Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Daily Devotional Wednesday 11th April

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint."
Psalm 22:14

Did earth or heaven ever behold a sadder spectacle of woe! In soul and body, our Lord felt himself to be weak as water poured upon the ground. The placing of the cross in its socket had shaken him with great violence, had strained all the ligaments, pained every nerve, and more or less dislocated all his bones. Burdened with his own weight, the august sufferer felt the strain increasing every moment of those six long hours. His sense of faintness and general weakness were overpowering; while to his own consciousness he became nothing but a mass of misery and swooning sickness. When Daniel saw the great vision, he thus describes his sensations, "There remained no strength in me, for my vigour was turned into corruption, and I retained no strength:" how much more faint must have been our greater Prophet when he saw the dread vision of the wrath of God, and felt it in his own soul! To us, sensations such as our Lord endured would have been insupportable, and kind unconsciousness would have come to our rescue; but in his case, he was wounded, and felt the sword; he drained the cup and tasted every drop.

"O King of Grief! (a title strange, yet true

To thee of all kings only due)

O King of Wounds! how shall I grieve for thee,

Who in all grief preventest me!"

As we kneel before our now ascended Saviour's throne, let us remember well the way by which he prepared it as a throne of grace for us; let us in spirit drink of his cup, that we may be strengthened for our hour of heaviness whenever it may come. In his natural body every member suffered, and so must it be in the spiritual; but as out of all his griefs and woes his body came forth uninjured to glory and power, even so shall his mystical body come through the furnace with not so much as the smell of fire upon it.

Evening

"Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins."
Psalm 25:18

It is well for us when prayers about our sorrows are linked with pleas concerning our sins--when, being under God's hand, we are not wholly taken up with our pain, but remember our offences against God. It is well, also, to take both sorrow and sin to the same place. It was to God that David carried his sorrow: it was to God that David confessed his sin. Observe, then, we must take our sorrows to God. Even your little sorrows you may roll upon God, for he counteth the hairs of your head; and your great sorrows you may commit to him, for he holdeth the ocean in the hollow of his hand. Go to him, whatever your present trouble may be, and you shall find him able and willing to relieve you. But we must take our sins to God too. We must carry them to the cross, that the blood may fall upon them, to purge away their guilt, and to destroy their defiling power.

The special lesson of the text is this:--that we are to go to the Lord with sorrows and with sins in the right spirit. Note that all David asks concerning his sorrow is, "Look upon mine affliction and my pain;" but the next petition is vastly more express, definite, decided, plain--"Forgive all my sins." Many sufferers would have put it, "Remove my affliction and my pain, and look at my sins." But David does not say so; he cries, "Lord, as for my affliction and my pain, I will not dictate to thy wisdom. Lord, look at them, I will leave them to thee, I should be glad to have my pain removed, but do as thou wilt; but as for my sins, Lord, I know what I want with them; I must have them forgiven; I cannot endure to lie under their curse for a moment." A Christian counts sorrow lighter in the scale than sin; he can bear that his troubles should continue, but he cannot support the burden of his transgressions.

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Today's reading: 1 Samuel 15-16, Luke 10:25-42 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
The LORD Rejects Saul as King

1 Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the LORD. 2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”

4 So Saul summoned the men and mustered them at Telaim—two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand from Judah. 5 Saul went to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the ravine. 6 Then he said to the Kenites, “Go away, leave the Amalekites so that I do not destroy you along with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites moved away from the Amalekites.

7 Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt. 8 He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. 9 But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.

10 Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the LORD all that night.

12 Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.”

13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD’s instructions.”

14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”

15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”

16 “Enough!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night.”

“Tell me,” Saul replied.

17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?”

20 “But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.”

22 But Samuel replied:

“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
he has rejected you as king.”

24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the LORD’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. 25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD.”

26 But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over Israel!”

27 As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. 28 Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. 29 He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.”

30 Saul replied, “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD your God.” 31 So Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshiped the LORD.

32 Then Samuel said, “Bring me Agag king of the Amalekites.”

Agag came to him in chains. And he thought, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.”

33 But Samuel said,

“As your sword has made women childless,
so will your mother be childless among women.”

And Samuel put Agag to death before the LORD at Gilgal.

34 Then Samuel left for Ramah, but Saul went up to his home in Gibeah of Saul. 35 Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the LORD regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.

1 Samuel 16

Samuel Anoints David

1 The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

2 But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”

The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”

4 Samuel did what the LORD said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?”

5 Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.”

7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” 9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the LORD chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.

Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.

David in Saul’s Service

14 Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.

15 Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.”

17 So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”

18 One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him.”

19 Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” 20 So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.

21 David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. 22Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.”

23 Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.


Luke 10

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

At the Home of Martha and Mary

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

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Ahab [Ā'hăb]—father’s brother.

1. The son of Omri, and his successor as the seventh king of Israel (1 Kings 16:28-33).

The Man Who Wanted Another’s Vineyard

Ahab was an able and energetic warrior. His victories over the Syrians pushed the borders of his kingdom to the border of Damascus. Great renown became his, also great wealth indicated by the ivory palace he built for himself ( 1 Kings 21:1; 22:39 ). Success, however, made him greedy for still more. Not since Solomon’s time had a king been so victorious as Ahab, and what was a little matter like Naboth’s vineyard to one who had grasped so much? With his wealth, Ahab bought all he wanted. One tenant, however, could not be bought out. Sentiment, affection and tender memories were more to Naboth than all the king’s money.

Ahab could not say “All is mine” until the vineyard on his estate was his. First of all, there was no flaw in Ahab’s advances. A fair price and richer land were offered Naboth. The sin came after Naboth’s refusal to sell, because of a thousand sacred ties. Ahab sinned in not entering into a poorer man’s feelings. Naboth was not obstinate. His vineyard was a sacred heritage, a precious tradition. If we are to be Christlike we must be considerate of others.

Ahab’s next fault was that of making an awful grievance of his disappointment. He acted like a spoiled child and in a sulky fit told of failure to secure the vineyard to Jezebel, his strong-minded wife. Ahab and Jezebel are the Macbeth and Lady Macbeth of this inspired story. Ahab played into his wife’s hands, and those hands were eager to shed blood.

Points for possible expansion are:

I. Ahab established idolatry. He was a dangerous innovator and a patron of foreign gods ( 1 Kings 16:31-33; 21:26).

II. He was a weak-minded man, lacking moral fiber and righteousness (1 Kings 21:4).

III. He was the tool of his cruel, avaricious wife ( 1 Kings 21:7,25).

IV. His doom, along with that of Jezebel, was foretold by Elijah (1 Kings 21:22) and by Micaiah (1 Kings 22:28).

2. The name of the false prophet who was in Babylon during the exile, and was roasted in the fire by Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 29:21-23).

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Blind Eyes Are Opened

Matthew 9:27-31 "As Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, 'Have mercy on us, Son of David'" (v. 27).

News of Jesus' raising of Jairus' daughter to life spreads quickly throughout the region of Capernaum after Christ touches her hand and performs the miracle (Matt. 9:25-26). Consequently, He is not able to get very far away from the synagogue ruler's home before some more needy people seek Him out. In today's passage, two blind men beg the "son of David" for mercy (v. 27).

Blindness in Jesus' day was a common ailment in the Middle East and created all sorts of religious hurdles for its victims. No son of Aaron with a defect in his sight could offer up the bread of God (Lev. 21:16-21). Devotional writings - not Scripture - found among the Dead Sea Scrolls prohibited blind men from entering Jerusalem. Since God sometimes blinded His enemies in the Old Testament (Gen. 19:1-11 ), many first-century Jews believed personal sin and blindness were linked directly. The blind were frowned upon and routinely suffered poverty and rejection. In John 9:1-3, however, Christ teaches that blindness does not necessarily result from transgression, and, as we will see, He is faithful to the Mosaic law's directives for compassion on the blind (Lev. 19:14; Deut. 27:18).

The two blind men address our Savior as the "son of David" (Matt. 9:27), because they understand the true identity of this Galilean carpenter. Restoring sight to the blind is among the Messiah's tasks in Isaiah 42:1-9 , and in using the messianic title "son of David," the men express hope that Jesus is the Anointed One who will enable them to see. Notably, Solomon, whom Jewish tradition at the time calls a great miracle-worker, is the only king with the title "son of David" in the Old Testament (Prov. 1:1). Viewing Jesus' power through the extrabiblical legends of their day, these men likely see Him as a new and better Solomon, David's greatest son, who will never lose His kingdom ( 2 Sam. 7:1-13).

When the blind men enter the house with Jesus, our Lord has them confirm their belief that He is able to heal them. Like others before them, they are healed (Matt. 9:27-31) because their faith, according to John Calvin, "embraces the mercy and fatherly love of God along with his power, and the generous design of Christ along with his ability to save."

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

The close connection of Jesus' miracles to His work of bearing the sins of His people (Matt. 8:17) has led many commentators to look at His miraculous healings not only as real events but also as metaphors for what happens to us when Christ touches us spiritually. Even if we have never suffered physical blindness, none of us could see the Lord until the Holy Spirit opened our eyes. Pray that He would do the same for an unbelieving friend or family member.

For further study:

Isaiah 29:17-24

The Bible in a year:

1 Samuel 20-21

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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April 10, 2012
You'll Meet An Old Lady One Day
Sharon Jaynes

Today's Truth
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control," (Galatians 5:22 NIV).

Friend to Friend
One of my favorite books I have written is The Power of a Woman's Words.One of my favorite sentences in this favorite book is, "Our words become the mirrors in which other people see themselves." That is a huge responsibility and a powerful privilege.

At the very end of the book, I included a piece that someone passed along to me, and I want to pass it along to you today. I think about it often and pray about it frequently. Let me know what you think.

You are going to meet an old lady someday. Down the road, ten, twenty, thirty years; she's waiting for you. You will catch up to her. What kind of old lady are you going to meet?

She may be a seasoned, soft and gracious lady. A lady who has gown old gracefully, surrounded by a host of friends – friends who call her blessed because of what her life has meant to them. She may be a bitter, disillusioned, dried-up cynical old buzzard, without a good word for anyone or anything – soured, friendless, alone. The kind of old lady you will meet will depend entirely upon you.

She will be exactly what you make of her, nothing more, nothing less. It is up to you. You will have no one else to credit or blame. Every day, in every way, you are becoming more and more like that old lady. You are getting to look more like her, think more like her and talk more like her. You are becoming her. If you live only in terms of what you are getting out of life, the old lady gets smaller, drier, harder, crabbier, more self-centered. Open your life to others. Think in terms of what you can give and you contribution to life, and the old lady grows larger, softer, kinder, greater.

These little things, seemingly so unimportant now – attitudes, goals, ambitions, desires – are adding up inside where you cannot see them, crystallizing in your heart and mind. The point is these things don't always show up immediately. But they will – sooner than you think. Some day they will harden into that old lady; nothing will be able to soften or change them then.

The time to take care of that old lady is right now, today. Examine your motives, attitudes, goals. Check up on her. Work her over now while she is still pliable, still in a formative condition. Then you will be much more likely to meet a lovely, gracious old lady at the proper time.

So, tell me what you think.

Let's Pray
Father, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight today. Help me to be the woman that You created me to be.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Now It's Your Turn
Go back and look at today's truth. Which one of the fruits of the Spirit do you need to fertilize with prayer to make it grow in your life?

More from the Girlfriends
I wouldn't call it a "spoiler," but you did get to read the very end of Sharon's book, The Power of a Woman's Words.If you'd like to learn more about how to be a woman who speaks life into those around her, and "work over" that woman that you will one day become, then check it out on her website, www.sharonjaynes.com. You can also download a free chapter and watch an introductory video. And don't forget to check out all the free resources!

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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Karen Ehman

April 10, 2012

I Gotta Die
Karen Ehman

"[I assure you] by the pride which I have in you in [your fellowship and union with] Christ Jesus our Lord, that I die daily [I face death every day and die to self]." 1 Corinthians 15:31 (AMP)

My 14-year-old son has a fondness for iPod games; ones where a creature has to jump, twist, dodge and dart in an effort to stay alive. Often he plays them on our short commute to school each morning.

As we drive, we go over pick-up instructions. (At the middle school after wrestling practice? Or at the high school if there is optional weight-lifting that day? And what time?)

I also give my "Be sure your sins will find you out" lecture that my own sweet mama often gave me.

The man cub just keeps playing his game, acting as if he's not listening. But I know he is.

Often, when jockeying for position in the parental carpool line, I will inform my boy it's time to get out of the vehicle. Usually, still engaged in the game he will utter the same phrase to me, "Hang on a second. I gotta die."

As in, "I'm still finishing this round. I don't want to power off just yet. Let my character finish this round until it dies. Then I will get out of the car."

As he uttered it this morning, it spoke to my soul.

As a follower of Christ, I am to die to self. But so often, I do not. I elevate self. I promote self. I think little of the other person and much of me.

But before I react ... before I hurl a harsh word ... before I pass judgment or speak unkindly to my husband or snap at my child, perhaps I need to take a deep breath ...

To pause and ponder ...

To say in a spiritual sense, "Hang on a second. I gotta die."

Die to self.

Die to flesh.

Die to my "rights" that often result in my acting wrongly.

Yes, Paul said it best in today's key verse, "I die daily."

Does this mean in everything?

So often when we think of Jesus' admonition that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend, we think of the dramatic ways that might happen. We might jump in front of a car in order to get our friend out of harm's way. A soldier might willingly give up his life on the battlefield.

But what if it also means that we learn to die to self in the every day details of life? In my interactions with others, especially those within my own family? These daily, hourly and even moment-by-moment decisions sometimes seem difficult!

And, if trying in our own strength, they will also be impossible. It is at these junctures that we must draw deep from the power the Holy Spirit offers and let His proper response over-ride our natural and sinful one.

So, the next time we want to react in a way to another person that won't please God, let's remember my game-lovin' man cub. And before we speak, let's take a deep breath; a pause that centers our heart, snaps our soul to attention and gently declares ...

Hang on a second. I gotta die.

Dear Lord, may I purpose to die daily. To both act and react in a way that pleases You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Karen's blog for the Five Snap-Proofing Scriptures to memorize to help you to die to self when instead you want to snap at others. Also, be sure to enter her Bible Memory Basket giveaway.

Would you like to bring a life-changing message to the women of your church? Click here to find out more about considering Karen Ehman as your next retreat or keynote speaker.

Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst

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:
Why is it so difficult, when our anger begins to well up, to pause before we pounce?

Was there a time when you delayed before snapping at someone? What was the outcome?

Power Verse:
Psalm 139:4, "Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether." (ESV)

© 2012 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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

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Blind Eyes Are Opened

Matthew 9:27-31

The close connection of Jesus' miracles to His work of bearing the sins of His people (Matt. 8:17 ) has led many commentators to look at His miraculous healings not only as real events but also as metaphors for what happens to us when Christ touches us spiritually. Even if we have never suffered physical blindness, none of us could see the Lord until the Holy Spirit opened our eyes. Pray that He would do the same for an unbelieving friend or family member.

For further study:

Isaiah 29:17-24

The Bible in a year:

1 Samuel 20-21

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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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)

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Exposition of the doctrines of grace (1. Opening of proceedings)

Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:17–2:5

It is a fact that the system of doctrines called Calvinism is soexceedingly simple and so readily learned, that as a system of divinity it is more easily taught and more easily grasped by unlettered minds than any other. The poor have the gospel preached to them in a style which assists their memories and commends itself to their judgments. It is a system which was practically acknowledged on high philosophic grounds by such men as Bacon and Newton, and yet it can charm the soul of a child. And then it has another virtue. I take it that the last is no mean one, but it has another—that when it is preached, there is a something in it which excites thought . A man may hear sermons upon the other theory which shall glance over him as the swallow’s wing gently sweeps the brook, but these old doctrines either make a man so angry that he goes home and cannot sleep for very hatred, or else they bring him down into lowliness of thought, feeling the immensity of the things which he has heard. Either way it excites and stirs him up not temporarily, but in a most lasting manner. These doctrines haunt him, he kicks against the goads, and full often the word forces a way into his soul. And I think this is no small thing for any doctrine to do, in an age given to slumber, and with human hearts so indifferent to the truth of God. I know that many men have gained much good by being made angry under a sermon than by being pleased by it, for being angry they have turned the truth over and over again, and at last the truth has burned its way right into their hearts.

For meditation: Gospel truths have always provoked joyful acceptance or bitter opposition (Acts 8:1–8;39; 9:1–2;13:45,48); but the most zealous opponents of the Gospel can be saved (Acts 9:21–22). The most fearful cases are those who can hear the Word of God comfortably and remain unmoved one way or the other (Ezekiel 33:30–33 ); among them are people who sit through sermons about hell and the judgement of God and then tell the preacher how much they ‘enjoyed the nice message.’ What effect do these daily readings have upon you?

Part of nos. 385–8
11 April (1861)

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Are the innocent punished for others' sins?

This week's reading: 2 Samuel 12:14-15

The Bible is painfully honest in its depiction of the horror and consequence of sin. It treats both disease and death as universal results of evil. Some infants with AIDS or young victims of drive-by shootings suffer for the sins of others, through no fault of their own. In facing these realities we must remember:

(1) Death is not always an act of judgment, nor will it always be a reality for God's people.

(2) The loss and pain felt by others may be God's instrument to turn their hearts toward him. Sorrow can awaken spiritual insight or cause spiritual growth. This is what seems to have happened to David. His experience refined him and helped him continue more diligently as a man after God's own heart.

(3) Once we have been forgiven, it is unnecessary self-torture to continue feeling guilty about what our sins have done to others. We should be grateful for forgiveness and seek to minimize the effects of our sin.

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Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional

THE WAR IS WON

In the cross and in the resurrection, God wins. God has won the war, though the battles continue. He has sent his grace, his unstoppable intent to pour out mercy and kindness, to the human race like food flowing into famine and water into parched mouths.

When Jesus died on the cross, the clash between the political powers of earth and the dark power of the demonic and the brilliant power of God came to a decisive climax. The light went out for three hours, the body of the author of life slumped against the rough wood. Perhaps Satan laughed, then cowered. The curtain of the temple was torn open as a sign, as if this High Priest had stepped up to the Holy of Holies, the presence of God, and ripped open an entryway that would forever make a relationship with God only as far away as the words "I believe. I do believe."

But God is also continuing to save us. The battles still rage on, though the outcome is certain. Writing from prison, the apostle Paul said, "Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling," and then, to make sure that people with broken legs didn't try to run too soon, added, "for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Phil. 2:12-13; italics mine). He also wrote, "The message of the cross if foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" ( 1 Cor.1:18; italics mine). The process of salvation is God's faithful, constant work of educating us and shaping us and cleansing us: "I will save you from all your uncleanness" (Ezek.36:29). That means that the wisest person is the one who says, "I am unclean, I can't get the dirt off, I can't heal myself. God, please do what only you can."

Excerpt from Putting the Pieces Back Together: How Real Life and Real Faith Connect. Complimentary DVDavailable now.

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About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for thirty years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, the most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement.


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