Friday, May 11, 2012

Daily Devotional Friday 11th May

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” Matthew 18:15 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"I am with you alway."
Matthew 28:20
It is well there is One who is ever the same, and who is ever with us. It is well there is one stable rock amidst the billows of the sea of life. O my soul, set not thine affections upon rusting, moth-eaten, decaying treasures, but set thine heart upon him who abides forever faithful to thee. Build not thine house upon the moving quicksands of a deceitful world, but found thy hopes upon this rock, which, amid descending rain and roaring floods, shall stand immovably secure. My soul, I charge thee, lay up thy treasure in the only secure cabinet; store thy jewels where thou canst never lose them. Put thine all in Christ; set all thine affections on his person, all thy hope in his merit, all thy trust in his efficacious blood, all thy joy in his presence, and so thou mayest laugh at loss, and defy destruction. Remember that all the flowers in the world's garden fade by turns, and the day cometh when nothing will be left but the black, cold earth. Death's black extinguisher must soon put out thy candle. Oh! how sweet to have sunlight when the candle is gone! The dark flood must soon roll between thee and all thou hast; then wed thine heart to him who will never leave thee; trust thyself with him who will go with thee through the black and surging current of death's stream, and who will land thee safely on the celestial shore, and make thee sit with him in heavenly places forever. Go, sorrowing son of affliction, tell thy secrets to the Friend who sticketh closer than a brother. Trust all thy concerns with him who never can be taken from thee, who will never leave thee, and who will never let thee leave him, even "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever." "Lo, I am with you alway," is enough for my soul to live upon, let who will forsake me.

Evening

"Only be thou strong and very courageous."
Joshua 1:7
Our God's tender love for his servants makes him concerned for the state of their inward feelings. He desires them to be of good courage. Some esteem it a small thing for a believer to be vexed with doubts and fears, but God thinks not so. From this text it is plain that our Master would not have us entangled with fears. He would have us without carefulness, without doubt, without cowardice. Our Master does not think so lightly of our unbelief as we do. When we are desponding we are subject to a grievous malady, not to be trifled with, but to be carried at once to the beloved Physician. Our Lord loveth not to see our countenance sad. It was a law of Ahasuerus that no one should come into the king's court dressed in mourning: this is not the law of the King of kings, for we may come mourning as we are; but still he would have us put off the spirit of heaviness, and put on the garment of praise, for there is much reason to rejoice. The Christian man ought to be of a courageous spirit, in order that he may glorify the Lord by enduring trials in an heroic manner. If he be fearful and fainthearted, it will dishonour his God. Besides, what a bad example it is. This disease of doubtfulness and discouragement is an epidemic which soon spreads amongst the Lord's flock. One downcast believer makes twenty souls sad. Moreover, unless your courage is kept up, Satan will be too much for you. Let your spirit be joyful in God your Saviour, the joy of the Lord shall be your strength, and no fiend of hell shall make headway against you; but cowardice throws down the banner. Moreover, labour is light to a man of cheerful spirit; and success waits upon cheerfulness. The man who toils, rejoicing in his God, believing with all his heart, has success guaranteed. He who sows in hope shall reap in joy; therefore, dear reader, "be thou strong, and very courageous."

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Today's reading: 2 Kings 10-12, John 1:29-51 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Ahab’s Family Killed
    1 Now there were in Samaria seventy sons of the house of Ahab. So Jehu wrote letters and sent them to Samaria: to the officials of Jezreel, to the elders and to the guardians of Ahab’s children. He said, 2 “You have your master’s sons with you and you have chariots and horses, a fortified city and weapons. Now as soon as this letter reaches you, 3 choose the best and most worthy of your master’s sons and set him on his father’s throne. Then fight for your master’s house.”
   4 But they were terrified and said, “If two kings could not resist him, how can we?”
   5 So the palace administrator, the city governor, the elders and the guardians sent this message to Jehu: “We are your servants and we will do anything you say. We will not appoint anyone as king; you do whatever you think best.”
   6 Then Jehu wrote them a second letter, saying, “If you are on my side and will obey me, take the heads of your master’s sons and come to me in Jezreel by this time tomorrow.”
   Now the royal princes, seventy of them, were with the leading men of the city, who were rearing them. 7 When the letter arrived, these men took the princes and slaughtered all seventy of them. They put their heads in baskets and sent them to Jehu in Jezreel. 8 When the messenger arrived, he told Jehu, “They have brought the heads of the princes.”
   Then Jehu ordered, “Put them in two piles at the entrance of the city gate until morning.”
   9 The next morning Jehu went out. He stood before all the people and said, “You are innocent. It was I who conspired against my master and killed him, but who killed all these? 10Know, then, that not a word the LORD has spoken against the house of Ahab will fail. The LORD has done what he announced through his servant Elijah.” 11 So Jehu killed everyone in Jezreel who remained of the house of Ahab, as well as all his chief men, his close friends and his priests, leaving him no survivor.
   12 Jehu then set out and went toward Samaria. At Beth Eked of the Shepherds, 13 he met some relatives of Ahaziah king of Judah and asked, “Who are you?”
   They said, “We are relatives of Ahaziah, and we have come down to greet the families of the king and of the queen mother.”
   14 “Take them alive!” he ordered. So they took them alive and slaughtered them by the well of Beth Eked—forty-two of them. He left no survivor.
   15 After he left there, he came upon Jehonadab son of Rekab, who was on his way to meet him. Jehu greeted him and said, “Are you in accord with me, as I am with you?”
   “I am,” Jehonadab answered.
   “If so,” said Jehu, “give me your hand.” So he did, and Jehu helped him up into the chariot. 16 Jehu said, “Come with me and see my zeal for the LORD.” Then he had him ride along in his chariot.
   17 When Jehu came to Samaria, he killed all who were left there of Ahab’s family; he destroyed them, according to the word of the LORD spoken to Elijah.
Servants of Baal Killed
    18 Then Jehu brought all the people together and said to them, “Ahab served Baal a little; Jehu will serve him much. 19Now summon all the prophets of Baal, all his servants and all his priests. See that no one is missing, because I am going to hold a great sacrifice for Baal. Anyone who fails to come will no longer live.” But Jehu was acting deceptively in order to destroy the servants of Baal.
   20 Jehu said, “Call an assembly in honor of Baal.” So they proclaimed it. 21 Then he sent word throughout Israel, and all the servants of Baal came; not one stayed away. They crowded into the temple of Baal until it was full from one end to the other. 22 And Jehu said to the keeper of the wardrobe, “Bring robes for all the servants of Baal.” So he brought out robes for them.
   23 Then Jehu and Jehonadab son of Rekab went into the temple of Baal. Jehu said to the servants of Baal, “Look around and see that no one who serves the LORD is here with you—only servants of Baal.” 24 So they went in to make sacrifices and burnt offerings. Now Jehu had posted eighty men outside with this warning: “If one of you lets any of the men I am placing in your hands escape, it will be your life for his life.”
   25 As soon as Jehu had finished making the burnt offering, he ordered the guards and officers: “Go in and kill them; let no one escape.” So they cut them down with the sword. The guards and officers threw the bodies out and then entered the inner shrine of the temple of Baal. 26 They brought the sacred stone out of the temple of Baal and burned it. 27 They demolished the sacred stone of Baal and tore down the temple of Baal, and people have used it for a latrine to this day.
   28 So Jehu destroyed Baal worship in Israel. 29 However, he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit—the worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan.
   30 The LORD said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab all I had in mind to do, your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.” 31 Yet Jehu was not careful to keep the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam, which he had caused Israel to commit.
   32 In those days the LORD began to reduce the size of Israel. Hazael overpowered the Israelites throughout their territory 33 east of the Jordan in all the land of Gilead (the region of Gad, Reuben and Manasseh), from Aroer by the Arnon Gorge through Gilead to Bashan.
   34 As for the other events of Jehu’s reign, all he did, and all his achievements, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?
   35 Jehu rested with his ancestors and was buried in Samaria. And Jehoahaz his son succeeded him as king. 36 The time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty-eight years.

2 Kings 11

Athaliah and Joash
    1 When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family. 2 But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed. 3 He remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the LORD for six years while Athaliah ruled the land.
   4 In the seventh year Jehoiada sent for the commanders of units of a hundred, the Carites and the guards and had them brought to him at the temple of the LORD. He made a covenant with them and put them under oath at the temple of the LORD. Then he showed them the king’s son. 5 He commanded them, saying, “This is what you are to do: You who are in the three companies that are going on duty on the Sabbath—a third of you guarding the royal palace, 6 a third at the Sur Gate, and a third at the gate behind the guard, who take turns guarding the temple— 7 and you who are in the other two companies that normally go off Sabbath duty are all to guard the temple for the king. 8 Station yourselves around the king, each of you with weapon in hand. Anyone who approaches your ranks is to be put to death. Stay close to the king wherever he goes.”
   9 The commanders of units of a hundred did just as Jehoiada the priest ordered. Each one took his men—those who were going on duty on the Sabbath and those who were going off duty—and came to Jehoiada the priest. 10 Then he gave the commanders the spears and shields that had belonged to King David and that were in the temple of the LORD. 11 The guards, each with weapon in hand, stationed themselves around the king—near the altar and the temple, from the south side to the north side of the temple.
   12 Jehoiada brought out the king’s son and put the crown on him; he presented him with a copy of the covenant and proclaimed him king. They anointed him, and the people clapped their hands and shouted, “Long live the king!”
   13 When Athaliah heard the noise made by the guards and the people, she went to the people at the temple of the LORD.14 She looked and there was the king, standing by the pillar, as the custom was. The officers and the trumpeters were beside the king, and all the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets. Then Athaliah tore her robes and called out, “Treason! Treason!”
   15 Jehoiada the priest ordered the commanders of units of a hundred, who were in charge of the troops: “Bring her out between the ranks and put to the sword anyone who follows her.” For the priest had said, “She must not be put to death in the temple of the LORD.” 16 So they seized her as she reached the place where the horses enter the palace grounds, and there she was put to death.
   17 Jehoiada then made a covenant between the LORD and the king and people that they would be the LORD’s people. He also made a covenant between the king and the people. 18 All the people of the land went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars and idols to pieces and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars.
   Then Jehoiada the priest posted guards at the temple of the LORD. 19 He took with him the commanders of hundreds, the Carites, the guards and all the people of the land, and together they brought the king down from the temple of the LORD and went into the palace, entering by way of the gate of the guards. The king then took his place on the royal throne. 20 All the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was calm, because Athaliah had been slain with the sword at the palace.
   21 Joash was seven years old when he began to reign.

2 Kings 12

Joash Repairs the Temple
    1 In the seventh year of Jehu, Joash became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty years. His mother’s name was Zibiah; she was from Beersheba. 2 Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him. 3 The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.
   4 Joash said to the priests, “Collect all the money that is brought as sacred offerings to the temple of the LORD—the money collected in the census, the money received from personal vows and the money brought voluntarily to the temple.5 Let every priest receive the money from one of the treasurers, then use it to repair whatever damage is found in the temple.”
   6 But by the twenty-third year of King Joash the priests still had not repaired the temple. 7 Therefore King Joash summoned Jehoiada the priest and the other priests and asked them, “Why aren’t you repairing the damage done to the temple? Take no more money from your treasurers, but hand it over for repairing the temple.” 8 The priests agreed that they would not collect any more money from the people and that they would not repair the temple themselves.
   9 Jehoiada the priest took a chest and bored a hole in its lid. He placed it beside the altar, on the right side as one enters the temple of the LORD. The priests who guarded the entrance put into the chest all the money that was brought to the temple of the LORD. 10 Whenever they saw that there was a large amount of money in the chest, the royal secretary and the high priest came, counted the money that had been brought into the temple of the LORD and put it into bags. 11 When the amount had been determined, they gave the money to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. With it they paid those who worked on the temple of the LORD—the carpenters and builders, 12 the masons and stonecutters. They purchased timber and blocks of dressed stone for the repair of the temple of the LORD, and met all the other expenses of restoring the temple.
   13 The money brought into the temple was not spent for making silver basins, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, trumpets or any other articles of gold or silver for the temple of the LORD; 14 it was paid to the workers, who used it to repair the temple. 15 They did not require an accounting from those to whom they gave the money to pay the workers, because they acted with complete honesty. 16 The money from the guilt offerings and sin offerings was not brought into the temple of the LORD; it belonged to the priests.
   17 About this time Hazael king of Aram went up and attacked Gath and captured it. Then he turned to attack Jerusalem. 18But Joash king of Judah took all the sacred objects dedicated by his predecessors—Jehoshaphat, Jehoram and Ahaziah, the kings of Judah—and the gifts he himself had dedicated and all the gold found in the treasuries of the temple of the LORD and of the royal palace, and he sent them to Hazael king of Aram, who then withdrew from Jerusalem.
   19 As for the other events of the reign of Joash, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 20 His officials conspired against him and assassinated him at Beth Millo, on the road down to Silla. 21The officials who murdered him were Jozabad son of Shimeath and Jehozabad son of Shomer. He died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. And Amaziah his son succeeded him as king.

John 1

John Testifies About Jesus
    29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
   32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
John’s Disciples Follow Jesus
    35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
   37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
   They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
   39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
   So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
   40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.
   Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).
Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael
    43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
   44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
   46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
   “Come and see,” said Philip.
   47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
   48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
   Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
    49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
   50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

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Jeroboam [Jĕro bō'am]—enlarges, struggler for the people or the people have become numerous.
1. The son of Nebat from Zereda in Manasseh, who became the first king of the ten tribes of Israel. This Ephraimite, Jeroboam I, reigned for twenty-two years. His mother’s name was Zeruah, who was widowed at the time of his birth. This is the Jeroboam who rebuked the unnamed prophet ( 1 Kings 11:26-4012-16).

The Man Who Made Israel Sin

The dreadful description of Jeroboam tied to his name like a label, is that “he made Israel to sin.” His sin—the root and fruit of it—are the chief things the Bible records of this widow’s son. We are familiar with the incident of Ahijah taking Jeroboam’s new garment and tearing it into twelve pieces, giving Jeroboam ten pieces and prophesying the rending of Solomon’s kingdom, and the government of ten tribes of that kingdom passing into Jeroboam’s hands. No wonder Solomon sought to kill him. But after the king’s death and the refusal of Rehoboam to follow good advice, the kingdom split and ten tribes went with Jeroboam.
Solomon had lost his kingdom by idolatry and Jeroboam proposed to keep his ten-tribe kingdom by idolatry. So, abandoning the commandment and promise of God, Jeroboam set up golden bulls, one in Bethel and the other in Dan. People must have religion of some sort, Jeroboam reasoned, as he made the worship of the calves a part of the constitution of his kingdom. How sad it is to read that the Lord gave Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam! The consequences of national idolatry continued, for eighteen kings sat upon the throne of Judah after his death, but not one of them gave up the golden calves. Of fifteen of them it is said that they departed not from the sin of Jeroboam. As with the kings, so with the people who continued to walk in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did (2 Kings 17:2223).
There is no need to linger over what befell Jeroboam himself. He was warned by the man of God from Judah, but without avail. His son fell sick and died, and Jeroboam shortly after was defeated by his enemies. Then the Lord struck him and he died. Yet his name lives on with the terrible mark against it. “He made Israel to sin.”
2. A son of Joash or Jehoash the grandfather of Jehu, who succeeded Joash as king over the ten tribes, and who reigned for forty-one years ( 2 Kings 13:1314:16-2915:181 Chron. 5:17Amos 1:17:9-11). Both Hosea (Hos. 1:1 ) and Amos describe the temporary prosperity of Israel with the accompaniment of social and moral degeneracy during the reign of Jeroboam II. Under him, Israel regained the territory it lost to its hereditary enemy, Syria. The aspect of commanding interest in Jeroboam’s age when materialism was in the saddle was the appearance of a man with a message. Amid the shallow optimism possessing king and people alike was the voice of Amos, the herdsman of Tekoa, saying in effect: “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the word of our God shall stand forever.”
Israel’s prosperity ended with the death of this Jeroboam. A period of anarchy followed. Then he was succeeded by his son Zachariah, who after a reign of only six months, was murdered by Shallum who, in turn, was assassinated one month later. Think of it, three kings sat on Israel’s throne in seven months! Four out of six kings succeeding Jeroboam died violent deaths. In less than fifteen years four of Israel’s kings were murdered.

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May 10, 2012
The Spiritual Cancer
Mary Southerland
Today's Truth
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6, NIV).
Friend to Friend
C.S. Lewis called pride a "spiritual cancer" that devours love and contentment. Pride is a sign of our own insecurity and feelings of inferiority. Pride and inferiority are actually opposite sides of the same coin and are both sin, a preoccupation with self that leaves little room for God's spirit of humility.
We all struggle with pride and must constantly battle the tendency to measure every circumstance and relationship against the narcissistic viewpoint of "What's in it for me?" Pride has no place in the life of a Christian because pride steps between God and us. To think that God stands in opposition against prideful people is a strong and sobering statement that should send us all running to the place of humility. Because He is a loving Father, God opposes pride, in part, for what it does to His children. "Pride will destroy a person; a proud attitude leads to ruin. It is better to be humble and be with those who suffer than to share stolen property with the proud" ( Proverbs 16:18-19). Learning to deal with pride is an important and essential part of spiritual growth.
Pride will prevent us from seeing others as God sees them. Pride will hold us back from laying down our expectations and rights in order to reach out to those who cross our path. Pride will slowly erode the humble spirit God so wants to see in His people and in their relationships. I suspect that a good dose of humility would cure many of our failing marriages, broken family relationships and struggling friendships. Then the question becomes, how can we eliminate pride and prevent it from carving out a destructive stronghold from which relationship problems arise. The answer is found in a passage of scripture written by the apostle Paul and directed to the church in Rome.
Romans 12:3 -6;10 "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves."
Paul certainly understood what it meant to struggle with pride. Before his encounter with Christ, Paul had been a man of great arrogance. After all, he was a power broker in the Roman government as well as a highly regarded and chief persecutor of anyone following Jesus Christ. Little did Paul know what the road to Damascus held for him that day when God interrupted Paul's life with His blinding love and His unparalleled power. Everything changed. Paul became a humble man, the walking definition of a servant, delighting in his new role of striving to be last among the least. Paul understood that he was a trophy of grace; that his heart had been captured by grace and his life completely transformed in the process. God's grace was Paul's starting place and finish line and the very reason Paul was so humble and so powerful. It is such a paradox in God's economy of life that in order to be strong we must choose weakness and in order to be first we must be content with last.
The amazing truth is that grace is ours for the asking. God stands ready to pour His priceless grace into every heart and soul while watching grace work to generate an unexplainable peace, eternal life, unending joy, and freedom from sin through unconditional love. Grace offers us the riches of God, at the expense of Jesus Christ and His death on the cross.   
Pride's goal is to make us independent of God, duping us into believing that we are in control of our own fate and are able to call our own shots. What audacity we possess as humans to think we can live life on our own when, whether we admit it or not, we are totally dependent on God and even our very next breath is a gift from His hand. Pride convinces us that we can play God, worshipping ourselves while erecting false idols shrouded in rebellion and sin. Pride is the universal religion of hell and a deadly poison. It's antidote? Grace.
A friend told me about a new product she found listed online. "Disposable Guilt Bags" first appeared in a few select stores to test the market. I could have told the inventor that guilt exists in abundance and that people will go to any lengths to assuage their guilt. My friend explained that you could buy a set of Disposable Guilt Bags, ten ordinary brown bags on which were printed the following instructions: "Place the bag securely over your mouth then take a deep breath and blow out all of your guilt. Close the bag and dispose of immediately." The amazing part of this story is that the Associated Press reported that over 2500 kits had sold immediately at $2.50 per kit. 
Nothing on this earth is powerful enough to erase guilt. We try to "fix" ourselves but fail. The only power that makes it possible to be forgiven is God's grace. "In Christ we are set free by the blood of his death. And so we have forgiveness of sins because of God's rich grace" (Ephesians 1:7). When our lives are lived against the backdrop of grace, pride will die from a lack of attention.
Let's Pray
Lord, please forgive my arrogant heart. I am so sorry for the pride I see in my life. Today, I ask You to search my heart and destroy the strongholds of pride and ego. Help me to recognize prideful thoughts and actions in my life. Give me the discernment to be honest and transparent before You and before others. I, too, am a trophy of grace. Help me to live like one. 
In Jesus' name,
Amen.
Now it's your turn
Read the following verses and answer each question:
  • Psalm 10:4 "In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God" (NIV). How does pride affect our relationship with God? Is this true in your life?
  • Proverbs 16:5 "The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished" (NIV). What is God's attitude toward those who are proud? 
  • Psalm 40:4 "Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods" (NIV). How does pride encourage idolatry? Do you have any idols in your life? Name them and eliminate them. 
What decision do you need to make today in order to choose grace over pride? What would that look like in your daily life?
More from the Girlfriends
Guilt is one of Satan's favorite ways to discourage us. Enough! We are daughters of the King and children of Grace. Learn who you are in God's eyes through Mary's message, In His Eyes. Mary's weekly online Bible Study, Light for the Journey, will help you learn how to face and deal with the pain in your life. Need a friend? Connect with Mary onFacebook or through email.
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Lysa TerKeurst
May 10, 2012
"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV)
My heart is stirred today to say it's time to quit.
Not ministry.
Not a relationship.
But quit being critical of someone I love very much. The crazy thing is, I'm not a critical person. But I've found myself slipping into a pattern of giving this person what they give me.
They criticize.
So, I've started criticizing back. A lot.
And I'm feeling very convicted this morning that I need to model a different attitude and approach to life.
Last month, my pastor said something very convicting in his sermon, "Jesus didn't die so we'd be sorry. He died and then He was resurrected so we'd be changed."
Changed.
There is a big difference between being sorry and being changed.
To be sorry means to feel bad. It's a temporary little prick of the heart.
But change only comes when we're repentant. Being repentant is a deeper conviction to actually correct and transform our behavior-our habit-our wrong tendency.
In 2 Corinthians 7:10 we learn, "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow leads to death." Leaves no regret-those are powerful words.
I want to live a life of no regrets.
And I think today is really good day to address something that could lead to a big ol' pile of regret.
So, each time I'm feeling the need to criticize I'm going to see it as a call to flip my words to encouragement.
I might still need to address some issues with this person but I will do it by pointing out their strengths and the responsibilities that come with those strengths rather than constantly focusing on their weaknesses.
For example, "You are an influencer! Have you noticed when you are happy others are happy but when you are negative it really affects those around you? I need your help to keep things positive today. Do you think you can accept this leadership role? How can you be a positive influence in this situation?"
I'm not naive enough to think this will be easy. I will need grace. They will need grace. But at least if I'm aware of how I need to change, change can be set in motion.
Are you up for quitting some old habit, negative attitude, or wrong tendency? I know I am. The next time we're presented with an opportunity, let's remember the words of my pastor, "Jesus didn't die so we'd be sorry. He died and then He was resurrected so we'd be changed."
Dear Lord, I'm ready to quit. Instead of critical words, I want to speak kind and encouraging ones. Will You please help me make this shift? In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
Longing for a deeper connection between what you know in your head and your everyday reality? The bookBecoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst is a great place to start!
For a chance to win a Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl book and Bible study kit, visit Lysa's blog today:www.LysaTerKeurst.com
Lysa is speaking in over 40 cities this year. Click here to see if she'll be near you!
Reflect and Respond:
There is a big difference between being sorry and being changed. To be sorry means to feel bad. It's a temporary little prick of the heart. But change only comes when we're repentant.
Are you up for quitting an old habit? Here's a good one to start with: each time you feel the need to criticize, flip your words to encouragement.
Power Verse:
Proverbs 16:24, "Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body." (ESV)
© 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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Revealing the Heart

Matthew 12:33-37 "The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil" ( v. 35).
Christ moves from His warning about the unforgivable sin to a warning about speaking "careless" words. The Pharisees may think that their comments are innocuous rather than evidence of their own spiritual states (Matt. 12:24). Even the people who speculate correctly that Jesus could be the son of David (v. 23) do not go unheard by others. But today's passage soberly reminds us that there are no neutral words, for what we say reveals the condition of our hearts.
Those who have thus far opposed our Lord do not suffer merely from an external problem. The fruit of their lips is bad, Jesus is saying, and therefore the tree is bad. Accusing Him of being possessed by Satan, even if it is a casual comment, reveals that the hearts of the Pharisees are evil. The tree is rotten and it bears only spoiled fruit (vv. 33-34 ). If these opponents are to bear good fruit, they need cleansing not only on the outside, but on the inside as well. In fact, the tree of evil that is growing within them must be uprooted and replaced with a holy tree. Augustine tells us "a person must first be changed in order for his works to be changed" (Sermons on New Testament Lessons, 72.1.1).
Argos, the Greek word translated as "careless" in Matthew 12:36 , refers to words that we might consider insignificant. They are said without thinking and reveal the state of one's heart according to many commentators. Anyone can hide his inward nature with a poetic turn of phrase or other carefully constructed statement, but when someone lets his guard down, the abundance of the heart overflows (v. 34b ). Jesus is not telling us to be humorless, but He is highlighting our need to speak with care, especially if we think we can repeat gossip or make unfounded accusations with impunity. If such speech brings condemnation, how much more will our Father judge those who speak with malice aforethought? In his commentary on Matthew 12, John Calvin says, "If every idle word is to be called in question, how would God spare the open blasphemies and sacrilegious insolence of those who bark against his glory?"
Remember that God hears all that we say. Our words will either reveal that we love the Lord above all or show that we are self-centered hypocrites (v. 37).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Dr. John MacArthur teaches that "no infraction against God's holiness is a trifling thing, and each person will ultimately give account of such indiscretion" (The MacArthur Bible Commentary , p. 1,146). The Lord hears and remembers every word we speak; therefore, we should not think there is such a thing as a throwaway phrase. How thoughtful are you before you speak, and what do your jokes and whispered comments say about the state of your heart?
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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Revealing the Heart

Dr. John MacArthur teaches that "no infraction against God's holiness is a trifling thing, and each person will ultimately give account of such indiscretion" (The MacArthur Bible Commentary, p. 1,146). The Lord hears and remembers every word we speak; therefore, we should not think there is such a thing as a throwaway phrase. How thoughtful are you before you speak, and what do your jokes and whispered comments say about the state of your heart?
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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Joseph and his brethren

‘Joseph said …, I am Joseph; … And his brethren … were troubled at his presence. And Joseph said …, Come near to me … And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved … that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.’ Genesis 45:3–5
Suggested Further Reading: James 4:1–10
Every time you prefer the pleasures of this world to the joys of heaven, you spit in the face of Christ; every time when to gain in your business, you do an unrighteous thing, you are like Judas selling him for thirty pieces of silver; every time you make a false profession of religion, you give him a traitor’s kiss; every word you have spoken against him, every hard thought you have had of him, has helped to complete your complicity with the great crowd which gathered around the cross of Calvary, to mock and jeer the Lord of life and glory. Now, if there be any sin which will make a man deeply penitent, I think that this sin when it is really brought home to the conscience will affect us. To slay him who did me no hurt, the holy and the harmless One! To assist in hounding to the tree the man who scattered blessings with both his hands, and who had no thought, nor care, nor love, save for those who hated him. To pierce the hands that touched the leper, and that broke the bread, and multiplied the fishes! To fasten to the accursed wood the feet which had often carried his weary body upon painful journeys of mercy! This is base indeed, but when I think he loved me, and gave himself for me, that he chose me , before the stars were made, and that I, when he came to me in the gospel, should have rejected and despised, and even mocked at him, this is intensely, infinitely cruel. Jesus, thou dost forgive me, but I can never forgive myself for such a sin as this.
For meditation: Consider the effect of Christ’s crucifixion upon those who mourn their guilt in it (Zechariah 12:1013:1Acts 2:36–37). Are you washed from your sin by his blood (Revelation 1:5) or does your guilt wash off you like water off a duck’s back (Acts 4:10,185:3040)? Many will regret it when it is too late (Revelation 1:7).
Sermon no. 449
11 May (1862)

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The form of sound words

“Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 1:13
Suggested Further Reading: Deuteronomy 6:4-720-25
Let me exhort you, as much as lies in you, to give your children sound instruction in the great doctrines of the gospel of Christ. I believe that what Irving once said is a great truth. He said, “In these modern times you boast and glory, and you think yourselves to be in a high and noble condition, because you have your Sabbath-schools and British-schools, and all kinds of schools for teaching youth. I tell you,” he said, “that philanthropic and great as these are, they are the ensigns of your disgrace; they show that your land is not a land where parents teach children at home. They show you there is a want of parental instruction; and though they be blessed things, these Sabbath-schools, they are indications of something wrong, for if we all taught our children there would be no need of strangers to say to our children ‘Know the Lord.’” I trust you will never give up that excellent puritanical habit of catechising your children at home. Any father or mother who entirely gives up a child to the teaching of another has made a mistake. There is no teacher who wishes to absolve a parent from what he ought to do himself. He is an assistant, but he was never intended to be a substitute. Teach your children; bring out your old catechisms again, for they are, after all, blessed means of instruction, and the next generation shall outstrip those that have gone before it; for the reason why many of you are weak in the faith is this, you did not receive instruction in your youth in the great things of the gospel of Christ. If you had, you would have been so grounded, and settled, and firm in the faith, that nothing could by any means have moved you.
For meditation: Faithful teaching from his mother and grandmother had prepared Timothy for his further education from the apostle Paul (Acts 16:1-32 Timothy 1:53:14-15).
Sermon no. 79
11 May (1856)

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Nothing makes the Bible Gateway team happier than adding new Bible versions and translations to our library. And it's even more exciting when the Bible version is one that readers have long requested! Without further ado:

Complete Jewish Bible Now Available on Bible Gateway

The Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) is an English translation that contains both the Tanakh (Old Testament) and the B'rit Hadashah (New Covenant--the New Testament).
The CJB offers something to both Jewish and non-Jewish readers. Jewish readers are connected to the Jewish context and identity of the Messiah. And all readers will see more clearly the Jewish roots of the Christian faith--something that is occasionally lost or minimized in translation.
What specifically is different about the Complete Jewish Bible? Among other things, names and key terms are returned to their original Hebrew and presented in easy-to-understand transliteration, making it easy to pronounce them the same way Yeshua (Jesus) did! For example, you'll readYerushalayim instead of JerusalemTorah instead of Law, andYeshua instead of Jesus. You'll notice plenty of other Hebrew words and phrases throughout the text--all of them easy to understand in context. Compare how the NIV and CJB use different transliterations of names and terms in Hebrews 7 to see how this reads.
Like the other Bibles in our library, the Complete Jewish Bible can be searched through the drop-down Bible menu onBibleGateway.com or browsed at its translation information page.
Bible Gateway visitors have been asking to see the Complete Jewish Bible in our library for a long time, and we're very grateful to Messianic Jewish Publishers for making it available. Whatever Bible translation you regularly read, we encourage you to take a look at the Complete Jewish Bibleand connect more closely to the Jewish context of Scripture and the Christian faith.
That's the news for today. Have a good weekend! (And keep an eye on our blog for some Mother's Day goodness in the next few days!)

Sincerely,

The Bible Gateway team 

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How Has God's Word Been Preserved for Thousands of Years?

Today's reading: Exodus 25:10-22
Through Moses the Israelites received revelation directly from God, including the Ten Commandments "inscribed by the finger of God" (Exodus 31:18). These two engraved stone tablets were known as the "tablets of the covenant law" (Exodus 31:18) or simply, as in this passage, "the covenant law" (Exodus 25:16,21). The Lord directed Moses to place the tablets inside the "ark of the covenant law" ( Exodus 25:22), more commonly known as the "ark of the covenant" (Numbers 10:33). The ark, whose specific dimensions and design were given to Moses (see Exodus 25:10-14), was the visible sign of God's presence and protection. The placement of the Ten Commandments inside the ark symbolized the honor that the Israelites held for God's Word.
This honor for God's sacred Word was also reflected in the strict way in which the Bible was passed down. Because no printing presses existed in antiquity, each manuscript had to be handwritten and copied with precision from an existing manuscript. This process was undertaken by scribes who were tediously careful to copy the words of God exactly. Later in history, between the sixth and tenth centuries A.D., a group of Jewish scholars, the Masoretes, became even more meticulous in their quality control. To make sure their new copies were error free, they would count the words on a page of the original document and compare it to the words on the newly created page. If the numbers did not match, they would destroy the new page and write it again.
These examples highlight the careful tradition in which the Scriptures have been handed down for thousands of years. Knowing how seriously the transmitters of the text took their job, we can be sure that the Bible can be trusted to accurately reflect what the original authors intended.
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WITHOUT WOMEN THERE WOULD BE NO CHURCH

Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Matthew 27:55
The New Testament records the fact that many women were among the larger body of disciples that followed and served Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, we only know the names and stories of a few. They were more loyal to Jesus at the time of his crucifixion than his male disciples.
Despite the patriarchal society of that day, four women—two of them Gentile foreigners—were named in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel chapter one. It is significant that Jesus included women in his teaching putting them on equality with men. The same ethical and moral standards were demanded from both genders and the same way of salvation was offered for both.
Throughout the Bible, women filled significant roles—from leadership like Deborah to unique motherhood like Mary. The same has been true of those in the persecuted church.
A pastor in Cuba once told me, “Lenin said that without women there would be no revolution. I say that without women there would be no church!”
In China, the group of Christians who have had a major role in the revival and church growth are referred to locally as “Bible Women.” Chairman Mao once said, “Women hold up half the sky.” But it is estimated that about seventy per cent of the active Christian workers and church leaders in China today are women.
For example, Chinese Bible Woman, Ding Xianggao, has an incredible testimony. She is a young itinerant evangelist in China. Very much aware of the cost, she says, “In my country there are many brothers and sisters who suffer for Christ. Some of my co-workers have spent thirty years in prison for the sake of the gospel.”
Two of her associates were actually martyred. Because she is a hunted woman, she often sleeps in caves and fields to avoid capture.
Her commitment is expressed this way: “Jesus died for me. The least I should do is die for Him. To suffer and go to prison for Him is my honour, and I look forward to it.” She ended up in a large prison with over eight hundred inmates involved in prostitution, murder and kidnapping. But Ding believed God had placed her there for a reason. After three years she was released from prison. But not before seventy-eight people had made a personal commitment to Christ.
Sister Chan was sent to prison for six months for public preaching in central China, a prison with six thousand other women. During her time there, she led eight hundred women to faith in Jesus.
God uses everyone who is available in establishing His kingdom on earth.
RESPONSE: Today I will not assume that I am not useable by God. I will make myself available to Him.
PRAYER: Pray for the ministry of Christian women around the world—especially those who serve our Lord in difficult assignments or places.

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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Abraham: The Father of Faith

After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." (Genesis 15:1)
You lived before monotheistic religion existed. How did you know there was a God?
I've always believed in God, even when others didn't. I remember getting up early as a young boy and watching the morning sun light up the mountains as if they were on fire. It stirred something inside me, and I remember thinking, "There must be something that made all this beauty." Or I'd see the moonlight dancing on the ripples in the Euphrates River at night, and local people would say it was a moon god, but that didn't quite sit right with me. So it didn't surprise me when the Lord showed up on my doorstep one day. Looking back on it, I think he'd been calling to my heart for a long time.
One of your defining moments was when God made a covenant with you. What do you remember about that moment?
Actually, I remember my fear more than anything else. Looking back, I wish I'd had more faith. But the Lord had promised so many things that seemed, in my mind, impossible. Most of my life I've been afraid. Afraid that things were too good to be true. Afraid that my land or my wife or my life would be snatched by desert raiders or evil foreign leaders. I'm ashamed to admit this now, but I had trouble believing that the covenant promises would come true.
So what changed?
It all changed that night. I brought the cow, goat, ram and birds and cut each in half as God directed. Traditionally, I would have walked between the two sections as a pledge to keep my promise. But I fell into a deep sleep and saw a vision of a blazing torch passing between the animal pieces. It was God taking the covenant walk, telling me that he would never break his promises! My heart leaps with joy whenever I remember that vision.
Another defining moment of your life had to be the near sacrifice of Isaac. How did you know that God was going to come through when he told you to kill your son?
I can't begin to put into words the anguish I felt on that long, three-day journey. And tying Isaac to the altar was more difficult than you could ever imagine. But I had courage because God had already proven to me that he was a God of life. He had helped my wife Sarah-who had never been able to have children-to have a son. I knew he was a miracle-working, life-creating God. The only way I was able to fathom the thought of driving a knife into my son was that I knew Yahweh was fully capable of bringing life back into being.

Back to the Future

  • What tests of faith are you facing right now?
  • In what ways has God been faithful to his promises to you in the past?
  • How can you develop a greater trust in God and his promises?
Read Abraham's Story
For the full story of Abraham, read Genesis 12:1-25:11.

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