Thursday, May 24, 2012

Daily Devotional Thursday 24th May

“Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.” Romans 15:2 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer."
Psalm 66:20
In looking back upon the character of our prayers, if we do it honestly, we shall be filled with wonder that God has ever answered them. There may be some who think their prayers worthy of acceptance--as the Pharisee did; but the true Christian, in a more enlightened retrospect, weeps over his prayers, and if he could retrace his steps he would desire to pray more earnestly. Remember, Christian, how cold thy prayers have been. When in thy closet thou shouldst have wrestled as Jacob did; but instead thereof, thy petitions have been faint and few--far removed from that humble, believing, persevering faith, which cries, "I will not let thee go except thou bless me." Yet, wonderful to say, God has heard these cold prayers of thine, and not only heard, but answered them. Reflect also, how infrequent have been thy prayers, unless thou hast been in trouble, and then thou hast gone often to the mercy-seat: but when deliverance has come, where has been thy constant supplication? Yet, notwithstanding thou hast ceased to pray as once thou didst, God has not ceased to bless. When thou hast neglected the mercy-seat, God has not deserted it, but the bright light of the Shekinah has always been visible between the wings of the cherubim. Oh! it is marvellous that the Lord should regard those intermittent spasms of importunity which come and go with our necessities. What a God is he thus to hear the prayers of those who come to him when they have pressing wants, but neglect him when they have received a mercy; who approach him when they are forced to come, but who almost forget to address him when mercies are plentiful and sorrows are few. Let his gracious kindness in hearing such prayers touch our hearts, so that we may henceforth be found "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit."

Evening

"Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ."
Philippians 1:27
The word "conversation" does not merely mean our talk and converse with one another, but the whole course of our life and behaviour in the world. The Greek word signifies the actions and the privileges of citizenship: and thus we are commanded to let our actions, as citizens of the New Jerusalem, be such as becometh the gospel of Christ. What sort of conversation is this? In the first place, the gospel is very simple. So Christians should be simple and plain in their habits. There should be about our manner, our speech, our dress, our whole behaviour, that simplicity which is the very soul of beauty. The gospel is pre-eminently true, it is gold without dross; and the Christian's life will be lustreless and valueless without the jewel of truth. The gospel is a very fearless gospel, it boldly proclaims the truth, whether men like it or not: we must be equally faithful and unflinching. But the gospel is also very gentle. Mark this spirit in its Founder: "a bruised reed he will not break." Some professors are sharper than a thorn-hedge; such men are not like Jesus. Let us seek to win others by the gentleness of our words and acts. The gospel is very loving. It is the message of the God of love to a lost and fallen race. Christ's last command to his disciples was, "Love one another." O for more real, hearty union and love to all the saints; for more tender compassion towards the souls of the worst and vilest of men! We must not forget that the gospel of Christ is holy. It never excuses sin: it pardons it, but only through an atonement. If our life is to resemble the gospel, we must shun, not merely the grosser vices, but everything that would hinder our perfect conformity to Christ. For his sake, for our own sakes, and for the sakes of others, we must strive day by day to let our conversation be more in accordance with his gospel.

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Today's reading: 1 Chronicles 19-21, John 8:1-27 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
David Defeats the Ammonites
    1 In the course of time, Nahash king of the Ammonites died, and his son succeeded him as king. 2 David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father.
   When David’s envoys came to Hanun in the land of the Ammonites to express sympathy to him, 3 the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Haven’t his envoys come to you only to explore and spy out the country and overthrow it?” 4 So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved them, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away.
   5 When someone came and told David about the men, he sent messengers to meet them, for they were greatly humiliated. The king said, “Stay at Jericho till your beards have grown, and then come back.”
   6 When the Ammonites realized that they had become obnoxious to David, Hanun and the Ammonites sent a thousand talents of silver to hire chariots and charioteers from Aram Naharaim, Aram Maakah and Zobah. 7 They hired thirty-two thousand chariots and charioteers, as well as the king of Maakah with his troops, who came and camped near Medeba, while the Ammonites were mustered from their towns and moved out for battle.
   8 On hearing this, David sent Joab out with the entire army of fighting men. 9 The Ammonites came out and drew up in battle formation at the entrance to their city, while the kings who had come were by themselves in the open country.
   10 Joab saw that there were battle lines in front of him and behind him; so he selected some of the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans. 11 He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai his brother, and they were deployed against the Ammonites. 12 Joab said, “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to rescue me; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will rescue you. 13 Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The LORD will do what is good in his sight.”
   14 Then Joab and the troops with him advanced to fight the Arameans, and they fled before him. 15 When the Ammonites realized that the Arameans were fleeing, they too fled before his brother Abishai and went inside the city. So Joab went back to Jerusalem.
   16 After the Arameans saw that they had been routed by Israel, they sent messengers and had Arameans brought from beyond the Euphrates River, with Shophak the commander of Hadadezer’s army leading them.
   17 When David was told of this, he gathered all Israel and crossed the Jordan; he advanced against them and formed his battle lines opposite them. David formed his lines to meet the Arameans in battle, and they fought against him. 18 But they fled before Israel, and David killed seven thousand of their charioteers and forty thousand of their foot soldiers. He also killed Shophak the commander of their army.
   19 When the vassals of Hadadezer saw that they had been routed by Israel, they made peace with David and became subject to him.
   So the Arameans were not willing to help the Ammonites anymore.

1 Chronicles 20

The Capture of Rabbah
    1 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, Joab led out the armed forces. He laid waste the land of the Ammonites and went to Rabbah and besieged it, but David remained in Jerusalem. Joab attacked Rabbah and left it in ruins. 2 David took the crown from the head of their king—its weight was found to be a talent of gold, and it was set with precious stones—and it was placed on David’s head. He took a great quantity of plunder from the city 3 and brought out the people who were there, consigning them to labor with saws and with iron picks and axes. David did this to all the Ammonite towns. Then David and his entire army returned to Jerusalem.
War With the Philistines
    4 In the course of time, war broke out with the Philistines, at Gezer. At that time Sibbekai the Hushathite killed Sippai, one of the descendants of the Rephaites, and the Philistines were subjugated.
   5 In another battle with the Philistines, Elhanan son of Jair killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver’s rod.
   6 In still another battle, which took place at Gath, there was a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot—twenty-four in all. He also was descended from Rapha. 7When he taunted Israel, Jonathan son of Shimea, David’s brother, killed him.
   8 These were descendants of Rapha in Gath, and they fell at the hands of David and his men.

1 Chronicles 21

David Counts the Fighting Men
    1 Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. 2 So David said to Joab and the commanders of the troops, “Go and count the Israelites from Beersheba to Dan. Then report back to me so that I may know how many there are.”
   3 But Joab replied, “May the LORD multiply his troops a hundred times over. My lord the king, are they not all my lord’s subjects? Why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?”
   4 The king’s word, however, overruled Joab; so Joab left and went throughout Israel and then came back to Jerusalem. 5Joab reported the number of the fighting men to David: In all Israel there were one million one hundred thousand men who could handle a sword, including four hundred and seventy thousand in Judah.
   6 But Joab did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, because the king’s command was repulsive to him.7 This command was also evil in the sight of God; so he punished Israel.
   8 Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by doing this. Now, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”
   9 The LORD said to Gad, David’s seer, 10 “Go and tell David, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’”
   11 So Gad went to David and said to him, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Take your choice: 12 three years of famine, three months of being swept away before your enemies, with their swords overtaking you, or three days of the sword of the LORD—days of plague in the land, with the angel of the LORD ravaging every part of Israel.’ Now then, decide how I should answer the one who sent me.”
   13 David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into human hands.”
   14 So the LORD sent a plague on Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell dead. 15 And God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. But as the angel was doing so, the LORD saw it and relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.” The angel of the LORD was then standing at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
   16 David looked up and saw the angel of the LORD standing between heaven and earth, with a drawn sword in his hand extended over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell facedown.
   17 David said to God, “Was it not I who ordered the fighting men to be counted? I, the shepherd, have sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? LORD my God, let your hand fall on me and my family, but do not let this plague remain on your people.”
David Builds an Altar
    18 Then the angel of the LORD ordered Gad to tell David to go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 19 So David went up in obedience to the word that Gad had spoken in the name of the LORD.
   20 While Araunah was threshing wheat, he turned and saw the angel; his four sons who were with him hid themselves. 21Then David approached, and when Araunah looked and saw him, he left the threshing floor and bowed down before David with his face to the ground.
   22 David said to him, “Let me have the site of your threshing floor so I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped. Sell it to me at the full price.”
   23 Araunah said to David, “Take it! Let my lord the king do whatever pleases him. Look, I will give the oxen for the burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for the grain offering. I will give all this.”
   24 But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”
   25 So David paid Araunah six hundred shekels of gold for the site. 26 David built an altar to the LORD there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. He called on the LORD, and the LORD answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering.
   27 Then the LORD spoke to the angel, and he put his sword back into its sheath. 28 At that time, when David saw that the LORD had answered him on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, he offered sacrifices there. 29 The tabernacle of the LORD, which Moses had made in the wilderness, and the altar of burnt offering were at that time on the high place at Gibeon.30 But David could not go before it to inquire of God, because he was afraid of the sword of the angel of the LORD.

John 8

1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
   2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
   But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
   9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
   11 “No one, sir,” she said.
   “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Dispute Over Jesus’ Testimony
    12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
   13 The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”
   14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”
   19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”
   “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.
Dispute Over Who Jesus Is
    21 Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”
   22 This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”
   23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”
   25 “Who are you?” they asked.
   “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. 26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”
   27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father.

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Balaam [Bā'laam]—a pilgrim, devouring or lord of the peopleA diviner, son of Beor and resident of the town of Pethor (Num. 222324Deut. 23:4).

The Man Who Heard an Ass Speak

Peter, Jude and John deal with Balaam as a historical presence (2 Pet. 2:15;Jude 11Rev. 2:14).
In Balaam we have a fitting yet tragic illustration of our Lord’s teaching about the light in us being darkness. Balaam had a headfull of light but a heart that was dark—and great was the darkness! This man of Mesopotamia, counted a prophet, yet followed the unholy practice of Eastern soothsayers.
Balak the king, greatly alarmed because of the Israelites swarming the Plains of Moab, sent for Balaam to pronounce a curse upon the people of God so that he would have nothing more to fear. Balaam refused and declared that all who blessed Israel would be blessed. Balak sent for Balaam again and again, tempting him with bribes but Balaam remained firm. In a further approach of Balak, Balaam was more cautious in his refusal. Instead of saying with Daniel, “Thy gifts be to thyself and give thy rewards to another,” Balaam caught the bait held out and proved that he loved the wages of unrighteousness.
Balak’s messengers were not immediately dismissed. Balaam asked for time to consult God as to what he should do. The line of duty, however, was perfectly clear. There was no need to pray. God allowed Balaam to go, but he did not carry divine approval with him. Sometimes God punishes us by allowing us to have our own way. Thus Balaam started to Balak but did not reach him. Suddenly the ass he was riding stopped and could not be induced to proceed. God’s angel was before him although Balaam could not see him standing in the way with his drawn sword. Then the ass, the most stupid of all beasts, was made to speak and reprove one of the wisest of men. Awestruck at what had happened and trembling with fear, Balaam confessed, “I have sinned.” Balaam must have known that his whole conduct was displeasing to God and that he had been wilfully blind.
Back Balaam went and with a great parade built seven altars and offered bullocks and rams on every altar. But God was not pleased with such offerings. Yet God employed Balaam for His own purposes, for He put into his mouth some of the most blessed and glorious words spoken concerning His people Israel. With his heart turned towards the eternal world Balaam wanted to die the death of a righteous man, but his end was far from righteous. He died in a general massacre and we have no record of his repentance. He died in his sins.
Clearly evident are the lessons to be learned from this renowned man who was self-willed (Num. 22:5-22); saved from death by a beast (Num. 22:33); double-minded in that he was eloquent in prophecy but presumptuous in seeking to alter the divine plan (Num. 2324); a failure in his mission (Num. 24:10); an evil counselor (Num. 31:16); overcome by the besetting sin of avarice ( 2 Pet. 2:13):
The clearest knowledge without grace is worthless.
The presence of any sin is ruinous, especially covetousness.
The most pious wishes are sometimes vain. The road to hell can be paved with good resolutions.
To die well one must live well.

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P31Header
Samantha Reed
May 23, 2012
When Hope Feels Distant
Samantha Reed
"The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul." Psalm 23:1-3(NIV 1984)
The chair creaked as she shifted her weight. Its arms, too close for comfort, seemed to intentionally squeeze the pain right out of my clients who came to see me in the counseling center. And the same thing seemed to be happening to my friend who was visiting that day.
I watched her tears fall, hoping they would somehow lighten her heart's heavy load.
She'd been carrying the joy of what she thought was a new life on the way. But this was a hope to be deferred. It wasn't time, not yet. Not for quite a while.
And then one day she joined us at my home for dinner. We feasted on good news as we stood in the kitchen, arms and elation wrapped tight around each other. We cried again. This time, it was time.
I remember the day this much-anticipated baby was born; a day when life was squeezing the pain right out of me.
A decade's worth of waiting on the hopes of marriage had worn me thin. I feared I'd been left out of God's goodness. I shared my hurt with a friend on the way to the hospital. "You must believe He's faithful. He's good. Don't let the days slip by in fearful doubt, no matter how long this hope is deferred," she said.
That day I held onto my friend's words as I held that sweet baby, Sophie Brooke.
Her name means wisdom and peaceful waters. And aren't those lovely things for when the load is painful and hope is put on hold?
Wisdom whispers to our weary hearts, The Lord is my Shepherd. He leads me well as I journey through this pain. In Him, I won't miss out or be in want. It reminds us that our Shepherd is good and He has not left us.
And those peaceful waters? This is where the Lord leads us to restore our soul; to restore the hope we've lost in the waiting, in the valley of our pain. When weariness sets in, He invites us beside refreshing waters in His presence, to rest by and find a calm place to escape.
It's been four years since Sophie Brooke was born. In that time I've discovered that days pass by easier and hope seems attainable when I listen to my Shepherd, rather than my fearful doubts.
For every season and stage of life, I've realized God is there offering wisdom and peace and leading me back to hope.
And on those days when hope feels distant, seems nowhere to be found, I remember the words my friend gave me: "You must believe He's faithful. He's good. Don't let the days slip by in fearful doubt, no matter how long this hope is deferred."
Dear Lord, seems like life has squeezed the pain out of me and hope is nowhere to be found. I am at a loss for what to do. Please guide me to pray, seek and wait on You through this season. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Visit Samantha's site for hope in the waiting.
We'd love to share daily encouragement with you on our Facebook page. Click here to join us.
Reflect and Respond:
Have you waited a long time on a dream? Does hope seem distant? Take a moment to listen to your Shepherd, rather than your fears.
Clear your mind of every racing thought and know that these words have been prayed for you: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" (Romans 15:13 NIV).
Power Verses:
Isaiah 40:27-31, "Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, 'My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God'? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (NIV 1984)
© 2012 by Samantha Reed. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616G MatthewsMint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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Jesus' True Family

Matthew 12:46-50 "Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother" ( v. 50).
Having finished our study of angels and demons, we return to our exposition of Matthew's gospel wherein Jesus' supreme authority over the world has been revealed. A descendant of David, our Redeemer had a miraculous birth and was visited by dignitaries from the East (chap. 1-2). Following His baptism, Jesus stared down the Devil, revealed Himself as the fulfillment of God's law, and performed signs indicating His messianic office ( chap. 3-10). These things prove that we cannot be neutral regarding Jesus. We will either become His disciples or stand with Satan and oppose the Son of God (11:1-12:45).
When Jesus' family comes to speak to Him (v. 46 ), our Lord proclaims His final authority by telling us whom we must love the most. His response would be irksome to first-century Jews. In a context where family ties trump all else, Jesus says that those who do His Father's will are His true relatives (vv. 48-50).
Two significant truths are taught here. First, the followers of Jesus have such intimate fellowship with Him that we are as deeply related to Him as His family. John Calvin comments, "Every one who is regenerated by the Spirit, and gives himself up entirely to God for true justification, is thus admitted to the closest union with Christ, and becomes one with him."
Second, blood ties are less significant than the bond of faith. Our relationships with other Christians are, in a certain sense, more important than the relationships we have with our relatives. Though we must honor our parents and take care of our families ( Eph. 6:1-31 Tim. 5:8 ), our relationship with family members who die in sin ends at death. The bond between brothers and sisters in Christ lasts forever. Our families according to the flesh are important, but the family of God in Christ is more so. Augustine's comments on today's passage illustrate the relative importance of the church of Jesus Christ to the believer: "Mary [the mother of Jesus] is blessed, but the church is greater.... Because [she is] only a limb of the whole body. If she is but a part of the whole body, greater indeed is the body than a limb" (Works of St. AugustineA Translation for the Twenty-First Century, vol. 3, 3:287-288).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

What place does the church family have in your life? Do you think it important to know your fellow believers or do you leave worship without meeting new people and talking to old friends? We will be spending eternity with other Christians; therefore, let us get to know them now. This week, go out of your way to meet somebody in your church whom you do not know very well. Consider how your love for other Christians compares to your love of your family.
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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GiG Banner 2012 Big
May 23, 2012
Let's Get it Together
Part 2
Mary Southerland
Today's Truth
1 Corinthians 6:19 (NIV) "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body."

Friend to Friend
Through the years, God has grabbed my attention with an illness that drove me to bed or a crisis that drove me to my knees. He is a persistent Father who understands the value of rest. Jesus even modeled the truth that it is in Sabbath moments where we will find Him most precious and hear His voice more clearly. After all, He was in charge of the creation process that included the need for rest. Did God need to rest? Obviously not, but by creating a day of rest, He drove home the fact that our bodies were created in such a way that rest is not an option. Make no mistake – we will rest – one way or another.  The psalmist writes, "He makes me rest in green pastures." ( Psalm 23:2 ICB) I know from my own experience, that the word "make" holds worlds of possibilities from God's hand. Learning to rest demands an understanding of several basic truths. 

Rest is sacred. Sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do is sleep. The human body is programmed for a certain amount of rest. We can cheat it short term but not long term. Rest affects the efficiency rating of this frail body in which we dwell. 

Rest is replenishing. While we rest, the Father repairs and restores. We run on "batteries" that must be re-charged daily. When I am tired, it is much harder for me to handle stress, and I know you will agree with me when I say that life can be stressful. 
Rest reduces stress. Doctors say stress can be good or bad but either way, stress takes its toll. Elijah is a great example of good stress gone bad. One day he was the conquering hero, the next day we find him sitting under a juniper tree begging God to let him die! The poor man was exhausted. It was stress produced by victory, but stress nonetheless. 

Rest eliminates fatigue. Fatigue is not a spiritual gift, but we proudly wear dark-circled eyes as badges of honor and sacrificial service. The enemy loves it! If he can keep us exhausted, we are no threat to him.  We must learn to rest and when we need to rest. I have discovered an irritating truth with no escape clause – we need to rest most when we have the least amount of time to rest. I don't like it when God calls me from my vicious circle of daily life into His presence. After all, I spent a lot of time getting all of those irons into the fire I built with my own ideas and plans. However, every time I obey His call to "come apart," He transforms ineffective activity into powerful living. We need to stop, be still and rest. 

Our bodies house the Holy Spirit. In what condition is your dwelling place for God? Is He pleased with His temple? A lack of physical discipline is a foothold for the enemy, an unlocked door through which disobedience and failure ride on the wings of Satan's best schemes. It is time for us to embrace and apply physical discipline as a gift and commandment from God. We must trust God with our health.
Let's Pray
Lord, today, I recognize my physical body as the temple of God. I commit to taking better care of my body by getting more rest, eating healthier foods and getting more exercise. I will make better choices about how to spend my time in order to make health a higher priority in my daily life. I praise You for the gift of health and celebrate the gift of life each day holds. I trust You with my health as an act of obedience and worship. 
In Jesus' name,
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Read the following two verses of Scripture carefully. Choose to memorize one of them. How do they apply to honoring God with your body?
Galatians 2:20 (NIV) "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
Romans 6:13 (NLT) "Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God."
More from the Girlfriends
I know it is hard to deal with temptation when it comes to treating our bodies in a godly way. Need help? Check out my E-Bible Study, Winning the War with Temptation. Need help learning how to live a life of power and purpose? Check out Mary's weekly online Bible Study, How to Dress for Success and learn how to live a life of victory. Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.

Seeking God?
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Jesus' True Family

What place does the church family have in your life? Do you think it important to know your fellow believers or do you leave worship without meeting new people and talking to old friends? We will be spending eternity with other Christians; therefore, let us get to know them now. This week, go out of your way to meet somebody in your church whom you do not know very well. Consider how your love for other Christians compares to your love of your family.
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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Note: The NIV Devotions for Women wasn't sent on Monday. We apologize for the mistake. You can read Monday's devotional, Able to Save, on Bible Gateway.

At Issue - Health

Daniel could have tried to justify eating the defiled food-after all, what else would he eat, and was this issue really worth taking a stand on? Yet Daniel knew that honoring God above all else should permeate every area of his life, including his diet. For Daniel, it was likely that the foods in question didn't correspond with Jewish dietary laws and parts of the food had been sacrificed to idols. While our issues are different, the principle is still the same: God wants us to honor him in every area of our lives. Even what we do with our bodies should reflect his authority.
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Pentecost

‘And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.’Acts 2:1–4
Suggested Further Reading: 2 Corinthians 3:1–6
How absolutely necessary is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit! It is not possible for us to promote the glory of God or to bless the souls of men, unless the Holy Spirit shall be in us and with us. Those who were assembled on that memorable day of Pentecost, were all men of prayer and faith; but even these precious gifts are only available when the celestial fire sets them on a blaze. They were all men of experience; most of them had been preachers of the Word and workers of miracles; they had endured trials and troubles in company with their Lord, and had been with him in his temptation. Among them were the apostles and the seventy evangelists, and with them were those honoured women in whose houses the Lord had often been entertained, and who had ministered to him of their substance; yet even these favoured and honoured saints can do nothing without the breath of God the Holy Spirit. Apostles and evangelists dare not even attempt anything alone; they must tarry at Jerusalem till power be given them from on high. It was not a want of education; they had been for three years in the college of Christ, with perfect wisdom as their tutor, matchless eloquence as their instructor, and immaculate perfection as their example; yet they must not venture to open their mouths to testify of the mystery of Jesus, until the anointing Spirit has come with blessed unction from above. Surely if so it was with them, much more must it be the case with us.
For meditation: Unbelievers are unspiritual by nature (1 Corinthians 2:14); believers can be unspiritual by practice (1 Corinthians 3:1). Anything in our lives not derived from the gifts (1 Corinthians 12:47) or fruit (Galatians 5:22–23) of the Holy Spirit is by definition unspiritual.
Sermon no. 511
24 May (Whit Sunday 1863)

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Heavenly rest

“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.”Hebrews 4:9
Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 14:12-16
From Monday morning till Saturday night, many of you will not be able to lay aside your needle and your thread, except when, tired and weary, you fall back on your chair, and are lulled to sleep by your thoughts of labour! Oh! how seasonable will heaven’s rest be to you! Oh! how glad will you be, when you get there, to find that there are no Monday mornings, no more toil for you, but rest, eternal rest! Others of you have had manual labour to perform; you have reason to thank God that you are strong enough to do it, and you are not ashamed of your work; for labour is an honour to a man. But still there are times when you say, “I wish I were not so dragged to death by the business of London life.” We have but little rest in this huge city; our day is longer, and our work is harder than our friends in the country. You have sometimes sighed to go into the green fields for a breath of fresh air; you have longed to hear the song of the sweet birds that used to wake you when you were young; you have regretted the bright blue sky, the beauteous flowers, and the thousand charms of a country life. And, perhaps, you will never get beyond this smoky city; but remember, when you get up there, “sweet fields arrayed in living green,” and “rivers of delight” shall be the place where you shall rest, you shall have all the joys you can conceive of in that home of happiness.
For meditation: The Christian’s rest in heaven will be enriched by the worth of his work for Christ on earth (1 Corinthians 3:13-15). Spurgeon says:- “There, up in heaven, Luther has no more to face a thundering Vatican; Paul has no more to run from city to city, and continent to continent; there Baxter has no more to toil in his pulpit, to preach with a broken heart to hard hearted sinners; there no longer has Knox to “cry aloud and spare not” against the immoralities of the false church.” What will you be missing?
Sermon no. 133
24 May (1857)

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When God Was Obvious

Today's reading: Exodus 24
Few atheists, but many rebels
Exodus 24:17 To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.
Why doesn't God intervene more? Why doesn't he directly feed the hungry, heal all the sick and stop all wars? If God really exists, at the very least why doesn't he make himself more obvious?
People who ask such questions often assume that if God ever did spectacularly reveal himself, all doubts would vanish. Everyone would line up to believe in him.
Astonishing Reactions
Exodus tells of a time when God made himself perfectly obvious. The plagues on Egypt revealed his mighty power. An enormous miracle at the Red Sea provided sensational deliverance. A recurring miracle supplied food for the Israelites every morning. And, if questions about God's existence arose, doubters needed only to look to the ever-present glory cloud or pillar of fire. It must have been hard to be an atheist in those days.
Yet every instance of God's faithfulness seemed to summon up astonishing human unfaithfulness. The same Israelites who had watched God crush a pharaoh quaked at the first sign of Egyptian chariots. Three days after a miraculous escape across the Red Sea they were grumbling to Moses and God about water supplies.
A month or so later, when hunger pangs began to gnaw at them, they bitterly complained, "If only we had died by the LORD's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death" (Exodus 16:3). God responded with a provision of manna (that would continue for 40 years) and quail, but the Israelites were soon grousing about the water supplies again.
The Great Rebellion
Exodus 32 shows the Israelites at their worst. People who had eaten manna for breakfast, who had just solemnly agreed to keep every word of the covenant, who were at that moment standing beside a mountain stormy with the Lord's presence-those very people proceeded to melt down their gold jewelry and flagrantly flout the first commandment. "Stiff-necked," God called the Israelites as he burned in anger against them. Only Moses' eloquent appeal saved their lives.
The history of the Israelites should nail a coffin lid on the notion that impressive displays of God's power will guarantee faith. (Jesus would later say, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead," [Luke 16:31].) People who had everyday proof of God demonstrated only one thing: the monotonous consistency of human nature.
The offenders would pay for their acts by wandering 40 years in a desolate wilderness while a new, untainted generation grew up to replace them. But a pattern was beginning to emerge: If the Israelites failed God in the shadow of Mount Sinai, how would they possibly withstand the seduction of new cultures in the promised land? The next generation, too, would fail God, as would all their descendants. The old covenant, as Paul would so convincingly argue in the book of Galatians, succeeded mainly by proving undeniably the need for a new one.
Life Questions
Do you ever have doubts about God's existence? What would it take to completely convince you?
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NEVER SHAKEN

Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:2
In December 1999, a Muslim mob attacked the Doulos Bible School on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia. One of the main aims of this Bible School is to evangelize among the 30-million-strong Sundanese, the largest unreached people group in the world, who live in west Java. One student died and forty-four other students were wounded. About eighty percent of the buildings were destroyed. Domingus is a young student who was injured. He shares his personal story of the events that fatal evening:
That night I was asleep in bed so I didn't know what was happening. Suddenly a friend woke me up and shouted that we were being attacked. The building was already burning and I did not know where to run to. I knew if I ran to the main gate I would be killed. I ran to the back of the campus where my friend lived. I prayed “Lord, if I die, I know I will go to heaven.”
Suddenly the crowds arrived and they shouted to kill me. They grabbed me and blindfolded me. The Lord spoke to me “Don't be afraid, I will be with you.” They hit me with a big stick and I lost consciousness. I felt my spirit leave my body. Through a sequence of events I was brought to a place where people were singing and worshipping God. I saw a very bright light and I closed my eyes and bowed down. A voice said “Your time has not come yet; it is time to go back!”
I regained consciousness and realized where I was. I tried to look at my watch but I discovered my neck was very badly cut. I saw all the blood. I prayed that the Lord would send someone to take me to hospital. I thanked the Lord that I could be persecuted for the gospel and that through this I could meet Him.
When the police arrived they asked, “Where did you find this corpse?” They took me to hospital. I tried to open my eyes and I still saw the angels around me. The doctors said I would be paralyzed but as you can see I am not.
Upon the conclusion of his testimony, Domingus was asked the obvious question: “What now? They will come back to finish the job and kill you. What do you want to do with your life Domingus?” He replied with great conviction, “I just want to serve Jesus.”
RESPONSE: Today I reaffirm my faith in God as my only protector who does not allow me to be shaken.
PRAYER: Thank You Lord, that only in You can I find safety and protection. You have promised that You will always be with me.
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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