Thursday, May 03, 2012

Daily Devotional Thursday 3rd May

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"In the world ye shall have tribulation."
John 16:33
Art thou asking the reason of this, believer? Look upward to thy heavenly Father, and behold him pure and holy. Dost thou know that thou art one day to be like him? Wilt thou easily be conformed to his image? Wilt thou not require much refining in the furnace of affliction to purify thee? Will it be an easy thing to get rid of thy corruptions, and make thee perfect even as thy Father which is in heaven is perfect? Next, Christian, turn thine eye downward. Dost thou know what foes thou hast beneath thy feet? Thou wast once a servant of Satan, and no king will willingly lose his subjects. Dost thou think that Satan will let thee alone? No, he will be always at thee, for he "goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Expect trouble, therefore, Christian, when thou lookest beneath thee. Then look around thee. Where art thou? Thou art in an enemy's country, a stranger and a sojourner. The world is not thy friend. If it be, then thou art not God's friend, for he who is the friend of the world is the enemy of God. Be assured that thou shalt find foe-men everywhere. When thou sleepest, think that thou art resting on the battlefield; when thou walkest, suspect an ambush in every hedge. As mosquitoes are said to bite strangers more than natives, so will the trials of earth be sharpest to you. Lastly, look within thee, into thine own heart and observe what is there. Sin and self are still within. Ah! if thou hadst no devil to tempt thee, no enemies to fight thee, and no world to ensnare thee, thou wouldst still find in thyself evil enough to be a sore trouble to thee, for "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." Expect trouble then, but despond not on account of it, for God is with thee to help and to strengthen thee. He hath said, "I will be with thee in trouble; I will deliver thee and honour thee."

Evening

"A very present help."
Psalm 46:1
Covenant blessings are not meant to be looked at only, but to be appropriated. Even our Lord Jesus is given to us for our present use. Believer, thou dost not make use of Christ as thou oughtest to do. When thou art in trouble, why dost thou not tell him all thy grief? Has he not a sympathizing heart, and can he not comfort and relieve thee? No, thou art going about to all thy friends, save thy best Friend, and telling thy tale everywhere except into the bosom of thy Lord. Art thou burdened with this day's sins? Here is a fountain filled with blood: use it, saint, use it. Has a sense of guilt returned upon thee? The pardoning grace of Jesus may be proved again and again. Come to him at once for cleansing. Dost thou deplore thy weakness? He is thy strength: why not lean upon him? Dost thou feel naked? Come hither, soul; put on the robe of Jesus' righteousness. Stand not looking at it, but wear it. Strip off thine own righteousness, and thine own fears too: put on the fair white linen, for it was meant to wear. Dost thou feel thyself sick? Pull the night-bell of prayer, and call up the Beloved Physician! He will give the cordial that will revive thee. Thou art poor, but then thou hast "a kinsman, a mighty man of wealth." What! wilt thou not go to him, and ask him to give thee of his abundance, when he has given thee this promise, that thou shalt be joint heir with him, and has made over all that he is and all that he has to be thine? There is nothing Christ dislikes more than for his people to make a show-thing of him, and not to use him. He loves to be employed by us. The more burdens we put on his shoulders, the more precious will he be to us.
"Let us be simple with him, then,
Not backward, stiff, or cold,
As though our Bethlehem could be
What Sinai was of old."

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Today's reading: 1 Kings 12-13, Luke 22:1-30 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
Israel Rebels Against Rehoboam
    1 Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone there to make him king. 2 When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned from Egypt. 3 So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: 4 “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.”
   Rehoboam answered, “Go away for three days and then come back to me.” So the people went away.
   6 Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked.
   7 They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.”
   8 But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. 9 He asked them, “What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?”
   10 The young men who had grown up with him replied, “These people have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter.’ Now tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. 11 My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’”
   12 Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam, as the king had said, “Come back to me in three days.” 13 The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, 14 he followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.” 15 So the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the LORD, to fulfill the word the LORD had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite.
   16 When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king:
   “What share do we have in David, 
   what part in Jesse’s son? 
To your tents, Israel! 
   Look after your own house, David!”
   So the Israelites went home. 17 But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them.
   18 King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram, who was in charge of forced labor, but all Israel stoned him to death. King Rehoboam, however, managed to get into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.
   20 When all the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. Only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David.
   21 When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he mustered all Judah and the tribe of Benjamin—a hundred and eighty thousand able young men—to go to war against Israel and to regain the kingdom for Rehoboam son of Solomon.
   22 But this word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God:23 “Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, to all Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, 24 ‘This is what the LORD says: Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.’” So they obeyed the word of the LORD and went home again, as the LORD had ordered.
Golden Calves at Bethel and Dan
    25 Then Jeroboam fortified Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there. From there he went out and built up Peniel.
   26 Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. 27 If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.”
   28 After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” 29 One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. 30And this thing became a sin; the people came to worship the one at Bethel and went as far as Dan to worship the other.
   31 Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites. 32 He instituted a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the festival held in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. This he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made. And at Bethel he also installed priests at the high places he had made. 33 On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a month of his own choosing, he offered sacrifices on the altar he had built at Bethel. So he instituted the festival for the Israelites and went up to the altar to make offerings.

1 Kings 13

The Man of God From Judah
    1 By the word of the LORD a man of God came from Judah to Bethel, as Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make an offering. 2 By the word of the LORD he cried out against the altar: “Altar, altar! This is what the LORD says: ‘A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.’” 3 That same day the man of God gave a sign: “This is the sign the LORD has declared: The altar will be split apart and the ashes on it will be poured out.”
   4 When King Jeroboam heard what the man of God cried out against the altar at Bethel, he stretched out his hand from the altar and said, “Seize him!” But the hand he stretched out toward the man shriveled up, so that he could not pull it back. 5Also, the altar was split apart and its ashes poured out according to the sign given by the man of God by the word of the LORD.
   6 Then the king said to the man of God, “Intercede with the LORD your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored.” So the man of God interceded with the LORD, and the king’s hand was restored and became as it was before.
   7 The king said to the man of God, “Come home with me for a meal, and I will give you a gift.”
   8 But the man of God answered the king, “Even if you were to give me half your possessions, I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water here. 9 For I was commanded by the word of the LORD: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.’” 10 So he took another road and did not return by the way he had come to Bethel.
   11 Now there was a certain old prophet living in Bethel, whose sons came and told him all that the man of God had done there that day. They also told their father what he had said to the king. 12 Their father asked them, “Which way did he go?” And his sons showed him which road the man of God from Judah had taken. 13 So he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” And when they had saddled the donkey for him, he mounted it 14 and rode after the man of God. He found him sitting under an oak tree and asked, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?”
   “I am,” he replied.
   15 So the prophet said to him, “Come home with me and eat.”
   16 The man of God said, “I cannot turn back and go with you, nor can I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. 17 I have been told by the word of the LORD: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water there or return by the way you came.’”
   18 The old prophet answered, “I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD: ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.’” (But he was lying to him.) 19 So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank in his house.
   20 While they were sitting at the table, the word of the LORD came to the old prophet who had brought him back. 21 He cried out to the man of God who had come from Judah, “This is what the LORD says: ‘You have defied the word of the LORD and have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you. 22You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore your body will not be buried in the tomb of your ancestors.’”
   23 When the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the prophet who had brought him back saddled his donkey for him.24 As he went on his way, a lion met him on the road and killed him, and his body was left lying on the road, with both the donkey and the lion standing beside it. 25 Some people who passed by saw the body lying there, with the lion standing beside the body, and they went and reported it in the city where the old prophet lived.
   26 When the prophet who had brought him back from his journey heard of it, he said, “It is the man of God who defied the word of the LORD. The LORD has given him over to the lion, which has mauled him and killed him, as the word of the LORD had warned him.”
   27 The prophet said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me,” and they did so. 28 Then he went out and found the body lying on the road, with the donkey and the lion standing beside it. The lion had neither eaten the body nor mauled the donkey. 29So the prophet picked up the body of the man of God, laid it on the donkey, and brought it back to his own city to mourn for him and bury him. 30 Then he laid the body in his own tomb, and they mourned over him and said, “Alas, my brother!”
   31 After burying him, he said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in the grave where the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones. 32 For the message he declared by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel and against all the shrines on the high places in the towns of Samaria will certainly come true.”
   33 Even after this, Jeroboam did not change his evil ways, but once more appointed priests for the high places from all sorts of people. Anyone who wanted to become a priest he consecrated for the high places. 34 This was the sin of the house of Jeroboam that led to its downfall and to its destruction from the face of the earth.

Luke 22

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus
    1 Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, 2 and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. 3 Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. 4 And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. 5 They were delighted and agreed to give him money. 6 He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.
The Last Supper
    7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”
   9 “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.
   10 He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”
   13 They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
   14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
   17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
   19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
   20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. 21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” 23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.
   24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

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Jehoiakim [Jēhoi'a kĭm]—jehovah sets upThe name given by Pharaoh-nechohto Eliakim son of Josiah, king of Judah, whom he made king instead of Jehoahaz. His reign of eleven years is not favorably viewed by Jeremiah (2 Kings 23:34-3624:1-6191 Chron. 3:15162 Chron. 36:4-8Jer. 1:3;22:1824).

The Man Who Was a Frivolous Egotist

Jehoiakim lacked moral sense and religious appreciation and was a man after the mold of his grandfather Manasseh. He took no interest in the reforms for which his father had worked. With his approval many heathen practices of Manasseh’s reign were resumed.
The burning of the roll containing the sacred Word of God was the most remarkable scene in the history of this evil king who had no regard for God and no respect for the rights of others. He severely oppressed the people of Judah in order to maintain the pomp and extravagance of his court. Such a flagrant rejection of all that was godly and just brought Jeremiah out into the open, and he addressed the king in no uncertain terms. The king’s doom was predicted. At last he was put to death by Nebuchadnezzar, and his body was left to decay, unburied, beyond the gates of Jerusalem. When we come to the line of our Saviour’s ancestors there is a blank where a name should have been. “Josias,” so we read (Matt. 1:11), (not Jehoiakim) begat Jechonias. The name is gone—taken out of the book of generations.

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Grace for the Weary

Matthew 11:25-30 "No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him" ( v. 27).
The biblical view of man sees all people (except Christ) since Adam and Eve as born corrupt and therefore lacking in a desire to please God. No one is righteous (Rom. 3:9-18). In fact, this corruption exists from the moment of conception (Ps. 51:5), and we are happy to stay dead in sin and blind to the kingdom of heaven apart from God's grace ( John 3:1-8Rom. 6:17;9:14-16). What is remarkable about the opposition Jesus faces in Matthew 11 is not that some hate Him (vv. 16-24 ); rather, it is a miracle that He is embraced at all.
This is one of the many points of today's passage. In praising the Father for revealing salvation to His people, Christ Himself affirms God's sovereignty in redemption, which is a truth emphasized throughout Scripture. Only those whom the Father has chosen will place their faith in the Messiah (Rom. 9:1-13).
God has not chosen to save everyone, and Jesus also praises His Father for hiding salvation from those who love their own wisdom ( Matt. 11:25-26). Yet as the Westminster Confession of Faith 3.6-7 tells us, God's choice to leave some in their sin (reprobation) is not identical with His choice to save His people. Our Creator chooses to rescue many from their fallenness, others He passes by without extending His grace, thereby handing them over to perdition. The elect are saved from their deserved wrath; the reprobate are left to sin their way to damnation. John Calvin says, God in "drawing some, and passing by others... alone makes a distinction among men, whose condition by nature is alike."
Divine election by no means negates our responsibility to extend the Gospel to all people. Immediately after affirming divine election, Jesus calls all the burdened to rest in Him (vv. 27-30), knowing that those chosen for salvation all manifest their election by trusting the Son. Therefore, sinners are not to worry if election might prevent them from coming to Christ, for Jesus will never cast out anyone who leans on Him (John 6:37). Matthew Henry comments, "All those, and those only, are invited to rest in Christ, who are aware of sin as a burden, and groan under it; who are not only convinced of the evil of sin, of their own sin, but are contrite in soul for it; that are really sick of their sins."

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

John Calvin writes that Christ does not elect us and redeem us that we may sin freely. Instead, Christians are "raised up by his grace, [that] they may also take his yoke upon them, and that, being free in spirit, they may restrain the licentiousness of their flesh." We put on the light and easy yoke of Jesus' commandments when we trust Him, and we move from being slaves to sin to being slaves of Christ. You are His if you trust Jesus and endeavor to serve Him.
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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Grace for the Weary

John Calvin writes that Christ does not elect us and redeem us that we may sin freely. Instead, Christians are "raised up by his grace, [that] they may also take his yoke upon them, and that, being free in spirit, they may restrain the licentiousness of their flesh." We put on the light and easy yoke of Jesus' commandments when we trust Him, and we move from being slaves to sin to being slaves of Christ. You are His if you trust Jesus and endeavor to serve Him.
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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The power of prayer and the pleasure of praise

‘Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.’ 2 Corinthians 1:11
Suggested Further Reading: Acts 1:12–15
We cannot all preach; we cannot all rule; we cannot all give gold and silver, but we can all contribute our prayers. There is no convert, though he be only two or three days old in grace, who cannot pray. There is no bedridden sister in Jesus who cannot pray; there is no sick, aged, illiterate or penniless believer, who cannot add his supplications to the general stock. This is the church’s riches. We put boxes at the door that we may receive your offerings to God’s cause—remember there is a spiritual chest within the church, into which we should all drop our loving intercessions, as into the treasury of the Lord. Even the widow, without her two mites, can give her offering to this treasury. See, then, dear friends, what union and communion there are among the people of God, since there are certain mercies which are only bestowed when the saints unitedly pray. How we ought to feel this bond of union! How we ought to pray for one another! How, as often as the church meets together for supplication, should we all make it our bounden duty to be there! I would that some of you who are absent from the prayer meeting upon any little excuse would reflect how much you rob us all. The prayer meeting is an invaluable institution, ministering strength to all other meetings and agencies. Are there not many of you who might come among us a little oftener? And what if you lose a customer now and then, do you not think that this loss could be well made up to you by your gains on other days? Or if not so, would not the spiritual profit much more than counterbalance any little temporal loss? ‘Not forgetting the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is.’
For meditation: United congregational and group prayer is of vital importance (2 Chronicles 7:14Ezra 8:21–23Daniel 2:17–19Matthew 18:19–20Acts 1:14,242:1424:24,3112:5,12;1 Timothy 2:1). How much of a contribution do you make to the prayer meeting?
Sermon no. 507
3 May (1863)


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Lynn Cowell
May 2, 2012
The Faith of a Child
Lynn Cowell
"These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (NIV)
"You expect her to have the faith of a 44 year old when she's only 14!"
Ouch. My husband hit the nail on the head. I want our children to grasp hold of our faith, yet it is hard to know how to do this in a way they can receive. I often make the mistake of wanting our kids to understand and act on my faith like I do but, like my husband reminded me, they're only teenagers.
Life is busy and time seems short. I want to make the most of the precious moments I have as a mom, yet not preach every time I open my mouth.
So how can we pour truth into our children's hearts in a gentle flow and not like a fire hose? God's Word gives the answer: weave His truths into everyday life when sitting, walking, laying down and getting up. Any moment can become a teachable moment. Here are some ideas that work for me:
Share what God's doing in your own life
One of my favorite things to do is sit with my girls and listen about their day. Even better is when we catch up over a special treat. Last Friday we made it a milkshake from our favorite restaurant.
When I give my children my undivided attention to hear about their day, it opens a door to talk about mine. I try to specifically tell what God is doing in my life or teaching me. In this way, I'm not really teaching but sharing, which seems to go over well!
Read God's Word together
Each morning as my girls eat breakfast, I read to them from a daily devotional book. This works great since I have a captive audience!
Lead a small group with their friends
Every other Monday, Madi and five of her freshman girlfriends come over for a Bible study together. This is a wonderful way to teach my daughter and those in her life about Jesus' crazy love for them, as well as being in touch with the ins and outs of teen life.
"Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." God's wisdom is so perfect for us when it comes to investing His truth into our kid's lives. When sharing God's Word with our family, let's capture the everyday moments and look for creative ways to make each one a teachable one.
Dear Lord, open my eyes to see opportunities that are right before me each day to share Your truth. I want this overflow to become a natural part of my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
His Revolutionary Love by Lynn Cowell
Visit Lynn's blog for tips on making important conversations, natural conversations when it comes to sharing Jesus. She's giving away a signed copy of her book His Revolutionary Love as well as a gift card to take your special someone out for coffee!
Click here for your free leadership guide to His Revolutionary Love and well as other free resources. This group might be just the thing to put a smile on your face as well as your girl's.
Reflect and Respond:
What keeps you from sharing God's truth with your family more often? Fear of rejection? Fear you won't say the right thing?
You don't have to know everything in order to share one thing.
Power Verses:
1 Corinthians 16:13, "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong." (NIV)
Psalm 78:4, "We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done." (NIV, 1984)
© 2012 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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Regeneration

“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3
Suggested Further Reading: Luke 13:22-30
“Angels, principalities, and powers, would you be willing that men who love not God, who believe not in Christ, who have not been born again, should dwell here?” I see them, as they look down upon us, and hear them answering, “No! Once we fought the dragon, and expelled him, because he tempted us to sin! We must not, and we will not, have the wicked here. These alabaster walls must not be soiled with black and lustful fingers; the white pavement of heaven must not be stained and rendered filthy by the unholy feet of ungodly men. No!” I see a thousand spears bristling, and the fiery faces of a myriad seraphs thrust over the walls of paradise. “No, while these arms have strength, and these wings have power, no sin shall ever enter here.” I address myself moreover to the saints of heaven, redeemed by sovereign grace: “Children of God, are you willing that the wicked should enter heaven as they are, without being born again? You say you love men, but are you willing that they should be admitted as they are?” I see Lot rise up, and he cries, “Admit them into heaven! No! What! Must I be vexed by the conversation of Sodomites again, as once I was!” I see Abraham; and he comes forward, and he says, “No; I cannot have them here. I had enough of them whilst I was with them on earth—their jests and jeers, their silly talkings, their vain conversation, vexed and grieved us. We want them not here.” And, heavenly though they be, and loving as their spirits are, yet there is not a saint in heaven who would not resent, with the utmost indignation, the approach of any one of you to the gates of paradise, if you are still unholy, and have not been born again.
For meditationMatthew 13:41-43Luke 16:23-26 — at best the unsaved will have a distant view of heaven which will only add to their torment.
Sermon no. 130 
3 May (1857)

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May 2, 2012
Run!
Mary Southerland
Today's Truth
Don't turn off the road of goodness; keep away from evil paths (Proverbs 4:27, NCV).
Friend to Friend
At the close of the sermon, a church member came forward to speak with the pastor. He was very upset because of the sin in his life and his blatant disobedience to God. With tears streaming down his face, the repentant man took the pastor's hand to confess that his life was full of sin, but what came out was, "My sin is full of life." I can relate.
I don't know about you, but my sin is definitely "full of life." I am always amused but also saddened by people who think that just because I am in full time ministry, I am holier than they are, better than they are or don't have to battle sin like they do. Just ask my husband and children. They will blow that theory right out of the water. I'm just thankful our cats can't talk! The fact is, as long as I live in this fallen world and sport this frail humanity, I will wrestle with sin. 
However, I have refined several tactics for dealing with my sinful nature. Rationalization is one of my personal favorites. And there is always the handy comparison ploy – measuring my sin against the sin of another. At times, I subscribe to the popular "bury it and hope it will go away" tactic. The reality is that nothing satisfies the payment sin demands except the blood of Jesus Christ and my response to His sacrifice in true, unadulterated repentance - on my face before my Holy God. 
When we turn our lives over to God, He sets our feet on the right path. But to stay on that path requires a continual choice to run from sin. With our flawed choices, we take side trips, create detours and wind up on the wrong road headed in the wrong direction. Solomon warns us to stay away from evil paths. "Don't turn off the road of goodness; keep away from evil paths" (Proverbs 4:27 , NLT). "Keep away" literally means "to turn aside or drag from." In other words, when we see sin or even the opportunity to sin, we should turn around and run in the opposite direction. We should "drag ourselves" away from sin. What do we do instead? We flirt with sin. We want to be delivered from temptation but would really like to keep in touch. We pray for God to "lead us not into temptation" and then deliberately place ourselves in its path. In our arrogance, we think we can handle sin and the temptation to sin on our own. That very attitude is an open invitation for the enemy, daring him to take his best shot.   
My husband, Dan, was the pastor of Flamingo Road Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for many years. A man of great wisdom, Dan was adamant about the fact that neither he nor his staff should ever put themselves in a situation that flirted with sin or made it easier to sin. Solid wooden office doors were replaced with glass doors. No pastor was allowed to meet with a woman for any reason unless one of the other staff members was present. A staff counselor was hired to handle anyone needing more than one counseling session. The staff often went to lunch following their regular Tuesday morning staff meeting and even though the restaurant was literally across the street from the church, no man was allowed to ride alone with a woman. Sound ridiculous?  Seem absurd? Not at all! Dan simply refused to provide ammunition for the enemy. The bottom line is that it's foolish and dangerous to flirt with sin.
There is no holding pattern for believers nor can we live in a neutral state. We are either going forward or backward. We are either being renewed or consumed. Girlfriend, do not relinquish any more life territory to the enemy. Run from sin! 
Let's Pray
Father, forgive me for the sin in my life. Right now, I choose to turn away from that sin. I turn to You, Lord. I know that I am lost and totally helpless without You. Thank You for the unconditional love and unending forgiveness that I find in You. 
In Jesus' name,
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Read 1 Corinthians 10:13. "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it" (NIV).
Consider the following promises found in 1 Corinthians 10:13. What do they mean to you and how do they apply to your life?
  • No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.
  • God is faithful.
  • He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
  • He will provide a way out.
More from the Girlfriends
While it is true that we all face many temptations every single day, it is just as true that God will strengthen us to withstand each one. Need help? Mary's E-Book Bible Study, Winning the War with Temptation, offers five steps you can take to help you resist temptation and live a life of victory.
If you need help learning how to understand and apply the truths of God, enroll in Mary's weekly online Bible Study,Light for the Journey . Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.
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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At Issue - Security

What do you find security in? Your job? Your husband? Your investments and savings? Your family? Your own talents and beauty? God says that woe-which means anguish, affliction and misery-will come to those who put their trust in anything but the Holy One of Israel. Everything else will ultimately fail. When it does, both you and what you were relying on will come crashing to the ground. Only if your security is grounded in God will you avoid being smashed to pieces. He alone provides true security. Better to learn that lesson the easy way than from experience.
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The Problem with Laziness

Today's reading: Proverbs 24
Becoming a sluggard requires little effort
Proverbs 24:33 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest-and poverty will come on you like a thief.
The "sluggard" is lazier than a pig on vacation. His only exercise is turning on his bed; Proverbs says he is hinged to it. Any farfetched excuse-"There is a lion in the road!"-will keep him from going to work. Proverbs laughs at the sluggard a little, but uses him to teach serious lessons. You can be like him very easily, for it doesn't require much: "a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest." Putting things off, making excuses, sleeping in-who doesn't sometimes fall victim to these tendencies?
The result of such a life? Poverty, frustration, broken relationships. The sluggard still wants the luxuries hard work earns, but he never gets them. "The craving of a sluggard will be the death of him" (Proverbs 21:25).
Proverbs on laziness: Proverbs 6:6-1110:42612:2427;13:415:1919:152420:421:2522:13 24:30-3426:13-16.
Life Questions
What attributes of a sluggard do you recognize in yourself? Do you think of these as serious?
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SPIRITUAL WEAPONS

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:4
Helen Berhane was imprisoned for almost three years in the shipping container prisons in Eritrea. She shares how a Muslim man with epilepsy was also imprisoned. She says in her testimonial book titledSong of the Nightingale:
I noticed that he wore two charms on his belt. I pointed at them, “Where did you get those charms from?” “I saw a witch doctor, before I was arrested, about my fits. He said that they would make me better, but I should never take them off.” “Jemal,” I said, ‘those charms cannot heal you. Only prayer to God can do that.”
As I spoke he began to have a fit, and so I prayed for him. I did this often until, miraculously, he agreed to take the charms off. I took them away and burnt them, but whatever was in them smelled awful, and the guards demanded to know what I had been doing, which gave me the opportunity to explain to them that only prayer can heal a person, not charms from a witch doctor.
Jemal’s health improved and his fits became less frequent. I was delighted but he was worried.
“Helen, if they know that I am feeling better they will keep me here, and I want to be released.”
“If you continue to trust in God, no one can keep you from going home, not if God wills that you should be released.” I was very pleased when he was released shortly afterwards.[1]
RESPONSE: Today I will live in the awareness that the spiritual battle rages all around me and I can be used to counter Satan’s bondage over people.
PRAYER: Lord, you have given me the spiritual weapons with which to demolish the strongholds of the spiritual battle that I find myself against today. Help me not to depend on the weapons of the world.
1. Berhane, p. 31.
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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