Sunday, April 22, 2012

Daily Devotional Sunday 22nd April

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.””John 10:28-30 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Him hath God exalted."
Acts 5:31
Jesus, our Lord, once crucified, dead and buried, now sits upon the throne of glory. The highest place that heaven affords is his by undisputed right. It is sweet to remember that the exaltation of Christ in heaven is a representative exaltation. He is exalted at the Father's right hand, and though as Jehovah he had eminent glories, in which finite creatures cannot share, yet as the Mediator, the honours which Jesus wears in heaven are the heritage of all the saints. It is delightful to reflect how close is Christ's union with his people. We are actually one with him; we are members of his body; and his exaltation is our exaltation. He will give us to sit upon his throne, even as he has overcome, and is set down with his Father on his throne; he has a crown, and he gives us crowns too; he has a throne, but he is not content with having a throne to himself, on his right hand there must be his queen, arrayed in "gold of Ophir." He cannot be glorified without his bride. Look up, believer, to Jesus now; let the eye of your faith behold him with many crowns upon his head; and remember that you will one day be like him, when you shall see him as he is; you shall not be so great as he is, you shall not be so divine, but still you shall, in a measure, share the same honours, and enjoy the same happiness and the same dignity which he possesses. Be content to live unknown for a little while, and to walk your weary way through the fields of poverty, or up the hills of affliction; for by-and-by you shall reign with Christ, for he has "made us kings and priests unto God, and we shall reign forever and ever." Oh!, wonderful thought for the children of God! We have Christ for our glorious representative in heaven's courts now, and soon he will come and receive us to himself, to be with him there, to behold his glory, and to share his joy.

Evening

"Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night."
Psalm 91:5
What is this terror? It may be the cry of fire, or the noise of thieves, or fancied appearances, or the shriek of sudden sickness or death. We live in the world of death and sorrow, we may therefore look for ills as well in the night-watches as beneath the glare of the broiling sun. Nor should this alarm us, for be the terror what it may, the promise is that the believer shall not be afraid. Why should he? Let us put it more closely, why should we? God our Father is here, and will be here all through the lonely hours; he is an almighty Watcher, a sleepless Guardian, a faithful Friend. Nothing can happen without his direction, for even hell itself is under his control. Darkness is not dark to him. He has promised to be a wall of fire around his people--and who can break through such a barrier? Worldlings may well be afraid, for they have an angry God above them, a guilty conscience within them, and a yawning hell beneath them; but we who rest in Jesus are saved from all these through rich mercy. If we give way to foolish fear we shall dishonour our profession, and lead others to doubt the reality of godliness. We ought to be afraid of being afraid, lest we should vex the Holy Spirit by foolish distrust. Down, then, ye dismal forebodings and groundless apprehensions, God has not forgotten to be gracious, nor shut up his tender mercies; it may be night in the soul, but there need be no terror, for the God of love changes not. Children of light may walk in darkness, but they are not therefore cast away, nay, they are now enabled to prove their adoption by trusting in their heavenly Father as hypocrites cannot do.
"Though the night be dark and dreary,
Darkness cannot hide from thee;
Thou art he, who, never weary,
Watchest where thy people be."

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Today's reading: 2 Samuel 12-13, Luke 16 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
Nathan Rebukes David
    The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 3 but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
   4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
   5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this must die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
   7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 9 Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’
   11 “This is what the LORD says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”
   13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”
   Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the LORD, the son born to you will die.”
   15 After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. 16David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground. 17 The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them.
   18 On the seventh day the child died. David’s attendants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, he wouldn’t listen to us when we spoke to him. How can we now tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.”
   19 David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked.
   “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”
   20 Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.
   21 His attendants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!”
   22 He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
   24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The LORD loved him; 25 and because the LORD loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah.
   26 Meanwhile Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites and captured the royal citadel. 27 Joab then sent messengers to David, saying, “I have fought against Rabbah and taken its water supply. 28 Now muster the rest of the troops and besiege the city and capture it. Otherwise I will take the city, and it will be named after me.”
   29 So David mustered the entire army and went to Rabbah, and attacked and captured it. 30 David took the crown from their king’s head, and it was placed on his own head. It weighed a talent of gold, and it was set with precious stones. David took a great quantity of plunder from the city 31 and brought out the people who were there, consigning them to labor with saws and with iron picks and axes, and he made them work at brickmaking. David did this to all the Ammonite towns. Then he and his entire army returned to Jerusalem.

2 Samuel 13

Amnon and Tamar
    1 In the course of time, Amnon son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David.
   2 Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he made himself ill. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her.
   3 Now Amnon had an adviser named Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Jonadab was a very shrewd man. 4He asked Amnon, “Why do you, the king’s son, look so haggard morning after morning? Won’t you tell me?”
   Amnon said to him, “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”
   5 “Go to bed and pretend to be ill,” Jonadab said. “When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.’”
   6 So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, “I would like my sister Tamar to come and make some special bread in my sight, so I may eat from her hand.”
   7 David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.” 8 So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was lying down. She took some dough, kneaded it, made the bread in his sight and baked it. 9 Then she took the pan and served him the bread, but he refused to eat.
   “Send everyone out of here,” Amnon said. So everyone left him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food here into my bedroom so I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. 11 But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.”
   12 “No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. 13What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” 14 But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.
   15 Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!”
   16 “No!” she said to him. “Sending me away would be a greater wrong than what you have already done to me.”
   But he refused to listen to her. 17 He called his personal servant and said, “Get this woman out of my sight and bolt the door after her.” 18 So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. She was wearing an ornate robe, for this was the kind of garment the virgin daughters of the king wore. 19 Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornate robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.
   20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman.
   21 When King David heard all this, he was furious. 22 And Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar.
Absalom Kills Amnon
    23 Two years later, when Absalom’s sheepshearers were at Baal Hazor near the border of Ephraim, he invited all the king’s sons to come there. 24 Absalom went to the king and said, “Your servant has had shearers come. Will the king and his attendants please join me?”
   25 “No, my son,” the king replied. “All of us should not go; we would only be a burden to you.” Although Absalom urged him, he still refused to go but gave him his blessing.
   26 Then Absalom said, “If not, please let my brother Amnon come with us.”
   The king asked him, “Why should he go with you?” 27 But Absalom urged him, so he sent with him Amnon and the rest of the king’s sons.
   28 Absalom ordered his men, “Listen! When Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ then kill him. Don’t be afraid. Haven’t I given you this order? Be strong and brave.” 29 So Absalom’s men did to Amnon what Absalom had ordered. Then all the king’s sons got up, mounted their mules and fled.
   30 While they were on their way, the report came to David: “Absalom has struck down all the king’s sons; not one of them is left.” 31 The king stood up, tore his clothes and lay down on the ground; and all his attendants stood by with their clothes torn.
   32 But Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother, said, “My lord should not think that they killed all the princes; only Amnon is dead. This has been Absalom’s express intention ever since the day Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33 My lord the king should not be concerned about the report that all the king’s sons are dead. Only Amnon is dead.”
   34 Meanwhile, Absalom had fled.
   Now the man standing watch looked up and saw many people on the road west of him, coming down the side of the hill. The watchman went and told the king, “I see men in the direction of Horonaim, on the side of the hill.”
   35 Jonadab said to the king, “See, the king’s sons have come; it has happened just as your servant said.”
   36 As he finished speaking, the king’s sons came in, wailing loudly. The king, too, and all his attendants wept very bitterly.
   37 Absalom fled and went to Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. But King David mourned many days for his son.
   38 After Absalom fled and went to Geshur, he stayed there three years. 39 And King David longed to go to Absalom, for he was consoled concerning Amnon’s death.

Luke 16

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager
    1 Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’
   3 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— 4 I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’
   5 “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
   6 “‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied.
   “The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’
    7 “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’
   “‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied.
   “He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’
   8 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
   10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
   13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
   14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.
Additional Teachings
    16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it. 17 It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.
   18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
The Rich Man and Lazarus
    19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
   22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
   25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
   27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
   29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
   30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
    31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

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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.
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Messengers wanted

‘Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.’Isaiah 6:8
Suggested Further Reading: Romans 15:14–21
Ask any man whether he is a Christian against his will, and he will tell you certainly not, for he loves the Lord, and delights in his law after the inward man. Thy people are not led unwillingly to thee in chains, O Jesus, but ‘Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.’ We willingly choose Christ, because he has from of old chosen us. In the matter of holy work, every man who becomes a worker for Jesus is so because he was chosen to work for him; but he would be a very poor worker if he himself had not chosen to work for Jesus. I can say that I believe God ordained me to preach the gospel, and that I preach it by his will, but I am sure I preach it with my own; for it is to me the most delightful work in all the world, and if I could exchange with an emperor, I would not consent to be so lowered. To preach the gospel of Jesus Christ is one of the sweetest and noblest employments, and even an angel might desire to be engaged in it. The true worker for God must be impelled by divine election, but yet he must make and will make, by divine grace, his own election of his work. Here are the persons wanted. Are there not many such persons here who feel ‘God has chosen me to do something for him; woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel’? but who, on the other hand, can testify, ‘I choose the work too. For Christ’s sake, whether it be teaching in the Sunday school, or tract distributing, or talking to ones or twos, or whatever it may be, my God, I choose the vocation; help me to follow it heartily, for it is my delight to do thy will, O my God.’ Here is the divine side then, the man is chosen; but there is also the human side, the man is led to choose the engagement for himself.
For meditation: We tend to assume that God’s will must be diametrically opposed to our wills and that we can only do it grudgingly. But God can so transform our thinking that his will becomes ‘good, and acceptable, and perfect’ (Romans 12:2), our delight ( Psalm 40:8) and joy (Romans 15:32).
Sermon no. 687
22 April (1866)

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Full redemption

“There shall not an hoof be left behind.” Exodus 10:26
Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 20:1-10
A man once wrote a book to prove the devil a fool. Certainly, when all matters shall come to their destined consummation, Satan will prove to have been a magnificent fool. Folly, magnified to the highest degree by subtlety, shall be developed in Satan. Ah! Thou trailing serpent, what hast thou now after all? I saw thee but a few thousand years ago, twining around the tree of life, and hissing out thy deceptive words. Ah! how glorious was the serpent then—a winged creature, with his azure scales. Yes, and thou didst triumph over God. I heard thee as thou didst go hissing down to thy den. I heard thee say to thy brood,—vipers in the nest as they are,—“My children, I have stained the Almighty’s works: I have turned aside his loyal subjects; I have injected my poison into the heart of Eve, and Adam hath fallen too; my children let us hold a jubilee, for I have defeated God.” Oh, my enemy; I think I see thee now, with thy head all broken, and thy jaw-teeth smashed, and thy venom-bags all emptied, and thou thyself a weary length of agony, rolling miles afloat along a sea of fire, tortured, destroyed, overcome, tormented, ashamed, hacked, hewed, dashed in pieces, and made a hissing, and a scorn for children to laugh at, and made a scoff throughout eternity. Ah! well, brethren, the great Goliath hath gained nothing by his boasting: Christ and his people have really lost nothing by Satan. All they lost once, has been re-taken. The victory has not simply been a capture of that which was lost, but a gaining of something more. We are in Christ more than we were before we fell. “Not a hoof shall be left behind.”
For meditation: Victory over Satan will be celebrated with joy (Revelation 12:10-12Romans 16:20) but for the moment we must remain on our guard against him ( 1 Corinthians 7:52 Corinthians 2:11Ephesians 4:276:111 Timothy 3:671 Peter 5:8,9).
Sermon no. 309
22 April (1860)

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The Really Good Life

He has showed you, O mortal, what is good.
Micah 6:8
My friend Meg keeps a fuzzy blue sock filled with diamond rings, bracelets and earrings-all gifts from her husband-inside her top dresser drawer. She wears expensive clothes, which her husband insists she buy, and they're always taking trips to the Bahamas or Hawaii.
My friend is tanned, toned, her hair highlighted and her face lifted, but she's miserable. Although most people who know Meg and her high-profile husband envy their "good life," only Meg's closest friends know how much she hates it.
Most people associate the good life with a nice house, the latest electronic toys and sleek cars, but those things don't necessarily make life good. My friend would gladly give up everything she owns for a more fulfilling life.
In the community, Meg's husband is generous and giving and the life of every party. He does favors for everyone and is the first to make a showy donation to a cause. But at home, he's aloof, demanding, cutting and very controlling. With each new gift he tells my friend, "See how much I love you?" Outwardly, his life looks good, but he misses the mark when it comes to what God requires of him in loving his wife.
The Israelites were also guilty of making showy declarations of love for God, but those gifts were mere bribes. And God abhors such sacrifices. Micah told Israel that God was not impressed or pleased with the offerings of "thousands of rams" and "ten thousand rivers of olive oil" (Micah 6:7).
Instead, what God requires, what he says is good, is to act justly, with fairness and equity; to love mercy and kindness, to be steadfastly dependable, respectful and committed; and to walk humbly with God (see Micah 6:8).
So too in marriage spouses are called to live together sacrificially and with respect (see Ephesians 5:33). We are to "clothe [ourselves] with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Colossians 3:12). We are to "keep [our] lives free from the love of money and be content with what [we] have" (Hebrews 13:5).
We are to "do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above [ourselves], not looking to [our] own interests but each of [us] to the interests of the others." (Philippians 2:3-4).
The good life, according to Micah 6:8, is not diamonds stashed in fuzzy socks; it's doing what is good.
Nancy Kennedy

Let's Talk

  • How do we define the "good life"?
  • In what ways can we show each other justice, mercy and humility? What do I treasure from you as acts of justice, mercy and kindness? What do you treasure from me? In what ways do these differ? In what ways are they the same?
  • What areas do we specifically need to work on in our marriage to live according to Micah 6:8?
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The Making of Wise Stewards

Today's reading: Proverbs 4:5-9
Wise people devote themselves heart and soul to seeking more and more wisdom. Wisdom helps us know the truth and love the lovely. In New Testament terminology, we come to recognize Christ as the wisdom of God (see 1Co 1:24,30Col 2:2-3), a treasure of supreme worth we are to seek (with mind, heart and soul) at the cost of all else (see Lk 14:33).
Best-selling author Philip Yancey reflects on the position of the believer in relation to Jesus' supreme sacrifice:
The author and preacher Tony Campolo delivers a stirring sermon adapted from an elderly black pastor at his church in Philadelphia. "It's Friday, but Sunday's Comin'" is the title of the sermon, and once you know the title you know the whole sermon. In a cadence that increases in tempo and in volume, Campolo contrasts how the world looked on Friday-when the forces of evil won over the forces of good, when every friend and disciple fled in fear, when the Son of God died on a cross-with how it looked on Easter Sunday. The disciples who lived through both days, Friday and Sunday, never doubted God again. They had learned that when God seems most absent he may be closest of all, when God looks most powerless he may be most powerful, when God looks most dead he may be coming back to life. They had learned not to count God out.
Campolo skipped one day in his sermon, though. The other two days have earned names on the church calendar: Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Yet in a real sense we live on Saturday, the day with no name. What the disciples experienced in small scale-three days, in grief over one man who had died on a cross-we now live through on cosmic scale. Human history grinds on, between the time of promise and fulfillment. Can we trust that God can make something holy and beautiful and good out of a world that includes Bosnia and Rwanda, and inner-city ghettoes and jammed prisons in the richest nation on earth? It's Saturday on planet earth; will Sunday ever come?
That dark, Golgothan Friday can only be called Good because of what happened on Easter Sunday, a day which gives a tantalizing clue to the riddle of the universe. Easter opened up a crack in a universe winding down toward entropy and decay, sealing the promise that someday God will enlarge the miracle of Easter to cosmic scale.
Proverbs 23:23 calls us to "Buy the truth and do not sell it." We have been handpicked by God as trustees of the wisdom of the cross. Whatever else we do, we owe it to our Creator, Savior and Lord not to sell out.

Think About It

  • What can you do to "get wisdom"?
  • In what way is Jesus the "wisdom of God"?
  • In what ways do you feel we live on Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday?

Pray About It

Lord, sometimes it's so hard to live here on earth. I long for your redemption. In the meantime, I will wait and seek to live wisely.
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Standing Strong Through the Storm: Seeing Christ's Power in the Suffering Church

Proverbs 10:25 states that even when the full force of life's challenges are turned against them, "the righteous stand firm forever." Have you known what it's like to "stand strong" when everything is going wrong? Have you experienced Christ's life-changing power in the midst of trouble?

Standing Strong Through the Storm is our newest free email devotional, and it takes a different approach than the other devotionals in our library. Through stories and testimonies--many of them from believers around the world who face persecution and harassment because of their faith--it challenges us to seek out the transforming power of Jesus Christ in even the most difficult situations. As Christians, we know an amazing truth: that God's power is often most evident when times seem darkest. Standing Strong Through the Storm will remind you of that incredible truth each day of the year.

Each daily devotional includes a short inspirational story or reflection followed by a prayer and a suggestion for how you can put what you've read into practice in your life. Each is written by storyteller Paul Estabrooks, whose heart for the suffering church is evident in each day's reading.

We're grateful to Open Doors--an organization dedicated to serving the persecuted church worldwide--for makingStanding Strong Through the Storm available on Bible Gateway.

Standing Strong Through the Storm begins on Monday, April 23. Sign up today! You can sign up at our Newsletter page, or by clicking the "Manage Subscriptions" link below and selecting Standing Strong Through the Storm from the list of available newsletters.

Enjoy the new devotional. And have a good weekend!

Sincerely,

The Bible Gateway team


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