Thursday, May 17, 2012

Daily Devotional Thursday 17th May

“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”” Zephaniah 3:17 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"So to walk even as he walked."
1 John 2:6
Why should Christians imitate Christ? They should do it for their own sakes. If they desire to be in a healthy state of soul--if they would escape the sickness of sin, and enjoy the vigour of growing grace, let Jesus be their model. For their own happiness' sake, if they would drink wine on the lees, well refined; if they would enjoy holy and happy communion with Jesus; if they would be lifted up above the cares and troubles of this world, let them walk even as he walked. There is nothing which can so assist you to walk towards heaven with good speed, as wearing the image of Jesus on your heart to rule all its motions. It is when, by the power of the Holy Spirit, you are enabled to walk with Jesus in his very footsteps, that you are most happy, and most known to be the sons of God. Peter afar off is both unsafe and uneasy. Next, for religion's sake, strive to be like Jesus. Ah! poor religion, thou hast been sorely shot at by cruel foes, but thou hast not been wounded one-half so dangerously by thy foes as by thy friends. Who made those wounds in the fair hand of Godliness? The professor who used the dagger of hypocrisy. The man who with pretences, enters the fold, being nought but a wolf in sheep's clothing, worries the flock more than the lion outside. There is no weapon half so deadly as a Judas-kiss. Inconsistent professors injure the gospel more than the sneering critic or the infidel. But, especially for Christ's own sake, imitate his example. Christian, lovest thou thy Saviour? Is his name precious to thee? Is his cause dear to thee? Wouldst thou see the kingdoms of the world become his? Is it thy desire that he should be glorified? Art thou longing that souls should be won to him? If so, imitate Jesus; be an "epistle of Christ, known and read of all men."

Evening

"Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee."
Isaiah 41:9
If we have received the grace of God in our hearts, its practical effect has been to make us God's servants. We may be unfaithful servants, we certainly are unprofitable ones, but yet, blessed be his name, we are his servants, wearing his livery, feeding at his table, and obeying his commands. We were once the servants of sin, but he who made us free has now taken us into his family and taught us obedience to his will. We do not serve our Master perfectly, but we would if we could. As we hear God's voice saying unto us, "Thou art my servant," we can answer with David, "I am thy servant; thou hast loosed my bonds." But the Lord calls us not only his servants, but his chosen ones--"I have chosen thee." We have not chosen him first, but he hath chosen us. If we be God's servants, we were not always so; to sovereign grace the change must be ascribed. The eye of sovereignty singled us out, and the voice of unchanging grace declared, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love." Long ere time began or space was created God had written upon his heart the names of his elect people, had predestinated them to be conformed unto the image of his Son, and ordained them heirs of all the fulness of his love, his grace, and his glory. What comfort is here! Has the Lord loved us so long, and will he yet cast us away? He knew how stiffnecked we should be; he understood that our hearts were evil, and yet he made the choice. Ah! our Saviour is no fickle lover. He doth not feel enchanted for awhile with some gleams of beauty from his church's eye, and then afterwards cast her off because of her unfaithfulness. Nay, he married her in old eternity; and it is written of Jehovah, "He hateth putting away." The eternal choice is a bond upon our gratitude and upon his faithfulness which neither can disown.

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Today's reading: 2 Kings 24-25, John 5:1-24 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
   During Jehoiakim’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded the land, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. But then he turned against Nebuchadnezzar and rebelled. 2 The LORD sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by his servants the prophets. 3 Surely these things happened to Judah according to the LORD’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, 4 including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD was not willing to forgive.
   5 As for the other events of Jehoiakim’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 6 Jehoiakim rested with his ancestors. And Jehoiachin his son succeeded him as king.
   7 The king of Egypt did not march out from his own country again, because the king of Babylon had taken all his territory, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Euphrates River.
Jehoiachin King of Judah
    8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan; she was from Jerusalem.9 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father had done.
   10 At that time the officers of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon advanced on Jerusalem and laid siege to it, 11 and Nebuchadnezzar himself came up to the city while his officers were besieging it. 12 Jehoiachin king of Judah, his mother, his attendants, his nobles and his officials all surrendered to him.
   In the eighth year of the reign of the king of Babylon, he took Jehoiachin prisoner. 13 As the LORD had declared, Nebuchadnezzar removed the treasures from the temple of the LORD and from the royal palace, and cut up the gold articles that Solomon king of Israel had made for the temple of the LORD. 14 He carried all Jerusalem into exile: all the officers and fighting men, and all the skilled workers and artisans—a total of ten thousand. Only the poorest people of the land were left.
   15 Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. He also took from Jerusalem to Babylon the king’s mother, his wives, his officials and the prominent people of the land. 16 The king of Babylon also deported to Babylon the entire force of seven thousand fighting men, strong and fit for war, and a thousand skilled workers and artisans. 17 He made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place and changed his name to Zedekiah.
Zedekiah King of Judah
    18 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah.19 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as Jehoiakim had done. 20 It was because of the LORD’s anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence.
The Fall of Jerusalem
    Now Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

2 Kings 25

   1 So in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. He encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it. 2 The city was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.
   3 By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat. 4 Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled at night through the gate between the two walls near the king’s garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city. They fled toward the Arabah, 5 but the Babylonian army pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered, 6 and he was captured.
   He was taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah, where sentence was pronounced on him. 7 They killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. Then they put out his eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.
   8 On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. 9 He set fire to the temple of the LORD, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. 10 The whole Babylonian army under the commander of the imperial guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem. 11 Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile the people who remained in the city, along with the rest of the populace and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon. 12 But the commander left behind some of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields.
   13 The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the movable stands and the bronze Sea that were at the temple of the LORD and they carried the bronze to Babylon. 14 They also took away the pots, shovels, wick trimmers, dishes and all the bronze articles used in the temple service. 15 The commander of the imperial guard took away the censers and sprinkling bowls—all that were made of pure gold or silver.
   16 The bronze from the two pillars, the Sea and the movable stands, which Solomon had made for the temple of the LORD, was more than could be weighed. 17 Each pillar was eighteen cubits high. The bronze capital on top of one pillar was three cubits high and was decorated with a network and pomegranates of bronze all around. The other pillar, with its network, was similar.
   18 The commander of the guard took as prisoners Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank and the three doorkeepers. 19 Of those still in the city, he took the officer in charge of the fighting men, and five royal advisers. He also took the secretary who was chief officer in charge of conscripting the people of the land and sixty of the conscripts who were found in the city. 20 Nebuzaradan the commander took them all and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 21 There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them executed.
   So Judah went into captivity, away from her land.
   22 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, to be over the people he had left behind in Judah. 23 When all the army officers and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah as governor, they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah—Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, Jaazaniah the son of the Maakathite, and their men. 24 Gedaliah took an oath to reassure them and their men. “Do not be afraid of the Babylonian officials,” he said. “Settle down in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well with you.”
   25 In the seventh month, however, Ishmael son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, who was of royal blood, came with ten men and assassinated Gedaliah and also the men of Judah and the Babylonians who were with him at Mizpah. 26 At this, all the people from the least to the greatest, together with the army officers, fled to Egypt for fear of the Babylonians.
Jehoiachin Released
    27 In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Awel-Marduk became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. He did this on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month. 28 He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. 29 So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table. 30 Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived.

John 5

The Healing at the Pool
    1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. [4] 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
   7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
   8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
   The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
   11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
    12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
   13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
   14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.
The Authority of the Son
    16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
   19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
   24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

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Rimmon [Rĭm'mon]—a pomegranite.The father of two captains who served under King Ishbosheth and became his murderers (2 Sam. 4:2-9). Rimmon is also the name of a Syrian god, looked upon “as air-, weather-, and storm-god assimilated by popular etymology to the word for ‘pomegranite,’” hence the meaning of the name. The symbol of the beneficient deity was the axe and a bundle of lightning-darts. It was in Rimmon’s temple at Damascus that Naaman worshiped.
Rimmon is likewise the name of a city in Simeon now known as Um-er-Rumamin (Josh. 15:32Zech. 14:10), and of a rock in Benjamin near Gibeah, now called Rummon or Rammun ( Judg. 20:454721:13), and of two cities, one in Simeon (1 Chron. 4:32) and the other in Zebulon, spoken of in Hebrews as Rimmons ( 1 Chron. 6:77).

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The Heavenly Host

What is the highest calling of the Christian? The continual praise of God by the angels in heaven is one of the many depictions in the Bible that emphasize the importance of worship. Praising our Creator in heaven is the highest duty for the believer; indeed, we are exhorted to worship the Lord in all that we do (1 Cor. 10:31 ). And we should look forward to corporate worship each Sunday, for it is there that we glorify God in the presence of His people and the angels.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
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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May 16, 2012
Taking Every Thought Captive
Part 5
Sharon Jaynes
Today's Truth
"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 10:5 NIV).
Friend to Friend
In my last 4 devotions, I've looked at steps to taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. I'm proud of you for sticking with it! Today's the last of the series. If you've missed any of the series, you can read them all on my blog at www.sharonjaynes.com. Let's review:
Step One: Recognize the Enemy's True Identity
Step Two: Recognize Satan's Lies
Step Three: Reject the Lies
And today we're looking at step four: Replace the lies with the Truth
Just as Satan tempted Eve in the Garden, he tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness. How did Jesus fight the enemy? He fought him with Scripture – He conquered him with the truth. Each time Satan put an evil thought before Him, Jesus said, "It is written…."
It is not a sin to be tempted. The Bible says that Jesus was tempted and yet did not sin.  It becomes a sin when we act on the thought or accept the lie as truth. As Martin Luther once said, "You can't keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hat."
Let me give you this example. I believe that Satan sends us e-mails all day long (evil-mails). If you get a seductive e-mail on the screen of your computer, is it your fault? Not unless you've placed yourself on some bad e-mail lists. When does that e-mail become a sin? The moment you click on it and accept the invitation.
Likewise, when the enemy tempts you to believe a lie, the temptation is not sin. It becomes sin if you accept the thought as your own and act on it. Your responsibility is to delete the lie and replace it with the truth.
When it comes to defeating Satan, Dr. Neil Anderson said it well: "You don't have to out shout him or out muscle him to be free of his influence. You just have to out truth him."
            
Below are some common lies of the enemy and the truth that "demolishes" them. I have listed each lie in the first person, "I," because that is how the enemy puts them into our thoughts.
Satan's Lie Nobody loves me.                                                                      
God's Truth  For God so loved the world, He gave  His only Son.  (John 3:16)
Satan's Lie I'm not able to do this job. I don't have the right gifts. 
God's Truth Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but 
our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new 
covenant. (2 Corinthians 3:5)
Satan's Lie God couldn't love me.
God's Truth  How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be 
called children of God! (I John 3:1)
Satan's Lie I'm so worried about this. I can't help it. 
God's Truth Do not be anxious about anything but in everything 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 minds in Christ Jesus. 
(Philippians 4:6)
                                                                                    
Satan's Lie I'm a loser.                                  
God's Truth I have been blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in 
Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)
                                                                        
Satan's Lie  I can't help myself.                    
God's Truth Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  (James 4:7)
In order to win the battle for our minds, we must refuse the lies and replace them with the truth. The more we think onthe truth quicker we will recognize the lies and replace them with truth.
Girlfriend, I'm proud of you for sticking with me these five days. T he Bible says "Wisdom brightens a [woman's] face and changes its hard appearance" (Ecclesiastes 8:1 NIV).  I'd say you are absolutely glowing. Stunning.
Let's Pray
Dear Heavenly Father, today I am choosing to believe the truth. Help me realize the enemy's true identity, recognize the lies, reject the lies, and replace his lies with Your truth.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
It's seems the key to this entire process of taking every thought captive is knowing and applying the truth! So let's commit 2 Corinthians 10:5 to memory. In this series, I quoted from several different translations. Chose the translation that is most comfortable for you and write this verse on a card. Put it on your dashboard, by your kitchen sink, or on your bathroom mirror.
See if you can name the four steps to taking every thought captive without looking. 
Had to look? That's OK.You might want to write them on the back of  your 2 Corinthians 10:5 the index card.  
Visit me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes and tell me where you're going to put your card!
More From the Girlfriends
Whew!  It takes a lot of thinking to think about our thinking. Now that was confusing! If getting a grip on your thoughts and emotions is something that you would like to read more about, see Sharon's book, I'm Not Good Enough..and Other Lies Women Tell ThemselvesYou'll learn how to apply God's transforming power to your life, and  you'll find a handy reference guide of 75 common lies women believe and the truths with which to replace them.
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

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Lead us not into temptation

‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’ Matthew 6:13
Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 4:1–11
The text does not say, ‘Tempt us not;’ if it did, then there would be a difficulty; it does not say, ‘Lord, tempt us not,’ but it says, ‘Lead us not into temptation;’ and I think I shall very rapidly be able to show you that there is a vast difference between leading into temptation and actually tempting. God tempts no man. For God to tempt in the sense of enticing to sin would be inconsistent with his nature, and altogether contrary to his known character; but for God to lead us into those conflicts with evil which we call temptations, is not only possible, but usual. Full often the great Captain of salvation leads us by his providence to battle fields where we must face the full array of evil, and conquer through the blood of the Lamb; and this leading into temptation is by divine grace overruled for our good, since by being tempted we grow strong in grace and patience. Our God and Father may, for wise ends, which shall ultimately subserve his own glory and our profit, lead us into positions where Satan, the world and the flesh may tempt us; and the prayer is to be understood in that sense of a humble self-distrust which shrinks from the conflict. There is courage here, for the suppliant calmly looks the temptation in the face, and dreads only the evil which it may work in him, but there is also a holy fear, a sacred self-suspicion, a dread of contact with sin in any degree. The sentiment is not inconsistent with ‘all joy’ when the divers temptations do come; it is akin to the Saviour’s ‘If it be possible, let this cup pass from me,’ which did not for a moment prevent his drinking the cup even to its dregs.
For meditation: Temptations to sin are bound to come (Luke 17:1), but never from God (James 1:13). It was the Holy Spirit who led the Lord Jesus Christ into the wilderness to be tempted, Satan who did the tempting ( Matthew 4:1) and God who provided the means of escape (Matthew 4:4,7,101 Corinthians 10:13).
Sermon no. 509
17 May (1863)


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Christ—the power and wisdom of God

“Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:24
Suggested Further Reading: Acts 10:34-43
Christ is the power of God, for he is the Creator of all things, and by Him all things exist. But when he came to earth, took upon himself the fashion of a man, tabernacled in the inn, and slept in the manger, he still gave proof that he was the Son of God; not so much so when, as an infant of a span long, the immortal was the mortal, and the infinite became a babe; not so much so in his youth, but afterwards when he began his public ministry, he gave abundant proofs of his power and godhead. The winds hushed by his finger uplifted, the waves calmed by his voice, so that they became solid as marble beneath his tread; the tempest, cowering at his feet, as before a conqueror whom it knew and obeyed; these things, these stormy elements, the wind, the tempest, and the water, gave full proof of his abundant power. The lame man leaping, the deaf man hearing, the dumb man singing, the dead rising, these, again, were proofs that he was the “power of God.” When the voice of Jesus startled the shades of Hades, and rent the bonds of death, with “Lazarus come forth!” and when the carcase rotten in the tomb woke up to life, there was proof of his divine power and godhead. A thousand other proofs he afforded; but we need not stay to mention them to you who have Bibles in your houses, and who can read them every day. At last he yielded up his life, and was buried in the tomb. Not long, however, did he sleep; for he gave another proof of his divine power and godhead, when starting from his slumber, he affrighted the guards with the majesty of his grandeur, not being held by the bonds of death, they being like green twigs before our conquering Samson, who had meanwhile pulled up the gates of hell, and carried them on his shoulders far away.
For meditation: This very same power of God is mighty to save believers through the gospel (Romans 1:16), is at work within them ( Ephesians 1:19) and can enable them to fight the good fight of the faith against all evil powers (Ephesians 6:10-13).
Sermon no. 132
17 May (1857)

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Renee Swope
May 16, 2012
If God loves me, why...?
Renee Swope
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Soon after I surrendered my life to Christ, I started struggling with painful things from my past that made me doubt God's promises for my future. I wondered: If God loves me, why has He allowed so much pain in my life?
If He loved me, why did God allow my family to be broken by adultery and divorce, shattered by confusion and chaos, shaken by alcohol and drug addictions and so much more? And why didn't He stop me from the pain I brought on myself, or keep me from the darkness of depression?
One afternoon I found the courage to tell my friend Wanda about my doubts and questions. I was surprised she didn't give me a pat answer, but looked at me with understanding in her eyes and told me she was sorry. Then she shared her story, which included many disappointments and heartbreaks. Yet, I didn't sense doubt or pain in her words. Instead, I sensed confidence and hope.
Turning the pages of her Bible to Jeremiah 29, Wanda read today's key verse as a promise to me: "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (v. 11)
She then told me God wanted to heal the pain of my past and use what I'd experienced to pave the way to His plans for my future. But I didn't want God to use my pain or my past. How would any of it do anything good for anyone, especially me?
Have you ever felt that way about your pain or your past? Have you ever asked: "If God loves me, then why...?"
These are the kind of questions that can linger in our hearts when we've been wounded and disappointed. And hurts that aren't healed can lead to bitterness and bondage.
Yet, in the security of a relationship with Jesus, God invites us to ask hard questions and look for answers that usher us into the depths of His redeeming love and healing power.
Can I whisper some hope into your heart today? If you are living and breathing, your purpose has not yet been fulfilled. No matter what you have done or what has been done to you, God does have a plan for your life.
So, how can you discover those plans? Let's read the premise that follows the promise in Jeremiah 29. After God declares He knows the plans He has for us, He says, "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (v.12-13)
We find God's plans when we surrender ours to Him each day. It's a moment by moment process of coming to Him, talking to Him, believing He listens and letting Him love us into a place of hope and healing.
God's love is not a quick-fix for our wounds, but it has the power to redeem and restore us into confident hope. When we allow the Holy Spirit poured out like Living water to go deep into our pain, He can heal our hearts from the inside out.
As we process the pain of our yesterdays and live through the disappointments of our todays, doubts may still creep up, threatening to steal our hope. But each time that happens, we can stop and seek God in that place. We can ask Him to show us His purpose by revealing what is true about who we are and what we have been through to make us start doubting.
Then we can ask Him to help us re-define our future, not through the filter of our past and pain, but through the power of His life-giving truth. And do you know what happens when we do that moment by moment, day by day, doubt by doubt? God tells us in Jeremiah 29:14, "I will be found by you...and will bring you back from captivity."
We find Him again and again. We find the One who longs to lead us out of captivity to our doubts into a place of freedom and hope. I know this is true because I have walked it, wrestled with it, resisted it and finally surrendered to it.
God's love is not only unfailing, it redeems and restores. His Truth cuts to the core of our struggles, bringing purpose to our pain, redemption from our past and hope for our future!
Lord, heal my hurts and give me hope as I learn to trust the plans You have for me. I'm coming to You and seeking You with all my heart today. Please set me free from my doubts and lead me into a place of confident hope. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
This devotion is based on Chapter 4 of Renee's best-selling book, A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God's Promises.
Visit Renee's website/blog where she shares more of her story and a powerful way you can learn to process your past with Jesus and fully experience His healing and hope for your future! Enter to win A Confident Heart gift pack and gift card, too. Find out more here.
When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you support the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost.
Reflect and Respond:
"If you are living and breathing, your purpose has not yet been fulfilled. No matter what you have done or what has been done to you, God does have a plan for your life."
Has the pain of your past made it hard to believe God's promises and plans for your future? Renee shares the process of learning to let go of the pain from her yesterdays so she could live with confident hope and healing in her todays and tomorrows. Click here for more of her story.
Power Verse:
Psalm 71:5, "For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth." (NIV)
© 2012 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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A Startling Image of Jesus

Today's reading: Revelation 5
A helpless lamb-the mightiest of all creatures
Revelation 5:4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.
Images of Jesus abound in Revelation, and one way to study the book is to follow a single image throughout. After his luminous appearance in the first chapter, Jesus is presented as a king, a child, a warrior on a horse, the Lord of the whole earth, the husband of a bride. Of all the images, however, none is so startling and unlikely as the one in John's second vision. Yet it takes hold and appears repeatedly throughout the book.
To set the stage for this vision, the book of Revelation uses more visual drama than a science fiction movie. Lightning flashes, the sky growls and awesome creatures encircle a lofty throne. Four of the creatures (see Revelation 4:6) seem to symbolize the most impressive of all creation, for a common saying in those days went,
The mightiest among the birds is the eagle.
The mightiest among the domestic animals is the bull.
The mightiest among the wild beasts is the lion.
And the mightiest of all is man.
Only One Worthy
A question resounds in the heavens: "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?" (Revelation 5:2). In other words, who is worthy to introduce the next phase of history? No one can answer, much to John's dismay. Not one of the four impressive creatures qualifies.
But suddenly John sees another creature, "a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain" (Revelation 5:6). The image contains a great paradox. None of the majestic angels or elders or living creatures has the right to break the seals. Only a Lamb does-a helpless, slaughtered Lamb.
John records a song of celebration ("You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation" [Revelation 5:9]), a song set to earthly music much later in Handel's Messiah. And elsewhere in Revelation true believers are identified as having their names recorded in the "Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 21:27).
This powerful image resurfaces often in Revelation, a book of warfare between good and evil. Christ the King is also the Lamb, the One who died for us. His death on the cross, seemingly a great defeat, actually ushered in a decisive victory, for him and for us. Good was not destroyed; it triumphed.
Life Questions
What meaning does the image of Jesus as a slain Lamb have for you? What are your favorite "pictures" or images of Jesus?
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SYNCRETISM

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools… Romans 1:21-22
Satan has led many quasi-religious groups to unite around a mixture of religious teachings and then brand honest Christian believers as bigots for clinging to salvation in Christ alone. An outgrowth of the postmodern era in which we live is that many people no longer believe in absolute truth. A natural extension of this lack of absolutes is the widely held view that there is good in every religion and all roads lead to heaven. Individuals can then pick and choose the elements they wish from whatever faith and mix them all together. This is true syncretism. Chuck Colson refers to its impact on our faith as “salad-bar Christianity!”
Satan is delighted when people believe and expound on his lies. He does not want anyone to know the truth and come to a personal relationship with Jesus who is the truth, the way and the life (John14:6). Jesus is the only way.
One man reportedly traveled the world to find one name for God that would be universal and bring all people together. Instantly the word love came to his mind. He later wrote, “Give God the universal name of Love and we will create a golden cord to tie together the truths of all the religions of the world.” But love is not God’s name. It is His nature. And God expressed it most fully when He sent His Son to die for our sins (John 3:16). Only when we accept Christ’s sacrifice for us will we know the love of the one true God that can bind people together.
few years ago, an inter-faith group of 10,000 people met at the Vatican in Rome. The group included the Pope, the Dalai Lama and Muslim Imam W. D. Mohammed. An outspoken Hindu woman was quoted as saying, “It was refreshing to note that the idea that all religions have universal truths, and are merely different paths to the same goal was accepted as a given from the outset by all delegates without a single dissenting voice.”
The same delegates also endorsed a general condemnation of “aggressive” proselytizing. This is the prevailing thinking of our day and age. Satan will do all he can to cause this thinking to even invade the church and individual Christian thinking and action.
The end result of syncretism in free societies will be anti-conversion laws and a prohibition of Christian witnessing. The euphemism for this law will probably be called “religious freedom.”
RESPONSE: Today I will guard carefully against the deceptions of Satan leading to syncretism.
PRAYER: Lord, help me to fix my eyes on You and Your Word today so that I will not stumble.
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 - Considering Divorce

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He Is- Awesome

When Elihu described God as one who comes in golden splendor, he drew Job's attention away from his dismal circumstances and toward the awesome majesty of God. Sometimes we need a change in perspective-to take our eyes off ourselves and put them on our awesome God and his creation.
If you're going through a dark time or you've lost your joy in living, look for God's golden splendor. You can see evidence in the sun, the sky, the intricacy of creation. God's glory is even more awesome than what you are able to see! Experiencing God's creation can change your perspective on the awesome Creator (see Romans 1:20).
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The Heavenly Host

Revelation 4 "Around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind" ( v. 6b).
Centuries after Isaiah saw the angels in God's heavenly throne room (6:1-3), John was given a vision of the divine throne room as well. Revelation 4 records the first part of this vision, which is remarkably similar to Isaiah 6.
The angels John witnesses praising the Lord declare the Creator's holiness three times (Rev. 4:8), which suggests that these are the same creatures Isaiah witnessed (6:3). That the two prophets are granted the same or similar view of the angels is also seen in the fact that the angels in each vision have six wings (Rev. 4:8Isa. 6:2). However, unlike Isaiah's vision, the angels whom John sees are covered with eyes (Rev. 4:6b8), and no attempt is made to shield their eyes in the presence of God (see Isa. 6:2). The reason why the angelic creatures do not cover their eyes in Revelation 4 is a mystery. It may be that in the book of Revelation, John's description of the angels is more concerned with a theological truth than the angels' precise appearance. The abundance of uncovered eyes on these angels might indicate that the Lord sees all.
In any case, there is a veritable army of angels, the heavenly host, that has as its primary purpose the continual praise of the Lord. These angels experience today the ultimate hope of all believers - the beatific vision. We will see God face to face once the remaining presence of sin is removed from us in our glorification (1 John 3:1-2). Enjoying the soul-satisfying beauty of the Lord will be our eternal delight, the greatest reward we can ever be given.
It is difficult to conceive of what it will mean to see God because He is invisible. Yet Scripture assures us that it is indeed possible for us to see Him. Before evil entered the world, Adam and Eve saw God as they walked with Him in Eden. It is only our sin that prevents us from looking at Him.
Jonathan Edwards suggests that our experience of the beatific vision will be with our minds, not our eyes. Everything we see is mediated through the optic nerve and interpreted by the mind. Perhaps, Edwards suggests, there will be no mediation of our vision in the eternal state and our minds will experience directly the vision of God.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

What is the highest calling of the Christian? The continual praise of God by the angels in heaven is one of the many depictions in the Bible that emphasize the importance of worship. Praising our Creator in heaven is the highest duty for the believer; indeed, we are exhorted to worship the Lord in all that we do (1 Cor. 10:31). And we should look forward to corporate worship each Sunday, for it is there that we glorify God in the presence of His people and the angels.
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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