Friday, April 13, 2012

Daily Devotional Friday 13th April

“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” Luke 9:23-24NIV
===
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Do as thou hast said."
2 Samuel 7:25

God's promises were never meant to be thrown aside as waste paper; he intended that they should be used. God's gold is not miser's money, but is minted to be traded with. Nothing pleases our Lord better than to see his promises put in circulation; he loves to see his children bring them up to him, and say, "Lord, do as thou hast said." We glorify God when we plead his promises. Do you think that God will be any the poorer for giving you the riches he has promised? Do you dream that he will be any the less holy for giving holiness to you? Do you imagine he will be any the less pure for washing you from your sins? He has said "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Faith lays hold upon the promise of pardon, and it does not delay, saying, "This is a precious promise, I wonder if it be true?" but it goes straight to the throne with it, and pleads, "Lord, here is the promise, Do as thou hast said.'" Our Lord replies, "Be it unto thee even as thou wilt." When a Christian grasps a promise, if he does not take it to God, he dishonours him; but when he hastens to the throne of grace, and cries, "Lord, I have nothing to recommend me but this, Thou hast said it;'" then his desire shall be granted. Our heavenly Banker delights to cash his own notes. Never let the promise rust. Draw the sword of promise out of its scabbard, and use it with holy violence. Think not that God will be troubled by your importunately reminding him of his promises. He loves to hear the loud outcries of needy souls. It is his delight to bestow favours. He is more ready to hear than you are to ask. The sun is not weary of shining, nor the fountain of flowing. It is God's nature to keep his promises; therefore go at once to the throne with "Do as thou hast said."

Evening

"But I give myself unto prayer."
Psalm 109:4

Lying tongues were busy against the reputation of David, but he did not defend himself; he moved the case into a higher court, and pleaded before the great King himself. Prayer is the safest method of replying to words of hatred. The Psalmist prayed in no cold-hearted manner, he gave himself to the exercise--threw his whole soul and heart into it--straining every sinew and muscle, as Jacob did when wrestling with the angel. Thus, and thus only, shall any of us speed at the throne of grace. As a shadow has no power because there is no substance in it, even so that supplication, in which a man's proper self is not thoroughly present in agonizing earnestness and vehement desire, is utterly ineffectual, for it lacks that which would give it force. "Fervent prayer," says an old divine, "like a cannon planted at the gates of heaven, makes them fly open." The common fault with the most of us is our readiness to yield to distractions. Our thoughts go roving hither and thither, and we make little progress towards our desired end. Like quicksilver our mind will not hold together, but rolls off this way and that. How great an evil this is! It injures us, and what is worse, it insults our God. What should we think of a petitioner, if, while having an audience with a prince, he should be playing with a feather or catching a fly?

Continuance and perseverance are intended in the expression of our text. David did not cry once, and then relapse into silence; his holy clamour was continued till it brought down the blessing. Prayer must not be our chance work, but our daily business, our habit and vocation. As artists give themselves to their models, and poets to their classical pursuits, so must we addict ourselves to prayer. We must be immersed in prayer as in our element, and so pray without ceasing. Lord, teach us so to pray that we may be more and more prevalent in supplication.

===

Today's reading: 1 Samuel 19-21, Luke 11:29-54 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Saul Tries to Kill David

1 Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. But Jonathan had taken a great liking to David 2 and warned him, “My father Saul is looking for a chance to kill you. Be on your guard tomorrow morning; go into hiding and stay there. 3 I will go out and stand with my father in the field where you are. I’ll speak to him about you and will tell you what I find out.”

4 Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly.5 He took his life in his hands when he killed the Philistine. The LORD won a great victory for all Israel, and you saw it and were glad. Why then would you do wrong to an innocent man like David by killing him for no reason?”

6 Saul listened to Jonathan and took this oath: “As surely as the LORD lives, David will not be put to death.”

7 So Jonathan called David and told him the whole conversation. He brought him to Saul, and David was with Saul as before.

8 Once more war broke out, and David went out and fought the Philistines. He struck them with such force that they fled before him.

9 But an evil spirit from the LORD came on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the lyre, 10 Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear, but David eluded him as Saul drove the spear into the wall. That night David made good his escape.

11 Saul sent men to David’s house to watch it and to kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, warned him, “If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you’ll be killed.” 12 So Michal let David down through a window, and he fled and escaped. 13 Then Michal took an idol and laid it on the bed, covering it with a garment and putting some goats’ hair at the head.

14 When Saul sent the men to capture David, Michal said, “He is ill.”

15 Then Saul sent the men back to see David and told them, “Bring him up to me in his bed so that I may kill him.” 16 But when the men entered, there was the idol in the bed, and at the head was some goats’ hair.

17 Saul said to Michal, “Why did you deceive me like this and send my enemy away so that he escaped?”

Michal told him, “He said to me, ‘Let me get away. Why should I kill you?’”

18 When David had fled and made his escape, he went to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. Then he and Samuel went to Naioth and stayed there. 19 Word came to Saul: “David is in Naioth at Ramah”; 20 so he sent men to capture him. But when they saw a group of prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing there as their leader, the Spirit of God came on Saul’s men, and they also prophesied. 21Saul was told about it, and he sent more men, and they prophesied too. Saul sent men a third time, and they also prophesied. 22 Finally, he himself left for Ramah and went to the great cistern at Seku. And he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?”

“Over in Naioth at Ramah,” they said.

23 So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even on him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth. 24 He stripped off his garments, and he too prophesied in Samuel’s presence. He lay naked all that day and all that night. This is why people say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”

1 Samuel 20

David and Jonathan

1 Then David fled from Naioth at Ramah and went to Jonathan and asked, “What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to kill me?”

2 “Never!” Jonathan replied. “You are not going to die! Look, my father doesn’t do anything, great or small, without letting me know. Why would he hide this from me? It isn’t so!”

3 But David took an oath and said, “Your father knows very well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said to himself, ‘Jonathan must not know this or he will be grieved.’ Yet as surely as the LORD lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death.”

4 Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you.”

5 So David said, “Look, tomorrow is the New Moon feast, and I am supposed to dine with the king; but let me go and hide in the field until the evening of the day after tomorrow. 6 If your father misses me at all, tell him, ‘David earnestly asked my permission to hurry to Bethlehem, his hometown, because an annual sacrifice is being made there for his whole clan.’ 7 If he says, ‘Very well,’ then your servant is safe. But if he loses his temper, you can be sure that he is determined to harm me. 8As for you, show kindness to your servant, for you have brought him into a covenant with you before the LORD. If I am guilty, then kill me yourself! Why hand me over to your father?”

9 “Never!” Jonathan said. “If I had the least inkling that my father was determined to harm you, wouldn’t I tell you?”

10 David asked, “Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?”

11 “Come,” Jonathan said, “let’s go out into the field.” So they went there together.

12 Then Jonathan said to David, “I swear by the LORD, the God of Israel, that I will surely sound out my father by this time the day after tomorrow! If he is favorably disposed toward you, will I not send you word and let you know? 13 But if my father intends to harm you, may the LORD deal with Jonathan, be it ever so severely, if I do not let you know and send you away in peace. May the LORD be with you as he has been with my father. 14 But show me unfailing kindness like the LORD’s kindness as long as I live, so that I may not be killed, 15 and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family—not even when the LORD has cut off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.”

16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the LORD call David’s enemies to account.” 17And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.

18 Then Jonathan said to David, “Tomorrow is the New Moon feast. You will be missed, because your seat will be empty. 19The day after tomorrow, toward evening, go to the place where you hid when this trouble began, and wait by the stone Ezel. 20I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I were shooting at a target. 21 Then I will send a boy and say, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I say to him, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you; bring them here,’ then come, because, as surely as the LORD lives, you are safe; there is no danger. 22 But if I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then you must go, because the LORD has sent you away. 23 And about the matter you and I discussed—remember, the LORD is witness between you and me forever.”

24 So David hid in the field, and when the New Moon feast came, the king sat down to eat. 25 He sat in his customary place by the wall, opposite Jonathan, and Abner sat next to Saul, but David’s place was empty. 26 Saul said nothing that day, for he thought, “Something must have happened to David to make him ceremonially unclean—surely he is unclean.” 27But the next day, the second day of the month, David’s place was empty again. Then Saul said to his son Jonathan, “Why hasn’t the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?”

28 Jonathan answered, “David earnestly asked me for permission to go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, ‘Let me go, because our family is observing a sacrifice in the town and my brother has ordered me to be there. If I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away to see my brothers.’ That is why he has not come to the king’s table.”

30 Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? 31 As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!”

32 “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” Jonathan asked his father. 33 But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David.

34 Jonathan got up from the table in fierce anger; on that second day of the feast he did not eat, because he was grieved at his father’s shameful treatment of David.

35 In the morning Jonathan went out to the field for his meeting with David. He had a small boy with him, 36 and he said to the boy, “Run and find the arrows I shoot.” As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. 37 When the boy came to the place where Jonathan’s arrow had fallen, Jonathan called out after him, “Isn’t the arrow beyond you?” 38 Then he shouted, “Hurry! Go quickly! Don’t stop!” The boy picked up the arrow and returned to his master. 39 (The boy knew nothing about all this; only Jonathan and David knew.) 40 Then Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy and said, “Go, carry them back to town.”

41 After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most.

42 Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.

1 Samuel 21

David at Nob

1 David went to Nob, to Ahimelek the priest. Ahimelek trembled when he met him, and asked, “Why are you alone? Why is no one with you?”

2 David answered Ahimelek the priest, “The king sent me on a mission and said to me, ‘No one is to know anything about the mission I am sending you on.’ As for my men, I have told them to meet me at a certain place. 3 Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you can find.”

4 But the priest answered David, “I don’t have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here—provided the men have kept themselves from women.”

5 David replied, “Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual whenever I set out. The men’s bodies are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!” 6 So the priest gave him the consecrated bread, since there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence that had been removed from before the LORD and replaced by hot bread on the day it was taken away.

7 Now one of Saul’s servants was there that day, detained before the LORD; he was Doeg the Edomite, Saul’s chief shepherd.

8 David asked Ahimelek, “Don’t you have a spear or a sword here? I haven’t brought my sword or any other weapon, because the king’s mission was urgent.”

9 The priest replied, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, is here; it is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you want it, take it; there is no sword here but that one.”

David said, “There is none like it; give it to me.”

David at Gath

10 That day David fled from Saul and went to Achish king of Gath. 11 But the servants of Achish said to him, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances:

“‘Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands’?”

12 David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. 13 So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.

14 Achish said to his servants, “Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me? 15 Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?”


Luke 11

The Sign of Jonah

29 As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. 30 For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom; and now something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and now something greater than Jonah is here.

The Lamp of the Body

33 “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. 35 See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. 36 Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”

Woes on the Pharisees and the Experts in the Law

37 When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.

39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.

42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

43 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces.

44 “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.”

45 One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”

46 Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.

47 “Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your ancestors who killed them. 48 So you testify that you approve of what your ancestors did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. 49 Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ 50Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.

52 “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”

53 When Jesus went outside, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, 54 waiting to catch him in something he might say.

===

Matthew [Măt'thew]—gift of jehovah.

The Man Who Left All to Follow Christ

This son of Alphaeus was a Hebrew with two names, a common thing in Galilee at that time. Mark and Luke, when recording Matthew’s call to discipleship, speak of him as Levi, but Matthew himself uses the name he has been loved by throughout the Christian era. In his despised occupation he was Levi, a name meaning “joined,” and joined he was to the world’s crooked extortionate ways and mercenary aims. He was also joined by his vocation to a hated foreign power under whose yoke orthodox Jews chafed.

Thus Levi and his craft were so detested that the very namepublican or tax-gatherer was commonly associated with sinner(Luke 15:1 ). His original name connected him with the tribe of Levi, the priestly house set aside for sanctuary service. But this Levi degraded his holy name. Whether the Lord changed the name to Matthew when He called Levi or whether the new found disciple chose it himself, we do not know. Meaning “the gift of God,” Matthew’s new name magnified the transforming power of Christ and indicated that Matthew was like the One who called him, a gift to Israel and to the world.

The call to service came when he was sitting at the receipt of custom ( Matt. 9:9; Luke 5:27) at Capernaum, the first world center, “the Great West Trunk Road from Damascus and the Far East to the Mediterranean Sea.” Matthew was a “publican,” which is not to be confused with the modern usage of the term as an English innkeeper. “Publican” is from the Latin wordpublicannus , meaning the collector of Roman taxes, the gathering of which was farmed out to minor officials ready to undertake this odious duty among their countrymen. A publican’s reward was that he could extort for his own benefit more than was due, so long as the extortion did not lead to revolt. This was why the publicans, as a class, were spoken of as “leeches.” They gorged themselves with money in the process of gathering money for the Caesars and consequently were reckoned to be outside the pale of decent society and of the synagogue.

“Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter’s Son, knew Matthew the publican quite well,” says Alexander Whyte. “Perhaps only too well. Jesus and His mother had by this time migrated from Nazareth to Capernaum. He had often been in Matthew’s toll-booth with His mother’s taxes, with other poor people’s taxes.” But the outcast was called by Christ to a better occupation, to better wealth than silver and gold, to serve a better King than Caesar. Without hesitation Matthew left all, arose and followed Christ (Luke 5:28).

To celebrate his surrender to Christ, Matthew entertained Christ and others to a feast in his own house (Matt. 9:10; Luke 5:29). This feast was a token of gratitude for his emancipation from a sordid occupation, and revealed a missionary spirit. Such an “At Home” served a threefold purpose:

I. It was a Jubilee Feast to commemorate his translation into a new life. Matthew wanted all and sundry to know that he was now a new creature in Christ Jesus.

II. It was a Farewell Dinner to declare his determination henceforth to follow and serve his new found King. It was his public confession of surrender to the call of Christ.

III. It was a Conversazione to introduce his old associates and friends to his new found Saviour, that they too might have an opportunity of hearing His wonderful words of life. Matthew sought to make a dinner party an evangelistic service. He knew many would come to his house to meet Christ who would not go to the synagogue to hear Him. Doubtless many publicans and sinners learned that day that Christ did not despise them.

Matthew became not only an apostle but also the writer of the first gospel. He left behind an undying image of his Lord. Matthew has given us The Galilean Gospel -unique in every way. When he rose and left all to follow Christ, the only things Matthew took out of his old life were his pen and ink. It is well for us that he did, since he took them with him for such a good purpose.

Matthew’s gospel is striking in that it alone gives us the Parables of the Kingdom. The theme of his book, known as “the Hebrew Porch of the New Testament” is The King and His Kingdom. Some fifty-six times he uses the word “kingdom.” In his record of the life and labors of Christ, Matthew has given us the image of Christ as it fell upon his own heart.

Trained to systematic methods and well acquainted with Jewish character and religion, Matthew was fitted to commend Christ to the Jews. He appeals to the student of Old Testament literature. As a writer, he is before us as an eyewitness of the events he describes and as earwitness of the discourses he records. As to his qualifications, Matthew had a love of truth and was sensible of the mercy of God, and the misery of man. In self-effacing humility, he loses sight of himself in adoration of his Hero. It is thus that his book can be divided in this three-fold way:

The early days of the Messiah ( Matt. 1-4:16).

The signs and works of the Messiah (Matt. 4:17-16:20).

The passion of the Messiah (Matt. 16:21-28:20).

===

What Did Jesus Understand About His Own Miracles?

Today's reading: Luke 11:20

Jesus' deeds-especially his miracles-offer additional insights into how Jesus viewed himself. It's not the fact that Jesus performed miracles that illuminates his self-understanding (especially since his own disciples later performed miracles), but what's important is how he interpreted his own miracles.

Jesus said, "If I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Luke 11:20). He's not like other miracle workers who do amazing things and then life proceeds as it always has. No-to Jesus, his miracles were a sign indicating the coming of the kingdom of God. They were a foretaste of what the kingdom is going to be like. And that sets Jesus apart.

Jesus saw his miracles as bringing about something unprecedented-the coming of God's dominion. He didn't merely see himself as a worker of miracles; he saw himself as the one in whom and through whom the promises of God come to pass. That's a not-too-thinly-veiled claim of transcendence.


Adapted from interview with Dr. Ben Witherington III.

NIVSocialicons
===

Blood on His Hands

Hebrews 10:19-39

Recommended Reading: Leviticus 16:1-34; Matthew 6:19-21; Romans 8:28-39; 1 John 1:1-4

The sacrifice of atonement involved lots of blood-that should be a clue for us as to its importance to God. Once a year the high priest entered the most sacred place on Earth to offer up to God the blood of an animal. As a result, according to the law, the people of Israel temporarily stood in right relationship before their Creator Father.

Those of us who grew up attending Sunday school sometimes have a misperception that the temple was a place like the church in which we grew up-typically clean, orderly and with a planned program for worship. Most people, dressed in their "Sunday best," sat quietly during the service and then enjoyed refreshments afterward. But that's not what the Israelites experienced. The temple was for them a place of slaughter, bloodletting and sacrifice.

To be sure, the sacrifice was a messy business-hearing the cries of the resistant animal; watching the priest execute the slaughter and spread the sacrificed animal's blood on the altar; and then watching the carcasses being sliced, cut and burned in sacrifice to God. Yes, this was a visceral experience quite opposite of what we experience in worship today. Yet this brutal ritual represented God's provision for Israel to become once again right with him.

We shouldn't be surprised that God's new, permanent arrangement for people to come to him also required blood on someone's hands. Jesus' blood stained many hands: those of Judas, the Jewish Pharisees, the Roman government-even Pilate, who tried in advance to wash the symbolic stains from his hands. But Jesus' blood fell mostly on the hands of his own Father, the God who "did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all" (Romans 8:32).

Our sin separates us from God, makes us wrong before him. In turn, God's sacrifice of his own son cancels our separation from God. The blood of his Son sets us right before the Father.

That's the far-reaching extent of our Father's love for us. He reaches out to us today with those same bloodstained hands. The permanent, atoning sacrifice of the unblemished Lamb, Jesus, permits us to "draw near to God" (Hebrews 10:22), to "hold unswervingly to the hope we profess" (verse 23), to "spur one another on" (verse 24), to "not [give] up" and to "[encourage] one another" (verse 25).

To Take Away

  • Take a few minutes to read Leviticus 16. Why do you think God required such elaborate ritual and detail for the sacrifice of atonement?
  • According to Old Testament law, Israel needed to offer sacrifices to become right before God. In the New Testament Jesus becomes the final sacrifice for all. Why did God require a sacrifice at all?
  • How does the thought that the Father "gave [Jesus] up for us all" (Romans 8:32) make you feel about God? Why? What effect does this have on your life?

NIVSocialicons
===

TT_Coramdeo_ttlogo

The Fruit of Repentance

Matthew 3:7-10

One of the more neglected tools that can help us grow in our holiness is the confession of sins one to another (James 5:16). It can be difficult to admit to other people that we have sinned, but loving brothers and sisters in Christ can help assure us of His forgiveness and help us overcome persistent temptations. Without being involved in the lives of other believers we will not find these opportunities. Take the initiative and be a part of the lives of other Christians.

For further study:

2 Chronicles 7:14

The Bible in a year:

Gen. 50-Exodus 1

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.

===
P31Header
Lysa TerKeurst

April 12, 2012

Three Marriage Lies
Lysa TerKeurst

"[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:7-8(NIV)

I know the heart-ripping hopelessness of a relationship unraveling. The coexisting. The silent tension. The tears.

The first five years of my marriage were really hard. Two sinners coming together with loads of baggage, unrealistic expectations, and extremely strong wills.

There was yelling. There was the silent treatment. There were doors slammed. There was bitterness. There was a contemplation of calling it quits. There was this sinking feeling that things would never, could never get better. That's when I first started hearing the 3 lies:

ï I married the wrong person.
ï He should make me feel loved.
ï There is someone else better out there.

I believed those lies. They started to weave a tangled web of confusion in my heart. All I could see was all that was wrong with him. I became so blind to his good. I became so blind to my not-so-good.

And I wasn't shy about sharing my frustrations about the whole situation with my friends.

Many nodded their head in agreement with me, making me feel ever so justified. But one didn't. She said, "I know what you think. But what does the Bible say?"

Ugghhhh. The Bible? I didn't think her "religious suggestion" would help me. But over the next couple of days, I kept hearing her question about looking into the Bible replaying over and over in my mind.

Reluctantly and with great skepticism, I tried it one afternoon. I turned to a couple of verses she suggested including 1 Corinthians 13. As I read the list of everything love is supposed to be, I got discouraged. My love didn't feel kind, patient, or persevering. The love in my marriage felt broken.

I closed the Bible. It didn't seem to do anything but make me feel worse. So much for that.

Then a few days later I heard an interview on a Christian radio station where a couple was talking about these same verses. I wanted to gag and turn the station. What do they know about how hard love can be? That's when they said a statement that grabbed me, "Love isn't a feeling, it's a decision."

Wow.

I went home and flipped to 1 Corinthians 13 again. This time instead of reading it like a list of what love should make me feel, I read it as if I could decide to make my love fit these qualities. My love will be kind. My love will be patient. My love will persevere. Not because I feel it ó but because I choose it.

At the same time God was working on my husband's heart as well. We decided to make some 1 Corinthians 13 love decisions. Slowly, the cold stone wall between us started to come down.

It wasn't easy. It wasn't overnight. But slowly our attitudes and our actions toward one another changed. And I stopped believing the marriage lies and replaced them with 3 marriage truths:

ï Having a good marriage is more about being the right partner than having the right partner.
ï Love is a decision.
ï The grass isn't greener on the other side. It's greener where you water and fertilize it.

Maybe you've heard the marriage lies before. My heart aches for you if you are in a hard place in your marriage. And believe me, I know tough relationships are stinkin' complicated and way beyond what a simple devotion can possibly untangle. But maybe something I've said today can help loosen one knot Ö or at least breathe a little hope into your life today.

Dear Lord, thank You for this truth, no matter how hard it is to read. Thanks for Your Holy Spirit, who gives me strength to turn from the lies and walk in Your truth. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Read this very important article posted at Lysa's blogtoday: "But what if my husband has given up?" Sometimes the best investment you can make in your marriage is tough love. Read more by clicking here.

It's that time of year when wedding bells ring. Why not pick up a set of Lysa's books Capture His Heart andCapture Her Heart for the new bride and groom, and a set for you and your spouse?

Reflect and Respond:
Do you believe you married the wrong person, that he should make you feel loved, that there is someone else better out there?

How can you be the right partner for your spouse today?

Love is a decision. Decide today to water and fertilize your marriage.

Power Verses:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (NIV)

© 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

===
GiG Banner 2012 Big

April 12, 2012
Choose Joy
Mary Southerland

Today's Truth
James 1:2-3 Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow (NLT).

Friend to Friend
When golf balls were first manufactured, their covers were smooth. Golfers soon discovered that after the balls had been roughed up a bit, they were able to get more distance out of them. Manufacturers then began producing golf balls with dimpled covers.

Life is a lot like that. It takes some rough spots to make us go our farthest. It takes some storms to teach us that God is faithful and will provide the strength to stand firm.

The Apostle Paul knew all about storms. As a fully devoted follower of Christ, Paul was despised, slandered, mistreated, abused and poor. He had every right to be angry and distressed but instead chose joy. "We own nothing, and yet we have everything" (2 Corinthians 6:8-10 NLT).

I never fully understood the amazing truth behind Paul's words because I had never really lived their truth – until 1995 – when I found myself sitting at the bottom of a deep, dark pit. Clinical depression, the psychologist called it. The name was irrelevant to me. All I knew was that it was the most hellish place I had ever been and I had absolutely no idea how to escape. I was paralyzed and totally helpless – the perfect setting for a miracle. Sitting at the feet of Jesus, stripped of my human efforts and impotent plans, I discovered the life changing truth that He did not come to eliminate the storms in my life. No - He came to fill those storms with His presence. I was not delivered from that pit until I was delivered in that pit.

Because joy is a deeply-rooted confidence that God is in control, it only stands to reason that the highest joy will come through the greatest pain. The greater the pain, the more we are forced to search for and cling to the hand of God. But that only happens when we choose the right attitude toward pain.

James 1:2-3 Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. (NLT)

When was the last time you threw a party to celebrate the trials and storms in life? God's ways are higher than our ways and most human reactions are in direct opposition to the paradoxical ways of God. Honestly, there are times when what He has asked me to do simply does not make sense – to me. And there we find the problem. Faith is a matter of blind obedience, not human logic.

At the heart of every storm is victory – waiting to be claimed. The words of James offer the perfect backdrop for every life storm.

My son, Jered, was a beautiful baby. One Easter I took him to Sears for their "Get a million pictures for $2.99" deal. Expecting the studio to be crowed, I was met by one bored photographer thrilled to see his first customers. Jered always loved having his picture made and put on quite a show. After the advertised special pictures were taken, the photographer asked, "Listen, I don't have any appointments today and really need some new pictures for wall displays. Would you mind if I took more pictures of Jered?" What mother is going to say, "I don't want my child's face plastered on every wall of this studio?" Not this proud mama. We went to work.

The photographer handed me a box of clothes, asking me to choose several different outfits for Jered. First was a tuxedo. No, I am not kidding you. The photographer pulled down a silver backdrop, making Jered's curly, black hair stand out and his blue eyes dance. Next was the blue snow suit against a red backdrop. With every backdrop, Jered's appearance changed and an eternal truth lodged in my heart.

We have a different backdrop for every life experience. It is a manger – a cruel cross – an empty tomb – and eternity itself. That backdrop changes everything. It makes our hearts sing and our souls dance with the truth that we can always count on His joy in us to face the storms around us.

Let's Pray
Father, I come to You, asking for the strength to withstand the storm in my life. Forgive me for giving in to the fear and doubt instead of turning to you in faith. I now turn to You, Lord. I choose to lean on You. Show me the way.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.

Now It's Your Turn
What storm is raging in your life today? What step do you need to take in order to experience His strength for that storm? Your Father stands ready to meet you in your darkest hour. He longs to wrap His arms around you until the winds die down and the waves are stilled. Right now – surrender. Yield to His presence and power. Celebrate the storm that dashed your battered life on the shores of His unyielding love.

More from the Girlfriends
Need help learning how to study the Bible? Check out one of Mary's E-Bible Studies for practical steps you can take to strengthen your faith and find answers to the problems you face every day. Titles include Strength for the Storm,God's Answer to Stress, Getting a Grip on Fear and more.

Join other women across the world in Mary's Online Bible Study, Light for the Journey. How to Tame the Tongueis the current series. Check it out!

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

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

===

TT_devotionswithrc_ttlogo

The Fruit of Repentance

Matthew 3:7-10 " But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for the baptism, he said to them, '... Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance'" ( vv. 7-8).

After centuries of silence, the covenant Lord spoke to His people again through John the Baptist. Beginning around 27a.d., John prepared the way for the Messiah to inaugurate God's kingdom, calling Israel to repentance because the nation as a whole had not shown contrition for the sins that led to exile from Palestine. In John's day, the people were not ready for the kingdom to come.

John's call is laid on all of us throughout the Bible. "Repentance" is the English translation of the Greek termmetanoia , which literally means "change of mind." Repentance expresses sorrow for the ways in which we have offended God (Ps. 51:4), but it is also much more. Repentance is a change of mind and actions wherein we cease our approval of wickedness and justification of bad behavior. It is foremost a decisive reorientation of one's life away from the self and toward the Lord. This does not mean we repent only once at the start of the Christian life and then go our merry way, for confession of sin is needed until life's end ( 1 John 1:8-9). But this subsequent repentance flows from and confirms the initial act wherein we realize our desperate state, admit our need of pardon, and come to Jesus in a childlike manner (Matt. 19:13-15).

John Calvin comments on today's passage, saying, "Repentance is an inward matter, which has its seat in the heart and soul, but afterwards yields its fruits in a change of life." It is not enough to profess sorrow for transgression; we have not truly turned from sin if our lives are unchanged (Isa. 29:13-14; James 2:14-26 ). Scripture does not teach that sinless perfection is possible before we are glorified, nor does it deny that some sins are harder to overcome than others. What it does say is that those who are truly repentant do what they can to "resist the devil" (James 4:7) and flee temptation. They also look for others to help them bear their burdens, to hold them accountable and help them find strength when they are weak (Gal. 6:1-2 ). The truly repentant lapse into sin on occasion, but they always return to the narrow path of righteousness. True converts will not find their assurance in denominational membership (Matt. 3:9-10) or in a past act of devotion. They find it in a justified life of repentance and faith.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

One of the more neglected tools that can help us grow in our holiness is the confession of sins one to another (James 5:16). It can be difficult to admit to other people that we have sinned, but loving brothers and sisters in Christ can help assure us of His forgiveness and help us overcome persistent temptations. Without being involved in the lives of other believers we will not find these opportunities. Take the initiative and be a part of the lives of other Christians.

For further study:

2 Chronicles 7:14

The Bible in a year:

Gen. 50-Exodus 1

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.

===

Spurgeon-MetropolitanTabernacle-Header-1

Knowledge commended

‘But the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many.’ Daniel 11:32–33

Suggested Further Reading: Ezra 7:1–10

Search the Scriptures. Do not merely read them—search them; look out the parallel passages; collate them; try to get the meaning of the Spirit upon any one truth by looking to all the texts which refer to it. Read the Bible consecutively: do not merely read a verse here and there—that is not fair. You would never know anything about John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress if you opened it every morning and read six lines in any part and then shut it up again; you must read it all through if you want to know anything about it. Get those books, say Mark or John; read Mark right through from beginning to end; do not stop with two or three verses, or a chapter, but try to know what Mark is aiming at. It is not fair to Paul to take his epistle to the Romans and read one chapter: we are obliged to do it in public service; but if you want to get at Paul’s meaning, read the whole epistle through as you would another letter. Read the Bible in a commonsense way. Pray after you have read it as much as you like. When you are reading it, if you come to a knotty point, do not skip it. You all have some Christian friend who knows more than you do; go to him and try to get the thing explained. Above all, when you have read any passage, and do understand it, act it out, and ask the Spirit of God to burn the meaning into your conscience till it is written on the fleshy tables of your heart.

For meditation : Daily readings should supplement Bible study, not replace it. Have you ever tried to read the Bible in a year? There are reading schemes to help you. It may be hard work, especially the first time, but many have been so blessed that they have resolved to read the whole Bible every year. But beware of it becoming an academic exercise. Note Ezra’s example—his desire was to study God’s word, to do it and to teach it—in that order (Ezra 7:10). His aim was not to practise what he preached, but to preach what he practised!

Sermon no. 609
15 January (1865)

===

Spurgeon-NewParkStreet-Header-3

A home question

“But are there not with you, even with you, sins against the Lord your God?” 2 Chronicles 28:10

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 7:1-5

Tell him that his sins deserve the wrath of hell. Make him feel that it is an awful thing to fall into the hands of our God, for he is a consuming fire. Then throw him down on a bed of spikes, and make him sleep there if he can. Roll him on the spikes, and tell him that bad as he is, he is worse by nature than by practice. Make him feel that the leprosy lies deep within. Give him no rest. Treat him as cruelly as he could treat another. It would only be his deserts. But who is this that I am telling you to treat so? Yourself, my hearer, yourself. Be as severe as you can, but let the culprit be yourself. Put on the wig, and sit upon the judgment-seat. Read the king’s commission. There is such a commission for you to be a judge. It says—Judge thyself—though it says judge not others. Put on, I say, your robes; sit up there Lord Chief Justice of the Isle of Man, and then bring up the culprit. Make him stand at the bar. Accuse him; plead against him; condemn him. Say: “Take him away, jailor.” Find out the hardest punishment you can discover in the statute book, and believe that he deserves it all. Be as severe as ever you can on yourself, even to the putting on the black cap, and reading the sentence of death. When you have done this, you will be in a hopeful way for life, for he that condemns himself God absolves. He that stands self-convicted, may look to Christ hanging on the cross, and see himself hanging there, and see his sins for ever put away by the sacrifice of Jesus on the tree.

For meditation: Does your heart condemn you before God? The Lord Jesus Christ is your defence lawyer, but only if you are trusting in him as your Saviour, and he can silence even the condemnation coming from your own heart (1 John 2:1;3:19-23).

Sermon no. 294
15 January (1860)

===
BG-News-header
Bible Gateway App Now Available for iPhone

iPad-iPhone-smallYou can now get the Bible Gateway app for your iPhone! The app is now available for both iPhone and iPad, with an Android version coming soon.

If you haven't yet tried out the Bible Gateway mobile app, we invite you to do so! With the Bible Gateway app, you can:
  • Read the Bible in many different translations
  • Listen to audio Bibles
  • Access a library of Bible study resources
  • Highlight Bible passages and take notes
  • Share verses with friends on your favorite social networks
And of course, the app is completely free!

We're greatly humbled by and thankful for the positive response from Bible Gateway visitors who've downloaded and used the app since its launch. We've worked hard to bring you the best possible Bible reading and study experience on your mobile device. We hope you'll try it out and let us know what you think. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can download and start using the app now!

If you'd like to be notified when the app becomes available for other mobile platforms, you can sign up to receive periodic updates at the Bible Gateway App page.

More News and Insights From the Blog

Spring has been both busy and exciting at Bible Gateway. Here are a few recent highlights from our blog:
Sign Up for Bible Gateway Bookperk Alerts

Have you signed up yet for Bible Gateway's weekly Bookperk alerts ? Every week, you'll be notified about a new special deal on books, Bibles, and more. Every week's Bookperk is different--it might be an author-signed copy of a favorite book, a bundle deal on several related resources, or something else unique.

This week there are two Bookperks available: a specially-priced Made to Crave Ministry kit and an autographed copy of Kelly Kapic's inspirational book For God So Loved, He Gave. Stop by to see each week's new Bookperk, or better yet, sign up to be notified each time a new deal becomes available.

That's all for now! We hope you had a blessed Easter season, and that you're growing in grace as a servant of the Risen Lord.

Sincerely,
The Bible Gateway team
===


Considering going back to school? Why not try to win Free Classes for the year at Liberty University Online? Register before April 30th and be entered for a chance to win. Liberty University Online's flexible and affordable online degree programs mean you can earn your degree where and when you want.


Post a Comment