Saturday, May 12, 2012

Daily Devotional Saturday 12th May

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 NIV
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon


"And will manifest myself to him."
John 14:21
The Lord Jesus gives special revelations of himself to his people. Even if Scripture did not declare this, there are many of the children of God who could testify the truth of it from their own experience. They have had manifestations of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in a peculiar manner, such as no mere reading or hearing could afford. In the biographies of eminent saints, you will find many instances recorded in which Jesus has been pleased, in a very special manner to speak to their souls, and to unfold the wonders of his person; yea, so have their souls been steeped in happiness that they have thought themselves to be in heaven, whereas they were not there, though they were well nigh on the threshold of it--for when Jesus manifests himself to his people, it is heaven on earth; it is paradise in embryo; it is bliss begun. Especial manifestations of Christ exercise a holy influence on the believer's heart. One effect will be humility. If a man says, "I have had such-and-such spiritual communications, I am a great man," he has never had any communion with Jesus at all; for "God hath respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off." He does not need to come near them to know them, and will never give them any visits of love. Another effect will be happiness; for in God's presence there are pleasures for evermore. Holiness will be sure to follow. A man who has no holiness has never had this manifestation. Some men profess a great deal; but we must not believe any one unless we see that his deeds answer to what he says. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked." He will not bestow his favours upon the wicked: for while he will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he respect an evil doer. Thus there will be three effects of nearness to Jesus--humility, happiness, and holiness. May God give them to thee, Christian!


"Fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again."
Genesis 46:3-4
Jacob must have shuddered at the thought of leaving the land of his father's sojourning, and dwelling among heathen strangers. It was a new scene, and likely to be a trying one: who shall venture among couriers of a foreign monarch without anxiety? Yet the way was evidently appointed for him, and therefore he resolved to go. This is frequently the position of believers now--they are called to perils and temptations altogether untried: at such seasons let them imitate Jacob's example by offering sacrifices of prayer unto God, and seeking his direction; let them not take a step until they have waited upon the Lord for his blessing: then they will have Jacob's companion to be their friend and helper. How blessed to feel assured that the Lord is with us in all our ways, and condescends to go down into our humiliations and banishments with us! Even beyond the ocean our Father's love beams like the sun in its strength. We cannot hesitate to go where Jehovah promises his presence; even the valley of deathshade grows bright with the radiance of this assurance. Marching onwards with faith in their God, believers shall have Jacob's promise. They shall be brought up again, whether it be from the troubles of life or the chambers of death. Jacob's seed came out of Egypt in due time, and so shall all the faithful pass unscathed through the tribulation of life, and the terror of death. Let us exercise Jacob's confidence. "Fear not," is the Lord's command and his divine encouragement to those who at his bidding are launching upon new seas; the divine presence and preservation forbid so much as one unbelieving fear. Without our God we should fear to move; but when he bids us to, it would be dangerous to tarry. Reader, go forward, and fear not.


Today's reading: 2 Kings 13-14, John 2 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
Jehoahaz King of Israel
    In the twenty-third year of Joash son of Ahaziah king of Judah, Jehoahaz son of Jehu became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned seventeen years. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD by following the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit, and he did not turn away from them. 3 So the LORD’s anger burned against Israel, and for a long time he kept them under the power of Hazael king of Aram and Ben-Hadad his son.
   4 Then Jehoahaz sought the LORD’s favor, and the LORD listened to him, for he saw how severely the king of Aram was oppressing Israel. 5 The LORD provided a deliverer for Israel, and they escaped from the power of Aram. So the Israelites lived in their own homes as they had before. 6 But they did not turn away from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, which he had caused Israel to commit; they continued in them. Also, the Asherah pole remained standing in Samaria.
   7 Nothing had been left of the army of Jehoahaz except fifty horsemen, ten chariots and ten thousand foot soldiers, for the king of Aram had destroyed the rest and made them like the dust at threshing time.
   8 As for the other events of the reign of Jehoahaz, all he did and his achievements, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 9 Jehoahaz rested with his ancestors and was buried in Samaria. And Jehoash his son succeeded him as king.
Jehoash King of Israel
    10 In the thirty-seventh year of Joash king of Judah, Jehoash son of Jehoahaz became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned sixteen years. 11 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit; he continued in them.
   12 As for the other events of the reign of Jehoash, all he did and his achievements, including his war against Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 13 Jehoash rested with his ancestors, and Jeroboam succeeded him on the throne. Jehoash was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel.
   14 Now Elisha had been suffering from the illness from which he died. Jehoash king of Israel went down to see him and wept over him. “My father! My father!” he cried. “The chariots and horsemen of Israel!”
   15 Elisha said, “Get a bow and some arrows,” and he did so.16 “Take the bow in your hands,” he said to the king of Israel. When he had taken it, Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands.
   17 “Open the east window,” he said, and he opened it. “Shoot!” Elisha said, and he shot. “The LORD’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Aram!” Elisha declared. “You will completely destroy the Arameans at Aphek.”
   18 Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and the king took them. Elisha told him, “Strike the ground.” He struck it three times and stopped. 19 The man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times.”
   20 Elisha died and was buried.
   Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring.21 Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.
   22 Hazael king of Aram oppressed Israel throughout the reign of Jehoahaz. 23 But the LORD was gracious to them and had compassion and showed concern for them because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To this day he has been unwilling to destroy them or banish them from his presence.
   24 Hazael king of Aram died, and Ben-Hadad his son succeeded him as king. 25 Then Jehoash son of Jehoahaz recaptured from Ben-Hadad son of Hazael the towns he had taken in battle from his father Jehoahaz. Three times Jehoash defeated him, and so he recovered the Israelite towns.

2 Kings 14

Amaziah King of Judah
    1 In the second year of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel, Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah began to reign. 2He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Jehoaddan; she was from Jerusalem. 3 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, but not as his father David had done. In everything he followed the example of his father Joash. 4 The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.
   5 After the kingdom was firmly in his grasp, he executed the officials who had murdered his father the king. 6 Yet he did not put the children of the assassins to death, in accordance with what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses where the LORD commanded: “Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin.”
   7 He was the one who defeated ten thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt and captured Sela in battle, calling it Joktheel, the name it has to this day.
   8 Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash son of Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, king of Israel, with the challenge: “Come, let us face each other in battle.”
   9 But Jehoash king of Israel replied to Amaziah king of Judah: “A thistle in Lebanon sent a message to a cedar in Lebanon, ‘Give your daughter to my son in marriage.’ Then a wild beast in Lebanon came along and trampled the thistle underfoot. 10 You have indeed defeated Edom and now you are arrogant. Glory in your victory, but stay at home! Why ask for trouble and cause your own downfall and that of Judah also?”
   11 Amaziah, however, would not listen, so Jehoash king of Israel attacked. He and Amaziah king of Judah faced each other at Beth Shemesh in Judah. 12 Judah was routed by Israel, and every man fled to his home. 13 Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Joash, the son of Ahaziah, at Beth Shemesh. Then Jehoash went to Jerusalem and broke down the wall of Jerusalem from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate—a section about four hundred cubits long. 14 He took all the gold and silver and all the articles found in the temple of the LORD and in the treasuries of the royal palace. He also took hostages and returned to Samaria.
   15 As for the other events of the reign of Jehoash, what he did and his achievements, including his war against Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 16 Jehoash rested with his ancestors and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel. And Jeroboam his son succeeded him as king.
   17 Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah lived for fifteen years after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel. 18As for the other events of Amaziah’s reign, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?
   19 They conspired against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish, but they sent men after him to Lachish and killed him there. 20 He was brought back by horse and was buried in Jerusalem with his ancestors, in the City of David.
   21 Then all the people of Judah took Azariah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in place of his father Amaziah. 22 He was the one who rebuilt Elath and restored it to Judah after Amaziah rested with his ancestors.
Jeroboam II King of Israel
    23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel became king in Samaria, and he reigned forty-one years. 24 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit.25 He was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea, in accordance with the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher.
   26 The LORD had seen how bitterly everyone in Israel, whether slave or free, was suffering; there was no one to help them. 27 And since the LORD had not said he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam son of Jehoash.
   28 As for the other events of Jeroboam’s reign, all he did, and his military achievements, including how he recovered for Israel both Damascus and Hamath, which had belonged to Judah, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?29 Jeroboam rested with his ancestors, the kings of Israel. And Zechariah his son succeeded him as king.

John 2

Jesus Changes Water Into Wine
    1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
   4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
   5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
   6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
   7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
   8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
   They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
   11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
   12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.
Jesus Clears the Temple Courts
    13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
   18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
   19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
   20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
   23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

Pharaoh [Phā'raōh]—sun, great houseor the destroyer. This was a title used as the general description of the sovereign of Egypt, both with and without the personal name attached.Pharaoh is an Egyptian term derived from Phra, meaning the sun, to which the Egyptians likened themselves. This is why we often see them represented with a disc or figure of the sun upon their heads. The Pharaohs of Bible times are as follows:
  1. The one who took Sarah from Abraham ( Gen. 12:15-20).
  2. The one who reigned when Joseph was prime minister(Gen. 37:3640-50).
  3. The one who was king of Egypt when Moses was born and in whose palace Moses was brought up (Exod. 1 and 2).
  4. The one who was king when Moses was fully grown (Exod. 2:15).
  5. The one who persecuted the Israelites, and whom Moses and Aaron challenged (Exod. 3:10114:21225-18).
  6. The one who reigned in the days of Solomon and whose daughter Solomon married ( 1 Kings 3:17:8).
  7. The one who was king in the days of Isaiah (Isa 19:11;30:2336:6).
  8. The one who was father of Bithiah, wife of Mered, of the tribe of Judah (1 Chron. 4:18).


A caution to the presumptuous

“Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12
Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 10:19-25
These strong men sometimes will not use the means of grace, and therefore they fall. There are some persons here, who rarely attend a place of worship; they do not profess to be religious; but I am sure they would be astonished if I were to tell them, that I know some professedly religious people who are accepted in some churches as being true children of God, who yet make it a habit of stopping away from the house of God, because they conceive they are so advanced that they do not want it. You smile at such a thing as that. They boast such deep experience within; they have a volume of sweet sermons at home, and they will stop and read them; they need not go to the house of God, for they are fat and flourishing. They conceit themselves that they have received food enough seven years ago to last them the next ten years. They imagine that old food will feed their souls now. These are your presumptuous men. They are not to be found at the Lord’s table, eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ, in the holy emblems of bread and wine. You do not see them in their closets; you do not find them searching the Scriptures with holy curiosity. They think they stand—they shall never be moved; they fancy that means are intended for weaker Christians; and leaving those means, they fall. They will not have the shoe to put upon the foot, and therefore the flint cuts them; they will not put on the armour, and therefore the enemy wounds them—sometimes well-nigh unto death. In this deep quagmire of neglect of the means, many a proud professor has been smothered.
For meditation: Thomas was absent to his cost (John 20:24,25). Can you always give your “apologies for absence” to the Lord and to your fellow-members with a clear conscience?
Sermon no. 22
12 May (Preached 13 May 1855)



Trust in God—true wisdom

‘He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he.’ Proverbs 16:20
Suggested Further Reading: Proverbs 3:1–7
I am persuaded that faith is as much the rule of temporal as of spiritual life, and that we ought to have faith in God for our shops as well as for our souls. Worldly men may sneer at this, but it is none the less true; at any rate, I pray that it may be my course as long as I live. My dear friends, let me commend to you a life of trust in God in temporal things, by these few advantages among a great many others. First, trusting in God, you will not have to mourn because you have used sinful means to grow rich. Should you become poor through it, better to be poor with a clear conscience, than to be rich and guilty. You will have always this comfort should you come to the lowest position of human nature, that you have come there through no fault of your own. You have served God with integrity, and even if some should say you have missed your mark, and achieved no success, at least there is no sin upon your conscience. And then again, trusting God, you will not be guilty of self-contradiction. He who trusts in craft, sails this way today, and that way the next, like a vessel propelled by the fickle wind; but he that trusts in the Lord is like a vessel propelled by steam; she cuts through the waves, defies the wind, and makes one bright silvery track to her destined haven. Let men see that the world has changed, not you—that man’s opinions and man’s maxims have veered round to another quarter, but that you are still invincibly strong in the strength which trusting in God alone can confer.
For meditation: It would be a sad situation if we had only the affairs of this life for which to trust God (1 Corinthians 15:19); but if we cannot trust him in material matters that we can see, how can we be sure that we are trusting him in spiritual matters that we cannot see? Great men of God did both (Psalm 23:62 Timothy 4:18).
Sermon no. 392
12 May (1861)



The Sign of Jonah

Matthew 12:38-42 "He answered them, 'An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah'" ( v. 39).
A Christian and his friend, who did not know Christ, were discussing Jesus and His claim to be the only way to the Father (John 14:6). The believer humbly shared the Gospel with his friend to no avail. "If only I could see Jesus do a miracle," the non-Christian said, "then I would believe Him."
Such conversations have occured repeatedly throughout history, beginning with Jesus and the scribes and the Pharisees. In today's passage, these scholars, no doubt enraged at His harsh words about them (Matt. 12:1-37), ask Jesus for "a sign" (v. 38 ) - a miracle that unambiguously demonstrates the messianic anointing of Jesus. Apparently, what He has done so far is not enough to convince these men. In their minds the Redeemer's works of deliverance could be attributed to Satan (v. 24). Even if this is not true, they do not think the exorcism of demons is so special since their disciples can also deliver people (v. 27).
The request is not necessarily wrong in itself; God gave Abraham a sign to confirm his faith ( Gen. 15). But Jesus knows nothing can convince the scribes and Pharisees. They only seek more ammunition to use against Him. Besides, Jesus will not "bark on command," nor will He satisfy their whims (Matt. 12:39). Matthew Henry comments, "Christ is always ready to hear and answer holy desires and prayers, yet he will not gratify corrupt lusts and humors."
Jesus does, however, promise the "sign of the prophet Jonah" (v. 39). Many first-century Jews believed the Ninevites repented when Jonah preached because they knew God spoke through him, and they knew this because they knew God saved him from drowning (Jonah 1:17-3:10). Similarly, Jesus' resurrection, which is like Jonah's rescue (Matt. 12:40), also signifies God's vindication of Him and affirms the truth of His words ( Rom. 1:1-4). Yet even this miracle will not be enough to make Jesus' hard-hearted contemporaries believe (Luke 16:31).
On judgment day, the generation that rejects God's Son will be condemned by the Ninevites and the "Queen of the South" (1 Kings 10:1-13Matt. 12:41-42). Ironically, these pagans turned to the true God, but most Israelites, who will see the greater sign of their Lord's resurrection, will not believe.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

No miracle will ever be sufficient to engender faith within those who love their sin and refuse to turn to God. People are being insincere when they say they will believe if they see a miracle, for there is plenty of evidence of the truth of Jesus in the accounts of His resurrection, the spread of the Gospel, and the lives and societies changed by obedience to His message. Pray that you would always be able to see these proofs for the truth of our Lord's words.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
For the weekend:
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. 



The Sign of Jonah

No miracle will ever be sufficient to engender faith within those who love their sin and refuse to turn to God. People are being insincere when they say they will believe if they see a miracle, for there is plenty of evidence of the truth of Jesus in the accounts of His resurrection, the spread of the Gospel, and the lives and societies changed by obedience to His message. Pray that you would always be able to see these proofs for the truth of our Lord's words.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
For the weekend:
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. 



John Foxe: Documenting Persecution and Martyrdom

The most influential and inspirational book arising out of the flames of the Protestant Reformation was Foxe's Book of Martyrs. This book, second only to the Bible in popularity, should be found, according to John Wesley, in every minister's library.
Born in Boston, England, John Foxe (1517 – 1587) grew up in a family of modest wealth and prominence. He began his studies at Oxford at the age of sixteen and completed theological studies with a master's degree nine years later, prepared to become a lecturer in logic, an academic career that would require priestly ordination and celibacy. However, his acquaintance with William Tyndale, Hugh Latimer, and other Reformers as well as his theological and biblical studies turned him away from his Catholic heritage.
Without a clerical position, Foxe struggled to support his bride, Agnes Randall. But with the death of Henry VIII and the ascension of Edward VI to the throne, his prospects improved. Protestant sympathizers were eager to support his ministry of teaching and writing. The Duchess of Richmond served as his patron and for a time provided housing in her castle. She introduced him to other leading Reformers of the day, including Nicholas Ridley, who presided over his ordination in 1550. But when Edward VI died and Mary ascended the throne, the good times for Foxe, his patron, and his fellow Reformers were over. Fearing for their lives, he and his pregnant wife left for Holland and then moved on to Frankfurt and Strasbourg.
Although united by a fear of Catholic rulers back home, the English exiles were unable get along among themselves. From Strasbourg, Foxe returned to Frankfurt as the minister of an English church. But soon the matter of liturgy caused the members, in his words, to fall into "the violence of warring factions." Some, influenced by Knox, insisted on following Calvin's church order, while others demanded the continued use of the Book of Common Prayer. Though a friend of Knox, Foxe, like most Reformers, was deeply troubled by Knox's "rude vehemency" toward Queen Mary.
With the death of Queen Mary in 1558, Foxe, like many of his fellow English exiles eagerly returned to his homeland. But never again would he enjoy the luxurious patronage of his earlier years. Yet he continued writing and publishing, focusing on the history of persecution and martyrdom from the time of the early church to his own day. In 1563 he published the first edition of his Book of Martyrs , which became an immediate bestseller (though it never made him a rich man). His writing, based on trial records, journals, letters, and eyewitness accounts, served as a powerful defense of the Protestant cause while at the same time exacerbating the hostility between Catholics and Protestants. He exonerated Protestants while recording every account of Catholic brutality that came his way. But the book stood as a monument to faith and courage amid persecution, bringing consolation to Christians worldwide.
Although a religious partisan, Foxe was known for a spirit of religious toleration unusual in his era. He petitioned Queen Elizabeth to grant reprieve to several Anabaptists who had been sentenced to death, and some years later he pleaded for the lives of Jesuits awaiting execution.
The English Reformation would continue on into the late seventeenth century with the Puritans and their profound influence on religion in America. The dissatisfaction with the Anglican Church and its failure to carry out reform as Calvin had in Geneva spurred many English Christians to call for purity and separation, thus the terms Puritans and Separatists.

If you enjoyed the above article, please take a minute to read about the book that it was adapted from:

Parade of Faith: A Biographical History of the Christian Church

by Ruth A. Tucker 
Buy the book!
The story of Christianity centers on people whose lives have been transformed by the resurrected Lord. Tucker puts this front and center in a lively overview peppered with sidebars; historical "what if?" questions; sections on everyday life; drawings and illustrations; bibliographies for further reading.

T. Suzanne Eller
May 11, 2012
A Mother's Hands
T. Suzanne Eller
"Three things will last forever-faith, hope, and love-and the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT)
She held out the soft white blanket scalloped in pink ribbon. "I'm not sure I want to give it to her," my mom said. The stitches were a bit looser than my mother's past handiwork, but I could see love in every crocheted inch.
I held her hands in my own. Her once slender fingers were bent and swollen at the joints. I imagined her holding the crochet needles and weaving the yarn in and out for hours and days, until the blanket was complete. It is an heirloom for her first great-grandchild, one created with pain and love.
I think I take my mother's hands for granted. They have caressed my cheek. They have made me wear a coat (even when I protested that I was a mother of three grown children). They have dialed the cell phone she loves, and hates, so she could talk to "her Suzie." Her hands have penned cards that showed up in my mailbox saying "I love you."
An old 70s song says, "Time keeps on slipping, slipping, into the future." There is truth in those lyrics. I see the passage of time in my mother's hands. I also see it as moments pass into hours and then into days in a whirl.
Life is always busy, like this month when the white board on the refrigerator lists church events, dentist visits, showers and weddings and graduations, as well as other details like pay the bills, mow the lawn, clean the house.
Recently I realized that my mother was moving further down on that list. A week passed. A month flew by. The phone calls came. "Hey, Suz, just calling to say I miss you."
One day I received an email from a friend. Her mom was sick. For the next few weeks I prayed, reading every update. One night I read the email from my beautiful friend that expressed her love for her ailing mom, and prayer for strength to say goodbye.
Suddenly it hit me how little time I actually devoted to my mother. I held the email and wept. The next day I made a date with my mom. She was like a girl; she laughed on the phone as we made plans.
My mom and I had the best time at lunch and I was inspired to make a point to love on her more frequently. So I came up with "Love Points" which include a few things I try to do each week.
Write. Leave a note in an unexpected place.
Give. Spend time with no strings attached (help work in the garden, go to lunch, sit and chat).
Touch. Especially if your loved one is older or widowed and they are not touched in positive ways any more. (Massage their hands. Hold their hand. Touch their face or hair.)
Affirm. Tell them one encouraging thing that you believe about them.
I pray I stay committed to showing my mom love. And that I have many more opportunities to hang out with her. But more than that I pray I don't take her for granted.
Life most likely won't slow down. But as I devote time to worthwhile endeavors, I don't want to forget that in the grand scheme of things, holding my mother's hands is one of the most priceless investments I'll ever make.
Dear Lord, thank You for my loved ones. Life gets so hectic, and sometimes it's hard to slow down long enough to show them how much I care. Please help me to slow down and recognize what is of little value so that I can invest in people with immense value. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Visit Suzie's blog for more encouragement or join herMoms Together Facebook community.
Reflect and Respond:
"The most important thing that should totally absorb our lives down here is the practice of real love. Why? Because love lasts. Love will be the only thing that matters in eternity." ~Jill Brisco, author of Love that Lasts.
Is there someone you need to spend more time with?
Power Verses:
John 15:12b, "Love each other in the same way I have loved you." (NLT)
Matthew 6:21, "Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be." (NLT)
© 2012 by T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105


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May 11, 2012
Taking Every Thought Captive
Part 3
Sharon Jaynes
Today's Truth
"[Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One),  (2 Corinthians 10:5 AMP).
Friend to Friend
My neighbor, Michael, was a stand-in for Samuel, the nine-year-old son of Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) in the movieThe Patriot. For months, Michael wore his hair long with extensions, donned Italian knickers and knee-high stockings and acted the part of an American colonial boy. He traveled to rural South Carolina where part of the movie was filmed and received an education in the production of the silver screen. Michael saw how producers and makeup artists made something appear as though it were real when it wasn't. 
The movie was rated R for violent content, but his parents let nine-year-old Michael watch it upon release. It was a bloody realistic reenactment of the horrors of the Revolutionary War. However, during the guts and gore, little Michael didn't even bat an eye. Why? He knew it wasn't real.
During one scene, Mel Gibson pummeled a British soldier and landed a hatchet square in the middle of his bloody forehead. I covered my eyes. Michael watched nonplussed. His comment?
"That guy walked around the set with that hatchet in his head for three days. We even ate lunch together and he had that hatchet with fake blood glued to his face. It isn't real."
Michael knew what was true and it removed all fear. That's the power of the truth.   Yesterday we looked at step one to taking every thought captive. Today let's look at step two:
Step One: Realize the Enemy's True Identity
Step Two: Recognize Satan's Lies
In 2 Corinthians 2:11 Paul says, "For we are not unaware of his (Satan's) schemes." So let's take a few moments and look at his battle plan. 
If Satan came to you in a little red suit with a pitchfork and announced himself as the devil, you wouldn't believe a word he said. But he is cunning and disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14 ). When he deceived Eve, he even quoted Scripture – albeit twisted and distorted. He has a collection of old tapes from your past and pushes rewind and play, rewind and play. Oh yes, he knows just which buttons to push. He also uses personal pronouns like "I" instead of "you." The thoughts sound something like this: "I am a failure. I am a loser. I can't do anything right. I am ugly." The thoughts sound like you, feel like you, and before you know it, you think it is you. He did this all throughout Scripture and he still does it today. (See 1 Chronicles 21:1 as an example.)
Satan knows exactly which lies to whisper in your ear. He has watched you over the years and is well acquainted with your insecurities, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. Do you tend to get discouraged? He will plant seeds of discouragement in your mind. Do you tend to feel rejection and loneliness? He will put ideas that you are rejected in your mind. But are they true? No they are not. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. You are loved and chosen by God. That is the truth. 
Here's a simple exercise.  If you aren't sure if a thought is of the enemy, attach, "In Jesus Name," to the end of it. For example: "I can't stand that woman, in Jesus' Name."  "I don't love my husband, in Jesus' Name."  "I am a loser, in Jesus Name."  Just doesn't fit, does it? That is not a fail-safe method for detecting the truth versus a lie, but it is a quick litmus test that takes us in the right direction.
Step two in taking every thought captive is Recognizing Satan's Lies.
Join me next time as we look at step three to taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. But before we get there, you'll get to visit with another one of the GiGs.
Let's Pray
Dear Lord, Help me to recognize Satan's lies. I know the only way to recognize a lie is to know the truth. I pray that the Holy Spirit will convict me when I am believing a lie and that He will help me see Your truth.  
In Jesus' Name,
Now It's Your Turn
Think of some of the negative thoughts that have run through your mind this week. Now attach "in Jesus' Name" to the end of that thought. What does that reveal?
What are some lies that you have believed about who you are? For example: I am a loser. I can't do anything right. I am used goods. I can never be forgiven. I am too far gone.
Friend, each one of those statements is a lie of the enemy. Now, who does God say that you are? Not sure? Take a look at the list found on my Free Resource page. Visit my website at, go to the Free Resource tab and click on Life Living Resources.
More from the Girlfriends
This series of lessons were originally written in Sharon's book, 
Becoming Spiritually Beautiful – Seeing Yourself from God's Perspective.
 However, these particular lessons had such a great impact, she wrote a follow-up book, I'm Not Good Enough…and Other Lies Women Tell Themselvesthat goes into much greater detail on how to overcome the lies of the enemy. If this is an area where you struggle, I'm Not Good Enough is the book for you. You can find both on her website at  
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





Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. Acts 14:19-20a
Today we hear from Open Doors’ author and co-worker, Anneke Companjen. These are the concluding paragraphs of her first book, Hidden Sorrow, Lasting Joy:
My husband, Johan, likes to speak on Acts 14 when he challenges Christians around the world to care for the Suffering Church.
In that chapter we read how the authorities won the crowd over and stoned Paul. They dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead.
“Period!” Johan tells his audience. “The devil wanted to put a period here. Paul was finished as far as the enemy was concerned. But God had other plans. The story continues, ‘But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city’ (Acts 14:20). Something happened that turned the devils period into God’s comma. What made the difference? The disciples’ prayer.”
God loves to change the devils periods into commas, and he’s still doing it today.
It is my heart’s desire that he will use you and me to make a difference in the lives of Christians who are persecuted for their faith around the world. We can reach out to them, each in our own church and community and in our own way, through awareness, through action, and most of all, through prayer.[1]
RESPONSE: Today I will not underestimate the power of prayer for persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. I will pray asking God to turn the devil’s periods into His commas.
PRAYER: Pray for persecuted Christians today whether they are experiencing pain or pressure, guilt or relief, sorrow or joy, faith or denial, isolation or fellowship, prison or freedom, hope or despair, forgiveness or bitterness.
1. Anneke Companjen, Hidden Sorrow, Lasting Joy(Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), pp. 216-217.
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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Myth: "My husband would never look at pornography."

Is this cause for a divorce? I don't know. I am still so indescribably shocked that I'm not even sure if it really happened. Of course, I know it did. It's impossible to dream up something like this.
We're leaders in the student ministry-how could this happen to us? He's a coach for our daughter's softball team. A deacon at our church. How long has this been going on? Is he an addict like the perverts who fill the strip joints? My husband?
Before tonight, I had no reason to suspect my husband of doing anything as vulgar and repulsive as paying for smut. He is my best friend. We have a wonderful marriage. We talk to each other about everything. We spend time together. Our sex life isn't like it was when we were younger, but I thought it was healthy and normal. In fact, he just surprised me with a trip to Hawaii for our tenth wedding anniversary. I get nauseous whenever I think of him fantasizing about all these women whenever we made love.
Then, I get angry. All this time, and I had no idea.
What kind of a husband surprises his wife with a wedding anniversary trip to Hawaii and then downloads porn off the Internet in our own home? And what am I going to tell my parents? Your son-in-law is a pervert? He's not the person we thought he was all these years? It will absolutely break their hearts. I can't handle this, God. We had a good ... we have a good marriage. I still want to believe we have a good marriage. That's why there must be some sort of mistake. It just can't be as bad as it seems. Please, God, what did I do wrong?
The allure of pornography makes no distinction between Christian and non-Christian men. Unfortunately, as wives, mothers and sisters, women want to believe pornography could never be a problem for the men in their lives. However, we can't afford to be naive when it comes to understanding the nature of sin and its addictive qualities.
  • First, we have to admit that pornography addiction can happen in Christian homes, and it does. Frequently.
  • Second, we must see that pornography is a true addiction-those who are involved in it may say they want to stop, even try desperately to stop, but they are often powerless to escape it without help. This is not to exonerate them from responsibility. Pornography is a deliberate choice that brings shame and pain to families.
  • Third, women should recognize that their husbands need help, sometimes clinical aid, to break free from their addiction to pornography.
  • Fourth, women cannot take the burden of accountability onto themselves. Men need other Christian men to hold them brutally accountable for their choices. Resources like Promise Keepers specialize in Internet accountability. You can also search online for internet filters or accountability software.
At the same time, women whose husbands look at pornography need to find someone to talk to about the grief associated with this violation against their marriage. The worst scenario is for a woman to feel so shamed and rejected by the discovery of her husband's addiction that she refuses to ask for help from the church or other family-centered crisis counseling. Pornography, like all sin, thrives in darkness. Bring it into the light by seeking help.
Create a climate of honesty in your home so that even if your husband fails, you can pray together for victory over this sin. It may feel very painful for you to talk and pray about this topic since you are the one who feels wronged, yet love is an endless act of dying to oneself.
Begin to pray for your sons or the young men in your life. Our culture is so sexually saturated, brimming with visual temptation for men, that men must fight proactively to guard their minds. Understand that the enemy wants to hook our sons early and hard. They need to hear from Christian men how they should start now to set up boundaries in their lives.
Finally, never give up. The Holy Spirit can bring freedom (seeJohn 8:32); with God there is always hope for healing for your husband and your marriage.
"47 percent of Christians admit that pornography is a major problem in the home."
-Internet Filter Review, "Pornography Statistics 2008"
"He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart."
1 Corinthians 4:5

See also

John 3:19-21; Ephesians 5:3, 11; Hebrews 13:4

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