Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Daily Devotional Wednesday 25th April

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” 1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away."
Song of Solomon 2:10
Lo, I hear the voice of my Beloved! He speaks to me! Fair weather is smiling upon the face of the earth, and he would not have me spiritually asleep while nature is all around me awaking from her winter's rest. He bids me "Rise up," and well he may; for I have long enough been lying among the pots of worldliness. He is risen, I am risen in him, why then should I cleave unto the dust? From lower loves, desires, pursuits, and aspirations, I would rise towards him. He calls me by the sweet title of "My love," and counts me fair; this is a good argument for my rising. If he has thus exalted me, and thinks me thus comely, how can I linger in the tents of Kedar and find congenial associates among the sons of men? He bids me "Come away." Further and further from everything selfish, grovelling, worldly, sinful, he calls me; yea, from the outwardly religious world which knows him not, and has no sympathy with the mystery of the higher life, he calls me. "Come away" has no harsh sound in it to my ear, for what is there to hold me in this wilderness of vanity and sin? O my Lord, would that I could come away, but I am taken among the thorns, and cannot escape from them as I would. I would, if it were possible, have neither eyes, nor ears, nor heart for sin. Thou callest me to thyself by saying "Come away," and this is a melodious call indeed. To come to thee is to come home from exile, to come to land out of the raging storm, to come to rest after long labour, to come to the goal of my desires and the summit of my wishes. But Lord, how can a stone rise, how can a lump of clay come away from the horrible pit? O raise me, draw me. Thy grace can do it. Send forth thy Holy Spirit to kindle sacred flames of love in my heart, and I will continue to rise until I leave life and time behind me, and indeed come away.

Evening

"If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him."
Revelation 3:20
What is your desire this evening? Is it set upon heavenly things? Do you long to enjoy the high doctrine of eternal love? Do you desire liberty in very close communion with God? Do you aspire to know the heights, and depths, and lengths, and breadths? Then you must draw near to Jesus; you must get a clear sight of him in his preciousness and completeness; you must view him in his work, in his offices, in his person. He who understands Christ, receives an anointing from the Holy One, by which he knows all things. Christ is the great master-key of all the chambers of God; there is no treasure-house of God which will not open and yield up all its wealth to the soul that lives near to Jesus. Are you saying, "O that he would dwell in my bosom"? "Would that he would make my heart his dwelling-place forever"? Open the door, beloved, and he will come into your souls. He has long been knocking, and all with this object, that he may sup with you, and you with him. He sups with you because you find the house or the heart, and you with him because he brings the provision. He could not sup with you if it were not in your heart, you finding the house; nor could you sup with him, for you have a bare cupboard, if he did not bring provision with him. Fling wide, then, the portals of your soul. He will come with that love which you long to feel; he will come with that joy into which you cannot work your poor depressed spirit; he will bring the peace which now you have not; he will come with his flagons of wine and sweet apples of love, and cheer you till you have no other sickness but that of "love o'erpowering, love divine." Only open the door to him, drive out his enemies, give him the keys of your heart, and he will dwell there forever. Oh, wondrous love, that brings such a guest to dwell in such a heart!

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Today's reading: 2 Samuel 19-20, Luke 18:1-23 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
   1  Joab was told, “The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” 2 And for the whole army the victory that day was turned into mourning, because on that day the troops heard it said, “The king is grieving for his son.” 3 The men stole into the city that day as men steal in who are ashamed when they flee from battle. 4 The king covered his face and cried aloud, “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!”
   5 Then Joab went into the house to the king and said, “Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines. 6 You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. 7 Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the LORD that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now.”
   8 So the king got up and took his seat in the gateway. When the men were told, “The king is sitting in the gateway,” they all came before him.
   Meanwhile, the Israelites had fled to their homes.
David Returns to Jerusalem
    9 Throughout the tribes of Israel, all the people were arguing among themselves, saying, “The king delivered us from the hand of our enemies; he is the one who rescued us from the hand of the Philistines. But now he has fled the country to escape from Absalom; 10 and Absalom, whom we anointed to rule over us, has died in battle. So why do you say nothing about bringing the king back?”
   11 King David sent this message to Zadok and Abiathar, the priests: “Ask the elders of Judah, ‘Why should you be the last to bring the king back to his palace, since what is being said throughout Israel has reached the king at his quarters? 12 You are my relatives, my own flesh and blood. So why should you be the last to bring back the king?’ 13 And say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my own flesh and blood? May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if you are not the commander of my army for life in place of Joab.’”
   14 He won over the hearts of the men of Judah so that they were all of one mind. They sent word to the king, “Return, you and all your men.” 15 Then the king returned and went as far as the Jordan.
   Now the men of Judah had come to Gilgal to go out and meet the king and bring him across the Jordan. 16 Shimei son of Gera, the Benjamite from Bahurim, hurried down with the men of Judah to meet King David. 17 With him were a thousand Benjamites, along with Ziba, the steward of Saul’s household, and his fifteen sons and twenty servants. They rushed to the Jordan, where the king was. 18 They crossed at the ford to take the king’s household over and to do whatever he wished.
   When Shimei son of Gera crossed the Jordan, he fell prostrate before the king 19 and said to him, “May my lord not hold me guilty. Do not remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem. May the king put it out of his mind. 20 For I your servant know that I have sinned, but today I have come here as the first from the tribes of Joseph to come down and meet my lord the king.”
   21 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said, “Shouldn’t Shimei be put to death for this? He cursed the LORD’s anointed.”
   22 David replied, “What does this have to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? What right do you have to interfere? Should anyone be put to death in Israel today? Don’t I know that today I am king over Israel?” 23 So the king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” And the king promised him on oath.
   24 Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, also went down to meet the king. He had not taken care of his feet or trimmed his mustache or washed his clothes from the day the king left until the day he returned safely. 25 When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king asked him, “Why didn’t you go with me, Mephibosheth?”
   26 He said, “My lord the king, since I your servant am lame, I said, ‘I will have my donkey saddled and will ride on it, so I can go with the king.’ But Ziba my servant betrayed me. 27 And he has slandered your servant to my lord the king. My lord the king is like an angel of God; so do whatever you wish. 28 All my grandfather’s descendants deserved nothing but death from my lord the king, but you gave your servant a place among those who eat at your table. So what right do I have to make any more appeals to the king?”
   29 The king said to him, “Why say more? I order you and Ziba to divide the land.”
   30 Mephibosheth said to the king, “Let him take everything, now that my lord the king has returned home safely.”
   31 Barzillai the Gileadite also came down from Rogelim to cross the Jordan with the king and to send him on his way from there. 32 Now Barzillai was very old, eighty years of age. He had provided for the king during his stay in Mahanaim, for he was a very wealthy man. 33 The king said to Barzillai, “Cross over with me and stay with me in Jerusalem, and I will provide for you.”
   34 But Barzillai answered the king, “How many more years will I live, that I should go up to Jerusalem with the king? 35 I am now eighty years old. Can I tell the difference between what is enjoyable and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats and drinks? Can I still hear the voices of male and female singers? Why should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king? 36 Your servant will cross over the Jordan with the king for a short distance, but why should the king reward me in this way? 37 Let your servant return, that I may die in my own town near the tomb of my father and mother. But here is your servant Kimham. Let him cross over with my lord the king. Do for him whatever you wish.”
   38 The king said, “Kimham shall cross over with me, and I will do for him whatever you wish. And anything you desire from me I will do for you.”
   39 So all the people crossed the Jordan, and then the king crossed over. The king kissed Barzillai and bid him farewell, and Barzillai returned to his home.
   40 When the king crossed over to Gilgal, Kimham crossed with him. All the troops of Judah and half the troops of Israel had taken the king over.
   41 Soon all the men of Israel were coming to the king and saying to him, “Why did our brothers, the men of Judah, steal the king away and bring him and his household across the Jordan, together with all his men?”
   42 All the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, “We did this because the king is closely related to us. Why are you angry about it? Have we eaten any of the king’s provisions? Have we taken anything for ourselves?”
   43 Then the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, “We have ten shares in the king; so we have a greater claim on David than you have. Why then do you treat us with contempt? Weren’t we the first to speak of bringing back our king?”
   But the men of Judah pressed their claims even more forcefully than the men of Israel.

2 Samuel 20

Sheba Rebels Against David
    1 Now a troublemaker named Sheba son of Bikri, a Benjamite, happened to be there. He sounded the trumpet and shouted,
   “We have no share in David, 
   no part in Jesse’s son! 
Every man to his tent, Israel!”
   2 So all the men of Israel deserted David to follow Sheba son of Bikri. But the men of Judah stayed by their king all the way from the Jordan to Jerusalem.
   3 When David returned to his palace in Jerusalem, he took the ten concubines he had left to take care of the palace and put them in a house under guard. He provided for them but had no sexual relations with them. They were kept in confinement till the day of their death, living as widows.
   4 Then the king said to Amasa, “Summon the men of Judah to come to me within three days, and be here yourself.” 5 But when Amasa went to summon Judah, he took longer than the time the king had set for him.
   6 David said to Abishai, “Now Sheba son of Bikri will do us more harm than Absalom did. Take your master’s men and pursue him, or he will find fortified cities and escape from us.” 7So Joab’s men and the Kerethites and Pelethites and all the mighty warriors went out under the command of Abishai. They marched out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba son of Bikri.
   8 While they were at the great rock in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Joab was wearing his military tunic, and strapped over it at his waist was a belt with a dagger in its sheath. As he stepped forward, it dropped out of its sheath.
   9 Joab said to Amasa, “How are you, my brother?” Then Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. 10Amasa was not on his guard against the dagger in Joab’s hand, and Joab plunged it into his belly, and his intestines spilled out on the ground. Without being stabbed again, Amasa died. Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba son of Bikri.
   11 One of Joab’s men stood beside Amasa and said, “Whoever favors Joab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab!” 12 Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the middle of the road, and the man saw that all the troops came to a halt there. When he realized that everyone who came up to Amasa stopped, he dragged him from the road into a field and threw a garment over him. 13 After Amasa had been removed from the road, everyone went on with Joab to pursue Sheba son of Bikri.
   14 Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel Beth Maakah and through the entire region of the Bikrites, who gathered together and followed him. 15 All the troops with Joab came and besieged Sheba in Abel Beth Maakah. They built a siege ramp up to the city, and it stood against the outer fortifications. While they were battering the wall to bring it down,16 a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come here so I can speak to him.” 17 He went toward her, and she asked, “Are you Joab?”
   “I am,” he answered.
   She said, “Listen to what your servant has to say.”
   “I’m listening,” he said.
   18 She continued, “Long ago they used to say, ‘Get your answer at Abel,’ and that settled it. 19 We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the LORD’s inheritance?”
   20 “Far be it from me!” Joab replied, “Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy! 21 That is not the case. A man named Sheba son of Bikri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has lifted up his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man, and I’ll withdraw from the city.”
   The woman said to Joab, “His head will be thrown to you from the wall.”
   22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bikri and threw it to Joab. So he sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home. And Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.
David’s Officials
    23 Joab was over Israel’s entire army; Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites and Pelethites; 24 Adoniram was in charge of forced labor; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder; 25 Sheva was secretary; Zadok and Abiathar were priests; 26 and Ira the Jairite was David’s priest.

Luke 18

The Parable of the Persistent Widow
    1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
   4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
   6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
    9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
   13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
   14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
The Little Children and Jesus
    15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
The Rich and the Kingdom of God
    18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
   19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”
   21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
   22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
   23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.

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Tertullus [Tûrtŭl'lus]—derived from Tertius, and meaning, liar orimpostorA Roman advocateemployed by the Jewish authorities to prosecute Paul before Felix, the Roman Governor or Procurator (Acts 24:1225:8).
The style of his rhetorical address or brief was common to Roman advocates. With his power of glib eloquence as well as knowledge of Roman laws, the orator Tertullus sought to impress the mind of the judge. With the trick of his class, he began with flattery of the judge. All of the flattering epithets of the hired orator, however, stand out in striking contrast with “the righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come,” Paul later spoke about to the same ruler.
From flattery of the judge, Tertullus passed to invective against the defendant, charging him with crimes he never committed. Paul in his defense presented a marked difference between his own frank manliness and the advocate’s servile flattery. Tertullus could not rouse the conscience of Felix as Paul did. “Felix trembled,” as Paul pressed home the truth of the Gospel and sent for him “the oftener,” we read. What a tragedy it was that Felix did not follow his Spirit-impressed conscience!

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The cry of the heathen

“And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over unto Macedonia, and help us.” Acts 16:9
Suggested Further Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:1-15
There is no fear of any one becoming improvidently liberal. You need not be frightened that anyone here will give a thousand pounds this morning. We provide ample accommodation for those who feel inclined to do so. If anyone should be overtaken with such an enormous fit of generosity, we will register and remember it. But I fear there are no people like Barnabas now. Barnabas brought all he had, and put it into the treasury. “My dear friend, do not do that; do not be so rash.” Ah! he will not do that; there is no necessity for you to advise him. But I do say again, if Christianity were truly in our hearts; if we were what we professed to be; the men of generosity whom we meet with now and hold up as very paragons and patterns would cease to be wonders, for they would be as plentiful as leaves upon the trees. We demand of no man that he should beggar himself; but we do demand of every man who makes a profession that he is a Christian, that he should give his fair proportion, and not be content with giving as much to the cause of God as his own servant. We must have it that the man who is rich must give richly. We know the widow’s mite is precious, but the widow’s mite has been an enormously great loss to us. That widow’s mite has lost Jesus Christ many a thousand pounds. It is a very good thing in itself; but people with thousands a year talk of giving a widow’s mite. What a wicked application of what never can apply to them. No; in our proportion we must serve our God.
For meditation: We are instructed to give in proportion (2 Corinthians 8:12), in pleasure (2 Corinthians 9:7) and in privacy (Matthew 6:2-4). How do you calculate how much you should be giving to God’s work each week? In prayer?
Sermon no. 189 
25 April (1858)

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Fearing the Right Person

Matthew 10:26-39 "Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell" ( v. 28).
The Son of God's incarnation makes Him uniquely able to understand human frailties (Heb. 2:14-18). Jesus has walked "a mile in our shoes," having chosen to put up with a lower status for a time without casting off any of His divine attributes (Phil. 2:5-11 ). Thus, Christ anticipates the worries we will have when persecuted for His name's sake. He allays these fears inMatthew 10.
Many believers, our Lord knows, worry about what they will say if they are brought before an angry court because they are not eloquent speakers. Yet these disciples need not fear; the Father's Spirit will give them the right words to say (vv. 19-20 ). Jesus is not teaching that we may neglect the study of His Word, He is promising that the Holy Spirit will show Himself strong in our weaknesses. Christians across the ages have seen Him keep His pledge (Acts 4:1-136:8-15).
Today's passage further encourages us not to fear those who hate the Gospel. In Jesus' day, Palestinian homes have flat roofs from which news is often proclaimed. Our Savior's disciples need not worry about what will happen when they give His Word from the rooftops, that is, when they preach the Gospel boldly. Even if His people are maligned now, the truth will win out in the end and the goodness of His witnesses will be vindicated (Matt. 10:26-27).
Jesus' sovereignty comforts us when the Gospel divides families. The Lord's design in sending the Gospel includes its bringing of strife (vv. 34-39 ). However, though Christ brings the sword, He does not create the conflict. The peace Jesus offers comes on terms many refuse to accept. Strife comes not directly from the Lord's hand, but from the response of secondary, human agents who hate Him and those who embrace the Gospel. Saying that He brings the sword is a Semitic way of attributing an indirect result of His mission to Himself even though He is not to blame for the outcome. Christ does not directly set family members against one another; those who reject the Lord are the culprits (Rom. 9:19-20).
Finally, the persecuted find greatest comfort in knowing whom to fear. Wicked men can only kill the body, but God destroys body and soul in hell (Matt. 10:28). Those who adore Him will rise, body and soul, to eternal life (Rev. 21).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

John Chrysostom, one of the finest preachers in the early church, once declared, "Let the hope of the good things to come raise you up. For the true story of your testimony cannot be suppressed forever" (Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew, 34.1). Though we may face opposition and persecution now, we know that in the end all will be set right and the servants of Christ will be vindicated. Let this precious truth encourage you to stand firm for the Gospel.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
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 24, 2012
Storms are for our Good
Mary Southerland
Today's Truth
Psalm 46:1 (NRSV) "God is our refuge and strength, a tested help in times of trouble."
Friend to Friend
While vacationing in the mountains, a man watched as a lumberman occasionally jabbed his sharp hook into a log, separating it from the others floating down the mountain stream. The man asked the lumberman why he was separating some of the logs.
The worker replied, "These logs may all look alike to you but a few of them are very different. The ones I let pass are from trees that grew in the valley. They were always protected from the storms. Their grain is coarse. The ones I have hooked and set apart from the rest came from high up on the mountains. From the time they were small, they were beaten by strong winds. That toughens the trees and gives them a fine and beautiful grain. They are too good to use for plain lumber so we save them for our best work."
I don't like storms. Blue skies and bright sunshine are my personal preference. The same is true in life. I often think boredom is highly underrated and tend to long for a day without problems, a crisis or some kind of disaster. When a storm does hit, my first reaction is to look for a way of escape. I want to avoid pain and sidestep complicated situations if at all possible. However, looking back over my life, the reality is that my greatest growth and the deepest truths God has to offer have been accomplished through the fiercest storms.
The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He feverishly prayed for God's rescue, but with every day that passed, his hope weakened. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood for protection from the elements, and to store his few possessions. One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. Everything was lost. Stunned with grief and anger, the man cried, "God, how could you do this to me!" The next morning, he woke to the sound of a ship approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. "How did you know I was here?" the weary man asked. "We saw your smoke signal," they replied. Storms are for our good.
Let's Pray
Father, I want to thank You for the storms in my life because they make me turn to you. They keep me on my face before You. I am desperate for Your power and presence at work in my life. Anything that makes me cry out to You can be counted as a blessing. I love You, Lord, and trust You with every storm that comes my way.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Read 1 Peter 4:12-13 "Do not be surprised at the painful things you are now suffering. These things are testing your faith." (ICB) In your own words, describe the testing you are going through today in your life. How is it testing and strengthening your faith?
Read 2 Corinthians 6:6 (NLT) "We have proved ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, our sincere love, and the power of the Holy Spirit." This verse lists the qualities God wants to create in us through storms that come our way. Which ones are present in your life? Which ones is He trying to produce in you today? Are you willing to let Him do so?
More from the Girlfriends
Your trials are many and you have been battered by some brutal storms. I know. But more importantly, God knows. In Him, you are a storm survivor. And when you are face to face with a storm, you are standing on the edge of discovery. Don't tell God how big your storm is. Tell your storm how big your God is!
Need help? Check out my Online Bible Study. We are learning how to tame the tongue.
Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email. She loves hearing what God is doing in your life!
Seeking God? 
Click here to find out more about 
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 725
Matthews, NC 28106


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Exposition of the doctrines of grace (3. Introduction of closing speaker)

Suggested Reading: Romans 11:25–36
Has it never struck you that the scheme of doctrine which is called Calvinism has much to say concerning God? It commences and ends with the Divine One. It dwells with God; he begins, he carries on, he perfects; it is for his glory and for his honour. Father, Son, and Spirit co-working, the whole gospel scheme is carried out. Perhaps there may be a defect in our theology; we may perhaps too much forget man. I think that is a very small fault, compared with the fault of the opposite system, which begins with man, and all but ends with him. Man is a creature; how ought God to deal with him? That is the question some theologians seem to answer. The way we put it is—God is the Creator, he has a right to do as he wills; he is Sovereign, there is no law above him, he has a right to make and to unmake, and when man has sinned, he has a right to save or to destroy. If he can save, and yet not impair his justice, heaven shall ring with songs; if he destroy, and yet his goodness be not marred, then hell itself with its deep bass of misery, shall swell the mighty rollings of his glorious praise. We hold that God should be most prominent in all our teaching; and we hold this to be a gauge by which to test the soundness of ministers. If they exalt God and sink the sinner to the very dust, it is all well; but if they lower the prerogatives of deity, if he be less sovereign, less just, or less loving than the Scripture reveals him to be, and if man be puffed up with that fond notion that he is anything better than an unclean thing, then such theology is utterly unsound. Salvation is of the Lord, and let the Lord alone be glorified.
For meditation: We are to boast in the Lord and exalt his name (Psalm 34:2–3). Does your theology in every way exalt him and humble yourself or in any way do the opposite? We should always glory in him, never in ourselves ( 1 Corinthians 1:29,312 Corinthians 10:17).
Part of nos. 385–8
25 April (Spoken on 11 April 1861)

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Fearing the Right Person

John Chrysostom, one of the finest preachers in the early church, once declared, "Let the hope of the good things to come raise you up. For the true story of your testimony cannot be suppressed forever" (Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew, 34.1). Though we may face opposition and persecution now, we know that in the end all will be set right and the servants of Christ will be vindicated. Let this precious truth encourage you to stand firm for the Gospel.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
Coram Deo from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright Copyright symbol 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
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Tracie Miles
April 24, 2012
From Altercation to Altar Call
Tracie Miles
"Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop-a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear." Matthew 13:8-9 (NIV)
I noticed my 12-year-old son involved in a commotion on the other side of the sanctuary. He was sitting with his youth group, just like he does every Sunday, on the opposite side from where my husband and I do.
I walked over there and motioned for my son to follow me into the lobby. There, we could discuss why an altercation was occurring in the church pew where he sat with his friends.
Apparently someone wanted to sit in the spot where he and another friend were sitting. And so, a middle-school-boy-scuffle ensued. Even though he had tears-due in part to receiving an elbow in the eye, but also hurt by pride and anger-he insisted on returning to sit with the rest of the youth.
Our pastor's sermon was about anger that morning. He shared ways we should respond, according to God's Word and gave a few examples:
A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted. (Proverbs 12:16 NIV)
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. (Proverbs 28:13 NLT)
When our pastor ended his sermon, soft music played as the congregation was invited to come to the altar if they felt God leading them to do so.
I noticed a young man at the altar, bent knees, buried face in his arms, praying. He looked familiar, but seemed bigger than my son ... Could it be?
Bending over to look closely, I discovered the young man kneeling at the altar was my son.
My heart pounded as I watched my little man becoming a young man in Christ right before my eyes. His heart had been moved by the Word of God ... straight to the altar.
After church, I asked Michael what he'd prayed about. "Mom, I listened to the pastor talk about anger, and felt bad for getting upset at my friend. So I asked God to forgive me and to help me control my temper."
I was at a loss for words for three reasons: my son was actually paying attention to the sermon! His heart was hurting and he was listening for God's leading. And when God spoke to his heart, scriptures resounded in his mind and compelled him to move.
Three simple steps: pay attention to God's voice, listen when He speaks through His Word, and move when He calls.
I may not have physical altercations with others, as boys often do. But I do have emotional and spiritual altercations as I face the trials, demands, temptations and frustrations that life brings.
My son's boldness to admit his need for forgiveness and strength, and to actually walk down to the altar, has prompted me to view my "altercations" in a new light.
Instead of letting my struggles take me down and make me feel discouraged, I'm following in my son's footsteps. Paying attention to God's voice, listening when He speaks through His Word, and moving when He calls.
Today, let's do the same. Let's respond to God's Word and lay our trials, fears and temptations at the foot of the cross, allowing God to mend our heart. With the faith of a child, we too can let our "altercations" lead us to the altar.
Dear Lord, today I want to pay attention to Your voice and move when You call. Please make my heart soft to forgive my friends and family. Thanks for Your help in this. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
Tracie shares more truth on her blog. Click here to visit.
Many women allow the pain and shame of past sins to keep them from the altar. Reinventing Your Rainbow by Tracie Miles will help you seek and accept God's forgiveness for past mistakes. Click here to order your copy today.
Reflect and Respond:
Pay attention to God's voice, listen when He speaks through His Word, and move when He calls.
Feeling down or discouraged? Follow in Michael's footsteps and bring your hurt to the Lord.
Power Verses:
Hebrews 3:15, "As has just been said: 'Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.'" (NIV)
2 Peter 1:3, "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." (NIV)
Copyright symbol 2012 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional

WHAT JESUS REALLY DID

Jesus in English, Yeshua in Hebrew, is a name that means "salvation." As Joseph heard from an angel in a dream regarding Mary, "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
There are two sides of salvation: the objective and the subjective. The first is the fact of salvation. By Jesus' coming, and by his sacrificial death and resurrection to new life, an unalterable act of salvation has occurred. The Bible has a whole vocabulary to explain it: redemption, reconciliation, justification, adoption.
"Redemption," from the world of the marketplace, says that through the sacrificial death of Christ we have been bought out of our slavery to sin. Like slaves who are purchased in order to be set free, God supplied the price and received the price. All of this was depicted again and again in the sacrificial rituals of the Old Testament. This is true freedom, but a freedom that comes from being owned by God: "you are not your own. You were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
"Reconciliation" comes from the world of relationships. The shattering effects of sin in the world led to estrangement. We are separated from each other, and separated from God. But in Christ, and in his sacrifice, God provides a bridge. By faith we are on God's side, and God calls us his friends.
"Adoption," from the realm of the family, means that we become, through the sacrifice of Christ, true children of God. All human beings are creations of God, and are thus his offspring. But being a true child is a reality of a different magnitude. It means being an heir, and living now in conscious submission to the master of the household, the benevolent Father. The prodigal son became a son again when he turned back home.
"Justification" is from the world of law courts. "Justification" and "righteousness" are in the same word group in the New Testament. To be justified means to be made right with God. It is what happened to Abraham when he believed God's astounding promise. Justification by grace through faith is a foundation of certainty. As Paul put it: "If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies? Who is he who condemns?" ( Romans 8:31-34).
So there is a multitude of ways the New Testament makes clear that we need rescue, and the rescue is real. It isn't just about getting snatched away from someone who has kidnapped you. It is a lifetime of being joined to the family of God and to God himself.
There is a lifetime of dynamic interactions with God here. But we must believe we need the rescue. We need to let God pull us away from our captivity so that the confusion in our minds can clear up. And then one of the most precious words in our vocabulary will be "saved."

Resources

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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Why did 70,000 die while the sinner lived?

This week's reading: 1 Chronicles 21:14
It doesn't seem fair. Even David was distressed by the consequences his sin had on innocent people (see 1Ch 21:17). We may make our own choices, but we cannot control the extent of the consequences of sin.
Because of our Western individualism we struggle to understand the Eastern tradition in which the head of a family, tribe or nation represented the people under them. The members were treated as a whole, sharing in the blessings or punishments resulting from the actions of their leaders. Adam's sin had consequences for all humanity (see Ro 5:12). When Achan sinned, God said Israel has sinned (see Jos 7:1-11). Joshua had to identify the tribe, clan and family to which the sinner belonged.
In this case, it may have been Israel's sin as a nation that led to David's sin. The Lord was angry with Israel before David was incited to take a census (see 2Sa 24:1). For this reason, some see this as a plague upon a nation of people who had themselves sinned.
David's sin deserved personal punishment, but David's death might have been worse for the nation than the plague. Political turmoil in Israel could have brought invading armies that would have killed even more people. David suffered remorse and grief. Along with the leaders who may have supported his call for a census, David mourned and repented. God graciously forgave him and intervened to spare Jerusalem. Later, the temple was built on the site where David offered his sacrifice and saw the plague halted.
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ALL KINDS OF PRAYER

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.Ephesians 6:18
Prayer is mentioned in the context of the wardrobe of the Christian warrior but not as a specific weapon of war or a piece of armor. That’s because prayer is the key to consistent victory in our warfare. Therefore, prayer is one of the most important things we can do when fighting the enemy.
David’s battle with Goliath was not won when the stone flew from the sling. It was won in David’s close relationship with the Living God. Our battles are won or lost in the way we walk with God. Prayer is talking with God and letting Him talk with you. Prayer is taking a stand against the spiritual forces of darkness that influence events and circumstances in the world.
Prayer is asserting God’s victory before we walk into battle. But prayer is more than kneeling before God. Prayer is as much an attitude as it is an act. Prayer is keeping your heart open to His leadership. Prayer is the constant communion with God needed to face the challenge of completing Jesus’ mission.
A Bible courier recounts: “We walked up to the customs with our suitcases full of Bibles. We know that at that moment there are as many as a hundred people praying for us. And can you feel it! We felt peace and joy as we push our trolley of suitcases towards the customs desk. I am absolutely certain that we were surrounded by angels. It sounds strange, but I just know.
‘Excuse me, ladies, do you have anything to declare?’ says the custom agent. At that moment, a good friend rushes up to the officer. They greet each other profusely. The customs man no longer sees us. We walk on, and a moment later we are standing with all our suitcases, which have not been opened, waiting for a taxi.
“I feel small and think, ‘Who am I? I only walk past the customs with my suitcases and I don't even have to answer any questions. That’s all that God asks of me. And it’s He who does the rest—incredibly!’”
RESPONSE: Today I commit myself to being a person of prayer as I put on the whole armor of God.
PRAYER: Pray today with all kinds of prayers for all of God’s people. A great challenge and a great opportunity!
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

Copyright symbol 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

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