Thursday, April 19, 2012

Daily Devotional Thursday 19th April

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom."
Matthew 27:51

No mean miracle was wrought in the rending of so strong and thick a veil; but it was not intended merely as a display of power--many lessons were herein taught us. The old law of ordinances was put away, and like a worn-out vesture, rent and laid aside. When Jesus died, the sacrifices were all finished, because all fulfilled in him, and therefore the place of their presentation was marked with an evident token of decay. That rent also revealed all the hidden things of the old dispensation: the mercy-seat could now be seen, and the glory of God gleamed forth above it. By the death of our Lord Jesus we have a clear revelation of God, for he was "not as Moses, who put a veil over his face." Life and immortality are now brought to light, and things which have been hidden since the foundation of the world are manifest in him. The annual ceremony of atonement was thus abolished. The atoning blood which was once every year sprinkled within the veil, was now offered once for all by the great High Priest, and therefore the place of the symbolical rite was broken up. No blood of bullocks or of lambs is needed now, for Jesus has entered within the veil with his own blood. Hence access to God is now permitted, and is the privilege of every believer in Christ Jesus. There is no small space laid open through which we may peer at the mercy-seat, but the rent reaches from the top to the bottom. We may come with boldness to the throne of the heavenly grace. Shall we err if we say that the opening of the Holy of Holies in this marvellous manner by our Lord's expiring cry was the type of the opening of the gates of paradise to all the saints by virtue of the Passion? Our bleeding Lord hath the key of heaven; he openeth and no man shutteth; let us enter in with him into the heavenly places, and sit with him there till our common enemies shall be made his footstool.

Evening

"The Amen."
Revelation 3:14

The word Amen solemnly confirms that which went before; and Jesus is the great Confirmer; immutable, forever is "the Amen" in all his promises. Sinner, I would comfort thee with this reflection. Jesus Christ said, "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." If you come to him, he will say "Amen" in your soul; his promise shall be true to you. He said in the days of his flesh, "The bruised reed I will not break." O thou poor, broken, bruised heart, if thou comest to him, he will say "Amen" to thee, and that shall be true in thy soul as in hundreds of cases in bygone years. Christian, is not this very comforting to thee also, that there is not a word which has gone out of the Saviour's lips which he has ever retracted? The words of Jesus shall stand when heaven and earth shall pass away. If thou gettest a hold of but half a promise, thou shalt find it true. Beware of him who is called "Clip-promise," who will destroy much of the comfort of God's word.

Jesus is Yea and Amen in all his offices. He was a Priest to pardon and cleanse once, he is Amen as Priest still. He was a King to rule and reign for his people, and to defend them with his mighty arm, he is an Amen King, the same still. He was a Prophet of old, to foretell good things to come, his lips are most sweet, and drop with honey still--he is an Amen Prophet. He is Amen as to the merit of his blood; he is Amen as to his righteousness. That sacred robe shall remain most fair and glorious when nature shall decay. He is Amen in every single title which he bears; your Husband, never seeking a divorce; your Friend, sticking closer than a brother; your Shepherd, with you in death's dark vale; your Help and your Deliverer; your Castle and your High Tower; the Horn of your strength, your confidence, your joy, your all in all, and your Yea and Amen in all.

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Today's reading: 2 Samuel 3-5, Luke 14:25-35 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

1 The war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time. David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.

2 Sons were born to David in Hebron:
His firstborn was Amnon the son of Ahinoam of Jezreel;
3 his second, Kileab the son of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel;
the third, Absalom the son of Maakah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;
4 the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith;
the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;
5 and the sixth, Ithream the son of David’s wife Eglah.
These were born to David in Hebron.

Abner Goes Over to David

6 During the war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner had been strengthening his own position in the house of Saul. 7 Now Saul had had a concubine named Rizpah daughter of Aiah. And Ish-Bosheth said to Abner, “Why did you sleep with my father’s concubine?”

8 Abner was very angry because of what Ish-Bosheth said. So he answered, “Am I a dog’s head—on Judah’s side? This very day I am loyal to the house of your father Saul and to his family and friends. I haven’t handed you over to David. Yet now you accuse me of an offense involving this woman! 9 May God deal with Abner, be it ever so severely, if I do not do for David what the LORD promised him on oath 10 and transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and establish David’s throne over Israel and Judah from Dan to Beersheba.” 11 Ish-Bosheth did not dare to say another word to Abner, because he was afraid of him.

12 Then Abner sent messengers on his behalf to say to David, “Whose land is it? Make an agreement with me, and I will help you bring all Israel over to you.”

13 “Good,” said David. “I will make an agreement with you. But I demand one thing of you: Do not come into my presence unless you bring Michal daughter of Saul when you come to see me.” 14 Then David sent messengers to Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, demanding, “Give me my wife Michal, whom I betrothed to myself for the price of a hundred Philistine foreskins.”

15 So Ish-Bosheth gave orders and had her taken away from her husband Paltiel son of Laish. 16 Her husband, however, went with her, weeping behind her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, “Go back home!” So he went back.

17 Abner conferred with the elders of Israel and said, “For some time you have wanted to make David your king. 18 Now do it! For the LORD promised David, ‘By my servant David I will rescue my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines and from the hand of all their enemies.’”

19 Abner also spoke to the Benjamites in person. Then he went to Hebron to tell David everything that Israel and the whole tribe of Benjamin wanted to do. 20 When Abner, who had twenty men with him, came to David at Hebron, David prepared a feast for him and his men. 21 Then Abner said to David, “Let me go at once and assemble all Israel for my lord the king, so that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may rule over all that your heart desires.” So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace.

Joab Murders Abner

22 Just then David’s men and Joab returned from a raid and brought with them a great deal of plunder. But Abner was no longer with David in Hebron, because David had sent him away, and he had gone in peace. 23 When Joab and all the soldiers with him arrived, he was told that Abner son of Ner had come to the king and that the king had sent him away and that he had gone in peace.

24 So Joab went to the king and said, “What have you done? Look, Abner came to you. Why did you let him go? Now he is gone! 25 You know Abner son of Ner; he came to deceive you and observe your movements and find out everything you are doing.”

26 Joab then left David and sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the cistern at Sirah. But David did not know it. 27 Now when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into an inner chamber, as if to speak with him privately. And there, to avenge the blood of his brother Asahel, Joab stabbed him in the stomach, and he died.

28 Later, when David heard about this, he said, “I and my kingdom are forever innocent before the LORD concerning the blood of Abner son of Ner. 29 May his blood fall on the head of Joab and on his whole family! May Joab’s family never be without someone who has a running sore or leprosy or who leans on a crutch or who falls by the sword or who lacks food.”

30 (Joab and his brother Abishai murdered Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.)

31 Then David said to Joab and all the people with him, “Tear your clothes and put on sackcloth and walk in mourning in front of Abner.” King David himself walked behind the bier. 32 They buried Abner in Hebron, and the king wept aloud at Abner’s tomb. All the people wept also.

33 The king sang this lament for Abner:

“Should Abner have died as the lawless die?
34 Your hands were not bound,
your feet were not fettered.
You fell as one falls before the wicked.”

And all the people wept over him again.

35 Then they all came and urged David to eat something while it was still day; but David took an oath, saying, “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I taste bread or anything else before the sun sets!”

36 All the people took note and were pleased; indeed, everything the king did pleased them. 37 So on that day all the people there and all Israel knew that the king had no part in the murder of Abner son of Ner.

38 Then the king said to his men, “Do you not realize that a commander and a great man has fallen in Israel this day? 39And today, though I am the anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me. May the LORD repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds!”

2 Samuel 4

Ish-Bosheth Murdered

1 When Ish-Bosheth son of Saul heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he lost courage, and all Israel became alarmed. 2Now Saul’s son had two men who were leaders of raiding bands. One was named Baanah and the other Rekab; they were sons of Rimmon the Beerothite from the tribe of Benjamin—Beeroth is considered part of Benjamin, 3 because the people of Beeroth fled to Gittaim and have resided there as foreigners to this day.

4 (Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became disabled. His name was Mephibosheth.)

5 Now Rekab and Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, set out for the house of Ish-Bosheth, and they arrived there in the heat of the day while he was taking his noonday rest. 6 They went into the inner part of the house as if to get some wheat, and they stabbed him in the stomach. Then Rekab and his brother Baanah slipped away.

7 They had gone into the house while he was lying on the bed in his bedroom. After they stabbed and killed him, they cut off his head. Taking it with them, they traveled all night by way of the Arabah. 8 They brought the head of Ish-Bosheth to David at Hebron and said to the king, “Here is the head of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, your enemy, who tried to kill you. This day the LORD has avenged my lord the king against Saul and his offspring.”

9 David answered Rekab and his brother Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, “As surely as the LORD lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, 10 when someone told me, ‘Saul is dead,’ and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and put him to death in Ziklag. That was the reward I gave him for his news! 11 How much more—when wicked men have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed—should I not now demand his blood from your hand and rid the earth of you!”

12 So David gave an order to his men, and they killed them. They cut off their hands and feet and hung the bodies by the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ish-Bosheth and buried it in Abner’s tomb at Hebron.

2 Samuel 5

David Becomes King Over Israel

1 All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “We are your own flesh and blood. 2 In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the LORD said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.’”

3 When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel.

4 David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. 5 In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.

David Conquers Jerusalem

6 The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, “You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off.” They thought, “David cannot get in here.” 7 Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion—which is the City of David.

8 On that day David had said, “Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water shaft to reach those ‘lame and blind’ who are David’s enemies.” That is why they say, “The ‘blind and lame’ will not enter the palace.”

9 David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the terraces inward. 10 And he became more and more powerful, because the LORD God Almighty was with him.

11 Now Hiram king of Tyre sent envoys to David, along with cedar logs and carpenters and stonemasons, and they built a palace for David. 12 Then David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.

13 After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him. 14 These are the names of the children born to him there: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, 15 Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, 16 Elishama, Eliada and Eliphelet.

David Defeats the Philistines

17 When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, they went up in full force to search for him, but David heard about it and went down to the stronghold. 18 Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; 19 so David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hands?”

The LORD answered him, “Go, for I will surely deliver the Philistines into your hands.”

20 So David went to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them. He said, “As waters break out, the LORD has broken out against my enemies before me.” So that place was called Baal Perazim. 21 The Philistines abandoned their idols there, and David and his men carried them off.

22 Once more the Philistines came up and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; 23 so David inquired of the LORD, and he answered, “Do not go straight up, but circle around behind them and attack them in front of the poplar trees. 24 As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the poplar trees, move quickly, because that will mean the LORD has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.” 25 So David did as the LORD commanded him, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.


Luke 14

The Cost of Being a Disciple

25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

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

Men of the Bible April 12

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

Shechem, Sichem, Sychem, Sychar [ShÄ“'chem]—shoulder.

1. A son of Hamor, a Hivite prince—“a prince of the country”—that is, of Shechem. It is not certain whether the Levitical city was named after the son of Hamor, or whether he was named after the city (Gen. 33:18, 19,34; Josh. 24:32; Judg. 9:28).

The Man Who Disgraced His Princely Dignity

Shechem, a neighbor of Jacob, took advantage of his daughter’s visit to the daughters of the Hivites. Doubtless Dinah was young and unaccustomed to the ways of the world, and taking advantage of her, Shechem proved himself unworthy of his high office. He was led into sin by what he saw, and while it is said that Shechem came to love the girl he had wronged and wanted to make her his wife, yet such a proposal was not possible, owing to God’s command about His people marrying those of Gentile nations. The scheme of Jacob’s sons need not be told. Suffice it to say that Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, treacherously slew Shechem for his betrayal of their sister. To the credit of Shechem it is said that “he was more honourable than all the house of his father.” As for Simeon and Levi, they earned a sad epitaph (Gen. 49:5-7).

2. A son of Gilead, son of Manasseh and founder of a tribal family (Num. 26:31; Josh. 17:2 ).

3. A son of Shemidah, a Manassite (1 Chron. 7:19).

Shechem is also a name renowned in history. Jacob rested there (Gen. 33:18). Jesus met the woman of Samaria at the one-time city of refuge and the first residence of the kings of Israel (John 4:12). It is said that Justin Martyr was born here, about a.d. 100.

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The uses of the law

“Wherefore then serveth the law?” Galatians 3:19

Suggested Further Reading: Proverbs 26:12-16

I find that the proudest and most self-righteous people are those who do nothing at all, and have no shadow of pretence for any opinion of their own goodness. The old truth in the book of Job is true now. You know in the beginning of the book of Job it is said, “The oxen were ploughing, and the asses were feeding beside them.” That is generally the way in this world. The oxen are ploughing in the church —we have some who are labouring hard for Christ—and the asses are feeding beside them, on the finest livings and the fattest of the land. These are the people who have so much to say about self-righteousness. What do they do? They do not do enough to earn a living, and yet they think they are going to earn heaven. They sit down and fold their hands, and yet they are so reverently righteous, because they sometimes dole out a little in charity. They do nothing, and yet boast of self-righteousness. And with Christian people it is the same. If God makes you laborious, and keeps you constantly engaged in his service, you are less likely to be proud of your self-righteousness than you are if you do nothing. But at all times there is a natural tendency to it. Therefore, God has written the law, that when we read it we may see our faults; that when we look into it, as into a looking-glass, we may see the impurities in our flesh, and have reason to abhor ourselves in sackcloth and ashes, and still cry to Jesus for mercy. Use the law in this fashion, and in no other.

For meditation: The more we learn, the more we realise how little we know; the more we do, the more we realise how little we do; the holier we become, the more we realise how unholy we are. Being sluggish is most unsuitable for the Christian (Hebrews 6:10-12).

Sermon no. 128
19 April (1857)

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Strong meat

‘But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.’ Hebrews 5:14

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:1–11

Holy Scripture is to be received, not only as a literal description of facts which really did occur, but as a picture in which grace-taught souls, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, may see portrayed in express characters the great gospel of the living God. Those of you who are well instructed will have found out by this time that Genesis is the History of Dispensations; that in all its types it sets forth, from Adam to Joseph the various dispensations of primeval innocence, man without law, under law, in covenant and many other things. You will have discovered that Exodus is the Book of Redemptions . Here is redemption by blood when the paschal lamb was slain; redemption by power when God broke the armies of Egypt, smiting Pharaoh in the midst of the Red Sea. Leviticus is theHandbook of communion, the Guide to Access, opening to us the way in which God can come to man, and man can go to God. And I am sure the least observant of you must have discovered that Numbers is the Record of Experience , for all those journeyings of the children of Israel to and fro when they lived in the wilderness, sometimes by bitter fountain, and at other times by spreading palms, all describe the constant forward march of the sacred army of God to the Promised Land; while the Books of Joshua and Judges typify the history of the people who have entered into the land of Canaan, who are saved, but who have to fight with their corruptions, who have to fight with the Canaanites that are still in the land, and to drive them out despite their chariots of iron. I believe that every book of Scripture has some special lesson beyond its historical import.

For meditation : Is much of the Old Testament a closed book to you? The Lord Jesus Christ said to His enemies ‘Did ye never read in the scriptures?’ (Matthew 21:42) and ‘Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures’ (Matthew 22:29). It is very sad if the same things can be said to his friends.

Sermon no. 506
19 April (1863)

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Systematic Evangelism

Acts 8:1-8

Many people leave evangelism up to Sunday school teachers and the preaching of the pastor. However, this confuses teaching with evangelism. The teaching ministry of the church is essential to the growth of the kingdom, but its primary task is to educate those who are already Christians - any evangelism that happens is secondary. If you feel unequipped to share the Gospel, seek a program designed to help you preach the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus.

For further study:

Psalm 86:11

The Bible in a year:

2 Samuel 9-11

Coram Deo from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright Copyright symbol 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living.

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Systematic Evangelism

Acts 8:1-8 "There arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles" ( v. 1b).

Regrettably, we often overlook what today's passage tells us about evangelism in the early church. Immediately after the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:54-60), a "great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem," which caused all of the Christians there, except the apostles, to be scattered throughout Judea and Samaria (8:1b ). In other words, the laity in Jerusalem were forced to flee the city and leave those ordained to church office behind. This is significant because it was these scattered laypeople who began preaching the Word beyond Jerusalem (v. 4), beginning the spread of the Gospel to the ends of the earth as Jesus predicted (1:6-8). From the church's earliest days, lay Christians have been faithful and effective evangelists.

Nevertheless, many believers in the church today feel unequipped to proclaim the Gospel, or they think the responsibility to preach Christ to non-Christians lies solely with the pastor. Such sentiments are easily explainable: No one has taught them how to share the good news of Jesus Christ. If people are to proclaim the Gospel, they must learn how to share it with others.

All Christians can benefit from systematic evangelism, that is, some kind of evangelistic program that is easy to memorize and use for spreading God's Word. Getting to the basic facts of the Gospel - the demands of the Lord's holiness, our sin, the atonement and resurrection of Christ - and packaging them in a way that is easy to learn and repeat can go a long way towards helping people evangelize. Many different programs exist, one of the most popular being Evangelism Explosion by Dr. D. James Kennedy. Churches that have used this program testify to its success in getting people involved in evangelism.

Of course, we run the risk of distortion any time we try to reduce the Gospel to its simplest points. However, even the apostles worked with a simplified message when they went to those who knew nothing of the Bible. The apostolic sermons in Acts show us that the kerygma, the basic message of the Gospel, was delivered to the Gentiles who knew nothing of God's Word. Only after people were converted did systematic, in-depth teaching of the Scriptures begin.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Many people leave evangelism up to Sunday school teachers and the preaching of the pastor. However, this confuses teaching with evangelism. The teaching ministry of the church is essential to the growth of the kingdom, but its primary task is to educate those who are already Christians - any evangelism that happens is secondary. If you feel unequipped to share the Gospel, seek a program designed to help you preach the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus.

For further study:

Psalm 86:11

The Bible in a year:

2 Samuel 9-11

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

Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living.

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April 18, 2012
Praise Refreshes the Soul
Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth
"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name," (Psalm 100:4NIV).

Friend to Friend
One day I was mopping the kitchen floor and my words were anything but cheerful. I grumbled to myself…no one even appreciates all that I do around here. All I ever do is clean, clean, clean. Then suddenly, God began to whisper a new thought to my heart. Suppose you were blind and couldn't see the beautiful patterns on the linoleum floor, or the spilled juice by the refrigerator, or the crumbs under the baby's chair? If you were deaf, you couldn't hear the soothing sound of the soap bubbles dissolving in the scrub bucket. You couldn't hear the rhythmic sound of the mop being pushed back and forth across the floor's hard surface. Suppose you were confined to a wheelchair and not strong enough to stand upright and grasp the wooden handle to erase the muddy footprints and make the floor shiny and clean again? Suppose you didn't have a home or a family to clean up after?

These thoughts brought a new perspective to this mundane task and my grumblings turned into a prayer of thanksgiving. I stood up straight, proudly grasped the mop, and began to pray. Thank you, Lord, for the privilege of mopping this dirty floor. Thank you for the health and strength to hold this mop, for the ability to wrap my agile fingers around its handle and feel the wood in my hands. Thank you for the sight to see the crumbs and the dirt, for the sense of smell to enjoy the clean scent of the soap in my bucket. Thank you for the many precious feet that will walk through this room and dirty it again. Those feet are the reason I do this job. And Lord, thank you for the privilege of having a floor to mop and a family to clean up after.

Oh yes, how a Godly perspective can change our attitudes and the words that reflect them. When we begin to praise God in the middle of the mundane, He refreshes us with a new outlook on life! The book of Psalms is a powerful collection of praises to God, and interestingly, many of the beautiful prose were written when David was struggling with depression, desperation, or devastation. Let's take a look at a few.

"O Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
God will not deliver him.'
But you are a shield around me, O LORD;
You bestow glory on me and lift up my head." Psalm 3:1-3

Answer me when I call to you,
O my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
Be merciful to me and hear my prayer…
You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:1,7,8

When you are discouraged try praising God. There is an old hymn that says "Count your many blessings, count them one by one. Count your many blessings, see what God has done."

Let's Pray
Heavenly Father, thank You for all the many blessings in my life. I come to You today repenting for my complaining and grumbling. Please forgive me. Today I come into Your presence with thanksgiving and into Your courts with praise.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Now It's Your Turn
Can you guess what I'm going to ask you to do today? Yes! You're right!
Make a list of 10 blessings in your life, and thank God for them.
Then visit me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes and tell me one of your blessings. Oh, why not. You can tell me all 10!

More from the Girlfriends
Today's devotion was adapted from Sharon's book, The Power of a Woman's Words. If you'd like to learn more about how to change a grumbling tongue into a grateful tongue, then this is the book for you. Learn how the answer to many of your problems is right under your nose…the words you speak. While you're on her website, check out all the FREE resources just for you!

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

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

info@girlfriendsingod.com
www.girlfriendsingod.com

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Renee Swope

April 18, 2012

It's Not Supposed to be This Way
Renee Swope

"We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved." Hebrews 10:39(NIV, 1984)

"I can't do this."
"Things will never change."
"My life isn't going to get better."
"I'll never have the confidence I need."

Those are some depressing thoughts, aren't they? But oh how quickly they slip into our minds and convince our hearts that they are true.

There have been times when I felt almost paralyzed by thoughts like these that were laced with uncertainty.

Times when I let self-doubt convince me that feelings of inadequacy and discouragement were normal.

Times when I've shrunk back from changes and challenges, as well as opportunities and open doors.

Other times I've pulled back in my relationships - with family and friends, and even God. Shrinking back into a place of unbelief ... settling for less than God's best.

All because I was tired of muddling through apprehension and indecision.

Are there days when doubt convinces you that feeling inadequate and discouraged is normal? Or that having confident assurance isn't possible for someone like you?

I think we sometimes forget we have an enemy who uses self-doubt against us - who shouts from the sidelines:

"It's too hard."
"You might as well quit."
"Go ahead and give up."
"You don't have what it takes."

It's time for us to take a stand and stop listening to these lies. God wants us to know and believe that with Christ all things are possible - even a confident heart.

Otherwise doubt, and the enemy, will win every time and our hearts will be eroded by attitudes and emotions of defeat.

But it's not supposed to be this way.

All throughout scripture, God tells us things can change; life can be better. He declares with confidence: "See, I am doing a new thing!" "I am working all things together for good for those who love me and are called according to my purpose." "All things are possible to [her] who believes." (Isa. 43:19; Rom. 8:28; Mark 9:23)

So how do we stop listening to our doubts and start living in the power of God's promises?

By choosing to believe God's truths more than our feelings and fears. By moving beyond believing in God to really believing God as we rely on the power of His Words and live like they are true - no matter what our feelings tell us.

It is a moment-by-moment, day-by-day, doubt-by-doubt decision where we process our thoughts and emotions with God, positioning our hearts and minds to let His perspective redefine ours with each uncertainty we face.

Some days I do better than others, and you will too. But I have found that it's possible to have lasting Christ-confidence by choosing to remember to believe.

Let's choose to remember today, and every day, the words of Hebrews 10:39, that we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed - but of those who believe and are saved!

Lord, give me a confident heart in Christ. I want You to lead me beyond believing in You to truly believing You. Help me rely on the power of Your promises and live like they are true. When self-doubt tells me I can't overcome my insecurities, I will believe Your promise that all things are possible to whoever believes. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Today's devotion is based on truths Renee also shares in her powerful book: A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God's Promises.

Are you ready to live in the power of God's promises? To take hold of the security of His love? Join Renee's online study of her best-selling book, A Confident Heart, beginning April 23rd. Here's what others are saying about her study:

Through this online study of A Confident Heart I have learned to seek and find the strength God desires me to have. I can also be confident that when I do fall short God still loves me anyway. What a blessing and a gift! ~ Cindy

This book and online study has made such a difference in my life. I now see myself as God sees me, and that gives me confidence to be more of the person He has always desired me to be. I am beautiful in His eyes, and now believe He is really the one who matters! ~Sherri

Click here for more details about Renee's online study orsign up here today!

For more daily encouragement and powerful truths, join Renee's Confident Heart Facebook page.

Reflect and Respond:
Have you ever agreed with the whispers of doubt and found yourself stuck in a cycle of defeat? Is there a promise in today's devotion, or in the power verses below, that ministers to your greatest need? Why not write it down and pray it out loud - claiming God's truth and letting it become yours today.

Power Verses:
2 Corinthians 2:14, "But I thank God, who always leads us in victory because of Christ." (GW)

Romans 8:37, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." (NIV)

Copyright symbol 2012 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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

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No Justice: Jesus faces judges and a furious mob

Today's reading: Matthew 27

Matthew 27:22 "What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?" Pilate asked.

Because the Jews live under the occupying power of Rome, Jesus must go through several levels of justice. The Romans allow the Jews to have their own court, the Sanhedrin, before which Jesus first appears. When he identifies himself as the Messiah, the members of the Sanhedrin convict him of the religious charge of blasphemy, a capital offense under Jewish law.

Since the Romans do not permit the Sanhedrin to carry out a death sentence, the religious court must now seek the sanction of the Roman government, so Jesus' opponents send him to Pilate, the Roman governor. Aware that the charge of blasphemy will likely not impress the unbelieving Pilate, the accusers instead emphasize the political threat Jesus poses to Rome. They portray him as a dangerous revolutionary who has declared himself king of the Jews in defiance of Roman rule.

Pilate's Doubts

Pilate has grave misgivings about the charge, and his wife's premonitions compound his sense of uneasiness. He seeks a way out of his dilemma by referring the case to Herod, the ruler over Jesus' home district, who has come to town for the festival. Herod, disappointed by Jesus' silence and his refusal to perform miracles, ultimately returns the prisoner to Pilate.

As Pilate tries to get the religious leaders to release their prisoner, the fury of the crowd only swells. At last, facing a mob scene, the canny governor gives in, but only after showily washing his hands of innocent blood. Through all these legal proceedings, Jesus maintains an almost unbroken silence.

Pilate seems to recognize, at some level, not only the enormity of the injustice he allows, but also his role in it. (Luke 23:4records that Pilate initially declares Jesus innocent, despite pressure from the crowd.) He eventually has a notice of Jesus' "crime" prepared and fastened to the cross. It reads, in three languages, "JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS" (John 19:20). When the chief priests protest that it should read only that Jesus claimed to be king, Pilate answers, "What I have written, I have written" (John 19:22).

Life Questions

When have you been wrongly punished? How did you respond?

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At Issue - Falling Out of Love

Song of Songs 5:2-8

As a newlywed, you adored your husband and eagerly expressed your love to him. Then the honeymoon ended, and you probably started to take each other for granted. The responsibilities of life weighed you down so that you didn't have the physical or emotional energy you once had to invest in your relationship. Like the woman in this poem, you have come to a crossroads and have a choice: Live with the loss of love or work to find that love again. The woman here passionately pursues her lover as if her life depended on it. Will you?

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