Friday, April 27, 2012

Daily Devotional Friday 27th April

“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:25 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"God, even our own God."
Psalm 67:6
It is strange how little use we make of the spiritual blessings which God gives us, but it is stranger still how little use we make of God himself. Though he is "our own God," we apply ourselves but little to him, and ask but little of him. How seldom do we ask counsel at the hands of the Lord! How often do we go about our business, without seeking his guidance! In our troubles how constantly do we strive to bear our burdens ourselves, instead of casting them upon the Lord, that he may sustain us! This is not because we may not, for the Lord seems to say, "I am thine, soul, come and make use of me as thou wilt; thou mayst freely come to my store, and the oftener the more welcome." It is our own fault if we make not free with the riches of our God. Then, since thou hast such a friend, and he invites thee, draw from him daily. Never want whilst thou hast a God to go to; never fear or faint whilst thou hast God to help thee; go to thy treasure and take whatever thou needest--there is all that thou canst want. Learn the divine skill of making God all things to thee. He can supply thee with all, or, better still, he can be to thee instead of all. Let me urge thee, then, to make use of thy God. Make use of him in prayer. Go to him often, because he is thy God. O, wilt thou fail to use so great a privilege? Fly to him, tell him all thy wants. Use him constantly by faith at all times. If some dark providence has beclouded thee, use thy God as a "sun;" if some strong enemy has beset thee, find in Jehovah a "shield," for he is a sun and shield to his people. If thou hast lost thy way in the mazes of life, use him as a "guide," for he will direct thee. Whatever thou art, and wherever thou art, remember God is just what thou wantest, and just where thou wantest, and that he can do all thou wantest.

Evening

"The Lord is King forever and ever."
Psalm 10:16
Jesus Christ is no despotic claimant of divine right, but he is really and truly the Lord's anointed! "It hath pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell." God hath given to him all power and all authority. As the Son of man, he is now head over all things to his church, and he reigns over heaven, and earth, and hell, with the keys of life and death at his girdle. Certain princes have delighted to call themselves kings by the popular will, and certainly our Lord Jesus Christ is such in his church. If it could be put to the vote whether he should be King in the church, every believing heart would crown him. O that we could crown him more gloriously than we do! We would count no expense to be wasted that could glorify Christ. Suffering would be pleasure, and loss would be gain, if thereby we could surround his brow with brighter crowns, and make him more glorious in the eyes of men and angels. Yes, he shall reign. Long live the King! All hail to thee, King Jesus! Go forth, ye virgin souls who love your Lord, bow at his feet, strew his way with the lilies of your love, and the roses of your gratitude: "Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown him Lord of all." Moreover, our Lord Jesus is King in Zion by right of conquest: he has taken and carried by storm the hearts of his people, and has slain their enemies who held them in cruel bondage. In the Red Sea of his own blood, our Redeemer has drowned the Pharaoh of our sins: shall he not be King in Jeshurun? He has delivered us from the iron yoke and heavy curse of the law: shall not the Liberator be crowned? We are his portion, whom he has taken out of the hand of the Amorite with his sword and with his bow: who shall snatch his conquest from his hand? All hail, King Jesus! we gladly own thy gentle sway! Rule in our hearts forever, thou lovely Prince of Peace.

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Today's reading: 2 Samuel 23-24, Luke 19:1-27 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
David’s Last Words
    1 These are the last words of David:
   “The inspired utterance of David son of Jesse, 
   the utterance of the man exalted by the Most High, 
the man anointed by the God of Jacob, 
   the hero of Israel’s songs:
   2 “The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; 
   his word was on my tongue. 
3 The God of Israel spoke, 
   the Rock of Israel said to me: 
‘When one rules over people in righteousness, 
   when he rules in the fear of God, 
4 he is like the light of morning at sunrise 
   on a cloudless morning, 
like the brightness after rain 
   that brings grass from the earth.’
   5 “If my house were not right with God, 
   surely he would not have made with me an everlasting covenant, 
   arranged and secured in every part; 
surely he would not bring to fruition my salvation 
   and grant me my every desire. 
But evil men are all to be cast aside like thorns, 
   which are not gathered with the hand. 
7 Whoever touches thorns 
   uses a tool of iron or the shaft of a spear; 
   they are burned up where they lie.”
David’s Mighty Warriors
    8 These are the names of David’s mighty warriors:
   Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter.
   9 Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, 10 but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.
   11 Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. 12 But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the LORD brought about a great victory.
   13 During harvest time, three of the thirty chief warriors came down to David at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. 14 At that time David was in the stronghold, and the Philistine garrison was at Bethlehem. 15 David longed for water and said, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!” 16 So the three mighty warriors broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the LORD. 17 “Far be it from me, LORD, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” And David would not drink it.
   Such were the exploits of the three mighty warriors.
   18 Abishai the brother of Joab son of Zeruiah was chief of the Three. He raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed, and so he became as famous as the Three. 19 Was he not held in greater honor than the Three? He became their commander, even though he was not included among them.
   20 Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. 21 And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. 22 Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty warriors. 23 He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard.
   24 Among the Thirty were: 
   Asahel the brother of Joab, 
   Elhanan son of Dodo from Bethlehem, 
   25 Shammah the Harodite, 
   Elika the Harodite, 
   26 Helez the Paltite, 
   Ira son of Ikkesh from Tekoa, 
   27 Abiezer from Anathoth, 
   Sibbekai the Hushathite, 
   28 Zalmon the Ahohite, 
   Maharai the Netophathite, 
   29 Heled son of Baanah the Netophathite, 
   Ithai son of Ribai from Gibeah in Benjamin, 
   30 Benaiah the Pirathonite, 
   Hiddai from the ravines of Gaash, 
   31 Abi-Albon the Arbathite, 
   Azmaveth the Barhumite, 
   32 Eliahba the Shaalbonite, 
   the sons of Jashen, 
   Jonathan 33 son of Shammah the Hararite, 
   Ahiam son of Sharar the Hararite, 
   34 Eliphelet son of Ahasbai the Maakathite, 
   Eliam son of Ahithophel the Gilonite, 
   35 Hezro the Carmelite, 
   Paarai the Arbite, 
   36 Igal son of Nathan from Zobah, 
   the son of Hagri, 
   37 Zelek the Ammonite, 
   Naharai the Beerothite, the armor-bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah, 
    38 Ira the Ithrite, 
   Gareb the Ithrite 
   39 and Uriah the Hittite.
   There were thirty-seven in all.

2 Samuel 24

David Enrolls the Fighting Men
    1 Again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”
   2 So the king said to Joab and the army commanders with him, “Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.”
   3 But Joab replied to the king, “May the LORD your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?”
   4 The king’s word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enroll the fighting men of Israel.
   5 After crossing the Jordan, they camped near Aroer, south of the town in the gorge, and then went through Gad and on to Jazer. 6 They went to Gilead and the region of Tahtim Hodshi, and on to Dan Jaan and around toward Sidon. 7 Then they went toward the fortress of Tyre and all the towns of the Hivites and Canaanites. Finally, they went on to Beersheba in the Negev of Judah.
   8 After they had gone through the entire land, they came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.
   9 Joab reported the number of the fighting men to the king: In Israel there were eight hundred thousand able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah five hundred thousand.
   10 David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”
   11 Before David got up the next morning, the word of the LORD had come to Gad the prophet, David’s seer: 12 “Go and tell David, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’”
   13 So Gad went to David and said to him, “Shall there come on you three years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.”
   14 David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.”
   15 So the LORD sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. 16 When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the LORD relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.” The angel of the LORD was then at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
   17 When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the LORD, “I have sinned; I, the shepherd, have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall on me and my family.”
David Builds an Altar
    18 On that day Gad went to David and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19 So David went up, as the LORD had commanded through Gad. 20 When Araunah looked and saw the king and his officials coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground.
   21 Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”
   “To buy your threshing floor,” David answered, “so I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped.”
   22 Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take whatever he wishes and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. 23Your Majesty, Araunah gives all this to the king.” Araunah also said to him, “May the LORD your God accept you.”
   24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
   So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them. 25 David built an altar to the LORD there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the LORD answered his prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.

Luke 19

Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
    1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
   5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
   7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
   8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
   9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
The Parable of the Ten Minas
    11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’
   14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’
   15 “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.
   16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’
   17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’
   18 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’
   19 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’
   20 “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’
   22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow?23 Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’
   24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’
   25 “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’
   26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”

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Ahijah [Ăhī'jah]—a brother in jehovah.
  1. A prophet belonging to Shiloh, who foretold to Jeroboam the revolt of the ten tribes. This Ahijah was the champion of the rights of the people in the face of the oppression of Solomon and Rehoboam and led the revolt that rent the kingdom of David asunder (1 Kings 11:26-12:20).
  2. Father of Baasha, king of Israel who conspired against Nadab son of Jeroboam and reigned in his stead ( 1 Kings 15:273321:222 Kings 9:9).
  3. Son of Jerahmeel, a Judahite ( 1 Chron. 2:25).
  4. A Pelonite, and one of David’s thirty heroes (1 Chron. 11:36).
  5. A Levite who had charge of the Tabernacle treasures (1 Chron. 26:20).
  6. A Levite who, with Nehemiah, sealed the covenant (Neh. 10:26).

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Did Jesus Really Turn Water Into Wine?

Today's reading: John 2:1-11
What people often forget is that if Jesus created the world (seeGenesis 1:1John 1:3Colossians 1:15-17), not only are miracles possible, but miracles are actual, because the biggest miracle has already happened-making something out of nothing. What's harder: for Jesus to take water and turn it into wine or for Jesus to take a handful of nothing and make water? It's a lot harder to make water out of nothing than to make wine out of water.
The evidence of modern cosmology points toward a supernatural Creator. And if you've got a God who can make something out of nothing, then the other miracles of the Bible would be like child's play for him.
Adapted from interview with Dr. Norman Geisler.
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GiG Banner 2012 Big
April 26th 2012
Can we really trust God?
Mary Southerland
Today's Truth
Romans 8:28 (NIV) "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
Friend to Friend
A daughter was telling her mother how everything was going wrong. "I am failing Algebra. My boyfriend just broke up with me, and my best friend is moving away," she wailed. Her mom listened patiently and then asked, "I made a cake for dinner. Would you like a snack?" The girl grinned and said, "Sure, Mom. I love your cake." The mom smiled and asked, "How about some cooking oil?" The daughter looked surprised at the offer and responded with a loud "Yuk!" The mom tried again, "How about a couple of raw eggs?" With a look of confusion, the daughter said, "Gross, Mom!" With a smile, the mother offered, "Would you like some flour or maybe a cup of baking soda?" The daughter responded, "Mom, all of those things are gross!" The mother cut a piece of cake and placed it on a plate with a fork. As she handed the delicious snack to her daughter, she explained, "Honey, all of those things seem bad when you think about eating them alone, but when they are put together in the right way, they make a delicious cake."
God often works the same way. We sometimes wonder why He allows us to go through such difficult times, but when God puts everything in the right order, they work out for our good. We just have to trust Him to do so. I will never forget the day I learned how God really can turn tragedy into triumph. I was sitting at my desk, working on an assignment from the counselor I had been seeing. For months, I had been wrestling with my past - slowly, methodically working through painful issues and buried memories that seemed to be feeding the clinical depression I was battling. As page after page filled with harsh realities, a memory slammed into my heart and mind.
The pain was overwhelming as a vile scene from my childhood slowly took shape. I could hardly breathe as I frantically tried to escape the certainty I had been molested. The perpetrator had been our family doctor and a trusted friend. He had even provided free medical treatment when we couldn't pay for it. I trusted him, counted on him. As a nurse, my mother worked beside this man every day and often babysat his children to earn extra money.
Anger unlike any I had ever known fueled violent thoughts of revenge and retaliation. I was angry with this man – and angry with God. How could He have let this happen? Where was the light in this dark place?
For months, I worked through painful memories and raging emotions until I saw the first glimmer of light. It was wrapped in chosen forgiveness. I began to see that had I never been wounded so badly, I would never have been able to forgive so freely – and in doing so, discover a depth of healing and freedom only the greatest pain can produce. Today, I can honestly thank God for all He has accomplished in me through the sin of that man.
There are no accidents with God, nor is He surprised by anything or anyone in the life of His child. God uses even the most horrendous circumstances for our good. Every circumstance comes to us for a purpose, bound by God's love and plan and faithfully delivered with His permission. While we cannot go back and change our past, we can change the way we respond to our past and determine how much power it has in our lives today.
Only God can take the broken pieces of your life and make something beautiful out of each one. He is waiting for you to let go of your pain and trust Him. And you really can. No one loves you like He does. You may not always understand or even like His process, but you can always trust His heart of love for you.
Let's Pray
Father, I choose to believe You are faithful and will do what You promise to do in Your Word. I believe that when I lay the pain and hurt of my past at Your feet, You can and will transform it all into something beautiful. I choose to believe You will turn the broken places of my life into living illustrations of Your sufficiency and healing power. 
In Jesus' name,
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Read the following verses about the good God can bring out of the storms in life.
Isaiah 45:3 (NLT) "And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness – secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name."
Hebrews 12:1 (NIV) "Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."
Psalm 103:12 (NLT) "He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west."
What one new truth has God given you in each verse? Record those truths in your journal.
More from the Girlfriends
Need help learning how to study the Bible? 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

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Lysa TerKeurst
April 26, 2012
Jesus Loves Those in Messy Marriages
Lysa TerKeurst
"But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God." Jeremiah 17:7 (MSG)
I threw the cup of orange juice across the kitchen. It felt good to do something, anything, to release all the surging anger and frustration. And I didn't even mind cleaning the pulpy, sticky mess.
It felt soothing to know how to clean something. I knew how to wipe away this mess. And I liked seeing the mess disappear.
If only my marriage mess could be fixed with soap, water, and a handful of paper towels. If only.
I whispered, God, why does this have to be so hard?
Have you ever been there?
I think many of us have. Whether we're in a really tough marriage or just in a rough patch, marriage can be messy. Hurtful. Lonely.
No one ever told me about this side of marriage before I donned the white dress and danced to MC Hammer at the reception.
But after 20 years of learning, growing, and pressing through the messes to see something beautiful form in the midst of it all, here's what I know ...
Jesus loves those in messy marriages.
He loves me and my husband in the midst of it all. Jesus doesn't love the mess of hurt, isolation, and bitterness. Those are things He wants us to work on. But He never stops loving us.
Yes.
Jesus loves me. And His grace is strong enough to extend His love into every part of me. The good parts of me. The broken parts of me. The ugly parts of me. The bitter parts of me. The loving parts of me. And even the part of me that throws orange juice.
Yes, He loves me.
And Jesus loves my husband. His grace is strong enough to extend His love into every part of Him. The good parts of him. The broken parts of him. The ugly parts of him. The bitter parts of him. The loving parts of him. And even the part of him that looks at me like I'm crazy when I throw orange juice.
Since Jesus loves both of us, He's the best source of help for our marriage. I don't say that without a deep awareness of how stinkin' hard it is to go to Jesus when I'm mad as fire at my husband.
And I certainly don't say it in naive simplicity. Gracious, I know some of you are facing marriage situations that rip your heart into a thousand pieces every day.
But still, I know Jesus is the best source of help.
Honest cries for help lifted up to Jesus will not go unheard. He sees. He knows. He loves. And Jesus will direct you as long as you stick with Him.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 in The Message version reminds us:
But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They're like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the riversóNever a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.
So, how do I stick with Jesus? I proclaim I'm sticking with Jesus:
Jesus, I'm sticking with You.
I'm giving You what I don't understand and what I can't fix.
I'm giving You what I don't like about me.
I'm giving You what I don't like about him.
And I'm giving You what I don't like about my marriage.
I'm listening for Your instruction.
I'm positioning myself to go where I'll hear Your truth.
To talk to others who love You and serve You.
And to read wise instruction from good books and most importantly Your Bookóthe Bible.
And even if it kills me, I'm not throwing any orange juice today. Amen.
Jesus loves those in messy marriages. I should know. Though Art and I have a wonderful marriage now, we can still hit some rough patches now and then.
But you'll be happy to know I haven't thrown any orange juice across the kitchen lately.
Dear Lord, so much of me wants to stick with my anger and frustration. But I'm choosing to stick with You. Today I'm going to hold my temper, hold my tongue and hold Your Truth. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
If you or a friend have ever felt like your marriage situation is impossible, click here to read Lysa's articleTearing Down the Impossible.
If you want prayer for your marriage or another marriage you know of, click here to leave your prayer request on Lysa's blog. It would be our team's honor to do this for you.
Capture His Heart for Wives by Lysa TerKeurst
Capture Her Heart for Husbands by Lysa TerKeurst
Reflect and Respond:
Honest cries for help lifted up to Jesus will not go unheard. He sees. He knows. He loves. And Jesus will direct you as long as you stick with Him.
Let's position our hearts to hear from Jesus today, even in the midst of sticky situations: spend time in the Word, in prayer, with others who love Him.
Power Verses:
Ephesians 4:2629-32, "'In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry ... Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (NIV 1984)
© 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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Disciples from John

Matthew Henry writes: "The remaining unbelief of good men may sometimes, in an hour of temptation, strike at the root, and call in question the most fundamental truths which were thought to be well settled. The best saints have need of the best helps they can get for the strengthening of their faith, and the arming of themselves against temptations to infidelity." Let us turn to the Word and other Christians so that doubt does not fester into unbelief.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
Coram Deo from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living. 

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Disciples from John

Matthew 11:1-6 "Go and tell John...the blind receive their sight and the lame walk...the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me" ( vv. 4-6).
Among the more persuasive evidences for the authenticity of Scripture is the Bible's willingness to tell the whole truth about the people it describes even when they look bad. Scripture does not hide the faults of the great heroes of the faith. The authors of the various biblical books could have passed over the occasions on which figures like Moses doubted the Lord (Ex. 4:1-17 ). Such episodes are included because the apostles and prophets, under the Holy Spirit's inspiration, knew they had to tell the truth about these people, warts and all.
Of all people, we would expect John the Baptist to have the fewest doubts about the person and work of Jesus. After all, he is the Messiah's forerunner and has already baptized Him, recognizing Him as the Father's Anointed One (Matt. 3 ). Yet even John, a great man of God, wavers when the going gets tough. John's righteousness in standing up to Herod Antipas has landed him in a jail cell in Herod's fortress at Machaerus, located southeast of Jerusalem on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea (4:1214:1-4). There has been no judgment of evil or vindication of holiness, which John expects to happen at the hands of Jesus, God's Messiah ( 3:11-12). As a result, John begins to question His identity, and he sends some of his disciples to inquire of Him (11:1-3).
Jesus answers John's question indirectly with a list of miracles (vv. 4-5), most of which are drawn from messianic prophecies in Isaiah 35 and 61 . Interestingly, He does not recite the promises of vengeance also found in these chapters from Isaiah. It is as if He is saying to John, "Yes, I am the Messiah and my miracles prove it. But the final judgment is yet to come. In the meantime, I will preach the Gospel to the poor and redeem God's people." Christ is inviting John to read Isaiah again and bring his expectations of the Messiah's work into line with what the prophet says about how the righteous (especially Jesus) must suffer before the kingdom comes in all its fullness (chap. 53).
Like John, we live in an era when the good guys do not always win. Righteous people suffer and this can lead us to doubt God's promises. But Christ's kingdom is growing, and we look forward to its sure consummation (Heb. 9:27-28).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Matthew Henry writes: "The remaining unbelief of good men may sometimes, in an hour of temptation, strike at the root, and call in question the most fundamental truths which were thought to be well settled. The best saints have need of the best helps they can get for the strengthening of their faith, and the arming of themselves against temptations to infidelity." Let us turn to the Word and other Christians so that doubt does not fester into unbelief.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living. 

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Gospel missions

“And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.” Acts 13:49
Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 28:16-20
The claim of authority ensures a degree of progress. How did Mohammed come to have so strong a religion in his time? He was all alone, and he went into the market-place and said, “I have received a revelation from heaven.” He persuaded men to believe it. He said, “I have a revelation from heaven.” People looked at his face; they saw that he looked upon them earnestly as believing what he said, and some five or six of them joined him. Did he prove what he said? Not he. “You must,” he said, “believe what I say, or there is no Paradise for you.” There is a power in that kind of thing, and wherever he went his statement was believed, not on the ground of reasoning, but on his authority, which he declared to be from Allah; and a century later, a thousand sabres had flashed from a thousand sheaths, and his word had been proclaimed through Africa, Turkey, Asia, and even in Spain. The man claimed authority—he claimed divinity; therefore he had power. Take again the increase of Mormonism. What has been its strength? Simply this—the assertion of power from heaven. That claim is made, and the people believe it, and now they have missionaries in almost every country of the habitable globe, and the book of Mormon is translated into many languages. Though there never could be a delusion more transparent, or a counterfeit less skilful, and more lying upon the very surface, yet this simple pretension to power has been the means of carrying power with it. Now, my brethren, we have power; we are God’s ministers; we preach God’s truth; the great Judge of heaven and earth has told us the truth.
For meditation: Christ preached with authority which made men sit up and take notice (Luke 4:31-37). His power has not weakened, but are we limiting him in any way (1 Corinthians 1:172:4,5)?
Sermon no. 76
27 April (1856)

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The Lord’s care of His people

‘He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of mine eye.’Zechariah 2:8
Suggested Further Reading: Ecclesiastes 8:10–14
I am not one of those who look upon everything that happens in this world as being a judgment from God. If a boat goes down to the bottom of the sea on a Sunday, I do not look upon that as a judgment on those who are in it, any more than if it had gone to the bottom on a Monday; and though many good people get frightened when they hear one affirm this doctrine, yet I cannot help their frights, but like my Master I must tell them that they who perish so are not sinners above all the sinners that be in Jerusalem. I looked the other day at Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, and I saw there an illustration of that deeply-rooted mistake of Christian people, concerning God’s always punishing men’s sins in this life. Foxe draws a picture of a Popish priest who is insulting the faith, speaking lightly of the blood of Jesus, and exalting Mary, and he drops down dead in the pulpit; and Foxe holds him up as a picture of a great sinner who dropped down dead for speaking lightly of Jesus, and the good man affirms the wicked priest’s death to be a judgment from heaven. Well, perhaps Foxe is correct, but still I do not see the connection between his dropping down dead and the language he employed, for many a preacher who has been exalting Christ has fallen down dead in the pulpit; and happy was it for such a man that he was engaged in minding his charge at the time. The fact is, providence smites good men and bad men too; and when the storm rages, and the hurricane howls through the forest, not only are the brambles and briars shaken and uprooted, but goodly oaks crack and break too. We are not to look for God’s judgments, except in special cases, in this life. This judgment is in the world to come.
For meditation: Beware of jumping to false conclusions. The apostle Paul was the frequent victim not only of persecution ( 2 Corinthians 11:23–25), but also of natural accidents (2 Corinthians 11:25–27). The latter were not inconsistent with him being in the centre of God’s will (Acts 27:21–26).
Sermon no. 452
27 April (1862)

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GOD USES PROBLEMS AND PERSECUTION TO DIRECT YOU

"Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our waysProverbs 20:30 TEV
Here is one of five ways God uses problems and persecution in your life: God uses problems and persecution to DIRECT you.
Idris Nalos was an African animist converted to the Christian faith in southern Sudan. Soon after his conversion he became an evangelist. He went out preaching in the remotest places. Within a few years, he planted three churches. Soon considered as dangerous because of his activities, he was arrested by the Islamic authorities and put in prison. There he suffered torture to make him to deny his Christian faith. Beaten for hours every day, he was also totally deprived of sleep.
About to collapse, Idris prayed, “Lord, prevent me from being like Peter. I am about to give up, help me.” And God answered in giving Idris a vision where he saw all those to whom he had preached the gospel and who, in turn, proclaimed the good news to other people.
“I saw those who were saved,” he said. In this vision, he realized that even if his life was taken, others had already taken up the baton. From this moment, Idris was no longer afraid for his life. After three weeks of ceaseless torment, his torturers released him without explanation.
To avoid another arrest he immigrated to Khartoum in the north, where he founded three new churches in a fundamentalist Muslim territory. He had learned how to trust and wasn’t afraid anymore. God showed him where to go and what to do.
Sometimes God must light a fire under us to get us moving. Problems and pressures often point us in a new direction and motivate us to change. Is God trying to get your attention?
RESPONSE: God is at work in my life—even when I do not recognize it or understand it. It is much easier and more profitable when I cooperate with Him. This is the way to victory!
PRAYER: Lord, point me in the direction of Your will. May I not need problems and persecution for You to get my attention.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

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The Journey to Obedience

If you’ve ever seen the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds air demonstration team, you’ve witnessed firsthand the incredible capabilities of the F-16 fighter jet.
The F-16 was developed to act as a support weapons system for the U.S. military’s larger and more expensive fighter aircraft, the F-14 Tomcat and the F-15 Eagle. Blindingly fast and agile, the F-16 Fighting Falcon carries out a wide range of air-to-air and, with its heavy bomb load capacity, air-to-ground missions. An amazing technological achievement, the F-16 has a top speed of over 1300 mph (2124 km/h) and a ceiling of 50,000 feet (15,240 m), which it can reach in approximately 60 seconds. Its combat radius is 340 miles, carrying six 1000 pound (453 kg) bombs. These same aircraft also excel in multinational service in patrol and combat situations around the world.
Of course, whether in a show or in combat, an F-16 requires one vital element to be effective: a pilot who is in complete control. Despite its whiz-bang technical capabilities, without a pilot in control an airborne F-16 would either fly uselessly in a straight line or spiral out of control. Either way, a devastating crash is inevitable.
Similarly, if you possess every gift imaginable but don’t allow God to guide you in using those gifts, you could very well become useless. Or worse, you might spiral out of control and crash. As the ultimate “Pilot” of your life (yes, the “God is my co-pilot” bumper stickers are misguided), God can do amazing and remarkable things.
Imagine what might have happened if Abram (Abraham) had set out on his own way instead of taking the journey God had set before him. Ultimately, Abraham willingly left behind everything and everyone he knew to follow God’s will. Yet as a direct result of his obedience Abraham experienced God’s blessings—and the rewards were greater than he could ever have imagined.
God desires the same for you. When you begin a relationship with him, he calls you to leave behind what’s comfortable and familiar to set out on a journey filled with wonder, blessing and the promise of a new life. On your journey to obedience you’ll leave behind old habits, old attitudes, old sins and old ways of thinking. Yet the blessing that awaits you is greater than you can begin to imagine.
Is God the Pilot of your life? When you allow him to guide you, God offers not only a full and satisfying journey through life but a home for all eternity. Like that F-16 pilot, God is ready and willing to take all of your potential into his skillful hands and use it to fulfill his ultimate mission.

To Take Away

  • In what ways does your life show that you are living for God’s purposes and seeking his approval rather than the world’s?
  • Why is it difficult at times to leave behind your “old life” and step out in faith?
  • When you pray, ask sincerely that God will steer you away from foolish choices and self-centeredness and take you on the ride of your life.

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