Friday, May 04, 2012

Daily Devotional Friday 4th May

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods."
Jeremiah 16:20
One great besetting sin of ancient Israel was idolatry, and the spiritual Israel are vexed with a tendency to the same folly. Remphan's star shines no longer, and the women weep no more for Tammuz, but Mammon still intrudes his golden calf, and the shrines of pride are not forsaken. Self in various forms struggles to subdue the chosen ones under its dominion, and the flesh sets up its altars wherever it can find space for them. Favourite children are often the cause of much sin in believers; the Lord is grieved when he sees us doting upon them above measure; they will live to be as great a curse to us as Absalom was to David, or they will be taken from us to leave our homes desolate. If Christians desire to grow thorns to stuff their sleepless pillows, let them dote on their dear ones.
It is truly said that "they are no gods," for the objects of our foolish love are very doubtful blessings, the solace which they yield us now is dangerous, and the help which they can give us in the hour of trouble is little indeed. Why, then, are we so bewitched with vanities? We pity the poor heathen who adore a god of stone, and yet worship a god of gold. Where is the vast superiority between a god of flesh and one of wood? The principle, the sin, the folly is the same in either case, only that in ours the crime is more aggravated because we have more light, and sin in the face of it. The heathen bows to a false deity, but the true God he has never known; we commit two evils, inasmuch as we forsake the living God and turn unto idols. May the Lord purge us all from this grievous iniquity!
"The dearest idol I have known,
Whate'er that idol be;
Help me to tear it from thy throne,
And worship only thee."

Evening

"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible."
1 Peter 1:23
Peter most earnestly exhorted the scattered saints to love each other "with a pure heart fervently" and he wisely fetched his argument, not from the law, from nature, or from philosophy, but from that high and divine nature which God hath implanted in his people. Just as some judicious tutor of princes might labour to beget and foster in them a kingly spirit and dignified behaviour, finding arguments in their position and descent, so, looking upon God's people as heirs of glory, princes of the blood royal, descendants of the King of kings, earth's truest and oldest aristocracy, Peter saith to them, "See that ye love one another, because of your noble birth, being born of incorruptible seed; because of your pedigree, being descended from God, the Creator of all things; and because of your immortal destiny, for you shall never pass away, though the glory of the flesh shall fade, and even its existence shall cease." It would be well if, in the spirit of humility, we recognized the true dignity of our regenerated nature, and lived up to it. What is a Christian? If you compare him with a king, he adds priestly sanctity to royal dignity. The king's royalty often lieth only in his crown, but with a Christian it is infused into his inmost nature. He is as much above his fellows through his new birth, as a man is above the beast that perisheth. Surely he ought to carry himself, in all his dealings, as one who is not of the multitude, but chosen out of the world, distinguished by sovereign grace, written among "the peculiar people" and who therefore cannot grovel in the dust as others, nor live after the manner of the world's citizens. Let the dignity of your nature, and the brightness of your prospects, O believers in Christ, constrain you to cleave unto holiness, and to avoid the very appearance of evil.

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Today's reading: 1 Kings 14-15, Luke 22:31-46 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
Ahijah’s Prophecy Against Jeroboam
    1 At that time Abijah son of Jeroboam became ill, 2 and Jeroboam said to his wife, “Go, disguise yourself, so you won’t be recognized as the wife of Jeroboam. Then go to Shiloh. Ahijah the prophet is there—the one who told me I would be king over this people. 3 Take ten loaves of bread with you, some cakes and a jar of honey, and go to him. He will tell you what will happen to the boy.” 4 So Jeroboam’s wife did what he said and went to Ahijah’s house in Shiloh.
   Now Ahijah could not see; his sight was gone because of his age. 5 But the LORD had told Ahijah, “Jeroboam’s wife is coming to ask you about her son, for he is ill, and you are to give her such and such an answer. When she arrives, she will pretend to be someone else.”
   6 So when Ahijah heard the sound of her footsteps at the door, he said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why this pretense? I have been sent to you with bad news. 7 Go, tell Jeroboam that this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I raised you up from among the people and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 8 I tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, but you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commands and followed me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes. 9 You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourself other gods, idols made of metal; you have aroused my anger and turned your back on me.
   10 “‘Because of this, I am going to bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam. I will cut off from Jeroboam every last male in Israel—slave or free. I will burn up the house of Jeroboam as one burns dung, until it is all gone. 11 Dogs will eat those belonging to Jeroboam who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country. The LORD has spoken!’
   12 “As for you, go back home. When you set foot in your city, the boy will die. 13 All Israel will mourn for him and bury him. He is the only one belonging to Jeroboam who will be buried, because he is the only one in the house of Jeroboam in whom the LORD, the God of Israel, has found anything good.
   14 “The LORD will raise up for himself a king over Israel who will cut off the family of Jeroboam. Even now this is beginning to happen. 15 And the LORD will strike Israel, so that it will be like a reed swaying in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land that he gave to their ancestors and scatter them beyond the Euphrates River, because they aroused the LORD’s anger by making Asherah poles. 16 And he will give Israel up because of the sins Jeroboam has committed and has caused Israel to commit.”
   17 Then Jeroboam’s wife got up and left and went to Tirzah. As soon as she stepped over the threshold of the house, the boy died. 18 They buried him, and all Israel mourned for him, as the LORD had said through his servant the prophet Ahijah.
   19 The other events of Jeroboam’s reign, his wars and how he ruled, are written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel. 20 He reigned for twenty-two years and then rested with his ancestors. And Nadab his son succeeded him as king.
Rehoboam King of Judah
    21 Rehoboam son of Solomon was king in Judah. He was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel in which to put his Name. His mother’s name was Naamah; she was an Ammonite.
   22 Judah did evil in the eyes of the LORD. By the sins they committed they stirred up his jealous anger more than those who were before them had done. 23 They also set up for themselves high places, sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. 24 There were even male shrine prostitutes in the land; the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.
   25 In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. 26 He carried off the treasures of the temple of the LORD and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. 27 So King Rehoboam made bronze shields to replace them and assigned these to the commanders of the guard on duty at the entrance to the royal palace. 28 Whenever the king went to the LORD’s temple, the guards bore the shields, and afterward they returned them to the guardroom.
   29 As for the other events of Rehoboam’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 30 There was continual warfare between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. 31 And Rehoboam rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the City of David. His mother’s name was Naamah; she was an Ammonite. And Abijah his son succeeded him as king.

1 Kings 15

Abijah King of Judah
    1 In the eighteenth year of the reign of Jeroboam son of Nebat, Abijah became king of Judah, 2 and he reigned in Jerusalem three years. His mother’s name was Maakah daughter of Abishalom.
   3 He committed all the sins his father had done before him; his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his forefather had been. 4 Nevertheless, for David’s sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem by raising up a son to succeed him and by making Jerusalem strong. 5 For David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not failed to keep any of the LORD’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.
   6 There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam throughout Abijah’s lifetime. 7 As for the other events of Abijah’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam.8 And Abijah rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. And Asa his son succeeded him as king.
Asa King of Judah
    9 In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Asa became king of Judah, 10 and he reigned in Jerusalem forty-one years. His grandmother’s name was Maakah daughter of Abishalom.
   11 Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as his father David had done. 12 He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his ancestors had made. 13 He even deposed his grandmother Maakah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive image for the worship of Asherah. Asa cut it down and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 14 Although he did not remove the high places, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the LORD all his life. 15 He brought into the temple of the LORD the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated.
   16 There was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel throughout their reigns. 17 Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and fortified Ramah to prevent anyone from leaving or entering the territory of Asa king of Judah.
   18 Asa then took all the silver and gold that was left in the treasuries of the LORD’s temple and of his own palace. He entrusted it to his officials and sent them to Ben-Hadad son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, the king of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus. 19 “Let there be a treaty between me and you,” he said, “as there was between my father and your father. See, I am sending you a gift of silver and gold. Now break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so he will withdraw from me.”
   20 Ben-Hadad agreed with King Asa and sent the commanders of his forces against the towns of Israel. He conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel Beth Maakah and all Kinnereth in addition to Naphtali. 21 When Baasha heard this, he stopped building Ramah and withdrew to Tirzah. 22 Then King Asa issued an order to all Judah—no one was exempt—and they carried away from Ramah the stones and timber Baasha had been using there. With them King Asa built up Geba in Benjamin, and also Mizpah.
   23 As for all the other events of Asa’s reign, all his achievements, all he did and the cities he built, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? In his old age, however, his feet became diseased. 24 Then Asa rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the city of his father David. And Jehoshaphat his son succeeded him as king.
Nadab King of Israel
    25 Nadab son of Jeroboam became king of Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years. 26 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the ways of his father and committing the same sin his father had caused Israel to commit.
   27 Baasha son of Ahijah from the tribe of Issachar plotted against him, and he struck him down at Gibbethon, a Philistine town, while Nadab and all Israel were besieging it. 28 Baasha killed Nadab in the third year of Asa king of Judah and succeeded him as king.
   29 As soon as he began to reign, he killed Jeroboam’s whole family. He did not leave Jeroboam anyone that breathed, but destroyed them all, according to the word of the LORD given through his servant Ahijah the Shilonite. 30 This happened because of the sins Jeroboam had committed and had caused Israel to commit, and because he aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel.
   31 As for the other events of Nadab’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 32 There was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel throughout their reigns.
Baasha King of Israel
    33 In the third year of Asa king of Judah, Baasha son of Ahijah became king of all Israel in Tirzah, and he reigned twenty-four years. 34 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the ways of Jeroboam and committing the same sin Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit.

Luke 22

   31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
   33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
   34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
   35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”
   “Nothing,” they answered.
   36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”
   38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”
   “That’s enough!” he replied.
Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives
    39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
   45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

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Goliath [Gōlī'ath]—the exile orsoothsayer. The famous giant of Gath, who defied the armies of Israel (1 Sam. 17:42321:922:102 Sam. 21:19).

The Man a Pebble Killed

The story of David and Goliath has thrilled our hearts from childhood days. How spectacular it must have been to see a stripling like David slay a massive man some ten feet high with only a pebble from the stream. Saul’s proffered armor was of no use against Goliath. David had to meet the giant with the weapon he was used to. A ready-made suit was of no avail for the son of Jesse.
The religious character of the duel between Goliath and David should not be lost sight of. The giant cursed David by his gods. David went out to meet Goliath “in the name of the Lord of Hosts.” But why did David take five stones, if his God was able to direct a single one into the forehead? Did he want to make sure that if one pebble failed, he would have four more to swing? Going over the passages we discover that Goliath had four sons, all of whom were giants, and five pebbles were needed to slay the lot of them. Thus the choice of five was an act of faith. Through God, only one pebble was needed. David went forth to meet Goliath with five pebbles and he came back with five—four in his hand and the other in Goliath’s massive forehead. How God delights to use the insignificant things of life to accomplish His purpose!

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Greater than the Temple

Matthew 12:1-8 "I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. ...For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath" ( vv. 6-8).
Christ's call for the heavy-laden to come to Him for rest (Matt. 11:28-30) provides an excellent backdrop for today's passage on the Sabbath, the day of rest prescribed in the Old Testament (Ex. 20:8-11). If Jesus gives rest to His people, His view of the Sabbath helps us understand the nature of His respite.
Judah's failure to keep the Sabbath was one reason God sent the nation into exile in 586 b.c. (2 Chron. 36:11-21Jer. 17:27). After the people returned to Palestine (2 Chron. 36:22-23 ), many religious leaders worked to ensure the Sabbath would be kept so that they would not be kicked out of their land again. They built a "fence" around the Torah - God's law through Moses - out of various oral traditions, reasoning that the people, in keeping the oral laws, would also obey the letter of the Law protected by the fence. So tenuous was the tie between the oral dos and don'ts and the Word of God that some said the traditions were like mountains hanging by a hair (scant biblical foundation).
The disciples' failure to keep the oral laws explains the complaint of the Pharisees in today's passage ( Matt. 12:1-2). Plucking grain on the Sabbath is forbidden according to these traditions. Jesus' response reveals that the Pharisees are misguided. God's law is not always to be applied woodenly; occasionally, someone may seem to break the letter of the Law and yet not be guilty of transgression (Matt. 12:3-5). David, on the run from Saul, freely ate the bread normally reserved only for the priests ( Lev. 24:5-91 Sam. 21:1-9). Without sinning, the priests do the work required for the worship of God on the Sabbath (Lev. 24:81 Chron. 23:24-32 ). In their zeal to obey the letter of the Law, the Pharisees have not kept its spirit, which calls for mercy to supersede ceremonial regulation when the two seem to be in conflict to us (Matt. 12:7). As Matthew Henry comments, "The works of necessity and mercy are lawful on the Sabbath."
Ultimately, Christ justifies His disciples' actions not only with an appeal to Old Testament principles, He also appeals to His own authority. If temple service permits the priests to "break" the Sabbath, how much more is Christ, who is greater than the temple ( v. 6), able to ignore the customs of men?

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

John Chrysostom wrote: "Did Christ then attempt to repeal a law so beneficial as the sabbath law? Far from it. Rather, he greatly magnified the sabbath. For with Christ came the time for everyone to be trained by a higher requirement" (Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew, 39.3). In Christ we know that mercy and justice, biblically defined, must guide how we apply the letter of the Law. We are as bad as the Pharisees if we ignore these principles.
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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Lysa TerKeurst
May 3, 2012
Letters to Pastors
Lysa TerKeurst
"Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other." 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (NIV 1984)
Recently, I shared part of my story at four services at my home church. It was one of the biggest honors of my life. And my biggest take away? I don't know how pastors do it.
Honest to goodness, I don't.
Sitting on the front row as each finished worship song signaled it was getting closer and closer to the time for me to step on stage, my heart became more and more desperate for Jesus to come back. Right now. Rapture? Hello? God? Please?
But no rapture came.
And soon there I was in front of my home church sweating like a toad on a hot tin roof. If toads sweat. I have no idea. And I'm way too tired to Google it. Anyhow.
There is something so different about speaking at your home church.
I felt a weight of responsibility. I felt it in my heart. I felt it in my soul. I felt it in my brain.
And I thought to myself, how does my pastor do this every week? How does he craft a new sermon, get comfortable with that completely new material, carry the weight of responsibility, feel the anxiety of walking up on that stage, deliver a timed message in tune with the Holy Spirit, and then do it 2 to 3 more times during that same weekend? And. Then. Do. It. All. Again. Next. Weekend.
Seriously.
And when I was finished speaking, I sat down and decided I was going to write my pastor a letter. A letter to tell him how much I appreciate what he does and how much he sacrifices each and every week.
So I was thinking, maybe this would be a good thing for us to do together today. Let's pull out a piece of stationary or a card, and write our pastors some words of encouragement in a thank you note. And if we happen to know what his favorite restaurant is, and we're able, let's send him a gift card to take his wife out for dinner.
She carries the weight too. In a big way. As a matter of fact, let's write her a note of thanks as well.
Just as Paul urged the Thessalonians to esteem those working for the Lord, might I encourage you today? Our pastors and their wives work hard each week. Let's send a little love their way!
Dear Lord, thank You for the gift You've given my pastor to teach and preach Your precious Word. Please show me specific ways to encourage him and his wife today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
To read "5 Ways to Bless Your Pastor," click here.
Lysa might be coming to speak in a city near you. To see her schedule, click here.
Reflect and Respond:
If you're honest, which do you do more of: think/speak critical thoughts, or pray encouraging prayers for your pastor and his wife?
Let's stop right this second and write our pastors a thank you note.
Power Verse:
Hebrews 3:13a, "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called 'Today' ..." (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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May 3, 2012
Giving our Children to God
 Sharon Jaynes
Today's Truth:
"Everything is possible for him who believes," (Mark 9:23 NIV).
Friend to Friend
Once a distraught father had an unruly son with multiple physical and emotional problems. Many people even said the boy was possessed by a demon. The dad had tried everything, but the boy continued to demonstrate antisocial behavior by throwing himself in fire and then in water. That sort of behavior, on top of frequent seizures, rolling on the ground, foaming at the mouth, and an inability to talk, made the dad desperate to find a solution. He even took the boy to some faith healers who were traveling through his hometown. But nothing seemed to work.
Finally, the dad realized no human being was going to be able to help his son, so he took him directly to God. The father heard that Jesus was visiting in his community, so he boldly brought the boy to Him. With desperation in his voice the father pleaded, "If You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!"
And Jesus answered, "If You can! All things are possible to him who believes."
Immediately the boy's father cried out, "I do believe: help my unbelief."
With that profession, Jesus healed the man's son.
Oh how this story from Mark 9 stirs my heart. Can't you feel the father's pain? How desperately he must have felt every time the child threw himself into the water or the fire.  "Why son? Why do you do these things? I don't understand," he must have asked.
Imagine the humiliation of the whispers as the family walked down the streets. "That's the Jones family. Have you heard about their son? He's….."  The stares.  The snickers.  The off-color comments. Don't you know there were many days when this dad wanted to just give up?  Instead, he offers us a beautiful picture of what all parents must do, the ultimate act in parenting - hand our children over to God.
As mothers, aunts, grandmothers, and a host of other caretakers, at times we find ourselves at the end of our mental and emotional resources. We feel we have done everything humanly possible and don't know the best action to take with our children. That's exactly where God wants us every day, not depending on our human capabilities but on His unlimited abilities, not depending on our own impotence but on His potent power, not depending on our limited knowledge but on His unlimited wisdom.  When we realize that we do not have and never will have all the child-rearing answers, we can find peace in giving our children to the One who does.  
S.D. Gordon, in Quiet Talks on Prayer, said, "You can do more than pray, after you have prayed. But you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed."
Let's Pray
(For those who have children still at home)
Dear God, today, I once again bring my child to you. Please show me how to parent this precious gift that you have given me. Help me to be the best mother (or caregiver) that I can be. I pray that Your Holy Spirit will teach me, Your wisdom will guide me, and Your love will move me. Most of all, Lord, I give this child to You. Please make him (her) a child after Your own heart.
In Jesus' Name, 
Amen.
(For those with grown children)
Dear God, my child is no longer under my roof or under my wing. He (She) is now out in the world making life decisions of his (her) own. I give this adult child to You, Lord. May he (she) seek You with all his (her) heart.  I pray that You will protect him (her), guide him (her), and open his (her) heart to the truth of God's Word every day. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3 John 4 NIV). 
In Jesus' Name, 
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Make a list of things about your child over which you have no control.
Now turn that list into a prayer and relinquish each item of concern to God.
Remember Jesus' reply to the father who said, "If you can do anything…"  Write today's key verse on an index card and commit it to memory.
More from the Girlfriends
No one ever said being a parent would be easy. If it were, I don't think it would start with something called "labor!" If you would like to learn more about how to be a great parent, see Sharon's book, Being a Great Mom-Raising Great Kids. Also, Sharon offers a 4x5 laminated prayer card of Scripture to pray for your children or grandchildren.
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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Greater than the Temple

John Chrysostom wrote: "Did Christ then attempt to repeal a law so beneficial as the sabbath law? Far from it. Rather, he greatly magnified the sabbath. For with Christ came the time for everyone to be trained by a higher requirement" (Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew, 39.3). In Christ we know that mercy and justice, biblically defined, must guide how we apply the letter of the Law. We are as bad as the Pharisees if we ignore these principles.
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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Divine sovereignty

“Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?”Matthew 20:15
Suggested Further Reading: Luke 19:11-27
There is no attribute of God more comforting to his children than the doctrine of divine sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe troubles, they believe that sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that sovereignty overrules them, and that sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children of God should more earnestly contend than the dominion of their Master over all creation—the Kingship of God over all the works of his own hands—the throne of God, and his right to sit upon that throne. On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by unbelievers, no truth which they have kicked about so much, as the great, stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere except on his throne. They will allow him to be in his workshop to fashion worlds and to make stars. They will allow him to be in his treasury to dispense his alms and bestow his bounties. They will allow him to sustain the earth and bear up its pillars, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God ascends his throne, his creatures then gnash their teeth; and when we proclaim an enthroned God, and his right to do as he wills with his own, to dispose of his creatures as he thinks well, without consulting them in the matter, then it is that we are ridiculed, and then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on his throne is not the God they love. They love him anywhere better than they do when he sits with his sceptre in his hand and his crown upon his head.
For meditation: Do you have to think twice before addressing Jesus as Lord? Judas Iscariot could never bring himself to do it—the other disciples could say “Lord” (Matthew 26:22); Judas could only say “Rabbi/Master/Teacher” (Matthew 26:2549).
Sermon no. 77
4 May (1856)

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Another and a nobler exhibition

‘To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.’ Ephesians 3:10
Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 7:9–12
Let the angel speak awhile for himself. ‘Here,’ says he, ‘I see men of all nations, and kindreds, and tongues, from Britain to Japan, from the frozen north to the burning zone beneath the equator; here I see souls of all ages, babes hither snatched from the womb and breast, and spirits that once knew palsied age to whom the grasshopper was a burden. Here I see men from all periods, from Adam and Abel down to the men who were alive and remained at the coming of the Son of God from heaven. Here I see them of all classes. There is one who was a king, and another that tugged the oar as a galley-slave. There I see a merchant prince who counted not his riches dear unto him, and by his side a poor man who was rich in faith and heir of the kingdom. Here I see Magdalene and Saul of Tarsus, repenting sinners of all shades and saints of all varieties, those who showed their patience on a lingering sick bed, those who triumphed with holy boldness amid the red flames, those who wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy; the monk who shook the world, and he who cast salt into the stream of doctrine and made it wholesome and pure; the man who preached to his millions, and brought tens of thousands of souls to Christ, and the humble cottager who knew but this Bible true—here they all are.’
For meditation : God alone knows how many Christ has redeemed from every kindred, tongue, people and nation (Revelation 5:97:9–10). Do you want to be in that number? Have you responded to the gospel proclaimed worldwide (Revelation 14:6–7)?
N.B. This sermon followed the opening in London of the 2nd Great International Exhibition on 1 May 1862.
Sermon no. 448 
4 May (1862)

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If it happened to you, would you be ready?  Christian Persecution
The true story of a pastor, imprisoned and tortured for his faith in Christ ...it will ABSOLUTELY shock you!

The Voice of the Martyrs invites you to request acomplimentary copy of Richard Wurmbrand's international bestseller, Tortured for Christ.
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Righteous by Belief

"Force of 318 Men Defeats Armies of Four Nations!"
What a headline! Imagine how the 24-hour cable news channels would cover such an event. Imbedded reporters, live video and dazzling graphics-not to mention all kinds of experts analyzing how such a small group of soldiers could defeat forces numbering in the thousands. A year or so later, this story would find its way to the silver screen in the form of an epic film with Hollywood's brightest stars and biggest directors.
As unbelievable as it sounds, this is just what Abram (Abraham) accomplished. He and his men defeated four kings and their armies and rescued his nephew, Lot. With this unbelievable victory as a backdrop, it seems odd that the Lord would urge Abram not to be afraid (see Genesis 15:1). Why would Abram, a great and successful warrior, not to mention a wealthy and wise man, experience fear?
Simple. He was worried about his legacy. Although God had promised Abram that his offspring would be as numerous as the dust, this aging man was still without an heir. Now, having just endured a life-and-death struggle, the fact of his childlessness weighed more heavily than ever on his mind.
Of course, God knew Abram's heart and thoughts. He addressed Abram's concerns by showing him the vast expanse of a clear desert sky studded with stars in every direction. "So shall your offspring be" (Genesis 5:5), God promised Abram.
In that moment, when Abram simply believed God's promise, his belief was translated into righteousness in God's eyes. And simple belief is what God was really after. Abram's wealth, wisdom and might didn't mean much in the context of God's grander plan for humanity. But in simply believing, Abram opened his life to God's control, which God perceived as a righteous act.
Abram was a great man, but he was only a man. He had flaws just as we all do. Scripture records his great deeds. But it doesn't gloss over his great mistakes. Yet his simple act of childlike faith-taking God at his word-gave Abram the greatest reward any man could desire: a legacy of faith that has inspired billions of people throughout human history.

To Take Away

  • What does it mean to "believe" in God?
  • What impact might your belief have on the way you live?
  • Pray for the kind of faith that takes God at his word, despite seemingly impossible obstacles.

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How Could Moses Have Accurately Recorded the Events of Genesis?

Today's reading: Genesis 26:1-6
The events recorded in Genesis occurred hundreds of years before Moses was born, yet the Bible attributes the first five books to Moses' authorship. How could he have accurately recorded the events in Genesis without having been present to witness them?
Some Christians who stress the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture believe that the Holy Spirit gave the full text to Moses by revelation. As the Holy Spirit moved him, Moses wrote. Others argue that Moses relied on written records from eyewitnesses such as Adam, Noah, Abraham and Jacob. The original wording of Genesis 26:5 suggests that Abraham might have had a written copy of God's law. These men may have recorded their experiences, most likely on clay tablets, and passed down their stories to others. The records made their way to Egypt with Jacob, ultimately landing in Moses' hands. Moses then compiled these stories into one book, which explains why the Bible credits him with their authorship.
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FIVE EXTERNAL TACTICS

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him. Matthew 26:3-4
In the New Testament we see Satan using five external tactics against the church: rulers, priests, merchants, mobs and families—and of course, these often occurred in combinations. The followers of Jesus tend to unite the enemies of Jesus, so that quite unlikely alliances can be created. Jesus himself saw this when the Pharisees and the Herodians—two groups that never spoke to each other—got together to plot his assassination after he healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath (Mark 3:6).
It is surprising to some that the rulers are not the biggest persecutors of Christians in the New Testament. That dubious honor falls to the Jewish priestly caste. But there is no doubt that strong opposition came from the rulers. Pontius Pilate was complicit in the death of Jesus; Herod Agrippa killed the apostle James in Jerusalem (Acts 12:2); and of course Nero initiated a terrible persecution against the Christians of Rome in AD 64—the community most think Mark’s gospel was written to encourage.
Though it was Pilate’s order, it was really the Jewish high priest who pushed Pilate into giving the order for the crucifixion when he was inclined to let Jesus go (see John 18:31), and tried to accomplish this by arranging a crowd clemency scene. All throughout his ministry, Jesus’ bitterest enemies were the priests. And so it proved for the early church. The first flogging of Christians was administered under the auspices of the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:40 ), and the first martyrdom of a Christian (Stephen) was carried out by enraged clerics (Acts 7:54-59). And so it continued also for Paul, the main character of the early church, ironically a former Pharisee and a witness to the stoning of Stephen.
But it is a sad fact that the class threatened most by radical Christian faith is the clerical class, whether of one’s own religious persuasion or of a rival one. This is not to say all clerics are persecutors. Many Pharisees became followers of Jesus, and some, like Nicodemus and Simon, were the very model of courtesy and open-mindedness. Nevertheless, in the history of the church, other “believers” have perpetrated most violence on Christians.
RESPONSE:
Satan uses external as well as internal tactics to attack the advance of the Kingdom of God.
PRAYER:
Lord, help me show love to other “believers” who do not hear Your voice but are used as tools of the enemy.
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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