Saturday, May 26, 2012

Daily Devotional Saturday 26th May

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” James 1:19 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee."
Psalm 55:22
Care, even though exercised upon legitimate objects, if carried to excess, has in it the nature of sin. The precept to avoid anxious care is earnestly inculcated by our Saviour, again and again; it is reiterated by the apostles; and it is one which cannot be neglected without involving transgression: for the very essence of anxious care is the imagining that we are wiser than God, and the thrusting ourselves into his place to do for him that which he has undertaken to do for us. We attempt to think of that which we fancy he will forget; we labour to take upon ourselves our weary burden, as if he were unable or unwilling to take it for us. Now this disobedience to his plain precept, this unbelief in his Word, this presumption in intruding upon his province, is all sinful. Yet more than this, anxious care often leads to acts of sin. He who cannot calmly leave his affairs in God's hand, but will carry his own burden, is very likely to be tempted to use wrong means to help himself. This sin leads to a forsaking of God as our counsellor, and resorting instead to human wisdom. This is going to the "broken cistern" instead of to the "fountain;" a sin which was laid against Israel of old. Anxiety makes us doubt God's lovingkindness, and thus our love to him grows cold; we feel mistrust, and thus grieve the Spirit of God, so that our prayers become hindered, our consistent example marred, and our life one of self-seeking. Thus want of confidence in God leads us to wander far from him; but if through simple faith in his promise, we cast each burden as it comes upon him, and are "careful for nothing" because he undertakes to care for us, it will keep us close to him, and strengthen us against much temptation. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee."

Evening

"Continue in the faith."
Acts 14:22
Perseverance is the badge of true saints. The Christian life is not a beginning only in the ways of God, but also a continuance in the same as long as life lasts. It is with a Christian as it was with the great Napoleon: he said, "Conquest has made me what I am, and conquest must maintain me." So, under God, dear brother in the Lord, conquest has made you what you are, and conquest must sustain you. Your motto must be, "Excelsior." He only is a true conqueror, and shall be crowned at the last, who continueth till war's trumpet is blown no more. Perseverance is, therefore, the target of all our spiritual enemies. The world does not object to your being a Christian for a time, if she can but tempt you to cease your pilgrimage, and settle down to buy and sell with her in Vanity Fair. The flesh will seek to ensnare you, and to prevent your pressing on to glory. "It is weary work being a pilgrim; come, give it up. Am I always to be mortified? Am I never to be indulged? Give me at least a furlough from this constant warfare." Satan will make many a fierce attack on your perseverance; it will be the mark for all his arrows. He will strive to hinder you in service: he will insinuate that you are doing no good; and that you want rest. He will endeavour to make you weary of suffering, he will whisper, "Curse God, and die." Or he will attack your steadfastness: "What is the good of being so zealous? Be quiet like the rest; sleep as do others, and let your lamp go out as the other virgins do." Or he will assail your doctrinal sentiments: "Why do you hold to these denominational creeds? Sensible men are getting more liberal; they are removing the old landmarks: fall in with the times." Wear your shield, Christian, therefore, close upon your armour, and cry mightily unto God, that by his Spirit you may endure to the end

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Today's reading: 1 Chronicles 25-27, John 9:1-23 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
The Musicians
    1 David, together with the commanders of the army, set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals. Here is the list of the men who performed this service:
   2 From the sons of Asaph:
   Zakkur, Joseph, Nethaniah and Asarelah. The sons of Asaph were under the supervision of Asaph, who prophesied under the king’s supervision.
   3 As for Jeduthun, from his sons:
   Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah and Mattithiah, six in all, under the supervision of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied, using the harp in thanking and praising the LORD.
   4 As for Heman, from his sons:
   Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shubael and Jerimoth; Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti and Romamti-Ezer; Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir and Mahazioth. 5 (All these were sons of Heman the king’s seer. They were given him through the promises of God to exalt him. God gave Heman fourteen sons and three daughters.)
   6 All these men were under the supervision of their father for the music of the temple of the LORD, with cymbals, lyres and harps, for the ministry at the house of God.
   Asaph, Jeduthun and Heman were under the supervision of the king. 7 Along with their relatives—all of them trained and skilled in music for the LORD—they numbered 288. 8 Young and old alike, teacher as well as student, cast lots for their duties.
    9 The first lot, which was for Asaph, fell to Joseph,
    his sons and relatives 12
    the second to Gedaliah,
    him and his relatives and sons 12
    10 the third to Zakkur,
    his sons and relatives 12
    11 the fourth to Izri,
    his sons and relatives 12
    12 the fifth to Nethaniah,
    his sons and relatives 12
    13 the sixth to Bukkiah,
    his sons and relatives 12
    14 the seventh to Jesarelah,
    his sons and relatives 12
    15 the eighth to Jeshaiah,
    his sons and relatives 12
    16 the ninth to Mattaniah,
    his sons and relatives 12
    17 the tenth to Shimei,
    his sons and relatives 12
    18 the eleventh to Azarel,
    his sons and relatives 12
    19 the twelfth to Hashabiah,
    his sons and relatives 12
    20 the thirteenth to Shubael,
    his sons and relatives 12
    21 the fourteenth to Mattithiah,
    his sons and relatives 12
    22 the fifteenth to Jerimoth,
    his sons and relatives 12
    23 the sixteenth to Hananiah,
    his sons and relatives 12
    24 the seventeenth to Joshbekashah,
    his sons and relatives 12
    25 the eighteenth to Hanani,
    his sons and relatives 12
    26 the nineteenth to Mallothi,
    his sons and relatives 12
    27 the twentieth to Eliathah,
    his sons and relatives 12
    28 the twenty-first to Hothir,
    his sons and relatives 12
    29 the twenty-second to Giddalti,
    his sons and relatives 12
    30 the twenty-third to Mahazioth,
    his sons and relatives 12
    31 the twenty-fourth to Romamti-Ezer,
    his sons and relatives 12.

1 Chronicles 26

The Gatekeepers
    1 The divisions of the gatekeepers:
   From the Korahites: Meshelemiah son of Kore, one of the sons of Asaph.
   2 Meshelemiah had sons: 
   Zechariah the firstborn, 
   Jediael the second, 
   Zebadiah the third, 
   Jathniel the fourth, 
   3 Elam the fifth, 
   Jehohanan the sixth 
   and Eliehoenai the seventh.
   Obed-Edom also had sons: 
   Shemaiah the firstborn, 
   Jehozabad the second, 
   Joah the third, 
   Sakar the fourth, 
   Nethanel the fifth, 
   5 Ammiel the sixth, 
   Issachar the seventh 
   and Peullethai the eighth. 
   (For God had blessed Obed-Edom.)
   6 Obed-Edom’s son Shemaiah also had sons, who were leaders in their father’s family because they were very capable men. The sons of Shemaiah: Othni, Rephael, Obed and Elzabad; his relatives Elihu and Semakiah were also able men.8 All these were descendants of Obed-Edom; they and their sons and their relatives were capable men with the strength to do the work—descendants of Obed-Edom, 62 in all.
   9 Meshelemiah had sons and relatives, who were able men—18 in all.
   10 Hosah the Merarite had sons: Shimri the first (although he was not the firstborn, his father had appointed him the first), 11Hilkiah the second, Tabaliah the third and Zechariah the fourth. The sons and relatives of Hosah were 13 in all.
   12 These divisions of the gatekeepers, through their leaders, had duties for ministering in the temple of the LORD, just as their relatives had. 13 Lots were cast for each gate, according to their families, young and old alike.
   14 The lot for the East Gate fell to Shelemiah. Then lots were cast for his son Zechariah, a wise counselor, and the lot for the North Gate fell to him. 15 The lot for the South Gate fell to Obed-Edom, and the lot for the storehouse fell to his sons. 16The lots for the West Gate and the Shalleketh Gate on the upper road fell to Shuppim and Hosah.
   Guard was alongside of guard: 17 There were six Levites a day on the east, four a day on the north, four a day on the south and two at a time at the storehouse. 18 As for the court to the west, there were four at the road and two at the court itself.
   19 These were the divisions of the gatekeepers who were descendants of Korah and Merari.
The Treasurers and Other Officials
    20 Their fellow Levites were in charge of the treasuries of the house of God and the treasuries for the dedicated things.
   21 The descendants of Ladan, who were Gershonites through Ladan and who were heads of families belonging to Ladan the Gershonite, were Jehieli, 22 the sons of Jehieli, Zetham and his brother Joel. They were in charge of the treasuries of the temple of the LORD.
   23 From the Amramites, the Izharites, the Hebronites and the Uzzielites:
   24 Shubael, a descendant of Gershom son of Moses, was the official in charge of the treasuries. 25 His relatives through Eliezer: Rehabiah his son, Jeshaiah his son, Joram his son, Zikri his son and Shelomith his son. 26 Shelomith and his relatives were in charge of all the treasuries for the things dedicated by King David, by the heads of families who were the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and by the other army commanders. 27 Some of the plunder taken in battle they dedicated for the repair of the temple of the LORD. 28 And everything dedicated by Samuel the seer and by Saul son of Kish, Abner son of Ner and Joab son of Zeruiah, and all the other dedicated things were in the care of Shelomith and his relatives.
   29 From the Izharites: Kenaniah and his sons were assigned duties away from the temple, as officials and judges over Israel.
   30 From the Hebronites: Hashabiah and his relatives—seventeen hundred able men—were responsible in Israel west of the Jordan for all the work of the LORD and for the king’s service. 31 As for the Hebronites, Jeriah was their chief according to the genealogical records of their families. In the fortieth year of David’s reign a search was made in the records, and capable men among the Hebronites were found at Jazer in Gilead. 32 Jeriah had twenty-seven hundred relatives, who were able men and heads of families, and King David put them in charge of the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh for every matter pertaining to God and for the affairs of the king.

1 Chronicles 27

Army Divisions
    1 This is the list of the Israelites—heads of families, commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and their officers, who served the king in all that concerned the army divisions that were on duty month by month throughout the year. Each division consisted of 24,000 men.
   2 In charge of the first division, for the first month, was Jashobeam son of Zabdiel. There were 24,000 men in his division. 3 He was a descendant of Perez and chief of all the army officers for the first month.
   4 In charge of the division for the second month was Dodai the Ahohite; Mikloth was the leader of his division. There were 24,000 men in his division.
   5 The third army commander, for the third month, was Benaiah son of Jehoiada the priest. He was chief and there were 24,000 men in his division. 6 This was the Benaiah who was a mighty warrior among the Thirty and was over the Thirty. His son Ammizabad was in charge of his division.
   7 The fourth, for the fourth month, was Asahel the brother of Joab; his son Zebadiah was his successor. There were 24,000 men in his division.
   8 The fifth, for the fifth month, was the commander Shamhuth the Izrahite. There were 24,000 men in his division.
   9 The sixth, for the sixth month, was Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite. There were 24,000 men in his division.
   10 The seventh, for the seventh month, was Helez the Pelonite, an Ephraimite. There were 24,000 men in his division.
   11 The eighth, for the eighth month, was Sibbekai the Hushathite, a Zerahite. There were 24,000 men in his division.
   12 The ninth, for the ninth month, was Abiezer the Anathothite, a Benjamite. There were 24,000 men in his division.
   13 The tenth, for the tenth month, was Maharai the Netophathite, a Zerahite. There were 24,000 men in his division.
   14 The eleventh, for the eleventh month, was Benaiah the Pirathonite, an Ephraimite. There were 24,000 men in his division.
   15 The twelfth, for the twelfth month, was Heldai the Netophathite, from the family of Othniel. There were 24,000 men in his division.
Leaders of the Tribes
    16 The leaders of the tribes of Israel:
   over the Reubenites: Eliezer son of Zikri;
   over the Simeonites: Shephatiah son of Maakah;
   17 over Levi: Hashabiah son of Kemuel;
   over Aaron: Zadok;
   18 over Judah: Elihu, a brother of David;
   over Issachar: Omri son of Michael;
   19 over Zebulun: Ishmaiah son of Obadiah;
   over Naphtali: Jerimoth son of Azriel;
   20 over the Ephraimites: Hoshea son of Azaziah;
   over half the tribe of Manasseh: Joel son of Pedaiah;
   21 over the half-tribe of Manasseh in Gilead: Iddo son of Zechariah;
   over Benjamin: Jaasiel son of Abner;
   22 over Dan: Azarel son of Jeroham.
   These were the leaders of the tribes of Israel.
   23 David did not take the number of the men twenty years old or less, because the LORD had promised to make Israel as numerous as the stars in the sky. 24 Joab son of Zeruiah began to count the men but did not finish. God’s wrath came on Israel on account of this numbering, and the number was not entered in the book of the annals of King David.
The King’s Overseers
    25 Azmaveth son of Adiel was in charge of the royal storehouses.
   Jonathan son of Uzziah was in charge of the storehouses in the outlying districts, in the towns, the villages and the watchtowers.
   26 Ezri son of Kelub was in charge of the workers who farmed the land.
   27 Shimei the Ramathite was in charge of the vineyards.
   Zabdi the Shiphmite was in charge of the produce of the vineyards for the wine vats.
   28 Baal-Hanan the Gederite was in charge of the olive and sycamore-fig trees in the western foothills.
   Joash was in charge of the supplies of olive oil.
   29 Shitrai the Sharonite was in charge of the herds grazing in Sharon.
   Shaphat son of Adlai was in charge of the herds in the valleys.
   30 Obil the Ishmaelite was in charge of the camels.
   Jehdeiah the Meronothite was in charge of the donkeys.
   31 Jaziz the Hagrite was in charge of the flocks.
   All these were the officials in charge of King David’s property.
   32 Jonathan, David’s uncle, was a counselor, a man of insight and a scribe. Jehiel son of Hakmoni took care of the king’s sons.
   33 Ahithophel was the king’s counselor.
   Hushai the Arkite was the king’s confidant. 34 Ahithophel was succeeded by Jehoiada son of Benaiah and by Abiathar.
   Joab was the commander of the royal army.

John 9

Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
    1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
   3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
   6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
   8 His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some claimed that he was.
   Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”
   But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”
   10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.
   11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”
   12 “Where is this man?” they asked him.
   “I don’t know,” he said.
The Pharisees Investigate the Healing
    13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”
   16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”
   But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.
   17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
   The man replied, “He is a prophet.”
   18 They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”
   20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

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The Purpose of the Parables

Matthew 13:12-17 "Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it." ( v. 17).
Our study today will examine the purpose of parables. Jesus tells us in Matthew 15:12-15 that He speaks in parables to hide the secrets of the kingdom from some and reveal them to others (Matt. 13:12-15 ). This does not mean His parables are full of esoteric information that only a select few can grasp with their minds. Christ's enemies often understand exactly what His parables mean (see 21:33-46); the problem is their refusal to trust His teaching about Himself and God's kingdom. The difficulty the Pharisees have is moral and thus volitional, not intellectual. They choose not to believe our Savior's words. Those who take up their cross gain more access to kingdom truth; those who reject Him lose whatever insight they had (13:12). Matthew Henry says parables make the things of God "more plain and easy" to those willing to be taught, and "at the same time more difficult and obscure to those who [are] willfully ignorant."
A person's final response to the parables reveals whether or not he is elect. Today's passage assumes that God chooses to save only part of sinful humanity; the rest He leaves to harden themselves in their sin (Rom. 9:1-18 ). As Dr. R.C. Sproul has taught on many occasions, God does not create unbelief and is not culpable when sinners do not respond to the parables with saving faith. Yet this hardening is not outside the scope of our Creator's sovereign plan. He sends Jesus to speak in parables so that the rebellious will rage against Him more fiercely and manifest the justness of their condemnation (Matt. 13:13-15;Rom. 9:19-24 ). The Almighty decrees that those whom His grace passes over will hate His Son. And those whom His grace passes over do choose to hate His Son without coercion. We are always free to do what we want, but apart from God's grace we do not want to love Jesus. John Calvin writes that the Lord opens a man's ears "and that no man obtains or accomplishes this by his own industry."
We would be amiss to emphasize the parables' hardening purpose over the gratitude Jesus encourages in the elect. Our focus is not to be on why God has not chosen some. Instead, we must be thankful that He has made us, who are no more deserving than the reprobate, to see the kingdom ( Matt. 13:16-17).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

We should marvel at God's grace every time we recall that we have trusted Christ alone for our salvation. Before the Lord quickened us, we were dead in sin and had no desire at all to know or serve Him. But by His Spirit our Creator overcame this stubbornness and changed our hearts, enabling us to believe the Gospel. Take time today to thank God for His matchless grace and remember that your deeds contribute nothing to your salvation.
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. 

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The Purpose of the Parables

We should marvel at God's grace every time we recall that we have trusted Christ alone for our salvation. Before the Lord quickened us, we were dead in sin and had no desire at all to know or serve Him. But by His Spirit our Creator overcame this stubbornness and changed our hearts, enabling us to believe the Gospel. Take time today to thank God for His matchless grace and remember that your deeds contribute nothing to your salvation.
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. 

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John Bunyan: A "Tinker" of Souls

John Bunyan (1628 – 1688) is best remembered as the author of the beloved Christian classic Pilgrim's Progress. A Baptist minister, he would become one of England's most celebrated prisoners. He is born in Bedfordshire, the son of a tinker who went from house to house repairing broken items. Bunyan later recalls living in abject poverty; with little formal schooling and "without God," he was an unruly child.
Later, while serving three years in the parliamentary army, he senses God singling him out for protection, while other soldiers around him die in battle. On leaving the military, he takes up his father's trade and becomes an impoverished tinker. When he marries Mary at twenty-one, he becomes convicted of his sinful life of worldliness — particularly dancing and sports — and begins attending church. In 1653, at the age of twenty-five, he is baptized and licensed to serve as a lay preacher.
With Mary's death six years into their marriage, Bunyan is left alone with four little children. Moving to Bedford, he remarries and begins his preaching ministry. His is a simple style of biblical storytelling, but he is soon drawing crowds, some coming from great distances to hear him. However, the timing corresponds with the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. After twenty years of freedom of worship, Nonconformist services are banned, and ministers are rounded up and arrested. Thus begins Bunyan's dozen years of prison. His second wife, Elizabeth, only seventeen when they marry, is now alone with young children. Yet she becomes his strongest defender and advocate, going before judges and magistrates and pleading his cause.
He can free himself by promising not to preach, but he refuses. He tells local magistrates that he would rather remain in prison until "moss grows on his eyelids" than fail to do what God has commanded him to do. Unlike many seventeenth-century incarcerations, his time behind bars is not all misery. In fact, guarded by a friendly small-town jailor, he is permitted some nights at home, and visitors are welcome. Most astonishingly, on occasion he is allowed to preach to those gathered in "unlawful assemblies." But the most precious freedom he enjoys is time for reading and writing.
Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, his spiritual memoir of his early life and ministry, is a treasured piece of Puritan writing. With a simple straightforward style, he records events and relationships without overstated religious piety. He confesses temptations even during his Sunday sermon. Besides inner struggle, he confronts community gossip and rumors of his own sexual impropriety, which he insists are untrue.
Bunyan's final years in jail are devoted primarily to writingPilgrim's Progress, the book for which he became famous. He is released, however, before the volume is finished. When Charles II issues the Declaration of Indulgence, freeing Nonconformists from their prison cells, Bunyan wastes no time in getting back into regular ministry. But he soon finds himself back in jail when Nonconformity is again made illegal. The six-month confinement affords more time for writing.
Pilgrim's Progress, quickly regarded as a literary masterpiece, is an allegory that touches the emotions like few other books have, spanning every social class and religious identity. By the time of his death there are nearly a hundred thousand copies in print.
While his fame is spreading, Bunyan continues to preach as an itinerant evangelist. Indeed, he travels so much that he is dubbed "Bishop Bunyan." He also serves as chaplain to the mayor of London. All the while he continues writing, producing in 1680 what some have regarded the first English novel: The Life and Death of Mr. Badman. He also writes theologically oriented treatises, including Differences in Judgement about Water-Baptism no Bar to Communion.

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

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.

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Myth: "Today's media can't significantly influence my life."

Although I personally don't have a problem with my entertainment choices, I'm selective about telling people in church about my media habits. Maybe it's because I'm afraid they'll think I'm too worldly because I like to listen to the morning show on the "new rock" station every morning or, even worse, that I'm peddling feminism to the youth I teach in Bible study just because I read Cosmo in my spare time. If I happen to be listening to a secular CD when I pick up a friend from church for lunch, I subconsciously wonder if she expects me to tune into Dr. Dobson and Christian radio 24-7. Call me paranoid, but I don't think my suspicions are unfounded. That's not to say I don't have standards about my choices.
For example, I've made a firm decision not to see R-rated movies in theaters. Although if they have some historical value (or have received that rating for something other than nudity or capricious violence), I may rent them to watch in the privacy of my home. I intentionally don't subscribe to premium movie channels whose convenience could tempt me to compromise my standards. However, when it comes to popular culture, I don't see the harm in keeping up with what's going on. So I occasionally check out usmagazine.com or people.com to catch up on the latest celebrity gossip. And I personally find reality TV shows ridiculous, but I think they're pretty harmless and overall mindless timewasters that keep me in the loop with everyone at work.
However, I'm not naive. I realize I'm walking a fine line between monitoring my own behavior, modeling what's appropriate for my Christian brothers and sisters and remaining sensitive to God's promptings in this area. But I think I'm doing an OK job. After all, I'm a strong Christian, and I don't think my choices are hurting anyone.
-Mary Ann
The human heart and mind are delicate instruments. Sensitive to the least influence, our minds are constantly receiving input from our surroundings, shaping our hearts with an artist's precision. When our minds take their cues and impulses from the Word of God and wise counsel, our hearts follow suit. However, if we allow the culture to regulate our hearts and minds, we soon lose our perspective on our relationship with God.
While we may know better than to participate in outright sinful activities, we may not approach areas of subtle influence with such diligence. For example, did you know that the majority of women feel depressed after flipping through a fashion magazine? They're subconsciously reminded of how they don't look and what they can't afford. Harmless? Not quite.
The worldly influence of the media may appear as unobtrusive as fine grains of sand in the cogs of a machine. Some influences are so seemingly insignificant that we might not notice their effects right away. We assume our over-exposure to crime, domestic violence, profanity, crude humor, homosexuality, promiscuity and adultery as a mainstay of movies, television and music is harmless. We hardly notice it anymore, so how could it be harming us?
However, over time, being out of rhythm with the Word of God and its principles can prove dangerous to our spiritual health. God instructed Israel to separate itself from the surrounding culture. Extended exposure to pagan cultures can influence even the strongest Christians-if not to break their moral commitments, then at least to bend them. How should you respond?
  • Ask God to search your heart and your media habits (seePsalm 26:2-3).
  • Examine your habits: Are they out of balance with your intake of God's Word and wise counsel?
  • How does the media influence your attitudes, thought patterns, beliefs and actions?
  • Discernment is key: How adept are you at viewing the world around you through the lens of Scripture?
  • Remember, if you aren't looking out for your mental purity, who is?
"Internet users spent 32.7 hours per week online and about half as much time watching television (16.4 hours)."
-IDC Study, 2008
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
Romans 12:2

See also

Proverbs 2:11; 4:23; Philippians 2:15; 4:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:23
NIVSocialicons


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DEAD ALREADY – AND HIDDEN IN CHRIST

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3
Kefa Sempangi was pastor of the large Redeemed Church of Uganda. Easter Sunday 1973 was his first serious brush with death at the hands of Idi Amin's goons. After an all-day worship service he went exhausted to the vestry to change clothes—too exhausted to notice the five strangers (government secret police goons) following him into the room:
They stood between me and the door, pointing their rifles at my face. For a long moment no one said anything. Then the tallest man, obviously the leader, spoke. “We are going to kill you,” he said. “If you have something to say, say it before you die.” He spoke quietly but his face was twisted with hatred.
I could only stare at him. For a sickening moment I felt the full weight of his rage. We had never met before but his deepest desire was to tear me to pieces. My mouth felt heavy and my limbs began to shake. Everything left my control. They will not need to kill me, I thought to myself. I am just going to fall over dead and I will never see my family again.
From far away I heard a voice, and I was astonished to realize that it was my own. “I do not need to plead my own cause,” I heard myself saying. “I am a dead man already. My life is dead and hidden in Christ. It is your lives that are in danger; you are dead in your sins. I will pray to God that after you have killed me, He will spare you from eternal destruction.”
The tall one took a step towards me and then stopped. In an instant, his face was changed. His hatred had turned to curiosity. He lowered his gun and motioned to the others to do the same. They stared at him in amazement but they took their guns from my face.
Then the tall one spoke again. "Will you pray for us now?" he asked. I thought my ears were playing a trick. I looked at him and then at the others. My mind was completely paralyzed. “Father in heaven,” I prayed, “You who have forgiven men in the past, forgive these men also. Do not let them perish in their sins but bring them into yourself.”[1]
RESPONSE: Realizing I am dead in Christ brings boldness to proclaim truth even in fearful situations.
PRAYER: Lord, help me to trust You in times of fear and challenge and allow Your Spirit to take control of every situation.
1. F. Kefa Sempangi, A Distant Grief, Glendale, CA: G/L Publications, 1979, pp.119-120.
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: "Today's media can't significantly influence my life."

Although I personally don't have a problem with my entertainment choices, I'm selective about telling people in church about my media habits. Maybe it's because I'm afraid they'll think I'm too worldly because I like to listen to the morning show on the "new rock" station every morning or, even worse, that I'm peddling feminism to the youth I teach in Bible study just because I read Cosmo in my spare time. If I happen to be listening to a secular CD when I pick up a friend from church for lunch, I subconsciously wonder if she expects me to tune into Dr. Dobson and Christian radio 24-7. Call me paranoid, but I don't think my suspicions are unfounded. That's not to say I don't have standards about my choices.
For example, I've made a firm decision not to see R-rated movies in theaters. Although if they have some historical value (or have received that rating for something other than nudity or capricious violence), I may rent them to watch in the privacy of my home. I intentionally don't subscribe to premium movie channels whose convenience could tempt me to compromise my standards. However, when it comes to popular culture, I don't see the harm in keeping up with what's going on. So I occasionally check out usmagazine.com or people.com to catch up on the latest celebrity gossip. And I personally find reality TV shows ridiculous, but I think they're pretty harmless and overall mindless timewasters that keep me in the loop with everyone at work.
However, I'm not naive. I realize I'm walking a fine line between monitoring my own behavior, modeling what's appropriate for my Christian brothers and sisters and remaining sensitive to God's promptings in this area. But I think I'm doing an OK job. After all, I'm a strong Christian, and I don't think my choices are hurting anyone.
-Mary Ann
The human heart and mind are delicate instruments. Sensitive to the least influence, our minds are constantly receiving input from our surroundings, shaping our hearts with an artist's precision. When our minds take their cues and impulses from the Word of God and wise counsel, our hearts follow suit. However, if we allow the culture to regulate our hearts and minds, we soon lose our perspective on our relationship with God.
While we may know better than to participate in outright sinful activities, we may not approach areas of subtle influence with such diligence. For example, did you know that the majority of women feel depressed after flipping through a fashion magazine? They're subconsciously reminded of how they don't look and what they can't afford. Harmless? Not quite.
The worldly influence of the media may appear as unobtrusive as fine grains of sand in the cogs of a machine. Some influences are so seemingly insignificant that we might not notice their effects right away. We assume our over-exposure to crime, domestic violence, profanity, crude humor, homosexuality, promiscuity and adultery as a mainstay of movies, television and music is harmless. We hardly notice it anymore, so how could it be harming us?
However, over time, being out of rhythm with the Word of God and its principles can prove dangerous to our spiritual health. God instructed Israel to separate itself from the surrounding culture. Extended exposure to pagan cultures can influence even the strongest Christians-if not to break their moral commitments, then at least to bend them. How should you respond?
  • Ask God to search your heart and your media habits (seePsalm 26:2-3).
  • Examine your habits: Are they out of balance with your intake of God's Word and wise counsel?
  • How does the media influence your attitudes, thought patterns, beliefs and actions?
  • Discernment is key: How adept are you at viewing the world around you through the lens of Scripture?
  • Remember, if you aren't looking out for your mental purity, who is?
"Internet users spent 32.7 hours per week online and about half as much time watching television (16.4 hours)."
-IDC Study, 2008
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
Romans 12:2

See also

Proverbs 2:11; 4:23; Philippians 2:15; 4:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:23
NIVSocialicons

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GiG Banner 2012 Big
May 25, 2012
Counting the Ways of Love
Gwen Smith
Today's Truth
"I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.  Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you."  Psalm 63:2-3
Friend to Friend
Several years ago I experienced a memorable God-moment when a flight had been delayed. On that particular warm June morning, I had gotten to the Philadelphia airport crazy-early and was eager to get home to my young family after a beautiful weekend of ministry. No lie - when I saw that my flight was delayed, I was bummed. My initial disappointment, however, quickly dissolved into gratefulness, as the extra airport time became an opportunity for me to have extended personal worship.
As I sat facing the flat runway, a fiery orange ball began to rise over the horizon that was simply breathtaking. I couldn't help but to reflect on God's goodness as He bragged on Himself with the glorious sunrise. I remember sensing His presence and His pleasure deep inside as I considered a few of the reasons that I loved and was amazed by our LORD. In the chaos of the terminal, I felt a peace and serenity that was profound. Have you ever had one of those sweet, personal God-moments?  
Then, as I sipped fresh-brewed coffee, my mind wandered to that classic poem "How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways," written by the talented poet of the Victorian era, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Her poem seemed the perfect backdrop for my worship. Out of that sweet moment of personal worship was birthed the lyric for a song titledBecause that I recorded later that year:
Because
by Gwen Smith and Randy Rothwell
Another flight delayed, sitting here I think of You
Sipping on a dark "Seattle's Best"
As the sun is rising, I pause to give You praise
A solitary moment in a blur of busy days
Where should I begin?  
There's so much I could say
Why do I love you?  
Let me count the ways…
Because You chased me
And then You caught me
Because You cherish me
Because You bought me
You change me deeply
You set my heart free
Because I'm never satisfied
Without Your presence right here by my side
People all around rushing by, just passing through
Carrying the baggage we all own
Desperate for true love, richer life and perfect peace
A chance for satisfaction with a prayer of belief
In Your presence there is serenity
Father of mercy, I love you endlessly…
Because You chased me
And then You caught me
Because You cherish me
Because You bought me
You change me deeply
You set my heart free
Because I'm never satisfied
Without Your presence right here by my side
Hear my heart in this noisy sanctuary as I sit here all alone
You are worthy of a song that's never ending
I will sing until I'm safely home, safely home
Lord I love You, Oh I love You
Have you really savored our Savior lately?  Have you paused to adore Him today?  What about yesterday?  This week?  In the midst of marriage, mothering and ministry, I constantly struggle with freeing up time to 'just sit' with God and worship… to behold Him in His sanctuary… yet this is what God desires most! Our affection. Our adoration. Our love.
So today, I praise Him for missed flights that lead to worship. I praise Him for sunrises that demand a prayerful response. I praise Him for the peace He brings to my frazzled. For the calm His presence brings to my chaos. What do you praise Him for today?  Think on that. Make a list. Give Him thanks. Worship!
Before we pray together and tell God some of the endless reasons we love Him, I'd love to lead you to His heart with music. Click here to hear the song "Because" that's featured on my Facebook page:www.facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic.
Let's Pray
Heavenly Father, There are so many reasons why I love you!  You chased me and caught me. You cherish me and bought me with the blood of your Son, Jesus. Please forgive me for the times when the busyness of life crowds out my time to adore You. Hear my heart today as it tenderly and sincerely whispers, "I love You!"  
I praise you and pray this in the powerful, saving name of Jesus, Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
  • Write a love note to God. List at least 10 reasons why you love Him.
  • Read Psalm 63 and then pray for God's presence, provision and protection in your life.
  • Write a "love note" to someone special in your life whom you feel led to bless.  Pray that God would lead you in this.
More from the Girlfriends
Hey GiGs!  Just wanted to let each of you know that Sharon, Mary and I really love pouring into your lives from the Word of God. I am blessed and honored to be doing life with you! Thanks for inviting us into your inbox each day!! With sincere love, Gwen.
LOVE TO WORSHIP? The song that was featured in today's devotion is on Gwen's CD, Because. Order the CD from Gwen's website (www.GwenSmith.net/store) or download it from iTunes.
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
info@girlfriendsingod.com
www.girlfriendsingod.com

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The two effects of the gospel

“For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish; To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?” 2 Corinthians 2:15,16
Suggested Further Reading: Acts 13:42-52
The Gospel produces different effects. It must seem a strange thing, but it is strangely true, that there is scarcely ever a good thing in the world of which some little evil is not the consequence. Let the sun shine in brilliance—it shall moisten the wax, it shall harden clay; let it pour down floods of light on the tropics—it will cause vegetation to be extremely luxuriant, the richest and choicest fruits shall ripen, and the fairest of all flowers shall bloom, but who does not know, that there the worst of reptiles and the most venomous snakes are also brought forth? So it is with the gospel. Although it is the very sun of righteousness to the world, although it is God’s best gift, although nothing can be in the least comparable to the vast amount of benefit which it bestows upon the human race, yet even of that we must confess, that sometimes it is the “savour of death unto death.” But we are not to blame the gospel for this; it is not the fault of God’s truth; it is the fault of those who do not receive it. It is the “ savour of life unto life” to every one that listens to its sound with a heart that is open to its reception. It is only “death unto death” to the man who hates the truth, despises it, scoffs at it, and tries to oppose its progress.
For meditation: There is hope for one in whom the law of God produces a sense of death ( Romans 7:10); it is a fearful thing when the life-giving Gospel is rejected and hardens the dead sinner.
Sermon no. 26
26 May (Preached 27 May 1855)

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Tracie Miles
May 25, 2012
Everything We Need
Tracie Miles
"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26 (NIV)
If the term "you are what you eat" were literally true, my son would be a bowl of chocolate ice cream.
Before Michael was old enough to even say ice cream, he loved it. Several years ago, he begged for chocolate ice cream, with bottom lip poked out for sentimental effect. Since I could never resist that adorable face, I pulled the gallon of ice cream out of the freezer.
I pried open the lid only to discover a nearly empty carton. To save time from scooping and scraping, I had Michael eat straight out of the gallon.
A monster was created that day.
Once he discovered that eating out of the carton meant his portion would not be limited to a few scoops, life as he knew it changed. Never again did he ask for ice cream without proposing he just eat out of the gallon.
Michael's desire for unlimited measures of his beloved frozen treat made me ponder how life-changing it is when we crave unlimited portions of God.
In today's key verse, the psalmist refers to God as his "portion." Although he knew he would fail in heart and flesh, giving in to temptations and looking to things or people to meet his needs, He knew God was enough for whatever he needed.
The Lord provides a sufficient portion of strength when we are feeling weak and beaten down. He sustains us when we are anxious, discouraged, frustrated and tired. He promises that when we stumble, He will give us His grace and mercy.
Most importantly, no matter how long we spin our wheels trying to find joy and satisfaction in earthly things, God patiently offers Himself and waits for us to realize that what we really need is a bigger portion of Him.
In Hebrew, the word "portion" is translated as "inheritance" or "allotment." What if we thought of God's portion as our inheritance? Could we embrace the truth that He gives us everything He is; and we can have as much as we desire?
When we come to Jesus with the hungers of our heart, He provides the perfect portion to fill our longings, heal our wounds and meet our unmet needs. When it comes to God and His Word, we can always eat out of the gallon!
Dear Lord, give me a hunger and a thirst for Your Word. I want to crave a daily portion of You and rely on Your provision to meet my every need. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?
Would you like to bring the message of this devotion to the women of your church? Click here to find out more about considering Tracie as your next retreat / key note speaker.
Visit Tracie's blog for a few suggestions on how to get your portion of Jesus every day.
Made To Crave by Lysa TerKeurst
When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We wish we could, but we simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you!
Reflect and Respond:
What would happen if you sincerely depended on God to be your portion during the most difficult days, when you are craving peace, comfort and freedom from pain or adversity?
Ask God to help you depend on Him to be your portion not only when facing adversity, but also when life seems to be problem-free.
Power Verses:
Psalm 73:25-28, "You're all I want in heaven! You're all I want on earth! When my skin sags and my bones get brittle, God is rock-firm and faithful. Look! Those who left you are falling apart! Deserters, they'll never be heard from again. But I'm in the very presence of God - oh, how refreshing it is! I've made Lord God my home. God, I'm telling the world what you do!" (MSG)
Psalm 16:5, "LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure." (NIV)
© 2012 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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Even so, Father!

‘At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.’ Matthew 11:25
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Samuel 3:1–18
‘At that time Jesus answered.’ If you will look at the context you will not perceive that anybody had asked him a question, or that he was indeed in conversation with any human being. Yet it says, ‘Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father.’ Now when a man answers, he answers a person who has been speaking to him. Who, then, had been speaking to him? Why, his Father. Yet there is no record of it; which should just teach us that Christ had constant fellowship with his Father, and often did his Father silently speak into his ear. As we are in this world even as Christ was, let us catch this lesson. May we likewise have silent fellowship with the Father; so that often we may answer him. And when the world knows not to whom we speak, may we speak to God and respond to that secret voice which no other ear has heard, while our own ear, opened by the Spirit of God, has attended to it with joy. I like the Christian sometimes to find himself obliged to speak out or, if not to speak out, to feel an almost irrepressible desire to say something though no one be near, because a thought has been brought to him by the Holy Spirit, a suggestion has just been cast into the midst of his soul by the Holy Spirit, and he answers to it. God has spoken to him and he longs to speak to God—either to set to his seal that God is true in some matter of revelation, or to confess some sin of which the Spirit of God has convinced him, or to acknowledge some mercy which God’s providence has given, or to express assent to some great truth which God the Holy Spirit has then opened to his understanding. Keep your hearts, my brethren, in such a state, that when God speaks to you, you may be ready to answer.
For meditation: Where the specific promptings of the Holy Spirit are recorded in Scripture, the hearers were in a prepared and receptive state of mind (Acts 10:9,19 ,2013:2). Like Martha (Luke 10:39–40), Christians are sometimes too busy or distracted to be aware that God is speaking.
Sermon no. 394
26 May (1861)
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