Sunday, May 06, 2012

Daily Devotional Sunday 6th May

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"We dwell in him."
1 John 4:13
Do you want a house for your soul? Do you ask, "What is the purchase?" It is something less than proud human nature will like to give. It is without money and without price. Ah! you would like to pay a respectable rent! You would love to do something to win Christ? Then you cannot have the house, for it is "without price." Will you take my Master's house on a lease for all eternity, with nothing to pay for it, nothing but the ground-rent of loving and serving him forever? Will you take Jesus and "dwell in him?" See, this house is furnished with all you want, it is filled with riches more than you will spend as long as you live. Here you can have intimate communion with Christ and feast on his love; here are tables well-stored with food for you to live on forever; in it, when weary, you can find rest with Jesus; and from it you can look out and see heaven itself. Will you have the house? Ah! if you are houseless, you will say, "I should like to have the house; but may I have it?" Yes; there is the key--the key is, "Come to Jesus." "But," you say, "I am too shabby for such a house." Never mind; there are garments inside. If you feel guilty and condemned, come; and though the house is too good for you, Christ will make you good enough for the house by-and-by. He will wash you and cleanse you, and you will yet be able to sing, "We dwell in him." Believer: thrice happy art thou to have such a dwelling-place! Greatly privileged thou art, for thou hast a "strong habitation" in which thou art ever safe. And "dwelling in him," thou hast not only a perfect and secure house, but an everlasting one. When this world shall have melted like a dream, our house shall live, and stand more imperishable than marble, more solid than granite, self-existent as God, for it is God himself--"We dwell in him."

Evening

"All the days of my appointed time will I wait."
Job 14:14
A little stay on earth will make heaven more heavenly. Nothing makes rest so sweet as toil; nothing renders security so pleasant as exposure to alarms. The bitter quassia cups of earth will give a relish to the new wine which sparkles in the golden bowls of glory. Our battered armour and scarred countenances will render more illustrious our victory above, when we are welcomed to the seats of those who have overcome the world. We should not have full fellowship with Christ if we did not for awhile sojourn below, for he was baptized with a baptism of suffering among men, and we must be baptized with the same if we would share his kingdom. Fellowship with Christ is so honourable that the sorest sorrow is a light price by which to procure it. Another reason for our lingering here is for the good of others. We would not wish to enter heaven till our work is done, and it may be that we are yet ordained to minister light to souls benighted in the wilderness of sin. Our prolonged stay here is doubtless for God's glory. A tried saint, like a well-cut diamond, glitters much in the King's crown. Nothing reflects so much honour on a workman as a protracted and severe trial of his work, and its triumphant endurance of the ordeal without giving way in any part. We are God's workmanship, in whom he will be glorified by our afflictions. It is for the honour of Jesus that we endure the trial of our faith with sacred joy. Let each man surrender his own longings to the glory of Jesus, and feel, "If my lying in the dust would elevate my Lord by so much as an inch, let me still lie among the pots of earth. If to live on earth forever would make my Lord more glorious, it should be my heaven to be shut out of heaven." Our time is fixed and settled by eternal decree. Let us not be anxious about it, but wait with patience till the gates of pearl shall open.

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Today's reading: 1 Kings 19-20, Luke 23:1-25 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
Elijah Flees to Horeb
    1 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”
   3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
   All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”6 He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
   7 The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.
The LORD Appears to Elijah
    And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
   10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
   11 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
   Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
   Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
   14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
   15 The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
The Call of Elisha
    19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”
   “Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”
   21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

1 Kings 20

Ben-Hadad Attacks Samaria
    1 Now Ben-Hadad king of Aram mustered his entire army. Accompanied by thirty-two kings with their horses and chariots, he went up and besieged Samaria and attacked it. 2 He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, saying, “This is what Ben-Hadad says: 3 ‘Your silver and gold are mine, and the best of your wives and children are mine.’”
   4 The king of Israel answered, “Just as you say, my lord the king. I and all I have are yours.”
   5 The messengers came again and said, “This is what Ben-Hadad says: ‘I sent to demand your silver and gold, your wives and your children. 6 But about this time tomorrow I am going to send my officials to search your palace and the houses of your officials. They will seize everything you value and carry it away.’”
   7 The king of Israel summoned all the elders of the land and said to them, “See how this man is looking for trouble! When he sent for my wives and my children, my silver and my gold, I did not refuse him.”
   8 The elders and the people all answered, “Don’t listen to him or agree to his demands.”
   9 So he replied to Ben-Hadad’s messengers, “Tell my lord the king, ‘Your servant will do all you demanded the first time, but this demand I cannot meet.’” They left and took the answer back to Ben-Hadad.
   10 Then Ben-Hadad sent another message to Ahab: “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if enough dust remains in Samaria to give each of my men a handful.”
   11 The king of Israel answered, “Tell him: ‘One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off.’”
   12 Ben-Hadad heard this message while he and the kings were drinking in their tents, and he ordered his men: “Prepare to attack.” So they prepared to attack the city.
Ahab Defeats Ben-Hadad
    13 Meanwhile a prophet came to Ahab king of Israel and announced, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Do you see this vast army? I will give it into your hand today, and then you will know that I am the LORD.’”
   14 “But who will do this?” asked Ahab.
   The prophet replied, “This is what the LORD says: ‘The junior officers under the provincial commanders will do it.’”
   “And who will start the battle?” he asked.
   The prophet answered, “You will.”
   15 So Ahab summoned the 232 junior officers under the provincial commanders. Then he assembled the rest of the Israelites, 7,000 in all. 16 They set out at noon while Ben-Hadad and the 32 kings allied with him were in their tents getting drunk. 17 The junior officers under the provincial commanders went out first.
   Now Ben-Hadad had dispatched scouts, who reported, “Men are advancing from Samaria.”
   18 He said, “If they have come out for peace, take them alive; if they have come out for war, take them alive.”
   19 The junior officers under the provincial commanders marched out of the city with the army behind them 20 and each one struck down his opponent. At that, the Arameans fled, with the Israelites in pursuit. But Ben-Hadad king of Aram escaped on horseback with some of his horsemen. 21 The king of Israel advanced and overpowered the horses and chariots and inflicted heavy losses on the Arameans.
   22 Afterward, the prophet came to the king of Israel and said, “Strengthen your position and see what must be done, because next spring the king of Aram will attack you again.”
   23 Meanwhile, the officials of the king of Aram advised him, “Their gods are gods of the hills. That is why they were too strong for us. But if we fight them on the plains, surely we will be stronger than they. 24 Do this: Remove all the kings from their commands and replace them with other officers. 25 You must also raise an army like the one you lost—horse for horse and chariot for chariot—so we can fight Israel on the plains. Then surely we will be stronger than they.” He agreed with them and acted accordingly.
   26 The next spring Ben-Hadad mustered the Arameans and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. 27 When the Israelites were also mustered and given provisions, they marched out to meet them. The Israelites camped opposite them like two small flocks of goats, while the Arameans covered the countryside.
   28 The man of God came up and told the king of Israel, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Because the Arameans think the LORD is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the LORD.’”
   29 For seven days they camped opposite each other, and on the seventh day the battle was joined. The Israelites inflicted a hundred thousand casualties on the Aramean foot soldiers in one day. 30 The rest of them escaped to the city of Aphek, where the wall collapsed on twenty-seven thousand of them. And Ben-Hadad fled to the city and hid in an inner room.
   31 His officials said to him, “Look, we have heard that the kings of Israel are merciful. Let us go to the king of Israel with sackcloth around our waists and ropes around our heads. Perhaps he will spare your life.”
   32 Wearing sackcloth around their waists and ropes around their heads, they went to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Ben-Hadad says: ‘Please let me live.’”
   The king answered, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.”
   33 The men took this as a good sign and were quick to pick up his word. “Yes, your brother Ben-Hadad!” they said.
   “Go and get him,” the king said. When Ben-Hadad came out, Ahab had him come up into his chariot.
   34 “I will return the cities my father took from your father,” Ben-Hadad offered. “You may set up your own market areas in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.”
   Ahab said, “On the basis of a treaty I will set you free.” So he made a treaty with him, and let him go.
A Prophet Condemns Ahab
    35 By the word of the LORD one of the company of the prophets said to his companion, “Strike me with your weapon,” but he refused.
   36 So the prophet said, “Because you have not obeyed the LORD, as soon as you leave me a lion will kill you.” And after the man went away, a lion found him and killed him.
   37 The prophet found another man and said, “Strike me, please.” So the man struck him and wounded him. 38 Then the prophet went and stood by the road waiting for the king. He disguised himself with his headband down over his eyes. 39 As the king passed by, the prophet called out to him, “Your servant went into the thick of the battle, and someone came to me with a captive and said, ‘Guard this man. If he is missing, it will be your life for his life, or you must pay a talent of silver.’ 40 While your servant was busy here and there, the man disappeared.”
   “That is your sentence,” the king of Israel said. “You have pronounced it yourself.”
   41 Then the prophet quickly removed the headband from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. 42 He said to the king, “This is what the LORD says: ‘You have set free a man I had determined should die. Therefore it is your life for his life, your people for his people.’”43 Sullen and angry, the king of Israel went to his palace in Samaria.

Luke 23

   1 Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. 2And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.”
   3 So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
   “You have said so,” Jesus replied.
   4 Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”
   5 But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”
   6 On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. 7When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.
   8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. 9 He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. 11 Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. 12 That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.
   13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.” [17] 
   18 But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” 19 (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)
   20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again.21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
   22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.”
   23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.

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Temptations on the pinnacle

‘Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’ Matthew 4:5–7
Suggested Further Reading: 2 Peter 2:9–22
It is a precious doctrine that the saints are safe, but it is a damnable inference from it, that therefore they may live as they please. It is a glorious truth that God will keep his people, but it is an abominable falsehood that sin will do them no harm. Remember that God gives us liberty, not licence, and while he gives us protection, he will not allow us presumption. I did know a person once when I was a child; I remember seeing him go into a country wake in a little village where I lived, though he was a professed Christian, going to spend the evening in a dancing booth with others, drinking as other men did, and when I in my warm zeal said to him, ‘What doest thou here, Elijah?’ his reply was, ‘I am a child of God, and I can go where I like and yet be safe,’ and though for the moment I knew not what text to quote to answer him, yet my soul revolted from the man ever afterwards, for I felt that no child of God would ever be so wicked as to take poison in the faith that his Father would give him the antidote, or thrust himself into the fire, in the hope that he should not be burned. If God sends me trouble he will yield me deliverance from it, but if I make trouble myself I must bear it. If providence permits the devil to set me upon a pinnacle, even then God will help me, but if I throw myself down, and go in the very teeth of providence, then woe unto me, for I give proof by my presumption that the grace of God is not in me at all. Yet the temptation is not uncommon.
For meditation: How would you have answered this man ‘Elijah’ who had no regard for his own soul or for the young Spurgeon’s? Christian liberty does not provide a loophole for the flesh (Romans 13:13–14Galatians 5:13) or for being a stumbling block to others ( Romans 14:13).
Sermon no. 689
6 May (1866)

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Affirmation Experiment

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Matthew 7:1-2
Years ago graduate students at an Ivy League college conducted an experiment. First they observed undergraduates until they found one of the most unkempt, most socially inept women on campus.
Then they drew up a schedule; each would spend a month getting close to the woman. They would "happen" to bump into her between classes. They would show up in line behind her in the dining hall. They would call her for lecture notes or assignment reminders. Moreover, when each was "on duty," he would compliment the woman, expressing delight in her voice, her talents, her insights, her clothes.
The first student performed well. In spite of his misgivings, he began to speak to the woman, finding ways to affirm her. By the end of the month he found his task less onerous as the young woman started to respond. She smiled occasionally, combed her hair more often, and paid more attention to how she dressed.
The second graduate student took the experiment a step further. He asked the undergrad out on an official date and spent the month showering her with gifts and compliments.
By the third month there was a new glow about the young woman, and the third researcher enjoyed her company more than he cared to admit. When the graduate students got together to share their experiences and laugh at the "progress" of their victim, the third student had to force chuckles through self-conscious embarrassment.
The fourth member of the group never got the chance to lavish attention on the young woman because by then she was engaged to the man assigned to her during the third month. What started as a cruel and belittling pastime for the students turned into a love story.
None of us would want such a trick played on us. Yet there is something instructive about its outcome. As Jesus noted, when we spend our days looking at others with critical eyes, we find ourselves more in a laboratory than in a relationship. But when we begin to respect and affirm others as men and women made in the image of God, we move back into the relational warmth of family.
The implications are obvious for marriage. People who live closely with one another are bound to chip away at each other's rough edges. We become experts in analysis and faultfinding, but we don't gain much by that besides divisiveness and pain.
Jesus' warning not to judge others doesn't mean we should be blind to the faults of our mates. But it reminds us to be caring more than critical, compassionate more than judgmental. Just as Christ lavishes grace upon us, we can extend loving grace to each other, rejoicing as we together blossom and grow beautiful in each other's eyes.
Wayne Brouwer

Let's Talk

  • In what areas are we critical of each other? What brings out words of judgment in our relationship? How has this affected who we are together?
  • When has our relationship blossomed with warmth? What kinds of things did we say to one another during those times?
  • How can we bring out the best in each other? What practices will help accomplish that?
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The Aim of the Sabbath

Matthew 12:9-14 "Of how much more value is man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath" ( v. 12).
We dare not miss the christological significance of our Lord's teaching on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:1-14). Scripture emphasizes the Sabbath as God's special possession; Israel was given a day of rest in order to imitate our Creator's own cessation of work (Ex. 20:8-11 ). Furthermore, God asserted His right to determine what can and cannot be done on the Sabbath day (Isa. 56:4-5). Jesus equates Himself with God, the owner and ruler of the day of rest, when He claims, as the Son of Man, to be lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8).
Jesus continues to display His authority as lord of the Sabbath when, in a synagogue, He meets a man with a "withered hand." Seeking a chance to show that Jesus is a Sabbath-breaker, the Pharisees ask Him if it is right to heal on the day of rest (vv. 9-10). Should He do a healing "work," Jesus can be charged with violating the Sabbath. The man will still be ill the next day, and Christ could wait until then to heal him so that He may keep Pharisaic tradition.
John Calvin reminds us "to beware lest, by attaching undue importance to ceremonial observances, we allow other things to be neglected, which are of far higher value in the sight of God." The Pharisees have made this error, elevating minutiae above God's intent. As Jesus says in Mark 2:27 : "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." God gave the nation of Israel a day of rest for their benefit - to recover from a week's labor and recall His goodness and grace. These principles are to guide the specifics of Sabbath observance, not vice versa. When rules designed to cover every possible instance of work are exalted above God's gracious intent, the Sabbath is changed from "a delight into a burden," according to the Reformation Study Bible's note on Matthew 12:9-14.
The Pharisees are legal experts and should embrace this principle. Even they know the Father puts an animal's health and safety above the avoidance of anything that smacks of work (v. 11). But the Pharisees are so incensed at Christ's denial of their teaching that they miss the obvious. If God is pleased when animals are rescued on the Sabbath, He certainly approves when men, who are of more value than animals, find healing on His day of rest (vv. 12-14).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

John Calvin comments, "Nothing could be more unreasonable than to pronounce a man, who imitated God, to be a transgressor of the Sabbath." The Father gives His law for our benefit, and we must never forget this lest we improperly apply it to our lives here and now. Take some time today to read through the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17) and think on how each one carries with it a specific benefit for mankind.
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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Terrible convictions and gentle drawings

“When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.” Psalm 32:34
Suggested Further Reading: Acts 16:11-34
I have met with at least a score of persons who found Christ and then mourned their sins more afterwards than they did before. Their convictions have been more terrible after they have known their interest in Christ than they were at first. They have seen the evil after they have escaped from it; they had been plucked out of the miry clay, and their feet set on a rock, and then afterwards they have seen more fully the depth of that horrible pit out of which they have been snatched. It is not true that all who are saved suffer these convictions and terrors; there are a considerable number who are drawn by the cords of love and the bands of a man. There are some who, like Lydia, have their hearts opened not by the crowbar of conviction, but by the picklock of divine grace. Sweetly drawn, almost silently enchanted by the loveliness of Jesus, they say, “Draw me, and I will run after thee.” And now you ask me the question—“Why has God brought me to himself in this gentle manner?” Again I say—there are some questions better unanswered than answered; God knows best the reason why he does not give you these terrors; leave that question with him. But I may tell you an anecdote. There was a man once who had never felt these terrors, and he thought within himself—“I never can believe I am a Christian unless I do.” So he prayed to God that he might feel them, and he did feel them, and what do you think is his testimony? He says, “Never, never do that, for the result was fearful in the extreme.” If he had but known what he was asking for, he would not have asked for anything so foolish.
For meditation: The important thing is not how we are brought to Christ, but that we are brought to Christ. The wind sometimes blows fiercely; sometimes it blows gently (John 3:8). But we should not presume upon God’s kindness, forbearance and patience—they lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Sermon no. 313
6 May (1860)

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The Earth Is the Lord's

Today's reading: Psalm 24:1-10
Nothing at all existed until God "founded it on the seas and established it on the waters" (Ps 24:2 ). The Creator-King exercises benevolent ownership over his subjects, giving generously of himself and of his bounty (cf. Ps 65:9-13). As such, he deserves what to the psalmist is the ultimate accolade: King of glory.
Evangelical theologian R. Scott Rodin concedes that all of creation glorifies God in a certain sense but stresses the particular obligation of human beings, created in God's own image, to do so consciously and purposefully:
While it cannot be said that the animals were created in the image of God in the same way as humans were, it must be said that all creation bears his image in the sense that its interdependence and its robust vitality all glorify God as the Creator of all things. Therefore, there is obligation to glorify God in our relation to and responsibility for his creation.
In the chapter "A Biblical Perspective on Environmental Stewardship," the authors of Acton Institute's Environmental Stewardship in the Judeo-Christian Tradition deal in depth with the issues of God's sovereign ownership and of humanity's call to environmental stewardship.
God, the Creator of all things, rules over all and deserves our worship and adoration (Ps 103:19-22) ... Fundamental to a properly Christian environmental ethic ... are the Creator/creature distinction and the doctrine of humankind's creation in the image of God. Some environmentalists, especially those of the "Deep Ecology" movement, divinize the earth and insist on "biological egalitarianism," the equal value and rights of all life forms, in the mistaken notion that this will raise human respect for the earth. Instead, this philosophy negates the biblical affirmation of the human person's unique role as steward and eliminates the very rationale for human care for creation ...
Our stewardship under God implies that we are morally accountable to him for treating creation in a manner that best serves the objectives of the kingdom of God ...
As Francis Bacon put it in Novum Organum Scientiarum (New Method of Science), "Man by the Fall fell at the same time from his state of innocence and from his dominion over creation. Both of these losses, however, can even in this life be in some parts repaired; the former by religion and faith, the latter by the arts and sciences." Sin, then, makes it difficult for humans to exercise godly stewardship, but the work of Christ in, on, and through his people and the creation makes it possible nonetheless.

Think About It

  • Why do you think God created humans to have dominion and stewardship of the earth? Why have a hierarchy? Why not have all life be created equal?
  • In what ways does this role of humans as stewards make human choices so important?
  • Can the effects of the fall be repaired? In what ways? How much?

Act on It

With other believers-a small group or accountability partner-determine how your stewardship of the earth is affecting your home and community. Brainstorm ways in which you can make better choices to reflect your role as steward.
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FAMILY PERSECUTION

“…I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.” Matthew 10:35-36
Anyone who has become a Christian in a family of unbelievers can testify to the hundreds of ways persecution can be experienced. Jesus warned us up front about this in chilling language. It was Jesus who experienced this from his own family, being chided and misunderstood (Luke 2:48), and his “own people did not accept him” (John 1:11).
Most families in the world are not nuclear in nature, but extended, so an entire web of kinship relations are fouled up by the action of becoming a Christian. It can be very difficult to make one’s way in the world accordingly. We could even say it is one’s family culture that rejects the Christian witness. One reason for this is over-familiarity. Jesus generalizes from his experience of rejection in Nazareth saying, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown” (Matthew 13:57).
This goes right back to the dawn of human history. The first recorded act of violence was due to family persecution—Cain murdering his brother Abel out of religious jealousy. King David bemoans the betrayal of a close friend in Psalm 41:9“Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” Jeremiah is dismayed to find members of his own family involved in an assassination plot against him; “…even your kinsfolk and your own family, even they have dealt treacherously with you; they are in full cry after you” ( Jeremiah 12:6).
In China today, if a student converts to Christianity it is the parents that insist he or she give up her faith, for fear of an inferior work placement bringing dishonor to the family. In many Buddhist societies, like Burma, to become a Christian is tantamount to saying “I am no longer Burmese.”
It is family misunderstanding that is often hardest to bear. After all, we long for the love of those who have nurtured us. To have that love relationship ruptured ranks as one of the greatest traumas a human being can face.
In Pakistan, a father was asked why he murdered his daughter. He answered simply, “I didn’t murder my daughter. When she became a Christian, she was no longer my daughter.” He will never be charged for his crime.
RESPONSE: Today I will treasure my family and watch for Satan’s subtle attacks against it.
PRAYER: Pray for those experiencing Satan’s deadly tactic of persecution from family members.
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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