Saturday, April 07, 2012

Daily Devotional Saturday 7th April

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame?"
Psalm 4:2

An instructive writer has made a mournful list of the honours which the blinded people of Israel awarded to their long expected King.

1. They gave him a procession of honour, in which Roman legionaries, Jewish priests, men and women, took a part, he himself bearing his cross. This is the triumph which the world awards to him who comes to overthrow man's direst foes. Derisive shouts are his only acclamations, and cruel taunts his only paeans of praise.

2. They presented him with the wine of honour. Instead of a golden cup of generous wine they offered him the criminal's stupefying death-draught, which he refused because he would preserve an uninjured taste wherewith to taste of death; and afterwards when he cried, "I thirst," they gave him vinegar mixed with gall, thrust to his mouth upon a sponge. Oh! wretched, detestable inhospitality to the King's Son.

3. He was provided with a guard of honour, who showed their esteem of him by gambling over his garments, which they had seized as their booty. Such was the body-guard of the adored of heaven; a quaternion of brutal gamblers.

4. A throne of honour was found for him upon the bloody tree; no easier place of rest would rebel men yield to their liege Lord. The cross was, in fact, the full expression of the world's feeling towards him; "There," they seemed to say, "thou Son of God, this is the manner in which God himself should be treated, could we reach him."

5. The title of honour was nominally "King of the Jews," but that the blinded nation distinctly repudiated, and really called him "King of thieves," by preferring Barabbas, and by placing Jesus in the place of highest shame between two thieves. His glory was thus in all things turned into shame by the sons of men, but it shall yet gladden the eyes of saints and angels, world without end.

Evening

"Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation; and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness."
Psalm 51:14

In this solemn confession, it is pleasing to observe that David plainly names his sin. He does not call it manslaughter, nor speak of it as an imprudence by which an unfortunate accident occurred to a worthy man, but he calls it by its true name, bloodguiltiness. He did not actually kill the husband of Bathsheba; but still it was planned in David's heart that Uriah should be slain, and he was before the Lord his murderer. Learn in confession to be honest with God. Do not give fair names to foul sins; call them what you will, they will smell no sweeter. What God sees them to be, that do you labour to feel them to be; and with all openness of heart acknowledge their real character. Observe, that David was evidently oppressed with the heinousness of his sin. It is easy to use words, but it is difficult to feel their meaning. The fifty-first Psalm is the photograph of a contrite spirit. Let us seek after the like brokenness of heart; for however excellent our words may be, if our heart is not conscious of the hell-deservingness of sin, we cannot expect to find forgiveness.

Our text has in it an earnest prayer--it is addressed to the God of salvation. It is his prerogative to forgive; it is his very name and office to save those who seek his face. Better still, the text calls him the God of my salvation. Yes, blessed be his name, while I am yet going to him through Jesus' blood, I can rejoice in the God of my salvation.

The psalmist ends with a commendable vow: if God will deliver him he will sing--nay, more, he will "sing aloud." Who can sing in any other style of such a mercy as this! But note the subject of the song--"Thy righteousness." We must sing of the finished work of a precious Saviour; and he who knows most of forgiving love will sing the loudest.

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 4-6, Luke 9:1-17 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

1 And Samuel’s word came to all Israel.

The Philistines Capture the Ark

Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek. 2 The Philistines deployed their forces to meet Israel, and as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand of them on the battlefield. 3When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the LORD bring defeat on us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the LORD’s covenant from Shiloh, so that he may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies.”

4 So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. And Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

5 When the ark of the LORD’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. 6Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, “What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?”

When they learned that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp, 7 the Philistines were afraid. “A god has come into the camp,” they said. “Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before. 8 We’re doomed! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. 9 Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!”

10 So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

Death of Eli

12 That same day a Benjamite ran from the battle line and went to Shiloh with his clothes torn and dust on his head. 13When he arrived, there was Eli sitting on his chair by the side of the road, watching, because his heart feared for the ark of God. When the man entered the town and told what had happened, the whole town sent up a cry.

14 Eli heard the outcry and asked, “What is the meaning of this uproar?”

The man hurried over to Eli, 15 who was ninety-eight years old and whose eyes had failed so that he could not see. 16 He told Eli, “I have just come from the battle line; I fled from it this very day.”

Eli asked, “What happened, my son?”

17 The man who brought the news replied, “Israel fled before the Philistines, and the army has suffered heavy losses. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.”

18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and he was heavy. He had led Israel forty years.

19 His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and near the time of delivery. When she heard the news that the ark of God had been captured and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she went into labor and gave birth, but was overcome by her labor pains. 20 As she was dying, the women attending her said, “Don’t despair; you have given birth to a son.” But she did not respond or pay any attention.

21 She named the boy Ichabod, saying, “The Glory has departed from Israel”—because of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 She said, “The Glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

1 Samuel 5

The Ark in Ashdod and Ekron

1 After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. 3 When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. 5 That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.

6 The LORD’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors. 7 When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god.” 8 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and asked them, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?”

They answered, “Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel.

9 But after they had moved it, the LORD’s hand was against that city, throwing it into a great panic. He afflicted the people of the city, both young and old, with an outbreak of tumors. 10So they sent the ark of God to Ekron.

As the ark of God was entering Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people.” 11 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and said, “Send the ark of the god of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it will kill us and our people.” For death had filled the city with panic; God’s hand was very heavy on it. 12 Those who did not die were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.

1 Samuel 6

The Ark Returned to Israel

1 When the ark of the LORD had been in Philistine territory seven months, 2 the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the LORD? Tell us how we should send it back to its place.”

3 They answered, “If you return the ark of the god of Israel, do not send it back to him without a gift; by all means send a guilt offering to him. Then you will be healed, and you will know why his hand has not been lifted from you.”

4 The Philistines asked, “What guilt offering should we send to him?”

They replied, “Five gold tumors and five gold rats, according to the number of the Philistine rulers, because the same plague has struck both you and your rulers. 5 Make models of the tumors and of the rats that are destroying the country, and give glory to Israel’s god. Perhaps he will lift his hand from you and your gods and your land. 6 Why do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh did? When Israel’s god dealt harshly with them, did they not send the Israelites out so they could go on their way?

7 “Now then, get a new cart ready, with two cows that have calved and have never been yoked. Hitch the cows to the cart, but take their calves away and pen them up. 8 Take the ark of the LORD and put it on the cart, and in a chest beside it put the gold objects you are sending back to him as a guilt offering. Send it on its way, 9 but keep watching it. If it goes up to its own territory, toward Beth Shemesh, then the LORD has brought this great disaster on us. But if it does not, then we will know that it was not his hand that struck us but that it happened to us by chance.”

10 So they did this. They took two such cows and hitched them to the cart and penned up their calves. 11 They placed the ark of the LORD on the cart and along with it the chest containing the gold rats and the models of the tumors. 12 Then the cows went straight up toward Beth Shemesh, keeping on the road and lowing all the way; they did not turn to the right or to the left. The rulers of the Philistines followed them as far as the border of Beth Shemesh.

13 Now the people of Beth Shemesh were harvesting their wheat in the valley, and when they looked up and saw the ark, they rejoiced at the sight. 14 The cart came to the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and there it stopped beside a large rock. The people chopped up the wood of the cart and sacrificed the cows as a burnt offering to the LORD. 15 The Levites took down the ark of the LORD, together with the chest containing the gold objects, and placed them on the large rock. On that day the people of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices to the LORD. 16 The five rulers of the Philistines saw all this and then returned that same day to Ekron.

17 These are the gold tumors the Philistines sent as a guilt offering to the LORD—one each for Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron. 18 And the number of the gold rats was according to the number of Philistine towns belonging to the five rulers—the fortified towns with their country villages. The large rock on which the Levites set the ark of the LORD is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh.

19 But God struck down some of the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they looked into the ark of the LORD. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the LORD had dealt them. 20 And the people of Beth Shemesh asked, “Who can stand in the presence of the LORD, this holy God? To whom will the ark go up from here?”

21 Then they sent messengers to the people of Kiriath Jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the LORD. Come down and take it up to your town.”


Luke 9

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve

1 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. 4Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town.5 If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.

7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, 8 others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. 9 But Herod said, “I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?” And he tried to see him.

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

10 When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

12 Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.”

13 He replied, “You give them something to eat.”

They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” 14 (About five thousand men were there.)

But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. 16 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. 17 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

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Perfect cleansing

‘For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed.’ Joel 3:21

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:51–58

If it be promised to us that the old nature shall thus be removed, and we shall be purged, what then? Why, then, let us struggle against our corruption, because we shall get the victory. Nothing makes a man fight like the hope of getting the victory. When poor soldiers feel that it is of no use, then they are only too glad to hear the trumpet sound a retreat; but when they are confident of victory, how they draw their swords, how they haste to the struggle, how they weary not of the fight. Even now, today, my soul takes hold upon her sword. Sin, death, and hell I defy you, for I shall bear the palm as surely as I bear the sword. I shall wear the crown as certainly as I agonised unto death. Struggle with yourselves, strive daily to get the mastery of your passions. The victory is sure. Let no discouragement weaken you. ‘Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.’ He is able to give you the victory through Jesus Christ your Lord. And what next? Why, today, pray against your corruptions more than ever you have done. You have got a promise to plead. Take it, salt it with your tears. Lay it upon the altar; put your hands upon the horns of the altar, and say, ‘Great God, I will not rise, I will not let thee go until I know by divine assurance that this promise shall be fulfilled to me.’ So shall you go forth to your daily struggle with temptation, wearing a smile upon your face, and smoothing those wrinkles on your brow. Sorrow does not become the man who has so rich a promise. Be glad. The joy of the Lord shall be your strength. You shall at last win the victory. Sinner! he that believes in Christ may claim this text for himself. Believe, and this text is yours as well as mine.

For meditation: As a young man David knew that the battle was the Lord’s (1 Samuel 17:47); as an old man he knew that the victory also was the Lord’s ( 1 Chronicles 29:11). By faith the Christian shares in the victory over the world now (1 John 5:4) and over death in the time to come (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Sermon no. 379
7 April (1861)

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April 6, 2012
A Willing Heart
Gwen Smith

Today's Truth
"So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, 'Come back to God!'" (2 Corinthians 5:20, NLT)

Friend to Friend
My husband Brad went on a missions trip to Guatemala a few years ago. What he saw and experienced changed his life and increased his faith in a dramatic way. He was an eyewitness to the healing power of God. On that trip he prayed harder, believed more, and expected more from God each passing day—and as a result, God used their medical missions team as a conduit for miracles.
Do you ever find yourself doubting that God wants to move in and through your life? Have you ever felt like you've needed a faith-lift? Are there circumstances in your life that have left you feeling "unqualified" to be the voice of life to others? Do you want to experience God's strength and power in your average, ordinary days?

If so, then lean in, girlfriend, because what I'm about to share with you is a key to increasing the power of God in your life!
Hector, the founder of that Guatemalan ministry that Brad teamed up with on the missions trip, visited North Carolina, and my family and I went to hear him speak. When I heard him testify of the provision and power of God, my heart was stirred and my faith was boosted. But what moved me most was the story of the lesson he learned about his call after God led him to be a medical missionary.

Before he began the medical ministry that he devotes his life to now, Hector's main goal in life was to make lots of money. Back then he didn't even apologize for it. He was a Christian and figured that God could use his money to help others.

What happened to change the course of his life? Back in the late eighties, Hector and his wife joined a medical team on a trip to a mountain village. The team was blown away by what God did through them while they were there. On the four-hour drive back to the city, they worshipped and sang praises to God. As he worshipped and drove, Hector heard the Lord speak to his soul. This is what I've made you for: to medically treat my people, to pray for their healing, and to share the hope of Jesus with the hopeless and the lost.

Hector felt so overwhelmed that he pulled the truck over and told the team of his call from God to be a missionary doctor. They prayed over him, whooped it up in celebration, and then continued down the mountain with an even greater sense of purpose and excitement. Hector thought that God had called him to be a missionary because of his skills as a doctor. Later, he would think otherwise.

A few years into his work, while visiting a remote village, a woman with a large mass on her side came into their makeshift clinic. Her terrible pain was curbed only by her excitement that the medical team had come to help her. One glance at her tumor and Hector had a strong suspicion that it was malignant. Upon examining her further, Hector was convinced that she was terminal. He became very frustrated with God, to the extent that he didn't even want to share the gospel with her because he couldn't do anything to help her physically.

Hector sent up a few prayers of frustration, but felt God nudging him to share the gospel with this woman. So he reluctantly shared the good news of Jesus with her; and, to Hector's surprise, she wanted to be forgiven and place her faith in Jesus Christ! And as they sat on the floor of that makeshift med-center, this sweet woman trusted Jesus as her Savior. When they finished praying, the woman had a radiant smile and tears in her eyes. He hugged her and she began to cry.

"What happened?" Hector asked. "Why are you crying?"

"As we were praying," she said, "I felt a warmth that started on my head and spread to the tips of my toes." As she said this, she realized something had changed, and she screamed with delight, "My mass is gone! My pain is gone!"

Hector had her lie back down on his examining table. The tumor that had been there just minutes ago was gone. God had intervened. She was healed, both spiritually and physically!

In the amazing celebration that followed, God spoke clearly to Hector's heart. God told him that He had all the power needed for the work He had called Hector to, and it had nothing to do with his medical training. God impressed on his heart that He didn't need Hector's skills or his knowledge; He had all of that covered. He just wanted him to go in His name.
You and I have that same opportunity every day. We have a chance to be a witness of God's healing love to a world of wounded hearts. Did God need my husband and the other volunteers to heal Guatemalan villagers, treat their physical wounds, and share the hope of Jesus with them? No. Did God move in the lives of the villagers because of their willingness to go in His name? You bet!

One of my favorite sayings is, "God doesn't call the equipped. He equips the called." If you are His, then you are called. Not because of who you are or what you can do, but because God can and will do His work through you.

Did God tell Jonah to go to Nineveh because Jonah was a great leader with amazing vision? No! Jonah proved to be quite wimpy. When Jonah finally made it to Nineveh, did God bring a great wave of repentance and restoration because of Jonah's rhetorical gifts? No! God stirred the hearts and changed the lives of hundreds of Ninevites because Jonah finally had the courage to speak God's words.

God wants to do something similar through you. He wants you to stop fighting Him on this and be willing to speak for Him so others can know the same healing and hope that you know. He wants to bring beauty up from the ashes of brokenness all around you.

Let's Pray
Heavenly Father, I'm so humbled that You would call me to anything. You have all the power needed for every job, yet you ask me to join you. Thank you, Lord. Please make my heart willing to say yes to everything you want me to do.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen.

Now It's Your Turn
Do you have a willing heart? What is God calling you to do for Him? Spend a few moments in prayer and ask God to guide you and strengthen you for the task.

Read 2 Corinthians 5:11-21.

More from the Girlfriends
Hey girlfriend! I'm a woman who has hesitated to say yes to God in the past. It took many months of resistance before I conceded to release my testimony into His hands. I just didn't think anything good could come of it. Boy was I wrong! God doesn't waste a hurt, and He has a big plan for your life. Trust His heart... no matter where He's leading you!
GOT BEAUTY? Today's devotion is an excerpt from Gwen Smith's book, Broken into Beautiful. God delights to heal and transform lives … including your own. In her book, Broken Into Beautiful, Gwen Smith invites you to experience how the unconditional love of Jesus can change your life and bring strength and healing to your heart. He can transform your life into something beautiful. To order the book, go to Amazon or, for a signed copy, order from Gwen's website: www.gwensmith.net.


Connect with Gwen on Facebook here: www.Facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic.


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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Wendy Pope

April 6, 2012

When Waiting is Hard
Wendy Pope

"Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." Psalm 27:14 (NIV)

Our hurry up, need it, gotta-have-it-now culture often makes us feel there's something wrong with waiting and that we shouldn't have to. Within seconds we can order a cute blouse from a trendy store, Skype with a friend across the country and text our husband a list of groceries to pick up on the way home. No wonder waiting can be hard to do.

David, the author of today's key verse, was no stranger to waiting and knew its difficulties full well. Out of nowhere, Samuel showed up at his home to anoint the next king of Israel, who was to be chosen from David's family. Only one of Jesse's sons would be anointed as God's chosen king for His beloved Israel. The son elected was David.

Scripture tells us the Spirit of God rushed over David and was with him the remainder of his days (1 Samuel 16:13ESV). With such an anointing, we might expect David to run to the throne. But the only running David did was back to the pasture and his job as shepherd. Thus his wait began.

In the wait, God prepared David to be king. The only vocation David knew was shepherding. He did not know the ins and outs of kingly protocol or have the support of the people or armies. Instead of taking the position he was promised, David waited for God to move him from the pasture to the palace.

Waiting in the present is beneficial to our future. This is something David learned, along with many other lessons that we can find hope in during the difficulty of waiting.

1. Even though we are anointed and appointed we may still have to wait. David waited fifteen years to be king of Judah and even longer to be king of all Israel.

2. God's ways are not our ways; His thoughts are not our thoughts. After being anointed and appointed David was called to serve Saul, the king who was sitting on "his" throne.

3. God doesn't waste time ... He redeems it. The time of waiting will be used to prosper us in each season of life.

4. If we allow it, our waiting will bring us an intimate knowledge of the Savior that we would not otherwise have. Most of David's beautiful and poetic psalms were written while in caves, caverns and the wilderness, waiting on God.

5. God doesn't ignore the cries of His children. David cried, and at times begged God for help, invention and defense. God never let David down. He did eventually take the throne, didn't he?

6. Our waiting has a purpose for someone other than ourselves. Just think of how rich our lives are today because of the wait David endured. We have the comfort, compassion, hope and healing of his amazing poetry.

What awesome instructions David's life gives for waiting! Waiting is less difficult and the future is brighter when we let God do His work in our waiting season. When we let our guard and defenses down He proves Himself faithful to bring His plans for our lives to fullness.

Dear Lord, help me wait. Help me wait well. I want to be still and allow You to bring Your plan in my life to its fullness. I can't do this without You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
What to do in the W.A.I.T. CD by Wendy Pope

Visit Wendy's blog

Come Along: The Journey into a More Intimate Faith by Jane Rubietta

Reflect and Respond:
Read more about David's life starting in 1 Samuel 16.

What is your first response to waiting? Do you draw closer to or pull away from God when you're waiting?

Write down what God taught you through this devotion on waiting.

Power Verses:
Psalm 27:4, "One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple." (NIV 1984)

Isaiah 40:31, "But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (NIV 1984)

Lamentations 3:24, "I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'" (NIV 1984)

© 2012 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.

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

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Wine for Fresh Wineskins

Matthew 9:14-17

Many of Jesus' contemporaries were unwilling to accept the change God was bringing to His covenant with them, and they rejected Him. Though the essence of God's covenant of grace is the same for those who live on either side of the coming of Christ, the outward forms, rites, and customs have undergone a significant transformation. Rejoice that we live under the new covenant and have greater knowledge of Jesus as well as a fuller experience of the Spirit.

For further study:

Jeremiah 31:31-34

The Bible in a year:

1 Samuel 10-12

For the weekend:

1 Samuel 13-17

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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Thomas Müntzer: Prophet of the Peasants' Uprising

Quote: "All things in common!"

It is inaccurate to suppose that the Reformation was religious in nature only. Many leaders and their followers were influenced by social and political factors as well. Thomas Müntzer (c. 1488 – 1525) was a radical reformer whose philosophical and religious perspectives soundly clashed with most Anabaptists as well as with Catholics and Magisterial Reformers. Though often lumped with the Anabaptists, he does not easily fit that label, and he predates the broader Anabaptist movement. Born in a small village in Germany, he was raised a devout Catholic and was a monastic leader by the age of twenty-one. But motivated by the writings of Luther, he left the monastery behind for university studies and political activism.

In 1520, Müntzer accepts a call to serve as minister in a church in Zwickau, a town that had gained a reputation for radicalism as the home of the Zwickau prophets. Some of these prophets had relocated in Wittenberg and created problems for Luther. Müntzer has barely begun his ministry when his church sends him packing. He is too radical for their tastes. Moving on to Prague, he is welcomed as a reformer in the tradition of Luther. There he writes the "Prague Manifesto," denouncing Catholic clerics and prophesying the reign of Christ. Luther renounces him as a Schwärmer (fanatic), as do secular rulers. By 1523, he is back on German territory, ministering in the village of Allstedt. He remains long enough to marry Ottilie von Gerson, a former nun. Fearing the wrath of authorities, he moves on and becomes an instigator in the peasants' uprising, using as his rallying cry, Omnia sunt communia (all things in common). Indeed, some scholars view him as a precursor to modern socialism. But his views change as often as does his place of residence.

Settling down in Mühlhausen in 1525, he stirs the citizens to overthrow the city council and institute his "Eternal League of God." At the height of his popularity he leads some one thousand followers in an independent religious community, identifying himself as an interpreter of dreams in the tradition of the Old Testament prophet Daniel. But more important than the Bible is his direct revelation from God. "These villainous and treacherous parsons are of no use to the church in even the slightest manner," he thunders, "for they deny the voice of the bridegroom, which is a truly certain sign that they are a pack of devils. How could they then be God's servants, bearers of his word, which they shamelessly deny with their whore's brazenness? For all true parsons must have revelations, so that they are certain of their cause."

Unlike Anabaptists, Müntzer does not administer believers' baptism, nor is he a pacifist. In fact, he leads thousands of ill-equipped peasant soldiers in the final battle of the Peasants War in the spring of 1525. Government troops had agreed to a truce, but the next day they attack in full force, slaughtering the unsuspecting peasants. Müntzer is arrested and tortured to the point that he recants and submits to the Mass. Any hope for leniency, is dashed, however. He is beheaded, and his head is publicly displayed to serve as a deterrent to future radicalism.


If you enjoyed the above article, please take a minute to read about the book that it was adapted from:

ParadeofFaith-Bookcover

Parade of Faith: A Biographical History of the Christian Church

by Ruth A. Tucker
Buy the book!
The story of Christianity centers on people whose lives have been transformed by the resurrected Lord. Tucker puts this front and center in a lively overview peppered with sidebars; historical "what if?" questions; sections on everyday life; drawings and illustrations; bibliographies for further reading.
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The tomb of Jesus

“Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” Matthew 28:6

Suggested Further Reading: John 20:1-10

Come, Christian, for angels are the porters to unbar the door; come, for a cherub is thy messenger to usher thee into the death-place of death himself. Nay, start not from the entrance; let not the darkness frighten thee; the vault is not damp with the vapours of death, nor does the air contain anything of contagion. Come, for it is a pure and healthy place. Fear not to enter that tomb. I will admit that catacombs are not the places where we, who are full of joy, would love to go. There is something gloomy and offensive about a vault. There are noxious smells of corruption; often pestilence is born where a dead body has lain; but fear it not, Christian, for Christ was not left in hell,in hades,neither did his body see corruption. Come, there is no foul smell, but rather a perfume. Step in here, and, if thou didst ever breathe the gales of Ceylon, or winds from the groves of Arabia, thou shalt find them far excelled by that sweet holy fragrance left by the blessed body of Jesus, that alabaster vase which once held divinity, and was rendered sweet and precious thereby. Think not thou shalt find anything obnoxious to thy senses. Corruption Jesus never saw; no worms ever devoured his flesh; no rottenness ever entered into his bones; he saw no corruption. Three days he slumbered, but not long enough to putrify; he soon arose, perfect as when he entered, uninjured as when his limbs were composed for their slumber. Come then, Christian, summon up thy thoughts, gather all thy powers; here is a sweet invitation, let me press it again. Let me lead thee by the hand of meditation, my brother; let me take thee by the arm, and let me again say to thee, “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

For meditation: “Come, see …. Go …and tell.” (Matthew 28:6,7).

Sermon no. 18
7 April (Preached 8 April 1855—Easter)

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He Is - A Builder

Ezra 1:2-4

Though he had torn the Israelites away from their land, God kept his promise to restore them as a nation and rebuild their temple. Much to everyone's surprise, God compelled a pagan ruler to fulfill his divine design to build his temple.

It may seem that your life is in tatters-all you see is ruins where you once saw progress. You may feel discouraged, but don't give up. God is a builder, and a very creative one at that. Against all odds, he will use kings or commoners to restore your life to his intended design.

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Day 45

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord,” he answered.

The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”

“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.

After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.

When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him. When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

How do you explain the drastic change in Saul's (Paul's ) life?

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Today's Lent reading: John 21 (NIV)

View today's Lent reading on Bible Gateway
Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish

1 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 "I'm going out to fish," Simon Peter told them, and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

5 He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?"

"No," they answered.

6 He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

10 Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught." 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Jesus Reinstates Peter

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?"

"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."

16 Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"

He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."

17 The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!"

20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?") 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?"

22 Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?"

24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.

25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

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Today is Good Friday, the day of Jesus' arrest, trial, and execution. The reading below describes his appearance before Pontius Pilate. For the complete Good Friday story, read John 18-19 on Bible Gateway.

Good Friday:
John 18-19

Jesus Before Pilate
28 Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29So Pilate came out to them and asked, "What charges are you bringing against this man?"

30 "If he were not a criminal," they replied, "we would not have handed him over to you."

31 Pilate said, "Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law."

"But we have no right to execute anyone," they objected. 32This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.

33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"

34 "Is that your own idea," Jesus asked, "or did others talk to you about me?" 35 "Am I a Jew?" Pilate replied. "Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?"

36 Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place."

37 "You are a king, then!" said Pilate.

Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

38 "What is truth?" retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, "I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release 'the king of the Jews'?"

40 They shouted back, "No, not him! Give us Barabbas!" Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising....

...read the rest of the Good Friday story at Bible Gateway

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Iddo [Ĭd'dō]—affectionate, festal, favorite or his power.

  1. Father of Ahinadab, and one of Solomon’s purveyors at Mahanaim (1 Kings 4:14).
  2. A descendant of Gershom, son of Levi (1 Chron. 6:21). Called Adaiah, and ancestor of Asaph the seer ( 1 Chron. 6:41).
  3. A son of Zechariah and a chief in David’s time of the half tribe of Manasseh east of Jordan (1 Chron. 27:21).
  4. A seer who denounced the wrath of God against Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, and who wrote a book of visions ( 2 Chron. 9:29; 12:15; 13:22).
  5. Grandfather of the prophet Zechariah (Ezra 5:1; 6:14;Zech 1:1).
  6. A priest who returned from Babylon (Neh. 12:4, 16).
  7. The chief at Casiphia through whom Ezra obtained help. He was a Nethinim (Ezra 8:17).
  8. A man who put away his foreign wife (Ezra 10:43). Jadau is a corruption of Iddo.
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Wine for Fresh Wineskins

Matthew 9:14-17 "Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is...the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved" ( v. 17).

From an argument with the Pharisees over the propriety of eating with sinners (Matt. 9:10-13), Jesus moves to a misunderstanding regarding fasting in today's passage. The disciples of John the Baptist protest that Jesus and His followers do not fast like they and the Pharisees do (v. 14).

This text is not saying that Jesus neglects fasting altogether. As a devout Jew, He certainly obeys God's command to fast on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:29, 31). He also fasted before meeting Satan in the desert (Matt. 4:1-2). Furthermore, Jesus teaches that His people will fast after His ascension (9:15). But in the first century, certain "pious" Jews observed fasts on Mondays and Thursdays each week, in addition to the fasting prescribed in the Law. People were upset with Jesus because He did not engage in this extra fasting.

Our Lord's answer to the protestors reveals that they do not understand the era in which they live. Using the image of a wedding feast, Christ says it is improper to fast while He, the bridegroom, walks the earth (v. 15 ). In that society, there was a celebration that lasted several days wherein the groom was present at his reception. Similarly, Jesus the bridegroom is with His disciples; thus, there should be joy, not the solemnity His culture associates with fasting. Christ's likening of Himself to the bridegroom is remarkable given it is an Old Testament metaphor for God (Isa. 54:5-8). Jesus is implicitly identifying Himself with Yahweh, revealing that He is the divine Messiah who has come to transform His people and bring them great rejoicing ( Zeph. 3:14-18).

Most first-century Jews expected the son of David to leave the old covenant unchanged, but today's passage challenges this assumption. When sewn on old clothing, a new unshrunken patch will shrink in the wash and tear at the old, shrunken, inflexible cloth. Gases from new, fermenting wine force brittle, old wineskins to expand and burst (Matt. 9:16-17 ). Likewise, the new covenant cannot be contained in the forms and rituals of the old. Jesus fulfills and thereby changes the forms of old covenant piety (Heb. 7:11-19), and only those who fail to trust Jesus have the audacity to protest this transformation.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Many of Jesus' contemporaries were unwilling to accept the change God was bringing to His covenant with them, and they rejected Him. Though the essence of God's covenant of grace is the same for those who live on either side of the coming of Christ, the outward forms, rites, and customs have undergone a significant transformation. Rejoice that we live under the new covenant and have greater knowledge of Jesus as well as a fuller experience of the Spirit.

For further study:

Jeremiah 31:31-34

The Bible in a year:

1 Samuel 10-12

For the weekend:

1 Samuel 13-17

INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

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