Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Daily Devotional Tuesday 13th March

“Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”2 Peter 1:4 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Why sit we here until we die?" 2 Kings 7:3

Dear reader, this little book was mainly intended for the edification of believers, but if you are yet unsaved, our heart yearns over you: and we would fain say a word which may be blessed to you. Open your Bible, and read the story of the lepers, and mark their position, which was much the same as yours. If you remain where you are you must perish; if you go to Jesus you can but die. "Nothing venture, nothing win," is the old proverb, and in your case the venture is no great one. If you sit still in sullen despair, no one can pity you when your ruin comes; but if you die with mercy sought, if such a thing were possible, you would be the object of universal sympathy. None escape who refuse to look to Jesus; but you know that, at any rate, some are saved who believe in him, for certain of your own acquaintances have received mercy: then why not you? The Ninevites said, "Who can tell?" Act upon the same hope, and try the Lord's mercy. To perish is so awful, that if there were but a straw to catch at, the instinct of self-preservation should lead you to stretch out your hand. We have thus been talking to you on your own unbelieving ground, we would now assure you, as from the Lord, that if you seek him he will be found of you. Jesus casts out none who come unto him. You shall not perish if you trust him; on the contrary, you shall find treasure far richer than the poor lepers gathered in Syria's deserted camp. May the Holy Spirit embolden you to go at once, and you shall not believe in vain. When you are saved yourself, publish the good news to others. Hold not your peace; tell the King's household first, and unite with them in fellowship; let the porter of the city, the minister, be informed of your discovery, and then proclaim the good news in every place. The Lord save thee ere the sun goes down this day.

Evening

"Then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark." Genesis 8:9

Wearied out with her wanderings, the dove returns at length to the ark as her only resting place. How heavily she flies--she will drop--she will never reach the ark! But she struggles on. Noah has been looking out for his dove all day long, and is ready to receive her. She has just strength to reach the edge of the ark, she can hardly alight upon it, and is ready to drop, when Noah puts forth his hand and pulls her in unto him. Mark that: "pulled her in unto him." She did not fly right in herself, but was too fearful, or too weary to do so. She flew as far as she could, and then he put forth his hand and pulled her in unto him. This act of mercy was shown to the wandering dove, and she was not chidden for her wanderings. Just as she was she was pulled into the ark. So you, seeking sinner, with all your sin, will be received. "Only return"--those are God's two gracious words--"only return." What! nothing else? No, "only return." She had no olive branch in her mouth this time, nothing at all but just herself and her wanderings; but it is "only return," and she does return, and Noah pulls her in. Fly, thou wanderer; fly thou fainting one, dove as thou art, though thou thinkest thyself to be black as the raven with the mire of sin, back, back to the Saviour. Every moment thou waitest does but increase thy misery; thine attempts to plume thyself and make thyself fit for Jesus are all vanity. Come thou to him just as thou art. "Return, thou backsliding Israel." He does not say, "Return, thou repenting Israel" (there is such an invitation doubtless), but "thou backsliding one," as a backslider with all thy backslidings about thee, Return, return, return! Jesus is waiting for thee! He will stretch forth his hand and "pull thee in"--in to himself, thy heart's true home.

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Today's reading: Deuteronomy 16-18, Mark 13:1-20 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
The Passover

1 Observe the month of Aviv and celebrate the Passover of the LORD your God, because in the month of Aviv he brought you out of Egypt by night. 2 Sacrifice as the Passover to the LORD your God an animal from your flock or herd at the place the LORD will choose as a dwelling for his Name. 3 Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Egypt in haste-so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt. 4 Let no yeast be found in your possession in all your land for seven days. Do not let any of the meat you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain until morning.

5 You must not sacrifice the Passover in any town the LORD your God gives you 6 except in the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name. There you must sacrifice the Passover in the evening, when the sun goes down, on the anniversary of your departure from Egypt. 7 Roast it and eat it at the place the LORD your God will choose. Then in the morning return to your tents. 8 For six days eat unleavened bread and on the seventh day hold an assembly to the LORD your God and do no work.

The Festival of Weeks

9 Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. 10 Then celebrate the Festival of Weeks to the LORD your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the LORD your God has given you.11 And rejoice before the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name-you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites in your towns, and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows living among you. 12 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and follow carefully these decrees.

The Festival of Tabernacles

13 Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. 14 Be joyful at your festival-you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. 15 For seven days celebrate the festival to the LORD your God at the place the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.

16 Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the LORD empty-handed: 17 Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you.

Judges

18 Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the LORD your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. 19 Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent. 20 Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the LORD your God is giving you.

Worshiping Other Gods

21 Do not set up any wooden Asherah pole beside the altar you build to the LORD your God, 22 and do not erect a sacred stone, for these the LORD your God hates.

Deuteronomy 17

1 Do not sacrifice to the LORD your God an ox or a sheep that has any defect or flaw in it, for that would be detestable to him.

2 If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the LORD gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God in violation of his covenant, 3 and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars in the sky, 4 and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, 5 take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death. 6 On the testimony of two or three witnesses a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. 7 The hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting that person to death, and then the hands of all the people. You must purge the evil from among you.

Law Courts

8 If cases come before your courts that are too difficult for you to judge-whether bloodshed, lawsuits or assaults-take them to the place the LORD your God will choose. 9 Go to the Levitical priests and to the judge who is in office at that time. Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict. 10 You must act according to the decisions they give you at the place the LORD will choose. Be careful to do everything they instruct you to do. 11 Act according to whatever they teach you and the decisions they give you. Do not turn aside from what they tell you, to the right or to the left. 12 Anyone who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to the LORD your God is to be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel. 13 All the people will hear and be afraid, and will not be contemptuous again.

The King

14 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, "Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us," 15 be sure to appoint over you a king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from among your fellow Israelites. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not an Israelite. 16 The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, "You are not to go back that way again." 17He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.

18 When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20 and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.

Deuteronomy 18

Offerings for Priests and Levites

1 The Levitical priests-indeed, the whole tribe of Levi-are to have no allotment or inheritance with Israel. They shall live on the food offerings presented to the LORD, for that is their inheritance. 2 They shall have no inheritance among their fellow Israelites; the LORD is their inheritance, as he promised them.

3 This is the share due the priests from the people who sacrifice a bull or a sheep: the shoulder, the internal organs and the meat from the head. 4 You are to give them the firstfruits of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the first wool from the shearing of your sheep, 5 for the LORD your God has chosen them and their descendants out of all your tribes to stand and minister in the LORD's name always.

6 If a Levite moves from one of your towns anywhere in Israel where he is living, and comes in all earnestness to the place the LORD will choose, 7 he may minister in the name of the LORD his God like all his fellow Levites who serve there in the presence of the LORD. 8 He is to share equally in their benefits, even though he has received money from the sale of family possessions.

Occult Practices

9 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there.10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD; because of these same detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. 13 You must be blameless before the LORD your God.

The Prophet

14 The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so. 15 The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. 16 For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, "Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die."

17 The LORD said to me: "What they say is good. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. 19 I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name. 20 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death."

21 You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?" 22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed.


Mark 13

The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times

1 As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!"

2 "Do you see all these great buildings?" replied Jesus. "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4"Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?"

5 Jesus said to them: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 6Many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

9 "You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

12 "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

14 "When you see 'the abomination that causes desolation' standing where it does not belong-let the reader understand-then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 17 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18 Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now-and never to be equaled again.

20 "If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them.

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Eunice

The Woman Whose Son Became a Famous Evangelist

Scripture ReferencesActs 16:1-3; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14, 15; 4:5

Name meaning—Eunice implies “conquering well,” and was a name expressive of a good or happy victory, and in its origin doubtless commemorated some such event.Nice or “nike” was a favorite ending of female names in the Macedonian age. Eunice lived up to her name for she conquered in the effort to bring up her son in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Family Connections—Eunice was the daughter of Lois whose name is of Greek origin. Scripture is silent as to the identity of her father. A Jewess, Eunice married a Gentile, and as nothing is said of him it can be assumed that he was dead by the time Paul contacted the family.

The commanding feature of the Scriptural record of Eunice and her mother is their religious influence upon Timothy who, from childhood days had known the Scriptures ( 2 Timothy 3:14, 15). These two godly women had trained him up in the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6). How gratified they must have been when Timothy set out to do the work of an evangelist! ( 2 Timothy 4:5). His name, Timothy, means “one who fears God,” and must have been chosen by his Jewish mother, and not by his Gentile father who probably had little leaning Godward. Evidence seems to point to the contention that Lois, Eunice and Timothy were won to Christ by Paul on an earlier visit to Lystra where the family lived (Acts 14:6, 7 ). Although Lois and her daughter were Jewesses and well-versed in Old Testament Scriptures, and taught the child Timothy the same, it was Paul who brought them to see that the One who died upon the cross to save sinners was the long-promised Messiah. That the Apostle led Timothy to Christ is proven by the way Paul speaks of him as his “beloved son” and his “son in the faith.” How grateful to God Eunice must have been when Paul chose her much-loved son to be his companion in his evangelistic work! How she would appreciate the word of Solomon, “She that bare thee shall rejoice” ( Proverbs 23:25).

Hereditary piety and personal faith are implied in Paul’s reference to the unfeigned faith which first dwelt in Timothy’s grandmother, Lois, then in his mother, Eunice, and then in himself also. While one parent’s faith can sanctify a child (1 Corinthians 7:14 ), it is a personal faith in Christ that saves the soul. Notice is taken of the faith of Timothy’s mother, but not of his father. After Paul’s reference to Lois and Eunice in his second epistle to Timothy, they are not mentioned again. There may be a veiled reference to them, however, in what Paul had to say about widows and the children of widows (1 Timothy 5:4,5).

The important feature we glean from the record of Timothy is that of the value of a positive Christian training in the home. Paul seems to be saying to Timothy in effect, “That you have always been schooled in the Scriptures represents an inestimable grace, for which you ought always to thank your God.” We can be sure that Timothy constantly praised God for a home wherein His honor dwelt. Augustine always confessed the debt he owed to his saintly mother, Monica. Not all children have godly parents and the safeguard of a Christian home, but those born into a home where Christ is its Head are privileged and grow up to bless God for their spiritual heritage. Alas, the heartache of godly parents is to have a child or children who, as they come to the age of accountability, spurn the Christian influences of the home created for them!

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Zaccur, Zacchur [Zăc'cur,Zăc'chur]—well remembered, pure.

  1. A Reubenite, father of Shammua, one of the spies sent out by Moses (Num. 13:4).
  2. A Simeonite, son of Hamuel and father of Shimei (1 Chron. 4:26).
  3. A Merarite Levite, a son of Jaaziah (1 Chron. 24:27).
  4. A son of Asaph and father of Michaiah. Also head of a course of musicians set up by David (1 Chron. 25:2, 10;Neh. 12:35).
  5. A son of Imri , who rebuilt part of the wall after Nehemiah came from Shushan (Neh. 3:2).
  6. A Levite who sealed the covenant (Neh. 10:12).
  7. A son of Mattaniah and father of Hanan (Neh. 13:13).
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Asking, Seeking, Knocking

Matthew 7:7-11 "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" ( v. 11).

Dr. Sinclair Ferguson says, "Knowing God as judge has a sanctifying and restraining effect on our lives" (The Sermon on the Mount, p. 150). In other words, reflecting on God's perfect holiness drives us to recognize our own sin and deal with it before we judge others (Matt. 7:1-5 ). We begin to see who we are - depraved men and women who cannot merit the Lord's forgiveness. This helps us to be merciful. If our Father in His infinite goodness can pardon us, surely we sinners can forgive others.

However, we still often find it hard to show mercy even when we know the Lord's character. We still need wisdom to distinguish between those who will mock the Gospel and those who will not trample upon the good news (v. 6 ). Moreover, we are in desperate need of God's help in order that we might live up to the high calling throughout the Sermon on the Mount to be salt and light (5:13-16), obey the law of Christ in heart and deed (vv. 21-48), abstain from hypocrisy (6:1-18), and serve the Lord wholeheartedly ( vv. 19-34).

This need is the reason why our Savior returns to the subject of prayer in today's passage. Living in conformity to His way is impossible if we attempt to do it in our own power. But if we persevere in prayer, seeking to be empowered by the Spirit to obey Christ with gladness, God will enable us to be faithful to His call (7:7-8 ). Our Father is generous and kind. He will not trick us and give us a stone that looks like bread when it is bread that we need, and He will not give us a snake if we need fish (vv. 9-10, some Galilean fish look like serpents). Our Creator will give us all the spiritual and physical resources we need to serve Him if we ask Him in faith (Mark 11:22-24).

Jesus' teaching in Matthew 7:7-11 does not assure us that we will get everything we want, only whatever we need. We are often unable to tell the differences between these things, but God does not have this problem. If we do not get what we ask for, let us therefore not think He has forgotten us. As John Calvin writes: "We must not think that he takes no notice of us, when he does not answer our wishes: for he has a right to distinguish what we actually need."

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

We persevere in prayer knowing that our Father in His goodness will never withhold from us what we really need. We also need to recall, Matthew Henry says, that "we often ask that of God which would do us harm if we had it; he knows this, and therefore does not give it to us." When the Lord does not give us what we want, let us remember that it is probably because what we want would be harmful to us. Even God's "no" to us is evidence of His great love for us.

For further study:

Genesis 18:22-33

The Bible in a year:

Deuteronomy 34

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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March 12, 2012
The Lesson of the Missing "B"
Mary Southerland

Today's Truth
Romans 12:5 "So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another."

Friend to Friend
Sometimes it is the little things that really get to me. As a writer, I spend a great deal of my time in front of a computer – with which I have a love-hate relationship. I love the convenience a computer offers when it comes to recording the thoughts and truths God gives me to share, but there are times when I would like to throw my laptop into the nearest body of water and be done with it. I can remember the days when I literally wrote out every word of a lesson or devotion because I was terrified of even trying to use a computer. I am anything but a technical guru and could see hundreds – no, make that thousands of hours of work disappearing into some hidden file, going up in virtual flames or being launched into cyberspace, never to be seen again. Why? Just because I hit one wrong key or pressed an incorrect button. However, the day finally came when I realized that the good reasons for using a computer outweigh the bad and decided it was time to take the plunge.

Through trial and error, and the patience of friends who have repeatedly rescued me from more than one cyber disaster, I have evolved into a fairly capable computer operator. I have retrieved lost chapters and lessons, eradicated various viruses, erected firewalls, foiled hackers … and have come through the fray relatively unscathed.

And then it happened.

I was returning home from a speaking event and decided to use the three hour flight time to work on a writing assignment due the next day. It was one of those unusually sweet and highly productive times when the words come easily and eventually form sentences that actually make sense. I was on a roll – and so was my laptop when the plane suddenly hit an air pocket and dropped what seemed like a mile. I watched in horror as my laptop caught air, crashed to the floor of the plane and slid under the seat in front of me. Fortunately, I had saved my work and desperately hoped the laptop had not been damaged in its fall. When the plane and everyone on board regained their composure, I quickly retrieved the computer and breathed a sigh of relief after a quick inspection that revealed a couple of new, but minor, scratches.

I opened the computer, ready to resume my work. But then I saw it, the now empty space where the "B" key was supposed to be. Evidently, it had popped off in the fall and was nowhere to be found. I wasn't too concerned. I mean, after all, how important is one little key? There are plenty of other keys from which to choose. They all look pretty much the same. A missing letter or symbol here or there can't be that much of a problem, can it?

As I began my work, I soon discovered just how much of a problem one little missing computer key can be. All of a sudden, it seemed like every other word I needed contained a "B." My frustration level rose as my finger instinctively kept hitting the spot where the "B" was supposed to be and found … nothing. Finally, I decided I really needed that key and went looking for it. The passengers around me joined in the search, and it was only a few minutes before the person seated in front of me shouted "Got it!" I snapped the missing "B" back into place. In a matter of minutes, I was amazed at how much better the whole keyboard seemed to function now that the lost key was back where it should be.

We all lose our way at one time or another. An unexpected life storm knocks us flat. A bad choice causes us to stumble and fall. We snap under the pressure of a difficult relationship, and no one seems to care or even notice the pain we feel. But then, like a Shepherd searching for that one lost sheep, God turns to us and hears our cry. He lifts us out of the darkness, gives us a safe place to stand and fills our heart with a new song of praise. And He uses people to do it all. In fact, God delights in using people to reach out and minister to other people who are wounded and lost.

God created us to need each other. We are daughters of the King, sisters in Christ and Girlfriends in God. When one hurts, all of us should feel the pain. When one of us has fallen, we need to reach out, link arms and hold on until the storm has passed. Who needs your love and encouragement? Remember the lesson of the missing "B" and ask God to love others through you … today.

Let's Pray
Father, I know You want me to share the love I have found in You. Forgive me for the many times I have been too busy to see the needs around me. Break my heart for those who are in pain and feel hopeless. Encourage them through me, Lord. Fill my heart with Your love so that I can give it away.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.

Now It's Your Turn
Read Galatians 5:22-23. "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."

Make a list of the attributes listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Beside each one, write the name of someone who needs you to live out that quality in their life. Here are a few examples to help you get started:

Love: Jane - my neighbor who is struggling with her teenage son
Joy: Sally - my friend who has just discovered she has breast cancer
Peace: Linda - my friend's sister who is going through a divorce

Make a specific plan for meeting each need. (I will take Jane to lunch.)
Put a time limit on it. (I will take Jane to lunch on Thursday.)
Record your experience in your journal.

More from the Girlfriends
Gwen, Sharon and I were recently able to get together for some long overdue girlfriend time. Yes, we had a total blast! But as we talked and shared, we all had the same burden – to tell you that God really does love you! We want you to know that we love you so much, but that God loves you more!

God's truth is for today. Every time we hear the Word of God, we are then responsible for applying its message. I wonder what would happen if we, as Girlfriends in God, put into action the truth we already know. I have a challenge for us all. This week, let's be "God with skin on" to the people who cross our path each day. That includes that nosy neighbor, irritating boss, difficult child … as well as our best friend.

I would love to hear what God does through you this week because you were willing to step out in obedience. Email me at: mary@marysoutherland.com.

Need help? Beat stress to the punch by getting Mary's book, Escaping the Stress Trap today!

Check out Mary's FREE MPs or visit her online store for great deals on books, CDs,
E-Bible Studies and her DVD, Strength for the Storm.

Join women from across the world in Mary's Online Bible Study, Light for the Journey. The current topic is "When I Am Afraid" and will help you learn how to face and deal with your fears and live a life of victory.

Need a friend? Connect with me on Facebook or through email. Let's talk!

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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Asking, Seeking, Knocking

Matthew 7:7-11

We persevere in prayer knowing that our Father in His goodness will never withhold from us what we really need. We also need to recall, Matthew Henry says, that "we often ask that of God which would do us harm if we had it; he knows this, and therefore does not give it to us." When the Lord does not give us what we want, let us remember that it is probably because what we want would be harmful to us. Even God's "no" to us is evidence of His great love for us.

For further study:

Genesis 18:22-33

The Bible in a year:

Deuteronomy 34

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

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

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Election and holiness

“Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.” Deuteronomy 10:14-16

Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 45:1-13

Preaching a few months ago in the midst of a large congregation of Methodists, the brethren were all alive, giving all kinds of answers to my sermon, nodding their heads and crying,“Amen!” “Hallelujah!” “Glory be to God!” and the like. They completely woke me up. My spirit was stirred, and I preached away with an unusual force and vigour; and the more I preached the more they cried, “Amen!” “Hallelujah!” “Glory be to God!” At last, a part of text led me to what is styled high doctrine. So I said, this brings me to the doctrine of election. There was a deep drawing of breath. “Now, my friends, you believe it;” they seemed to say “No, we don’t.” But you do, and I will make you sing “Hallelujah!” over it. I will so preach it to you that you will acknowledge it and believe it. So I put it thus: Is there no difference between you and other men? “Yes, yes; glory be to God, glory!” There is a difference between what you were and what you are now? “Oh, yes! oh, yes!” There is sitting by your side a man who has been to the same chapel as you have, heard the same gospel, he is unconverted, and you are converted. Who has made the difference, yourself or God? “The Lord!” said they, “the Lord! Glory! Hallelujah!” Yes, cried I, and that is the doctrine of election; that is all I contend for, that if there is a difference the Lord makes the difference. Some good man came up to me and said, “Thou’rt right, lad! thou’rt right. I believe thy doctrine of election; I do not believe it as it is preached by some people, but I believe that we must give the glory to God; we must put the crown on the right head.”

For meditation: The doctrines of God give God all the glory. The doctrines of man seek to steal some of God’s glory to give to man instead (Isaiah 42:6-8).

Sermon no. 303
12 March (Preached 11 March 1860)

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The golden key of prayer

‘Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.’ Jeremiah 33:3

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 26:36–46

Remember that prayer is always to be offered in submission to God’s will; that when we say, God hears prayer, we do not intend by that, that he always gives us literally what we ask for. We do mean, however, this, that he gives us what is best for us; and that if he does not give us the mercy we ask for in silver, he bestows it upon us in gold. If he does not take away the thorn in the flesh, yet he says, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee,’ and that comes to the same in the end. Lord Bolingbroke said to the Countess of Huntingdon, ‘I cannot understand, your ladyship, how you can make out earnest prayer to be consistent with submission to the divine will.’ ‘My lord,’ she said, ‘that is a matter of no difficulty. If I were a courtier of some generous king, and he gave me permission to ask any favour I pleased of him, I should be sure to put it thus, ‘Will your majesty be graciously pleased to grant me such-and-such a favour; but at the same time though I very much desire it, if it would in any way detract from your majesty’s honour, or if in your majesty’s judgment it should seem better that I did not have this favour, I shall be quite as content to go without it as to receive it.’ So you see I might earnestly offer a petition, and yet I might submissively leave it in the king’s hands.’ So with God. We never offer up prayer without inserting that clause, either in spirit or in words, ‘Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt; not my will but thine be done.’ We can only pray without an ‘if’ when we are quite sure that our will must be God’s will, because God’s will is fully our will.

For meditation: Prayer is not a weapon for forcing God to come into line with our demands, but a gracious means of communication by which we can seek his will and express our willingness to play our part in furthering it (1 John 5:14–15).

Sermon no. 619
12 March (1865)

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T. Suzanne Eller

March 12, 2012

If Only
T. Suzanne Eller

"But godliness with contentment is great gain." 1 Timothy 6:6 (NIV)

Have you ever lived in the land of the "if onlys"?

If only I had more money, then things would be easier.

If only I lost 10 pounds, then I'd be happier.

If only they'd recognize my talent, then I'd feel more appreciated.

Not too long ago my husband and I were praying about his career. Not only did the answer not come, but every door shut that we thought would open easily. As time passed I started listing my "if onlys."

If only we had clear direction.

If only we could begin that dream God placed in our hearts.

If only, if only, if only ...

Soon those unspoken words steered my thought life. They crept into my prayer time. They tiptoed into my relationship with my husband.

One day these words from King's Cross by Timothy Keller leaped from the page:

The Bible says that our real problem is that every one of us is building our identity on something besides Jesus. Whether it's to succeed in our chosen field or to have a certain relationship-or even to get up and walk-we're saying, "If I have that, if I get my deepest wish, then everything will be okay.

Suddenly I saw myself. My deepest wish had shifted. Where once I longed for God, now my thought life and actions revolved around what I didn't have. What I couldn't control.

That night I confessed to my husband that I had not only moved into the land of the "if onlys" but had anchored there. I promised that instead of focusing on what wasn't taking place, I would began to treasure what I did have.

Today we have food. We have shelter. Our home is warm. Thank You for that gift, Father.

Today I hold a grandbaby in my arms. See her precious smile? I delight in that, Lord.

Today I sit in the living room and laugh with my husband. Thank You for joy.

Today and everyday I am Yours, Jesus. You are more than enough.

Godly contentment isn't passive, but an active faith that says God is enough. You and I are okay because our deepest wish doesn't revolve around losing 10 pounds, our career, another person, or whether we're noticed for our efforts.

Are you living in the land of the "if onlys"? If so, are you willing to change your deepest wish from the "if only" to focusing on what you have and thanking God for it?

Dear Lord, I trust that You are enough and You are good. You are my sufficiency. I find my identity and joy in You. 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 more about considering Suzie Eller as your next retreat / key note speaker.

Visit Suzie's blog for a fun giveaway and to take a deeper look at finding contentment in the "wait."

Jesus Calling: Finding Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young

Join Suzie in her Live Free Facebook community to find daily encouragement on how to live free.

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We wish we could, but we simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you!

Reflect and Respond:
"The remarkable thing is, we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day." Chuck Swindoll.

What is your "if only?" How much time and energy do you devote to it? What is one choice you can make today that will shift your perspective from the "if only" to God?

Power Verses:
Matthew 6:33, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (NIV)

Matthew 6:34, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (NIV)

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

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

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Skills: Stewardship

READ MATTHEW 25:14–30

Consider for a moment that everyone on earth has the same amount of time in every day. President or paper boy, housewife or executive, farmer or financier—they all have exactly twenty-four hours in each day.

What differentiates people isn’t the amount of time available to them but the manner in which they exercise their gifts and talents within the available time. That’s what stewardship is about: faithfully developing and using our gifts, talents and resources within the amount of time God has allotted to us.

Within every stewardship relationship there are two parties involved: the master who hands out the resources and will one day ask for an accounting; and the steward who is entrusted with the resources and must eventually answer for how they were invested. When Jesus taught about his second coming, he drove home one important lesson: Only faithful stewards will be prepared for his return. The parable he used to make this point involved three servants who each received a sum of money from his master before that master departed on a long journey. Upon his return the master discovered that two of the servants had invested the money and that one had buried it.

When the servant who had buried the money began offering excuses, the master refused to accept them. Instead, he rebuked the lazy servant and punished him severely. Meanwhile, the faithful servants enjoyed the rewards they had received for their diligent labor. Leaders are stewards. They manage multiple resources because they direct others in using their own resources. Reread Matthew 25:14–30 and consider ways of investing the multiple resources God has placed under your trust.

Stewardship and Who God Is

God has no needs, and he did not create the cosmos because he was lonely or bored. Instead, the created order is the overflow of the fountain of love that has always existed within the triune Godhead. As stewards, we participate in a world that derives its being and sustenance from the infinite, personal Creator. Turn to Psalm 104:1–35 for an inspired poetic meditation on the wonders of God’s world.

This Week's Verse to Memorize 2 CHRONICLES 1:8–10

Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. Now, LORD God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

Stewardship and Who I Am

God has entrusted to us the dignity and responsibility of being stewards of the resources and creatures of this planet. When we shape, refine and creatively utilize the minerals, plants and animals that God has placed at our disposal, we are accountable for the results. Turn to Genesis 1:28–30 to review the mandate that was originally given to the man and woman before their fall.

Stewardship and How It Works

Stewards are expected to realize the maximum possible return on the resources which the master has entrusted to their care. In preparing his followers to be steward-leaders, Jesus told a parable that really caught their attention. It appeared to some that the great ethical teacher was promoting dishonesty! Read Luke 16:1–9 and reflect on the implications of this passage for our leadership roles as God’s stewards.

Stewardship and What I Do

In Genesis 39:1—41:57 Joseph provides us with a classic example of stewardship. Regardless of his circumstances, he utilized the resources available to him for great good. But which resource is most important to a steward?


jesusexperimentpaddedhandbookleadership150Handbook to Leadership: Leadership in the Image of God
by Kenneth Boa
Buy the Handbook!
The Handbook to Leadership includes: 52-Week Leadership Guide, Topical Leadership Guide, Leadership Character Studies, and Books of the Bible Leadership Guide.


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NIV Devotions for Moms

“Daniel” Women

Daniel 1

Additional Scripture Readings: Leviticus 20:26; 1 Peter 5:10

A friend is having an affair. A neighbor stretches the truth on an insurance claim. A loved one swears in front of the children. Sins of all kinds are all around us-and inside us. How can we break free from them and be distinctive people in Christ?

Daniel disregarded the popular beliefs of his day and lived instead by God's standards.

The "Daniel" woman doesn't walk out on her husband. She doesn't hang up on her mother. She doesn't ignore the needs of her neighbor. She doesn't insist on playing the game of life by her own rules, but rather chooses to play consistently, obediently, sometimes even painfully, by God's design. She stays committed to those around her. She recognizes and respects the bonds of a pledge, whether to a husband, a child or her God.

In our day, avoiding consequences and ignoring promises are all too common, but the woman who stands by her commitment and fights for healthy relationships is a "Daniel" woman: a distinctive person in Christ.

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From Despair to Hope

Psalm 42:1-11

Throughout the day, many thoughts flow through our minds-from what we will cook for dinner to wondering if our friend's struggling marriage will survive. In the midst of our thinking, an undercurrent of despair can creep in while we watch the nightly news, hear of a cancer diagnosis, sort out a misunderstanding or deal with whatever we're facing that day.

Exiled north to Jordan and overflowing with a longing to return to Jerusalem, the psalmist voiced his deep sadness. Rather than denying or minimizing his pain, he clearly identified his sorrow and proclaimed his thirst for God.

Then what? The psalmist spoke to his soul! Was he mad? Did he have a personality disorder? No! He practiced the secret to overcoming hopelessness-the hopelessness that can trickle into our hearts and minds until we find ourselves in the rushing current, tumbling toward a waterfall of despair. Three times in Psalms 42 and 43, the psalmist admonishes his soul to "hope in God, for I will yet praise him!"

The psalmist encouraged his soul to praise God-in other words, to acknowledge, affirm and adore God's character, even when he was feeling downcast in spirit or disturbed in heart. Our souls need similar encouragement. When we choose to dwell upon God's character, we always have something to praise him about: his loving-kindness, goodness, power, faithfulness and mercy. If we want to bolster our souls with hope, we can start by filling our mouths with praise. When we choose to dwell on God's light and truth, our souls can overflow with the comfort of being guided by God (see Psalm 43:3 ). When we choose to live close to God's heart, we overflow with delight and joy (see verse 4).

If you are submerged in pain, sorrow, despair or confusion, maybe you need to give your soul a good talking to. What will you say?

Reflection

  1. What thoughts are threatening to overflow and leave you feeling hopeless?
  2. What words does your soul need to hear right now?
  3. What are some specific reasons why you can hope in God? Spend some time meditating on God's loving-kindness, goodness, power, faithfulness and mercy. Practice sitting quietly in his presence.

Psalm 42:5
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Related Readings

Psalm 27:13-14; 43:1-5; 84:1-12; Hebrews 6:13-20

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Day 20

Jesus commissioned his closest followers, the 12 disciples, to spread out and tell people that the kingdom of God had come. He also gave them spiritual authority to heal people from sickness and demonic oppression.

This first band of preachers was sent out with almost no supplies in order to learn about faith and prayer. God performed many miracles through them, adding to the mounting excitement among the populace. A top official also heard the reports . . . filtered through his guilty conscience.

King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”

Others said, “He is Elijah.”

And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.”

But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!”

For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.

Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests.

The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” And he promised her with an oath, “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.”

She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?”

“The head of John the Baptist,” she answered.

At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”

The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

How would you have felt if you were one of Jesus' disciples witnessing his miracles?

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Today's Lent reading: Mark 13-14 (NIV)

View today's Lent reading on Bible Gateway
The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times

1 As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4“Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

9 “You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

12 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

14 “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 17 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18 Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.

20 “If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. 21 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

24 “But in those days, following that distress,

“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
25 the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

28 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

The Day and Hour Unknown

32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

Mark 14

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

1 Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.”

3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

The Last Supper

12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

13 So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

16 The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

17 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”

19 They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?”

20 “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:

“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’

28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”

30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

Gethsemane

32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.

41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Jesus Arrested

43 Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.

44 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

48 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then everyone deserted him and fled.

51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52 he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.

Jesus Before the Sanhedrin

53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together.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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Lent=Devotions-Header
Today's Prayer

Almighty God, who sees that we have no power ourselves to help ourselves: protect us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls. Defend us both from harm to the body and from evil thoughts which assault and hurt the soul. Do this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. -- adapted from the Book of Common Prayer

Today's Scripture Reading: Romans 7:13-25

13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Today's Quote

"Now He is led forth to death, carrying His Cross. O what a spectacle is this! Do you see it? Lo, the government is upon His shoulders. See, here is His rod of equity, His rod of empire. Wine mingled with gall is given Him to drink. He is striped of His garments, which are divided among the soldiers; but His tunic is not rent, but passes by lot to one of them. His dear hands and feet are bored with nails; and He, stretched on the Cross, is hung up between thieves. Of God and men the Mediator, He hangs in the midst between heaven and earth; joining lowest things and highest, earthly things and heavenly; and heaven is bewildered, and earth condoles.

"And what of you? No wonder if, while the sun mourns, you mourn also; if, while the earth shakes, you tremble; if, while rocks rend, your heart is torn; if, while the women beside the Cross are all in tears, you cry aloud with them." -- Anselm of Canterbury, Meditation #84

Something to Think About

What do you think it means to be a spiritual "slave" to something? What has enslaved your spirit in the past? Whose slave are you now?

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