Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Daily Devotional Wednesday 14th March

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
1 Corinthians 10:12

It is a curious fact, that there is such a thing as being proud of grace. A man says, "I have great faith, I shall not fall; poor little faith may, but I never shall." "I have fervent love," says another, "I can stand, there is no danger of my going astray." He who boasts of grace has little grace to boast of. Some who do this imagine that their graces can keep them, knowing not that the stream must flow constantly from the fountain head, or else the brook will soon be dry. If a continuous stream of oil comes not to the lamp, though it burn brightly today, it will smoke to-morrow, and noxious will be its scent. Take heed that thou gloriest not in thy graces, but let all thy glorying and confidence be in Christ and his strength, for only so canst thou be kept from falling. Be much more in prayer. Spend longer time in holy adoration. Read the Scriptures more earnestly and constantly. Watch your lives more carefully. Live nearer to God. Take the best examples for your pattern. Let your conversation be redolent of heaven. Let your hearts be perfumed with affection for men's souls. So live that men may take knowledge of you that you have been with Jesus, and have learned of him; and when that happy day shall come, when he whom you love shall say, "Come up higher," may it be your happiness to hear him say, "Thou hast fought a good fight, thou hast finished thy course, and henceforth there is laid up for thee a crown of righteousness which fadeth not away." On, Christian, with care and caution! On, with holy fear and trembling! On, with faith and confidence in Jesus alone, and let your constant petition be, "Uphold me according to thy word." He is able, and he alone, "To keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy."

Evening

"I will take heed to my ways."
Psalm 39:1

Fellow-pilgrim, say not in your heart, "I will go hither and thither, and I shall not sin;" for you are never so out of danger of sinning as to boast of security. The road is very miry, it will be hard to pick your path so as not to soil your garments. This is a world of pitch; you will need to watch often, if in handling it you are to keep your hands clean. There is a robber at every turn of the road to rob you of your jewels; there is a temptation in every mercy; there is a snare in every joy; and if you ever reach heaven, it will be a miracle of divine grace to be ascribed entirely to your Father's power. Be on your guard. When a man carries a bomb-shell in his hand, he should mind that he does not go near a candle; and you too must take care that you enter not into temptation. Even your common actions are edged tools; you must mind how you handle them. There is nothing in this world to foster a Christian's piety, but everything to destroy it. How anxious should you be to look up to God, that he may keep you! Your prayer should be, "Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe." Having prayed, you must also watch; guarding every thought, word, and action, with holy jealousy. Do not expose yourselves unnecessarily; but if called to exposure, if you are bidden to go where the darts are flying, never venture forth without your shield; for if once the devil finds you without your buckler, he will rejoice that his hour of triumph is come, and will soon make you fall down wounded by his arrows. Though slain you cannot be; wounded you may be. "Be sober; be vigilant, danger may be in an hour when all seemeth securest to thee." Therefore, take heed to thy ways, and watch unto prayer. No man ever fell into error through being too watchful. May the Holy Spirit guide us in all our ways; so shall they always please the Lord.

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Today's reading: Deuteronomy 19-21, Mark 13:21-37 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Cities of Refuge

1 When the LORD your God has destroyed the nations whose land he is giving you, and when you have driven them out and settled in their towns and houses, 2 then set aside for yourselves three cities in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess. 3 Determine the distances involved and divide into three parts the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, so that a person who kills someone may flee for refuge to one of these cities.

4 This is the rule concerning anyone who kills a person and flees there for safety—anyone who kills a neighbor unintentionally, without malice aforethought. 5 For instance, a man may go into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and as he swings his ax to fell a tree, the head may fly off and hit his neighbor and kill him. That man may flee to one of these cities and save his life. 6 Otherwise, the avenger of blood might pursue him in a rage, overtake him if the distance is too great, and kill him even though he is not deserving of death, since he did it to his neighbor without malice aforethought. 7 This is why I command you to set aside for yourselves three cities.

8 If the LORD your God enlarges your territory, as he promised on oath to your ancestors, and gives you the whole land he promised them, 9 because you carefully follow all these laws I command you today—to love the LORD your God and to walk always in obedience to him—then you are to set aside three more cities. 10 Do this so that innocent blood will not be shed in your land, which the LORD your God is giving you as your inheritance, and so that you will not be guilty of bloodshed.

11 But if out of hate someone lies in wait, assaults and kills a neighbor, and then flees to one of these cities, 12 the killer shall be sent for by the town elders, be brought back from the city, and be handed over to the avenger of blood to die. 13 Show no pity. You must purge from Israel the guilt of shedding innocent blood, so that it may go well with you.

14 Do not move your neighbor’s boundary stone set up by your predecessors in the inheritance you receive in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess.

Witnesses

15 One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

16 If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse someone of a crime, 17 the two people involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the LORD before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. 18 The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against a fellow Israelite, 19 then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party. You must purge the evil from among you. 20 The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. 21 Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

Deuteronomy 20

Going to War

1 When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. 2 When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. 3 He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. 4 For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”

5 The officers shall say to the army: “Has anyone built a new house and not yet begun to live in it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else may begin to live in it. 6Has anyone planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else enjoy it. 7 Has anyone become pledged to a woman and not married her? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else marry her.” 8 Then the officers shall add, “Is anyone afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.” 9 When the officers have finished speaking to the army, they shall appoint commanders over it.

10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies. 15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.

16 However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the LORD your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the LORD your God.

19 When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees people, that you should besiege them? 20However, you may cut down trees that you know are not fruit trees and use them to build siege works until the city at war with you falls.

Deuteronomy 21

Atonement for an Unsolved Murder

1 If someone is found slain, lying in a field in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess, and it is not known who the killer was, 2 your elders and judges shall go out and measure the distance from the body to the neighboring towns. 3Then the elders of the town nearest the body shall take a heifer that has never been worked and has never worn a yoke 4 and lead it down to a valley that has not been plowed or planted and where there is a flowing stream. There in the valley they are to break the heifer’s neck. 5 The Levitical priests shall step forward, for the LORD your God has chosen them to minister and to pronounce blessings in the name of the LORD and to decide all cases of dispute and assault. 6 Then all the elders of the town nearest the body shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley, 7 and they shall declare: “Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it done. 8 Accept this atonement for your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, LORD, and do not hold your people guilty of the blood of an innocent person.” Then the bloodshed will be atoned for, 9 and you will have purged from yourselves the guilt of shedding innocent blood, since you have done what is right in the eyes of the LORD.

Marrying a Captive Woman

10 When you go to war against your enemies and the LORD your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives,11 if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. 12 Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails 13and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. 14 If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her.

The Right of the Firstborn

15 If a man has two wives, and he loves one but not the other, and both bear him sons but the firstborn is the son of the wife he does not love, 16 when he wills his property to his sons, he must not give the rights of the firstborn to the son of the wife he loves in preference to his actual firstborn, the son of the wife he does not love. 17 He must acknowledge the son of his unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double share of all he has. That son is the first sign of his father’s strength. The right of the firstborn belongs to him.

A Rebellious Son

18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.”21 Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.

Various Laws

22 If someone guilty of a capital offense is put to death and their body is exposed on a pole, 23 you must not leave the body hanging on the pole overnight. Be sure to bury it that same day, because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.


Mark 13

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[ c]! You do not know when that time will come.34 It’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!’”

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Amasai [Ămăs'aī]—burdensome.

  1. A descendant of Kohath, son of Levi (1 Chron. 6:25; 2 Chron. 29:12).
  2. A chieftain who joined David at Ziklag and became one of his captains ( 1 Chron. 12:18). Perhaps the same as Amasa, No. 1.
  3. A Levite who helped in the return of the Ark from the house of Obed-edom (1 Chron. 15:24).
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The Golden Rule

Matthew 7:12

John Calvin says, "All the precepts [of the Mosaic law]...have a reference to [the Golden Rule]." Even the Old Testament laws that deal more directly with God teach us to love our neighbor. The law against idolatry, for example, enjoins us to love others. Clearly, it is not loving to lead others into false worship and death through our service to idols. As you study a particular passage of Scripture, ask yourself how it shows you to put others ahead of yourself.

For further study:

Ruth 4:1-12

The Bible in a year:

Joshua 1-2

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

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

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The arrows of the Lord’s deliverance

‘Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.’ 2 Kings 13:19

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 9:35–10:7

Point me to a single period in the history of the church where God has worked without instrumentality, and I will tell you that I suspect whether God has worked at all if I do not see the instruments he has employed. Take the Reformation, can you think of it without thinking of God? At the same time, can you mention it without the names of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and Melanchthon? Then in the later revival in England, when our slumbering churches were suddenly started from their sleep, who did it? The Holy Spirit himself: but you cannot talk of the revival without mentioning the names of Whitefield and Wesley, for God worked by means then, and he works by means still. I need to notice a remark which was made concerning the revival in the north of Ireland, that there seemed to be no prominent instrumentality. The moment I saw that, I mistrusted it. Had it been God’s work more fully developed through instrumentality, I believe it would not have so speedily come to a close. We grant you that God can work without means, and even when he uses means he still takes the glory to himself, for it is all his own; yet it has been the rule, and will be the rule till the day of means shall come to an end; that just as God saved man by taking upon himself man’s flesh, so everywhere in the world he calls men by speaking to them through men of their own flesh and blood. God incarnates himself—in his Spirit, incarnates himself in the chosen men, especially in his church, in which he dwells as in a temple; and then through that church he is pleased to bless the world.

For meditation: We have Scriptural precedents for praying for revival (Psalm 85:6; Habakkuk 3:2); there is a danger of that becoming too vague and general—a ‘Lord, bless us’ prayer, so we have a more specific instruction from our Saviour himself—we are to pray for workers ( Luke 10:2).

Sermon no. 569
13 March (Preached 22 March 1864)

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The Golden Rule

Matthew 7:12 "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (v. 12).

Structurally, the Sermon on the Mount is divisible into three sections. Jesus introduces the sermon in Matthew 5:1-16, describing the characteristics of true discipleship while calling us to preserve society as the salt of the earth and to show others the Father as the light of the world. He gives final warnings to those who will not heed His teaching in the sermon's conclusion in 7:13-29.

The second section, or main body, of the Sermon on the Mount is very well-defined (5:17-7:12). In both 5:17 and 7:12, our Lord refers specifically to "the Law and the Prophets," bracketing all of the material in between these verses and marking it off as a distinct portion of teaching. Biblical scholars call this aninclusio , a literary device where the beginning and ending of a unit of teaching mirror one another. In between the brackets, a line of thought is developed that fleshes out what the brackets summarize. In this case, 5:18-7:11 lays out many of the specifics of life in God's kingdom in Christ, which fulfills the Law and the Prophets (5:17 ). But when all is said and done, living out the kingdom ethic only involves doing unto our neighbors as we would want to have done to us. This is the end to which the Law and Prophets direct us (7:12).

This famous "Golden Rule" is not an entirely new teaching from the lips of Jesus. Similar tenets are found in other religions. There is a story about the famous first-century rabbi Hillel who verbalized the Golden Rule in its negative form when a pagan told the rabbi he would convert if he could hear the Law summarized while he stood on one leg. Hillel said, "What is hurtful to you, do not do to others. This is the Torah, the rest is commentary. Go and learn it."

We can keep the Golden Rule in its negative form without lifting a finger. If we do not want others to steal from us, for example, we only need to refrain from theft. But the positive form is unknown prior to Jesus and is much more demanding. Doing unto others is a call to service. We want others to love us, and so we must first love them. We want to be prosperous, and thus we must first share what we have. The Golden Rule reveals that kingdom citizens put others first, endeavoring to love them as Christ has first loved us (1 John 4:7, 19).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

John Calvin says, "All the precepts [of the Mosaic law]...have a reference to [the Golden Rule]." Even the Old Testament laws that deal more directly with God teach us to love our neighbor. The law against idolatry, for example, enjoins us to love others. Clearly, it is not loving to lead others into false worship and death through our service to idols. As you study a particular passage of Scripture, ask yourself how it shows you to put others ahead of yourself.

For further study:

Ruth 4:1-12

The Bible in a year:

Joshua 1-2

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 13, 2012

You are Who God Says You Are

Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth:
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

Friend to Friend
There's a game I've watched women play at retreats as an icebreaker activity. Each person has the name of a famous or infamous person taped to her back. Then the women walk around giving each other clues about "who they are."

"You always put off worrying until tomorrow." "You had so many children you didn't know what to do." "You were the queen of soul."

The point of the game is to figure out your identity. Once you guess correctly, you sit down.

One night, as I watched the ladies play the game, I was struck with its similarity to real life. Many times we determine our identity, by what others tell us about ourselves. You are so smart. You are a loser. You are so pretty. You can do anything you set your mind to. You are so ugly. You are so fat. After a while, those messages determine how we see ourselves, whether true or false. It is only a mature person who realizes that just because a person says that you are this or that, doesn't make it true.

One of the greatest blessings of becoming a Christian is receiving a new identity. In the Bible, when God touched and changed a person's life, many times He changed his or her name. He said, "You will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow" (Isaiah 62:2). Saul became Paul. Abram became Abraham. Sarai became Sarah. Jacob became Israel. Simon became Peter.

Likewise, when you accepted Christ, God gave you a new identity and a new name. If you want to know who you really are, then you need to look in the Bible and see who God says you are. It may be different from what you've heard others say about you, but which do you think is more accurate? Who do you think has a better perception of who you are, your Creator, or other creatures just like yourself? If you are a Christian today, the following verses describe your new identity.

My Identity in Christ
Matthew 5:13 - I am the salt of the earth.
Matthew 5:14 - I am the light of the world.
John 1:12 - I am a child of God.
John 15:15 - I am part of the true vine, a channel (branch) of Christ's life.
John 15:15 - I am Christ's friend.
John 15:16 - I am chosen and appointed by Christ to bear His fruit.
Romans 8:14,15 - I am a joint-heir with Christ, sharing His inheritance with Him.
I Corinthians 3:16 - I am a temple of God. His Spirit dwells in me.
I Corinthians 12:27 - I am a member (part) of Christ's body
2 Corinthians 5:17 - I am a new creation.
2 Corinthians 5:18,19 I am reconciled to God and am a minister of reconciliation...
Ephesians 1:1 - I am a saint.
Ephesians 1:3 - I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places.
Ephesians 1:11 - I am sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit who has been given as a pledge of my inheritance.
Ephesians 2:10 - I am God's workmanship created in Christ to do His work that He planned beforehand that I should do.
Ephesians 4:24 - I am righteous and holy.

That is a lot to put on a nametag, but that is your new identity. Neil Anderson, in his book Victory over the Darknessnotes, "The reason so many Christians are not enjoying the maturity and freedom which is their inheritance in Christ is because they hold wrong self-perceptions. They don't see themselves as they really are in Christ. They don't understand the dramatic change which occurred in them the moment they trusted in Him. They don't see themselves the way God sees them, and to that degree they suffer from a poor self-image. They don't grasp their true identity."

In that paragraph, Dr. Anderson described me perfectly. I had no idea who I was, what I had, or where I was in Christ. As God opened my eyes to the truth, I realized that how I saw myself and how God saw me were very different. I decided to start believing God.

How about you? Are you ready to start seeing yourself as God sees you today? After all, it is the truth!

Let's Pray
Dear God, I thank You that I am a new creation in Christ. I admit that sometimes I feel just like the old me and act like the old me, but I believe by faith that I am brand new. Thank You that my identity is based on my position in Christ rather than my performance on earth.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen.

Now It's Your Turn
Do have any labels from your past that are in conflict with what the Bible tells you about who you are as a child of God?

Look at the above verses. Do have a difficult time believing the truth about who you are?

Now here's the big question. Are you going to believe what others have told you in the past or are you going to believe God?

Now, go back up to the list of verses again and read them to yourself a loud.

More from the Girlfriends
Someone once told me that faith is believing that God tells the truth. But many of us don't know the truth about who we are in Christ, what we have in Christ, and where we are in Christ. If you would like to learn more about your true identity as a child of God, and begin seeing yourself as God sees you, check out my book, Becoming Spiritually Beautiful. It is just for you. Also in the site, you can find a handy laminated card filled with verses about your Identity in Christ
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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Christ precious to believers

“Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.” 1 Peter 2:7

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Peter 1:18-21

This text calls to my recollection the opening of my ministry. It is about eight years since as a lad of sixteen, I stood up for the first time in my life to preach the gospel in a cottage to a handful of poor people, who had come together for worship. I felt my own inability to preach, but I ventured to take this text, “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.” I do not think I could have said anything upon any other text, but Christ was precious to my soul and I was in the flush of my youthful love, and I could not be silent when a precious Jesus was the subject. I had but just escaped from the bondage of Egypt, I had not forgotten the broken fetter; still did I recollect those flames which seemed to burn about my path, and that devouring gulf which opened its mouth as if ready to devour me. With all these things fresh in my youthful heart, I could but speak of his preciousness who had been my Saviour; and had plucked me as a brand from the burning, and set me upon a rock, and put a new song in my mouth, and established my goings. And now, at this time what shall I say? “What hath God wrought?” How hath the little one become a thousand, and the small one a great people? And what shall I say concerning this text, but that if the Lord Jesus was precious then, he is as precious now? And if I could declare then, that Jesus was the object of my soul’s desire, that for him I hoped to live, and for him I would be prepared to die, can I not say, God being my witness, that he is more precious to me this day than ever he was?

For meditation: Is the Lord Jesus Christ precious to you? If so, the feeling is mutual (Isaiah 43:4; Psalm 116:15).

Sermon no. 242
13 March (1859)

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Lynn Cowell

March 13, 2012

The Beauty of the Lord
Lynn Cowell

"One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple." Psalm 27:4 (ESV)

The jagged scar on his back may be gruesome to some. To me, it's a mark of beauty; a reminder of the love he showed that day.

It was suppose to be a day of wonderful memories with my husband's family in the foothills of South Carolina. The highlight of our trip would be Slippery Rock, a natural water slide in the cool Pisgah forest. However, under the guidance of a "local" we changed our plans to go to a different waterfall.

When we reached it, the waterfall wasn't quite what we were told. Unprotected. Steeper. Less water. No lifeguard, no stairs, no rope. Though disappointed, we vowed to make the best of it.

Greg watched the kids start down the sheer slope. Sensing everything was not as smooth as it seemed, he called to our nine-year-old daughter, "Wait for me, and we'll go together."

Hearing their laughter brought joy to my heart. But, then I caught my husband's eye and knew something was wrong. Greg had stuck out his leg, causing him and Madison to spin. Instead of her head slamming into the stone wall, Greg's bare back took the blow.

Our fun day ended then, with a trip to the emergency room. The four-inch gash on his back evidence he saved our daughter. Today, it's a thick red scar; proof of his love for his family.

Jesus also bears scars of love. Though I haven't seen them, I know they're there. I was naive and taking the course with no stairs, no rope, no lifeguard. I wanted to "live a little." Just before I crashed, I listened to Jesus' invitation: "Wait for Me; let Me get you out of harm's way and lead you." I fell into His accepting arms, rescued and safe.

Many times we want to go our own way, oblivious to the rushing power of sin that will smash us against this hard world. Thoughts such as "I can flirt with this sin; I just want a little fun!" or "I'm tired of responsibility. It's my turn. My kids will bounce back," or "I don't have to put up with him anymore. It's my life too," take precedence. Inevitable destruction follows. All along Jesus is at the top of the slope inviting us: "Wait for Me. Let's go together and I will lead you."

In the rush and roar of temptation, it's easy to miss Jesus' strength to rescue us. It's possible to overlook the scars; proof that His love held Him to a gnarly cross. I see the price He paid to protect me from my own destruction and know full well, it's a thing of beauty.

Dear Lord, help me look to You every day. Help me trust Your instructions and warnings, knowing that You love me more than I love myself. You are my first love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Lynn has written a beautiful book on His Revolutionary Love. Click here to order your copy!

Visit Lynn's blog for more encouragement and truth

Reflect and Respond:
Is there someone you know who is at the top of a slippery slope and needs to read this? Pray for them and forward this devotion to them.

Is there any area in your life you are flirting with something dangerous to yourself? Your family? Confess this to Jesus. Tell Him you want to fall into His accepting arms and help you walk away from this danger.

If you answered yes, think of a friend you really trust with whom you can share this. Have them pray for you and hold you accountable.

Power Verse:
Isaiah 53:3-5, "He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (NIV)

© 2012 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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

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Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional

DID JESUS FAKE THE CRUCIFIXION?

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched-this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared to us…. We write this to make our joy complete” (1 John 1).

The Incarnation was not a divine visitation in the mere form of a human being. Jesus was no holograph of divinity. Some ancient self-described sophisticates called the Gnostics, who wanted to make Christianity more spiritual than it already was, said that the Savior only appeared human and to possess real flesh. He was a super-spiritual being who came to impart cryptic saving knowledge. If you could understand this coded truth and grasp the lingo, then you would be enlightened, and thus saved by the knowledge. They even said that the Savior went nowhere near the cross. He switched identities with Simon of Cyrene, the man who was forced to carry Jesus’ cross, and then stood at a distance, laughing at the foolish Romans who thought they had nailed the man who claimed to be Messiah to the cross.

No, Christ was not standing at a distance laughing at the cross. He was on the cross, and bore all its sorrow, shame, and pain.

The Gnostics of ancient days and today (New Age religion) are wrong. 1 John 4:2-3 says, “Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God .” The Messiah didn’t laugh on that day because he fooled people into thinking he was a human being, while he skirted around the torture of the cross. Rather, he took the pain of the world on himself, and in that abject agony offered the way out for us. As wrong and unjust and inexcusable as it was, the death of Jesus also makes perfect sense. It all fits into a consistent pattern of God’s character, the nature of the corrupt world, and the love that God has for those he created in his own image. The mission to put the world back together was itself coming together. God was doing what only God could do.

You are invited to receive via email a three-week daily devotional I have written, focussing on the Christ who died and rose for us. It begins March 18.

“Knowing Him: An Easter Devotional” is your opportunity to grow in the grace and power of Jesus. Use the link below to sign up. If you get the message “Update Your The Brook Network Profile,” just follow the steps it indicates.

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About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for thirty years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, the most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement.
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Isn't it chauvinistic to teach wives to submit?

This week's reading: 1 Peter 3:5-6

Women in the first century had no legal rights and very little public influence. How could they influence their unbelieving husbands to believe in God? In spite of such disadvantages, wives could still have a profound impact on their husbands. They could speak loudly for Christ-not necessarily through words, but through their behavior and their Christ-like character (see 1Pe 3:1,4).

Inferiority is not implied by the command to submit (see 1Pe 3:1). The submission is one of role or function necessary for the orderly operation of the home. Direct confrontation, though sometimes necessary might put husbands too much on the defensive. Thus, Peter counsels wives to disarm their unbelieving husbands and make them more receptive to the gospel by being gentle and quiet in spirit. Believing wives are not to rely on argumentation to win their unbelieving husbands, but on the quality of their lives. "Actions speak louder than words."

These verses have sometimes been abused, as have wives. Biblical submission should not be separated from Biblical responsibility (see 1Pe 3:7; Eph 5:25; Col 3:19). In this context, Sarah is commended for her submission. However, Abraham, rather than trusting in God, relied on his own schemes, which led to Sarah being mistreated (see Ge 12:11-13; 20:10-11).

Some dismiss these verses in the New Testament as the chauvinistic rhetoric of the first century, but such a view misses the whole servant spirit of Christianity. Submission is commanded for all believers (see Ro 12:1-8; Eph 5:21; 1Pe 2:13-17), not just wives. A submissive spirit runs counter to society's values, and it always has (see Mk 10:42-45). However it remains God's standard for all believers-male and female, young and old-for all time (see Eph 5:21; Php 2:3-8).

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Proverbs 31 Ministries
Join our Online Bible Studies
Starting March 2012
15 Days To A Life That Says Welcome

15 Days To A Life That Says Welcome

with Karen Ehman – starts March 18th

Does the phrase "Company's coming!" send you running for cover? Karen Ehman can relate. She married into a family full of interior decorators, caterers, and Bed and Breakfast owners, while she herself could hardly boil water! On weekdays, beginning March 19th, Karen will be hosting a 15-day online study based on her book A Life That Says Welcome: Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others. With special guests, great giveaways and doable, practical ideas, this online journey will enable you to:
  • Recognize the difference between "entertaining" in today's culture and biblical hospitality
  • Identify the top excuses for not opening your home and apply simple solutions to overcome them
  • Acquire weekly, quick-cleaning strategies, a proven system for de-cluttering your house and easy, decorate-on-a-shoestring tips
  • Arm yourself with delicious cooking-for-a-crowd recipes, make-ahead meals and kid-friendly favorites
  • Discover "hospitality on the road" ideas for living a life of welcome wherever your daily life takes you
More information and sign-ups can be found on Karen's blog.


Buy: A Life That Says Welcome: Simple Ways to Open Your Heart and Home to Others
All He has done
An Untroubled Heart

An Untroubled Heart

with Melissa Taylor – starts March 25th

We live in unstable times filled with conflict and uncertainties. Life is unpredictable and fear and anxiety can become a daily reality. This book is a woman's guide for living a carefree, worry-free life.

During the online study, we will explore the anxieties of a woman's heartÐfrom insecurities, to finances, to marital challenges, to raising healthy children and more. You will be equipped to lay down your worries, trust in your Heavenly Father, and embrace a life marked by peace and joy. This online community is interactive, fun, and life-changing. More information and sign-ups can be found on Melissa's blog.


All He has done
Hidden Joy

Hidden Joy

with Wendy Blight – starts April 9th

Drawing from her book, Hidden Joy, Wendy shares her incredible journey of healing and restoration after being assaulted by a man hiding in her apartment. Through her amazing testimony of God's strength in our weakness, His hope in our hopelessness, and His healing in our brokenness, in this study with Wendy you will:
  • Apply God's Word in a way that makes it relevant and applicable to your everyday circumstances.
  • Gain victory over your fears through regularly and faithfully praying Scripture.
  • Intensify and empower your prayer life through learning to pray God's Word.
This seven-week on-line study will include short weekly video messages, Bible study, chapter discussions, lessons on how to pray, great fellowship, and on-going conversations on Wendy's web site.


A Confident Heart

A Confident Heart

with Renee Swope – starts April 23rd

Ever feel like you're not good enough, smart enough, or valuable enough? Renee Swope understands. And that's why she's leading an online community of women through her life-changing book, A Confident Heart Ð again this Spring. Chapter by chapter she'll show us how to stop doubting ourselves as we learn to live in the security of God's love and promises. Whether reading it for the first time, or going through it again, you will learn how to:
  • Discover and live confidently in your God-given purpose, passion, and personalities;
  • Break free from people-pleasing and performance-based living
  • Trust the certainty of God's truth over the uncertainty of your circumstances and emotions.
  • Become the woman God created you to be!
This group will meet online from April 23 - June 29, and will include Bible study, engaging chapter discussions, free video teaching messages and on-going encouragement via Renee's blog/websiteand Renee's Confident Heart Facebook page.





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Day 21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

“Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus could get very personal, in-your-face, below the surface. He had a rock-solid sense of who he was, and he wanted his followers to know him to the core. Listening to his teaching and admiring his character were not enough. To follow this rabbi, his followers needed to know him in a deeper way, a way that would change their hearts, pursuits and lives. He wanted to be the center, the joy, the “bread” and sustenance of their lives. As Jesus continued his ministry, he began to reveal more about who he was and why he had come.

Jesus explained that he is the "bread of life" - the source of sustenance and satisfaction. What can you do to gain a deeper satisfaction in your relationship with Jesus?

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Today's Lent reading: Mark 15-16 (NIV)

View today's Lent reading on Bible Gateway
Jesus Before Pilate

1 Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

2 "Are you the king of the Jews?" asked Pilate.

"You have said so," Jesus replied.

3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, "Aren't you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of."

5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

6 Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

9 "Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?" asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

12 "What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?" Pilate asked them.

13 "Crucify him!" they shouted.

14 "Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!"

15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

The Soldiers Mock Jesus

16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers.17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, "Hail, king of the Jews!" 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means "the place of the skull"). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS.

27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. [28] 29 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, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!" 31 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! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe." Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus

33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" (which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?").

35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, "Listen, he's calling Elijah."

36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to take him down," he said.

37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, "Surely this man was the Son of God!"

40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

The Burial of Jesus

42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.

Mark 16

Jesus Has Risen

1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"

4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

6 "Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'"

8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

[The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have verses 9-20.]

9 When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.

12 Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.

14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

15 He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."

19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.



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