Monday, May 28, 2012

Daily Devotional Monday 28th May

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Whom he justified, them he also glorified."
Romans 8:30
Here is a precious truth for thee, believer. Thou mayest be poor, or in suffering, or unknown, but for thine encouragement take a review of thy "calling" and the consequences that flow from it, and especially that blessed result here spoken of. As surely as thou art God's child today, so surely shall all thy trials soon be at an end, and thou shalt be rich to all the intents of bliss. Wait awhile, and that weary head shall wear the crown of glory, and that hand of labour shall grasp the palm-branch of victory. Lament not thy troubles, but rather rejoice that ere long thou wilt be where "there shall be neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain." The chariots of fire are at thy door, and a moment will suffice to bear thee to the glorified. The everlasting song is almost on thy lip. The portals of heaven stand open for thee. Think not that thou canst fail of entering into rest. If he hath called thee, nothing can divide thee from his love. Distress cannot sever the bond; the fire of persecution cannot burn the link; the hammer of hell cannot break the chain. Thou art secure; that voice which called thee at first, shall call thee yet again from earth to heaven, from death's dark gloom to immortality's unuttered splendours. Rest assured, the heart of him who has justified thee beats with infinite love towards thee. Thou shalt soon be with the glorified, where thy portion is; thou art only waiting here to be made meet for the inheritance, and that done, the wings of angels shall waft thee far away, to the mount of peace, and joy, and blessedness, where,
"Far from a world of grief and sin,
With God eternally shut in,"
thou shalt rest forever and ever.

Evening

"This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope."
Lamentations 3:21
Memory is frequently the bond slave of despondency. Dispairing minds call to remembrance every dark foreboding in the past, and dilate upon every gloomy feature in the present; thus memory, clothed in sackcloth, presents to the mind a cup of mingled gall and wormwood. There is, however, no necessity for this. Wisdom can readily transform memory into an angel of comfort. That same recollection which in its left hand brings so many gloomy omens, may be trained to bear in its right a wealth of hopeful signs. She need not wear a crown of iron, she may encircle her brow with a fillet of gold, all spangled with stars. Thus it was in Jeremiah's experience: in the previous verse memory had brought him to deep humiliation of soul: "My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me;" and now this same memory restored him to life and comfort. "This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope." Like a two-edged sword, his memory first killed his pride with one edge, and then slew his despair with the other. As a general principle, if we would exercise our memories more wisely, we might, in our very darkest distress, strike a match which would instantaneously kindle the lamp of comfort. There is no need for God to create a new thing upon the earth in order to restore believers to joy; if they would prayerfully rake the ashes of the past, they would find light for the present; and if they would turn to the book of truth and the throne of grace, their candle would soon shine as aforetime. Be it ours to remember the lovingkindness of the Lord, and to rehearse his deeds of grace. Let us open the volume of recollection which is so richly illuminated with memorials of mercy, and we shall soon be happy. Thus memory may be, as Coleridge calls it, "the bosom-spring of joy," and when the Divine Comforter bends it to his service, it may be chief among earthly comforters.

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Today's reading: 2 Chronicles 1-3, John 10:1-23 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
Solomon Asks for Wisdom
    1 Solomon son of David established himself firmly over his kingdom, for the LORD his God was with him and made him exceedingly great.
   2 Then Solomon spoke to all Israel—to the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, to the judges and to all the leaders in Israel, the heads of families— 3 and Solomon and the whole assembly went to the high place at Gibeon, for God’s tent of meeting was there, which Moses the LORD’s servant had made in the wilderness. 4 Now David had brought up the ark of God from Kiriath Jearim to the place he had prepared for it, because he had pitched a tent for it in Jerusalem. 5 But the bronze altar that Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, had made was in Gibeon in front of the tabernacle of the LORD; so Solomon and the assembly inquired of him there. 6 Solomon went up to the bronze altar before the LORD in the tent of meeting and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it.
   7 That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
   8 Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. 9 Now, LORD God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
   11 God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12 therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”
   13 Then Solomon went to Jerusalem from the high place at Gibeon, from before the tent of meeting. And he reigned over Israel.
   14 Solomon accumulated chariots and horses; he had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem. 15The king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills. 16 Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from Kue—the royal merchants purchased them from Kue at the current price. 17 They imported a chariot from Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for a hundred and fifty. They also exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and of the Arameans.

2 Chronicles 2

Preparations for Building the Temple
    1 Solomon gave orders to build a temple for the Name of the LORD and a royal palace for himself. 2 He conscripted 70,000 men as carriers and 80,000 as stonecutters in the hills and 3,600 as foremen over them.
   3 Solomon sent this message to Hiram king of Tyre:
   “Send me cedar logs as you did for my father David when you sent him cedar to build a palace to live in. 4 Now I am about to build a temple for the Name of the LORD my God and to dedicate it to him for burning fragrant incense before him, for setting out the consecrated bread regularly, and for making burnt offerings every morning and evening and on the Sabbaths, at the New Moons and at the appointed festivals of the LORD our God. This is a lasting ordinance for Israel.
   5 “The temple I am going to build will be great, because our God is greater than all other gods. 6 But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him? Who then am I to build a temple for him, except as a place to burn sacrifices before him?
   7 “Send me, therefore, a man skilled to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, and in purple, crimson and blue yarn, and experienced in the art of engraving, to work in Judah and Jerusalem with my skilled workers, whom my father David provided.
   8 “Send me also cedar, juniper and algum logs from Lebanon, for I know that your servants are skilled in cutting timber there. My servants will work with yours 9 to provide me with plenty of lumber, because the temple I build must be large and magnificent. 10 I will give your servants, the woodsmen who cut the timber, twenty thousand cors of ground wheat, twenty thousand cors of barley, twenty thousand baths of wine and twenty thousand baths of olive oil.”
   11 Hiram king of Tyre replied by letter to Solomon:
   “Because the LORD loves his people, he has made you their king.”
   12 And Hiram added:
   “Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who made heaven and earth! He has given King David a wise son, endowed with intelligence and discernment, who will build a temple for the LORD and a palace for himself.
   13 “I am sending you Huram-Abi, a man of great skill, 14whose mother was from Dan and whose father was from Tyre. He is trained to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, stone and wood, and with purple and blue and crimson yarn and fine linen. He is experienced in all kinds of engraving and can execute any design given to him. He will work with your skilled workers and with those of my lord, David your father.
   15 “Now let my lord send his servants the wheat and barley and the olive oil and wine he promised, 16 and we will cut all the logs from Lebanon that you need and will float them as rafts by sea down to Joppa. You can then take them up to Jerusalem.”
   17 Solomon took a census of all the foreigners residing in Israel, after the census his father David had taken; and they were found to be 153,600. 18 He assigned 70,000 of them to be carriers and 80,000 to be stonecutters in the hills, with 3,600 foremen over them to keep the people working.

2 Chronicles 3

Solomon Builds the Temple
    1 Then Solomon began to build the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David. 2 He began building on the second day of the second month in the fourth year of his reign.
   3 The foundation Solomon laid for building the temple of God was sixty cubits long and twenty cubits wide (using the cubit of the old standard). 4 The portico at the front of the temple was twenty cubits long across the width of the building and twenty cubits high.
   He overlaid the inside with pure gold. He paneled the main hall with juniper and covered it with fine gold and decorated it with palm tree and chain designs. 6 He adorned the temple with precious stones. And the gold he used was gold of Parvaim. 7He overlaid the ceiling beams, doorframes, walls and doors of the temple with gold, and he carved cherubim on the walls.
   8 He built the Most Holy Place, its length corresponding to the width of the temple—twenty cubits long and twenty cubits wide. He overlaid the inside with six hundred talents of fine gold. 9 The gold nails weighed fifty shekels. He also overlaid the upper parts with gold.
   10 For the Most Holy Place he made a pair of sculptured cherubim and overlaid them with gold. 11 The total wingspan of the cherubim was twenty cubits. One wing of the first cherub was five cubits long and touched the temple wall, while its other wing, also five cubits long, touched the wing of the other cherub. 12 Similarly one wing of the second cherub was five cubits long and touched the other temple wall, and its other wing, also five cubits long, touched the wing of the first cherub.13 The wings of these cherubim extended twenty cubits. They stood on their feet, facing the main hall.
   14 He made the curtain of blue, purple and crimson yarn and fine linen, with cherubim worked into it.
   15 For the front of the temple he made two pillars, which together were thirty-five cubits long, each with a capital five cubits high. 16 He made interwoven chains and put them on top of the pillars. He also made a hundred pomegranates and attached them to the chains. 17 He erected the pillars in the front of the temple, one to the south and one to the north. The one to the south he named Jakin and the one to the north Boaz.

John 10

The Good Shepherd and His Sheep
    1 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.
   7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
    11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
   14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
   19 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”
   21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
Further Conflict Over Jesus’ Claims
    22 Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade.

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A troubled prayer

‘Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.’ Psalm 25:18
Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 11:23–28
A Christian counts sorrow lighter in the scale than sin; he can bear that his troubles should continue, but he cannot endure the burden of his guilt, or the weight of his transgressions. Here are two guests come to my door; both of them ask to have a lodging with me. The one is called Affliction; he has a very grave voice, and a very heavy hand, and he looks at me with fierce eyes. The other is called Sin , and he is very soft-spoken, and very fair, and his words are softer than butter. Let me scan their faces, let me examine them as to their character; I must not be deceived by appearances. I will ask my two friends who would lodge with me, to open their hands. When my friend Affliction, with some little difficulty, opens his hand, I find that, rough as it is, he carries a jewel inside it, and that he meant to leave that jewel at my house. But as for my soft-spoken friend Sin, when I force him to show me what it is that is hidden in his sleeve, I find that it is a dagger with which he would have stabbed me. What shall I do, then, if I am wise? Why, I should be very glad if they would both be good enough to go and stop somewhere else, but if I must entertain one of the two, I would shut my door in the face of smooth-spoken Sin, and say to the rougher and uglier visitor, Affliction, ‘Come and stop with me, for maybe God has sent you as a messenger of mercy to my soul.’ ‘Look upon mine affliction and my pain, and forgive all my sin.’ We must be more express and explicit about sin than we are about trouble.
For meditation: Anything has got to be better than sin; the Christian is not short of alternatives to prefer (Psalm 84:10;Matthew 18:8–9Ephesians 4:285:4,11Hebrews 11:25). Are these your sentiments or would you rather hold on to your sin (John 3:19), regardless of what it has done to you (Romans 7:11) and what it will do to you (Romans 6:23)?
Sermon no. 741
28 May (Undated Sermon)

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Characteristics of faith

“Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” John 4:48
Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 12:38-42
Trust in the Lord; wait patiently for him; cast all thy confidence where he put all thy sins, namely, upon Christ Jesus alone, and thou shalt be saved, with or without any of these signs and wonders. I am afraid some Christians in London have fallen into the same error of wanting to see signs and wonders. They have been meeting together in special prayer-meetings to seek for a revival; and because people have not dropped down in a fainting fit, and have not screamed and made a noise, perhaps they have thought the revival has not come. Oh that we had eyes to see God’s gifts in the way God chooses to give them! Where the Spirit works in the soul, we are always glad to see true conversion, and if he chooses to work in the church in London, we shall be glad to see it. If men’s hearts are renewed, what matter it though they do not scream out. If their consciences are quickened, what matters it though they do not fall into a fit; if they do but find Christ, who is to regret that they do not lie for five or six weeks motionless and senseless. Take it without the signs and wonders. For my part I have no craving for them. Let me see God’s work done in God’s own way—a true and thorough revival, but the signs and wonders we can readily dispense with, for they are certainly not demanded by the faithful, and they will only be the laughing-stock of the faithless.
For meditation: A demand for signs and wonders regularly meets with the same response in the New Testament—Matthew 12:38-4016:1-4John 2:18-221 Corinthians 1:22-24.
Sermon no. 317
28 May (Preached 27 May 1860)

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DEFEATING THE ENEMY’S ATTACKS

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4
Ung Sophal established eight house churches in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and the surrounding provinces. He and his wife lost their third and youngest child during the Pol Pot genocide. After many close calls, he was separated from his wife and children and sent to work in the fields. During these very difficult times, he still was able to lead sixty-five people to Jesus and even water baptize them. God miraculously spared his life on numerous occasions.
When the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia in 1979, Ung Sophal was able to return to Phnom Penh. It was now a ghost town. With a handful of other Christians, he started a house church, which grew from five members to six hundred in eight months.
That Christmas he invited some Christians to his home for a fellowship - including some Christian westerners working for aid organizations. Two weeks later he was arrested for this “illegal” activity and accused of holding a political meeting with CIA participation.
He was interrogated for days and beaten severely. When the interrogation proved profitless, he was left in prison for five months chained hand and foot. He lost seventy-five pounds and was very sick but he heard the Lord instruct him to fast and be silent for three days.
The authorities became alarmed at the end of his fast and took him to the hospital thinking he was dying. There he constantly heard the sounds of other people being tortured with electricity and being beaten and kicked. “Even without the beatings it was very hard,” he said, “I had a taste of hell, but God protected me.”
Ung Sophal was successfully treated by a Cuban doctor who was also a Christian (God has his people everywhere). One night when the electricity went out because of a tropical storm, the doctor helped Ung escape. Later he fled with his wife and children to Thailand and spent ten years ministering to other Cambodian exiles - the last five years as a widower.
In 1990, as restrictions against Christianity began to be eased in Cambodia, Ung made his first visit back to his homeland to encourage and teach the church. Word of his return spread quickly and three hundred people came to see him. He is eager for the task ahead. “I want to build my people,” he said. “God has a great work yet to do in Cambodia.”
RESPONSE: Today I will stand strong in Jesus’ strength no matter what Satan throws at me or against me.
PRAYER: Lord, thank You for encouraging testimonies of faithful people like Ung Sophal. Continue to grow Your Church in Cambodia, I pray.
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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