Saturday, April 21, 2012

Daily Devotional Saturday 21st April

““Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"I know that my Redeemer liveth."
Job 19:25
The marrow of Job's comfort lies in that little word "My"--"My Redeemer," and in the fact that the Redeemer lives. Oh! to get hold of a living Christ. We must get a property in him before we can enjoy him. What is gold in the mine to me? Men are beggars in Peru, and beg their bread in California. It is gold in my purse which will satisfy my necessities, by purchasing the bread I need. So a Redeemer who does not redeem me, an avenger who will never stand up for my blood, of what avail were such? Rest not content until by faith you can say "Yes, I cast myself upon my living Lord; and he is mine." It may be you hold him with a feeble hand; you half think it presumption to say, "He lives as my Redeemer;" yet, remember if you have but faith as a grain of mustard seed, that little faith entitles you to say it. But there is also another word here, expressive of Job's strong confidence, "I know." To say, "I hope so, I trust so" is comfortable; and there are thousands in the fold of Jesus who hardly ever get much further. But to reach the essence of consolation you must say, "I know." Ifs, buts, and perhapses, are sure murderers of peace and comfort. Doubts are dreary things in times of sorrow. Like wasps they sting the soul! If I have any suspicion that Christ is not mine, then there is vinegar mingled with the gall of death; but if I know that Jesus lives for me, then darkness is not dark: even the night is light about me. Surely if Job, in those ages before the coming and advent of Christ, could say, "I know," we should not speak less positively. God forbid that our positiveness should be presumption. Let us see that our evidences are right, lest we build upon an ungrounded hope; and then let us not be satisfied with the mere foundation, for it is from the upper rooms that we get the widest prospect. A living Redeemer, truly mine, is joy unspeakable.

Evening

"Who is even at the right hand of God."
Romans 8:34
He who was once despised and rejected of men, now occupies the honourable position of a beloved and honoured Son. The right hand of God is the place of majesty and favour. Our Lord Jesus is his people's representative. When he died for them, they had rest; he rose again for them, they had liberty; when he sat down at his Father's right hand, they had favour, and honour, and dignity. The raising and elevation of Christ is the elevation, the acceptance, and enshrinement, the glorifying of all his people, for he is their head and representative. This sitting at the right hand of God, then, is to be viewed as the acceptance of the person of the Surety, the reception of the Representative, and therefore, the acceptance of our souls. O saint, see in this thy sure freedom from condemnation. "Who is he that condemneth?" Who shall condemn the men who are in Jesus at the right hand of God?
The right hand is the place of power. Christ at the right hand of God hath all power in heaven and in earth. Who shall fight against the people who have such power vested in their Captain? O my soul, what can destroy thee if Omnipotence be thy helper? If the aegis of the Almighty cover thee, what sword can smite thee? Rest thou secure. If Jesus is thine all-prevailing King, and hath trodden thine enemies beneath his feet; if sin, death, and hell are all vanquished by him, and thou art represented in him, by no possibility canst thou be destroyed.
"Jesu's tremendous name
Puts all our foes to flight:
Jesus, the meek, the angry Lamb,
A Lion is in fight.
"By all hell's host withstood;
We all hell's host o'erthrow;
And conquering them, through Jesu's blood
We still to conquer go."

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Today's reading: 2 Samuel 9-11, Luke 15:11-32 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
David and Mephibosheth
    1 David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
   2 Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”
   “At your service,” he replied.
   3 The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”
   Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”
   4 “Where is he?” the king asked.
   Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”
    5 So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.
   6 When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.
   David said, “Mephibosheth!”
   “At your service,” he replied.
   7 “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”
   8 Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”
   9 Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. 10 You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)
   11 Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.
   12 Mephibosheth had a young son named Mika, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth.13 And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet.

2 Samuel 10

David Defeats the Ammonites
    1 In the course of time, the king of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun succeeded him as king. 2 David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father.
   When David’s men came to the land of the Ammonites, 3 the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Hasn’t David sent them to you only to explore the city and spy it out and overthrow it?” 4 So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved off half of each man’s beard, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away.
   5 When David was told about this, he sent messengers to meet the men, for they were greatly humiliated. The king said, “Stay at Jericho till your beards have grown, and then come back.”
   6 When the Ammonites realized that they had become obnoxious to David, they hired twenty thousand Aramean foot soldiers from Beth Rehob and Zobah, as well as the king of Maakah with a thousand men, and also twelve thousand men from Tob.
   7 On hearing this, David sent Joab out with the entire army of fighting men. 8 The Ammonites came out and drew up in battle formation at the entrance of their city gate, while the Arameans of Zobah and Rehob and the men of Tob and Maakah were by themselves in the open country.
   9 Joab saw that there were battle lines in front of him and behind him; so he selected some of the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans. 10 He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai his brother and deployed them against the Ammonites. 11 Joab said, “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to come to my rescue; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come to rescue you. 12 Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The LORD will do what is good in his sight.”
   13 Then Joab and the troops with him advanced to fight the Arameans, and they fled before him. 14 When the Ammonites realized that the Arameans were fleeing, they fled before Abishai and went inside the city. So Joab returned from fighting the Ammonites and came to Jerusalem.
   15 After the Arameans saw that they had been routed by Israel, they regrouped. 16 Hadadezer had Arameans brought from beyond the Euphrates River; they went to Helam, with Shobak the commander of Hadadezer’s army leading them.
   17 When David was told of this, he gathered all Israel, crossed the Jordan and went to Helam. The Arameans formed their battle lines to meet David and fought against him. 18 But they fled before Israel, and David killed seven hundred of their charioteers and forty thousand of their foot soldiers. He also struck down Shobak the commander of their army, and he died there. 19 When all the kings who were vassals of Hadadezer saw that they had been routed by Israel, they made peace with the Israelites and became subject to them.
   So the Arameans were afraid to help the Ammonites anymore.

2 Samuel 11

David and Bathsheba
    1 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.
   2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”
   6 So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. 8 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. 9 But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.
   10 David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?”
   11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”
   12 Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home.
   14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”
   16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.
   18 Joab sent David a full account of the battle. 19 He instructed the messenger: “When you have finished giving the king this account of the battle, 20 the king’s anger may flare up, and he may ask you, ‘Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn’t you know they would shoot arrows from the wall?21 Who killed Abimelek son of Jerub-Besheth? Didn’t a woman drop an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you get so close to the wall?’ If he asks you this, then say to him, ‘Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.’”
   22 The messenger set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. 23 The messenger said to David, “The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance of the city gate. 24 Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king’s men died. Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.”
   25 David told the messenger, “Say this to Joab: ‘Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another. Press the attack against the city and destroy it.’ Say this to encourage Joab.”
   26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the LORD.

Luke 15

The Parable of the Lost Son
    11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
   13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
   17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
   “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
   21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
   22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
   25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
   28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
   31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

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Nimrod [Nĭm'rŏd]—valiant, strong orhe that rulesA son of Cush, son of Ham. Nimrod was a mighty hunter and a potent monarch whose land bore his name (Gen. 10:891 Chron. 1:10Micah 5:6).
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The missionaries’ charge and authority

‘And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth; go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’ Matthew 28:18–19
Suggested Further Reading: Acts 13:1–13
There are some young men who get the idea into their minds that they would like to go into foreign lands; but these are frequently the most unfit men, and have not the power and ability. I pray that the divine call would come to some gifted men. You who have, perhaps, some wealth of your own, what could be a better object in life than to devote yourself and your substance to the Redeemer’s cause? You young men, who have brilliant prospects before you, but who as yet have not the anxieties of a family to maintain, why, would it not be a noble thing to surrender your brilliant prospects, that you may become a humble preacher of Christ? I have questioned my own conscience, and I do not think I could be in the path of duty if I should go abroad to preach the Word, leaving this field of labour; but I think many of my brethren now labouring at home might with the greatest advantage surrender their charges, and go where their presence would be as valuable as the presence of a thousand such as they are here. And I long that we may see young men out of the universities, and students in our grammar schools—that we may see our physicians, advocates, tradesmen and educated mechanics, when God has touched their hearts, giving all they have, that they may teach and preach Christ. We want Judsons and Brainerds over again. It will never do to send out to the heathen men who are of no use at home; we must send the highest, and best.
For meditation: Missionary work depends not upon the call of adventure but upon the call of God. Christ’s apostles were properly prepared and stood the test of time (Mark 3:14Luke 22:28John 14:9Acts 11:25–26Galatians 1:15–18). John Mark became very useful in later years (2 Timothy 4:11) but appears to have gone out originally before he was called and ready (Acts 13:1315:38).
Sermon no. 383
21 April (1861)

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Seeking the Lost

Luke 15 "I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance" ( v. 7).
Generally speaking, a dog owner will search high and low for his pet if he finds that his animal is missing. He might walk through his neighborhood yelling out the name of his dog in hopes that it will come running. The local animal control center may receive several visits a day from this owner, hoping to find that the dog has been picked up and brought there. Normally, he will also plaster the telephone poles on the local streets with flyers promising a reward for the animal's return. He may even go door-to-door, asking his neighbors if they have seen his pet.
While dogs are a good gift from the Lord, it is indeed sad that too many followers of Christ are more concerned to find lost pets than they are to find lost people. We easily grow complacent about our participation in the mission Jesus has given to us (Matt. 28:18-20 ). The task of world evangelization is so large that we often ignore it. Without necessarily bearing a malicious intent, most of us probably overlook the desperate needs found even in our own communities. Church buildings are often treated as doctor's offices. Just as a physician waits at his practice for patients to come for treatment, so too do we act as if sinners will of their own accord visit the church in order to find salvation.
The task of seeking, however, belongs to the Christian community. As indicated in the three parables found in today's passage, God's passion is to seek out the lost. If they died tonight, the unrepentant sinners around us would go to hell, and our concern for these unbelievers is to be so great that we search them out, share the Gospel, and then rejoice when someone trusts Jesus (Luke 15:1-10 ). Lest there be any doubt about the Creator's desire to find and be reconciled to lost sinners, the parable of the prodigal son tells us that the Father Himself rejoices when errant men and women return to Him (vv. 11-32).
We who have been found by Christ must never forget our desperation, lostness, purposelessness, and hopelessness before the Savior found us (Eph. 2:11-12 ). May we go out of our way to find and befriend non-Christians so that we might be used of Jesus to lead them into His kingdom.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

How much do you know about the spiritual needs of your city? Where is the closest neighborhood to yours that has been given over to drug lords and other criminals because the hope of Christ is so absent? Where are those affluent areas in which people attempt to find purpose in their possessions because they do not know the One who makes life meaningful? Work with your pastor and elders to find unbelievers and then go and do what you can to bring the Gospel to them.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
For the weekend:
INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright Copyright symbol 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living. 

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Seeking the Lost

How much do you know about the spiritual needs of your city? Where is the closest neighborhood to yours that has been given over to drug lords and other criminals because the hope of Christ is so absent? Where are those affluent areas in which people attempt to find purpose in their possessions because they do not know the One who makes life meaningful? Work with your pastor and elders to find unbelievers and then go and do what you can to bring the Gospel to them.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
For the weekend:
Coram Deo from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright Copyright symbol 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living. 


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The carnal mind

“The carnal mind is enmity against God.” Romans 8:7
Suggested Further Reading: Romans 5:6-11
Let me suppose an impossible case for a moment. Let me imagine a man entering heaven without a change of heart. He comes within the gates. He hears a sonnet. He starts! It is to the praise of his enemy. He sees a throne, and on it sits one who is glorious; but it is his enemy. He walks streets of gold, but those streets belong to his enemy. He sees hosts of angels; but those are the servants of his enemy. He is in an enemy’s house; for he is at enmity with God. He could not join the song, for he would not know the tune. There he would stand; silent, motionless; till Christ should say, with a voice louder than ten thousand thunders, “What doest thou here? Enemies at a marriage banquet? Enemies in the children’s house? Enemies in heaven? Get thee gone! Depart ye cursed, into everlasting fire in hell!” Oh! sirs, if the unregenerate man could enter heaven, I mention once more the oft-repeated saying of Whitefield, he would be so unhappy in heaven, that he would ask God to let him run down into hell for shelter. There must be a change, if you consider the future state; for how can enemies to God ever sit down at the banquet of the Lamb? And to conclude, let me remind you—and it is in the text after all—that this change must be worked by a power beyond your own. An enemy may possibly make himself a friend, but enmity cannot. If it be but an adjunct of his nature to be an enemy he may change himself into a friend; but if it is the very essence of his existence to be enmity, positive enmity, enmity cannot change itself. No, there must be something done more than we can accomplish.
For meditation: The Lord Jesus Christ has done for us much more than he commanded his disciples to do for their enemies (Luke 6:27-28).
Sermon no. 20
21 April (Preached 22 April 1855)
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Lynn Cowell
April 20, 2012
Timely Gifts
Lynn Cowell
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17 (NIV)
Several years ago ... okay, many, many years ago ... my parents gave me a unique keychain with a key to their car. I loved it! That key represented freedom and independence. Exactly what I was craving as a teenager. It was the right gift at the right time.
If my parents had given me that gift when I was six, it would have been strange and inappropriate. I would've wondered what it was for and how to use it. My parents knew what to give and when to give it.
In James 1:17 we're told that God our Father gives good gifts to us, His children. Not only does He give good gifts, but He knows perfectly what to give and when to give it. His gifts are not spur of the moment because He forgot a special day was on the way. His gifts are all about perfect timing.
When I was five, I couldn't reach my jacket hanging up just above the cement steps leading to our basement. I called out for help, but I didn't trust those who loved me would come and do what I needed when I wanted it. A tumble down those steps produced a black eye that stayed a long time.
Many of us are asking God for help. We're crying out for something we need. The question is, can we wait patiently, trusting that His timing is perfect? Can we believe He has our best in mind and is working on our behalf?
Sometimes we grow impatient. We want what we want and we want it now. So we make the mistake of trying to get it by ourselves.
Is there one thing you feel if you could have it, your life would be complete? If you could just have that job at that pay, life would be so much better. If God would just open your womb, the emptiness would finally be gone. If He would just heal your broken, cold marriage, your heart would be joyful. Are you tempted, like me, to get that thing any way you can, even with the possibility you could end up with way more than a black eye?
There are times when He seems to answer "no" or at least "not now." It is here, where our desires intersect His will, that we have to trust the Father knows best and every gift comes from Him. Every time, in His time, the gift is good and perfect.
I've seen God's perfect gifts in my life as I've waited on Him. Waited on Him for a husband. Waited on Him to open doors for ministry. Waited on Him to draw my kids to Himself. Let's keep our eyes on His history of faithfulness in our lives as we wait for His good and perfect gifts.
Dear Lord, waiting on You is so hard! My heart wants to get things moving, step up and take action. Help me to always bring my desires to You, knowing that You always have my best at heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
Visit Lynn's blog to share and encourage others with your story of when you have waited and seen God's perfect and good gifts!
Reflect and Respond:
Are you currently in a waiting place? Are you waiting in faith, expecting to see God's good and perfect gift or living in a place of frustration because He doesn't seem to be doing things your way in your time?
Today, tell God you want to choose to honor Him as you wait.
Power Verses:
Psalm 27:14, "Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." (NIV)
Psalm 33:20, "We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield." (NIV)
Copyright symbol 2012 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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Ignatius Loyola

Quote: "Let me look at the foulness and ugliness of my body. Let me see myself as an ulcerous sore running with every horrible and disgusting poison." (Ignatius Loyola)
A small boy when Columbus first set sail, Ignatius Loyola (1491 – 1556) grew up in a world filled with possibility and exploding with geographical and mechanical discoveries. As the founder of the Society of Jesus — known simply as the Jesuits — he formed a militaristic missionary organization demanding strict discipline and loyalty. He set the pace for Catholic outreach worldwide, and before he died there were Jesuits scattered across Europe and serving in outposts as remote as India, Japan, and Brazil.
Born into nobility in the Basque country of Spain, Loyola is schooled in the Spanish court and steeped in military training and the art of chivalry. But the excitement of training soon turns into the horrors of a war in which his shin is shattered by a cannonball. He endures excruciating primitive surgery with no anesthetic, leaving him with constant pain and a lifelong limp.
In his early thirties, while recuperating, he reads biographies, including Stories of the Saintsand Life of Christ. He is particularly impressed by the lives of two monastic leaders, Francis and Dominic, who founded religious orders. He vows to become a soldier of Christ, living a life of holy chivalry devoted to the Virgin Mary. To confirm his calling, he takes a pilgrimage to religious shrines that end in a remote village. There he lives in seclusion — tempted, as he later relates, to take his own life. Yet he continues to seek God, retiring to a cave where he prays for hours and experiences visions that reassure him in his faith.
His fame spreads through his writing, particularly his still-influential Spiritual Exercises. Here he lays out a path to piety, reflecting on his own spiritual life and the necessity of absolute obedience to Christ. Spiritual Exercises does not offer a warm and fuzzy spirituality; its purpose is to lay the groundwork for devout and disciplined discipleship. The subject matter is designed to fit a four-week retreat, focusing first on sin, followed by Christ's earthly kingship, his passion, and his reign as risen Lord. The exercises are designed not only for those who would become Jesuits but also for lay people.
In the following years he travels and studies theology at various universities. Collecting a band of followers, he stirs suspicions and is questioned by the Inquisition. In fact, he is twice briefly imprisoned. In 1534 he and six companions unite together and take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to the pope.
In 1539 they travel to Rome and receive the blessing of the Pope Paul III, who officially sanctions the Society of Jesus. Their absolute obedience to the pope comes in a "special vow" that Jesuits, unlike other orders, are required to obey — vowing to "take upon ourselves, beyond the bond common to all the faithful, a special vow . . . meant so to bind that whatsoever the present Roman Pontiff and his successors may command us concerning the advancement of souls and the spreading of the faith, we shall be obliged to obey instantly."
Distinct from most other religious orders, the Jesuits do not require a monk's cowl or any other religious uniform, nor are daily liturgies or fasting or penance part of the religious routine. They follow the Spiritual Exercises, with its focus on an intense period of prayer and meditation. Though Loyola does not establish an order for women, he does donate money for the establishment of the House of St. Martha, which helps prostitutes leave their profession and reunite with their families or join in the ministry.
Missionary outreach becomes the hallmark of the Jesuits as they spread out across the globe from India and Japan to South America, Africa, and French Canada. Loyola serves as Superior General, heading up the vast administrative duties from his office in Rome. Before he dies, he drafts the Constitutions , a lengthy and detailed rulebook that clearly differentiates Jesuits from the other monastic orders that require a strict ascetic life style. Mobility is the key to Jesuit effectiveness. As the church militant, cloistered monasticism simply is not their way of serving Jesus. By the time of his death in 1556, there are more than a thousand Jesuits, and within decades the membership exceeds ten thousand.

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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GiG Banner 2012 Big
Note: this morning's devotional contained a broken link to the song "Something Beautiful." You can find the corrected link below or listen to the song by clicking here.
April 20, 2012
Something Beautiful
Gwen Smith
Today's Truth"...Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me." (Matthew 26:10, NIV)
Friend to FriendI am completely crazy about cool jewelry, so when the Lord prompted me to take off my favorite necklace and give it to the woman who had just admired it, I tried to pretend that I didn't hear Him.
"It's mine, God!" I reasoned. "It isn't replaceable! Why would ask me to do that?"
My self-plan didn't like the God-plan that was laid out before me. God was asking me to give up something that meant a lot to me so that another woman could be blessed. It seemed crazy. Unnecessary. But, in this instance, through the strength of Christ, I chose to obey even though I didn't want too. It hurt. It cost me big. I felt the loss.
God softened my childish heart, however, as the woman wept at the Lord's blessing. As I silently confessed my selfish thoughts, God poured a deep joy into my soul. He showed me that my sacrifice was an act of worship to Him. Blessings boomeranged right back to my heart as I humbly thanked Him for allowing me to participate in His moment with her. It was a beautiful thing.
There are just some times I'd rather give gifts that don't cost me too much. But that's probably something that only I wrestle with, right? (Wink! Wink!) It's hard to be open handed with things that we hold dear, isn't it? Some of us struggle with an unwillingness to give away material things or money. Others of us hold tight to our schedules, affections, positions, jobs or our availability. Still more of us hold tightly to our children, grandchildren, spouses, friends, parents or other people in our lives that we want to keep a tight reign on.
The Bible addresses this issue and shows us a beautiful picture of surrendered devotion in Mary of Bethany. The offering she poured out onto the feet of Jesus was worth a year's wages. She lavished her costly perfume, her attention, her affection, her time and her worship on Jesus because she loved Him. He was her Savior. Her Friend. Her Hope. The Healer who had miraculously brought life back to the stench of death that had fallen on her brother Lazarus.
"While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked. "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor."
Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." (Matthew 26:6-13, NIV)
The Message paraphrase says it this way: She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. (Matthew 26:10)
When I read this story, I'm compelled to wonder: when God looks at my life, does He see a beautiful thing? Does He see me do anything that is wonderfully significant for Him?
What do you think He sees when he looks at your life?
Does He see a beautiful thing?
I co-wrote a song that was inspired by this Scripture passage and I'd love to share it with you as we conclude our devotion time. Allow the words of this song, Something Beautiful, to be the prayer on your heart as you listen.
When we open the hands of our lives to His presence, to His service and for His glory, rest assured God will see a beautiful thing. When we obey His promptings and listen to His voice that whispers to our soul, He will fill us to overflowing with joy, peace, satisfaction and His beauty.
Let's Pray
Dear God, You are worth far more praise than I could ever give. Please help me to rest in Your presence and trust in Your plan. Fill me with Your perspective until I joyfully lay down my will for Yours. Lord, when You look at my life, I want You to see beautiful. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Consider what you are holding back from God. Spend time in prayer giving it back to God.
Read through Psalm 96. Read through it a second time, but pause after each verse with a personal, prayerful response to God. Journal any verses that you want to remember.
More from the Girlfriends
Every beautiful act of worship begins with the heart. If you would like to learn more about how your brokenness can be transformed into a picture of God's beauty, order Gwen's book Broken Into Beautiful. This resource will help you experience the power of hope, healing and restoration!
Something Beautiful is featured on Gwen's Uncluttered CD. You can download the songs from iTunes or Amazon – or order her CDs on www.GwenSmith.net.
Please come to my Facebook page today and share your heart and your "Something Beautiful" story with me.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

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He Is- Providential

God isn't mentioned in the book of Esther, but his fingerprints are everywhere. Who but God could give a king insomnia, ensure that the section of the chronicles recording Mordecai's intercession for the king was read and bring to light the evil that Haman had planned? God is providential, coordinating events ahead of time and intervening for his people.
You may not realize God's at work, but he's busy behind the scenes, working in your life. Look for him in the people you meet and the places you go. Your providential God will make things happen for your good and his glory (see Romans 8:28-30).
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