Saturday, April 28, 2012

Daily Devotional Saturday 28th April

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”” Luke 19:10 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope."
Psalm 119:49
Whatever your especial need may be, you may readily find some promise in the Bible suited to it. Are you faint and feeble because your way is rough and you are weary? Here is the promise--"He giveth power to the faint." When you read such a promise, take it back to the great Promiser, and ask him to fulfil his own word. Are you seeking after Christ, and thirsting for closer communion with him? This promise shines like a star upon you--"Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." Take that promise to the throne continually; do not plead anything else, but go to God over and over again with this--"Lord, thou hast said it, do as thou hast said." Are you distressed because of sin, and burdened with the heavy load of your iniquities? Listen to these words--"I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions, and will no more remember thy sins." You have no merit of your own to plead why he should pardon you, but plead his written engagements and he will perform them. Are you afraid lest you should not be able to hold on to the end, lest, after having thought yourself a child of God, you should prove a castaway? If that is your state, take this word of grace to the throne and plead it: "The mountains may depart, and the hills may be removed, but the covenant of my love shall not depart from thee." If you have lost the sweet sense of the Saviour's presence, and are seeking him with a sorrowful heart, remember the promises: "Return unto me, and I will return unto you;" "For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee." Banquet your faith upon God's own word, and whatever your fears or wants, repair to the Bank of Faith with your Father's note of hand, saying, "Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope."

Evening

"All the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted."
Ezekiel 3:7
Are there no exceptions? No, not one. Even the favoured race are thus described. Are the best so bad?--then what must the worst be? Come, my heart, consider how far thou hast a share in this universal accusation, and while considering, be ready to take shame unto thyself wherein thou mayst have been guilty. The first charge is impudence, or hardness of forehead, a want of holy shame, an unhallowed boldness in evil. Before my conversion, I could sin and feel no compunction, hear of my guilt and yet remain unhumbled, and even confess my iniquity and manifest no inward humiliation on account of it. For a sinner to go to God's house and pretend to pray to him and praise him argues a brazen-facedness of the worst kind! Alas! since the day of my new birth I have doubted my Lord to his face, murmured unblushingly in his presence, worshipped before him in a slovenly manner, and sinned without bewailing myself concerning it. If my forehead were not as an adamant, harder than flint, I should have far more holy fear, and a far deeper contrition of spirit. Woe is me, I am one of the impudent house of Israel. The second charge is hardheartedness, and I must not venture to plead innocent here. Once I had nothing but a heart of stone, and although through grace I now have a new and fleshy heart, much of my former obduracy remains. I am not affected by the death of Jesus as I ought to be; neither am I moved by the ruin of my fellow men, the wickedness of the times, the chastisement of my heavenly Father, and my own failures, as I should be. O that my heart would melt at the recital of my Saviour's sufferings and death. Would to God I were rid of this nether millstone within me, this hateful body of death. Blessed be the name of the Lord, the disease is not incurable, the Saviour's precious blood is the universal solvent, and me, even me, it will effectually soften, till my heart melts as wax before the fire.

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Today's reading: 1 Kings 1-2, Luke 19:28-48 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
Adonijah Sets Himself Up as King
    1 When King David was very old, he could not keep warm even when they put covers over him. 2 So his attendants said to him, “Let us look for a young virgin to serve the king and take care of him. She can lie beside him so that our lord the king may keep warm.”
   3 Then they searched throughout Israel for a beautiful young woman and found Abishag, a Shunammite, and brought her to the king. 4 The woman was very beautiful; she took care of the king and waited on him, but the king had no sexual relations with her.
   5 Now Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, put himself forward and said, “I will be king.” So he got chariots and horses ready, with fifty men to run ahead of him. 6 (His father had never rebuked him by asking, “Why do you behave as you do?” He was also very handsome and was born next after Absalom.)
   7 Adonijah conferred with Joab son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest, and they gave him their support. 8 But Zadok the priest, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei and Rei and David’s special guard did not join Adonijah.
   9 Adonijah then sacrificed sheep, cattle and fattened calves at the Stone of Zoheleth near En Rogel. He invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the royal officials of Judah, 10but he did not invite Nathan the prophet or Benaiah or the special guard or his brother Solomon.
   11 Then Nathan asked Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, “Have you not heard that Adonijah, the son of Haggith, has become king, and our lord David knows nothing about it? 12 Now then, let me advise you how you can save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. 13 Go in to King David and say to him, ‘My lord the king, did you not swear to me your servant: “Surely Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne”? Why then has Adonijah become king?’ 14 While you are still there talking to the king, I will come in and add my word to what you have said.”
   15 So Bathsheba went to see the aged king in his room, where Abishag the Shunammite was attending him. 16Bathsheba bowed down, prostrating herself before the king.
   “What is it you want?” the king asked.
   17 She said to him, “My lord, you yourself swore to me your servant by the LORD your God: ‘Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne.’ 18 But now Adonijah has become king, and you, my lord the king, do not know about it. 19 He has sacrificed great numbers of cattle, fattened calves, and sheep, and has invited all the king’s sons, Abiathar the priest and Joab the commander of the army, but he has not invited Solomon your servant. 20 My lord the king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, to learn from you who will sit on the throne of my lord the king after him. 21 Otherwise, as soon as my lord the king is laid to rest with his ancestors, I and my son Solomon will be treated as criminals.”
   22 While she was still speaking with the king, Nathan the prophet arrived. 23 And the king was told, “Nathan the prophet is here.” So he went before the king and bowed with his face to the ground.
   24 Nathan said, “Have you, my lord the king, declared that Adonijah shall be king after you, and that he will sit on your throne? 25 Today he has gone down and sacrificed great numbers of cattle, fattened calves, and sheep. He has invited all the king’s sons, the commanders of the army and Abiathar the priest. Right now they are eating and drinking with him and saying, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ 26 But me your servant, and Zadok the priest, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and your servant Solomon he did not invite. 27 Is this something my lord the king has done without letting his servants know who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?”
David Makes Solomon King
    28 Then King David said, “Call in Bathsheba.” So she came into the king’s presence and stood before him.
   29 The king then took an oath: “As surely as the LORD lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, 30 I will surely carry out this very day what I swore to you by the LORD, the God of Israel: Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne in my place.”
   31 Then Bathsheba bowed down with her face to the ground, prostrating herself before the king, and said, “May my lord King David live forever!”
   32 King David said, “Call in Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet and Benaiah son of Jehoiada.” When they came before the king, 33 he said to them: “Take your lord’s servants with you and have Solomon my son mount my own mule and take him down to Gihon. 34 There have Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel. Blow the trumpet and shout, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ 35 Then you are to go up with him, and he is to come and sit on my throne and reign in my place. I have appointed him ruler over Israel and Judah.”
   36 Benaiah son of Jehoiada answered the king, “Amen! May the LORD, the God of my lord the king, so declare it. 37 As the LORD was with my lord the king, so may he be with Solomon to make his throne even greater than the throne of my lord King David!”
   38 So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, the Kerethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon mount King David’s mule, and they escorted him to Gihon. 39 Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the sacred tent and anointed Solomon. Then they sounded the trumpet and all the people shouted, “Long live King Solomon!” 40 And all the people went up after him, playing pipes and rejoicing greatly, so that the ground shook with the sound.
   41 Adonijah and all the guests who were with him heard it as they were finishing their feast. On hearing the sound of the trumpet, Joab asked, “What’s the meaning of all the noise in the city?”
   42 Even as he was speaking, Jonathan son of Abiathar the priest arrived. Adonijah said, “Come in. A worthy man like you must be bringing good news.”
   43 “Not at all!” Jonathan answered. “Our lord King David has made Solomon king. 44 The king has sent with him Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, the Kerethites and the Pelethites, and they have put him on the king’s mule, 45 and Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king at Gihon. From there they have gone up cheering, and the city resounds with it. That’s the noise you hear. 46 Moreover, Solomon has taken his seat on the royal throne. 47 Also, the royal officials have come to congratulate our lord King David, saying, ‘May your God make Solomon’s name more famous than yours and his throne greater than yours!’ And the king bowed in worship on his bed 48 and said, ‘Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who has allowed my eyes to see a successor on my throne today.’”
   49 At this, all Adonijah’s guests rose in alarm and dispersed.50 But Adonijah, in fear of Solomon, went and took hold of the horns of the altar. 51 Then Solomon was told, “Adonijah is afraid of King Solomon and is clinging to the horns of the altar. He says, ‘Let King Solomon swear to me today that he will not put his servant to death with the sword.’”
   52 Solomon replied, “If he shows himself to be worthy, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground; but if evil is found in him, he will die.” 53 Then King Solomon sent men, and they brought him down from the altar. And Adonijah came and bowed down to King Solomon, and Solomon said, “Go to your home.”

1 Kings 2

David’s Charge to Solomon
    1 When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son.
   2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, 3 and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go 4 and that the LORD may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’
   5 “Now you yourself know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me—what he did to the two commanders of Israel’s armies, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. He killed them, shedding their blood in peacetime as if in battle, and with that blood he stained the belt around his waist and the sandals on his feet. 6Deal with him according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to the grave in peace.
   7 “But show kindness to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead and let them be among those who eat at your table. They stood by me when I fled from your brother Absalom.
   8 “And remember, you have with you Shimei son of Gera, the Benjamite from Bahurim, who called down bitter curses on me the day I went to Mahanaim. When he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the LORD: ‘I will not put you to death by the sword.’ 9 But now, do not consider him innocent. You are a man of wisdom; you will know what to do to him. Bring his gray head down to the grave in blood.”
   10 Then David rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. 11 He had reigned forty years over Israel—seven years in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. 12 So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David, and his rule was firmly established.
Solomon’s Throne Established
    13 Now Adonijah, the son of Haggith, went to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother. Bathsheba asked him, “Do you come peacefully?”
   He answered, “Yes, peacefully.” 14 Then he added, “I have something to say to you.”
   “You may say it,” she replied.
   15 “As you know,” he said, “the kingdom was mine. All Israel looked to me as their king. But things changed, and the kingdom has gone to my brother; for it has come to him from the LORD. 16 Now I have one request to make of you. Do not refuse me.”
   “You may make it,” she said.
   17 So he continued, “Please ask King Solomon—he will not refuse you—to give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.”
   18 “Very well,” Bathsheba replied, “I will speak to the king for you.”
   19 When Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne. He had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat down at his right hand.
   20 “I have one small request to make of you,” she said. “Do not refuse me.”
   The king replied, “Make it, my mother; I will not refuse you.”
   21 So she said, “Let Abishag the Shunammite be given in marriage to your brother Adonijah.”
   22 King Solomon answered his mother, “Why do you request Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? You might as well request the kingdom for him—after all, he is my older brother—yes, for him and for Abiathar the priest and Joab son of Zeruiah!”
   23 Then King Solomon swore by the LORD: “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if Adonijah does not pay with his life for this request! 24 And now, as surely as the LORD lives—he who has established me securely on the throne of my father David and has founded a dynasty for me as he promised—Adonijah shall be put to death today!” 25 So King Solomon gave orders to Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and he struck down Adonijah and he died.
   26 To Abiathar the priest the king said, “Go back to your fields in Anathoth. You deserve to die, but I will not put you to death now, because you carried the ark of the Sovereign LORD before my father David and shared all my father’s hardships.”27 So Solomon removed Abiathar from the priesthood of the LORD, fulfilling the word the LORD had spoken at Shiloh about the house of Eli.
   28 When the news reached Joab, who had conspired with Adonijah though not with Absalom, he fled to the tent of the LORD and took hold of the horns of the altar. 29 King Solomon was told that Joab had fled to the tent of the LORD and was beside the altar. Then Solomon ordered Benaiah son of Jehoiada, “Go, strike him down!”
   30 So Benaiah entered the tent of the LORD and said to Joab, “The king says, ‘Come out!’”
   But he answered, “No, I will die here.”
   Benaiah reported to the king, “This is how Joab answered me.”
   31 Then the king commanded Benaiah, “Do as he says. Strike him down and bury him, and so clear me and my whole family of the guilt of the innocent blood that Joab shed. 32 The LORD will repay him for the blood he shed, because without my father David knowing it he attacked two men and killed them with the sword. Both of them—Abner son of Ner, commander of Israel’s army, and Amasa son of Jether, commander of Judah’s army—were better men and more upright than he. 33 May the guilt of their blood rest on the head of Joab and his descendants forever. But on David and his descendants, his house and his throne, may there be the LORD’s peace forever.”
   34 So Benaiah son of Jehoiada went up and struck down Joab and killed him, and he was buried at his home out in the country. 35 The king put Benaiah son of Jehoiada over the army in Joab’s position and replaced Abiathar with Zadok the priest.
   36 Then the king sent for Shimei and said to him, “Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and live there, but do not go anywhere else. 37 The day you leave and cross the Kidron Valley, you can be sure you will die; your blood will be on your own head.”
   38 Shimei answered the king, “What you say is good. Your servant will do as my lord the king has said.” And Shimei stayed in Jerusalem for a long time.
   39 But three years later, two of Shimei’s slaves ran off to Achish son of Maakah, king of Gath, and Shimei was told, “Your slaves are in Gath.” 40 At this, he saddled his donkey and went to Achish at Gath in search of his slaves. So Shimei went away and brought the slaves back from Gath.
   41 When Solomon was told that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath and had returned, 42 the king summoned Shimei and said to him, “Did I not make you swear by the LORD and warn you, ‘On the day you leave to go anywhere else, you can be sure you will die’? At that time you said to me, ‘What you say is good. I will obey.’ 43 Why then did you not keep your oath to the LORD and obey the command I gave you?”
   44 The king also said to Shimei, “You know in your heart all the wrong you did to my father David. Now the LORD will repay you for your wrongdoing. 45 But King Solomon will be blessed, and David’s throne will remain secure before the LORD forever.”
   46 Then the king gave the order to Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and he went out and struck Shimei down and he died.
   The kingdom was now established in Solomon’s hands.

Luke 19

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King
    28 After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30 “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”
   32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”
   34 They replied, “The Lord needs it.”
   35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
   37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
   38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
   “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
   39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
   40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
   41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
Jesus at the Temple
    45 When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. 46 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”
   47 Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. 48 Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.
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Bildad [Bĭl'dăd]—son of contention, lord adad or old friendshipOne of Job’s three friends, a Shuhite, descended from Shuah, Abraham’s son by Keturah (Job 2:118:118:125:142:9).

The Man Who Made a Speech

Bildad’s name is an interesting study. One meaning of it is “Lord of Hadad” and “Hadad” means to shout . Studying the speeches of this second speaker who came to comfort Job, one can see how apt the name is, for Bildad was inclined to be loud, insistent and boisterous in his declarations.
This Shuhite, in a vehement fashion, implied as he continued the discussion opened by Eliphaz, that all the extraordinary misfortune overtaking Job were the certain proof of hidden and exceptional crimes of which Job must have been guilty. Doubtless Bildad thought his speech was rich in ideas. But he is before us as the religious dogmatist whose dogmatism vested upon human tradition. With proverbial wisdom and pious phrases, abounding throughout his discourses, Bildad sought to illustrate the principle that Job suffered because of his sin.
With philosophy, wisdom and tradition gathered from the fathers (Job 8:8), Bildad sought to convince Job of his wrongs. But the mystery of Job’s sufferings was not to be unraveled in that way. The wisdom of man and tradition has its limits. What has been handed down and accepted by each succeeding generation as truth, is not necessarily so. Every man must be fully persuaded in his own mind. The mysterious dealings of God can only be revealed by God Himself. He is His own Interpreter.

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GiG Banner 2012 Big
April 27, 2012
Healer of the Broken
Gwen Smith
Today's Truth
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3
Friend to Friend 
I love my girlfriends. I love doing life with friends who "get me." I love having tangles of conversations over hot coffee that are stranded together with light-hearted laughter, rich revelations, loads of love, treasures of time and gobs of grace.
Though sharing beautiful life-moments is always fun, some of the most powerful blessings of friendship for me have been found in broken places. In the trenches. Those places where our troubles and fears scream loudly and long to be quieted by the understanding heart of a friend. Times when we rise up to encourage one another with God's promises, share reminders of His truth, extend challenges to believe, offer prayers for problems and speak hope to a sister who's hurting.
A few years ago, after a long conversation with a girlfriend who was in a painfully broken place, I was burdened. Heavily. Her shared-pain had become my pain. I ached for her to experience the hope of Christ in and through her hurt. Though she knew the Lord, she felt like her prayers were falling on deaf divine ears. She needed me to listen, to cry with her and to take her right back to Jesus. As I prayed for my friend and considered her burdens, I was inspired to write a song of encouragement. I later co-wrote the song below with her in mind.
I'm not sure where this message of hope finds you. Sometimes we just need to be reminded that God cares and that He is compassionate. Sometimes we just need to be reminded that God sees us, knows us, hears us and loves us. That He is faithful, powerful and never wastes a hurt. Perhaps you need a word of encouragement today. Perhaps you know a friend who needs this word. The best thing we can do for our friends is to love them and point them to Jesus.
"Healer Of The Broken"
by Gwen Smith and Sue C. Smith
Oh wounded heart
My hurting friend
Desperate and afraid
You're not invisible
Someone knows the pain you're in
You can run to Him
 
The Healer of the broken
The friend to every sinner
Who knows the sorrow of each scar 
Every time you call on
The Savior who is waiting
He will meet you where you are
And heal your broken heart

He knows your name
Each midnight fear 
When you try to hide
Or fight for one more breath
Love will be your safe retreat 
He will give you peace
 
In every valley
In every pain
Jesus is with you
Just call His name
Call His name

Let's Pray
Dear Lord, Thank you for reminding me that You hear the cries of your children and that You are a God who loves to bring beauty to our broken. Please meet me where I am today and give me the grace to grow through these trials.
In Jesus' Name, 
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Galatians 6:2 tells us to, "bear one another's burdens." What or who comes to mind as you read this?
Read and contemplate the following Scripture passage: "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted." (Psalm 34:18) How does this make you feel?
More from the Girlfriends
The song Healer of the Broken is featured on Gwen's Uncluttered CD. You can download the song from iTunes orAmazon – or order her CDs on www.GwenSmith.net.
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.

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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P31Header
Micca Campbell
April 27, 2012
When Your Mess Becomes Your Message
Micca Monda Campbell
"Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise." Jeremiah 17:14(NIV)
My brother is a recovered addict. For twenty years, he was absent from our family due to addiction issues. Countless times we thought he was dead, and according to statistics, he should have been.
However, God happens to be in the restoration business. He is willing to restore and heal all who come to Him. It doesn't matter who you are, what you've done, or what has been done to you. God is willing and able to turn any tragedy into triumph. My brother is living proof.
After entering many programs with hopes of success and end results of failure, my brother finally found the answer: Jesus. It wasn't until my brother met the Lord that healing and true change occurred. Suddenly, all things became new.
What's most exciting is anyone can experience this kind of freedom!
The truth is, we don't have the strength, will power, or ability to free ourselves from bondage no matter what the bondage is-drugs, lust, gluttony, pride, anger, or fear. Until we renounce our sickness and surrender to Christ, we will never experience freedom. On the other hand, when we are willing to give King Jesus our mess, He turns it into our message.
Not a day goes by that my brother doesn't look for opportunities to brag on God and share His message of hope.
Take a few summers ago, for example. One evening, our families gathered for dinner at Red Lobster. His treat! Twenty-six year old Tiffany was our server. Right away, we noticed two things about Tiffany. She was a natural with people, and she was very pregnant. While we enjoyed her kind service, we had no idea that God would turn the tables and call us to serve her in a unique way.
It started when my sister refused to allow my brother to buy her dinner. While my sister loves to give to others, she's not so good on the receiving end. I, on the other hand, understood that it gave my brother great pleasure to pick up the check. The Lord knows I didn't want to deny him his blessing!
Poor Tiffany found herself caught in the middle of the argument. Eager to win, my brother said to our server, "You see, I was a drug addict for years. During that time, my sisters did a lot for me. Now, I just want to bless them as they have blessed me."
Tiffany's eyes widen. "You were a drug addict?" she inquired. "I would have never guessed."
"Yes. I was," my brother replied. "But Jesus changed all that." From there he told Tiffany his life-changing story.
"I went from being lost to being found; from being homeless to being a homeowner; from being an employee to owning my own business; from being bound by drugs to being set free in Christ."
Tears filled Tiffany's eyes as we shared God's love with her. That's not all. Later that week, we confirmed God's love to her by presenting her with a baby gift.
Oh, friends, when you and I-like my brother-allow God to turn our mess into our message, He not only changes our lives, but He changes the lives of others too.
Dear Lord, Your mercy astounds me. Your goodness overwhelms me as I cry out "heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me and I will be saved." God, give me opportunities to speak of Your hope so that others may know Your goodness and salvation. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?
Visit Micca's blog for more encouragement on how to turn your mess into a message and see the miracle of God's work in your own life.
Reflect and Respond:
Are you longing for freedom? Renounce your sin and ask Jesus to save you and heal you. Then, tell people of His wonders this week!
What is keeping you from completely surrendering your struggles to God?
Do you look for ways to brag on God by sharing your story? Why or why not?
Power Verses:
Luke 19:10, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (NIV)
Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (NAS)
© 2012 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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More than a Prophet

Matthew 11:7-15 "For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come" ( vv. 13-14).
Given John the Baptist's earlier declarations about Jesus, his doubts about the Lord's identity raised in Matthew 11:1-6 could have led many to question the consistency of his ministry. How could they not doubt his steadfastness and teaching since he has gone from exalting Jesus (3:13-17John 3:22-36) to inquiring if He is truly the Christ? Alternatively, how could they trust in Jesus as the Messiah if the beloved John the Baptist had doubts about Him?
Jesus addresses these thoughts with His own questions. When swayed by the wind, the long reeds beside the Jordan River are visual metaphors of those who teach according to the whims of men. Christ's inquiry about the reed intends to ask if John is one to change his message with the blowing of the wind ( Matt. 11:7). He expects the people to answer that John was a faithful preacher. Similarly, Christ's question about soft clothing (v. 8) reminds them that they sought John, a prophet who like Elijah wears camel's hair (2 Kings 1:8), not fine linen. Jesus is saying that John is a prophet whose words must be embraced.
However, John is not only like Elijah, he is Elijah. In verses 9-10, Christ says John the Baptist fulfills Malachi 3:1, which looks for a special messenger to come before the Day of the Lord. This messenger is Elijah (Mal. 4:5-6), and in going before Jesus, John is revealed as the fulfillment of Malachi's prophecy. Of course, John is not Elijah reincarnated. Just as the prophets refer to the coming Messiah as David ( Jer. 30:9) because David is the prototypical king, so too does Malachi say the Messiah's forerunner is Elijah since Elijah is the exemplary prophet. But Jesus is not literally David, nor is John the Baptist literally Elijah.
John is indeed great, but the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater still (Matt. 11:11 ). Here Jesus contrasts John's place in redemptive history with that of the new covenant believer. John saw Jesus, but he died before the Lord's death and resurrection. After His resurrection, we understand the work of Christ more clearly. Moreover, even today we experience new covenant benefits - like immediate access to God's presence (Heb. 10:19-22) and the indwelling Spirit (Rom. 8:9) more powerfully than John did when he walked the earth.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

John Calvin says the new covenant minister's preaching is greater than John the Baptist's because "it holds out Christ as having rendered complete and eternal satisfaction by his one sacrifice, as the conqueror of death and the Lord of life, and because it withdraws the veil, and elevates believers to the heavenly sanctuary." John the Baptist was blessed, but we are more greatly favored to live in an era more cognizant of God's grace in Christ.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
For the weekend:
INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living. 


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Teresa of Avila: Carmelite Reformer

Quote: "So great was my distress when I thought how ill I had repaid Him for those wounds that I felt as if my heart was breaking, and I threw myself down beside him." (Teresa of Avila)
Catholic Spain in the sixteenth century specialized in spirituality. Religion out-ranked all other facets of life. For Teresa, the Christian faith was as natural as breathing. Growing up in good times, she was a lively and fun-loving Spanish damsel. A daughter of privilege, she enjoyed dancing, horseback riding, chess, and especially romance novels of chivalry. But she also fanaticized about dying as a martyr preaching to the Turks in Palestine. In fact, at age seven she had run away with her brother to seek martyrdom, only to be spotted by an uncle and brought back home.
Teresa's teen years were marked by the trauma of her mother's death and her own illness, which prevented her from finishing her education with nearby Augustinian nuns. She strived for piety, floundering until she read a copy of Jerome's Letters , a volume that affirmed women in monasticism. Determined to keep that tradition alive, she left home at twenty to join a local Carmelite convent. Poor health continued to plague her, however, and during her first decade as a nun she was filled with doubts: "I went through a life of the greatest conflict. On the one hand, God called me; on the other, I followed the world." Following the world, in her mind, was failure to live up to the strictest standards of asceticism. She lamented Carmelite slackness, determined to demonstrate her own devotion to God. She refused to see visitors and reportedly lashed herself "until the walls of her cell dripped with gore."
Her "conversion" came at age forty. One day while participating in the liturgy, she suddenly comprehended for the first time the suffering Jesus, wounded and dying. "So great was my distress when I thought how ill I had repaid Him for those wounds that I felt as if my heart was breaking, and I threw myself down beside him."
In the following years she continued to struggle with poor health. At the same time, however, she experienced ecstatic visions. The raptures occurred with more frequency, and some feared that she has gone mad or is demon possessed. In fact, she wondered if the ecstasies were the result of a "troublesome disease." But she was eager that others find this same mystical union with God by following her meditation program — four stages described as tranquility, union, ecstasy, and spiritual marriage.
For Teresa, love consisted in justice, fortitude, and humility, ideals which corresponded with her determination to reform Carmelite houses and to establish new ones throughout Spain. No more laxity and easy living for the nuns. Aided by her strong will and charismatic personality, she gained a following; and in less than twenty years she establishes fifteen new houses.
But her success was met with suspicion. A papal thug sent to investigate concluded that she was not acting properly for her gender. Teresa feared she will be imprisoned, but the pope ruled in her favor and she was permitted to continue her itinerant work of reforming convents. The pope was particularly impressed with her work in reclaiming Protestants to the Catholic faith. She regarded the Protestant Reformation as a grave threat to true religion: "Had I a thousand lives," she vowed, "I would give them all to save a single one of the many souls which were going to perdition."
Teresa's legacy involved more than her active public ministry. In 1562 she published her Life, a spiritual autobiography; and three years later, The Way of Perfection, written primarily for her nuns encouraging them to continue their struggle against the Protestant heresy. Her most important work, The Interior Castle, was not published until a few years before her death in 1582. The castle is the soul, and there are seven apartments representing seven stages of growth through prayer, the final and innermost apartment culminating in complete union with God.
Despite having to face the Inquisition and accusations of mental instability, Teresa's reputation was secure at the time of her death, and just four decades later she was canonized. Five years earlier she had been named Patroness of Spain. In 1970 Pope Paul VI bestowed upon her (with Catherine of Siena) the title Doctor of the Church, the first women to be so named. She was specifically honored as the Doctor of Prayer.

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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More than a Prophet

John Calvin says the new covenant minister's preaching is greater than John the Baptist's because "it holds out Christ as having rendered complete and eternal satisfaction by his one sacrifice, as the conqueror of death and the Lord of life, and because it withdraws the veil, and elevates believers to the heavenly sanctuary." John the Baptist was blessed, but we are more greatly favored to live in an era more cognizant of God's grace in Christ.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
For the weekend:
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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Full assurance

‘Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.’ Psalm 35:3
Suggested Further Reading: Micah 7:1–10
Let us hear the text. ‘Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.’ The first thing the text seems to say is, David had his doubts, then ; for why would he pray, ‘Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation,’ if he were not sometimes exercised with doubts and fears? Cheer up, Christian brother! If David doubted, you must not say, ‘I am no Christian, because I have doubts.’ The best of believers sometimes are troubled with fears and anxieties. Abraham had the greatest faith, but he had some unbelief. I envy the brother who can say that his faith never wavered. He can say more than David did, for David had cause to cry, ‘Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.’
But, next, the text says that David was not content while he had doubts and fears , but he repaired at once to the mercy seat to pray for assurance; for he valued it as much fine gold. ‘O Lord!’ David seems to say, ‘I have lost my confidence; my foot slips; my feet are almost gone; my doubts and fears prevail; but I cannot bear it. I am wretched, I am unhappy. ‘Say—say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.’’
And then the text tells you yet a third thing—that David knew where to obtain full assurance . He goes at once to God in prayer. He knows that knee-work is that by which faith is increased; and there, in his closet, he cries out to the Most High, ‘Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.’ O my brethren, we must be much alone with God, if we would have a clear sense of his love! Let your cries cease, and your eyes will grow dim. Much in prayer, much in heaven; slow in prayer, slow in progress.
For meditation: What is your recipe for dealing with doubts, fears and cares? The biblical way is not to pretend that they don’t exist, but to face up to them before the Lord ( Luke 12:29–31Philippians 4:61 Peter 5:71 John 3:19–20).
Sermon no. 384
28 April (1861)

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The desolations of the Lord, the consolations of his saints.

“Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.” Psalm 46:8-9
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Samuel 5:1-7
Jehovah still standeth, “the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” One generation of idols has passed away, and another comes, and the desolations stand—memorials of the might of God. Turn now your eyes to Assyria, that mighty empire. Did she not sit alone? She said she should see no sorrow. Remember Babylon, too, who boasted with her. But where are they, and where are now their gods? With ropes about their necks they have been dragged in triumph by our archaeologists; and now in the halls of our land, they stand as memorials of the ignorance of a race that is long since extinct. And then, turn to the fairer idolatries of Greece and Rome. Fine poetic conceptions were their gods! Theirs was a grand idolatry, one that never shall be forgotten. Despite all its vice and lust, there was such a high mixture of the purest poetry in it, that the mind of man, though it will ever recollect it with sorrow, will still think of it with respect. But where are their gods? Where are the names of their gods? Are not the stars the last memorials of Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus? As if God would make his universe the monument of his destroyed enemy! Where else are their names to be found? Where shall we find a worshipper who adores their false deity? They are past, they are gone! To the moles and to the bats are their images cast, while many an unroofed temple, many a dilapidated shrine, stand as memorials of that which was, but is not—and is passed away for ever. I suppose there is scarce a kingdom of the world where you do not see God’s handiwork in crushing his enemies.
For meditation: The gods created by man can be destroyed by man, but the Lord made the heavens (Psalm 96:5Isaiah 37:15-20). The false religions of today become the museum pieces of tomorrow.
Sermon no. 190
28 April (1858)

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Myth: "I'm in control."

I have three kids under the age of four. There is no such thing as control in my house. In fact, the more I try to pull it together, the crazier life gets.
I can't remember the last time I arrived early to something. I plan to be somewhere at a certain time, but by the time Savannah has decided to change her clothes yet again, we're already 30 minutes late. I can get myself ready in nothing flat, but it takes forever to pack the car as if we're leaving for Singapore when we're only going to the church nursery.
Last month, the dishwasher broke. The timing belt on my Suburban needs to be replaced. Some days I slip into feeling sorry for myself, yet I realize that my circumstances are way beyond anyone's control at this point. What I worry about is my incredible guilt over being unable to control myself. I screamed at Jacob the other day when he stuck his popsicle into the DVD player. I mean, I got in his face and lost it. If people from church had seen me, they wouldn't believe it. I could hardly believe it myself. It was like an out-of-body experience where I was off to the side watching this insanely bitter woman scream at her child. I honestly didn't think I had a short fuse before I had children. I taught third grade (picture a roomful of electric Chihuahuas) for five years and loved it. Who knew my own children would be such a personal challenge?
I try to work through my anger and concentrate on being patient. Every night I ask God for the strength to keep my emotions in check. Yet by the end of each day I feel frazzled and frustrated. This is way beyond being hormonal. I'm just trying to survive each day and not emotionally scar my children for life.
-Tisha
Wanted: Woman in control of her emotions. Must be able to carry a screaming child out of grocery stores without committing an act of violence, kindly overlook a supervisor's ignorance without retort, complete at least nine LLPW (Laundry Loads Per Week) and have the patience to repeat everything at least twice without breaking a tender smile. Training in volume control a plus.
Who could qualify for that job? Not many of us. We like to tell ourselves, "I'm in control," but God isn't fooled. The Bible says it's impossible for us to keep a lid on what we say (see James 3:8 ). Look at Moses, God's chosen leader-even he lost it (see Numbers 20). None of us is in perfect control of his or her emotions, and it's OK to admit that we need help.
Feeling out of control? Remember ...
  • Self-control is not a result of our own efforts; it is a fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23).
  • The Spirit provides the power we need to overcome the temptation to blast our kids, to let our unreasonable boss have it or to tell an obnoxious person exactly what we think. The same power that raised Christ from the dead is already living in us (see Romans 8:11).
  • Accountability can go a long way in self-discipline. Ask a good friend to hold you accountable for your anger by asking you how you handled your stress each day. Give your friend permission to probe your heart so you can identify the underlying issues that are driving your anger. It's too easy to leave verbal casualties along the road of life.
  • If you have directed verbal or physical abuse toward your child, you have crossed a line and need to seek counsel right away. The wise woman asks for help when she needs it-even if she has to humble herself and admit she's not perfect.
"Americans don't like any area of life to be out of their control; in fact, 92 percent include 'self-sufficient' as one of their key self-descriptions."
-Barna Research Group (2000)
"But the fruit of the Spirit is ... self-control."
Galatians 5:22-23

See also

Proverbs 25:28; Ephesians 4:26-27; 2 Timothy 1:7
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GOD USES PROBLEMS AND PERSECUTION TO INSPECT YOU

“When you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience.” James 1:2-3 NCV
Here is another of five ways God uses problems and persecution in your life: God uses problems and persecution to INSPECT you. An African Christian businessman shares this testimony:
Born in a rich family I was living for earning big money. My businesses were very profitable. All over town people knew me. When God revealed to me the insignificance of money and richness, I accepted Christ after a long struggle. He changed my life. No longer was I running after money but I started sharing what God had done in my life.
After some time, suddenly the police came to our house. Officers carrying guns took me to their office to interrogate me, asking me all kinds of questions, treating me as if I was a criminal. The next day the same thing happened. A lot of soldiers entered my home and stood in every room making my children cry. For over a period of six months they threatened me. Day after day they asked me and threatened me to stop sharing the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ. Every time I responded saying: “No, I am not going to stop sharing about the life I received through Jesus Christ”
After six months they stopped. One man of the security forces told me, “The reason we could not do anything to you is because we couldn’t find any lie in your life.”
A year later, I saw on television the whole group of security men that had intimidated my family and me. They were shivering with fear in front of a judge. The government had changed and those people had to appear before the court because of things they had done. It was as if God told me, “This is what happens with those that oppose you, when you share My words.”
People are like tea bags...if you want to know what’s inside them, just drop them into hot water! Has God ever tested your faith with a problem? What do problems reveal about you?
RESPONSE: God is at work in my life—even when I do not recognize it or understand it. It is much easier and more profitable when I cooperate with Him. This is the way to victory!
PRAYER: God may I be found faithful to You through every test.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

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