let a little light in, and now see how a thousand noxious things have made this place their habitation. It was not the light that made this place so horrible, but it was the light that showed how horrible it was before. So let God’s grace just open a window and let the light into a man’s soul, and he will stand astonished to see at what a distance he is from God. Yes, sir, today you think yourself second to none but the Eternal; you fancy that you can approach his throne with steady step; it is but a little that you have to do to be saved; you imagine that you can accomplish it at any hour, and save yourself upon your dying bed as well as now. Ah! sir, if you could be made to be in appearance what you are in reality, then you would see that you are far enough from God even now, and so far from him that unless the arms of his grace were stretched out to bring you to himself; you must perish in your sin.

For meditation: Even the believer has sins of which he is ignorant (Psalm 19:12). God knows all about them. Thank him that he came in the person of his only-begotten Son to meet us when we were far off and to bring us back to himself (Ephesians 2:13).

Sermon no. 176
7 February (1858)

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February 7, 2012

God Can Resurrect Your Marriage from the Ashes

Part 2

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth

"So I prophesied as he [God] commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet-a vast army," (Ezekiel 37:10 NIV).

Friend to Friend

I can hardly wait for you to read the rest of the story from yesterday. If you missed it, please go back and read it first. Here's where we left off…Don and Jona were divorced.

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

God took Jona to a place of repentance and began to soften, remold and remake her very heart. That's what God does. He doesn't try to cover up our flaws; He starts from scratch and makes us new. While the divorce was final, God was only just beginning to work on Jona's heart.

"God took me to a place of repentance," Jona explained. "For the first time, through a support group, I saw clearly what I had done to destroy my marriage. I had always blamed our problems on Don changing jobs so often, but the real problem was my lack of respect for the God appointed leader of my home. I was the real problem and Don simply couldn't take it anymore. I had rejected Don with my words, my appearance, and my withdrawal of physical touch."

Whether or not God could salvage the marriage, Jona made a commitment that she would allow God to salvage her.

Jona's heart longed to be reunited to Don, but her ultimate goal was to become the woman God wanted her to be. She immersed herself in Bible study and prayer, and began to take an interest in her appearance. Interesting, as the pounds began to drop, so did the scales that had covered her eyes.

"I began to understand what God's Word said about the relationship between a husband and wife. I was not Don's Holy Spirit. I was not the leader of my home. God had called me to respect Don as the leader, to honor him as a child of God, and to love him with my all. One day when Don came to pick up our two boys, I shared with him what I had been learning."

"I told Don that I knew that we were divorced, but I was making a commitment to submit to him. I didn't when we were married, but I did from that time forward."

"That's fine," he told me. "But you need to know I'm moving on with my life."

"You can move on," I said, "But I'm staying right here."

Jona continued to encourage Don and give him her BEST.

"BEST stands for bless, edify, share, and touch," she explained. "I began to touch him when he came by the house. I'd pat his back or give him a quick hug. When I knew he was coming, I'd put on a nice dress and fix my hair. I'd tell him I was proud of how he was handling the boys and share with him what God was teaching me. Some people told him I was trying to trick him and that he should ignore me. But it wasn't a trick. God had changed my heart and I was committed, no matter what happened between us in the future, to never go back to being that bitter woman I had been before."

"Sharon, I hate to tell you this," she said, "but for the first time, I prayed for Don. I had never prayed for him before, but now I pray for him all the time."

Jona lost the added pounds and gained a beautiful glowing countenance. It was amazing. More than the change in her physical appearance, the glow of Jesus Christ shone through her radiant face.

Don was confused at times and a bit leery of the change. "Why do you think I'm wonderful, all of a sudden?" he asked her.

"Because now I see you through God's eyes," she explained. "I see that you are a wonderful man."

Don fell in love with Jona all over again. No, it wasn't a trick – it was a miracle. God has given them a second chance. They were remarried on August 24, 2003. Oh how I love God … He is the God of second chances.

Dear friends, Jona has so graciously allowed me to tell you her story because she has decided that she will do anything to help one woman not make the same mistakes she has made. She cried and cried all through the recounting of the story, and relived the pain…for you. "God allowed me to go to a terrible place," Jona explained. "My prayer is that others will not have to go to that place before they wake up and realize what they are doing to their men."

And that…is what Dr. Phil did not tell you.

Let's Pray

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

Now It's Your Turn

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

You know, Jona did not destroy her marriage by herself. Don made his fair share of mistakes too. But here's the thing – we cannot change another person. We can only change ourselves. And sometimes…that is enough.

Consider giving your BEST to others. Write out the acronym and keep it in a prominent place.

BLESS

EDIFY

SHARE

TOUCH

What has this two-part devotion stirred in your heart? I'd love to know. Let's chat at www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes.

More from the Girlfriends

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

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
T. Suzanne Eller

February 7, 2012

Starting Fresh
T. Suzanne Eller

"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone: a new life has begun." 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

It was a typical holiday scene. My mother hummed an off-key tune in the kitchen. My father lounged in his faded blue recliner, while my husband and brothers talked about the football game on TV. The younger children played cards, while the older kids talked about my daughter's recent acceptance into college.

As I viewed the scene, I stood still in my tracks. Wait! When did we become a "typical family?"

My past will never resemble a Hallmark card. My mother had her first baby at 15. She lost her footing as she tried to be a young mother and wife. She was physically and verbally abused by her young husband and fled at age 20 to start over. Alone and pregnant-with me-mom met a good man and later they married.

But the emotional baggage took its toll on that relationship, and later on our entire family. She often threatened suicide. She raged. She lashed out physically. She begged for forgiveness. If I let my guard down to love, the next day or the next week a new scene would unfold. My heart hardened at a tender age.

Flash forward 25 years. I am no longer a child. I'm a woman with young adult children of my own. God has healed my heart.

As I stood in the living room I realized that I still viewed my family through the past. I had let go of the resentment, the anger. I loved my mother and father, but I still saw my extended family as broken. In far too many ways our relationship was founded on that perception.

I stepped back and took a good long look. Who was my mom now? How had she grown? Did I recognize what God had performed in her life?

The answer was no, and I was not alone in this thinking. My siblings also wrestled with this. No matter what my mother did, no matter how much she had overcome, she still had a scarlet letter branded on her. She was marked "B" for broken.

My family had been "normal" longer than dysfunctional. I realized it was time to step into the present and leave the past behind.

That day I fully transitioned from child to adult. I reflected on what God can do in spite of a broken past. I rejoiced in what had taken place in the heart of my mother and our family. It didn't just change me, but it changed my mother and our relationship. Somehow she knew we had crossed a new threshold. The burden of guilt was eased as she looked into my eyes and realized I saw her fully as the woman she had become.

Several holidays have passed since that day. My mother still hums off-key. I still bring desert. But when I look at my family, I don't just see a family gathering, I see a portrait of God's grace.

Dear Jesus, do I recognize the miracles You have done in my loved ones? Do I hold on to resentment even if that person has changed? Give me new eyes to see. Paint the picture fresh for me as I extend the mercy You so freely gave to me to one person in my life today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

The Mom I Want to Be: Rising Above Your Past to Give Your Kids a Great Future by T. Suzanne Eller

Visit Suzie's blog where she shares what to do when a dysfunctional loved one hasn't changed. Make sure to check out her other resources here!

Reflect and Respond:
Refocus: I'll take the spotlight off my childhood and put it on to the present.

Be Realistic: Even normal families have conflict. There is no such thing as a perfect family.

Relent: Do I rehash bad family memories or bring up the past to punish a loved one? Am I willing to begin a new conversation?

Receive: Amends may be awkward and not what I think they should be. True grace is receiving a gesture with the same spirit with which it is offered.

"If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming." - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Power Verse:
Matthew 9:13a, "Then he added, 'Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.'" (NLT)

© 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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