Friday, April 20, 2012

Daily Devotional Friday 20th April

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"That through death he might destroy him that had the power of death."
Hebrews 2:14

O child of God, death hath lost its sting, because the devil's power over it is destroyed. Then cease to fear dying. Ask grace from God the Holy Ghost, that by an intimate knowledge and a firm belief of thy Redeemer's death, thou mayst be strengthened for that dread hour. Living near the cross of Calvary thou mayst think of death with pleasure, and welcome it when it comes with intense delight. It is sweet to die in the Lord: it is a covenant-blessing to sleep in Jesus. Death is no longer banishment, it is a return from exile, a going home to the many mansions where the loved ones already dwell. The distance between glorified spirits in heaven and militant saints on earth seems great; but it is not so. We are not far from home--a moment will bring us there. The sail is spread; the soul is launched upon the deep. How long will be its voyage? How many wearying winds must beat upon the sail ere it shall be reefed in the port of peace? How long shall that soul be tossed upon the waves before it comes to that sea which knows no storm? Listen to the answer, "Absent from the body, present with the Lord." Yon ship has just departed, but it is already at its haven. It did but spread its sail and it was there. Like that ship of old, upon the Lake of Galilee, a storm had tossed it, but Jesus said, "Peace, be still," and immediately it came to land. Think not that a long period intervenes between the instant of death and the eternity of glory. When the eyes close on earth they open in heaven. The horses of fire are not an instant on the road. Then, O child of God, what is there for thee to fear in death, seeing that through the death of thy Lord its curse and sting are destroyed? and now it is but a Jacob's ladder whose foot is in the dark grave, but its top reaches to glory everlasting.

Evening

"Fight the Lord's battles."
1 Samuel 18:17

The sacramental host of God's elect is warring still on earth, Jesus Christ being the Captain of their salvation. He has said, "Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Hark to the shouts of war! Now let the people of God stand fast in their ranks, and let no man's heart fail him. It is true that just now in England the battle is turned against us, and unless the Lord Jesus shall lift his sword, we know not what may become of the church of God in this land; but let us be of good courage, and play the man. There never was a day when Protestantism seemed to tremble more in the scales than now that a fierce effort is making to restore the Romish antichrist to his ancient seat. We greatly want a bold voice and a strong hand to preach and publish the old gospel for which martyrs bled and confessors died. The Saviour is, by his Spirit, still on earth; let this cheer us. He is ever in the midst of the fight, and therefore the battle is not doubtful. And as the conflict rages, what a sweet satisfaction it is to know that the Lord Jesus, in his office as our great Intercessor, is prevalently pleading for his people! O anxious gazer, look not so much at the battle below, for there thou shalt be enshrouded in smoke, and amazed with garments rolled in blood; but lift thine eyes yonder where the Saviour lives and pleads, for while he intercedes, the cause of God is safe. Let us fight as if it all depended upon us, but let us look up and know that all depends upon him.

Now, by the lilies of Christian purity, and by the roses of the Saviour's atonement, by the roes and by the hinds of the field, we charge you who are lovers of Jesus, to do valiantly in the Holy War, for truth and righteousness, for the kingdom and crown jewels of your Master. Onward! "for the battle is not yours but God's."

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Today's reading: 2 Samuel 6-8, Luke 15:1-10 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
The Ark Brought to Jerusalem

1 David again brought together all the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand. 2 He and all his men went to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. 3 They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart 4 with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. 5 David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.

6 When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. 7 The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.

8 Then David was angry because the LORD’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.

9 David was afraid of the LORD that day and said, “How can the ark of the LORD ever come to me?” 10 He was not willing to take the ark of the LORD to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 11The ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the LORD blessed him and his entire household.

12 Now King David was told, “The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 13When those who were carrying the ark of the LORD had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.

16 As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.

17 They brought the ark of the LORD and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the LORD. 18 After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD Almighty. 19 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.

20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”

21 David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the LORD. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”

23 And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.

2 Samuel 7

God’s Promise to David

1 After the king was settled in his palace and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2 he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”

3 Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the LORD is with you.”

4 But that night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying:

5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? 6 I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. 7 Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’

8 “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.

“‘The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’”

17 Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation.

David’s Prayer

18 Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said:

“Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19 And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign LORD, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant—and this decree, Sovereign LORD, is for a mere human!

20 “What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, Sovereign LORD. 21 For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.

22 “How great you are, Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? 24 You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, LORD, have become their God.

25 “And now, LORD God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The LORD Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight.

27 “LORD Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 29Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign LORD, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.”

2 Samuel 8

David’s Victories

1 In the course of time, David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and he took Metheg Ammah from the control of the Philistines.

2 David also defeated the Moabites. He made them lie down on the ground and measured them off with a length of cord. Every two lengths of them were put to death, and the third length was allowed to live. So the Moabites became subject to David and brought him tribute.

3 Moreover, David defeated Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah, when he went to restore his monument at the Euphrates River. 4 David captured a thousand of his chariots, seven thousand charioteers and twenty thousand foot soldiers. He hamstrung all but a hundred of the chariot horses.

5 When the Arameans of Damascus came to help Hadadezer king of Zobah, David struck down twenty-two thousand of them.6 He put garrisons in the Aramean kingdom of Damascus, and the Arameans became subject to him and brought tribute. The LORD gave David victory wherever he went.

7 David took the gold shields that belonged to the officers of Hadadezer and brought them to Jerusalem. 8 From Tebah and Berothai, towns that belonged to Hadadezer, King David took a great quantity of bronze.

9 When Tou king of Hamath heard that David had defeated the entire army of Hadadezer, 10 he sent his son Joram to King David to greet him and congratulate him on his victory in battle over Hadadezer, who had been at war with Tou. Joram brought with him articles of silver, of gold and of bronze.

11 King David dedicated these articles to the LORD, as he had done with the silver and gold from all the nations he had subdued: 12 Edom and Moab, the Ammonites and the Philistines, and Amalek. He also dedicated the plunder taken from Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah.

13 And David became famous after he returned from striking down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.

14 He put garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David. The LORD gave David victory wherever he went.

David’s Officials

15 David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people. 16 Joab son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder; 17 Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelek son of Abiathar were priests; Seraiah was secretary; 18 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites and Pelethites; and David’s sons were priests.


Luke 15

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

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Adaiah [Ăd-aī'ah]—jehovah hath adorned or pleasing to jehovah.

  1. A man of Boscath and father of Josiah’s mother (2 Kings 22:1).
  2. A Levite descended from Gershom (1 Chron. 6:41-43).
  3. A son of Shimhi the Benjamite ( 1 Chron. 8:12-21).
  4. A Levite of the family of Aaron, and head of a family living in Jerusalem (1 Chron. 9:10-12).
  5. The father of Captain Masseiah who helped Jehoiada put Joash on the throne of Judah (2 Chron. 23:1).
  6. A son of Bani who married a foreign wife during the exile ( Ezra 10:29).
  7. Another of a different Bani family who did the same thing (Ezra 10:34, 39).
  8. A descendant of Judah by Perez ( Neh. 11:5).
  9. A Levite of the family of Aaron. Most likely the same person as No. 4 (Neh. 11:12).
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The Biblical Basis for Missions

John 3:16-17

Not all of us are called to be full-time missionaries, but all of us are called to be involved in missions - if not as goers, then as senders. Have you fully grasped the importance of world missions to the plans of God? Consider today the budget you have established for giving to worldwide outreach. Try to increase what you give to the sending of workers - if not permanently, then in a one-time gift to a missionary who needs support to fulfill his call.

For further study:

Isaiah 6:8

The Bible in a year:

2 Samuel 12-14

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

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The Biblical Basis for Missions

John 3:16-17 "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him" ( v. 17).

Even Christians who attend churches that are faithful to the teaching of Scripture have an unfortunate tendency to see a tension between God the Father and God the Son. Without necessarily being conscious of it, many think of the Father as harsh and vindictive, seeking only to punish mankind. At the same time, His Son Jesus Christ is viewed as the compassionate and merciful one who must persuade His Father to spare some of His people from wrath. However, this is a gross distortion of the biblical teaching.

As today's passage indicates, it is the Father Himself who, out of love for creation, has sent His Son to save transgressors (John 3:16-17). In fact, when we look at the wide scope of redemptive history, we find that the Almighty has always been the one who sends out emissaries for the purposes of salvation. God sent Moses to Pharaoh to liberate the children of Israel from bondage (Ex. 3:1-10 ). Likewise, He sent the prophets to call the people to repent of their sins in order that they might be rescued from destruction (2 Kings 17:13).

The concept of God sending His servants into the world to save them from judgment is so important that the church recognizes her call in the very word used to describe worldwide outreach - missions. This word comes from the Latin verbmissio, which means "to send." When the church sends evangelists and missionaries to preach the Gospel, she is imitating the Creator Himself.

Furthermore, the church sends proclaimers of the Word to the ends of the earth in order to fulfill the Savior's direct command. First, the Father sent Jesus to save sinners, and now, Christ sends His people to bring the word of salvation to those who have never heard of Him (John 17:16-18). Loving our Redeemer requires us to obey His commandments (14:15 ), one of which is the call to world missions. We need not fear any opposition that may arise when we go forth, because as we follow Jesus we can be assured that He has asked the Father to send the Holy Spirit to go out with us (vv. 16-17). His presence assures us that the task of missions is not impossible; our preaching will surely be used to bring salvation to the ends of the earth when we are sent into the world.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Not all of us are called to be full-time missionaries, but all of us are called to be involved in missions - if not as goers, then as senders. Have you fully grasped the importance of world missions to the plans of God? Consider today the budget you have established for giving to worldwide outreach. Try to increase what you give to the sending of workers - if not permanently, then in a one-time gift to a missionary who needs support to fulfill his call.

For further study:

Isaiah 6:8

The Bible in a year:

2 Samuel 12-14

INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright Copyright symbol 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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Resurrection—Christ the firstfruits

‘But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.’ 1 Corinthians 15:20

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 6:5–11

Why is it that the resurrection of Christ is of so much importance? Upon it we have said that the whole system of Christianity rests; for ‘if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain… ye are yet in your sins’ ( 1 Corinthians 15:14,17). The divinity of Christ finds its surest proof in his resurrection, since the apostle tells us that Christ was ‘declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead’ (Romans 1:4). It would not be unreasonable to doubt his deity if he had not risen. Moreover, Christ’s sovereignty also depends upon his resurrection, for Scripture affirms: ‘to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living’ (Romans 14:9). Again, ourjustification, that choice blessing of the covenant, hangs upon Christ’s resurrection. He ‘was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification’ (Romans 4:25). Our veryregeneration depends upon his resurrection, for Peter, speaking by the Holy Spirit, exclaims, ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’ (1 Peter 1:3). And most certainly our ultimate resurrection rests here; for ‘if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you’ ( Romans 8:11). If Christ be not risen, then we shall not rise; but if he be risen, then they who are asleep in Christ have not perished, but in their flesh shall surely behold their God.

For meditation: A great emphasis was placed by the preachers of the early church upon the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ as well as upon his death (Acts 2:24,31–32;3:15,26; 4:10,33; 5:30; 10:40–41; 13:30,33–34,37; 17:3,18, 31;26:23). Is it important to you?

Sermon no. 445
20 April (1862)

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April 19, 2012
Accountability: A Hedge of Protection
Mary Southerland

Today's Truth
Romans 12:5b "…and each member belongs to all the others."

Friend to Friend
A certain expert guide lived in the deserts of Arabia. He was known for his tracking skills and never lost his way. The secret of his success could be found in the fact that he carried with him a homing pigeon with a very fine cord attached to one of its legs. When he had doubts as to which path to take, he threw the bird into the air. The pigeon quickly strained at the cord to fly in the direction of home, leading the guide accurately to his goal. Because of this unique practice, he was known as "the dove man."

We always need connections to those who will point us in the right direction. We will take the wrong path or make a wrong turn and there will be times when we have no idea which way to go or how to get home. We must then turn to God and to those who hold us accountable.

Accountability is often seen as confining, a relationship straight jacket that limits freedom of expression and hinders those who "march to the beat of a different drummer." Actually, the opposite is true. Accountability frees us to grow and change and is an important part of every relationship.

When I married into the Southerland family, I didn't know that tent camping was part of the deal. I might have reconsidered (just kidding). I decided I could learn to camp and maybe even enjoy it! My first trip to Lake Greason in the foothills of the Ozarks was quite an experience. It did not take me long to learn the daily routine. Each morning, Dan's mom would prepare a huge breakfast. The kids then did dishes while mom changed into her swim suit, donned her sun glasses, grabbed a towel and headed for the lake. On the shore, she grabbed an inner tube, positioned her towel in just the right spot over the tube, turned around and sat down. She would then float blissfully for hours.

There was a slight problem with this plan. Lake Greason had a current that carried mom down the lake, around the bend and into the path of ski boats. Several times a day, someone would have to swim after her and pull her back to the safety of the shore, where she would profusely thank them and go right back to floating. Finally, one of the kids came up with a great idea. We grabbed a ski rope, tied one end to mom's inner tube and the other end to a wooden stake driven securely into the ground. She could then float until the rope ran out and someone "reeled her in." What a perfect picture of accountability – giving someone who loves you the permission to "reel you in" when they see you headed in a dangerous direction. When we willingly make ourselves accountable to others, we are creating a hedge of protection that ultimately yields boundaries, parameters or behavioral lines that should not be crossed.

Honestly, most of us have experienced very little accountability in life because at the heart of being accountable to someone is the willingness to be submissive to them. We have abused the concept of submission. It was never intended to be demeaning and does not involve slavery in any form. Submission is protection and an intentional willingness to consider first the desires and wishes of another before our own. God places others in our lives to see things that we cannot see, to encourage and build up, to correct, love and protect, but still, we tend to view accountability as a crutch and submission as a weakness. Submission is harnessed strength, a controlled strength that is born out of obedience to God's command. "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Ephesians 5:21).

Jesus submitted Himself to the will of His father. He willingly laid down His desires and dreams, His plans and hopes in total submission. Out of that total surrender came the most powerful life ever lived. When we willingly submit ourselves to God and choose to make ourselves accountable to others, we will experience a freedom and power we have never known before.

Let's Pray
Father, I come to You today, submitting myself to You. Thank You for the protection, direction and power that comes from that submission. Forgive me when I have stood silent while someone I loved made dangerous decisions. Give me the courage to confront in love. Give me the wisdom to receive correction and to be accountable to others. Thank You for Your love that never condemns but always stands ready to keep me from making mistakes. And when I do fall, thank You for being there to pick me up and walk with me.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.

Now It's Your Turn
Read Proverbs 27:6 "Faithful are wounds of a friend." What does this verse mean to you? How does this verse relate to accountability?

Name two people in your life to whom you are accountable.
Are they willing to tell you the truth instead of what you want to hear?
Are they godly people who will constantly point you to Christ?

Who is accountable to you?
Are you willing to step between that person and the wrong choices?
Can you confront in love for the sole purpose of restoration?

More from the Girlfriends
God did not create us to live alone. We were created to need each other – for many reasons – one of the most important being accountability. It is much easier to make the wrong choices and to take the wrong turns when no one is watching. I often wonder how many marriages have failed, how many friendships have been destroyed, or how many lives have been wasted because there was no accountability. I praise God every day for a husband and friends who are willing to be a safety net in my life by holding me accountable. If you don't have an accountability partner, don't wait another minute. Ask God to send you a friend who loves you enough to protect you by holding you accountable.

Need help? Check out my Online Bible Study. We are learning how to tame the tongue.

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

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Final perseverance

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” Hebrews 6:4-6

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 10:26-39

God preserves his children from falling away; but he keeps them by the use of means; and one of these is, the terrors of the law, showing them what would happen if they were to fall away. There is a deep precipice: what is the best way to keep any one from going down there? Why, to tell him that if he did he would inevitably be dashed to pieces. In some old castle there is a deep cellar where there is a vast amount of stale air and gas which would kill anybody who went down. What does the guide say? “If you go down you will never come up alive.” Who thinks of going down? The very fact of the guide telling us what the consequences would be, keeps us from it. Our friend puts away from us a cup of arsenic; he does not want us to drink it, but he says, “If you drink it, it will kill you.” Does he suppose for a moment that we should drink it? No; he tells us the consequence, and he is sure we will not do it. So God says, “My child, if you fall over this precipice you will be dashed to pieces.” What does the child do? He says, “Father, keep me; hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.” It leads the believer to greater dependence on God, to a holy fear and caution, because he knows that if he were to fall away he could not be renewed, and he stands far away from that great gulf, because he knows that if he were to fall into it there would be no salvation for him. It is calculated to excite fear; and this holy fear keeps the Christian from falling.

For meditation: God is the One who keeps us from falling (Jude 24), but he still tells us that we have some responsibility to keep ourselves in his love (Jude 21).

Sermon no. 75
20 April (1856)

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Amy Carroll

April 19, 2012

Getting to Where You're Going
Amy Carroll

"... continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out."Nehemiah 4:21b (NIV)

While it's true that God ultimately accomplishes His purposes in ways far beyond what we can ask or imagine, we have a part to play in His plans. God recently had me read the book of Nehemiah to see how one of His servants accomplished the huge task of rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem.

I came away with a deep appreciation for my part of success-organization, communication, energy, delegation and hard, hard work. Scripture actually says that Nehemiah and the Israelites "...continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out." (Nehemiah 4:21b NIV)

I've been guilty like many Christians in talking about my calling and spiritualizing "trusting God" without being willing to follow Him in obedience into the day-to-day labor required to build His Kingdom.

How about you? Is something keeping you from doing the work? Perhaps you're faced with paralyzing questions posed by fear? "What if I try and fail?" "What if nobody else believes in me?" "What if God doesn't show up?" or worse "What if I've misheard God and am missing His will?"

Or, are there distractions and time-wasters that take your focus off of what you know God's wants you to do?

It's taken me many years to come to a place that I find the thought of working toward my calling encouraging rather than discouraging. I'm encouraged that it doesn't take innate genius or prodigal gifting to fulfill my calling. I don't have either of those.

In an article published in The New York Times, David Brooks wrote about the place of hard work in success. He shared:

"The key factor separating geniuses from the merely accomplished is not a divine spark ... Instead, it's deliberate practice. Top performers spend more hours (many more hours) rigorously practicing their craft."

A study cited in the same article said that musicians who were said to be virtuoso practiced 10,000 hours; 5,000 more than those simply considered to be good.

It reminded me of something I'd heard in an interview with my friend Lysa TerKeurst. She said that many people ask how she became a New York Times bestselling author overnight. Her answer was simply, "Through 17 years of hard work. I determined that I would do all that I could do while completely trusting God to do what only He could do."

I'm called to become an increasingly effective communicator for Christ, not so that people can stand in awe of Amy Carroll but so that they can stand in awe of the One I speak about-Jesus. I'm called to help other women to grow too. I can't do that unless I'm a life-long student, learner and worker.

What's your calling? Are you doing the work? My definition in this case is simply moment-by-moment, day-by-day obedience to God's Word and the leading of His Spirit. Some days that will look like moving forward while other days it will be stillness, waiting and listening. Either way, let's start working right now!

Dear Lord, thank You for the calling on my life. Even though parts of my heart are nervous and struggle, I want to do the work and walk in obedience to You. Thanks for helping me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Follow this link for beautiful encouragement from Amy on her blog.

Register today for She Speaks! Our annual conference that helps equip women in their calling to lead, speak and write.

Contact our Next Step Speaker Services for help becoming a more seasoned speaker.

Reflect and Respond:
"Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration."~Thomas Edison

Pray for freedom from fear or distractions. Plan for time to work on your calling. Prepare your heart to hear from God.

Power Verse:
Proverbs 31:17, "She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks." (NIV)

Copyright symbol 2012 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

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What About Those Who Say Jesus Healed by the Power of Hypnosis?

Today's reading: Luke 17:11-19

Have you ever seen a stage hypnotist give water to someone they've put in a trance and then suggest to them that they were drinking wine? They smack their lips, get giddy and start to feel intoxicated, as though they were swigging cheap Bordeaux.

British author Ian Wilson has raised the possibility that Jesus may have been a master hypnotist, which could explain the supposedly supernatural aspects of his life. For instance, hypnosis could account for his healing of lepers, his exorcisms and his transfiguration, during which three of his followers saw his face glow and his garments shine as white as light (seeMatthew 17:1-2). As evidence, Wilson cites the modern example of a 16-year-old boy whose serious skin disorder was inexplicably healed through hypnotic suggestion.

Perhaps Lazarus wasn't really brought back from the dead (seeJohn 11:1-44). Couldn't he have been in a deathlike trance induced by hypnosis? As for the resurrection, Jesus "could have effectively conditioned [the disciples] to hallucinate his appearances in response to certain pre-arranged cues (the breaking of bread?) for a predetermined period after his death," according to Wilson.

This would even explain the enigmatic reference in the Gospels to Jesus' inability to perform many miracles in his hometown of Nazareth (see Matthew 13:54-58; Mark 6:1-6). Wilson said that "Jesus failed precisely where as a hypnotist we would most expect him to fail, among those who knew him best, those who had seen him grow up as an ordinary child. Largely responsible for any hypnotist's success rate are the awe and mystery with which he surrounds himself, and these essential factors would have been entirely lacking in Jesus' home town."

While this is a clever argument, it just doesn't stand up to analysis. First, there's the problem of hypnotizing a whole bunch of people. Not everybody is equally susceptible. Stage hypnotists talk in a certain soothing tone of voice to the audience and watch for people who seem to be responding, and then they pick these people as their volunteers. In a big group many people are resistant. When Jesus multiplied the bread and fish, there were 5,000 men, besides women and children, who "ate and were satisfied" (see Matthew 14:13-21). How could he have hypnotized them all?

Second, hypnosis doesn't generally work on skeptics and doubters. So how did Jesus hypnotize his half brother James, who doubted him but later saw the resurrected Christ (seeMatthew 13:55; John 7:5; 1 Corinthians 15:7)? How did he hypnotize Saul of Tarsus, the opponent of Christianity who had never even met Jesus until he saw him after his resurrection (see Acts 9:1-19)? How did he hypnotize Thomas, who was so skeptical he wouldn't believe in the resurrection until he put his fingers in the nail holes in Jesus' hands (see John 20:24-29)?

Third, concerning the resurrection, hypnosis wouldn't explain the empty tomb. Jesus certainly couldn't have hypnotized the Pharisees and Roman authorities, and they would have gladly produced his body if it had remained in the tomb. The fact that they didn't tells us the tomb was really empty.

Fourth, the skin healing that Wilson mentions wasn't spontaneous. The British Medical Journal says it took five days after the hypnosis for the reptilian skin, called ichthyosis, to fall off the teenager's left arm, and several more days for the skin to appear normal. The hypnotic success rate for dealing with other parts of his body over a period of several weeks was 50 to 95 percent.

Compare that with Jesus' healing of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19. They were instantaneously healed-and 100 percent. That's not explainable merely by hypnosis. Neither is Jesus' healing of a man with a shriveled hand in Mark 3:1-5. Even if people were in a trance and merely thought his hand had been healed, eventually they would have found out the truth. Hypnosis doesn't last a real long time.

Finally, the Gospels record all sorts of details about what Jesus said and did, but never once do they portray him as saying or doing anything that would suggest he was hypnotizing people. Yet as evidenced by the books that encourage these kinds of ideas, some people will grasp at anything to try to disprove Jesus' miracles.


Adapted from interview with Dr. Gary Collins.

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Productivity Without Passion

Revelation 2:1-7

Recommended Reading: Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 10:38-42; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Imagine a marriage in which the husband dutifully earns a living to pay his family's bills, takes care of the house and cars and sees that his family has the clothing and other things they need. Yet he has lost all tenderness and passion for his wife. Is this a healthy marital relationship?

Productivity without passion. Just as the partners in a marriage can lose their passion for one another and yet carry on, a similar situation can occur in relationships between believers and God. In fact, the church of Ephesus had fallen into this very trap. Jesus noted that this church had "persevered and ... endured hardships for my name" ( Revelation 2:3). But, he pointedly added, "you have forsaken the love you had at first" (Revelation 2:4).

What about you? When you compare your current relationship with Christ to what it was like when you first began following him, are you just as passionate about knowing him, being with him and worshiping him as you were then? Or do you find yourself busy serving him without bothering to further cultivate your relationship with him?

Sadly, like a marriage without passion, our relationship with God can go through a period during which spiritual passion wanes. We serve the Lord more out of habit or duty than out of a desire to know God more deeply.

Consider this possibility: God might occasionally want us to stop doing for him so that we can concentrate on being with him and recovering the love we had at first. Many dry marriages have been renewed. Dry relationships with the Lord can experience renewed passion and vigor as well. Put your relationship with Christ first, then let your service for him follow as a natural response.

To Take Away

  • What feelings did you have when you first followed Christ? What words expressed your passion about knowing him then?
  • How does that compare with your current feelings for Christ?
  • How can you rediscover your "first love" for your Lord and Savior-renew the passion and vigor of your relationship with him?

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