Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Daily Devotional Tuesday 17th April

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Ye are come to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel."
Hebrews 12:24

Reader, have you come to the blood of sprinkling? The question is not whether you have come to a knowledge of doctrine, or an observance of ceremonies, or to a certain form of experience, but have you come to the blood of Jesus? The blood of Jesus is the life of all vital godliness. If you have truly come to Jesus, we know how you came--the Holy Spirit sweetly brought you there. You came to the blood of sprinkling with no merits of your own. Guilty, lost, and helpless, you came to take that blood, and that blood alone, as your everlasting hope. You came to the cross of Christ, with a trembling and an aching heart; and oh! what a precious sound it was to you to hear the voice of the blood of Jesus! The dropping of his blood is as the music of heaven to the penitent sons of earth. We are full of sin, but the Saviour bids us lift our eyes to him, and as we gaze upon his streaming wounds, each drop of blood, as it falls, cries, "It is finished; I have made an end of sin; I have brought in everlasting righteousness." Oh! sweet language of the precious blood of Jesus! If you have come to that blood once, you will come to it constantly. Your life will be "Looking unto Jesus." Your whole conduct will be epitomized in this--"To whom coming." Not to whom I have come, but to whom I am always coming. If thou hast ever come to the blood of sprinkling, thou wilt feel thy need of coming to it every day. He who does not desire to wash in it every day, has never washed in it at all. The believer ever feels it to be his joy and privilege that there is still a fountain opened. Past experiences are doubtful food for Christians; a present coming to Christ alone can give us joy and comfort. This morning let us sprinkle our door-post fresh with blood, and then feast upon the Lamb, assured that the destroying angel must pass us by.

Evening

"We would see Jesus."
John 12:21

Evermore the worldling's cry is, "Who will show us any good?" He seeks satisfaction in earthly comforts, enjoyments, and riches. But the quickened sinner knows of only one good. "O that I knew where I might find Him !" When he is truly awakened to feel his guilt, if you could pour the gold of India at his feet, he would say, "Take it away: I want to find Him." It is a blessed thing for a man, when he has brought his desires into a focus, so that they all centre in one object. When he has fifty different desires, his heart resembles a mire of stagnant water, spread out into a marsh, breeding miasma and pestilence; but when all his desires are brought into one channel, his heart becomes like a river of pure water, running swiftly to fertilize the fields. Happy is he who hath one desire, if that one desire be set on Christ, though it may not yet have been realized. If Jesus be a soul's desire, it is a blessed sign of divine work within. Such a man will never be content with mere ordinances. He will say, "I want Christ; I must have him--mere ordinances are of no use to me; I want himself; do not offer me these; you offer me the empty pitcher, while I am dying of thirst; give me water, or I die. Jesus is my soul's desire. I would see Jesus!"

Is this thy condition, my reader, at this moment? Hast thou but one desire, and is that after Christ? Then thou art not far from the kingdom of heaven. Hast thou but one wish in thy heart, and that one wish that thou mayst be washed from all thy sins in Jesus' blood? Canst thou really say, "I would give all I have to be a Christian; I would give up everything I have and hope for, if I might but feel that I have an interest in Christ?" Then, despite all thy fears, be of good cheer, the Lord loveth thee, and thou shalt come out into daylight soon, and rejoice in the liberty wherewith Christ makes men free.

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 30-31, Luke 13:23-35 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
David Destroys the Amalekites

1 David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, 2 and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way.

3 When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. 5 David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel.6 David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God.

7 Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, 8 and David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?”

“Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”

9 David and the six hundred men with him came to the Besor Valley, where some stayed behind. 10 Two hundred of them were too exhausted to cross the valley, but David and the other four hundred continued the pursuit.

11 They found an Egyptian in a field and brought him to David. They gave him water to drink and food to eat— 12 part of a cake of pressed figs and two cakes of raisins. He ate and was revived, for he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and three nights.

13 David asked him, “Who do you belong to? Where do you come from?”

He said, “I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I became ill three days ago. 14 We raided the Negev of the Kerethites, some territory belonging to Judah and the Negev of Caleb. And we burned Ziklag.”

15 David asked him, “Can you lead me down to this raiding party?”

He answered, “Swear to me before God that you will not kill me or hand me over to my master, and I will take you down to them.”

16 He led David down, and there they were, scattered over the countryside, eating, drinking and reveling because of the great amount of plunder they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from Judah. 17 David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled. 18 David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back. 20 He took all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock, saying, “This is David’s plunder.”

21 Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow him and who were left behind at the Besor Valley. They came out to meet David and the men with him. As David and his men approached, he asked them how they were. 22 But all the evil men and troublemakers among David’s followers said, “Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered. However, each man may take his wife and children and go.”

23 David replied, “No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the LORD has given us. He has protected us and delivered into our hands the raiding party that came against us.24 Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.” 25 David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this.

26 When David reached Ziklag, he sent some of the plunder to the elders of Judah, who were his friends, saying, “Here is a gift for you from the plunder of the LORD’s enemies.”

27 David sent it to those who were in Bethel, Ramoth Negev and Jattir; 28 to those in Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa 29 and Rakal; to those in the towns of the Jerahmeelites and the Kenites; 30 to those in Hormah, Bor Ashan, Athak 31 and Hebron; and to those in all the other places where he and his men had roamed.

1 Samuel 31

Saul Takes His Life

1 Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell dead on Mount Gilboa. 2 The Philistines were in hot pursuit of Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua. 3 The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically.

4 Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.”

But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him.6 So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.

7 When the Israelites along the valley and those across the Jordan saw that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons had died, they abandoned their towns and fled. And the Philistines came and occupied them.

8 The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. 9They cut off his head and stripped off his armor, and they sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news in the temple of their idols and among their people. 10They put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths and fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan.

11 When the people of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all their valiant men marched through the night to Beth Shan. They took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall of Beth Shan and went to Jabesh, where they burned them. 13 Then they took their bones and buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.


Luke 13

23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’

“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’

28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

Jesus’ Sorrow for Jerusalem

31 At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”

32 He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33 In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

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Chloe

Scripture Reference1 Corinthians 1:10, 11

Name Meaning—Green herb

We are not told anything about the background of this Corinthian matron and head of a Christian household. Evidently she was well-known to the Corinthians by her personal name which means “green herb,” and in the Greek represents the first green shoot of plants. Chloe is therefore emblematic of fruitful grace and beauty. It was while he was benefiting from the hospitality of her home that Paul received information of strife among leaders in the Early Church and which he sought to deal with in this first chapter of First Corinthians. The Church at Corinth gave Paul a good deal of concern and heartache because of its low spirituality.

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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!

Abram, Abraham [Ā'brăm,Ā'brăhăm]—the father of a multitude. The original name of the youngest son of Terah was Abram, meaning “father of height.” Abraham was given to him when the promise of a numerous progeny was renewed to him by God (Gen. 11:26; 17:5, 9).

The Man Who Was God’s Friend

Abraham’s place in the Bible’s portrait gallery is altogether unique and unapproachable. He stands out as a landmark in the spiritual history of the world. Chosen of God to become the father of a new spiritual race, the file leader of a mighty host, the revelation of God found in him one of its most important epochs. In himself, there was not much to make him worthy of such a distinction. His choice was all of grace.

Abraham’s life is given us in detail, and we know him as we know few men of the Bible. He was from the great and populous city of Ur, and therefore a Gentile although he became the first Hebrew. He was a rough, simple, venerable Bedouin-like sheep master. He uttered no prophecy, wrote no book, sang no song, gave no laws. Yet in the long list of Bible saints he alone is spoken of as “the father of the faithful” and as “the friend of God” (Isa. 41:8). Let us briefly sketch his story and character.

I. He was born in Ur of the Chaldees, of parents who were heathen. Little is known of him until he was seventy years old, a striking proof that he had yielded himself to God before he left his heathen home for the far-off land of Canaan.

II. He received a distinct revelation from God, and of God, but we are not told how and when. This, however, we do know: He gave up a certainty for an uncertainty and went out not knowing whither he went. Willingly he surrendered the seen for the unseen.

III. He was taught the lesson of patience, of waiting upon the Eternal God. It was many years before the promise of God was fulfilled to him—promises three in number—of a country , Canaan; of posterity, as the stars of heaven; of a spiritual seed, through whom all the families of the earth would be blessed.

IV. He believed as he waited. His soul fed upon the promises of God. He believed God in the face of long delay and also amid difficulties that seemed insuperable. This is why he is called “the father of all them that believe.”

V. He was renowned for his active, working, living faith (Gen. 15:6). Abraham believed in God and it was counted to him for righteousness.

VI. He was subject to failures. His character, like the sun, had its spots. Abraham’s conduct to Hagar on two occasions, in sending her away, is painful to remember. Then his departure from Canaan into Egypt when the famine was on was surely not an act of faith. The falsehood which on two occasions he told with regard to Sarah his wife gives us a glimpse into a natural character somewhat cowardly, deceitful and distrustful (Gen. 12:19; 20:2).

VII. He was called to offer up special sacrifices. The first is fully described in Genesis fifteen, where the five victims offered in sacrifice to God were symbolic and typical of the whole Mosaic economy to come. Then we have the offering up of Isaac, an act of faith on Abraham’s part and yet a trial of faith (Gen. 22 ). What a demand God made! But Abraham did not withhold his only son of promise. What God wanted was Abraham’s heart, not Isaac’s life. So when the knife was raised to slay Isaac, a provided substitute appeared. After this sacrifice Abraham received the testimony that he had pleased God.

The Bible offers us many types of Christ, Isaac being one of the chiefest, but Abraham is the only type in Scripture of God the Father. Abraham so loved God as to give up his only son, and centuries before Christ was born entered into the inner heart of John 3:16 . After serving God faithfully, Abraham died when 175 years of age.

There are many profitable lessons to be gleaned from the biography of this notable man of God:

Faith has always trials. Being a Christian does not mean that trial is impossible or unnecessary. The greater the faith, the greater the trial.

Faith shines through the cloud. How the patience and meekness of Jesus are manifest through His trials! Take away Abraham’s trials and where is his faith? Faith must be tried, in order that faith may live.

Faith in spite of trial glorifies God . Abraham’s story is written in tears and blood, but how God was glorified by his trials of faith! Abraham’s obedience of faith earned him the honor, “Abraham My friend!” Truly, there is no greater rank or greater honor than to be described thus. Yet such is our privilege if ours is the obedience of faith, for did not Jesus say, “I have called you friends”? He also said, “Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

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April 16, 2012
Feeling Empty?
Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth
"Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, poured into your lap. For the measure you use, it will be measured to you," (Luke 6:38 NIV).

Friend to Friend
A sign was posted on a telephone pole by the grocery store: LOST DOG with three legs, blind in left eye, missing right ear, tail broken and recently castrated. Answers to the name of "Lucky!"

Perhaps as you've had times in your life when you've felt about that lucky! You've wondered how you can help someone else or encourage someone else when you feel so empty.

There was a woman in the Bible who knows just how you feel. She also felt that she had nothing left to give, but God showed her how to get filled up. The story is found in 1 Kings Chapter 17.

Elijah was a good prophet who gave some bad news to a king named Ahab: "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word." God knew that news would not go over very well with the King, so He told Elijah to flee eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine east of the Jordan. For several months, Elijah drank from the brook and ate bread and meat delivered by ravens that God miraculously provided. (Talk about fast food!) Only Kings could afford to eat meat every day, and God provided the very best for his servant.

Sometime later, the brook dried up. Now if God could supply meat and bread every day, He could have easily provided water. But God had a different idea. He sent Elijah to Zarepath to a Gentile widow who needed a miracle in her life.

Elijah did as the LORD said and traveled to this widow's home. But he didn't find a woman with abundance ready to provide sustenance. No, what he found was a widow who had given up on life and felt as though she had nothing left to give. When he arrived, she was stooping to the ground picking up sticks and placing them in a bundle.

"Excuse me," Elijah called, "could you please bring me a cup of water?"

As she turned to get the traveler a cup to quench his thirst, he continued. "Oh, and can you bring me a piece of bread?"

With this request, I imagine the woman sarcastically grumbled. And would you like a lamb chop to go along with it?

"I don't have any bread – only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug," she said. "I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it – and die" (1 Kings 17:12).

Now that was a discouraged woman! But Elijah had good news for her.

"Don't be afraid," Elijah said. "Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.'"

She went away and did what Elijah had told her.

Can't you just see this woman taking the last bit of flour and oil to make Elijah a meal? What difference does it make? I'm going to die anyway? So what if it's one day early?

She took the last bit of flour and oil, made and delivered Elijah a little cake, and returned home. As she goes to wash the dirty dishes, she picks up the jar and the jug and her senses are jostled! The jar is full of flour and the jug is to the brim with oil. She was an empty woman, but as she took what little she had to offer encouragement to another, God filled her up.

Jesus said, "Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, poured into your lap. For the measure you use, it will be measured to you," (Luke 6:38). When you give to others, reach out to others, pour into the lives of others, God is standing by ready to fill you up.
So if you are feeling empty today, here's a suggestion: give to someone else. Encourage a co-worker. Help a struggling friend. Minister to a homeless person. Open the door for a stranger.

What happened to the woman from Zarephath? "For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah" (1 Kings 17:16).

Let's Pray
LORD, I feel pretty empty today. But I'm going to get my focus off of myself and onto someone else. Show me someone who needs a helping hand or an encouraging word today. Help me to use a big measuring cup as I pour out Your love on others today.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Now It's Your Turn
I encourage you to go back and read 1 Kings 17 today. It is a great story!

Then make a list of 5 ways you can bless someone else today.

I'd love to hear how God filled you up after you poured out. Please visit my blog page at www.sharonjaynes.com, look for this blog entry, and tell me what happened!

More from the Girlfriends
One way to get filled up when you're feeling empty is by reading inspiration devotions. That's why we're here. I've compiled a book titled Listening to God Day-by-Day with 100 of my favorite devotions. You can check it out atwww.sharonjaynes.com. Read a sample chapter or watch the introductory video while you're there!

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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T. Suzanne Eller

April 16, 2012

Swim Lessons
T. Suzanne Eller

"But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. 'Save me, Lord!' he shouted."Matthew 14:30 (NLT)

When I was a little girl my father decided it was time for me to learn to swim. He took me by an arm and leg and swung me high. I landed in the water with a splash, popping my small head up like a turtle, coughing and sputtering. Somehow I dog-paddled to the side.

It was the way his father taught him to swim, and the way he thought it best to teach me. Personally, I believe a pair of floaties would have been helpful.

Perhaps Peter felt the same way in Matthew 14. The waves were rocking from an impending storm, when suddenly Peter saw someone walking toward him on the water. The other men were terrified, but Peter leaned in closer.

It was Jesus!

"Don't be afraid," Jesus called out.

"If it's You, tell me to come to You," Peter replied.

"Come," Jesus said.

With a leap, Peter flew out of the boat. Within seconds reality hit. Peter couldn't walk on water, much less swim in the cascading waves. In terror he cried out, "Save me." Jesus reached out His hand and caught him, and together they made their way to safety.

Many times the focus on this story is on Peter's fear. But what about his faith? Peter wasn't certain of his own abilities. He wasn't sure how to overcome the waves. He simply jumped because Jesus bid him "come."

There are times in my own life that I have heard my Savior call, "Come!"

Trust Me in this.

Don't look at the waves; look at Me.

I'm not going to let you sink.

And I am afraid. I am aware of my limitations. I see the challenges, and experience the obstacles once I'm in the water. Yet the end result is less about my ability or whether I "walk on water" successfully, but how I respond to His call.

The difference between my earthly father (who I treasure in spite of throwing me in a lake), and my Heavenly Daddy, is that I am never left to dog-paddle alone to shore. Jesus is right there with me. To teach me. To help me through the rougher waves. To remind me of Who to trust when I feel ill-equipped.

Perhaps you feel Jesus calling you to a swim lesson. To go deeper in your relationships. In your faith. In ministry. Perhaps to discover a new level of trust as you move out of the "boat."

Jump!

He's there, His arms open wide. He's your Savior, and He knows exactly what His girl can do with a swim lesson or two.

Dear Lord, I feel You calling me to deeper waters. I've held back out of fear. Help me to take my eyes off the obstacles and place my focus on You. Thank You for swim lessons that allow me to reach for Your strong arms and trust in Your plan. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Would you like to bring the message of this devotion to the women of your church? Click here to find out more about considering Suzanne Eller as your next retreat / key note speaker.

Visit Suzie's blog where she shares what to do when you feel that you are sinking.

What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

Join Suzie in her Live Free Facebook community to find daily encouragement on how to live free and trust God.

When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We wish we could, but we simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you!

Reflect and Respond:
Trust isn't impetuous: Peter asked Jesus to confirm that it was Him. If you feel God calling you, pray. Listen for His voice.

Trust is not a reaction, but rather a response: Peter wasn't trying to prove anything to the guys in the boat or even to himself; he simply obeyed.

Trust isn't about success: Peter was afraid. He floundered. But He also learned a powerful lesson, how to reach for Jesus in the waves. How many times did this "swim lesson" prove valuable throughout his life?

What is one swim lesson Jesus is teaching you right now?

Power Verses:
Isaiah 41:13, "For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." (NIV)

Isaiah 43:2a, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you." (NIV)

© 2012 by T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.

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

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Relationships: Servant Leadership Week 1

READ JOHN 13:1-17

Pat Riley, the outstanding NBA coach, wrote about the "danger of me." He said, "The most difficult thing for individuals to do when they're part of the team is to sacrifice. It's so easy to become selfish in a team environment. To play for me. It's very vulnerable to drop your guard and say, 'This is who I am and I'm gonna open up and give of myself to you.' But that's exactly what you've got to do. Willingness to sacrifice is the great paradox. You must give up something in the immediate present-comfort, ease, recognition, quick rewards-to attract something even better in the future".*

What's true on the basketball court is true in all of life. Serving others can be tough; expending your energies and resources in the interest of others can be exhausting. Yet the most effective leaders are servants. Nobody demonstrated this better than Jesus on the night prior to his crucifixion. Alone with his disciples in a room in Jerusalem, Jesus did the unthinkable. When there was no servant to carry out the custom of foot washing, Jesus assumed the role. The Master became the servant. The greatest and most high became the least and the lowest.

Jesus was able to do this because he was secure in himself. He knew who he was and where he was going (v. 1). But Jesus also served his disciples because he loved them (v. 1). While these two reasons would be adequate in and of themselves, the Lord had another reason for his actions. When he had finished washing the disciples' feet, Jesus told them, "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you" (v. 15). The Lord didn't tell them to do "what" he had done. He commanded them to do "as" he had done. They weren't to become fulltime foot-washers, but rather full-time servers of men and women. They were to be servant leaders.

Are you a follower of Jesus? Do you desire to be his disciple? Make a commitment to do as he did and expend your energies in service to others.

Why are we so impressed with what Jesus did?

Why is it so hard to be a servant leader? How can you follow the Lord's example? Read Isaiah 53 to gain additional insights into the character of Jesus as a servant leader. *Reprinted by permission of The Putnam Publishing Group from The Winner Within by Pat Riley. Copyright © 1993 by Riles and Company, Inc.

Servant Leadership and Who God Is

More often than not, leadership skills are used in the service of personal gain and career advancement rather than in service to others. Yet God himself demonstrated through the life and ministry of his Son that leadership is intended for use in an other-centered way. Turn to Isaiah 52:13-53:12 to examine the mission of the Suffering Servant.

This Week's Verse to Memorize 1 SAMUEL 12:24

"But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you."

Servant Leadership and Who I Am

At some point in the future, every knee will bow at the name of Jesus. Yet he came to earth in the form of a servant, and he expects those who serve him in this world to express that service to him through their ministry to others. Turn to Mark 9:33-37 for a contrast between leadership as seen by the world and by the Word.

Servant Leadership and How It Works

The concept of servant leadership has recently become very popular, but it is by no means new. Jesus required it as a foundational character trait of any who would follow him. But he didn't merely talk about it; he was-and is-its ultimate model. Now, as when he walked on earth, Jesus serves those he leads. Revelation 5:1-14 provides essential teaching for those who desire to lead by serving.

Servant Leadership and What I Do

How many days of study would be required to exhaust the Biblical material depicting Jesus as a model for servant leadership? More than we have available to us here. But we will invest one additional day learning from the Master about this crucial leadership topic. Turn to Hebrews 4:14-16.


jesusexperimentpaddedhandbookleadership150Handbook to Leadership: Leadership in the Image of God
by Kenneth Boa
Buy the Handbook!
The Handbook to Leadership includes: 52-Week Leadership Guide, Topical Leadership Guide, Leadership Character Studies, and Books of the Bible Leadership Guide.
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What Is the Gospel?

Acts 20:24 "I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course...that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God" ( v. 24).

Since Jesus' proclamation of the Gospel involved telling people that "the kingdom of God is at hand" (Mark 1:14-15), His commissioning of the disciples to preach the same message inMatthew 10:1-15 gives us a chance to consider the Gospel and the church's spread of it in missions and evangelism. For a better understanding of Scripture's instruction on these topics, we will look at the biblical data using Dr. R.C. Sproul's teaching series Evangelism and Missions.

Today we will seek to define the Gospel, which is what evangelism is all about. Our English term gospel comes from the Greek word euangelion, which literally means "good news." In the secular Greek culture of the first century, one who delivered euangelion might be speaking of the birth of a royal heir, a victory in battle, or news about an electoral victory. The New Testament reclaims the common use of this word and invests it with divine revelation, making the Christian Gospel the most important news anyone will ever hear.

As we have said, Jesus in Mark 1:14-15 teaches that the Gospel's core message concerns God's kingdom, that place where His saving reign is most powerfully evident among His people. The Old Testament eagerly anticipates the inbreaking of this kingdom. When the Israelites were exiled from the Holy Land and our Creator left the temple on Mount Zion, the people of God wondered if the divine glory would ever return (Ps. 137). Yahweh spoke to His nation through Isaiah, promising them that one day He would cleanse His people of their sin, restore them to their rightful place as lords over the world, and make His salvation known to the ends of the earth (52:1-12).

Isaiah also promised that this kingdom would only come through the vicarious death of the son of David, who would bear the wrath of God against the sins of His people (52:13-53:12). Therefore, the Gospel message not only proclaims the nature of the kingdom, it also declares that trusting in Christ's life, death, and resurrection for sinners is the only way to enter God's kingdom (John 14:6; Rom. 1:1-6 ). If the Gospel is about the kingdom, it is about Jesus, for without Him there is no escape from the Father's just condemnation.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

There have been many attempts in church history to change the meaning of the biblical Gospel. Some have tried to add works as a ground for justification. Others have eliminated the wrath of the Creator and our need to be holy in His sight, reducing the Gospel to its social implications alone. However, as the Gospel is from God Himself (Rom. 1:1), we are not free to change it. Meditate on Galatians 3 today that you might know and proclaim God's Gospel.

For further study:

Jonah 3

The Bible in a year:

2 Samuel 4-5

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

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

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The great liberator

‘If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.’ John 8:36

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 8:12–17

If you are free, then remember that you have changed your lodging-place , for the slave and the son sleep not in the same room of the house. The things which satisfied you when a slave will not satisfy you now. You wear a garment which a slave may never wear, and you feel an instinct within you which the slave can never feel. There is an Abba, Father cry in you, which was not there once. Is it so? If you are free you live not as you used to do . You go not to the slave’s work, you have not now to toil and sweat to earn the wages of sin which is death, but now as a son serves his father, you do a son’s work and you expect to receive a son’s reward, for the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. One thing I know, if you are free, then you are thinking about setting others free; and if you have no zeal for the emancipation of other men, you are a slave yourself. If you are free you hate all sorts of chains , all sorts of sin, and you will never willingly put on the fetters any more. You live each day, crying unto him who made you free at first, to hold you up that you fall not into the snare. If you are free, this is not the world for you; this is the land of slaves; this is the world of bondage. If you are free, your heart has gone to heaven, the land of the free. If you are free today, your spirit is longing for the time when you shall see the great liberator face to face. If you are free, you will bide your time until he calls you; but when he says, ‘Friend, come up hither,’ you will fearlessly mount to the upper spheres, and sin shall be no hindrance to your advent to his glory.

For meditation: Men can promise freedom and deliver the opposite (2 Peter 2:19); Christ can actually free us from sin and from sinning (Romans 6:18,22; 8:2). The Christian should not return to slavery ( Galatians 5:1), but say with the Psalmist ‘I walk at liberty’ (Psalm 119:45).

N.B. Spurgeon began this sermon by referring to the visit of Garibaldi, the Italian patriot and liberator, to England (3–27 April 1864).

Sermon no. 565
17 April (1864)

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What Is the Gospel?

Acts 20:24

There have been many attempts in church history to change the meaning of the biblical Gospel. Some have tried to add works as a ground for justification. Others have eliminated the wrath of the Creator and our need to be holy in His sight, reducing the Gospel to its social implications alone. However, as the Gospel is from God Himself (Rom. 1:1), we are not free to change it. Meditate on Galatians 3 today that you might know and proclaim God's Gospel.

For further study:

Jonah 3

The Bible in a year:

2 Samuel 4-5

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

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

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Little sins

“Is it not a little one?” Genesis 19:20

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 2:1-11

There is a deep pit, and the soul is falling down,—oh how fast it is falling! There! The last ray of light at the top has disappeared, and it falls on and on and on, and so it goes on falling—on and on and on—for a thousand years! “Is it not getting near the bottom yet? No, you are no nearer the bottom yet: it is the “bottomless pit;” it is on and on and on, and so the soul goes on falling, perpetually, into a deeper depth still, falling for ever into the “bottomless pit” and on and on and on, into the pit that has no bottom! Woe without termination, without hope of coming to a conclusion. The same dreadful idea is contained in those words, “The wrath to come.” Notice, hell is always “the wrath to come.” If a man has been in hell a thousand years, it is still “to come.” What you have suffered in the past is as nothing, in the dread account, for still the wrath is “to come.” And when the world has grown grey with age, and the fires of the sun are quenched in darkness, it is still “the wrath to come.” And when other worlds have sprung up, and have turned into their palsied age, it is still “the wrath to come.” And when your soul, burnt through and through with anguish, sighs at last to be annihilated, even then this awful thunder shall be heard, “the wrath to come—to come—to come.” Oh, what an idea! I know not how to utter it! And yet for little sins, remember you incur “the wrath to come.”

For meditation: This shocking description can give only a faint idea of the just punishment of our sins. Are you trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ to deliver you from the wrath to come? He is able to do it because he suffered the wrath of his loving heavenly Father on the cross (Romans 5:9;

1 Thessalonians 1:10).

“We may not know, we cannot tell, What pains He had to bear;
But we believe it was for us, He hung and suffered there.”

Do you?

Sermon no. 248
17 April (1859)

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The Strongest Love

Song of Songs 8:1-7

From Romeo and Juliet to the movie Titanic, books, films and stories tell us that there is a love that is great enough to die for. Many women would say their greatest earthly desire is for true intimacy with a man-not a vague commitment or wishy-washy affection. Some might say they want a love worth dying for. Maybe you feel the same way. In fact, if you are honest, on many days you long more for the affirmation and passion of a husband or boyfriend than you ache for the love of God.

God is love-even your desire for love points to him as the source of all love. The love between a man and a woman is a beautiful reflection of God's love, but you only desire that kind of love because God has placed that desire in you.

The Song of Songs presents a picture of love between a man and a woman that reflects the love of God. God doesn't love you at a distance or remember you as an afterthought. Look at the words used to express his love: seal, strong, unyielding, blazing and unquenchable. He loves everything about you, the way you walk, talk, laugh and brush your hair. He loves you in more ways than you can ever know because he knows you through and through. He knows your thoughts, when you sit, when you rise and when you lie down (see Psalm 139).

God wants you to believe that he loves you! He doesn't put conditions on his love. He only asks that you respond to his love: "Place me like a seal over your heart." Imagine God saying to you, "I love you so much that I want to be with you intimately, at all times." God loves you with the strongest love imaginable-a love that is as strong as death. In fact, he proved his love through Christ's sacrifice on the cross. This ultimate gift showed us that his love for us was, in fact, a love worth dying for.

Reflection

  1. What keeps you from believing and fully accepting God's love?
  2. How would your thoughts and actions be different this week if you fully believed that God loved you?
  3. Read Psalm 139. Memorize as much of it as you can. How does it change your view of yourself to realize how intimately God knows you and loves you?

Song of Songs 8:6
Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.

Related Readings

Psalm 136:1-26; Ephesians 3:14-19; 1 John 4:7-12

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NIV Devotions for Moms

Permission to Rest

Mark 1:32-35

Additional Scripture Readings: Psalm 46:10; Zechariah 2:13

Many of us tend to believe that the answer to our problems is to work harder, push further and achieve more. When was the last time we gave ourselves permission to rest?

Jesus shows us the reality of how to balance hard work and intense rest. In Mark 1:32-34 , after Jesus had healed Peter's mother-in-law and had driven out an evil spirit from a man in the synagogue, he met all the people of the town, healing many and driving out demons. These "extra" events probably took him the better part of the night. No one could accuse Jesus of kicking back on the job.

But look at the other side of the story. The very next morning Jesus got up early and went away to pray, to be alone and away from the demands of the ministry.

And what about us? We all need rest. We need to occasionally sit down with a cup of tea and ignore the chaos around us. We need to hand over the little ones to our husbands and go for a walk. Don't believe the lie that overwork works. Believe Jesus.

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