Saturday, April 14, 2012

Daily Devotional Saturday 14th April

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Due to a technical error, the incorrect devotional was sent out on April 12. We apologize for the error. You can read the correct devotional for April 12 here:

Morning and Evening April 12

Thanks to everyone who wrote in to let us know about the problem!

April 13

Morning

"All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head."
Psalm 22:7

Mockery was a great ingredient in our Lord's woe. Judas mocked him in the garden; the chief priests and scribes laughed him to scorn; Herod set him at nought; the servants and the soldiers jeered at him, and brutally insulted him; Pilate and his guards ridiculed his royalty; and on the tree all sorts of horrid jests and hideous taunts were hurled at him. Ridicule is always hard to bear, but when we are in intense pain it is so heartless, so cruel, that it cuts us to the quick. Imagine the Saviour crucified, racked with anguish far beyond all mortal guess, and then picture that motley multitude, all wagging their heads or thrusting out the lip in bitterest contempt of one poor suffering victim! Surely there must have been something more in the crucified One than they could see, or else such a great and mingled crowd would not unanimously have honoured him with such contempt. Was it not evil confessing, in the very moment of its greatest apparent triumph, that after all it could do no more than mock at that victorious goodness which was then reigning on the cross? O Jesus, "despised and rejected of men," how couldst thou die for men who treated thee so ill? Herein is love amazing, love divine, yea, love beyond degree. We, too, have despised thee in the days of our unregeneracy, and even since our new birth we have set the world on high in our hearts, and yet thou bleedest to heal our wounds, and diest to give us life. O that we could set thee on a glorious high throne in all men's hearts! We would ring out thy praises over land and sea till men should as universally adore as once they did unanimously reject.

"Thy creatures wrong thee, O thou sovereign Good!

Thou art not loved, because not understood:

This grieves me most, that vain pursuits beguile

Ungrateful men, regardless of thy smile."

Evening

"Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him."
Isaiah 3:10

It is well with the righteous always. If it had said, "Say ye to the righteous, that it is well with him in his prosperity," we must have been thankful for so great a boon, for prosperity is an hour of peril, and it is a gift from heaven to be secured from its snares: or if it had been written, "It is well with him when under persecution," we must have been thankful for so sustaining an assurance, for persecution is hard to bear; but when no time is mentioned, all time is included. God's "shalls" must be understood always in their largest sense. From the beginning of the year to the end of the year, from the first gathering of evening shadows until the day-star shines, in all conditions and under all circumstances, it shall be well with the righteous. It is so well with him that we could not imagine it to be better, for he is well fed, he feeds upon the flesh and blood of Jesus; he is well clothed, he wears the imputed righteousness of Christ; he is well housed, he dwells in God; he is well married, his soul is knit in bonds of marriage union to Christ; he is well provided for, for the Lord is his Shepherd; he is well endowed, for heaven is his inheritance. It is well with the righteous--well upon divine authority; the mouth of God speaks the comforting assurance. O beloved, if God declares that all is well, ten thousand devils may declare it to be ill, but we laugh them all to scorn. Blessed be God for a faith which enables us to believe God when the creatures contradict him. It is, says the Word, at all times well with thee, thou righteous one; then, beloved, if thou canst not see it, let God's word stand thee in stead of sight; yea, believe it on divine authority more confidently than if thine eyes and thy feelings told it to thee. Whom God blesses is blest indeed, and what his lip declares is truth most sure and steadfast.

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 22-24, Luke 12:1-31 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
David at Adullam and Mizpah

1 David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. 2 All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.

3 From there David went to Mizpah in Moab and said to the king of Moab, “Would you let my father and mother come and stay with you until I learn what God will do for me?” 4 So he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him as long as David was in the stronghold.

5 But the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.

Saul Kills the Priests of Nob

6 Now Saul heard that David and his men had been discovered. And Saul was seated, spear in hand, under the tamarisk tree on the hill at Gibeah, with all his officials standing at his side. 7 He said to them, “Listen, men of Benjamin! Will the son of Jesse give all of you fields and vineyards? Will he make all of you commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds? 8 Is that why you have all conspired against me? No one tells me when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse. None of you is concerned about me or tells me that my son has incited my servant to lie in wait for me, as he does today.”

9 But Doeg the Edomite, who was standing with Saul’s officials, said, “I saw the son of Jesse come to Ahimelek son of Ahitub at Nob. 10 Ahimelek inquired of the LORD for him; he also gave him provisions and the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”

11 Then the king sent for the priest Ahimelek son of Ahitub and all the men of his family, who were the priests at Nob, and they all came to the king. 12 Saul said, “Listen now, son of Ahitub.”

“Yes, my lord,” he answered.

13 Saul said to him, “Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, giving him bread and a sword and inquiring of God for him, so that he has rebelled against me and lies in wait for me, as he does today?”

14 Ahimelek answered the king, “Who of all your servants is as loyal as David, the king’s son-in-law, captain of your bodyguard and highly respected in your household? 15 Was that day the first time I inquired of God for him? Of course not! Let not the king accuse your servant or any of his father’s family, for your servant knows nothing at all about this whole affair.”

16 But the king said, “You will surely die, Ahimelek, you and your whole family.”

17 Then the king ordered the guards at his side: “Turn and kill the priests of the LORD, because they too have sided with David. They knew he was fleeing, yet they did not tell me.”

But the king’s officials were unwilling to raise a hand to strike the priests of the LORD.

18 The king then ordered Doeg, “You turn and strike down the priests.” So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck them down. That day he killed eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod. 19He also put to the sword Nob, the town of the priests, with its men and women, its children and infants, and its cattle, donkeys and sheep.

20 But one son of Ahimelek son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled to join David. 21 He told David that Saul had killed the priests of the LORD. 22 Then David said to Abiathar, “That day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, I knew he would be sure to tell Saul. I am responsible for the death of your whole family. 23 Stay with me; don’t be afraid. The man who wants to kill you is trying to kill me too. You will be safe with me.”

1 Samuel 23

David Saves Keilah

1 When David was told, “Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are looting the threshing floors,” 2 he inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?”

The LORD answered him, “Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah.”

3 But David’s men said to him, “Here in Judah we are afraid. How much more, then, if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces!”

4 Once again David inquired of the LORD, and the LORD answered him, “Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines into your hand.” 5 So David and his men went to Keilah, fought the Philistines and carried off their livestock. He inflicted heavy losses on the Philistines and saved the people of Keilah. 6 (Now Abiathar son of Ahimelek had brought the ephod down with him when he fled to David at Keilah.)

Saul Pursues David

7 Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah, and he said, “God has delivered him into my hands, for David has imprisoned himself by entering a town with gates and bars.” 8And Saul called up all his forces for battle, to go down to Keilah to besiege David and his men.

9 When David learned that Saul was plotting against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod.” 10 David said, “LORD, God of Israel, your servant has heard definitely that Saul plans to come to Keilah and destroy the town on account of me. 11 Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me to him? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? LORD, God of Israel, tell your servant.”

And the LORD said, “He will.”

12 Again David asked, “Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me and my men to Saul?”

And the LORD said, “They will.”

13 So David and his men, about six hundred in number, left Keilah and kept moving from place to place. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he did not go there.

14 David stayed in the wilderness strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.

15 While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that Saul had come out to take his life. 16 And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. 17 “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” 18 The two of them made a covenant before the LORD. Then Jonathan went home, but David remained at Horesh.

19 The Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hakilah, south of Jeshimon? 20 Now, Your Majesty, come down whenever it pleases you to do so, and we will be responsible for giving him into your hands.”

21 Saul replied, “The LORD bless you for your concern for me. 22 Go and get more information. Find out where David usually goes and who has seen him there. They tell me he is very crafty. 23 Find out about all the hiding places he uses and come back to me with definite information. Then I will go with you; if he is in the area, I will track him down among all the clans of Judah.”

24 So they set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the Desert of Maon, in the Arabah south of Jeshimon. 25 Saul and his men began the search, and when David was told about it, he went down to the rock and stayed in the Desert of Maon. When Saul heard this, he went into the Desert of Maon in pursuit of David.

26 Saul was going along one side of the mountain, and David and his men were on the other side, hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his forces were closing in on David and his men to capture them, 27 a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Come quickly! The Philistines are raiding the land.” 28 Then Saul broke off his pursuit of David and went to meet the Philistines. That is why they call this place Sela Hammahlekoth. 29 And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi.

1 Samuel 24

David Spares Saul’s Life

1 After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the Desert of En Gedi.” 2 So Saul took three thousand able young men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats.

3 He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. 4 The men said, “This is the day the LORD spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.

5 Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. 6 He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.” 7 With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.

8 Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. 9 He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’? 10 This day you have seen with your own eyes how the LORD delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the LORD’s anointed.’11 See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. 12 May the LORD judge between you and me. And may the LORD avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. 13 As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.

14 “Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea? 15 May the LORD be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.”

16 When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud. 17 “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. 18 You have just now told me about the good you did to me; the LORD delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. 19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the LORD reward you well for the way you treated me today. 20 I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands.21 Now swear to me by the LORD that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.”

22 So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.


Luke 12

Warnings and Encouragements

1 Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

8 “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. 9 But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

11 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

The Parable of the Rich Fool

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Do Not Worry

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

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Due to a technical error, the incorrect devotional was sent out on April 12. We apologize for the error. You can read the correct devotional for April 12 here:

Men of the Bible April 12

Thanks to everyone who wrote in to let us know about the problem!

Asa [Ā’să]—physician.

1. The third king of Judah who succeeded Abijah. He was the great-grandson of Solomon (1 Kings 15; 2 Chron. 14-16). He was an ancestor of Jesus Christ ( Matt. 1:7, 8).

The Man Who Was Good and Right

Asa is a marvel. In spite of the fact that his father was a sinful man and his mother a heathen woman, he yet shines forth as one of Judah’s most godly kings. He is praised for his religious zeal which led him to reform the worship of the people. Because of his devotion to God he deposed his idolatrous mother—an astonishing act for an oriental.

Asa’s heart toward God was like David’s and such was the secret of his godliness in a foul environment. He is spoken of as doing “that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord, his God.” Some people are presumptuous enough to settle what is good and right in their own eyes. Asa, however, did not invent a goodness or righteousness he could adapt to his own convenience and ambition. He only wanted what was good and right in God’s sight.

I. Asa prayed before battle. He did not shrink from war with the Ethiopians. Before meeting the foe he met God. “Lord, it is nothing with Thee to help.”

II. Asa began upon a good foundation. It took courage and Asa “took courage, and put away the abominable idols.” Our idols of fortune, fashion, popularity, self-indulgence, must be severely dealt with if we desire God’s best. We can only be right with God and with one another when we are right about our little gods, and man-made idols.

III. Asa was victorious. Being right with God, Asa was honored of Him. His foes surrendered for they saw that his God was with him.

IV. Asa was impartial. The grandeur of this good king is seen in that he would not even allow his mother to keep an idol. So he ruthlessly destroyed the little royal shrine. What was wrong for the subject was also wrong for the queen. Thus horrible abominations had to be abolished. No wonder when Asa died, his people sorely missed and mourned him!

2. A Levite, son of Elkanah and head of a family of Netophathites (1 Chron. 9:16).

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GiG Banner 2012 Big

April 13, 2012
Constant Cravings
Gwen Smith

Today's Truth
“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14, NIV).

Friend to Friend
A friend of mine is hypoglycemic. Before he was diagnosed, he had one compelling symptom. He was constantly thirsty. Now the crazy thing was, the more water he drank, the thirstier he became. It defies logic. As you live out your faith, you will have a similar insatiable thirst and hunger for God. The more you ask for His daily help, the more you will want it. But know this, friend, you will not be fully satisfied or quenched until you are in His presence.

In his book, Come Thirsty, Max Lucado writes:
You’re acquainted with physical thirst. Stop drinking and see what happens. Coherent thoughts vanish, skin grows clammy, and vital organs shut down. Deprive your body of necessary fluid, and it will tell you.
Deprive your soul of spiritual water, and it will tell you. Dehydrated hearts send desperate messages. Snarling tempers. Waves of worry. Growing guilt and fear. Hopelessness. Resentment. Loneliness. Insecurity.
But you don’t have to live with a dehydrated heart. God invites you to treat your thirsty soul as you would treat your physical thirst. Just visit the WELL and drink deeply.

Here on earth, hunger and thirst never end. Just because you ate breakfast this morning doesn’t mean you won’t have a grumbly tummy at lunchtime. And when you eat lunch, that doesn’t cover you for the next three days. You need to eat again and again.

The spiritual parallels here are as rich as a piece of Ghirardelli cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. (Great restaurant, by the way!) A three-course meal of worship, prayer, and a sermon on Sunday morning doesn’t nourish your body with the spiritual calories you need for an entire week. Not by a long stretch. We were designed in the image of God, for God. We were made to worship. To respond to the glory of God. To know Him. Continually. Daily. Without ceasing.

I don’t know about you, but hunger affects my judgment. If I dare go to the grocery store while I’m hungry, my cart will usually contain extra food items I wouldn’t normally purchase. Are you smellin’ what I’m cookin’ here? If I’m hungry when I arrive at a dinner party, I’ll more than likely eat the mother lode of appetizers (especially if there is dip involved).

When we are spiritually hungry, the same truth applies. We have a tendency to compromise our judgment and set aside our convictions. We grumble and complain about our lives. We look to other people and other stuff to meet our needs. Yadda, yadda...

BEING SPIRITUALLY THIN IS SO NOT IN!

Look around! Spiritually hungry people are everywhere. Just turn on your television, pick up a magazine, or go to an online chat-room. People are desperately trying to fill their hunger hole…trying to find happiness and satisfaction in things, status, and people.

Now, if you dare, look even closer to home. Look at your PTA meetings, boardrooms, Little League fields, and malls. And, if you’re really brave, look in the mirror. Each one of us sees a hungry woman staring us in the face.

It is really important to turn to the Bread of Life at the first inkling of hunger pains. Go to Him with your needs and give Him your burdens. Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He wants to meet you at the point of your need.

God gave you an open invitation to come to Him when He said through the prophet Isaiah,

“Come, all who are thirsty,
come to the waters;

and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!”

(Isaiah 55:1a, NIV).

Each time we connect with God throughout the day, our souls are nourished. Sometimes we just need a small spiritual meal. Sometimes our needs are greater. In those moments, we are invited by our compassionate God to sit down to a great big dinner. How are you handling your constant cravings?

Let’s Pray
Dear God, Thank You for the invitation to come, eat, drink, and be satisfied in You. You are all that I need, and more than enough. I pray that You will bear the weight of the burdens on my heart today, and ask that You would fill my soul with Your rest. Finally, please increase my cravings for You, Lord – so that you can be glorified in and through my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

  • Spending time with the Lord through His Word is one great way to feed your soul. Read and meditate on Psalm 63:1-8.
  • Read it silently the first time, then read it again out loud.
  • When have you witnessed God’s power in your life? Thank Him!

More from the Girlfriends
Although your physical cravings might include dark chocolate, coffee, and warm, fresh bread - your soul constantly craves intimacy with God. Spend some time worshiping Him today. Sing to Him!

Today's devotion is an excerpt from Gwen Smith's book, Broken into Beautiful. In Broken into Beautiful, Smith invites you to hear the stories of women with shattered dreams, shameful secrets, and damaged souls...and of the loving, holy God who restores their wounded hearts and makes them beautiful in Him. To order the book, go to Amazon or, for a signed copy, order from Gwen’s website: www.gwensmith.net.

GO DEEPER 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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P31Header
Luann Prater

April 13, 2012

Interrupt Me
Luann Prater

"I was a stranger and you invited me in ..." Matthew 25:35b (NIV 1984)

After five years of living in our house, my husband finally agreed we needed curtains on the windows. Not to block the view, but to enhance it. (That is a breakthrough, right there.)

Deciding on just the right thing, at just the right sale price, was a challenge. In the span of a week I put up rods, ironed drapes, switched them out and took them down. The gals in the drapery department at the local store knew me by my first name.

The last place I planned to be was at the mall, exchanging curtains, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. But there I was, ringing out at the register.

And there she was, Vivian. She breathlessly approached the counter asking to use the phone. It seemed this young girl had been dropped off to go to work and discovered she wasn't scheduled. She needed to find someone to pick her up.

That's when I felt a familiar knock on my heart. Actually, it was pounding pretty good. I knew when I felt that it meant God had an interruption planned.

"Do you need a ride?" I asked. All activity stopped. She looked at me quizzically. The cashier waited to see what would happen next. Vivian cocked her head to the side in disbelief and replied, "Uh, yes."

"I'm leaving; I'll take you," came out of my mouth.

Can I just say that was not on my agenda? My list was probably like yours, a mile long with things that needed to be done before the end of the day. But the truths of Matthew 25 resonated within me. I knew God asked me to be on the lookout for strangers to invite in: into my home, into my church and it appeared, into my routine.

I discovered a little bit about my new friend during our ride. She has seven siblings. Because of her mom's drug abuse, five were adopted out of the family six years ago, leaving just her and her brother. No one wants 13 and 14 year olds she explained. Her decisions thereafter took her down some wrong roads.

We talked about church and she said she'd been a few times, but didn't go now.

"Vivian, God put us together on purpose today. He has a plan for your life. You didn't expect to run into me and I didn't expect to run into you, yet here we are. Unusual, don't you think?"

She agreed. "Yes. In today's world, no one takes a chance on anyone. I couldn't believe you offered me a ride."

I asked about her past and her hopes for the future. In twenty minutes we bonded. "Are you working Sunday?" I asked.

"No, I'm off," she replied.

"I'll pick you up for church if you want to go with us." She said she thought that would be great!

I got out of the car and wrapped her in a hug. Then I prayed over her as we stood amazed at how quickly we'd connected.

Looking back, I'm thankful for interruptions; some of the most memorable moments have been unexpected. God wants to interrupt us for His purposes, inviting Him and others into our lives in unexpected ways.

Dear Lord, please open my heart, my eyes, and my routine to Your divine interruptions. May it be said of me, I'm a woman who invited You in. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Luann's blog and listen to her Encouragement Caféradio show for loads of fun and spiritual application for real life!

Will you pray about inviting a Compassion International child into your heart?

Reflect and Respond:
"The ultimate rich man, Jesus Christ, became poor for you. That means that we ought to be deeply involved in the lives of broken people in this city. And it means not just giving your charity, giving your money, though that's very important. But it means giving your time, giving your relationship ..." ~Tim Keller

Look for ways God is interrupting you today. Who can you 'invite in'?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 16:9, "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." (ESV)

Matthew 25:35-40 , "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'" (ESV)

© 2012 by Luann Prater. All rights reserved.

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

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Spurgeon-MetropolitanTabernacle-Header-1

Due to a technical error, the incorrect devotional was sent out on April 12. We apologize for the error. You can read the correct devotional for April 12 here:

Spurgeon Metropolitan Tabernacle

Thanks to everyone who wrote in to let us know about the problem!

Knowledge commended

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

Suggested Further Reading: Ezra 7:1–10

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

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

Sermon no. 609
15 January (1865)

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Tabletalk April 12

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The Fruit of Repentance

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

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

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

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

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

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

For further study:

2 Chronicles 7:14

The Bible in a year:

Gen. 50-Exodus 1

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

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Jesus Commissions the Twelve

Matthew 10:1-15

Jesus' selection of twelve disciples is intentional and patterned on the twelve tribes of Israel. Just as God once formed His people from the twelve sons of Jacob, so too does Christ form a new people starting with the twelve apostles. These disciples, indeed, all Christians, are to be content with what is necessary to fulfill their vocations and are not to be greedy. Does your life reflect such simplicity, or are you consumed with the things of this world?

For further study:

Genesis 49:28

The Bible in a year:

1 Samuel 27-29

For the weekend:

1 Sam. 30-2 Sam. 3

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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A home question

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

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 7:1-5

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

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

Sermon no. 294
15 January (1860)

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Michael and Margaretha Sattler: Faithful to Death

Born in the German village of Staufen, Michael Sattler (c. 1490 – 1527) enrolls at the University of Freiburg at a young age and then takes vows as a Benedictine monk, serving at a monastery in the Black Forest. His schooling includes a broad theological education as well as biblical studies in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Highly regarded by the Benedictines, he is elected to the position of prior.

While yet in his twenties, he becomes engrossed in Reformation ideas. Though living in relative seclusion in a monastery, he is influenced by the new religious ideas swirling around him. As an avid student of Scripture he is most interested in Luther's examination of Paul's epistles. His studies convince him that monasticism is not the path to true righteousness, but his first personal face-to-face encounter with the new teachings comes through Anabaptists, specifically through peasants with both a social and spiritual agenda. During the Peasants' War of 1525, while living in the Black Forest region, Sattler is converted to the Anabaptist cause.

Turning away from his monastic vows, he marries Margaretha, a former nun who has also converted to Anabaptist beliefs. Later that year he defends his position biblically in a series of disputations in Zwingli's Zurich. In hindsight, the outcome for any such public debate is fixed: that an Anabaptist would lose is obvious. But one after another of the young Anabaptist theologians take the bait, only to be caught in the tangle of political determinism. Sattler is arrested and threatened with torture until he recants and promises not to return to Zurich. His expulsion, like the expulsion of first-century Christians from Jerusalem, only serves to spread the message. He journeys as a missionary in exile and baptizes converts along the way. Unlike other early Anabaptist leaders, he maintains close contact with Magisterial Reformers, interacting on controversial theological issues with Martin Bucer and others in Strasbourg.

By 1527 he is one of the recognized leaders of the movement and helps to formulate the Schleitheim Confession, which outlines Anabaptist beliefs, including the concept of a called-out community of believers separated from the world. The confession also lays out a pacifist position, clearly taking issue with the more radical militants. So significant is this document among the growing movement of Anabaptists that Zwingli caustically concedes: "There is almost no one among you who does not have a copy of your so well founded commandments." Not long after drafting the confession, Michael and Margaretha are arrested by Catholic authorities led by Austrian regent Ferdinand. Ferdinand regards the crime of a monk converting to Anabaptism so heinous that he argues Sattler should be drowned without the courtesy of a trial. But other officials, conscious of public opinion, are determined to at least go through the motions of a court interrogation.

Other Anabaptists are arrested along with Sattler, but he alone is charged with abandoning his vows as a monk and marrying a nun. Among the other charges are denial of transubstantiation, rejection of infant baptism, corruption of the Lord's Supper, failure to properly honor the Virgin Mary, and refusal to take oaths. The matter of pacifism also draws criticism; anyone unwilling to fight invading Turks is deemed a traitor. He responds to the charges with biblical evidence, but the judges are not in the mood for a debate. Their verdict leaves no room for compromise:

Michael Sattler shall be committed to the

executioner. The latter shall take him to

the square and there first cut out his

tongue, and then forge him fast to a wagon

and there with glowing iron tongs twice

tear pieces from his body, then on the

way to the site of execution five times more

as above and then burn his body to

powder as an arch-heretic.

Eyewitness reports claim that even after his tongue is cut out, Sattler continues praying for his enemies to the very end. The following week Margaretha is executed by drowning in the Necker River. The multiple martyrdom of Sattler, his wife, and several followers only serves to spread the word and bring greater attention to the Anabaptist confession that is read and studied in households and conventicles all over Europe.


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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Myth: “I’ll always have close friends around me.”

Proverbs 18:24

Maybe if I didn’t know what I was missing, it wouldn’t be so difficult.

When my husband followed God’s call to move to Ohio after serving at a church in California for eight years, I was devastated. I’d assumed that we were going to be at our church and part of that community forever. We were settled in an established neighborhood with excellent schools, and we lived close to the beach in a house I simply adored. I was part of a circle of Christian women who had become my dearest friends. We met once a week for coffee and often talked to each other throughout the day. I thought I’d always have them in my life. However, God opened a unique door of ministry for my husband in Ohio, so I did my best to trust him as we packed our things and moved cross-country.

Even though my husband has been on staff at this church for three years now, I wouldn’t say that I have any real friends here. Of course, I’ve met many women through Bible study groups and parties we host in our home. The people here are warm and hospitable. My husband and I love our new church, and my kids are crazy about their youth group. But I miss having a girlfriend I can confide in or call on a moment’s notice to go shopping or out to lunch. I don’t have any of those “just stop by” kind of friends. Some days I feel so lonely.

It’s not as if I don’t have any friends. My “California friends,” as I call them, get together once a year for a girls’ weekend. It’s as if no time has passed at all, and we catch up on each other’s lives. Then it’s a long flight back home and back to life as usual. I keep a busy social calendar, as you’d imagine a minister’s wife does, but is it too much to ask to have one close friend here?

—Jessica

Women need close, meaningful friendships with other women. It’s the way God uniquely designed us! While men may be content to have one or two close friends in a lifetime, women are more likely to keep up with a range of friends—friends from grade school, college roommates, co-workers and neighbors from three neighborhoods ago. However, at times we may end up in places with no one on our side (like Moses in Numbers 12).

Relationships change. Life moves us on to different places—both physically and emotionally. A job change, a move, a time-consuming project at work, the birth of a child or the dissolution of a friend’s marriage—all of these can drastically affect our friendships. Remember, friendships are not a given. We can’t take them for granted and assume that we’ll always have them.

If you feel relationally dry right now, consider the following:

  • Start by examining your friendship with God. God is the only ever-present friend through all of life’s circumstances (see Deuteronomy 31:8). Are you cultivating that friendship as you would a relationship with a best girlfriend?
  • It’s possible that you’re in a place in life where God has not given you close girlfriends. What is God trying to teach you by forcing some alone-time?
  • Consider changing your expectations for friendships. It’s helpful to realize that some friendships never become very close, and they last for only a season. Don’t close yourself off to these short-term opportunities just because someone may not become your best friend. You may be surprised how and where a friendship may develop if you give it a chance.
  • Take the initiative to cultivate relationships that may have gone by the wayside.

“A landmark UCLA study suggests friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are.”

—Gale Berkowitz, UCLA Study on Friendship Among Women, 2006

“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Proverbs 18:24

See also

1 Samuel 18:1–4; Psalm 88:8–9; John 15:13, 15]]>Fri, 1 Jul 2011 00:01:00 GMT
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