Thursday, March 29, 2012

Daily Devotional Thursday 29th March

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.” 1 Timothy 2:5-6 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered."
Hebrews 5:8

We are told that the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through suffering, therefore we who are sinful, and who are far from being perfect, must not wonder if we are called to pass through suffering too. Shall the head be crowned with thorns, and shall the other members of the body be rocked upon the dainty lap of ease? Must Christ pass through seas of his own blood to win the crown, and are we to walk to heaven dryshod in silver slippers? No, our Master's experience teaches us that suffering is necessary, and the true-born child of God must not, would not, escape it if he might. But there is one very comforting thought in the fact of Christ's "being made perfect through suffering"--it is, that he can have complete sympathy with us. "He is not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities." In this sympathy of Christ we find a sustaining power. One of the early martyrs said, "I can bear it all, for Jesus suffered, and he suffers in me now; he sympathizes with me, and this makes me strong." Believer, lay hold of this thought in all times of agony. Let the thought of Jesus strengthen you as you follow in his steps. Find a sweet support in his sympathy; and remember that, to suffer is an honourable thing--to suffer for Christ is glory. The apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to do this. Just so far as the Lord shall give us grace to suffer for Christ, to suffer with Christ, just so far does he honour us. The jewels of a Christian are his afflictions. The regalia of the kings whom God hath anointed are their troubles, their sorrows, and their griefs. Let us not, therefore, shun being honoured. Let us not turn aside from being exalted. Griefs exalt us, and troubles lift us up. "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him."

Evening

"I called him, but he gave me no answer."
Song of Solomon 5:6

Prayer sometimes tarrieth, like a petitioner at the gate, until the King cometh forth to fill her bosom with the blessings which she seeketh. The Lord, when he hath given great faith, has been known to try it by long delayings. He has suffered his servants' voices to echo in their ears as from a brazen sky. They have knocked at the golden gate, but it has remained immovable, as though it were rusted upon its hinges. Like Jeremiah, they have cried, "Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through." Thus have true saints continued long in patient waiting without reply, not because their prayers were not vehement, nor because they were unaccepted, but because it so pleased him who is a Sovereign, and who gives according to his own pleasure. If it pleases him to bid our patience exercise itself, shall he not do as he wills with his own! Beggars must not be choosers either as to time, place, or form. But we must be careful not to take delays in prayer for denials: God's long-dated bills will be punctually honoured; we must not suffer Satan to shake our confidence in the God of truth by pointing to our unanswered prayers. Unanswered petitions are not unheard. God keeps a file for our prayers--they are not blown away by the wind, they are treasured in the King's archives. This is a registry in the court of heaven wherein every prayer is recorded. Tried believer, thy Lord hath a tear-bottle in which the costly drops of sacred grief are put away, and a book in which thy holy groanings are numbered. By and by, thy suit shall prevail. Canst thou not be content to wait a little? Will not thy Lord's time be better than thy time? By and by he will comfortably appear, to thy soul's joy, and make thee put away the sackcloth and ashes of long waiting, and put on the scarlet and fine linen of full fruition.

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Today's reading: Judges 4-6, Luke 4:31-44 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Deborah

1 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, now that Ehud was dead. 2 So the LORD sold them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. Sisera, the commander of his army, was based in Harosheth Haggoyim. 3Because he had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the LORD for help.

4 Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. 5 She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided. 6She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. 7 I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’”

8 Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”

9 “Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 There Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali, and ten thousand men went up under his command. Deborah also went up with him.

11 Now Heber the Kenite had left the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses’ brother-in-law, and pitched his tent by the great tree in Zaanannim near Kedesh.

12 When they told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor, 13 Sisera summoned from Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River all his men and his nine hundred chariots fitted with iron.

14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Go! This is the day the LORD has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the LORD gone ahead of you?” So Barak went down Mount Tabor, with ten thousand men following him. 15 At Barak’s advance, the LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera got down from his chariot and fled on foot.

16 Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim, and all Sisera’s troops fell by the sword; not a man was left. 17 Sisera, meanwhile, fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because there was an alliance between Jabin king of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite.

18 Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she covered him with a blanket.

19 “I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.” She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up.

20 “Stand in the doorway of the tent,” he told her. “If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say ‘No.’”

21 But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.

22 Just then Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. “Come,” she said, “I will show you the man you’re looking for.” So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple—dead.

23 On that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan before the Israelites. 24 And the hand of the Israelites pressed harder and harder against Jabin king of Canaan until they destroyed him.

Judges 5

The Song of Deborah

1 On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:

2 “When the princes in Israel take the lead,
when the people willingly offer themselves—
praise the LORD!

3 “Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers!
I, even I, will sing to the LORD;
I will praise the LORD, the God of Israel, in song.

4 “When you, LORD, went out from Seir,
when you marched from the land of Edom,
the earth shook, the heavens poured,
the clouds poured down water.
5 The mountains quaked before the LORD, the One of Sinai,
before the LORD, the God of Israel.

6 “In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,
in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned;
travelers took to winding paths.
7 Villagers in Israel would not fight;
they held back until I, Deborah, arose,
until I arose, a mother in Israel.
8 God chose new leaders
when war came to the city gates,
but not a shield or spear was seen
among forty thousand in Israel.
9 My heart is with Israel’s princes,
with the willing volunteers among the people.
Praise the LORD!

10 “You who ride on white donkeys,
sitting on your saddle blankets,
and you who walk along the road,
consider 11 the voice of the singers at the watering places.
They recite the victories of the LORD,
the victories of his villagers in Israel.

“Then the people of the LORD
went down to the city gates.
12 ‘Wake up, wake up, Deborah!
Wake up, wake up, break out in song!
Arise, Barak!
Take captive your captives, son of Abinoam.’

13 “The remnant of the nobles came down;
the people of the LORD came down to me against the mighty.
14 Some came from Ephraim, whose roots were in Amalek;
Benjamin was with the people who followed you.
From Makir captains came down,
from Zebulun those who bear a commander’s staff.
15 The princes of Issachar were with Deborah;
yes, Issachar was with Barak,
sent under his command into the valley.
In the districts of Reuben
there was much searching of heart.
16 Why did you stay among the sheep pens
to hear the whistling for the flocks?
In the districts of Reuben
there was much searching of heart.
17 Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan.
And Dan, why did he linger by the ships?
Asher remained on the coast
and stayed in his coves.
18 The people of Zebulun risked their very lives;
so did Naphtali on the terraced fields.

19 “Kings came, they fought,
the kings of Canaan fought.
At Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo,
they took no plunder of silver.
20 From the heavens the stars fought,
from their courses they fought against Sisera.
21 The river Kishon swept them away,
the age-old river, the river Kishon.
March on, my soul; be strong!
22 Then thundered the horses’ hooves—
galloping, galloping go his mighty steeds.
23 ‘Curse Meroz,’ said the angel of the LORD.
‘Curse its people bitterly,
because they did not come to help the LORD,
to help the LORD against the mighty.’

24 “Most blessed of women be Jael,
the wife of Heber the Kenite,
most blessed of tent-dwelling women.
25 He asked for water, and she gave him milk;
in a bowl fit for nobles she brought him curdled milk.
26 Her hand reached for the tent peg,
her right hand for the workman’s hammer.
She struck Sisera, she crushed his head,
she shattered and pierced his temple.
27 At her feet he sank,
he fell; there he lay.
At her feet he sank, he fell;
where he sank, there he fell—dead.

28 “Through the window peered Sisera’s mother;
behind the lattice she cried out,
‘Why is his chariot so long in coming?
Why is the clatter of his chariots delayed?’
29 The wisest of her ladies answer her;
indeed, she keeps saying to herself,
30 ‘Are they not finding and dividing the spoils:
a woman or two for each man,
colorful garments as plunder for Sisera,
colorful garments embroidered,
highly embroidered garments for my neck—
all this as plunder?’

31 “So may all your enemies perish, LORD!
But may all who love you be like the sun
when it rises in its strength.”

Then the land had peace forty years.

Judges 6

Gideon

1 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help.

7 When the Israelites cried out to the LORD because of Midian, 8 he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 9 I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”

11 The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”

13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

14 The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

16 The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. 18 Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.”

And the LORD said, “I will wait until you return.”

19 Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.

20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. 21 Then the angel of the LORD touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the LORD disappeared. 22 When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!”

23 But the LORD said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”

24 So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

25 That same night the LORD said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. 26 Then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.”

27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.

28 In the morning when the people of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar!

29 They asked each other, “Who did this?”

When they carefully investigated, they were told, “Gideon son of Joash did it.”

30 The people of the town demanded of Joash, “Bring out your son. He must die, because he has broken down Baal’s altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.”

31 But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.” 32 So because Gideon broke down Baal’s altar, they gave him the name Jerub-Baal that day, saying, “Let Baal contend with him.”

33 Now all the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34 Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. 35 He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them.

36 Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised— 37 look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” 38 And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.

39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” 40 That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.


Luke 4

Jesus Drives Out an Impure Spirit

31 Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority.

33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34“Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

35 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.

36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.

Jesus Heals Many

38 Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 39 So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.

40 At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41 Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.

42 At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. 43 But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” 44 And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

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Samson [Săm’son]—distinguished, strong or sun-man.

The Man of Contrasts

One of the most renowned of the Hebrew judges, Samson was a son of the Danite, Manoah, who judged Israel for twenty years. He was unique in that his birth and manner of life were foretold. Supernaturally endowed, he killed a lion, thirty Philistines and one thousand men. He broke the strongest bands, carried off the gates of Gaza and pulled down the Temple of Dagon ( Judg. 13:24-16:30). He is found among the illustrious in Faith’s Hall of Fame (Heb. 11:32).

As long as Samson remained a Nazarite he was unconquerable. He only of all the judges of whom we have any history, does everything single-handed and alone. Samson never called the armies of Israel together; he asked no assistance. What he did, he did alone in his own unconquerable strength. We are not told how he managed his court, nor about the wisdom of his judgments, nor about the manner of Israel’s life for a whole generation under her gigantic judge.

The complex story of Samson teaches us the evils of mixed or foreign marriages (Judg. 14:3 ), the laxity of sexual relations and of playing with temptation. C. W. Emmet says that Samson “teaches us that bodily endowments, no less than spiritual, are a gift from God, however different may be our modern conception of the way in which they are bestowed, and that their retention depends on obedience to His laws.”

But if Samson stands as an example “of impotence of mind in body strong,” he also stands, in Milton’s magnificent conception, as an example of patriotism and heroism in death, to all who “from his memory inflame their breast to matchless valour and adventures high.”

The deadly results of Samson’s self-indulgence after he broke his Nazarite vow, appear in their dark and ominous order:

Self-confidence: “I will go out” (Judg. 16:20).

Self-ignorance: “He wist not” (Judg. 16:20).

Self-weakness: “The Philistines laid hold on him” (Judg. 16:21).

Self-darkness: “They put out his eyes” ( Judg. 16:21).

Self-degradation: “They brought him down to Gaza” (Judg. 16:1-3, 21).

Self-bondage: “They bound him with fetters” ( Judg. 16:21).

Self-drudgery: “He did grind in the prison-house” (Judg. 16:21).

Self-humiliation: “Call for Samson, that he may make us sport” (Judg. 16:25, 27).

Samson stands out as a man of striking contrasts. He had a kind of Dr. Jekell and Mr. Hyde being.

I. He was separated as a Nazarite (Judg. 13:5), yet tampered with evil associations (Judg. 14:1-3).

II. He was occasionally Spirit-possessed ( Judg. 13:25; 15:14), yet yielded to carnal appetites (Judg. 16:1-4).

III. He appeared childish in some of his plans ( Judg. 15:4), yet was courageous in battle (Judg. 15:1-4).

IV. He was mighty in physical strength (Judg. 16:3, 9 , 13, 14), yet weak in resisting temptation (Judg. 16:15-17).

V. He had a noble beginning but a sad end (Judg. 16:30).

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The Faith of a Centurion

Matthew 8:5-13 "When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, 'Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith'" ( v. 10).

Notably, Jesus orders the leper to tell no one about his healing. Instead, he must first go to the priest in order to be declared clean (Matt. 8:4). Having the cured man obey the laws for leprosy's cleansing (Lev. 14:1-32) testifies to the priests that Jesus does not come to break the Mosaic law. Also, the ability to heal leprosy is a prophetic miracle ( 2 Kings 5:1-14), and so Christ may intend to reveal His prophethood to the priest through the leper's testimony. Moreover, the commoners expect a Messiah who will kick the Romans out of Palestine. Having the cured man not proclaim Christ's power will help keep His acclaim from spreading too rapidly and arousing Rome's ire before the proper time.

Jesus' healing of the leper is also a clue that His ministry will fulfill and thereby end the ceremonial regulations that separate Jew from Gentile. He can cleanse the unclean and touch the polluted without Himself suffering such uncleanliness. This is a strong hint that the new covenant era will not be one marked by ceremonial distinctions as the old covenant was.

The healing described in Matthew 8:5-13 also involves a person considered unclean in first-century Judaism. A centurion, who is a Roman officer in charge of one hundred troops, comes to Jesus urgently requesting his servant's healing (vv. 5-6). Most Jews are hostile toward these foreign occupiers, but Christ feels for the man's beloved servant and acquiesces to the man's request (v. 7). However, the centurion's great faith means that our Savior will not have to go to the man's home (v. 13). In Roman society, the emperor has supreme authority, and he delegates it to officers like centurions. To disobey these officials is to disobey the emperor himself. The centurion sees that Jesus is invested with a similar authority, only the person He represents must be God (vv. 8-10). This officer understands, as John Calvin comments, that "he who, by the mere expression of his will, restores health to men, must possess supreme authority."

Many who should know better never recognize Jesus' authority. This Gentile sees Jesus for who He is, anticipating the day when many foreigners will, by faith, be grafted into God's people Israel (vv. 11-12; Rom. 11).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

In Christ, God is keeping His promise to bless all the families of the earth in Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3 ). The conversion of the nations to Christ is among the most tangible proofs for the veracity of the Bible. What Jesus has predicted is coming to pass - the Gentiles are coming to faith in Jesus. Think today on Jesus' transformation of the nations and be encouraged that He has not left His people without a message.

For further study:

Genesis 27:29

The Bible in a year:

Judges 11-12

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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Samantha Reed

March 28, 2012

A Call and Response
Samantha Reed

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God." Psalm 20:7 (NIV)

His wee body curls in the crook of my arm as we rock. So tiny, so new, only two days old. Six pounds and fifteen ounces, yet he bears the weighty truth, the Truth. Timeless and eternal.

"His first name means 'Remembered by Yahweh.'" His parents share in a hush. "Anytime God reminds us in His Word that He remembers, it is a reminder of His faithfulness; that we're always on the Lord's mind.

"His middle name means 'faithful.' Put together, they're a call and response."

This tiny newborn's first name calls to mind the richness of God's character: unfailing, hopeful, sure. Every time he says his name, he'll recall the goodness of the Lord. His middle name elicits our response: Yes, Lord. Because You are faithful, so shall I be.

God is ever calling, desiring our mind, heart and will to respond to who He is. His Names testify to every attribute He possesses.

I'm beckoned by this wisdom. So I open the pages of Truth to know more of the Name I call upon to be saved.

El Shaddai completely nourishes, satisfies, and supplies as a mother would her child. He is our sustainer. (Genesis 17:1, 28:3, 35:11, 43:14 48:3)

El Roi is our God who sees us. Not one of our pains or needs is out of His periphery. (Genesis 16:13)

Jehovah Nissi gives encouragement, hope and a focal point when in battle. Jehovah denotes our God who reveals Himself unceasingly. Nissi means banner. In battle, opposing nations flew their flags on a pole at the front lines. This gave soldiers hope and a place to focus. (Exodus17:15)

Jehovah Rapha restores and heals. Our Great Physician makes better our physical and emotional needs. (Exodus 15:26)

Jehovah Mekoddishkem calls us to holiness and gently reminds us that it's God who sets us apart. (Exodus 31:13; Leviticus 20:8)

To know God, His nature and His Name, awakens our voice. His steadfast character and everlasting Name are calling. A call to our mind-to which thoughts respond. A call to our heart-to which emotions respond. A call to our will-to which actions respond.

El Shaddai calls ... I satisfy. We respond ... I will be nourished by You.

El Roi calls ... I see you. We respond ... I will find comfort in You.

Jehovah Nissi calls ... I cover you. We respond ... I trust Your protection.

Jehovah Rapha calls ... I heal. We respond ... I will ungrasp my heart for You to heal.

Jehovah Mekoddishkem calls ... I make all things new. We respond ... I believe You create beautiful things from dust.

There are so many more Names of God throughout Scripture. Names that help us become better acquainted and really know the nature of the Lord. So when troubles call, we respond by putting our faith, hope, and love in Him. And around every corner and with every birth, and death, and life lived in between, we continue to call on the Name of the One who is faithful.

From age to age His Names testify of His goodness. Let's respond to His call today.

Dear Lord, You are worthy of a mind that meditates on You daily; a heart that loves You steadfastly, and a will that follows Yours. When You call, help me respond according to who I know You to be: faithful. Thank You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Embraced by the Father: Finding Grace in the Names of God by Susanne Scheppmann

Visit Samantha's site for more on God's Names, and to enter to win a gift card and two copies of A Confident Heart by Renee Swope - one for you and one for a friend!

A Confident Heart by Renee Swope. In this wonderful book, Renee leads us to a place of lasting confidence by helping us know God's Names, trust God's character and live in the security of God's heart toward us.

We would love to encourage you throughout the day. Join us on Facebook!

Reflect and Respond:
Will you call on one of God's Names and its meaning ... inviting your heart, mind and will to respond?

As you pray this week, talk to the Lord using one of His Names in this devotion. Praise Him for the attributes in that Name: sustainer, hope, healer, etc.

Power Verses:
Nehemiah 9:5b, "Stand up and praise the LORD your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise." (NIV)

Jeremiah 9:24, "'... but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the LORD." (NIV)

© 2012 by Samantha Reed. All rights reserved.

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

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The Faith of a Centurion

Matthew 8:5-13

In Christ, God is keeping His promise to bless all the families of the earth in Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3 ). The conversion of the nations to Christ is among the most tangible proofs for the veracity of the Bible. What Jesus has predicted is coming to pass - the Gentiles are coming to faith in Jesus. Think today on Jesus' transformation of the nations and be encouraged that He has not left His people without a message.

For further study:

Genesis 27:29

The Bible in a year:

Judges 11-12

Coram Deo from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

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Christ set forth as a propitiation

‘Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.’ Romans 3:24–25

Suggested Further Reading: Exodus 25:17–22

God has set forth Christ as being a propitiation. The Greek word is hilasterion which, being translated, may mean a mercy seat or a covering. Now God has said to the sinner, ‘Do you desire to meet me? Would you be no longer my enemy? Would you tell me your sorrows? Would you receive my blessing? Would you establish a commerce between your Creator and your soul? I set forth Christ to you as being the mercy seat, where I can meet with you and you can meet with me.’ Or take the word as signifying a covering; as the mercy seat covered the tables of the law, and so covered that which was the cause of divine anger, because we had broken his commandment. ‘Would you have anything which can cover your sin? Cover it from me your God, so that I need not be provoked to anger; cover it from you so that you need not be cowed with excessive fear, and tremble to approach me as you did when I came in thunders and lightnings upon Sinai? Would you have a shelter which shall hide altogether your sins and your iniquities? I set it forth to you in the person of my bleeding Son. Trust in his blood, and your sin is covered from my eyes; it shall be covered from your own eyes too; and being justified by faith, you shall have peace with God through Jesus Christ your Lord.’ O that we may have grace to accept now what God the Father sets forth! The Romish priest sets forth this and that; our own Romish hearts set forth such-and-such-another thing; but God sets forth Christ. The preacher of doctrine sets forth a dogma; the preacher of experience sets forth a feeling; the preacher of practice often sets forth an effort; but God puts before you Christ. ‘There I will meet with thee.’

For meditation: Christ is the only propitiation that God in his mercy will accept as a covering for our sin (Romans 3:25;Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). Have you accepted him too, or are you still trying to bodge your own cover-up job? It won’t work (Genesis 3:7–9).

Sermon no. 373
29 March (Good Friday 1861)

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March 28, 2012
Service With a Smile
Mary Southerland

Today's Truth
Romans 12:10 "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves."

Friend to Friend
The last thing I usually want to do is serve someone who is hard to get along with and rubs me the wrong way. In fact, the way I figure it, they should be the one serving me in order to make up for all of the grief they have caused. Sandpaper people are hard to serve and hard to help because they rarely, if ever, think of themselves as someone in need. The needs of others are not high on their priority list. Control and power are at the top. To manipulate is to succeed. Sandpaper people honestly believe that the world does or should revolve around them. It doesn't seem to matter if the audience is applauding or jeering. Either way, they win.

When we dare to serve a sandpaper person, it rocks their world. They are so accustomed to scratching and clawing their way to a false and shallow acceptance and find it almost impossible to believe that anyone would ever be willing to serve them in any way. That kind of chosen love is foreign to them but it certainly grabs their attention. It is after we have loved and served the sandpaper people in our lives that we begin to see them with different eyes.

"Devotion" indicates commitment and duty and carries the idea of a constant faithfulness that deliberately chooses repeatedly to serve. To "honor" someone means to "prefer" him or her or regard them as more important than ourselves. Most sandpaper people are used to people preferring that they disappear. I am convinced if we learned to look past the irritating antics of sandpaper people and simply love them or "prefer" them, a transformation would begin.

In the book of Philippians, Paul explains when we are serving others we are doing what Jesus did.

Philippians 2:1-5 "Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose. Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too and what they are doing. Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had."

Paul is telling us that when we choose to love and serve others, especially those who are unlovable and difficult, we choose to have the same attitude that Jesus had. I believe the greatest hindrance to serving others is pride.

Someone once told me, "He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals." I once heard a missionary tell how he was trying to do translation work in a particular tribe. He was finding it very difficult to translate the word "pride" or at least the concept. Finally, he came up with the idea to use their words for the ears being too far apart. In other words, he conveyed the idea of an "inflated head" which is probably hard to improve on when we talk about the problem of pride.

When our head is filled with thoughts of self, when our hearts are determined to love ourselves before others or when we serve only for the applause of men, we will become arrogant and our service becomes an offense to God. Micah 6:8 outlines the good things God wants to see in us, "The Lord has told you what is good. He has told you what he wants from you: Do what is right to other people. Love being kind to others and live humbly, trusting your God." Peter Marshall, the great Bible teacher, once prayed, "Lord, when we are wrong, make us willing to change and when we are right, make us easy to live with."

Corrie Ten Boom, a dynamic Christian and survivor of German prison camps, loved to tell the story about a proud woodpecker who was tapping away at a dead tree when the sky unexpectedly turned black and the thunder began to roll. Undaunted, he went right on working. Suddenly a bolt of lightning struck the old tree, splintering it into hundreds of pieces. Startled but unhurt, the haughty bird flew off, screeching to his feathered friends, "Hey, everyone, look what I did! Look what I did!"

That old woodpecker reminds me of people who think more highly of themselves than they should. Usually they are so busy bragging about their achievements and their greatness that they fail to recognize God as the source of all their abilities or the needs of others. They are suffering from spiritual delusions of grandeur, and I am often right there with them. Without the Lord, no one amounts to anything, and in our own strength, we cannot please Him. "So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you." (1 Peter 5:6 ) We are never more like our Father than when we lay aside our pride to love the unlovable by serving them.

Let's Pray
Father, when I let pride take up residence in my heart, I can be so blind to the needs of others, especially those who are more difficult to love. I am so thankful that You did not feel that way toward me, one of the most difficult people of all to love. I praise You for the grace and love You have given me. Help me to be an instrument of that love and grace in the lives of those around me.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.

Now It's Your Turn
Take a few minutes to think about the people in your life – family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc.

List two people who are easy to love and serve.
Name one way you can serve these people in the name of Jesus.
Determine how and when you can serve them. Be specific.

List two people who are difficult to love and serve.
Name one way you can serve these people in the name of Jesus.
Determine how and when you can serve the. Be specific.

Compare the two experiences.
From which one did you learn the most?
Which one forced you to rely upon God's power the most?
What one truth did you gain through these two experiences?

More from the Girlfriends
If I am not careful, I automatically gravitate to those who are easy to love and easy to serve. I have to remind myself that Jesus Christ came for broken people like me. I am not always easy to love and am prone to reject service because "I can do it myself." Sound familiar? Today, choose to love and serve those difficult people in your path. When someone loves and wants to serve you, accept that love and service in Jesus' name, as a gift from God's hand. Be blessed.

Need help? Check out Mary's MP3, Getting Good at Being You and learn how to manage emotions, instead of allowing them to manage you.

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The snare of the fowler

“Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler.”Psalm 91:3

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Corinthians 11:1-20

It was once said by a talented writer, that the old devil was dead, and that there was a new devil now; by which he meant to say, that the devil of old times was a rather different devil from the deceiver of these times. We believe that it is the same evil spirit; but there is a difference in his mode of attack. The devil of five hundred years ago was a black and grimy thing, well portrayed in our old pictures of that evil spirit. He was a persecutor, who cast men into the furnace, and put them to death for serving Christ. The devil of this day is a well-spoken gentleman: he does not persecute—he rather attempts to persuade and to beguile. He is not now the furious Romanist, so much as the insinuating unbeliever, attempting to overturn our religion, whilst at the same time he pretends he would but make it more rational, and so more triumphant. He would only link worldliness with religion; and so he would really make religion void, under the cover of developing the great power of the gospel, and bringing out secrets which our forefathers had never discovered. Satan is always a fowler; whatever his tactics may be, his object is still the same—to catch men in his net. Men are here compared to silly, weak birds, that have not skill enough to avoid the snare, and have not strength enough to escape from it. Satan is the fowler; he has been so and is so still; and if he does not attack us as the roaring lion, roaring against us in persecution, he attacks us as the adder, creeping silently along the path, endeavouring to bite our heel with his poisoned fangs, and weaken the power of grace and ruin the life of godliness within us. Our text is a very comforting one to all believers, when they are beset by temptation.

For meditation: We should be on our guard against falling into the snare of the devil (1 Timothy 3:7), but take courage from the fact that God is able to enable us to escape from it ( 2 Timothy 2:26).

Sermon no. 124
29 March (1857)

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At Issue - In-Laws

Proverbs 10:12

No matter how great your in-laws are, you'll likely have conflicts at some point. You may disagree about where you spend holidays, how you discipline your children or even denominational or doctrinal matters. You may sometimes feel like the daughter your in-laws wish they never had. How you respond will either bring you closer together as a family or drive you further apart. When conflicts arise, choose to cover over with love wrongs done to you. This takes humility, but let it go. Refuse to dwell on it. Choose to not even see it anymore because you know that God's love covers over your own wrongs.

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More than a Ghost

Today's reading: Acts 3

The best proof that Jesus is alive

Acts 3:15 "You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this."

"He looks as if he's seen a ghost!" What image comes to mind when you hear that? A face drained of blood, a trembling jaw, pasty skin and thin lips, a look of terror.

Seeing a ghost doesn't make a person stronger and more confident. The witness is usually reluctant to talk about the experience. Self-doubt attacks in waves: Was it real? Maybe I was hallucinating ... It was so dark and eerie.

A Convincing Change

When Jesus showed up after his death, his disciples went through a Did-we-see-a-ghost? phase, complete with terror, disbelief and wild rumors. But it didn't last long. In 40 days Jesus made enough undeniable appearances to convince each of his disciples-even skeptical Thomas-that he had indeed overthrown death.

As Acts shows, the disciples began acting the opposite of people who think they've seen a ghost. Rather, they acted like people who had just witnessed the most astounding event in all history. They couldn't wait to tell the world about it.

Exuberance, not fear, lit up the disciples' faces. In the streets of Jerusalem and in the temple, to anyone who would listen, they cried out the news that couldn't be true, but was. "Jesus is alive! The man who died has come back-he's the Messiah we've been waiting for!"

If you're ever tempted to doubt Jesus' resurrection, take a sober look at his changed followers in Acts. Consider Peter, for instance. He had cowered in the shadows at the trial scene, trying to look inconspicuous. Out of fear of arrest, he had even cursed and denied knowing Jesus. Could this be the same man, standing before the most distinguished religious leaders in the land, blasting them as murderers (see Acts 3)? Something ignited Peter that would not easily be snuffed out.

Response to a New Message

When Jesus was on Earth he mostly preached "the kingdom," sometimes even warning his followers not to mention that he was the Messiah. In Acts, the word is out. Jesus is the theme of every speech, whether delivered in the temple square or in the luxurious setting of a royal palace, to working-class pagans or cultured Greek philosophers. Reports of his resurrection resound throughout Acts.

To those who heard, the message sounded like the first note of music to people born deaf. It was not long before five thousand believed (see Acts 4:4), then a large number of priests (seeActs 6:7) and later, many thousands of Jews (see Acts 21:20). The scanty band of followers Jesus had left behind was soon organizing and electing officers to handle the needs of a growing church.

Acts follows the core of leaders from place to place, as a remarkable drama unfolds. A few men, mostly unlearned, were setting into motion a worldwide outreach that would ultimately reshape civilization. A revolution was underway, but not one with weapons. This one was powered by the work of God in simple men who had seen a miracle. As Peter said, "We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20).

Life Question

The disciples led mass conversions to Christ. What made them such effective spokesmen?

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Day 36

Jesus died and was buried on Friday. The next day was the Jewish Sabbath, and a guard was posted to prevent any tampering with the body. Then on the first day of the week, Sunday, those who mourned Jesus came to pay their respects.

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

After Jesus dies, why did some of his followers come to the tomb? What does this tell you about friendship and loyalty among Jesus' companions?

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Today's Lent reading: John 5-6 (NIV)

View today's Lent reading on Bible Gateway
The Healing at the Pool

1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. [4] 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”

11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”

12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”

13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.

14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.

The Authority of the Son

16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

Testimonies About Jesus

31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true.

33 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.

36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

41 “I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

John 6

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

1 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.

5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

Jesus Walks on the Water

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake,17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough.19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.

22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.

Jesus the Bread of Life

25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

Many Disciples Desert Jesus

60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)

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Today's Prayer

O Almighty God, who alone can order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men: help us to love what you command, and desire what you promise. Among the world's many distractions, may our hearts be surely fixed where true joy is found, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. -adapted from the Book of Common Prayer

Today's Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34

31 "The days are coming," declares the LORD,
"when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,"
declares the LORD.
33 "This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time," declares the LORD.
"I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, 'Know the LORD,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,"
declares the LORD.
"For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more."

Today's Quote

"I slew him--this right hand struck the dagger to his heart. My deeds slew Christ. Alas! I slew my best beloved; I killed him who loved me with an everlasting love. Oh eyes, why do you refuse to weep when you see Jesus' body mangled and torn? Give vent to your sorrow, Christians, for you have good reason to do so." - adapted from "The Tomb of Jesus" by Charles Spurgeon

Something to Think About

The Spurgeon quote above echoes the sentiments of the famous Easter hymn "Ah, Holy Jesus" in claiming that we, today, bear responsibility for Jesus' death. Is this true? How so?

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