Thursday, April 12, 2012

Daily Devotional Thursday 12th April

““He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”” 1 Peter 2:24 NIV
===
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Do as thou hast said."
2 Samuel 7:25

God's promises were never meant to be thrown aside as waste paper; he intended that they should be used. God's gold is not miser's money, but is minted to be traded with. Nothing pleases our Lord better than to see his promises put in circulation; he loves to see his children bring them up to him, and say, "Lord, do as thou hast said." We glorify God when we plead his promises. Do you think that God will be any the poorer for giving you the riches he has promised? Do you dream that he will be any the less holy for giving holiness to you? Do you imagine he will be any the less pure for washing you from your sins? He has said "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Faith lays hold upon the promise of pardon, and it does not delay, saying, "This is a precious promise, I wonder if it be true?" but it goes straight to the throne with it, and pleads, "Lord, here is the promise, Do as thou hast said.'" Our Lord replies, "Be it unto thee even as thou wilt." When a Christian grasps a promise, if he does not take it to God, he dishonours him; but when he hastens to the throne of grace, and cries, "Lord, I have nothing to recommend me but this, Thou hast said it;'" then his desire shall be granted. Our heavenly Banker delights to cash his own notes. Never let the promise rust. Draw the sword of promise out of its scabbard, and use it with holy violence. Think not that God will be troubled by your importunately reminding him of his promises. He loves to hear the loud outcries of needy souls. It is his delight to bestow favours. He is more ready to hear than you are to ask. The sun is not weary of shining, nor the fountain of flowing. It is God's nature to keep his promises; therefore go at once to the throne with "Do as thou hast said."

Evening

"But I give myself unto prayer."
Psalm 109:4

Lying tongues were busy against the reputation of David, but he did not defend himself; he moved the case into a higher court, and pleaded before the great King himself. Prayer is the safest method of replying to words of hatred. The Psalmist prayed in no cold-hearted manner, he gave himself to the exercise--threw his whole soul and heart into it--straining every sinew and muscle, as Jacob did when wrestling with the angel. Thus, and thus only, shall any of us speed at the throne of grace. As a shadow has no power because there is no substance in it, even so that supplication, in which a man's proper self is not thoroughly present in agonizing earnestness and vehement desire, is utterly ineffectual, for it lacks that which would give it force. "Fervent prayer," says an old divine, "like a cannon planted at the gates of heaven, makes them fly open." The common fault with the most of us is our readiness to yield to distractions. Our thoughts go roving hither and thither, and we make little progress towards our desired end. Like quicksilver our mind will not hold together, but rolls off this way and that. How great an evil this is! It injures us, and what is worse, it insults our God. What should we think of a petitioner, if, while having an audience with a prince, he should be playing with a feather or catching a fly?

Continuance and perseverance are intended in the expression of our text. David did not cry once, and then relapse into silence; his holy clamour was continued till it brought down the blessing. Prayer must not be our chance work, but our daily business, our habit and vocation. As artists give themselves to their models, and poets to their classical pursuits, so must we addict ourselves to prayer. We must be immersed in prayer as in our element, and so pray without ceasing. Lord, teach us so to pray that we may be more and more prevalent in supplication.

===

Today's reading: 1 Samuel 17-18, Luke 11:1-28 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
David and Goliath

1 Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. 2 Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. 3 The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.

4 A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span. 5He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; 6 on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. 7 His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.

8 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old. 13 Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.

16 For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.

17 Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. 18 Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. 19 They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.”

20 Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. 22 David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and asked his brothers how they were. 23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. 24 Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.

25 Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”

26 David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

27 They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.”

28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”

29 “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?”30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. 31 What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.

32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”

33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”

38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.

“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron. 53 When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp.

54 David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem; he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent.

55 As Saul watched David going out to meet the Philistine, he said to Abner, commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is that young man?”

Abner replied, “As surely as you live, Your Majesty, I don’t know.”

56 The king said, “Find out whose son this young man is.”

57 As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine’s head.

58 “Whose son are you, young man?” Saul asked him.

David said, “I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem.”

1 Samuel 18

Saul’s Growing Fear of David

1 After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. 2From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. 3 And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. 4 Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.

5 Whatever mission Saul sent him on, David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the troops, and Saul’s officers as well.

6 When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. 7 As they danced, they sang:

“Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands.”

8 Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” 9 And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.

10 The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully on Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand11 and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.

12 Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with David but had departed from Saul. 13 So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns. 14 In everything he did he had great success, because the LORD was with him. 15When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him.16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns.

17 Saul said to David, “Here is my older daughter Merab. I will give her to you in marriage; only serve me bravely and fight the battles of the LORD.” For Saul said to himself, “I will not raise a hand against him. Let the Philistines do that!”

18 But David said to Saul, “Who am I, and what is my family or my clan in Israel, that I should become the king’s son-in-law?” 19 So when the time came for Merab, Saul’s daughter, to be given to David, she was given in marriage to Adriel of Meholah.

20 Now Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased. 21 “I will give her to him,” he thought, “so that she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” So Saul said to David, “Now you have a second opportunity to become my son-in-law.”

22 Then Saul ordered his attendants: “Speak to David privately and say, ‘Look, the king likes you, and his attendants all love you; now become his son-in-law.’”

23 They repeated these words to David. But David said, “Do you think it is a small matter to become the king’s son-in-law? I’m only a poor man and little known.”

24 When Saul’s servants told him what David had said, 25Saul replied, “Say to David, ‘The king wants no other price for the bride than a hundred Philistine foreskins, to take revenge on his enemies.’” Saul’s plan was to have David fall by the hands of the Philistines.

26 When the attendants told David these things, he was pleased to become the king’s son-in-law. So before the allotted time elapsed, 27 David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.

28 When Saul realized that the LORD was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David, 29 Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days.

30 The Philistine commanders continued to go out to battle, and as often as they did, David met with more success than the rest of Saul’s officers, and his name became well known.


Luke 11

Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer

1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:

“‘Father,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”

5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[e] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Jesus and Beelzebul

14 Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. 15 But some of them said, “By Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” 16 Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven.

17 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. 18 If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebul. 19 Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 20 But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

21 “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. 22 But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder.

23 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

24 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”

27 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”

28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

===

Matthew [Măt'thew]—gift of jehovah.

The Man Who Left All to Follow Christ

This son of Alphaeus was a Hebrew with two names, a common thing in Galilee at that time. Mark and Luke, when recording Matthew’s call to discipleship, speak of him as Levi, but Matthew himself uses the name he has been loved by throughout the Christian era. In his despised occupation he was Levi, a name meaning “joined,” and joined he was to the world’s crooked extortionate ways and mercenary aims. He was also joined by his vocation to a hated foreign power under whose yoke orthodox Jews chafed.

Thus Levi and his craft were so detested that the very namepublican or tax-gatherer was commonly associated with sinner(Luke 15:1 ). His original name connected him with the tribe of Levi, the priestly house set aside for sanctuary service. But this Levi degraded his holy name. Whether the Lord changed the name to Matthew when He called Levi or whether the new found disciple chose it himself, we do not know. Meaning “the gift of God,” Matthew’s new name magnified the transforming power of Christ and indicated that Matthew was like the One who called him, a gift to Israel and to the world.

The call to service came when he was sitting at the receipt of custom ( Matt. 9:9; Luke 5:27) at Capernaum, the first world center, “the Great West Trunk Road from Damascus and the Far East to the Mediterranean Sea.” Matthew was a “publican,” which is not to be confused with the modern usage of the term as an English innkeeper. “Publican” is from the Latin wordpublicannus , meaning the collector of Roman taxes, the gathering of which was farmed out to minor officials ready to undertake this odious duty among their countrymen. A publican’s reward was that he could extort for his own benefit more than was due, so long as the extortion did not lead to revolt. This was why the publicans, as a class, were spoken of as “leeches.” They gorged themselves with money in the process of gathering money for the Caesars and consequently were reckoned to be outside the pale of decent society and of the synagogue.

“Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter’s Son, knew Matthew the publican quite well,” says Alexander Whyte. “Perhaps only too well. Jesus and His mother had by this time migrated from Nazareth to Capernaum. He had often been in Matthew’s toll-booth with His mother’s taxes, with other poor people’s taxes.” But the outcast was called by Christ to a better occupation, to better wealth than silver and gold, to serve a better King than Caesar. Without hesitation Matthew left all, arose and followed Christ (Luke 5:28).

To celebrate his surrender to Christ, Matthew entertained Christ and others to a feast in his own house (Matt. 9:10; Luke 5:29). This feast was a token of gratitude for his emancipation from a sordid occupation, and revealed a missionary spirit. Such an “At Home” served a threefold purpose:

I. It was a Jubilee Feast to commemorate his translation into a new life. Matthew wanted all and sundry to know that he was now a new creature in Christ Jesus.

II. It was a Farewell Dinner to declare his determination henceforth to follow and serve his new found King. It was his public confession of surrender to the call of Christ.

III. It was a Conversazione to introduce his old associates and friends to his new found Saviour, that they too might have an opportunity of hearing His wonderful words of life. Matthew sought to make a dinner party an evangelistic service. He knew many would come to his house to meet Christ who would not go to the synagogue to hear Him. Doubtless many publicans and sinners learned that day that Christ did not despise them.

Matthew became not only an apostle but also the writer of the first gospel. He left behind an undying image of his Lord. Matthew has given us The Galilean Gospel -unique in every way. When he rose and left all to follow Christ, the only things Matthew took out of his old life were his pen and ink. It is well for us that he did, since he took them with him for such a good purpose.

Matthew’s gospel is striking in that it alone gives us the Parables of the Kingdom. The theme of his book, known as “the Hebrew Porch of the New Testament” is The King and His Kingdom. Some fifty-six times he uses the word “kingdom.” In his record of the life and labors of Christ, Matthew has given us the image of Christ as it fell upon his own heart.

Trained to systematic methods and well acquainted with Jewish character and religion, Matthew was fitted to commend Christ to the Jews. He appeals to the student of Old Testament literature. As a writer, he is before us as an eyewitness of the events he describes and as earwitness of the discourses he records. As to his qualifications, Matthew had a love of truth and was sensible of the mercy of God, and the misery of man. In self-effacing humility, he loses sight of himself in adoration of his Hero. It is thus that his book can be divided in this three-fold way:

The early days of the Messiah ( Matt. 1-4:16).

The signs and works of the Messiah (Matt. 4:17-16:20).

The passion of the Messiah (Matt. 16:21-28:20).

===

Spurgeon-MetropolitanTabernacle-Header-1

Knowledge commended

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

Suggested Further Reading: Ezra 7:1–10

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

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

Sermon no. 609
15 January (1865)

===

TT_devotionswithrc_ttlogo

The Fruit of Repentance

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

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

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

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

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

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

For further study:

2 Chronicles 7:14

The Bible in a year:

Gen. 50-Exodus 1

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

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.

===
P31Header
Amy Carroll

April 11, 2012

Unfolding
Amy Carroll

"May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us-yes, establish the work of our hands." Psalm 90:17 (NIV)

I stared into the frustrated eyes of my friend last week as we talked about her calling to write. She has big, big dreams, and her dreams seem to be coming true far too slowly.

I told her how much I understood. Stepping into my calling was a long time coming, too.

My specific calling is to teach, speak and write. Your calling may fall into a myriad of other categories, but every calling is equally high when it's in obedience to the Most High. We're ALL called to ministry of some sort.

My calling didn't materialize in a year. It has unfolded during the last 35 years, and each phase of that unfolding has shaped and re-determined the final product (which I know won't be final until my last breath!).

The unfolding looked kind of like this:

Becoming a passionate teacher of young children.
Marrying my best friend.
Investing years in my little boys' lives.
Teaching adults as they chased dreams that passed them by in their teens.
Volunteering in women's ministry.
Visiting home after home as the "Welcome Wagon Lady" in my new town.
Accepting invitations to speak at my church and others close by.
Joining the Proverbs 31 Ministries' speaker team.
Returning to a frustrating year of elementary school teaching.
Stepping in to my calling of equipping others in their calling.

I've look at my list many times and thought, "Wow. I wasted a lot of years." But I've come to realize it's just not true. Every relationship, every job, every opportunity has prepared me. Psalm 90:17 reminds me that God establishes the work of my hands. With each change, I've had an opportunity to view that next place as stepping into a calling. Sometimes I did. Sometimes I didn't.

Often I was irritated at the seeming meaninglessness of what I was doing, but now I see. Every diaper changed, every knee kissed, every book read, every late night listening, every dying to self, every lesson plan made, every story crafted, every presentation made, every meeting attended, every spreadsheet created, EVERY THING...

It all counted.

Every moment was an unfolding of my eventual calling. God used each stepping stone to establish the work I'm doing now.

Don't despair today when you can't see it. Obey God and trust that He is working. His timing is so rarely ours, but it is always perfect. Instead of chaffing under the seemingly mundane, embrace each task as a building block for the dreams in your heart. Don't give up hope.

I promise ... it's coming.

Dear Lord, it's been difficult waiting as the years have come and gone without stepping into my calling. Please help me appreciate each seemingly mundane task and day as a means to you establishing the work of my hands. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Follow this link for beautiful encouragement from Amy on her blog.

Register today for She Speaks! Our annual conference that helps equip women in their calling to lead, speak and write.

The Reason We Speak and For the Write Reason, Gen Ed. Marybeth Whalen

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Reflect and Respond:
Every moment is an unfolding of your eventual calling.

Make a list of the "mundane" things and ask God to show you how He's using them to establish the work of your hands.

Power Verses:
Matthew 9:38, "Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." (NIV)

1 Peter 4:10-11, "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." (NIV)

© 2012 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

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

===

GiG Banner 2012 Big

April 11, 2012
Strength for the Storm
Mary Southerland

Today's Truth.
Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us--they help us learn to endure. Endurance then develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation."

Friend to Friend
Life is filled with storms of one kind or another. In the midst of those storms, we tend to respond as if God has somehow been caught off guard. The storm makes no sense. We can't explain why terminal illness strikes godly people. We don't understand how our strongest friends can become our fiercest critics. The anguish of a broken marriage or the overwhelming heartbreak of a prodigal child drives us to doubt God's purpose, plan and provision. The fear of financial ruin paralyzes us. God understands.

The Bible is filled with men and women who were storm survivors – people of God who endured great pain and weathered intense life storms because they chose to follow Him. The Apostle Paul, known for persecuting and murdering Christians, was forever changed when he met Jesus Christ. While God gave him a life of great power and eternal impact, it was also a life filled with great storms. Paul learned to "patiently" endure the troubles, hardships and calamities that came his way. (2 Corinthians 6:4 NLT)

Because grain was a precious food source to the Romans, threshing grain was a natural part of every day in ancient Rome. In pictures of early Rome, one man is always seen stirring up the sheaves while another rides over them in a crude cart equipped with rollers instead of wheels. Sharp stones and rough bits of iron were attached to these wheels to help separate the husks from the grain. This simple cart was called a "tribulum" from which we get our word "tribulation."

No Roman ever used his tribulum as a tool of destruction - only refinement. God uses our trials and storms as tools of refinement to build in us endurance. The word "endure" comes from two Greek words that when combined, give the meaning "to remain under." It is the capacity to stay under the load, to remain in the circumstances without running away or looking for the easy way out.

The purpose of every storm is to purify and cultivate endurance. Like Paul, we may sometimes feel as if we are being torn to pieces under the pressure of circumstances. But his challenge to the Romans compels us to re-examine our perspective and response to each storm we face. "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us--they help us learn to endure. Endurance then develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation" (Romans 5:3-5 NLT).

Endurance is never passive. It is the picture of a soldier staying in the heat of the battle under terrible opposition but still pressing forward to gain the victory.

There are few things that we can count on in this unpredictable life - but we can count on storms to come. We can also count on God's continual and unfailing strength for those storms. When the hard times come and when bad things happen, we do not have to wonder where God is. Instead we can hold on to the promise that is found inJeremiah 16:19, "Lord, you are my strength, and my protection. You are a safe place for me to run in times of trouble" (NLT).

An old seaman once said, "In fierce storms we can do but one thing. There is only one way to survive. We must put the ship in a certain position and keep her there." Richard Fuller commented on the old seaman's words:

"This, Christian, is what you must do. Sometimes, like Paul, you can see neither sun nor stars, and no small tempest lies on you. Reason cannot help you. Past experiences give you no light. Only a single course is left. You must stay upon the Lord; and come what may -- winds, waves, cross seas, thunder, lightning, frowning rocks, roaring breakers -- no matter what, you must lash yourself to the helm and hold fast your confidence in God's faithfulness and his everlasting love
in Christ Jesus."

No matter what storm rages in your life today – no matter how fierce the winds or how high the waves may be – where you are is no surprise to God. Heaven is not in a panic. Keep your gaze on Him and your glance on the raging waters. "Lash yourself" to Him and He will supply everything you need to stand firm in the storm.

Let's Pray
Father, I am so tired of trying to weather the storms of life on my own. I need Your power and strength to face each one. Please teach me to turn to you first. Help me learn to patiently endure the hard times and honor You in the midst of them as I walk by faith.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.

Now It's Your Turn
Look back at the storms you have come through. Have you learned more about endurance? Are you stronger now than you were then?

Memorize Romans 5:3-5. Examine the storms you are facing today. Choose to rejoice in the midst of each one, knowing it is an opportunity to trust God.

More from the Girlfriends
We lived in South Florida for many years. As hurricane season approached each year, residents of South Florida raced to the grocery stores and nearest lumber yards to stockpile supplies. Batteries, flashlights, canned food, bread, peanut butter and bottled water were the first to go. Weathermen issued constant warnings to get ready and stay ready for a storm. We must do the same. Make no mistake – a storm is on the horizon. Stand firm, knowing God is Lord of every storm you will ever face.

Need help? Check out one of Mary's E-Bible Studies for practical steps you can take to strengthen your faith and find answers to the problems you face every day. Titles include Strength for the Storm, God's Answer to Stress,Getting a Grip on Fear and more.

Join other women across the world in Mary's Online Bible Study, Light for the Journey. How to Tame the Tongueis the current series. Check it out!

Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email. She loves hearing what God is doing in your life!

Seeking God?
Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 725
Matthews, NC 28106

info@girlfriendsingod.com
www.girlfriendsingod.com

===

TT_Coramdeo_ttlogo

The Fruit of Repentance

Matthew 3:7-10

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

For further study:

2 Chronicles 7:14

The Bible in a year:

Gen. 50-Exodus 1

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.

===

Spurgeon-NewParkStreet-Header-3

A home question

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

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 7:1-5

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

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

Sermon no. 294
15 January (1860)

===

At Issue - Procrastination

Proverbs 14:23

Are you a "big talker"? Maybe you talk a lot about doing things. You make checklists and plan to complete them but find it hard to follow through. Phone calls get postponed. Tasks at work or home get put off. Good intentions to reach out at church or to a hurting friend don't result in actions. And that new leaf you keep meaning to turn over just keeps getting older. If that's you, then you're wasting precious time. If you want to reap the rewards of your labor, then you've got to get to work. Talk is cheap-so get moving!

NIVSocialicons
===

Prison Letter: It's time at last to tackle the grandest question of all

Today's reading: Ephesians 2

Ephesians 2:22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Some of the world's most famous literature originated in, of all places, a prison cell. John Bunyan wrote his Pilgrim's Progress there. Alexander Solzhenitsyn's vast output had its conception behind barbed wire, as did Dostoyevsky's. Parts of the Bible were written in prison as well, including Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon.

Perhaps surprisingly, these books represent some of the brightest, most hopeful books of the Bible. There's a good reason: Prison offers Paul the precious commodity of time. He is no longer journeying from town to town, stamping out fires set by his enemies. He can devote attention to lofty thoughts about the meaning of life.

Looking Up

A prisoner who survived 14 years in a Cuban jail tells how he kept his spirits up: "The worst part was the monotony. I had no window in my cell, and so I mentally constructed one on the door. I 'saw' in my mind a beautiful scene from the mountains, with water tumbling down a ravine over rocks. It became so real to me that I would visualize it without effort every time I looked at the cell door."

The letter to the Ephesians gives a hint as to what the apostle Paul "sees" when he lets his mind wander beyond the monotony of his place of confinement. First, he visualizes the spiritual growth in the churches he has left behind. Most of his prison letters begin with a burst of thanksgiving for the vitality of the church he is addressing. Then, as he spells out in Ephesians, he seeks to open the eyes of their hearts (seeEphesians 1:18) to even more exalted sights.

Cosmic Questions

Ephesians is full of sensational good news. Unlike Paul's other letters, Ephesians does not address any urgent problems. With a sigh of relief, the apostle turns to the grandest question of all: What is God's overall purpose for this world? Paul answers the question this way: "to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ" (Ephesians 1:10). He raises the sights far above his own circumstances to bigger issues, cosmic issues.

Ironically, it takes a stint in prison to free Paul up for this happy endeavor. The book of Ephesians can hardly introduce a new thought without bursting into a song or a prayer. It is no wonder the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge would later call the book "the divinest composition of man."

Life Question

What do you find most encouraging about Paul's joyous message?

NIVSocialicons

Post a Comment