Friday, May 25, 2012

Daily Devotional Friday 25th May

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Forsake me not, O Lord."
Psalm 38:21
Frequently we pray that God would not forsake us in the hour of trial and temptation, but we too much forget that we have need to use this prayer at all times. There is no moment of our life, however holy, in which we can do without his constant upholding. Whether in light or in darkness, in communion or in temptation, we alike need the prayer, "Forsake me not, O Lord." "Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe." A little child, while learning to walk, always needs the nurse's aid. The ship left by the pilot drifts at once from her course. We cannot do without continued aid from above; let it then be your prayer today, "Forsake me not. Father, forsake not thy child, lest he fall by the hand of the enemy. Shepherd, forsake not thy lamb, lest he wander from the safety of the fold. Great Husbandman, forsake not thy plant, lest it wither and die. Forsake me not, O Lord,' now; and forsake me not at any moment of my life. Forsake me not in my joys, lest they absorb my heart. Forsake me not in my sorrows, lest I murmur against thee. Forsake me not in the day of my repentance, lest I lose the hope of pardon, and fall into despair; and forsake me not in the day of my strongest faith, lest faith degenerate into presumption. Forsake me not, for without thee I am weak, but with thee I am strong. Forsake me not, for my path is dangerous, and full of snares, and I cannot do without thy guidance. The hen forsakes not her brood; do thou then evermore cover me with thy feathers, and permit me under thy wings to find my refuge. Be not far from me, O Lord, for trouble is near, for there is none to help.' Leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation!'"
"O ever in our cleansed breast,
Bid thine Eternal Spirit rest;
And make our secret soul to be
A temple pure and worthy thee."

Evening

"And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem ... and they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them."
Luke 24:33-35
When the two disciples had reached Emmaus, and were refreshing themselves at the evening meal, the mysterious stranger who had so enchanted them upon the road, took bread and brake it, made himself known to them, and then vanished out of their sight. They had constrained him to abide with them, because the day was far spent; but now, although it was much later, their love was a lamp to their feet, yea, wings also; they forgot the darkness, their weariness was all gone, and forthwith they journeyed back the threescore furlongs to tell the gladsome news of a risen Lord, who had appeared to them by the way. They reached the Christians in Jerusalem, and were received by a burst of joyful news before they could tell their own tale. These early Christians were all on fire to speak of Christ's resurrection, and to proclaim what they knew of the Lord; they made common property of their experiences. This evening let their example impress us deeply. We too must bear our witness concerning Jesus. John's account of the sepulchre needed to be supplemented by Peter; and Mary could speak of something further still; combined, we have a full testimony from which nothing can be spared. We have each of us peculiar gifts and special manifestations; but the one object God has in view is the perfecting of the whole body of Christ. We must, therefore, bring our spiritual possessions and lay them at the apostle's feet, and make distribution unto all of what God has given to us. Keep back no part of the precious truth, but speak what you know, and testify what you have seen. Let not the toil or darkness, or possible unbelief of your friends, weigh one moment in the scale. Up, and be marching to the place of duty, and there tell what great things God has shown to your soul.

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Today's reading: 1 Chronicles 22-24, John 8:28-59 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
   Then David said, “The house of the LORD God is to be here, and also the altar of burnt offering for Israel.”
Preparations for the Temple
    2 So David gave orders to assemble the foreigners residing in Israel, and from among them he appointed stonecutters to prepare dressed stone for building the house of God. 3 He provided a large amount of iron to make nails for the doors of the gateways and for the fittings, and more bronze than could be weighed. 4 He also provided more cedar logs than could be counted, for the Sidonians and Tyrians had brought large numbers of them to David.
   5 David said, “My son Solomon is young and inexperienced, and the house to be built for the LORD should be of great magnificence and fame and splendor in the sight of all the nations. Therefore I will make preparations for it.” So David made extensive preparations before his death.
   6 Then he called for his son Solomon and charged him to build a house for the LORD, the God of Israel. 7 David said to Solomon: “My son, I had it in my heart to build a house for the Name of the LORD my God. 8 But this word of the LORD came to me: ‘You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight. 9 But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign. 10 He is the one who will build a house for my Name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’
   11 “Now, my son, the LORD be with you, and may you have success and build the house of the LORD your God, as he said you would. 12 May the LORD give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the LORD your God. 13 Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the LORD gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.
   14 “I have taken great pains to provide for the temple of the LORD a hundred thousand talents of gold, a million talents[c] of silver, quantities of bronze and iron too great to be weighed, and wood and stone. And you may add to them. 15 You have many workers: stonecutters, masons and carpenters, as well as those skilled in every kind of work 16 in gold and silver, bronze and iron—craftsmen beyond number. Now begin the work, and the LORD be with you.”
   17 Then David ordered all the leaders of Israel to help his son Solomon. 18 He said to them, “Is not the LORD your God with you? And has he not granted you rest on every side? For he has given the inhabitants of the land into my hands, and the land is subject to the LORD and to his people. 19 Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God. Begin to build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the sacred articles belonging to God into the temple that will be built for the Name of the LORD.”

1 Chronicles 23

The Levites
    1 When David was old and full of years, he made his son Solomon king over Israel.
   2 He also gathered together all the leaders of Israel, as well as the priests and Levites. 3 The Levites thirty years old or more were counted, and the total number of men was thirty-eight thousand. 4 David said, “Of these, twenty-four thousand are to be in charge of the work of the temple of the LORD and six thousand are to be officials and judges. 5 Four thousand are to be gatekeepers and four thousand are to praise the LORD with the musical instruments I have provided for that purpose.”
   6 David separated the Levites into divisions corresponding to the sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath and Merari.
Gershonites
    7 Belonging to the Gershonites:
   Ladan and Shimei.
   8 The sons of Ladan: 
   Jehiel the first, Zetham and Joel—three in all.
   9 The sons of Shimei: 
   Shelomoth, Haziel and Haran—three in all. 
   These were the heads of the families of Ladan.
   10 And the sons of Shimei: 
   Jahath, Ziza, Jeush and Beriah. 
   These were the sons of Shimei—four in all. 
   11 Jahath was the first and Ziza the second, but Jeush and Beriah did not have many sons; so they were counted as one family with one assignment.
Kohathites
    12 The sons of Kohath:
   Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel—four in all.
   13 The sons of Amram: 
   Aaron and Moses. 
   Aaron was set apart, he and his descendants forever, to consecrate the most holy things, to offer sacrifices before the LORD, to minister before him and to pronounce blessings in his name forever. 14 The sons of Moses the man of God were counted as part of the tribe of Levi.
   15 The sons of Moses: 
   Gershom and Eliezer.
   16 The descendants of Gershom: 
   Shubael was the first.
   17 The descendants of Eliezer: 
   Rehabiah was the first. 
   Eliezer had no other sons, but the sons of Rehabiah were very numerous.
   18 The sons of Izhar: 
   Shelomith was the first.
   19 The sons of Hebron: 
   Jeriah the first, Amariah the second, Jahaziel the third and Jekameam the fourth.
   20 The sons of Uzziel: 
   Micah the first and Ishiah the second.
Merarites
    21 The sons of Merari:
   Mahli and Mushi.
   The sons of Mahli: 
   Eleazar and Kish. 
   22 Eleazar died without having sons: he had only daughters. Their cousins, the sons of Kish, married them.
   23 The sons of Mushi: 
   Mahli, Eder and Jerimoth—three in all.
   24 These were the descendants of Levi by their families—the heads of families as they were registered under their names and counted individually, that is, the workers twenty years old or more who served in the temple of the LORD. 25 For David had said, “Since the LORD, the God of Israel, has granted rest to his people and has come to dwell in Jerusalem forever, 26the Levites no longer need to carry the tabernacle or any of the articles used in its service.” 27 According to the last instructions of David, the Levites were counted from those twenty years old or more.
   28 The duty of the Levites was to help Aaron’s descendants in the service of the temple of the LORD: to be in charge of the courtyards, the side rooms, the purification of all sacred things and the performance of other duties at the house of God. 29They were in charge of the bread set out on the table, the special flour for the grain offerings, the thin loaves made without yeast, the baking and the mixing, and all measurements of quantity and size. 30 They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD. They were to do the same in the evening 31 and whenever burnt offerings were presented to the LORD on the Sabbaths, at the New Moon feasts and at the appointed festivals. They were to serve before the LORD regularly in the proper number and in the way prescribed for them.
   32 And so the Levites carried out their responsibilities for the tent of meeting, for the Holy Place and, under their relatives the descendants of Aaron, for the service of the temple of the LORD.

1 Chronicles 24

The Divisions of Priests
    1 These were the divisions of the descendants of Aaron:
   The sons of Aaron were Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.2 But Nadab and Abihu died before their father did, and they had no sons; so Eleazar and Ithamar served as the priests. 3With the help of Zadok a descendant of Eleazar and Ahimelek a descendant of Ithamar, David separated them into divisions for their appointed order of ministering. 4 A larger number of leaders were found among Eleazar’s descendants than among Ithamar’s, and they were divided accordingly: sixteen heads of families from Eleazar’s descendants and eight heads of families from Ithamar’s descendants. 5 They divided them impartially by casting lots, for there were officials of the sanctuary and officials of God among the descendants of both Eleazar and Ithamar.
   6 The scribe Shemaiah son of Nethanel, a Levite, recorded their names in the presence of the king and of the officials: Zadok the priest, Ahimelek son of Abiathar and the heads of families of the priests and of the Levites—one family being taken from Eleazar and then one from Ithamar.
   7 The first lot fell to Jehoiarib,
   the second to Jedaiah,
   8 the third to Harim,
   the fourth to Seorim,
   9 the fifth to Malkijah,
   the sixth to Mijamin,
   10 the seventh to Hakkoz,
   the eighth to Abijah,
   11 the ninth to Jeshua,
   the tenth to Shekaniah,
   12 the eleventh to Eliashib,
   the twelfth to Jakim,
   13 the thirteenth to Huppah,
   the fourteenth to Jeshebeab,
   14 the fifteenth to Bilgah,
   the sixteenth to Immer,
   15 the seventeenth to Hezir,
   the eighteenth to Happizzez,
   16 the nineteenth to Pethahiah,
   the twentieth to Jehezkel,
   17 the twenty-first to Jakin,
   the twenty-second to Gamul,
   18 the twenty-third to Delaiah
   and the twenty-fourth to Maaziah.
   19 This was their appointed order of ministering when they entered the temple of the LORD, according to the regulations prescribed for them by their ancestor Aaron, as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded him.
The Rest of the Levites
    20 As for the rest of the descendants of Levi:
   from the sons of Amram: Shubael; 
   from the sons of Shubael: Jehdeiah. 
   21 As for Rehabiah, from his sons: 
   Ishiah was the first.
   22 From the Izharites: Shelomoth; 
   from the sons of Shelomoth: Jahath.
   23 The sons of Hebron: Jeriah the first, Amariah the second, Jahaziel the third and Jekameam the fourth.
   24 The son of Uzziel: Micah; 
   from the sons of Micah: Shamir. 
   25 The brother of Micah: Ishiah; 
   from the sons of Ishiah: Zechariah.
   26 The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. 
   The son of Jaaziah: Beno.
   27 The sons of Merari: 
   from Jaaziah: Beno, Shoham, Zakkur and Ibri.
   28 From Mahli: Eleazar, who had no sons.
    29 From Kish: the son of Kish: 
   Jerahmeel.
   30 And the sons of Mushi: Mahli, Eder and Jerimoth.
   These were the Levites, according to their families. 31 They also cast lots, just as their relatives the descendants of Aaron did, in the presence of King David and of Zadok, Ahimelek, and the heads of families of the priests and of the Levites. The families of the oldest brother were treated the same as those of the youngest.

John 8

28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” 30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him.
Dispute Over Whose Children Jesus’ Opponents Are
    31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
   33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
   34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”
   39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.
   “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.”
   “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”
   42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
Jesus’ Claims About Himself
    48 The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”
   49 “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”
   52 At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”
   54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”
   57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”
   58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

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Tarshish, Tharshish[Tär’shish,Thär’shish]—hard orcontemplation. This name is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, principally in connection with a place hard to identify. The navy and ships of Tarshish prove it to have been of maritime importance. Josephus, the Jewish historian, wrongly identified it with Tarsus (1 Kings 10:22 2 Chron. 9:21Jonah 1:34:2).
  1. A grandson of Javan, grandson of Noah (Gen. 10:41 Chron. 1:7).
  2. A Benjamite, son of Bilhan, the grandson of Benjamin (1 Chron. 7:10).
  3. One of the seven highest princes of Persia who were privileged to enter the king’s presence when they desired (Esther 1:14).

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Parables of the Kingdom

John Calvin comments on today's passage, reminding us that the lack of clarity in the parables is not due to the parables themselves. The problem is really the hearts of sinful people. "The word of God, in its own nature, is always bright, but its light is choked by the darkness of men." Our own sin can stand in the way of understanding the Bible. If you would understand the Word of God, make sure that you are dealing with the sin in your life.
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
May 24, 2012
Revisiting The No Gossip Zone
Sharon Jaynes
Today's Truth
"Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down: (Proverbs 26:20 NIV).
Friend to Friend
In my last devotion I talked about gossip. As a review, Webster defines gossip as "easy, fluent, trivial talk, talk about people behind their backs." It is repeating information about another person's private affairs. If you have to look around to make sure that no one can hear what you are saying, you are probably gossiping. If you would not say something in front of the person you are talking about, then you're probably gossiping.
But it takes two to tango the gossip dance. "Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down: (Proverbs 26:20). The Bible tells us to make every effort to avoid gossipers (Proverbs 21:1920:19). A good rule of thumb is if you are not part of the problem or part of the solution, then keep the information to yourself.
Paul warned, "Some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and wasting time meddling in other people's business," (2 Thessalonians 3:11 NLT). Other translations call such people "busybodies," (NAS, NIV). And listen, putting the words, "we need to pray for so-and-so" before the gossip doesn't make the gossip any less gossip.
One day a woman felt overwhelmed with guilt over her years of malicious gossip. She went to the local priest and confessed her sin. The priest was all too aware of her wagging tongue and had experienced the sting of her words first hand….or rather second hand.
What can I do to rectify all the damage I have caused with my gossip?" she asked.
"Gather a bag of feathers," he began. "Then go around to each house and place a feather at their door."
That seemed like a simple enough request, so the woman did just as the priest had instructed.  After the task was complete, she returned. "I have done what you requested," she said. "Now what am I to do?"
"Now go back and retrieve each of the feathers," he replied.
"That is impossible," the woman argued. "The wind will have blown them all around town by now."
"Exactly," replied the wise priest. "Once you have spoken an ill word, it drifts through the air on wings of gossip, never to be retrieved. God has forgiven you, as you have asked. But I cannot remove the consequences of your hurtful words or gather them from the places they have landed."
Here's an idea. If a friend approaches you with some "news" or a "concern" about another person, stop and ask, "May I quote you on what you're about to tell me?" That will usually "put a lid" on the conversation before it even begins.
In my last devotion, I asked if you would be willing to make your life a NO GOSSIP ZONE. I just thought we might need to ask that question one more time. (I love you! Don't be made at me!)
If you are willing to take the challenge, click over to my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes  and type in the words: "I'm living in a NO GOSSIP ZONE.
Let's Pray
OK Lord, I'm coming to You with this request again. Please help me not to gossip. Help me not to repeat a matter that is none of my business. If I'm not part of the problem or part of the solution, help me to keep my lips zipped. May the words of my mouth be pleasing in Your sight!
In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Since my last devotion on gossip, have you been more aware of the words coming out of your mouth?
Have you begun a story, only to stop before it actually came out of your mouth? I have! Praise God!
Consider writing this verse on an index card and taping it to your bathroom mirror.
"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14
More from the Girlfriends
Today's devotion was taken from Sharon's book, The Power of a Woman's Words. If you would like to learn about how to control your words and use them to speak life into those in your sphere of influence, then this is the book for you. Visit www.sharonjaynes.com to download a free chapter, watch a video or place an order.
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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Lysa TerKeurst
May 24, 2012
When Your Husband Has Given Up
Lysa TerKeurst
"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." Psalm 139:13-14 (ESV)
The silence. The rejection. The harsh words. The absence of intimacy. The questions. The lack of answers. The hurt.
My heart aches for anyone in a marriage that's struggling. I've been there. Many of us have.
But I think the deepest hurt comes when one spouse resigns while the other is still trying. There is a panic that arises to somehow make the other person wake up, stop their resignation, and help you fix this relationship.
A situation like this is much more complicated than simple answers I could offer here. But might I give you one stepping stone upon which to stand, to stop the panic and balance yourself?
Decide today that you are worthy.
Because you are. Worthy. You may not feel like it. But a quick glimpse at Psalm 139 assures me, you are. And I'd rather depend on the solid truth of God than the roller coaster of fickle feelings.
You are beautiful and captivating and attractive and smart and capable. But if you are in a relationship full of unmet expectations, unresolved issues, and frustrating communication, I suspect you feel a little less than all I've described.
Broken down relationships can really break down a woman.
And if you're anything like me, when you feel broken down those around you get your worst. Then upon all the hurt and anxiety you layer on regret, shame, and the feeling that you've lost yourself. You've lost that girl inside you that used to be so positive and happy and ready to take on the world.
Can I whisper a tender truth to you? The only way to recapture her is to come up for air and remember you are worthy.
Then you can act worthy.
And step aside from the emotional yuck to make some level headed decisions. Get a plan. Talk to wise people who love you and will walk this tough journey with you.
Draw some boundaries with your husband, if there are some needed. Pray like crazy for clear discernment.
And read good books that will help you. I just read Dr. Tim Clinton's new book called, Breakthrough. In it he says, "By discovering God's definition of true love and learning to live by it, we can open the door to freedom. Our future is in God's hands. When you are able to see and embrace this truth - there's your breakthrough!"
Remember you can't control how he acts and reacts, but you can control how you act and react.
Reclaim who you are.
I pray your relationship survives. I pray it with every fiber of my being. But if it doesn't, I pray most of all that the beautiful woman you are rises above all the yuck, still clinging tightly to the only opinion that matters - the One who forever calls you worthy.
Dear Lord, my marriage is struggling. I'm struggling. Help me please. I need to hold on to Your truths that I am worthy. And God, please show me what steps to take to support my marriage. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
The book Lysa mentioned by Dr. Tim Clinton,Breakthrough - When to Give In, How to Push Back, is a great resource for those struggling with feeling controlled or manipulated by a spouse or family member. Order your copy by clicking here.
Each week on her website Lysa writes words to encourage your marriage, your relationship with God and your heart. Sign up for free reminders of your worth byclicking here.
It'd be an honor to pray for your marriage. Click here to leave your request and our team will pray for you.
Reflect and Respond:
Depend on the solid truth of God rather than the roller coaster of fickle feelings.
Remember you can't control how others act and react, but you can control how you act and react.
Power Verse:
Isaiah 54:10, "'Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,' says the LORD, who has compassion on you." (NIV)
© 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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Parables of the Kingdom

Matthew 13:1-11 "He answered them, 'To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.'" ( v. 11).
Jesus has thus far gained many followers, but most of the nation of Israel, especially the religious leaders, have not embraced Him as Messiah (12:1422-32 ). This confounds the disciples - all those who follow the Lord along with the twelve apostles. After all, should not all Israel understand with them that Jesus is the Christ who will restore David's throne (Amos 9:11-15)?
The disciples think Jesus' teaching explains Israel's confusion. He is not quick to call Himself the Messiah (8:1-4 ; 9:27-31); He uses veiled language and parables to reveal His kingship. Therefore, the disciples ask Jesus why He uses parables in today's passage (13:10). "Lord, why tell stories that not all can understand?" they ask. "Just proclaim that you are the son of David."
Christ's explanation of His use of parables is located in the midst of the parable of the sower (vv. 1-9, 18-23), which we will study next week. Today we will define the term parable. The Greek word for parable (parabole ) translates a Hebrew term covering a variety of expressions such as allegories, proverbs, stories, comparisons, and so on. Generally speaking, parables are illustrations drawn from everyday life that make one single point. It is essential to remember that parables usually have one meaning, since Christians throughout history have often thought hidden messages lurk behind every detail in them. Occasionally, a parable makes more than one point. For example, the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32 ) illustrates the Father's joy when sinners repent and it also teaches the faithful to share this joy. Still, knowing that most parables have one main point helps us interpret them properly.
Parables reveal the kingdom's secrets to those with eyes to see, and they hide them from those who refuse to hear the truth (Matt. 13:11). Based on Matthew 13 , these secrets tell us that God's salvific reign has not manifested itself cataclysmically, but comes first through the humility of Jesus. Despite the expectations of first-century Jews, the day on which all enemies of Israel are eliminated will come only after the Messiah atones for sin and extends His reign through the preaching of the Gospel - even to the foes of His people (vv. 31-3324:14).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

John Calvin comments on today's passage, reminding us that the lack of clarity in the parables is not due to the parables themselves. The problem is really the hearts of sinful people. "The word of God, in its own nature, is always bright, but its light is choked by the darkness of men." Our own sin can stand in the way of understanding the Bible. If you would understand the Word of God, make sure that you are dealing with the sin in your life.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
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The God of the aged

“Even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” Isaiah 46:4
Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 71:1-18
Middle aged man! Listen to what David says, again, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” Go on, then, unsheath your sword once more. “The battle is the Lord’s;” leave your declining years to him, and give your present years to him. Live to him now, and he will never cast you away when you are old. Do not lay up for old age and keep back from the cause of God; but rather trust God for the future. Be “diligent in business;” but take care you do not hurt your spirit, by being too diligent, by being grasping and selfish. Remember you will
“Want but little here below, Nor want that little long.”
And lastly, my dear venerable fathers in the faith, and mothers in Israel, take these words for your joy. Do not let the young people catch you indulging in melancholy, sitting in your chimney corner, grumbling and growling, but go about cheerful and happy, and they will think how blessed it is to be a Christian. If you are surly and fretful, they will think the Lord has forsaken you; but keep a smiling countenance, and they will think the promise is fulfilled. “And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” Do, I beseech you, my venerable friends, try to be of a happy temperament and cheerful spirit, for a child will run away from a surly old man; but there is not a child in the world who does not love his grandfather if he is cheerful and happy. You can lead us to heaven if you have got heaven’s sunlight on your face.
For meditation: Elderly believers—the Bible tells us about their testimony (Psalm 92:14,15Proverbs 16:31), their teaching ( Titus 2:2,3) and their treatment (1 Timothy 5:1,2).
note: This sermon was substantially repeated at Stambourne, Essex, two days later on the commemoration of the jubilee of Spurgeon’s grandfather, Rev James Spurgeon.
Sermon nos. 81-82 
25 May (1856)

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Choice portions

‘The Lord is my portion, saith my soul.’ Lamentations 3:24
Suggested Further Reading: 1 John 4:7–19
The love of God changes us into its own image, so that what the Lord says concerning us, we can also declare concerning him. God is love essentially, and when this essential love shines forth freely upon us, we reflect it back upon him. He is like the sun, the great father of lights, and we are as the moon and the planets, we shine in rays borrowed from his brightness. He is the golden seal, and we, his people, are the wax receiving the impression. Our heaven is to be likeness to Christ, and our preparation for heaven consists in a growing imitation of him in all things. See, brethren, how the Lord gives the word, and our heart, like an echo, repeats every syllable. The Lord loves his people, and we love him because he first loved us; he has chosen his saints, and they have also made him their chosen heritage. The saints are precious to Jesus, and unto us who believe he is precious; Christ lived for us, and for us to live is Christ; we gain all things by his death, and for us to die is gain. The church is the looking-glass in which Christ sees himself reflected; she is like a fair songstress taking up the refrain of Jesus’ canticles of love; while he sings, ‘My sister, my spouse,’ she answers, ‘My beloved is mine, and I am his.’ It is most delightful to perceive how, through divine grace, believers come to have the same feeling towards their God which their gracious Lord has towards them. Our two texts present us with an interesting instance: the church is God’s portion, he delights in her, he finds in her his solace and his joy; but God is also, as the result of this, the church’s portion, her full delight and bliss. Beloved, the love is mutual.
For meditation: God has loved us (Malachi 1:2); how are you responding to him? With unbelief, self-justification and self-defence (Malachi 1:26–72:173:8,13)? Or with love displayed in thankful trust and obedience (Psalm 56:10–13;116:1–2,12–14)? Are you being changed into his image (2 Corinthians 3:18)?
Sermon no. 451
25 May (1862)

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Is the Bible Really an Authoritative Source of God's Word?

Today's reading: 2 Kings 22:8-13
Logically, if God's spoken word has authority, and if the Bible contains God's written word, then the Bible must carry the same authority as God's spoken word. King Josiah realized this, which is why he had such an intense reaction when he heard what was written in the "Book of the Law" (2 Kings 22:8).
Although the Bible has been passed down for generations, scholars have concluded that the accuracy of its text has been remarkably preserved through the centuries by scribes who believed passionately in the importance of their work. The level of accuracy they maintained gives us confidence that the same meaning intended by the original authors, such as Moses, is what God's Word still communicates today.
The Bible is intended to bring us to faith in God and help us to live our lives to the fullest (see Matthew 4:4John 20:311Peter 2:2). Although its words may in places seem enigmatic, the Bible encourages us that the effort put forth in order to understand it will pay off (see Proverbs 2:1-5Jeremiah 29:13). Because it was sent by the highest authority, Scripture contains the secrets to living a fulfilled and God-centered life (see 2 Timothy 3:14-17). The God who designed us also wrote the manual for living. Millions of believers can attest to the transforming power of God's authoritative written Word in their lives.
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ANSWER TO VIOLENCE

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
“Get dressed and come along, we have a traitor we are going to necklace. We have a tire, a bottle of petrol and matches.” The group of angry youths at the door did not even give their South African youth leader, Julia, a chance to protest.
Julia’s parents were Christians who tried to raise her in the ways of the Lord. She rebelled at an early age and mixed with bad friends, abused drink and drugs, and married a man who deserted her. As a single parent she did her utmost to find a job, but work and food was scarce.
Julia joined a political party and participated in every gathering in her neighborhood. Violence, she thought, is the only solution to the country’s and her own problems. She was soon chosen as leader of a large group of young people who made their presence known in the streets.
Nevertheless, Julia’s problems were not solved. Every day was one long struggle to keep body and soul together, to find employment and to care for her child. One day, things became too much. She realized that no person could help. “Lord,” she prayed in the dark, “if You truly are there, as my parents maintain You are, You must help me now.”
The Lord answered her prayer. He laid His hand on this young woman and changed her life. She would never again be alone without her Heavenly Father who cares for her by her side. After her repentance she spent much time pondering and praying about her political aspirations and how she would handle her youth group.
That morning with the youths at her door, Julia got dressed and accompanied them to the man they wanted to execute by necklacing. Julia says, “I did not say anything. All that I could do was to pray and ask the Lord, ‘What must I do now?’
“Fortunately it wasn’t long before I got an answer from the Lord. I scraped all my courage together, looked at my comrades and said, ‘If there is one of you who has never made a mistake, who is not a “sell-out,” let him fasten the tire around the man’s neck, let him set it alight.’
“Not a single one of the young people had an answer. One by one they silently parted and left me with the man who was to have been executed. I asked him to help me to carry away the tire and the rest of the things. I never saw him again.
“I must admit, I was quite afraid that the young people would return to burn down my house. However, God is great and wonderful because nothing happened. I am still their leader.”
RESPONSE: Today I will be bold to live like Jesus when facing difficult situations.
PRAYER: Pray for young people caught in Satan’s lie that violence is the solution to their problems.
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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Taking Sin Seriously

Once a year one person-the high priest-entered the Most Holy Place. The chosen day, the Day of Atonement, occurred on the tenth day of the seventh month of Israel's lunar calendar (September-October).
The ritual of this day was complex and somber. The high priest took off his ornate robes and put on simple linen garments. He sacrificed a bull for his own sins and the sins of the other priests. Then he presented two goats to the Lord-one to sacrifice for the sins of the people and the other, known as the "scapegoat," to take the weight of Israel's sins outside of the camp.
As he entered the tabernacle the high priest burned incense, obscuring his vision from the atonement cover on top of the ark of the covenant. This prevented him from looking directly at God's presence. The high priest carried the blood of the bull and the sacrificed goat into the Most Holy Place, using his finger to sprinkle the blood on the atonement cover. Leaving the tabernacle, he took more blood and placed it on the horns of the sacrificial altar.
At the culmination of the ritual, the high priest laid hands on the scapegoat, ritually transferring the sin of Israel to the animal. An assistant then released the scapegoat into the desert. Other actions concluded the ceremony.
The rituals of the Day of Atonement purged the sanctuary of the pollution of a year's worth of Israel's sins. Through the year, as Israelites sought forgiveness for their sins, they placed their hands on animals representing themselves. The blood of the sacrificed animals, now symbolically polluted with sin, was splashed, smeared and sprinkled on the altar. The Day of Atonement cleansed the tabernacle itself, as well as the Israelites who worshiped there, of a year's worth of impurity.
While foreign to us, the Day of Atonement still demonstrates that God takes sin seriously. He requires blood sacrifice to facilitate the removal of sin from his presence. Our sin matches the seriousness of the Israelites' sin. But we no longer observe these sacrificial rituals, because Jesus Christ serves as our high priest. And that high priest, representing our sins, went alone into God's presence and offered his own blood as the sacrifice for our sin. His blood was shed once for all time to cover the darkness in our lives. And he himself acted as the scapegoat for us.
So the Day of Atonement is an Old Testament picture of Jesus' New Testament sacrifice for our sins. Through him God sees us as pure and sin-free when we place our trust in Jesus for eternal life.

To Take Away

  • Reflect on the complex, time-consuming and expensive nature of Old Testament sacrifices. What do you learn about God from this?
  • Do you believe most people think of their sin as a serious issue? Why or why not?
  • What's your response to Christ's sacrifice for your sin? Why not respond to God in prayer right now?

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