Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Daily Devotional Tuesday 27th March

“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him,” Philippians 1:29 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Then all the disciples forsook him and fled."
Matthew 26:56

He never deserted them, but they in cowardly fear of their lives, fled from him in the very beginning of his sufferings. This is but one instructive instance of the frailty of all believers if left to themselves; they are but sheep at the best, and they flee when the wolf cometh. They had all been warned of the danger, and had promised to die rather than leave their Master; and yet they were seized with sudden panic, and took to their heels. It may be, that I, at the opening of this day, have braced up my mind to bear a trial for the Lord's sake, and I imagine myself to be certain to exhibit perfect fidelity; but let me be very jealous of myself, lest having the same evil heart of unbelief, I should depart from my Lord as the apostles did. It is one thing to promise, and quite another to perform. It would have been to their eternal honour to have stood at Jesus' side right manfully; they fled from honour; may I be kept from imitating them! Where else could they have been so safe as near their Master, who could presently call for twelve legions of angels? They fled from their true safety. O God, let me not play the fool also. Divine grace can make the coward brave. The smoking flax can flame forth like fire on the altar when the Lord wills it. These very apostles who were timid as hares, grew to be bold as lions after the Spirit had descended upon them, and even so the Holy Spirit can make my recreant spirit brave to confess my Lord and witness for his truth.

What anguish must have filled the Saviour as he saw his friends so faithless! This was one bitter ingredient in his cup; but that cup is drained dry; let me not put another drop in it. If I forsake my Lord, I shall crucify him afresh, and put him to an open shame. Keep me, O blessed Spirit, from an end so shameful.

Evening

"And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table."
Matthew 15:27

This woman gained comfort in her misery by thinking great thoughts of Christ. The Master had talked about the children's bread: "Now," argued she, "since thou art the Master of the table of grace, I know that thou art a generous housekeeper, and there is sure to be abundance of bread on thy table; there will be such an abundance for the children that there will be crumbs to throw on the floor for the dogs, and the children will fare none the worse because the dogs are fed." She thought him one who kept so good a table that all that she needed would only be a crumb in comparison; yet remember, what she wanted was to have the devil cast out of her daughter. It was a very great thing to her, but she had such a high esteem of Christ, that she said, "It is nothing to him, it is but a crumb for Christ to give." This is the royal road to comfort. Great thoughts of your sin alone will drive you to despair; but great thoughts of Christ will pilot you into the haven of peace. "My sins are many, but oh! it is nothing to Jesus to take them all away. The weight of my guilt presses me down as a giant's foot would crush a worm, but it is no more than a grain of dust to him, because he has already borne its curse in his own body on the tree. It will be but a small thing for him to give me full remission, although it will be an infinite blessing for me to receive it." The woman opens her soul's mouth very wide, expecting great things of Jesus, and he fills it with his love. Dear reader, do the same. She confessed what Christ laid at her door, but she laid fast hold upon him, and drew arguments even out of his hard words; she believed great things of him, and she thus overcame him. She won the victory by believing in Him. Her case is an instance of prevailing faith; and if we would conquer like her, we must imitate her tactics.

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Today's reading: Joshua 22-24, Luke 3 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Eastern Tribes Return Home

1 Then Joshua summoned the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh 2 and said to them, “You have done all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded, and you have obeyed me in everything I commanded. 3 For a long time now—to this very day—you have not deserted your fellow Israelites but have carried out the mission the LORD your God gave you. 4 Now that the LORD your God has given them rest as he promised, return to your homes in the land that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you on the other side of the Jordan. 5 But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

6 Then Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their homes. 7 (To the half-tribe of Manasseh Moses had given land in Bashan, and to the other half of the tribe Joshua gave land on the west side of the Jordan along with their fellow Israelites.) When Joshua sent them home, he blessed them, 8 saying, “Return to your homes with your great wealth—with large herds of livestock, with silver, gold, bronze and iron, and a great quantity of clothing—and divide the plunder from your enemies with your fellow Israelites.”

9 So the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh left the Israelites at Shiloh in Canaan to return to Gilead, their own land, which they had acquired in accordance with the command of the LORD through Moses.

10 When they came to Geliloth near the Jordan in the land of Canaan, the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh built an imposing altar there by the Jordan. 11 And when the Israelites heard that they had built the altar on the border of Canaan at Geliloth near the Jordan on the Israelite side, 12 the whole assembly of Israel gathered at Shiloh to go to war against them.

13 So the Israelites sent Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, to the land of Gilead—to Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh. 14 With him they sent ten of the chief men, one from each of the tribes of Israel, each the head of a family division among the Israelite clans.

15 When they went to Gilead—to Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh—they said to them: 16 “The whole assembly of the LORD says: ‘How could you break faith with the God of Israel like this? How could you turn away from the LORD and build yourselves an altar in rebellion against him now? 17 Was not the sin of Peor enough for us? Up to this very day we have not cleansed ourselves from that sin, even though a plague fell on the community of the LORD! 18 And are you now turning away from the LORD?

“‘If you rebel against the LORD today, tomorrow he will be angry with the whole community of Israel. 19 If the land you possess is defiled, come over to the LORD’s land, where the LORD’s tabernacle stands, and share the land with us. But do not rebel against the LORD or against us by building an altar for yourselves, other than the altar of the LORD our God. 20 When Achan son of Zerah was unfaithful in regard to the devoted things, did not wrath come on the whole community of Israel? He was not the only one who died for his sin.’”

21 Then Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh replied to the heads of the clans of Israel: 22 “The Mighty One, God, the LORD! The Mighty One, God, the LORD! He knows! And let Israel know! If this has been in rebellion or disobedience to the LORD, do not spare us this day. 23 If we have built our own altar to turn away from the LORD and to offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, or to sacrifice fellowship offerings on it, may the LORD himself call us to account.

24 “No! We did it for fear that some day your descendants might say to ours, ‘What do you have to do with the LORD, the God of Israel? 25 The LORD has made the Jordan a boundary between us and you—you Reubenites and Gadites! You have no share in the LORD.’ So your descendants might cause ours to stop fearing the LORD.

26 “That is why we said, ‘Let us get ready and build an altar—but not for burnt offerings or sacrifices.’ 27 On the contrary, it is to be a witness between us and you and the generations that follow, that we will worship the LORD at his sanctuary with our burnt offerings, sacrifices and fellowship offerings. Then in the future your descendants will not be able to say to ours, ‘You have no share in the LORD.’

28 “And we said, ‘If they ever say this to us, or to our descendants, we will answer: Look at the replica of the LORD’s altar, which our ancestors built, not for burnt offerings and sacrifices, but as a witness between us and you.’

29 “Far be it from us to rebel against the LORD and turn away from him today by building an altar for burnt offerings, grain offerings and sacrifices, other than the altar of the LORD our God that stands before his tabernacle.”

30 When Phinehas the priest and the leaders of the community—the heads of the clans of the Israelites—heard what Reuben, Gad and Manasseh had to say, they were pleased. 31 And Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, said to Reuben, Gad and Manasseh, “Today we know that the LORD is with us, because you have not been unfaithful to the LORD in this matter. Now you have rescued the Israelites from the LORD’s hand.”

32 Then Phinehas son of Eleazar, the priest, and the leaders returned to Canaan from their meeting with the Reubenites and Gadites in Gilead and reported to the Israelites. 33 They were glad to hear the report and praised God. And they talked no more about going to war against them to devastate the country where the Reubenites and the Gadites lived.

34 And the Reubenites and the Gadites gave the altar this name: A Witness Between Us—that the LORD is God.

Joshua 23

Joshua’s Farewell to the Leaders

1 After a long time had passed and the LORD had given Israel rest from all their enemies around them, Joshua, by then a very old man, 2 summoned all Israel—their elders, leaders, judges and officials—and said to them: “I am very old. 3 You yourselves have seen everything the LORD your God has done to all these nations for your sake; it was the LORD your God who fought for you. 4 Remember how I have allotted as an inheritance for your tribes all the land of the nations that remain—the nations I conquered—between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 The LORD your God himself will push them out for your sake. He will drive them out before you, and you will take possession of their land, as the LORD your God promised you.

6 “Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. 7 Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. 8 But you are to hold fast to the LORD your God, as you have until now.

9 “The LORD has driven out before you great and powerful nations; to this day no one has been able to withstand you. 10One of you routs a thousand, because the LORD your God fights for you, just as he promised. 11 So be very careful to love the LORD your God.

12 “But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, 13 then you may be sure that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the LORD your God has given you.

14 “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. 15 But just as all the good things the LORD your God has promised you have come to you, so he will bring on you all the evil things he has threatened, until the LORD your God has destroyed you from this good land he has given you. 16 If you violate the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the LORD’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you.”

Joshua 24

The Covenant Renewed at Shechem

1 Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God.

2 Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods. 3 But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac, 4 and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his family went down to Egypt.

5 “‘Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I afflicted the Egyptians by what I did there, and I brought you out. 6 When I brought your people out of Egypt, you came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and horsemen as far as the Red Sea. 7 But they cried to the LORD for help, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians; he brought the sea over them and covered them. You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians. Then you lived in the wilderness for a long time.

8 “‘I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I gave them into your hands. I destroyed them from before you, and you took possession of their land. 9 When Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. 10 But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.

11 “‘Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. 12 I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you—also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. 13 So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’

14 “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods! 17 It was the LORD our God himself who brought us and our parents up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. 18 And the LORD drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the LORD, because he is our God.”

19 Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.”

21 But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the LORD.”

22 Then Joshua said, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the LORD.”

“Yes, we are witnesses,” they replied.

23 “Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.”

24 And the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the LORD our God and obey him.”

25 On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he reaffirmed for them decrees and laws. 26And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the LORD.

27 “See!” he said to all the people. “This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the LORD has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God.”

28 Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to their own inheritance.

Buried in the Promised Land

29 After these things, Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 30 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Serah in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.

31 Israel served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the LORD had done for Israel.

32 And Joseph’s bones, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the tract of land that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. This became the inheritance of Joseph’s descendants.

33 And Eleazar son of Aaron died and was buried at Gibeah, which had been allotted to his son Phinehas in the hill country of Ephraim.


Luke 3

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— 2 during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5 Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6 And all people will see God’s salvation.’”

7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”

13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.

14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah.16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.

19 But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, 20 Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.

The Baptism and Genealogy of Jesus

21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

23 Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph,

the son of Heli, 24 the son of Matthat,

the son of Levi, the son of Melki,

the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph,

25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos,

the son of Nahum, the son of Esli,

the son of Naggai, 26 the son of Maath,

the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein,

the son of Josek, the son of Joda,

27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa,

the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel,

the son of Neri, 28 the son of Melki,

the son of Addi, the son of Cosam,

the son of Elmadam, the son of Er,

29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer,

the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat,

the son of Levi, 30 the son of Simeon,

the son of Judah, the son of Joseph,

the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim,

31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna,

the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan,

the son of David, 32 the son of Jesse,

the son of Obed, the son of Boaz,

the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon,

33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram,

the son of Hezron, the son of Perez,

the son of Judah, 34 the son of Jacob,

the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham,

the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,

35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu,

the son of Peleg, the son of Eber,

the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan,

the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem,

the son of Noah, the son of Lamech,

37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch,

the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel,

the son of Kenan, 38 the son of Enosh,

the son of Seth, the son of Adam,

the son of God.

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Bernice

The Woman Guilty of Incestuous Conduct

Scripture ReferencesActs 25:13,23; 26:30

Name Meaning —Bernice (Greek—Bernicke), or Berenice, is a Macedonian corruption of Pherenice, and means, “victorious,” or “carrying off victory.” Wilkinson informs us that the name occurs in previous history, being given “to the wife of Ptolemy, one of Alexander’s generals, who became King of Egypt, and founder of an illustrious dynasty.” Another compound with nike, implying “victory,” is found in Eunice (Greek—Eunicke) the name of Timothy’s mother. “... The word is expressive of a good or happy victory, and in its origin doubtless commemorated some such event. It is noticeable that nike was a favorite termination of females in the Macedonian age, as for example, Thessalonice, the daughter of Philip, King of Macedon, and Stratonice, the name of the wife of Antigonus, one of Alexander’s generals and successors.”

Family Connections—Bernice was the eldest daughter of Herod Agrippa I who ruled, a.d. 38-45, and is described as the one “who vexed the church” (Acts 12:1 ). Josephus says that she was first married to Marcus. After a while she married her Uncle Herod, king of Chalcis. When he died, she was suspected of evil relations with her own brother Agrippa, with whom she always appeared as his consort. In company with Agrippa, Bernice visited Festus when he became procurator of Judea. Leaving Agrippa, she married Polemon, or Ptolemy, king of Cilicia who for her sake embraced Judaism by the rite of circumcision. She soon left Ptolemy, however, for a future period of intimacy with her brother. Subsequently she became the mistress of Vespasian, then of Titus, son of Vespasian, but when Titus became emperor, he cast her aside.

“If heredity stands for anything, its lessons are forcibly taught in the history of the Herodian family.” For instance, Bernice and her sister Drusilla (Acts 24:24, see Drusilla ), were two of the most corrupt and shameless women of their time in Roman history. As Bernice, a wicked woman who lived an incestuous life, listened to Paul’s impassioned appeal as he repeated what God had done for his soul, one wonders what impression it made upon her evil heart. As her brother listened, he said to Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” What a different record would have been written if Agrippa and Bernice had repented of their sordid sin, and yielded their lives to Him whose blood can make the foulest clean!

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Balak, Balac [Bā'lăk,Bā'lăc]—waster, emptying or destroys. The King of Moab, and son of Zipper who hired Balaam to curse Israel when, toward the end of their wilderness journeyings they were in Balak’s territory (Num. 22; 23; 24; Judg. 11:25; Micah 6:5). Like Balaam, Balak also lives to the end of the Bible. Balac is the Greek form of Balak ( Rev. 2:14). Revealing the superstition of the human mind, Balak had recourse to supernatural help and sought out Balaam, the soothsayer of Pethor—a man of divination with power to bless and curse, the Simon Magus of his day. How deceived Balak was when he thought he could sow the air with curses which would work where his sword could not reach!
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Hedonism

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 "I said in my heart, 'Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.' But behold, this also was vanity" (v. 1).

Hedonism, the final non-Christian worldview we will cover in our brief study of philosophy, can be traced back all the way to the garden of Eden. Genesis 3:6 says that Eve chose to eat the forbidden fruit partly because it was a "delight" to her eye. There was a certain amount of pleasure that the fruit gave her when she beheld it, and, no doubt, a degree of pleasure that she thought she would receive should she disobey God and take from the tree. In retrospect, however, Eve found only pain when she and Adam sinned ( Gen. 3:7, 16-19).

As a worldview, hedonism is concerned with the maximizing of pleasure and the minimizing of pain. At various points in history it has expressed itself crassly. We can think, for example, of the orgies and drunkenness in ancient Greece and Rome. Other hedonists, however, have been more thoughtful and have done their best to minimize the "hedonistic paradox." A basic problem with hedonism is that in striving to achieve pleasure you may actually find what you most want to avoid - pain. If you reach too far in pursuit of pleasure you might fail and be frustrated, which is painful. Paradoxically, in looking to satisfy your own lusts you might just find a world of hurt. The Epicureans of ancient Greece are an example of these thoughtful hedonists. They pursued pleasure, but not "too much" in order to avoid the negative consequences of failure.

Tyranny is the logical end of hedonism. Perhaps I can maximize my pleasure only by maximizing your pain. A hedonistic worldview cannot consistently condemn me, since, after all, I am just seeking my own pleasure. Thoughtful hedonists might say pleasure is found only if no one is harmed, but this is an appeal to an objective idea of pleasure, which hedonism denies. Only the group with the most power can maximize its own pleasure when a transcendent norm does not define pleasure.

In part, Christianity is about the pursuit of pleasure, but this pleasure is one that is defined by a transcendent God. Christ says true pleasure is found in life eternal, which, to hedonism's disgust, can only be found by those who are willing to endure intense pain for the Lord (Matt. 16:24).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Hedonism tends to say that the only pleasure worth having is sensual in nature. It is ultimately a futile pursuit, as Solomon says in today's passage. We are made to have a relationship with an infinite being, and therefore nothing finite can satisfy us permanently. Jesus alone can complete us. As we pursue Him, Christ satisfies us (Matt. 11:30) and will both now, and in eternity, bring us to deeper levels of pleasure in Him.

For further study:

Proverbs 23:19-21

The Bible in a year:

Judges 6-7

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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TT_Coramdeo_ttlogo

Hedonism

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

Hedonism tends to say that the only pleasure worth having is sensual in nature. It is ultimately a futile pursuit, as Solomon says in today's passage. We are made to have a relationship with an infinite being, and therefore nothing finite can satisfy us permanently. Jesus alone can complete us. As we pursue Him, Christ satisfies us (Matt. 11:30) and will both now, and in eternity, bring us to deeper levels of pleasure in Him.

For further study:

Proverbs 23:19-21

The Bible in a year:

Judges 6-7

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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Spurgeon-MetropolitanTabernacle-Header-1

‘Alas for us, if thou wert all, and nought beyond, O earth.’

‘If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.’ 1 Corinthians 15:19

Suggested Further Reading: Titus 2:11–14

The most practical thing in all the world is the hope of the world to come; and you see the text teaches this, for it is just this which keeps us from being miserable; and to keep a man from being miserable, let me say, is to do a great thing for him, for a miserable Christian—what is the use of him? Keep him in a cupboard, where nobody can see him; nurse him in the hospital, for he is of no use in the field of labour. Build a monastery, and put all miserable Christians in it, and there let them meditate on mercy till they learn to smile; for really there is no other use for them in the world. But the man who has a hope for the next world goes about his work strong, for the joy of the Lord is our strength. He goes against temptation mighty, for the hope of the next world repels the fiery darts of the adversary. He can labour without present reward, for he looks for a reward in the world to come. He can suffer rebuke, and can afford to die a slandered man, because he knows that God will avenge his own elect who cry day and night unto him. Through the Spirit of God the hope of another world is the most potent force for the product of virtue; it is a fountain of joy; it is the very channel of usefulness. It is to the Christian what food is to the vital force in the animal frame. Let it not be said of any of us that we are dreaming about the future and forgetting the present, but let the future sanctify the present to highest uses.

For meditation: It was this hope that marked the lives of even the Old Testament heroes of faith (Hebrews 11:10,13–16,35). But what men and women of action they were in God’s service! Who would dare accuse them of being dreamers and of being no earthly use?

Sermon no. 562
27 March (1864)

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Micca Campbell

March 26, 2012

Stop the Masquerade
Micca Monda Campbell

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Psalm 139:14a (NIV)

During elementary school, my daughter was friendly and outgoing. But when she entered middle school she changed. Being friendly to everyone in sixth grade wasn't cool. Peyton quickly found out if she didn't conform to her friend's new standards she'd be an outcast. Worst of all was the betrayal. When she didn't change to be like her friends, they spilled her secrets.

That's when it happened. Peyton started wearing masks to fit in and please people.

She hid her accepting and sweet personality, and lost her true identity. Almost like a masquerade ball, she'd wear a different personality or mask, acting in ways her friends would want.

There was only one problem. Peyton was miserable hiding behind her masks and pretending to be someone she wasn't. Sound familiar?

I think most of us understand Peyton's need to fit in. It's one reason we wear our own masks. To please others. To hide our pain. To disguise fears and failures. We put on fronts to protect ourselves from an unaccepting world. And in doing so, we mask our true identity and lose our individuality.

Why do we keep up the masquerade? Because we want acceptance.

And often we're willing to lose who we truly are in order to keep important relationships, like friends or family members. Most of us can recall a situation when a trusted person hurt us by judging our God-given personalities, traits and talents.

In our attempt to hide our insecurity or avoid betrayal and hurt, we create a maskóa look we're willing to let the world see in order to be accepted.

I was determined to help Peyton stop doing this very thing. I encouraged her to return to truth. God didn't create us to conform to other's standards, but to stand out through our own God-given uniqueness. Our key verse reminds us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. This truth gave her the courage to remember who she was before she put on the masks.

Soon Peyton found friends who were like-minded, and started participating in activities that reflected her interests. By being true to her identity and rekindling her dreams, Peyton has followed her God-given purpose. Today, she's studying foreign language in college and hopes to teach in Japan or work on the mission field.

Maybe someone along the way has discouraged you. Put you down for being creative, quietly reading books, or loving adventures. Or maybe for dreaming big, or laughing loudly, or enjoying working with your hands. Perhaps a parent, teacher, pastor, friend or even a stranger didn't accept how God created you to be and you transformed yourself to fit in their preferences.

God sees behind our masks; He loves us and longs for us to be free from the fear of being rejected. If you're constantly changing masks to fit in, then you know the awful burden of maintaining the false you. Aren't you ready to stop the masquerade? Listen closely and hear God confirming to your heart today, "You are wonderfully made."

Dear Lord, I desire freedom to lay down my masks and be myself. Help me identify my false sense of self. Enable me to recapture the person I was before I started masking my fears and insecurities. I no longer want to fit in where I don't belong. I want to be all You created me to be. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

An Untroubled Heart: Finding Faith that is Stronger than My Fears by Micca Campbell

Click here to join our new online study of Micca's book, An Untroubled Heart with Melissa Taylor. It just started yesterday but it's not too late to join!

Visit Micca's blog for more encouragement and enter to win a copy of An Untroubled Heart.

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:
Create a mask that represents the qualities of your false self. You can draw or use parts of a magazine and words. Then, offer that mask to God and ask Him to help you recall yourself before you wore the mask.

What are some expectations you put on yourself or false concepts you have of yourself?

Do you think you need to be a certain way to be loved and accepted by others?

Power Verses:
Psalm 139:15-16, "My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (NIV)

© 2012 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

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

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March 26, 2012
Learning to Abide
Mary Southerland

Today's Truth
John 15:4-5 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing." (NASB)

Friend to Friend
Every year, when September rolls around, schools begin recruiting parents for classroom duties, sports teams start looking for team moms, and the women's ministry is begging for help … and the list really does go on and on. How do you react when an opportunity for service presents itself? Yes, God has called us to serve Him. He has a specific plan in mind for each one of us, but we often miss His plan because we are so busy with our own plan or the plan of others.

Do you feel guilty saying "no" and end up saying "yes" for the wrong reasons? Why do women feel as if they have to do it all? Oh, I am certain a woman can do just about anything she sets her mind to do. I'm just not sure she can do it all at the same time.

For years, I tried to earn the love and approval of God by doing everything I could find to do. If a position needed filling, I filled it. If a job needed doing, I did it. If volunteers were called for, mine was the first hand raised. After all, if I was doing all these important things, then I must be important – right? The result was two dark years spent at the bottom of a deep, ugly pit called clinical depression. It was as if God allowed me to run to the end of myself and then shut the door and turned out the lights. I heard Him loud and clear, "That is enough! It is time for you to abide in me." I knew very little about "abiding" but a whole lot about "doing." I soon learned that to abide in God and to rest in Him requires a balanced life with right priorities.

One of the main factors in my battle with clinical depression was that I didn't understand how to live a balanced life. I found it difficult to set boundaries, failed to establish margins of time for the unplanned or unexpected, and unwittingly surrendered my God-ordained priorities to the empty and vain addiction of just "doing the next thing" or pleasing the loudest voice. Balance can easily become a casualty of this ongoing battle. While sitting in the darkness, waiting on God, I discovered that the pit of despair is a common destination for those who refuse to measure and balance the sometimes overwhelming demands of home, family, friends, work and personal growth. I had been running the race for the wrong audience and relying on my own power instead of God's power.

I wish I could tell you that I now lead a perfectly balanced life, but the truth is that I constantly have to evaluate my priorities and goals in order to find the holy balance God intends. Many of you tell me that you have the same struggle. Just like you, I constantly have to make difficult choices between the good things and the best things. When I make the wrong choices, I can sense myself sliding toward the dangerous edge of darkness. I don't want to go there again – so the battle continues. The good news is that I don't have to fight the battle alone and neither do you. God is with us, urging us toward the light and His restoration power that comes from a heart and life that rests and abides in Him.

Let's Pray
Father, I desperately need Your guidance in setting the priorities and goals in my life. I want to please You and do what You alone have created me to do. Please help me see and do Your plan.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.

Now It's Your Turn

  • Set aside 30 minutes this week to spend alone with God.
  • Examine your life for areas that are out of balance.
  • Record each area in your journal.
  • Surrender that imbalance to God and ask Him to show you how to abide in Him instead of relying upon yourself and your own strength.
  • Set aside one day this month for a silent retreat. Go to the beach – a park – your back yard! Just get alone with God and take a spiritual inventory of your priorities, time management and goals. The results may surprise you.

More from the Girlfriends
I have decided that a perfectly balanced life was lived only once on this earth – by Jesus Christ. My chances of doing so are slim. It would be so easy to just throw my hands in the air or dive back under the covers and pray that the world will just go away and leave me alone. Been there? You are not alone, girlfriend. Gwen, Sharon and I fight the same fight. We are all in different seasons of life, but the struggle is the same – learning to put God first and then allowing Him to set the agenda for each day.

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.

Join other women across the world in Mary's Online Bible Study, Light for the Journey. When I Am Afraid is the current series and will help you learn how to face and deal with your fears.

Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Face book or through email. She loves hearing what God is doing in your life!

And if you don't have our new book, Trusting God, get it today and start a new faith adventure in your life.


Seeking God?
Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God, Inc.
P.O. Box 725
Matthews, North Carolina 28106

www.girlfriendsingod.com

info@girlfriendsingod.com

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Skills: Situational Leadership

READ LUKE 6:12-16

Jesus chose twelve men and developed them into the church's first leaders. Within a few short years from the event recorded in Luke 6, he would delegate the continuance of his kingdom work to them (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).

Even a casual study of the manner in which Jesus prepared the twelve apostles shows us how effectively he adapted his leadership activity to the realities of the situation. He instructed them when they were uninformed, directed them when they were confused, prodded them when they were reluctant, encouraged them when they were downhearted. When they were ready, he allotted them limited tasks and responsibilities and then participated with them, guiding them through their assignments. Finally, he empowered and commissioned them as his apostles.

The Master Teacher shows us that effective leadership is situational. The leader's whim or desire (even when that leader is Jesus) is not what drives intelligent action. Effectiveness in leadership is driven by what the followers need. Jesus observed and understood what his followers needed, and he supplied it. He always interacted with them within the situation and responded appropriately to it. And within three years these obscure Galileans began to change the world.

As we observe Jesus' training of the twelve in the Gospels, we notice how consistently his actions were exactly appropriate to the situation. Jesus was very intentional about situational leadership. Leaders who can analyze a situation and adapt their leadership activity to address it can function as servant leaders and as transformational leaders, and they can profoundly affect the lives of their followers.

Situational Leadership and Who God Is

Life in our world is replete with unexpected circumstances and situational twists. Our projections will not reliably carry us far into the future, but we serve a God who is surprised by nothing and who holds the future in his hands. Turn to Exodus 32:1-33:23 for an analysis of a drastic change that nearly took place in God's dealings with his people.

This Week's Verse to Memorize JAMES 1:17

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Situational Leadership and Who I Am

Someone has quipped that the seven last words of the church are, "We never did it that way before." Many people have a seemingly inborn resistance to change. However, if we hope to remain effective in our positions of leadership, we must be flexible enough to adapt to the new situations we will inevitably face. We read about Paul's flexibility in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.

Situational Leadership and How It Works

Situational leadership is not the easy road. It demands the leader's attention to the followers' condition. It requires watching and listening. But, like almost any other resource, time well invested pays great dividends. Notice how Moses invested in Joshua's development.

Situational Leadership and What I Do

Nehemiah was an exceptional leader. We read his story and learn many significant principles of godly leadership. However, as we consider Nehemiah's character through the lens of situational leadership, a new appreciation emerges for his leadership genius. Although he relied upon a wide variety of leadership attitudes, relationships and skills, we find in him an unwavering consistency. Read Nehemiah 4:1-6:19 to observe the manner in which a great leader applies a great principle to a great leadership problem. Then compare this model with the fascinating definition of consistent leadership provided by Hersey, Blanchard and Johnson .


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.

The way to God

“No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

Suggested Further Reading: Genesis 28:10-17

From the moment when Adam touched the forbidden fruit, the way from God to man became blocked up, the bridge was broken down, a great gulf was fixed, so that if it had not been for the divine plan of grace, we could not have ascended to God, neither could God in justice come down to us. Happily, however, the everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure, had provided for this great catastrophe. Christ Jesus the Mediator had in eternity past been ordained to become the medium of access between man and God. If you want a figure of him, remember the memorable dream of Jacob. He lay down in a solitary place, and he dreamed a dream, which had in it something more substantial than anything he had seen with his eyes wide open. He saw a ladder, the foot whereof rested upon earth, and the top thereof reached to heaven itself. Upon this ladder he saw angels ascending and descending. Now this ladder was Christ. Christ in his humanity rested upon the earth, he is bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. In his divinity he reaches to the highest heaven, for he is very God of very God. When our prayers ascend on high they must tread the staves of this ladder; and when God’s blessings descend to us, the rounds of this marvellous ladder must be the means of their descent. Never has a prayer ascended to God save through Jesus Christ. Never has a blessing come down to man save through the same Divine Mediator. There is now a highway, a way of holiness wherein the redeemed can walk to God, and God can come to us. The king’s highway:

“The way the holy prophets went-
The road that leads from banishment.”

Jesus Christ, the way, the truth, and the life.

For meditation: The crucifixion of God the Son was the opening ceremony of the way to the Father. As soon as the Son announced “It is finished”, the Father marked the occasion by cutting the veil of the temple from top to bottom (Mark 15:37, 38; Hebrews 10:19,20).

Sermon no. 245
27 March (1859)

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NIV Devotions for Moms

Praying and Waiting

Habakkuk 2:1

Additional Scripture Readings: Psalm 130:5-7; Lamentations 3:24-26

There are so many ways in which God's actions or inactions make little sense to us. We ask him for help, and he is silent. We trust in him to provide, and he withholds. But is God inconsistent, or is he simply running according to another time schedule, another set of priorities?

Habakkuk questions God's plan to use the pagan nation of Babylon to discipline wayward Israel. He then settles in to wait for God's answer: "I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint" (Habakkuk 2:1). Like a guard who waits through his watch with eyes peeled for a sign of movement, Habakkuk waited for God.

So must we. We must pray with a willingness to wait and wait with a willingness to pray. Waiting and praying go together. Like two shoes of a pair or two halves of a whole, they work as a team.

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Investments of the Heart

Proverbs 22:1-11

If Dr. Seuss had ended up on Wall Street instead of Mulberry Street, perhaps his book titles may have sounded something like this: Great Day for the Dow! Horton Hears a Hedge and a High Index; Green Backs and Pork. The growth of investment companies and of commercialism demonstrates the continuing deification of the almighty dollar.

We all know that money can't buy love, happiness or redemption. So why does the book of Proverbs imply that wealth, honor and life will come to those who are humble and fear the Lord? There are Christians who are not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, just as there are wealthy Christians who don't seem humble. Just what is the principle behind this proverb?

First, God's definition of "wealth" isn't the same as the world's definition. King Solomon's riches were legendary; his yearly income amounted to 25 tons of gold, not counting outside revenues from merchants and traders (see 1 Kings 10:14-15 ). In terms of finance, King Solomon was clearly qualified to write about wealth and prosperity. But the king soon discovered that God's inheritance isn't about quarterly dividends, accelerated land accumulation or a vast collection of chariots and horses. Rather, it is about the heart. In God's eyes, spiritual riches are acquired by being rich toward him-by exhibiting a humble reverence for his awesome holiness. Spiritual wealth is laced with integrity, bejeweled by honor and polished for eternity. Spiritual riches will pay dividends in prudence, humility, honor, discipline, generosity, purity and graciousness.

This proverb is not a guide for earning wealth but a general principle for living wisely. Although this is not a guarantee that God will make us rich, spiritual riches can help reap financial stability (see Proverbs 21:20). Prudence will teach us to save for a rainy day rather than spend heedlessly. Disciplined giving can benefit us financially as well as spiritually. God delights in giving to the giver. Jesus said, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap" ( Luke 6:38). But more important than financial wealth is the richness of living a godly life. We may not live on Wall Street, but we can make investments every day that will yield the benefits of humility, the fear of the Lord, honor and eternal life.

Reflection

  1. How do you define wealth? How does God?
  2. What, in your own life, does it look like to "fear God"?
  3. How do you invest the riches you've been given by God (your money, time, talents, etc.)?

Proverbs 22:4
Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life.

Related Readings

Psalm 37:1-6; Proverbs 3:1-10; Mark 12:43-44; 1 Timothy 6:17-19

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Day 34

As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.

Roman crucifixion was a cruel punishment. Nailed to a wooden cross by wrists and feet, it was an excruciating, slow and very public way to die. The victim’s groaning became a morning’s entertainment for onlookers. Seeing the horrors of crucifixion was an effective deterrent for wrong-doers. For Jesus, this heinous death was undeserved. As he gave his life, he looked beyond it to God’s bigger story of salvation that was being played out through his life and death.

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!”

In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.”

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

What can you learn about God's love through these events?

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Today's Prayer

God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

-- the tax collector in Luke 18, who in his awareness of his own sin would not even look up to heaven as he prayed

Today's Scripture Reading: John 12:20-33

20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. "Sir," they said, "we would like to see Jesus." 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

23 Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

27 "Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!"

Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again." 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

30 Jesus said, "This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

Today's Quote

"My life afrights me. For when carefully reviewed, its whole course shows in my sight like one great sin; or at least it is well-nigh nothing but barrenness. Or, if any fruit is seen in it, that fruit is so false, or so imperfect, or in some way or other so tainted with decay and corruption, that it must needs either fail to satisfy God, or else utterly offend Him." - Anselm

Something to Think About

All of us have sinned--if we were without sin, Jesus' sacrifice would not have been necessary to assure us a relationship with God. This week, take time to identify the temptations and sins that you struggle with. Are there unconfessed sins in your life that you need to bring before Jesus?
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Today's Lent reading: John 1-2 (NIV)

View today's Lent reading on Bible Gateway
The Word Became Flesh

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God- 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, "This is the one I spoke about when I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'") 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

John the Baptist Denies Being the Messiah

19 Now this was John's testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was.20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, "I am not the Messiah."

21 They asked him, "Then who are you? Are you Elijah?"

He said, "I am not."

"Are you the Prophet?"

He answered, "No."

22 Finally they said, "Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?"

23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.'"

24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?"

26 "I baptize with water," John replied, "but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie."

28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

John Testifies About Jesus

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel."

32 Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God's Chosen One."

John's Disciples Follow Jesus

35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!"

37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, "What do you want?"

They said, "Rabbi" (which means "Teacher"), "where are you staying?"

39 "Come," he replied, "and you will see."

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.

40 Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter).

Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael

43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me."

44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote-Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."

46 "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked.

"Come and see," said Philip.

47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit."

48 "How do you know me?" Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you."

49 Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel."

50 Jesus said, "You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that." 51 He then added, "Very truly I tell you, you will see 'heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on' the Son of Man."

John 2

Jesus Changes Water Into Wine

1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."

4 "Woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My hour has not yet come."

5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

7 Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim.

8 Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."

They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."

11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.

Jesus Clears the Temple Courts

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

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

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

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

23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.


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