Thursday, May 10, 2012

Daily Devotional Thursday 10th May

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2 NIV
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon


"But now is Christ risen from the dead."
1 Corinthians 15:20
The whole system of Christianity rests upon the fact that "Christ is risen from the dead;" for, "If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain: ye are yet in your sins." The divinity of Christ finds its surest proof in his resurrection, since he was "Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." It would not be unreasonable to doubt his deity if he had not risen. Moreover, Christ's sovereignty depends upon his resurrection, "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living." Again, our justification, that choice blessing of the covenant, is linked with Christ's triumphant victory over death and the grave; for "He was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." Nay, more, our very regeneration is connected with his resurrection, for we are "Begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." And most certainly our ultimate resurrection rests here, for, "If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." If Christ be not risen, then shall we not rise; but if he be risen then they who are asleep in Christ have not perished, but in their flesh shall surely behold their God. Thus, the silver thread of resurrection runs through all the believer's blessings, from his regeneration onwards to his eternal glory, and binds them together. How important then will this glorious fact be in his estimation, and how will he rejoice that beyond a doubt it is established, that "now is Christ risen from the dead"!
"The promise is fulfill'd,
Redemption's work is done,
Justice with mercy's reconciled,
For God has raised his Son."


"The only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
John 1:14
Believer, you can bear your testimony that Christ is the only begotten of the Father, as well as the first begotten from the dead. You can say, "He is divine to me, if he be human to all the world beside. He has done that for me which none but a God could do. He has subdued my stubborn will, melted a heart of adamant, opened gates of brass, and snapped bars of iron. He hath turned for me my mourning into laughter, and my desolation into joy; he hath led my captivity captive, and made my heart rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Let others think as they will of him, to me he must be the only begotten of the Father: blessed be his name. And he is full of grace. Ah! had he not been, I should never have been saved. He drew me when I struggled to escape from his grace; and when at last I came all trembling like a condemned culprit to his mercy-seat, he said, Thy sins which are many are all forgiven thee: be of good cheer.' And he is full of truth. True have his promises been, not one has failed. I bear witness that never servant had such a master as I have; never brother such a kinsman as he has been to me; never spouse such a husband as Christ has been to my soul; never sinner a better Saviour; never mourner a better comforter than Christ hath been to my spirit. I want none beside him. In life he is my life, and in death he shall be the death of death; in poverty Christ is my riches; in sickness he makes my bed; in darkness he is my star, and in brightness he is my sun; he is the manna of the camp in the wilderness, and he shall be the new corn of the host when they come to Canaan. Jesus is to me all grace and no wrath, all truth and no falsehood: and of truth and grace he is full, infinitely full. My soul, this night, bless with all thy might the only Begotten.'"


Today's reading: 2 Kings 7-9, John 1:1-28 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
   Elisha replied, “Hear the word of the LORD. This is what the LORD says: About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.”
   2 The officer on whose arm the king was leaning said to the man of God, “Look, even if the LORD should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?”
   “You will see it with your own eyes,” answered Elisha, “but you will not eat any of it!”
The Siege Lifted
    3 Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die? 4 If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’—the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”
   5 At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there, 6for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” 7 So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.
   8 The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp, entered one of the tents and ate and drank. Then they took silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also.
   9 Then they said to each other, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.”
   10 So they went and called out to the city gatekeepers and told them, “We went into the Aramean camp and no one was there—not a sound of anyone—only tethered horses and donkeys, and the tents left just as they were.” 11 The gatekeepers shouted the news, and it was reported within the palace.
   12 The king got up in the night and said to his officers, “I will tell you what the Arameans have done to us. They know we are starving; so they have left the camp to hide in the countryside, thinking, ‘They will surely come out, and then we will take them alive and get into the city.’”
   13 One of his officers answered, “Have some men take five of the horses that are left in the city. Their plight will be like that of all the Israelites left here—yes, they will only be like all these Israelites who are doomed. So let us send them to find out what happened.”
   14 So they selected two chariots with their horses, and the king sent them after the Aramean army. He commanded the drivers, “Go and find out what has happened.” 15 They followed them as far as the Jordan, and they found the whole road strewn with the clothing and equipment the Arameans had thrown away in their headlong flight. So the messengers returned and reported to the king. 16 Then the people went out and plundered the camp of the Arameans. So a seah of the finest flour sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley sold for a shekel, as the LORD had said.
   17 Now the king had put the officer on whose arm he leaned in charge of the gate, and the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died, just as the man of God had foretold when the king came down to his house. 18 It happened as the man of God had said to the king: “About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.”
   19 The officer had said to the man of God, “Look, even if the LORD should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?” The man of God had replied, “You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat any of it!” 20 And that is exactly what happened to him, for the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died.

2 Kings 8

The Shunammite’s Land Restored
    1 Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Go away with your family and stay for a while wherever you can, because the LORD has decreed a famine in the land that will last seven years.” 2 The woman proceeded to do as the man of God said. She and her family went away and stayed in the land of the Philistines seven years.
   3 At the end of the seven years she came back from the land of the Philistines and went to appeal to the king for her house and land. 4 The king was talking to Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, and had said, “Tell me about all the great things Elisha has done.” 5 Just as Gehazi was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, the woman whose son Elisha had brought back to life came to appeal to the king for her house and land.
   Gehazi said, “This is the woman, my lord the king, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life.” 6 The king asked the woman about it, and she told him.
   Then he assigned an official to her case and said to him, “Give back everything that belonged to her, including all the income from her land from the day she left the country until now.”
Hazael Murders Ben-Hadad
    7 Elisha went to Damascus, and Ben-Hadad king of Aram was ill. When the king was told, “The man of God has come all the way up here,” 8 he said to Hazael, “Take a gift with you and go to meet the man of God. Consult the LORD through him; ask him, ‘Will I recover from this illness?’”
   9 Hazael went to meet Elisha, taking with him as a gift forty camel-loads of all the finest wares of Damascus. He went in and stood before him, and said, “Your son Ben-Hadad king of Aram has sent me to ask, ‘Will I recover from this illness?’”
   10 Elisha answered, “Go and say to him, ‘You will certainly recover.’ Nevertheless, the LORD has revealed to me that he will in fact die.” 11 He stared at him with a fixed gaze until Hazael was embarrassed. Then the man of God began to weep.
   12 “Why is my lord weeping?” asked Hazael.
   “Because I know the harm you will do to the Israelites,” he answered. “You will set fire to their fortified places, kill their young men with the sword, dash their little children to the ground, and rip open their pregnant women.”
   13 Hazael said, “How could your servant, a mere dog, accomplish such a feat?”
   “The LORD has shown me that you will become king of Aram,” answered Elisha.
   14 Then Hazael left Elisha and returned to his master. When Ben-Hadad asked, “What did Elisha say to you?” Hazael replied, “He told me that you would certainly recover.” 15 But the next day he took a thick cloth, soaked it in water and spread it over the king’s face, so that he died. Then Hazael succeeded him as king.
Jehoram King of Judah
    16 In the fifth year of Joram son of Ahab king of Israel, when Jehoshaphat was king of Judah, Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat began his reign as king of Judah. 17 He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years.18 He followed the ways of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for he married a daughter of Ahab. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD. 19 Nevertheless, for the sake of his servant David, the LORD was not willing to destroy Judah. He had promised to maintain a lamp for David and his descendants forever.
   20 In the time of Jehoram, Edom rebelled against Judah and set up its own king. 21 So Jehoram went to Zair with all his chariots. The Edomites surrounded him and his chariot commanders, but he rose up and broke through by night; his army, however, fled back home. 22 To this day Edom has been in rebellion against Judah. Libnah revolted at the same time.
   23 As for the other events of Jehoram’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 24 Jehoram rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the City of David. And Ahaziah his son succeeded him as king.
Ahaziah King of Judah
    25 In the twelfth year of Joram son of Ahab king of Israel, Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah began to reign. 26Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem one year. His mother’s name was Athaliah, a granddaughter of Omri king of Israel. 27 He followed the ways of the house of Ahab and did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as the house of Ahab had done, for he was related by marriage to Ahab’s family.
   28 Ahaziah went with Joram son of Ahab to war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth Gilead. The Arameans wounded Joram; 29 so King Joram returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds the Arameans had inflicted on him at Ramoth in his battle with Hazael king of Aram.
   Then Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to Jezreel to see Joram son of Ahab, because he had been wounded.

2 Kings 9

Jehu Anointed King of Israel
    1 The prophet Elisha summoned a man from the company of the prophets and said to him, “Tuck your cloak into your belt, take this flask of olive oil with you and go to Ramoth Gilead. 2When you get there, look for Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi. Go to him, get him away from his companions and take him into an inner room. 3 Then take the flask and pour the oil on his head and declare, ‘This is what the LORD says: I anoint you king over Israel.’ Then open the door and run; don’t delay!”
   4 So the young prophet went to Ramoth Gilead. 5 When he arrived, he found the army officers sitting together. “I have a message for you, commander,” he said.
   “For which of us?” asked Jehu.
   “For you, commander,” he replied.
   6 Jehu got up and went into the house. Then the prophet poured the oil on Jehu’s head and declared, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anoint you king over the LORD’s people Israel. 7 You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the LORD’s servants shed by Jezebel. 8 The whole house of Ahab will perish. I will cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. 9 I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. 10 As for Jezebel, dogs will devour her on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and no one will bury her.’” Then he opened the door and ran.
   11 When Jehu went out to his fellow officers, one of them asked him, “Is everything all right? Why did this maniac come to you?”
   “You know the man and the sort of things he says,” Jehu replied.
   12 “That’s not true!” they said. “Tell us.”
   Jehu said, “Here is what he told me: ‘This is what the LORD says: I anoint you king over Israel.’”
   13 They quickly took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, “Jehu is king!”
Jehu Kills Joram and Ahaziah
    14 So Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, conspired against Joram. (Now Joram and all Israel had been defending Ramoth Gilead against Hazael king of Aram, 15 but King Joram had returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds the Arameans had inflicted on him in the battle with Hazael king of Aram.) Jehu said, “If you desire to make me king, don’t let anyone slip out of the city to go and tell the news in Jezreel.” 16Then he got into his chariot and rode to Jezreel, because Joram was resting there and Ahaziah king of Judah had gone down to see him.
   17 When the lookout standing on the tower in Jezreel saw Jehu’s troops approaching, he called out, “I see some troops coming.”
   “Get a horseman,” Joram ordered. “Send him to meet them and ask, ‘Do you come in peace?’”
   18 The horseman rode off to meet Jehu and said, “This is what the king says: ‘Do you come in peace?’”
   “What do you have to do with peace?” Jehu replied. “Fall in behind me.”
   The lookout reported, “The messenger has reached them, but he isn’t coming back.”
   19 So the king sent out a second horseman. When he came to them he said, “This is what the king says: ‘Do you come in peace?’”
   Jehu replied, “What do you have to do with peace? Fall in behind me.”
   20 The lookout reported, “He has reached them, but he isn’t coming back either. The driving is like that of Jehu son of Nimshi—he drives like a maniac.”
   21 “Hitch up my chariot,” Joram ordered. And when it was hitched up, Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah rode out, each in his own chariot, to meet Jehu. They met him at the plot of ground that had belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite.22 When Joram saw Jehu he asked, “Have you come in peace, Jehu?”
   “How can there be peace,” Jehu replied, “as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?”
   23 Joram turned about and fled, calling out to Ahaziah, “Treachery, Ahaziah!”
   24 Then Jehu drew his bow and shot Joram between the shoulders. The arrow pierced his heart and he slumped down in his chariot. 25 Jehu said to Bidkar, his chariot officer, “Pick him up and throw him on the field that belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite. Remember how you and I were riding together in chariots behind Ahab his father when the LORD spoke this prophecy against him: 26 ‘Yesterday I saw the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons, declares the LORD, and I will surely make you pay for it on this plot of ground, declares the LORD.’ Now then, pick him up and throw him on that plot, in accordance with the word of the LORD.”
   27 When Ahaziah king of Judah saw what had happened, he fled up the road to Beth Haggan. Jehu chased him, shouting, “Kill him too!” They wounded him in his chariot on the way up to Gur near Ibleam, but he escaped to Megiddo and died there. 28His servants took him by chariot to Jerusalem and buried him with his ancestors in his tomb in the City of David. 29 (In the eleventh year of Joram son of Ahab, Ahaziah had become king of Judah.)
Jezebel Killed
    30 Then Jehu went to Jezreel. When Jezebel heard about it, she put on eye makeup, arranged her hair and looked out of a window. 31 As Jehu entered the gate, she asked, “Have you come in peace, you Zimri, you murderer of your master?”
   32 He looked up at the window and called out, “Who is on my side? Who?” Two or three eunuchs looked down at him. 33“Throw her down!” Jehu said. So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot.
   34 Jehu went in and ate and drank. “Take care of that cursed woman,” he said, “and bury her, for she was a king’s daughter.”35 But when they went out to bury her, they found nothing except her skull, her feet and her hands. 36 They went back and told Jehu, who said, “This is the word of the LORD that he spoke through his servant Elijah the Tishbite: On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs will devour Jezebel’s flesh. 37 Jezebel’s body will be like dung on the ground in the plot at Jezreel, so that no one will be able to say, ‘This is Jezebel.’”

John 1

The Word Became Flesh
    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
   6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
   9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
   14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
   15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
John the Baptist Denies Being the Messiah
    19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was.20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”
   21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
   He said, “I am not.”
   “Are you the Prophet?”
   He answered, “No.”
   22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
   23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”
   24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
   26 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
   28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.


Abia, Abiah [Ăbī'ă, Ăbī'ah]—jehovah is father.
  1. The second son of Samuel the prophet and judge of Israel, Abia, with his brother Joel or Vashni, judged so unworthily as to force Israel to desire a king (1 Sam. 8:21 Chron. 6:28).
  2. A son of Rehoboam (1 Chron. 3:10Matt. 1:7). Called Abijam in 1 Kings 14:3115:6-8.
  3. The seventh son of Becher the son of Benjamin (1 Chron 7:8).
  4. A priest in the days of David, appointed to service in the Tabernacle (Luke 1:5). Also the name of the wife of Hezron, grandson of Judah by Pharez ( 1 Chron. 2:24). Our study of Bible men will bring out the fact that the same name is often borne by both men and women.



The Unforgivable Sin

Pastors both past and present agree that a person who worries that he has committed the unforgiveable sin has not really done so. Those who do the unforgivable act are so calloused that they do not care about their spiritual state and therefore will never be troubled by the possibility that they have gone too far in their wickedness. Matthew Henry comments, "Those who fear they have committed this sin, give a good sign that they have not."
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
Coram Deo from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
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Is Christ Better?

Today's reading: Hebrews 3
The uniqueness of Jesus
Hebrews 3:3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.
In time, a work of art by a great artist gains enormous value because of its creator's reputation. Even a musty notebook full of scratchings, if found to be Leonardo da Vinci's, would suddenly be worth millions of dollars. Similarly, every house designed by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright retains high value simply because of his name.
To dramatize his argument that Christ is superior to any religious system, the author of Hebrews uses an analogy: Which has greater honor, the builder of a house or the house itself? Obviously, the builder has more honor; the house is just one expression of his genius.
In a Category by Himself
Likewise, Hebrews says, Christ has more honor than anyone else on Earth. As Creator of the universe, he actually designed and made all people (see Hebrews 1:2). That puts him in a different category of greatness, far above Moses, Aaron and other Jewish heroes.
"Therefore," Hebrews urges, "fix your thoughts on Jesus" (Hebrews 3:1). He deserves all respect and allegiance. By becoming human, Jesus learned firsthand the temptations and sufferings that people undergo, so that he can now represent us sympathetically to God (see Hebrews 4:14-15). The author goes on to prove that Jesus fulfilled all the Old Testament requirements. He was the one priest who could permanently bring together God and the human race (see Hebrews 7:23-27). And, as God, he had the power through his death to remove the final barrier of sin between God and humankind (see Hebrews 9:11-15).
Free Access to God
Over time, the author argues, God chose various ways to reveal himself: creation, the prophets and the Old Testament Scriptures. But the final, complete self-expression culminated in his Son. Jesus is the One worthy of honor.
Because of Jesus, we no longer have to approach God through a priest, as the Israelites did. Christ's work makes God available to all who have faith in him. And God no longer dwells in an elaborately designed temple; we have become his house (see Hebrews 3:6), his work of art.
Life Question
People sometimes say about Jesus, "I don't believe he was God, but he was a very fine man-like Gandhi or Buddha." What arguments does the author of Hebrews use to contradict this?



Salvation of the Lord

“Salvation is of the Lord.” Jonah 2:9
Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 2:1-10
“Salvation is of the Lord,” in the application of it.“No,” says the Arminian, “it is not; salvation is of the Lord, inasmuch as he does all for man that he can do; but there is something that man must do, which if he does not do, he must perish.” That is the Arminian way of salvation. I thought of this very theory of salvation when I stood by the side of that window of Carisbrooke Castle, out of which King Charles, of unhappy and unrighteous memory, attempted to escape. I read in the guide book that everything was provided for his escape; his followers had means at the bottom of the wall to enable him to fly across the country, and on the coast they had their boats lying ready to take him to another land; in fact, everything was ready for his escape. But here was the important circumstance; his friends had done all they could; he was to do the rest; but that doing the rest was just the point and brunt of the battle.It was to get out of the window, out of which he was not able to escape by any means, so that all his friends did for him went for nothing, so far as he was concerned. So with the sinner. If God had provided every means of escape, and only required him to get out of his dungeon, he would have remained there to all eternity. Why, is not the sinner by nature dead in sin? And if God requires him to make himself alive, and then afterwards he will do the rest for him, then verily, my friends, we are not so much obliged to God as we had thought; for if he requires so much as that of us, and we can do it, we can do the rest without his assistance.
For meditation: The converted are alive and can open the door to the Saviour (Revelation 3:20); but he had to open it himself the first time when they were still unbelieving and dead (Acts 16:14).
Sermon no. 131
10 May (1857)

Renee Swope
May 9, 2012
Letting God Fill My Empty Places
Renee Swope
"You God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water." Psalm 63:1, NIV
It was a source she'd come to depend on. A place she went to get her needs met. But it was never enough; every day she came back for more.
Filling her jar with water, the woman looked up and heard Him ask her for a drink. Then He offered her something in return: living water. Unlike the water she came to get that day, He said the water He offered would satisfy her so deeply she'd never thirst again.
But she had a hard time believing His promise. "You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?" (John 4:11) She asked.
What she didn't realize was that Jesus wanted to satisfy a deeper thirst in her heart - a longing He'd created to lead her heart to Him: the One and only Source that could satisfy her soul.
All He needed to draw with was His Spirit, for it would draw her near to Him. And as far as the depth of the well, it was her heart He was looking into. She was the only one who could stop Him from reaching the parts that needed Him most.
I know that place of needing Jesus to look into my heart and show me the emptiness only He can fill.
Like the woman at the well, I've depended on other means to get my needs met. Yet when I look to them,instead of Him, they are never enough.
I've looked to people: family and friends, bosses and boyfriends, teachers and mentors, my husband and kids. I've longed for their approval and the affirmation that comes with it.
I've also looked to possessions and positions and accidentally put my hope in recognition. I've thought "if only I had or could..."
But no matter how much I do or get, it's never enough to fill me up. And it's not supposed to be.
Why? Because the empty places in our hearts were created to be filled by God alone. The deepest thirst of our soul can only be quenched by Him.
We see this deep thirst even in King David, who had everything: the highest position, unlimited possessions, and great power, yet none of it was enough. He described himself as parched and thirsty for God:
You God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land where there is no water. (Ps. 63:1)
Then David went on to describe what he experienced when he drank deeply of God's love:
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.
I will praise you as long as I live
and in your name I will lift up my hands. (vv. 2-4)
And the same thing happened to the woman Jesus met at the well that day. She drank deeply of His love and was filled to overflow, and we can be too.
Just like the woman at the well, God put a longing in our hearts that was intended to lead us back to Him. Only His unconditional acceptance, approval and affirmation can fill the empty places in our hearts - the deepest thirst of our souls. Until God's love and acceptance is enough, nothing else will be.
Dear Lord, show me the empty places in my heart and ways I try to fill them. Then lead me back to You and show me how I can position my heart to be filled and fulfilled by Your promises and the power of Your love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
How can we let God fill the empty places in our hearts each day? Visit Renee's website/blog for a practical and powerful way to identify your empty places and let God fill them on a daily basis. You don't want to miss it!
A Confident Heart by Renee Swope. This best-selling book dives deep into the Living water of God's Word. Find more truths to fill the well of your heart by clicking here.
Letting God Fill My Empty Places a message on CD by Renee Swope
For more daily encouragement and powerful truths, join Renee's Confident Heart Facebook page.
Reflect and Respond:
Only God's unconditional acceptance, approval and affirmation can fill the empty places in our hearts - the deepest thirst of our souls. Until God's love and acceptance is enough, nothing else will be.
Ask God to help you identify your empty places and show you how HE can fill them. Click here for an illustration Renee shares of how she's learned to do this.
Power Verses:
Psalm 143:8, "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life." (NIV)
Jeremiah 2:13, "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water." (NIV, 1984)
© 2012 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105



Comfort to seekers from what the Lord has not said

‘I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain.’ Isaiah 45:19
Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 65:1–5
For the Lord to hear prayer is consistent with his nature. Whatever is consistent with God’s nature, we believe is true. Now, we cannot perceive any attribute of God which would stand in the way of his hearing prayer. It might be supposed that his justice would; but that has been so satisfied by the atonement of Christ, that it rather pleads the other way. Since Christ has ‘put away sin,’ since he has purchased the blessing, it seems but just that God should accept those for whom Jesus died, and give the blessing which Christ has bought. All the attributes of God say to a sinner, ‘Come, come; come to the throne of grace, and you shall have what you want.’ Power puts out his strong arm and cries, ‘I will help thee; fear not.’ Lovesmiles through her bright eyes, and cries, ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.’ Truth speaks in her clear, plain language, saying, ‘He that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.’ Immutability says, ‘I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.’ Every single attribute of the divine character—but you can think of these as well as I can—pleads for the man who prays; and I do not know—I never dreamed of a single attribute of Deity which could enter an objection. Therefore, I think, if the thing really will glorify God, and not dishonour him, he will certainly do it. ‘But,’ you say, ‘I am such a great sinner.’ That gives me another argument. Would it not greatly extol the love and the grace of God for him to give his grace to those that deserve it least?
For meditation : The God whom we have all offended is not further offended, but pleased, when we admit that we deserve to be punished for our sin but ask him to save us for Jesus’ sake (Luke 18:13–142 Peter 3:9). The people who continue to offend him are those who by their refusal to seek him say ‘Pay me that thou owest’ (Matthew 18:28 ); that is extremely foolish, ‘for the wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23).
Sermon no. 508
10 May (1863)

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May 9, 2012

Taking Every Thought Captive 
Part 2
Sharon Jaynes
Today's Truth
"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ," (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV).
Friend to Friend
In my last devotion, we looked at 2 Corinthians 10:5 and the idea of taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. We compared it to roping a calf in a lassoing contest. Every spiritual battle is won or lost at the threshold of the mind; right as the calf comes bursting through the door. Let's look at four simple steps for taking every thought captive and lassoing those runaway thoughts.
Realize the Enemy's True Identity
On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, after I got my son off to school and my husband off to work, I took a long walk through my neighborhood. The sky was crystal clear blue with a gentle breeze. It was a gorgeous cool North Carolina fall day with just a hint of color on the leaves. There was nothing special on my schedule - just the ordinary. However, one hour later, because of a horrendous terrorist attack on our country in New York City and Washington, DC, by evil personified, the day turned into anything but ordinary. I watched in horror as the television played and replayed the airplanes crashing into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon.
Amazingly, we never saw it coming. As I thought about that, God reminded me: That's how the enemy always attacks. When you least expect it.
Let's think about another monumental day in our country's history. On December 31, 1999, the country and the world braced for the potentially disastrous effects of Y2K.  Families and businesses alike prepared for months for what might occur as the clock ticked past 11:59 PM and into the new millennium. We held our breaths, clasped our hands and braced ourselves. Yes, we were ready. What happened? Nothing. The new millennium came without incident.
 Oh dear friends, do you see the correlation? There is an enemy who seeks to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). His name is Satan. He desires to destroy us just as sure as the hijackers drove those airplanes into, and toppled, the twin towers in New York City.
Satan has other names – the devil, the accuser of the brethren, a liar, the father of lies, and the deceiver. A deceiver is someone who presents a lie in such a way, it sounds like the truth. He can make you believe something is not true when it is and make you believe something is true when it isn't. He speaks in your own voice. The thoughts feel like you, because they are the old you that he has memorized so well. He's not very creative, but he is very effective and he uses the same methods with us he's used since the beginning of time.
The first step to changing the way we think is to recognize the enemy's true identity.  It's not your mother; it's not your father; it's not the person who abused you as a child.  The real enemy is Satan himself and he uses your past hurts and failures as cannon fodder to wound you. If you don't have sufficient ammo in your past, he concocts some of his own.
In my next three devotions, we'll continuing look at the steps for taking every thought captive. Mary and Gwen's devotions will be interspersed. I don't want you to miss them. I couldn't go a week without these gal pals. But when I return, I'll pick right back up where we left off and move on to Step Two of taking every thought captive.
Let's Pray
Heavenly Father, I know that I cannot win a battle if I do not know who I am fighting.  Help me to recognize the enemy's true identity. Spiritual warfare is very real. Today, I put on the armor of God and stand firm against the powers of the enemy. I am more than a conqueror through the power of Jesus Christ.
In His Name I pray and stand,
Now It's Your Turn
Can you think of a time when you blamed someone for a difficulty in your life when it might have been an attack of the enemy?
Go back and read John 10:10. What does the enemy desire to do?
What is he called in John 8:44?
Why do you think it is important to know who the real enemy is in order to win the battle?
Log onto or my blog page at and share you answer.
More from the Girlfriends
Every spiritual battle is won or lost at the threshold of the mind. If you would like to learn more about how to take every thought captive, Sharon's bookI'm Not Good Enough…and Other Lies Women Tell Themselves, is the perfect resourceThis will help you change that stinkin' thinkin' and replace the lies with the truth. While you're there, download a free sample chapter and watch the introductory video.
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




As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-60
One of the costs of following Jesus is the impact on our children. If we, as parents, try to shelter our children from the cross then we are guilty of the third temptation of Christ. Our children need to understand that there will not be a victorious life in Christ without following the footsteps to the cross. Not around the cross, as we often desire, but through the cross.
A co-worker once asked a Christian in Vietnam how he introduces the gospel in the villages where people have never heard about God. Without hesitating he answered “Oh very easily. I simply say, ‘I have good news for you but it might cost you your life, would you like me to continue? People want to hear good news and most of the time they eagerly ask me to tell them. But the introduction is always that there will be a cost involved because for us in Vietnam, being a Christian means a life of self-denial. When they are persecuted and imprisoned they are not surprised. They expect it.”
The co-worker went on to say, “It sometimes amazes me how we find it suitable to counsel our children regarding the costs involved in buying a new bicycle or starting a new hobby but we never sit down and discuss the cost of following Jesus. We need to train our children in no uncertain terms that being ridiculed at school, being rejected and facing mockery, is part and parcel of being a Christian. It comes in as a package and you cannot have the one without the other. We need to train our children to sacrifice; we need to train our children to count the cost; we need to train our children that they do not belong to themselves.
“Our lives are often based on our expectations. If we are confronted with the unexpected, we seldom know how to react. If we neglect to teach and expose our children to the reality of the cross, difficulties will come as a surprise.
“But, once again, if we as parents cannot testify through our lives by being examples of living sacrifices, our teachings will be futile. When was the last time you were ridiculed for the name of Jesus? When was the last time you sacrificed your time and money to work among the lost? When was the last time you sacrificed anything to visit the persecuted church?”
RESPONSE: Today I will be an example to my children and teach them the cost in following Jesus.
PRAYER: Lord, help me to be willing to sacrifice everything to follow You and to be an example.
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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At Issue - Illness

Sometimes we need a wake-up call to remind us what's important. Hezekiah's call came in the form of a terminal illness. Seeing that his life was about to end, he was reminded that life is a gift. He realized that life is meant to be lived fully by walking humbly before God, praising him and speaking of his faithfulness to others. God gave Hezekiah 15 more years to live, and Hezekiah chose to make the most of that time. It's hard enough to remember what's truly important in life; it's even harder to choose what's important in life and to live with that in mind.



The Unforgivable Sin

Matthew 12:24-32 "Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come" ( v. 32).
Of all the teachings of Jesus, perhaps none troubles us more than His warning about blaspheming the Holy Spirit. When reading today's passage it is only natural to ask, "What is the unforgivable sin?" and, "Have I committed it?"
Many in church history have identified the unforgivable sin as divorce, adultery, or another grievous sin, or they have said God will not forgive those who do even one evil deed after baptism. That so many options have been suggested illustrates the complexity of Matthew 12:24-32. We must, therefore, humbly approach the topic of the unforgivable sin, aware that we cannot be too cautious when applying today's verses. Let us also note that even heinous sins are forgivable. Christ pardoned Peter for denying Him (John 18:15-2721:15-19). David repented and was forgiven for murder and adultery ( 2 Sam. 11:1-12:15a). Paul was made an apostle even though He once persecuted Jesus (Acts 9:1-19).
The meaning of Matthew 12:32 is clearer when we consider the passage in its totality (vv. 22-32 ). Even though they should know better, the Pharisees attribute Jesus' exorcisms to the power of the Devil (v. 24). This is absurd since it is irrational for Satan to cast out his own minions and tear down his own kingdom (vv. 25-26). Moreover, if Jesus exorcises demons by the Devil's power, then the followers of the Pharisees who do the same must also be acting under the Adversary's influence, a deduction these scholars cannot endorse ( v. 27). These teachers inconsistently accuse Jesus of being in Satan's thrall while seeing God at work among their own students. Stubbornly and persistently, the Pharisees are attributing the work of the Holy Spirit in Christ's ministry to the Devil.
Dr. R.C. Sproul says the unforgivable sin is blaspheming against the Holy Spirit by calling Jesus a devil after being enlightened by that same Spirit. According to John Calvin, we commit such sacrilege "only when we knowingly endeavor to extinguish the Spirit." There can be no salvation if the work of the Spirit is knowingly rejected. This act reveals a heart so hard that repentance is impossible (Heb. 3:7-19). Ultimately, as Augustine says, "It is unrepentance that is a blasphemy against the Spirit" (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, 6:325).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Pastors both past and present agree that a person who worries that he has committed the unforgiveable sin has not really done so. Those who do the unforgivable act are so calloused that they do not care about their spiritual state and therefore will never be troubled by the possibility that they have gone too far in their wickedness. Matthew Henry comments, "Those who fear they have committed this sin, give a good sign that they have not."
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living. 

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