Thursday, April 26, 2012

Daily Devotionals Thursday 26th April

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.”Colossians 1:27-28 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"This do in remembrance of me."
1 Corinthians 11:24
It seems then, that Christians may forget Christ! There could be no need for this loving exhortation, if there were not a fearful supposition that our memories might prove treacherous. Nor is this a bare supposition: it is, alas! too well confirmed in our experience, not as a possibility, but as a lamentable fact. It appears almost impossible that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the dying Lamb, and loved with an everlasting love by the eternal Son of God, should forget that gracious Saviour; but, if startling to the ear, it is, alas! too apparent to the eye to allow us to deny the crime. Forget him who never forgot us! Forget him who poured his blood forth for our sins! Forget him who loved us even to the death! Can it be possible? Yes, it is not only possible, but conscience confesses that it is too sadly a fault with all of us, that we suffer him to be as a wayfaring man tarrying but for a night. He whom we should make the abiding tenant of our memories is but a visitor therein. The cross where one would think that memory would linger, and unmindfulness would be an unknown intruder, is desecrated by the feet of forgetfulness. Does not your conscience say that this is true? Do you not find yourselves forgetful of Jesus? Some creature steals away your heart, and you are unmindful of him upon whom your affection ought to be set. Some earthly business engrosses your attention when you should fix your eye steadily upon the cross. It is the incessant turmoil of the world, the constant attraction of earthly things which takes away the soul from Christ. While memory too well preserves a poisonous weed, it suffereth the rose of Sharon to wither. Let us charge ourselves to bind a heavenly forget-me-not about our hearts for Jesus our Beloved, and, whatever else we let slip, let us hold fast to him.

Evening

"Blessed is he that watcheth."
Revelation 16:15
"We die daily," said the apostle. This was the life of the early Christians; they went everywhere with their lives in their hands. We are not in this day called to pass through the same fearful persecutions: if we were, the Lord would give us grace to bear the test; but the tests of Christian life, at the present moment, though outwardly not so terrible, are yet more likely to overcome us than even those of the fiery age. We have to bear the sneer of the world--that is little; its blandishments, its soft words, its oily speeches, its fawning, its hypocrisy, are far worse. Our danger is lest we grow rich and become proud, lest we give ourselves up to the fashions of this present evil world, and lose our faith. Or if wealth be not the trial, worldly care is quite as mischievous. If we cannot be torn in pieces by the roaring lion, if we may be hugged to death by the bear, the devil little cares which it is, so long as he destroys our love to Christ, and our confidence in him. I fear me that the Christian church is far more likely to lose her integrity in these soft and silken days than in those rougher times. We must be awake now, for we traverse the enchanted ground, and are most likely to fall asleep to our own undoing, unless our faith in Jesus be a reality, and our love to Jesus a vehement flame. Many in these days of easy profession are likely to prove tares, and not wheat; hypocrites with fair masks on their faces, but not the true-born children of the living God. Christian, do not think that these are times in which you can dispense with watchfulness or with holy ardour; you need these things more than ever, and may God the eternal Spirit display his omnipotence in you, that you may be able to say, in all these softer things, as well as in the rougher, "We are more than conquerors through him that loved us."

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Today's reading: 2 Samuel 21-22, Luke 18:24-43 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
The Gibeonites Avenged
    1 During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the LORD. The LORD said, “It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.”
   2 The king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not a part of Israel but were survivors of the Amorites; the Israelites had sworn to spare them, but Saul in his zeal for Israel and Judah had tried to annihilate them.) 3 David asked the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? How shall I make atonement so that you will bless the LORD’s inheritance?”
   4 The Gibeonites answered him, “We have no right to demand silver or gold from Saul or his family, nor do we have the right to put anyone in Israel to death.”
   “What do you want me to do for you?” David asked.
   5 They answered the king, “As for the man who destroyed us and plotted against us so that we have been decimated and have no place anywhere in Israel, 6 let seven of his male descendants be given to us to be killed and their bodies exposed before the LORD at Gibeah of Saul—the LORD’s chosen one.”
   So the king said, “I will give them to you.”
   7 The king spared Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the oath before the LORD between David and Jonathan son of Saul. 8 But the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, whom she had borne to Saul, together with the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab, whom she had borne to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite. 9 He handed them over to the Gibeonites, who killed them and exposed their bodies on a hill before the LORD. All seven of them fell together; they were put to death during the first days of the harvest, just as the barley harvest was beginning.
   10 Rizpah daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest till the rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies, she did not let the birds touch them by day or the wild animals by night. 11When David was told what Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, Saul’s concubine, had done, 12 he went and took the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh Gilead. (They had stolen their bodies from the public square at Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them after they struck Saul down on Gilboa.) 13 David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from there, and the bones of those who had been killed and exposed were gathered up.
   14 They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the tomb of Saul’s father Kish, at Zela in Benjamin, and did everything the king commanded. After that, God answered prayer in behalf of the land.
Wars Against the Philistines
    15 Once again there was a battle between the Philistines and Israel. David went down with his men to fight against the Philistines, and he became exhausted. 16 And Ishbi-Benob, one of the descendants of Rapha, whose bronze spearhead weighed three hundred shekels and who was armed with a new sword, said he would kill David. 17 But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to David’s rescue; he struck the Philistine down and killed him. Then David’s men swore to him, saying, “Never again will you go out with us to battle, so that the lamp of Israel will not be extinguished.”
   18 In the course of time, there was another battle with the Philistines, at Gob. At that time Sibbekai the Hushathite killed Saph, one of the descendants of Rapha.
   19 In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jair the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver’s rod.
   20 In still another battle, which took place at Gath, there was a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot—twenty-four in all. He also was descended from Rapha. 21When he taunted Israel, Jonathan son of Shimeah, David’s brother, killed him.
   22 These four were descendants of Rapha in Gath, and they fell at the hands of David and his men.

2 Samuel 22

David’s Song of Praise
    1 David sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. 2 He said:
   “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; 
   3 my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, 
   my shield and the horn of my salvation. 
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior— 
   from violent people you save me.
   4 “I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, 
   and have been saved from my enemies. 
The waves of death swirled about me; 
   the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. 
6 The cords of the grave coiled around me; 
   the snares of death confronted me.
   7 “In my distress I called to the LORD; 
   I called out to my God. 
From his temple he heard my voice; 
   my cry came to his ears. 
8 The earth trembled and quaked, 
   the foundations of the heavens shook; 
   they trembled because he was angry. 
9 Smoke rose from his nostrils; 
   consuming fire came from his mouth, 
   burning coals blazed out of it. 
10 He parted the heavens and came down; 
   dark clouds were under his feet. 
11 He mounted the cherubim and flew; 
   he soared on the wings of the wind. 
12 He made darkness his canopy around him— 
   the dark rain clouds of the sky. 
13 Out of the brightness of his presence 
   bolts of lightning blazed forth. 
14 The LORD thundered from heaven; 
   the voice of the Most High resounded. 
15 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, 
   with great bolts of lightning he routed them. 
16 The valleys of the sea were exposed 
   and the foundations of the earth laid bare 
at the rebuke of the LORD, 
   at the blast of breath from his nostrils.
   17 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; 
   he drew me out of deep waters. 
18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, 
   from my foes, who were too strong for me. 
19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster, 
   but the LORD was my support. 
20 He brought me out into a spacious place; 
   he rescued me because he delighted in me.
   21 “The LORD has dealt with me according to my righteousness; 
   according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.
22 For I have kept the ways of the LORD; 
   I am not guilty of turning from my God. 
23 All his laws are before me; 
   I have not turned away from his decrees. 
24 I have been blameless before him 
   and have kept myself from sin. 
25 The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
   according to my cleanness in his sight.
   26 “To the faithful you show yourself faithful, 
   to the blameless you show yourself blameless, 
27 to the pure you show yourself pure, 
   but to the devious you show yourself shrewd. 
28 You save the humble, 
   but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low. 
29 You, LORD, are my lamp; 
   the LORD turns my darkness into light. 
30 With your help I can advance against a troop
   with my God I can scale a wall.
   31 “As for God, his way is perfect: 
   The LORD’s word is flawless; 
   he shields all who take refuge in him. 
32 For who is God besides the LORD? 
   And who is the Rock except our God? 
33 It is God who arms me with strength
   and keeps my way secure. 
34 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; 
   he causes me to stand on the heights. 
35 He trains my hands for battle; 
   my arms can bend a bow of bronze. 
36 You make your saving help my shield; 
   your help has made me great. 
37 You provide a broad path for my feet, 
   so that my ankles do not give way.
   38 “I pursued my enemies and crushed them; 
   I did not turn back till they were destroyed. 
39 I crushed them completely, and they could not rise; 
   they fell beneath my feet. 
40 You armed me with strength for battle; 
   you humbled my adversaries before me. 
41 You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, 
   and I destroyed my foes. 
42 They cried for help, but there was no one to save them— 
   to the LORD, but he did not answer. 
43 I beat them as fine as the dust of the earth; 
   I pounded and trampled them like mud in the streets.
   44 “You have delivered me from the attacks of the peoples; 
   you have preserved me as the head of nations. 
People I did not know now serve me, 
   45 foreigners cower before me; 
   as soon as they hear of me, they obey me. 
46 They all lose heart; 
   they come trembling from their strongholds.
   47 “The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! 
   Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Savior! 
48 He is the God who avenges me, 
   who puts the nations under me, 
    49 who sets me free from my enemies. 
You exalted me above my foes; 
   from a violent man you rescued me. 
50 Therefore I will praise you, LORD, among the nations; 
   I will sing the praises of your name.
   51 “He gives his king great victories; 
   he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed, 
   to David and his descendants forever.”

Luke 18

24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
   26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
   27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
   28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”
    29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”
Jesus Predicts His Death a Third Time
    31 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 33 they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”
   34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.
A Blind Beggar Receives His Sight
    35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
   38 He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
   39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
   40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?”
   “Lord, I want to see,” he replied.
   42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” 43 Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.

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Sennacherib [Sĕnnăch'e rĭb]—the moon-god, sin (the moon-god) hath increased the brothers or destruction of the swordA son of Sargon who succeeded to the throne after the murder of his father (2 Kings 18:13;19:1620362 Chron. 32Isa. 36:1;37:172137).

The Man Who Built Nineveh

This Assyrian king saw his boasted army destroyed in one night. He himself was slain by two of his sons in Nineveh in the Temple of Nisroch (2 Kings 19:37 ). Sennacherib’s great achievement in this area was the creation of Nineveh as a metropolis of the empire. It was he who built the wonderful palace of Konyungik and the great wall of Nineveh.
The Assyrian king’s invading hosts marching through Judah leaving destruction behind them were vividly described by Byron in The Destruction of Sennacherib:
The Assyrians came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.
Fear seized the heart of Hezekiah as he faced the threats of Sennacherib and Rabshakeh, but the courage and faith of Isaiah were a strong tower to the troubled king and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The prophet reminded Hezekiah that Jehovah, and not the horses, material force and human cleverness, was the hope of Judah. Jerusalem was God’s city and He would preserve it (Isa. 37:3335). As we know, the city was saved by a remarkable providence. God commissioned one angel to slay one hundred eighty-five thousand Assyrians. If He can do that with one angel, what is He not able to do with a legion of the angelic army?

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Fulfilling the Call to Missions

Matthew 10:40-42 "Whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward" ( v. 42).
Fundamental to the New Testament's teaching on the church is that all believers have an important part to play in the extension of the kingdom of God. The body of Christ is made up of a variety of people who possess a variety of gifts (1 Cor. 12:12-31 ), all of which are necessary for the church to function properly. The church's task cannot be accomplished by one individual; all of us must work together to advance the Lord's mission. Furthermore, all who work to achieve the ends for which our Father has created His church will be rewarded, no matter the particular part they play in the kingdom's advance.
This truth is taught clearly in today's passage, the conclusion to Christ's missionary discourse. So far, Jesus has called His disciples to ministry and has prepared them for the inevitable opposition from this fallen world ( Matt. 10:1-39). But what about those who want to follow the Savior and yet lack the skills, gifts, or qualifications to engage in full-time Christian service? How can they extend the Gospel? Jesus answers these questions in verses 40-42 by promising a great reward to all who support His emissaries.
Receiving His workers (v. 40 ) - providing room and board for His full-time servants - deserves a prize, not because the messengers themselves are worthy, but because to do such things for Christ's disciples is to treat the Lord in the same way. John Calvin comments that "if any one would receive [the disciples] in a friendly manner, and do them kind offices, [Jesus] would be as highly pleased as if their benevolence had been exercised towards his own person; and not only so, but that in such a sacrifice God the Father would smell a sweet savor." There is such a strong connection between Christ and His people that what we do for a believer we do for the Savior. Even if we are not in full-time ministry ourselves, we serve Jesus Himself when we provide for the Gospel's extension.
Even the tiniest service does not go unnoticed; those who give cold water to Christ's ministers, an inexpensive act of hospitality, are not forgotten (v. 42). As Matthew Henry says, Christ values the aid offered to His people "not according to the cost of the gift, but according to the love and affection of the giver."

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Only a small percentage of Christians are called to full-time service in the church. Yet even those who do not work in the foreign mission field or hold ecclesiastical office are vital to the extension of the Gospel. Besides working diligently in our jobs and evangelizing those in our lives, praying for the growth of the kingdom, volunteering in the church, and giving money for outreach are all ways we can fulfill Christ's call to care for His ministers.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
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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Samantha Reed
April 25, 2012
Never Alone
Samantha Reed
"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love." John 15:9-10 (NIV)
Miss Emma's wrinkled hands cupped my chin - her palm a reservoir for my tears. I walked down the hallways saying tearless goodbyes to 119 other residents, and yet my farewell with her released a levy of emotions.
The scattered pieces of my heart felt like they were blown about by the scurrying of nurses' footsteps and doctors' orders resounding off the walls of the nursing home.
I couldn't just abandon her. It felt utterly wrong to leave her alone, forsaken in this dark place.
Her family, or lack thereof, had rendered her anchorless; adrift in the lonely seas of a 120 bed facility. My first "real" job at "The Brick" would have been bleak if not for Miss Emma and a few others.
I didn't allow many details of this place further than the surface of my heart. Stories repeated ten times each day. Routines of medicine and meals and the meandering of hallways. Yet one name, one person chiseled deep into my heart: Miss Emma.
I perched on the edge of our goodbye, on the edge of her bed, hesitant to leave her. "Who'll sit in the sunshine with you? Who'll listen? Who'll sing hymns with you?"
Worry wrung my heart. Visions of Miss Emma, alone... lonely... made my jaw tense and ache with pain for her. A square punch by sadness will do that to a girl.
But not her. Beautiful brown saucers brimmed with confidence. I waded in the refreshing waters of her eyes, rich pools of wisdom.
"I'll be fine sugar ... I'm never alone. Don't you realize the One who created the sun sits with me? He listens always, hearing my prayers and needs. His presence is in the very words we sing to Him.
Child, we're never alone."
Tucked away from the world, Miss Emma changed mine. She lived tightly knit to the Vine. Abided in Jesus' love through His Word and worship and prayer. Miss Emma dwelled in this truth:
Christ beside me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me.
 ~St. Patrick
Though abandoned by her earthly family, she rested in the knowledge that her Heavenly Father never would leave her. Indeed, He made a home in her so she could nestle in Him.
Might we lay down in this comforting truth today as well? Curl up in His love by writing a Scripture verse on our heart. Lean into God's sure presence through lifting our voice in praise. Abide in His peace with a time of prayer ... sharing and listening.
Christ is within us, before us, behind us. And as Miss Emma so confidently knew, He will never leave or forsake us. We're never alone.
Dear Lord, thank You for calling us Your children. And for making a home within us, so we may rest secure in You. Because You are our dwelling place, we are never alone. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?
Visit Samantha's blog where she shares a memorable way for you to create a beautiful and easy visual of John 15:9-10, and enter to win her wonderful give-away, too!
Share this truth with a child in need through Compassion International.
Reflect and Respond:
Spend time today in our dwelling place, Jesus, through studying of the Bible, worship and prayer.
Let this truth fill your heart today, chasing away the loneliness, fear, and hurt:
Christ beside me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me.
 ~St. Patrick
Power Verses:
Deuteronomy 31:6, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (NIV)
Matthew 28:20b, "...and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (NAS)
© 2012 by Samantha Reed. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616G MatthewsMint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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Fulfilling the Call to Missions

Only a small percentage of Christians are called to full-time service in the church. Yet even those who do not work in the foreign mission field or hold ecclesiastical office are vital to the extension of the Gospel. Besides working diligently in our jobs and evangelizing those in our lives, praying for the growth of the kingdom, volunteering in the church, and giving money for outreach are all ways we can fulfill Christ's call to care for His ministers.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
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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GiG Banner 2012 Big
April 25, 2012
To Speak or Not To Speak…that is the Question

Sharon Jaynes
Today's Truth
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to be silent and a time to speak," (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7).

Friend to Friend
When Steven was about seven-years-old, we went snow skiing. For hours I instructed him in how to stand up, ski down, and get up once he fell. Steven fell down, and fell down, and fell down. He was not getting the hang of it at all.What's the problem, I wondered. Then I found out. It was me.
"Mom," Steven cried, "If you just quit telling me what to do, I think I could get it."
"Fine!" I said as I skied away in frustration. "Go ahead and do it your way!"
And you know what? He did. Thirty minutes later Steven was cruising down the slopes with ease. See I was the problem. My continual instruction was hindering Steven from working the maneuvers out on his own. The day started out being a skiing lesson for Steven, but ended up being a parenting lesson for me.
Sometimes the most powerful words are the ones we withhold. "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to be silent and a time to speak," (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7). A wise woman learns the difference.
In the Bible, Esther is a wonderful example of a very wise woman who knew that timing was crucial. After much prayer, fasting and deliberation, she went before the King to make a petition for her people. It was an important request as the entire Hebrew nation was at stake. Rather than grovel at the King's feet in dismay, she very calmly invited him to dinner. When the King attended the soirée the following evening, once again he invited Esther to make her request. Once again, she invited him to dinner the following evening.
At the second dinner party, the King offered yet a third opportunity for Esther to make her request. Finally, Esther revealed the evil Haman's plot to annihilate the entire Hebrew nation, which included her life as well. It is an amazing story and I encourage you to read the book of Esther for yourself. But here's a lesson among the drama. Esther had a very important request for the King. And yet, it was all about timing. Sure, she could have made the request the first time she approached the King and he extended the golden scepter in approval. Yes, she could have made her request at the first dinner party when he offered her anything she desired, "up to half his kingdom." But there was something in Esther's spirit that caused her to wait. The time wasn't quite right.
Even though the Bible doesn't tell us directly, I believe that Esther was listening to God. I believe the Holy Spirit was telling her to wait. Because she asked herself the question, to speak or not to speak, and then spoke when the time was right, the entire Hebrew nation was saved. That is the power of a woman's words offered at the right time.
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to be silent and a time to speak," (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7).
Let's Pray
Lord, sometimes I talk too much. Help me know when to speak and when to keep silent. And Lord, give me the self-control and courage to do both.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Here is a fun verse to ponder. Job said, "I put my hand over my mouth." Give it a try. I bet your hand is a perfect fit!
Think of a time that you did not speak, and later, you were so glad you didn't.
Part of not speaking too quickly is learning how to listen. If you'd like a list of ways to become a better listener, visit my website and click on the Free Living Life Resources for a List of 30 Hints to Becoming a Good Listener.
More from the Girlfriends
Today's devotion was adapted from Sharon's book, The Power of a Woman's Words. This book also has an accompanying Bible Study Guide and an Interactive Teaching DVD that is perfect for women's Bible study groups. You can find it at www.sharonjaynes.comClick here to watch the book trailer.
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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God’s estimate of time

‘But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.’ 2 Peter 3:8
Suggested Further Reading: Exodus 3:1–15
With God there is neither past, present, nor future. He takes for his name the ‘I AM.’ He does not call himself the ‘I was ,’ for then we should conceive that he used to be something which he is not now, that some part of his character had changed, or some attribute ceased from existence; for there is an ominous sound of annihilation in the sound of the word, ‘he was.’ Is it not rather a knell for the dead, than a name for the living? Nor does our Lord God speak of himself as the ‘I shall be ,’ for that might lead us to imagine that he is not now something which he is to be in the ages to come: whereas we know that his being is perfect, his essence infinite, his dominion absolute, his power unlimited, and his glory transcendent. Development is out of the question; he is all today that he will be in the future. Of the Lord Jesus we read that he is the everlasting Father, and yet he has the dew of his youth. Childhood, manhood and old age belong to creatures, but at the right hand of the Most High they have no abode. Growth, progress, advancement, all these are virtues in finite beings, but to the Infinite the thought of such change would be an insult. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow belong to dying mortals; the Immortal King lives in an eternal today. He is the I AM; I AM in the present; I AM in the past; and I AM in the future. Just as we say of God that he is everywhere, so we may say of him that he is always; he is everywhere in space; he is everywhere in time. God is today in the past; he is today already in the future; he is today in that present in which we are.
For meditation: The fact that God never changes is absolutely fundamental and essential to the wellbeing and survival of his people (Malachi 3:6Mark 12:26–27Hebrews 13:5,8James 1:17).
Sermon no. 447
26 April (Preached 27 April 1862)

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David’s dying prayer

“Let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.”Psalm 72:19
Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 6:1-8
Is there not one among you that can win a laurel wreath? Have I not one true Christian heart here that is set for work and labour? Have I not one man that will devote himself for God and for his truth? Henry Martyn! Thou art dead; and is thy mantle buried with thee? Brainerd, thou sleepest with thy fathers; and is thy spirit dead too, and shall there never be another Brainerd? Knibb, thou hast ascended to thy God; and is there nowhere another Knibb? Williams, thy martyred blood still crieth from the ground; and is there nowhere another Williams? What! Not among this dense mass of young and burning spirits? Is there not one that can say in his heart, “Here am I, send me”? “This hour, being saved by God’s grace, I give myself up to him, to go wherever he shall be pleased to send me, to testify his gospel in foreign lands”? What! Are there no Pauls now? Have we none who will be apostles for the Lord of hosts? I think I see one who, putting his lips together, makes this silent resolve—“By God’s grace I this day devote myself to him; through trouble and through trial I will be his, if he will help me; for missionary work or for anything else I give up my all to God; and if I may die as Williams did, and wear the blood-red crown of martyrdom, I will be proud; and if I may live to serve my Master, like a Brainerd, and die at last worn out, here I am, do but have me, Master; give me the honour of leading the forlorn hope, of leading the vanguard of Christianity; here I am, send me.”
For meditation: The earth is going to be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God (Habakkuk 2:14). Every believer has a contribution to make towards that goal, big or small. Are you playing your part?
Sermon no. 129
26 April (1857)

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At Issue - Sin

Isaiah 30:12-18 
Have you noticed how we often try to fix or deal with sin on our own? We attempt to clean things up, sort them out and make them right-then bring them to God. Perhaps we fear that God will respond to our sin as people would: with anger, disgust or rejection. But that's not God. He longs to be gracious to us. He is eager to show compassion. Skip the frenzied activity; instead, come to him in repentance and rest, in quietness and trust. You will be amazed at the blessings he heaps on those who wait for him.
 
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Converted Coward: A radically changed man

Today's reading: 1 Peter 1
1 Peter 1:12 Even angels long to look into these things.
The Peter portrayed in the Gospels and the Peter seen in this letter are hardly recognizable as the same person. The Gospels portray Peter urging Jesus to avoid pain, cowering in the darkness the night of Jesus' trial and execution, and denying with an oath that he knows the man he's been following for three years. In this letter, by contrast, Peter welcomes suffering as a badge of honor, as proof of his commitment to Christ at any cost.
Most likely, Peter is writing this letter during an outbreak of persecution under Nero. Leaders of the church, the apostle Paul among them, have been shipped to Rome for imprisonment and execution. Crucial questions about suffering have stirred up within the embattled Christian community.
Faith Refined
Peter's response focuses not on the cause of suffering-the why-but rather on the results. His answer: Suffering can refine faith, much as a furnace refines impure metals. A prospector who discovers gold-bearing rock sends it to an assayer for evaluation. Testing by fire will melt off most impurities, and the true gold will emerge purified.
Suffering acts in much the same way, says Peter. It exposes and refines true faith. In addition, faith in the midst of such trials will earn future rewards. Suffering shifts attention from the rewards of this world-wealth, status, power-to more permanent, "imperishable" rewards in the life to come. And, if Christians maintain their faith through persecution, a watching world will have to acknowledge the source of that faith: God himself.
Peter and the Martyrs
More often than not, intense persecution has led to a spurt of growth in the church. Peter's own martyr's death no doubt had a profound effect on his contemporaries.
Life Question
When has your faith gone through a "refining fire"?
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STANDING AGAINST THE DEVIL

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. Ephesians 6:11
The Bible clearly says to use the full armor. We usually feel we are doing okay if we have most of the pieces of armor in place. Yet, if even one piece is missing, we have a weak spot where Satan can injure us, causing us to lose ground rather than standing firm. (1 Peter 5:8-9)
The New Living Translation in Ephesians 6:11 puts it this way: “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil.” It further says in verse 13, “Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm.”
RESPONSE: Today I will put on the full armor of God to stand strong against Satan’s darts of doubt, denial and deceit.
PRAYER: “The Warrior’s Prayer”
Heavenly Father, Your warrior prepares for battle.
Today I claim victory over Satan by putting on the whole armor of God!
I put on the Belt of Truth.
May I stand firm in the truth of your Word so I will not be a victim of Satan’s lies.
I put on the Breastplate of Righteousness.
May it guard my heart from evil so I will remain pure and holy, protected under the blood of Jesus Christ.
I put on the Sandals of Peace.
May I go out and proclaim the good news of the Gospel so your peace will shine through me and be a light to all I encounter.
I take the Shield of Faith.
May I be ready to deflect Satan’s fiery darts of doubt, denial and deceit so I will not be vulnerable to spiritual defeat.
I put on the Helmet of Salvation.
May I keep my mind focused on you so Satan will not have a stronghold on my thoughts.
I take the Sword of the Spirit.
May the two-edged sword of your Word be ready in my hands so I can use it to take authority over the Enemy.
By faith, your warrior has put on the whole armor of God.
I am prepared to live this day in spiritual victory.
Amen.[1]
1. Author unknown.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

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