Saturday, March 17, 2012

Daily Devotional Saturday 17th March

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Remember the poor."
Galatians 2:10

Why does God allow so many of his children to be poor? He could make them all rich if he pleased; he could lay bags of gold at their doors; he could send them a large annual income; or he could scatter round their houses abundance of provisions, as once he made the quails lie in heaps round the camp of Israel, and rained bread out of heaven to feed them. There is no necessity that they should be poor, except that he sees it to be best. "The cattle upon a thousand hills are his"--he could supply them; he could make the richest, the greatest, and the mightiest bring all their power and riches to the feet of his children, for the hearts of all men are in his control. But he does not choose to do so; he allows them to suffer want, he allows them to pine in penury and obscurity. Why is this? There are many reasons: one is, to give us, who are favoured with enough, an opportunity of showing our love to Jesus. We show our love to Christ when we sing of him and when we pray to him; but if there were no sons of need in the world we should lose the sweet privilege of evidencing our love, by ministering in alms-giving to his poorer brethren; he has ordained that thus we should prove that our love standeth not in word only, but in deed and in truth. If we truly love Christ, we shall care for those who are loved by him. Those who are dear to him will be dear to us. Let us then look upon it not as a duty but as a privilege to relieve the poor of the Lord's flock--remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Surely this assurance is sweet enough, and this motive strong enough to lead us to help others with a willing hand and a loving heart--recollecting that all we do for his people is graciously accepted by Christ as done to himself.

Evening

"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
Matthew 5:9

This is the seventh of the beatitudes: and seven was the number of perfection among the Hebrews. It may be that the Saviour placed the peacemaker the seventh upon the list because he most nearly approaches the perfect man in Christ Jesus. He who would have perfect blessedness, so far as it can be enjoyed on earth, must attain to this seventh benediction, and become a peacemaker. There is a significance also in the position of the text. The verse which precedes it speaks of the blessedness of "the pure in heart: for they shall see God." It is well to understand that we are to be "first pure, then peaceable." Our peaceableness is never to be a compact with sin, or toleration of evil. We must set our faces like flints against everything which is contrary to God and his holiness: purity being in our souls a settled matter, we can go on to peaceableness. Not less does the verse that follows seem to have been put there on purpose. However peaceable we may be in this world, yet we shall be misrepresented and misunderstood: and no marvel, for even the Prince of Peace, by his very peacefulness, brought fire upon the earth. He himself, though he loved mankind, and did no ill, was "despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." Lest, therefore, the peaceable in heart should be surprised when they meet with enemies, it is added in the following verse, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Thus, the peacemakers are not only pronounced to be blessed, but they are compassed about with blessings. Lord, give us grace to climb to this seventh beatitude! Purify our minds that we may be "first pure, then peaceable," and fortify our souls, that our peaceableness may not lead us into cowardice and despair, when for thy sake we are persecuted.

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Today's reading: Deuteronomy 28-29, Mark 14:54-72 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Blessings for Obedience

1 If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:

3 You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.

4 The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

5 Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.

6 You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

7 The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.

8 The LORD will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The LORD your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

9 The LORD will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the LORD your God and walk in obedience to him. 10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they will fear you. 11 The LORD will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you.

12 The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. 13 The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. 14 Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.

Curses for Disobedience

15 However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you:

16 You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country.

17 Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed.

18 The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

19 You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out.

20 The LORD will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him. 21 The LORD will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess. 22 The LORD will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish. 23The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. 24 The LORD will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed.

25 The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth. 26 Your carcasses will be food for all the birds and the wild animals, and there will be no one to frighten them away. 27 The LORD will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured. 28 The LORD will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind. 29 At midday you will grope about like a blind person in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do; day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you.

30 You will be pledged to be married to a woman, but another will take her and rape her. You will build a house, but you will not live in it. You will plant a vineyard, but you will not even begin to enjoy its fruit. 31 Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will eat none of it. Your donkey will be forcibly taken from you and will not be returned. Your sheep will be given to your enemies, and no one will rescue them. 32 Your sons and daughters will be given to another nation, and you will wear out your eyes watching for them day after day, powerless to lift a hand. 33 A people that you do not know will eat what your land and labor produce, and you will have nothing but cruel oppression all your days. 34 The sights you see will drive you mad. 35 The LORD will afflict your knees and legs with painful boils that cannot be cured, spreading from the soles of your feet to the top of your head.

36 The LORD will drive you and the king you set over you to a nation unknown to you or your ancestors. There you will worship other gods, gods of wood and stone. 37 You will become a thing of horror, a byword and an object of ridicule among all the peoples where the LORD will drive you.

38 You will sow much seed in the field but you will harvest little, because locusts will devour it. 39 You will plant vineyards and cultivate them but you will not drink the wine or gather the grapes, because worms will eat them. 40 You will have olive trees throughout your country but you will not use the oil, because the olives will drop off. 41 You will have sons and daughters but you will not keep them, because they will go into captivity. 42 Swarms of locusts will take over all your trees and the crops of your land.

43 The foreigners who reside among you will rise above you higher and higher, but you will sink lower and lower. 44 They will lend to you, but you will not lend to them. They will be the head, but you will be the tail.

45 All these curses will come on you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the LORD your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you. 46 They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever. 47 Because you did not serve the LORD your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, 48 therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the LORD sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you.

49 The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down, a nation whose language you will not understand, 50 a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young.51 They will devour the young of your livestock and the crops of your land until you are destroyed. They will leave you no grain, new wine or olive oil, nor any calves of your herds or lambs of your flocks until you are ruined. 52 They will lay siege to all the cities throughout your land until the high fortified walls in which you trust fall down. They will besiege all the cities throughout the land the LORD your God is giving you.

53 Because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the LORD your God has given you. 54Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children, 55 and he will not give to one of them any of the flesh of his children that he is eating. It will be all he has left because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of all your cities. 56 The most gentle and sensitive woman among you—so sensitive and gentle that she would not venture to touch the ground with the sole of her foot—will begrudge the husband she loves and her own son or daughter 57 the afterbirth from her womb and the children she bears. For in her dire need she intends to eat them secretly because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of your cities.

58 If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name—the LORD your God— 59 the LORD will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses. 60 He will bring on you all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded, and they will cling to you. 61 The LORD will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster not recorded in this Book of the Law, until you are destroyed. 62 You who were as numerous as the stars in the sky will be left but few in number, because you did not obey the LORD your God. 63 Just as it pleased the LORD to make you prosper and increase in number, so it will please him to ruin and destroy you. You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess.

64 Then the LORD will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods—gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your ancestors have known. 65 Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the LORD will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. 66 You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. 67In the morning you will say, “If only it were evening!” and in the evening, “If only it were morning!”—because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see. 68The LORD will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.

Deuteronomy 29

Renewal of the Covenant

1 These are the terms of the covenant the LORD commanded Moses to make with the Israelites in Moab, in addition to the covenant he had made with them at Horeb.

2 Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them:

Your eyes have seen all that the LORD did in Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his officials and to all his land. 3 With your own eyes you saw those great trials, those signs and great wonders. 4 But to this day the LORD has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear. 5 Yet the LORD says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet. 6 You ate no bread and drank no wine or other fermented drink. I did this so that you might know that I am the LORD your God.”

7 When you reached this place, Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of Bashan came out to fight against us, but we defeated them. 8 We took their land and gave it as an inheritance to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh.

9 Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do. 10 All of you are standing today in the presence of the LORD your God—your leaders and chief men, your elders and officials, and all the other men of Israel,11 together with your children and your wives, and the foreigners living in your camps who chop your wood and carry your water. 12 You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the LORD your God, a covenant the LORD is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, 13 to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 14 I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you 15 who are standing here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God but also with those who are not here today.

16 You yourselves know how we lived in Egypt and how we passed through the countries on the way here. 17 You saw among them their detestable images and idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold. 18 Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the LORD our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.

19 When such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing on themselves, thinking, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,” they will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry. 20 The LORD will never be willing to forgive them; his wrath and zeal will burn against them. All the curses written in this book will fall on them, and the LORD will blot out their names from under heaven. 21 The LORD will single them out from all the tribes of Israel for disaster, according to all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law.

22 Your children who follow you in later generations and foreigners who come from distant lands will see the calamities that have fallen on the land and the diseases with which the LORD has afflicted it. 23 The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur—nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, which the LORD overthrew in fierce anger. 24 All the nations will ask: “Why has the LORD done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?”

25 And the answer will be: “It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the LORD, the God of their ancestors, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. 26 They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them. 27 Therefore the LORD’s anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book. 28 In furious anger and in great wrath the LORD uprooted them from their land and thrust them into another land, as it is now.”

29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.


Mark 14

54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.

55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.

57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree.

60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.

Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.

Peter Disowns Jesus

66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.

“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.

68 But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.

69 When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70 Again he denied it.

After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”

71 He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”

72 Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

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Vashni [Văsh'nī]—god is strong.First-born of Samuel the prophet (1 Chron. 6:28). The prophet’s oldest son is also named as Joel (1 Sam. 8:2).
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Editor's Note: Yesterday's devotional was a duplicate of an earlier devotional. We apologize for the error, and appreciate everyone who wrote in to bring it to our attention.

March 16, 2012
Through The Veil
Gwen Smith

Today's Truth
"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith" (Hebrews 10:19-22).

Friend to Friend
Several years ago, my father was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that changed the course of his life. My family and I watched in agony as his health faded away and his future evaporated. He was just days away from dying when a donated organ provided a way for him to live. Dad received the gift of life as a transplant recipient.

Tragically, in order for my dad to live, someone else had to die. While our family rejoiced at this priceless provision, another family mourned the passing of one they loved. It was a bittersweet exchange… an amazing gift... wonderful and horrible at the very same time.

There is no greater gift than life. With Easter just around the corner, we will once again consider the brokenness that Jesus endured so that we could receive the beautiful gift of eternal life. So that we can know and experience forgiveness, grace, mercy and the presence of God. The Bible sums it up this way, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).

God in His sinless perfection is so holy and separated from us that in the Old Testament, only the high priests could enter the Holy of Holies (the Most Holy place where God dwelt) in the temple, and when they did, it was with great trepidation. But some 2000 years ago, Jesus, who lived a perfect life, went to the cross and took on death to mend that separation. Through Him, Scripture tells us that a new and living way was created for us to be reconciled to the holy heart of God.

As Jesus drew His final breath, across the city of Jerusalem – in the temple – the veil that physically separated the Holy of Holies from the Most Holy Place was torn from top to bottom…from God to man. Because Jesus laid down His perfect life for our imperfect lives and then rose from the dead three days later, the barrier between God and man was eliminated. Because of Christ,we can go to God personally, not through a priest in the temple, but through prayer...with confidence of His love for us.

How does this affect you? How does this pivotal moment in history, this "veil renting" influence the way you live?Hebrews 4:16 says, Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Have you taken this to heart? Have you asked God to forgive your sins and wipe away the mistakes of your past? The gift of life, through Jesus Christ, is free. Turn to Him now. God is waiting with open arms. Roman's 10:9 tells us "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." No sin is beyond the scope of God's grace!

If you are ready to turn to Him now, call out to the Lord. Pray from your heart: "Dear God, I know that I need do some serious business with You. Would you please forgive me? I believe in Your son, Jesus – that He lived, died, and rose again – all because of Your love for the world. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus' name, amen."

If you prayed that prayer for the first time, or perhaps re-dedicated your heart to God today, would you please email and let us know. We would love to pray for you.

Girlfriend – let me say this straight: grace deserves a response. Let's go to Him now with worship on our lips... grateful that we are welcome to enter the presence of God. As we do, our hearts are continually renewed, rejuvenated and refreshed.

While studying the book of Hebrews, the Lord inspired me to write this song. Please read the lyric then click the link below to worship along with me:

Through The Veil
by Gwen Smith
(Hebrews 10:19-23)

Through the veil there's a new and living way
Through the curtain, welcome to the Holy Place
Though we once were separated, we are now invited in
Through the veil, through the blood, come to Him
Through the veil, through the blood, enter in

The Holy Place is open, come and worship
The Lamb for Sinner's slain is King of all
We praise and glorify the Lord before His mighty throne
Through the veil, through the blood, come to Him
Through the veil, through the blood, enter in

Through the Veil by Gwen Smith from gwensmithmusic on GodTube.com.

Let's Pray
Dear Lord, You are amazing! Thank you for offering forgiveness and mercy through the great exchange of Jesus. It is a miracle that I can come to You with a heart that is pure. Your love is extravagant.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

  • Is there an area of your life that needs 'transplanted?'
  • Do you really believe that God can forgive anything you have done? Why or why not?
  • Write a response to God. Thank Him for his love and mercy, and then read it to Him as an act of worship!

More from the Girlfriends
LOVE TO WORSHIP? Gwen's song "Through The Veil" is featured on her Unsearchable Live CD. DownloadUnsearchable, from iTunes, or order the CD from the store on her website.

NEED HEALING for some heart wounds? STRUGGLING to find PURPOSE in the PAIN? God delights to transform lives…including your own. In her book, Broken Into Beautiful, Gwen Smith invites you to experience how the unconditional love of Jesus can change your life. To order the book, go to Amazon or, for a signed copy, visit Gwen's website: www.gwensmith.net.

Love music? Worship through the songs of Uncluttered. This CD is filled with songs that sweep you away from excess 'life-noise', this music focuses your heart and mind on the one thing that matters: your relationship with Jesus Christ. Order your copy today from iTunes or from www.GwenSmith.net.

Got FACEBOOK?? Let's meet there and do life together on a whole new level:http://www.Facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic.

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
Tracie Miles

March 16, 2012

When You Can't See What God Is Building
Tracie Miles

"For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God." Hebrews 3:4 (NLT)

My son's seventh grade Social Studies teacher assigned the task of making a pyramid. There were no specific criteria given about the size or what materials were to be used, only that they rely on their imagination.

When Michael came home and told me about his school project, I immediately put on my crafty-mom hat. How much foam core board would we need to cut and hot glue? However, when he told his daddy about it, the project took a twist. Before I knew it, we were at the hardware store.

"Lumber and nails?" I eyeballed my husband as if he had forgotten it was a 7th grade project. He smiled and simply said, "I know."

I had no idea how a few 2x4s could be transformed into a pyramid. My husband on the other hand is a builder by trade, so he had a clear vision of the outcome.

He and Michael spent hours in the cold garage, measuring and sawing and nailing. Step by step, a triangular form evolved. We watched and waited for my husband's vision to become a reality for the rest of us - and when it did, it truly was amazing!

As I marveled at this work of art crafted by the hands of my husband and son, God spoke gentle reassurance to my soul. He knew my heart had been heavy, worried about several adversities and hardships my family was facing.

I'd been questioning His ways, wondering how He could bring good out of our difficult circumstances. God chose this moment to whisper to my spirit, "Tracie, I am creating something good, beyond your human understanding. Trust Me as your Builder."

Today's key verse quickly came to mind. In it we are reminded that God is the builder of everything, including us. We are God's house, His temple, where His Holy Spirit resides. He is always at work building our lives so that He can be glorified through us.

The Barnes Notes Commentary refers to the meaning ofHebrews 3:4 in this way: "Every family must have a founder; every dispensation an author; every house a builder. There must be someone, therefore, over all dispensations...." And that Someone is God.

The theological definition of the word 'dispensation' means "the divine ordering of the affairs of the world; an appointment, arrangement, or favor, as by God."

God is arranging and re-arranging our lives in accordance with His will. Step-by-step, day-by-day, and with each circumstance we face. He is constructing a dwelling place for His Presence within us.

What comfort it brings to know that in the same way my husband had a clear picture of what he planned to build, God has a holy vision of the divine masterpiece He is building in our lives. Although we may not understand or like the building process, we can trust our Builder and know that He is always looking out for our best.

Dear Lord, I trust You are doing a good work in me. Help me embrace the promise that You are building my life based on Your beautiful design, even when I cannot envision the outcome. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Would you like to bring the message of this devotion to the women of your church? Click here to find out moreabout considering Tracie as your next event speaker.

Visit Tracie's blog for more encouragement about how we can trust God's handiwork.

i am not but i know I AM by Louie Giglio

Reinventing Your Rainbow by Tracie Miles

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:
Have you been questioning what God is doing in your life? Could God be building your future through your present?

Allow God to change your perspective of your circumstances, so that you see Him building character and faith instead.

Power Verses:
Psalm 127:1, "Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain." (NIV)

Psalm 139:13, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." (NIV)

© 2012 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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

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LeadershipBible-Header

Catherine: Saint on the Streets of Siena

At age sixteen, Catherine of Siena (1347 - 1380) joined the Third Order of St. Dominic, spending her days nursing the poor - particularly lepers and victims of the plague.

The daughter of a prosperous fabric dyer, she was the third youngest of her father's twenty-five children. From the age of four she meditated and prayed, and at seven she took a vow of virginity. Against her parents' objections, she cut her long hair so as to be unattractive to the man with whom marriage had been arranged. During these years she was sustained by visionary experiences. On one occasion, during a pre- Lenten carnival, demons tempted her with the feminine and marital joys she was denying herself. While friends and family and neighbors ate and drank and danced in the streets - typical pleasures of a medieval community - she was in her dark cell. Suddenly Jesus and the Virgin and other saints appeared. Jesus put a gold ring on her finger, and Catherine became his bride.

From then on she held to strict asceticism, wearing a hair shirt and pelvic chain and residing in a secluded cell. But she gradually moved out into the streets of Siena among lepers and the plague-infected. On one occasion, as she knelt over a woman and drained pus from the woman's putrid sores, she was overcome by the sickening stench. Guilt-stricken by her revulsion, she reached for the bowl of pus, lifted it to her lips, and drank it, later insisting that it was the sweetest taste she had ever known.

While some consider Catherine mentally unstable, others were deeply moved by her selfless acts of service. Like other Catholics of her day, she was deeply troubled by the volatility of the papacy - and thus the church itself. In 1309, more than forty years before she was born, the papacy, prompted by carnage in Rome, had moved to Avignon. Opponents of the newly elected pope had threatened his life, so the French king of France kidnapped and secured him in France. His successors continued to live in Avignon for nearly seventy years - a period known as the Babylonian Captivity of the Church by those demanding that popes return to Rome. Critics rightly regard the Avignon papacy as a puppet of the increasingly powerful French regime, and not until 1377, did Pope Gregory XI return the papacy to Rome.

During this time, Catherine sought to convince the pope to depart from Avignon, the "Babylon of the West." With some twenty devoted followers, she led a march to Avignon. She was granted an audience with the pope but only after she was found by papal officials to be neither insane nor a heretic. She offered a readymade solution: launch another Crusade. Gregory IX countered that the church needed to settle its internal strife before going to war, but Catherine argued that the best way to solve the problems at home is to declare war on the enemy. That Catherine, according to one historian, "dominated Pope Gregory and to a lesser extent Urban VI" is an unwarranted conclusion. She was one among many who urged the pope to return to Rome. But her tenacity in serving the poor and challenging the hierarchy of the church solidified her fame.

Through revelations, she sought to confirm church tradition not clarified in Scripture. Medieval theologians from Anselm to Aquinas, for example, had argued that Mary was conceived sinless and remained so all her life, ever remaining a virgin. Aquinas had summed up the common belief: "As a virgin she conceived, as a virgin gave birth, and she remains a virgin forever." Through a vision, Catherine confirmed the tradition and offers an additional detail: that Mary was not perfected until three hours after her conception. But her revelation was trumped by theologian Duns Scotus, who insisted that Mary was perfected at the instant of conception.

Catherine, who died in her early thirties, was canonized by Pope Pius II in 1461. More notable, however, was her elevation by Pope Paul VI in 1970 to Doctor of the Church, along with Theresa of Avila, the first women to be so named. She was recognized again in 1999 by Pope John Paul II, who named her a patron saint of Europe.


If you enjoyed the above article, please take a minute to read about the book that it was adapted from:

ParadeofFaith-Bookcover

Parade of Faith: A Biographical History of the Christian Church

by Ruth A. Tucker
Buy the book!
The story of Christianity centers on people whose lives have been transformed by the resurrected Lord. Tucker puts this front and center in a lively overview peppered with sidebars; historical "what if?" questions; sections on everyday life; drawings and illustrations; bibliographies for further reading.
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Word and Deed

Matthew 7:21-23

God knows we will never be perfect in this life, but He does expect us to grow in faith and increasingly conform to Christ by loving our fellow Christians, understanding true doctrine, and following His precepts ( 1 John 3:23-24). Those whose lives increasingly reflect such things can be sure that they do not profess Jesus falsely. Let today's passage prompt you to take a "spiritual inventory." Where have you seen growth? Where do you need to be more obedient?

For further study:

Proverbs 20:6

The Bible in a year:

Joshua 7-8

For the weekend:

Joshua 9-12

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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The danger of doubting

‘And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul.’ 1 Samuel 27:1

Suggested Further Reading: Job 4:1–6

This wicked exclamation of David was contrary to what he himself had often said. Here I convict myself. I remember on one occasion, to my shame, being sad and doubtful of heart, and a kind friend took out a paper and read to me a short extract from a discourse upon faith. I very soon detected the author of the extract; my friend was reading to me from one of my own sermons. Without saying a word he just left it to my own conscience, for he had convicted me of committing the very fault against which I had so earnestly declaimed. Often might you, brethren, be found out in the same inconsistency. ‘O’ you have said, ‘I could trust him though the fig-tree did not blossom, and though there were no flocks in the field, and no herd in the stall.’ Ah you have condemned the unbelief of other people, but when it touched you, you have trembled, and when you have come to run with the horsemen they have wearied you, and in the swellings of Jordan you have been troubled. So was it with David. What strong words he had often said when he addressed others! He said of Saul, ‘His time shall come to die; I will not stretch out my hand and touch the Lord’s anointed.’ He felt sure that Saul’s doom was signed and sealed; and yet in the hour of his unbelief he says, ‘I shall yet one day fall.’ What a strange contradiction was that! What a mercy it is that God changes not, for we are changing two or three times a day. But our own utterances, our own convictions before, are clean contrary to the idea that he can ever leave us or forsake us.

For meditation: We must be extremely careful and sure of what we say, if we do not want it to be used in evidence against us (Judges 9:38; Job 15:6; Ecclesiastes 5:2–6; Luke 19:22). How good it is to trust in God who never has to defend or explain away the words that come from his mouth (Isaiah 55:11).

Sermon no. 439
16 March (1862)

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Good works

“Zealous of good works” Titus 2:14

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Timothy 2:8-15

It would be a good thing, perhaps, if we went back to Wesley’s rule, to come out from the world in our apparel, and to dress as plainly and neatly as the Quakers, though alas! they have sadly gone from their primitive simplicity. I am obliged to depart a little sometimes, from what we call the high things of the gospel; for really the children of God cannot now be told by outward appearance from the children of the devil, and they really ought to be; there should be some distinction between the one and the other; and although religion allows distinction of rank and dress, yet everything in the Bible cries out against our arraying ourselves, and making ourselves proud, by reason of the goodliness of our apparel. Some will say, “I wish you would leave that alone!” Of course you do, because it applies to yourself. But we let nothing alone which we believe to be in the Scriptures; and while I would not spare any man’s soul, honesty to every man’s conscience, and honesty to myself, demands that I should always speak of that which I see to be an evil breaking out in the Church. We should always take care that in everything we keep as near as possible to the written Word. If you want ornaments here they are. Here are jewels, rings, dresses, and all kinds of ornament; men and women, you may dress yourselves up till you shine like angels. How can you do it? By dressing yourselves out in benevolence, in love to the saints, in honesty and integrity, in uprightness, in godliness, in brotherly-kindness, in charity. These are the ornaments which angels themselves admire, and which even the world will admire; for men must give admiration to the man or the woman who is arrayed in the jewels of a holy life and godly conversation. I beseech you, brethren, “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”

For meditation: Isaiah 3:16-23 : God is concerned about our outward appearance and our attitude to it. He wants spirituality, not showing off (1 Peter 3:3-4).

Sermon no. 70
16 March (1856)

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Word and Deed

Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (v. 21 ).

Dr. James Montgomery Boice has pointed out the special irony of Jesus' warning about the wolves in sheep's clothing (Matt. 7:15) when we consider it within the context of modern academia. We often refer to diplomas as "sheepskins" because that is the material on which such diplomas were originally printed. Today, many with "sheepskins," or higher-level degrees, are teaching rank error in our colleges and seminaries. These are clear instances of wolves speaking with the "respectability" of the sheep (The Gospel of Matthew, vol. 1, p. 115).

Those who teach falsehoods usually have no desire to follow God's Word and care little if Scripture endorses their positions. We will probably not be taken off guard on judgment day when Christ banishes such hardened individuals. However, today's passage warns us that some will be surprised when many who appear to be believers are barred access to glory on that day. Not everyone who calls Jesus "Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven (vv. 21-23).

This teaching should instill within us a healthy fear and trepidation. It is possible to do great works in our Savior's name and to assent to His Lordship without really trusting Him for salvation. The people in today's passage have a false assurance of their Christian faith. They know the right things, but they have not done the right things. Their faith is dead, for their works are not done in obedience to Jesus (James 2:14-26). John Chrysostom says that we may claim to know the Lord, but we "derive no benefit as long as the actual fruits of good living are not present" ( Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, 23.7).

Of course, this does not mean we are saved by our works. Jesus tells us God's kingdom belongs only to those who recognize their poverty of spirit (Matt. 5:3), which involves abandoning any effort to earn the Creator's favor and a casting of oneself wholly upon His free grace (Rom. 4:1-8 ). Nevertheless, God's grace is not cheap. We do not have faith if we confess Him as Savior without doing what He says in the Sermon on the Mount. The ancient Israelites were fools to trust in the presence of the Temple to protect them (Jer. 7:1-29). Likewise, we are fools if we trust in our profession without repenting of our sin and doing what Jesus says.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

God knows we will never be perfect in this life, but He does expect us to grow in faith and increasingly conform to Christ by loving our fellow Christians, understanding true doctrine, and following His precepts (1 John 3:23-24). Those whose lives increasingly reflect such things can be sure that they do not profess Jesus falsely. Let today's passage prompt you to take a "spiritual inventory." Where have you seen growth? Where do you need to be more obedient?

For further study:

Proverbs 20:6

The Bible in a year:

Joshua 7-8

For the weekend:

Joshua 9-12

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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Myth: “Good parents always have good children.”

Luke 19:10

How could two children raised in the same home turn out so different from each other? Our son is popular at school, gets decent grades and loves the church youth group. Micah has his days, of course, but overall he wants to please us and make us proud of him.

Our daughter, Kayla, is a different child altogether.

Two years younger than Micah, but with a temperament twice as fiery, it's as if she's determined to be the opposite of her brother in every way. I've already been to the school to meet with her teachers four times this semester, but she doesn't respond to discipline. If we try to talk to her about our concerns, she becomes belligerent, taking our remarks way out of context and throwing them back in our faces. Even when she was a child, her flashpoint temper erupted over the slightest thing.

My heart aches for her. I love my daughter very much. After her latest outburst at home, I realized something I hadn't dared admit to anyone. Somehow I must have failed as a mother, and Kayla is now paying for my mistakes.

Though they would never say it to my face, I know people believe that all rebellious children, including Kayla, come from dysfunctional homes. And looking back, I know my husband and I weren't the perfect parents. But we tried to do everything we could for our children to make sure they grew up in a stable home environment. I gave up my career to stay home with them. We took family vacations together. We went to their piano recitals, choir concerts and basketball games. We tried.

I know a lot of parents who haven't invested nearly as much attention in their kids as we have, and their children turned out fine. I thought if I did everything right, if I loved my children enough, they would turn out OK. Where did I go wrong?

-Ranjita

We hear of healthy, successful children who somehow survive dysfunctional homes. But, as illustrated by Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu, it's also possible to have a dysfunctional child despite a healthy home environment (see Leviticus 10). The assumption that good parents always raise good children is unrealistic, and the harsh judgments that come from that assumption have devastated many good parents whose child rebelled. Parents rehearse the past, trying to pin the blame on themselves for how their children rebelled against them and their values.

Because God has lovingly created us with free will, no amount of good parenting, fervent prayer and the best of intentions can control an individual's choices. The Bible reminds us that the potential for disobedience is within each child (see Proverbs 22:15). Most Christian psychologists will agree that the reason why some children who are raised in a healthy, Christian family grow up to be compliant, decent citizens and others rebel against a Christian upbringing is a mystery. It just happens.

If you have a prodigal child, remember this:

  • It's normal to grieve the sense of loss you experience as a mother-this isn't the family you'd envisioned.
  • If necessary, seek professional help for you and your family. Don't suffer alone.
  • Lean on Christian friends who will pray with you and give you insight.
  • Recognizing how your own faults may have contributed to the family dynamics is not the same as weighing yourself down with irrational blame.
  • Don't give up. It may take years, and there's no guarantee that your child will change, but with Jesus there's always hope.
  • Remember that God loves prodigal children-even more so than their parents do. Ultimately, the best thing good parents can do for their rebellious children is to bring them to their heavenly Father through prayer.

"Let's be candid. All of us Christian parents, no matter what our background, parenting style or level of spiritual maturity, share a common fear-that a child will become a prodigal child. There is no jolt of agony to compare to the child who says with his words and his behavior, 'I reject you, your values, your lifestyle, your God.' We desperately desire that this will never happen in our homes. But it can and does."

-Dennis Rainey

"The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."
Luke 19:10

See also

1 Kings 11:4-6; Matthew 18:12-14; Luke 15:11-32
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Day 24

When Jesus preached, he made many claims with which people took issue. He said he was the light—but only God himself is the source of light! He was from above—but only God claims residence in heaven! Jesus was setting out the clear and fateful choice: believe in him and know God’s power in your life, or stay in spiritual darkness. This message would change everything.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”

Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going.”

Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”

This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”

But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”

Even as he spoke, many believed in him.

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

“Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”

At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”

Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

“You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

What character qualities do you see in Jesus?

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Today's Lent reading: Luke 7-9 (NIV)

View today's Lent reading on Bible Gateway
The Faith of the Centurion

1 When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. 2 There a centurion's servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3 The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, "This man deserves to have you do this, 5 because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue." 6 So Jesus went with them.

He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7 That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."

9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel." 10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

Jesus Raises a Widow's Son

11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out-the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry."

14 Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said. "God has come to help his people." 17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

Jesus and John the Baptist

18 John's disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19 he sent them to the Lord to ask, "Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?"

20 When the men came to Jesus, they said, "John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, 'Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?'"

21 At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22 So he replied to the messengers, "Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 23 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me."

24 After John's messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 25 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. 26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is the one about whom it is written:

"'I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.'

28 I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."

29 (All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus' words, acknowledged that God's way was right, because they had been baptized by John. 30 But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God's purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)

31 Jesus went on to say, "To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:

"'We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not cry.'

33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.' 34 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' 35 But wisdom is proved right by all her children."

Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman

36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is-that she is a sinner."

40 Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."

"Tell me, teacher," he said.

41 "Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"

43 Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven."

"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven-as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little."

48 Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"

50 Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Luke 8

The Parable of the Sower

1 After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3 Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5 "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. 6Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown."

When he said this, he called out, "Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear."

9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,

"'though seeing, they may not see;
though hearing, they may not understand.'

11 "This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

A Lamp on a Stand

16 "No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. 17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. 18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them."

Jesus' Mother and Brothers

19 Now Jesus' mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. 20Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you."

21 He replied, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice."

Jesus Calms the Storm

22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side of the lake." So they got into a boat and set out.23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!"

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 "Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him."

Jesus Restores a Demon-Possessed Man

26 They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. 27 When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don't torture me!" 29 For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.

30 Jesus asked him, "What is your name?"

"Legion," he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31 And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.

32 A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. 33 When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

34 When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, 35 and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus' feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. 37 Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.

38 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 "Return home and tell how much God has done for you." So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.

Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Sick Woman

40 Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. 41 Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus' feet, pleading with him to come to his house 42 because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. 43And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

45 "Who touched me?" Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you."

46 But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me."

47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 Then he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace."

49 While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. "Your daughter is dead," he said. "Don't bother the teacher anymore."

50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, "Don't be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed."

51 When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child's father and mother. 52 Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. "Stop wailing," Jesus said. "She is not dead but asleep."

53 They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But he took her by the hand and said, "My child, get up!" 55 Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56 Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.

Luke 9

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve

1 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 He told them: "Take nothing for the journey-no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. 4Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town.5 If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them." 6 So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.

7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, 8 others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. 9 But Herod said, "I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?" And he tried to see him.

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

10 When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

12 Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, "Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here."

13 He replied, "You give them something to eat."

They answered, "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish-unless we go and buy food for all this crowd." 14 (About five thousand men were there.)

But he said to his disciples, "Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each." 15 The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. 16 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. 17 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

Peter Declares That Jesus Is the Messiah

18 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say I am?"

19 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life."

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

Peter answered, "God's Messiah."

Jesus Predicts His Death

21 Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. 22And he said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."

23 Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

27 "Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God."

The Transfiguration

28 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. 31 They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. 32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, "Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters-one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." (He did not know what he was saying.)

34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him." 36 When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen.

Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Boy

37 The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. 38 A man in the crowd called out, "Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child.39 A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. 40 I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not."

41 "You unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here."

42 Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the impure spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. 43 And they were all amazed at the greatness of God.

Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time

While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, 44 "Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men." 45 But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.

46 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. 47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest."

49 "Master," said John, "we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us."

50 "Do not stop him," Jesus said, "for whoever is not against you is for you."

Samaritan Opposition

51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 Then he and his disciples went to another village.

The Cost of Following Jesus

57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."

58 Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

59 He said to another man, "Follow me."

But he replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."

60 Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."

61 Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family."

62 Jesus replied, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."

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Lent=Devotions-Header
Today's Prayer

O merciful Father, do not consider what we have done against you; but what our blessed Savior has done for us. Don't consider what we have made of ourselves, but what He is making of us for you our God. O that Christ may be "wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption" to every one of our souls. [May] His precious blood may cleanse us from all our sins, and your Holy Spirit renew and sanctify our souls. May He crucify our flesh with its passion and lusts, and cleanse all our brothers and sisters in Christ across the earth. -- John Wesley

Today's Scripture Reading: John 2:13-22

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father's house into a market!" 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me."

18 The Jews then responded to him, "What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?"

19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days."

20 They replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?" 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

Today's Quote

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

-- "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross," an Easter hymn by Isaac Watts. (See http://songsandhymns.org for more about this and other Easter hymns.)

Something to Think About

Jesus spoke about his coming death and resurrection many times, as in the Scripture reading above. Why do you think so many people--including his own disciples--failed to understand what he was saying until afterwards?


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