Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Daily Devotional Tuesday 1st May

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15 NIV
===
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers."
Song of Solomon 5:13
Lo, the flowery month is come! March winds and April showers have done their work, and the earth is all bedecked with beauty. Come my soul, put on thine holiday attire and go forth to gather garlands of heavenly thoughts. Thou knowest whither to betake thyself, for to thee "the beds of spices" are well known, and thou hast so often smelt the perfume of "the sweet flowers," that thou wilt go at once to thy well-beloved and find all loveliness, all joy in him. That cheek once so rudely smitten with a rod, oft bedewed with tears of sympathy and then defiled with spittle--that cheek as it smiles with mercy is as fragrant aromatic to my heart. Thou didst not hide thy face from shame and spitting, O Lord Jesus, and therefore I will find my dearest delight in praising thee. Those cheeks were furrowed by the plough of grief, and crimsoned with red lines of blood from thy thorn-crowned temples; such marks of love unbounded cannot but charm my soul far more than "pillars of perfume." If I may not see the whole of his face I would behold his cheeks, for the least glimpse of him is exceedingly refreshing to my spiritual sense and yields a variety of delights. In Jesus I find not only fragrance, but a bed of spices; not one flower, but all manner of sweet flowers. He is to me my rose and my lily, my heartsease and my cluster of camphire. When he is with me it is May all the year round, and my soul goes forth to wash her happy face in the morning-dew of his grace, and to solace herself with the singing of the birds of his promises. Precious Lord Jesus, let me in very deed know the blessedness which dwells in abiding, unbroken fellowship with thee. I am a poor worthless one, whose cheek thou hast deigned to kiss! O let me kiss thee in return with the kisses of my lips.

Evening

"I am the rose of Sharon."
Song of Solomon 2:1
Whatever there may be of beauty in the material world, Jesus Christ possesses all that in the spiritual world in a tenfold degree. Amongst flowers the rose is deemed the sweetest, but Jesus is infinitely more beautiful in the garden of the soul than the rose can be in the gardens of earth. He takes the first place as the fairest among ten thousand. He is the sun, and all others are the stars; the heavens and the day are dark in comparison with him, for the King in his beauty transcends all. "I am the rose of Sharon." This was the best and rarest of roses. Jesus is not "the rose" alone, he is "the rose of Sharon," just as he calls his righteousness "gold," and then adds, "the gold of Ophir"--the best of the best. He is positively lovely, and superlatively the loveliest. There is variety in his charms. The rose is delightful to the eye, and its scent is pleasant and refreshing; so each of the senses of the soul, whether it be the taste or feeling, the hearing, the sight, or the spiritual smell, finds appropriate gratification in Jesus. Even the recollection of his love is sweet. Take the rose of Sharon, and pull it leaf from leaf, and lay by the leaves in the jar of memory, and you shall find each leaf fragrant long afterwards, filling the house with perfume. Christ satisfies the highest taste of the most educated spirit to the very full. The greatest amateur in perfumes is quite satisfied with the rose: and when the soul has arrived at her highest pitch of true taste, she shall still be content with Christ, nay, she shall be the better able to appreciate him. Heaven itself possesses nothing which excels the rose of Sharon. What emblem can fully set forth his beauty? Human speech and earth-born things fail to tell of him. Earth's choicest charms commingled, feebly picture his abounding preciousness. Blessed rose, bloom in my heart forever!

===

Today's reading: 1 Kings 8-9, Luke 21:1-19 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
The Ark Brought to the Temple
    1 Then King Solomon summoned into his presence at Jerusalem the elders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes and the chiefs of the Israelite families, to bring up the ark of the LORD’s covenant from Zion, the City of David. 2 All the Israelites came together to King Solomon at the time of the festival in the month of Ethanim, the seventh month.
   3 When all the elders of Israel had arrived, the priests took up the ark, 4 and they brought up the ark of the LORD and the tent of meeting and all the sacred furnishings in it. The priests and Levites carried them up, 5 and King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered about him were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted.
   6 The priests then brought the ark of the LORD’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. 7 The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and overshadowed the ark and its carrying poles. 8 These poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the Holy Place in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. 9 There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt.
   10 When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. 11 And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.
   12 Then Solomon said, “The LORD has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; 13 I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever.”
   14 While the whole assembly of Israel was standing there, the king turned around and blessed them. 15 Then he said:
   “Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who with his own hand has fulfilled what he promised with his own mouth to my father David. For he said, 16 ‘Since the day I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city in any tribe of Israel to have a temple built so that my Name might be there, but I have chosen David to rule my people Israel.’
   17 “My father David had it in his heart to build a temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 18 But the LORD said to my father David, ‘You did well to have it in your heart to build a temple for my Name. 19 Nevertheless, you are not the one to build the temple, but your son, your own flesh and blood—he is the one who will build the temple for my Name.’
   20 “The LORD has kept the promise he made: I have succeeded David my father and now I sit on the throne of Israel, just as the LORD promised, and I have built the temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 21 I have provided a place there for the ark, in which is the covenant of the LORD that he made with our ancestors when he brought them out of Egypt.”
Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication
    22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven 23 and said:
   “LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. 24You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today.
   25 “Now LORD, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me faithfully as you have done.’ 26 And now, God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true.
   27 “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 28 Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. 29 May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 30 Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.
   31 “When anyone wrongs their neighbor and is required to take an oath and they come and swear the oath before your altar in this temple, 32 then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty by bringing down on their heads what they have done, and vindicating the innocent by treating them in accordance with their innocence.
   33 “When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and give praise to your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple, 34 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to their ancestors.
   35 “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and give praise to your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, 36 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance.
   37 “When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, 38 and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel—being aware of the afflictions of their own hearts, and spreading out their hands toward this temple— 39then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart), 40 so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors.
   41 “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name— 42 for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, 43 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.
   44 “When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to the LORD toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name, 45 then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.
   46 “When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to their enemies, who take them captive to their own lands, far away or near; 47 and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly’; 48 and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; 49 then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. 50 And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their captors to show them mercy; 51 for they are your people and your inheritance, whom you brought out of Egypt, out of that iron-smelting furnace.
   52 “May your eyes be open to your servant’s plea and to the plea of your people Israel, and may you listen to them whenever they cry out to you. 53 For you singled them out from all the nations of the world to be your own inheritance, just as you declared through your servant Moses when you, Sovereign LORD, brought our ancestors out of Egypt.”
   54 When Solomon had finished all these prayers and supplications to the LORD, he rose from before the altar of the LORD, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out toward heaven. 55 He stood and blessed the whole assembly of Israel in a loud voice, saying:
   56 “Praise be to the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses. 57 May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us nor forsake us. 58 May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in obedience to him and keep the commands, decrees and laws he gave our ancestors. 59 And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, 60 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other. 61 And may your hearts be fully committed to the LORD our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.”
The Dedication of the Temple
    62 Then the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifices before the LORD. 63 Solomon offered a sacrifice of fellowship offerings to the LORD: twenty-two thousand cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. So the king and all the Israelites dedicated the temple of the LORD.
   64 On that same day the king consecrated the middle part of the courtyard in front of the temple of the LORD, and there he offered burnt offerings, grain offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings, because the bronze altar that stood before the LORD was too small to hold the burnt offerings, the grain offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings.
   65 So Solomon observed the festival at that time, and all Israel with him—a vast assembly, people from Lebo Hamath to the Wadi of Egypt. They celebrated it before the LORD our God for seven days and seven days more, fourteen days in all. 66On the following day he sent the people away. They blessed the king and then went home, joyful and glad in heart for all the good things the LORD had done for his servant David and his people Israel.

1 Kings 9

The LORD Appears to Solomon
    1 When Solomon had finished building the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do, 2 the LORD appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon. 3 The LORD said to him:
   “I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.
   4 “As for you, if you walk before me faithfully with integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, 5 I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’
   6 “But if you or your descendants turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 7 then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. 8This temple will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by will be appalled and will scoff and say, ‘Why has the LORD done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ 9 People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the LORD their God, who brought their ancestors out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why the LORD brought all this disaster on them.’”
Solomon’s Other Activities
    10 At the end of twenty years, during which Solomon built these two buildings—the temple of the LORD and the royal palace— 11 King Solomon gave twenty towns in Galilee to Hiram king of Tyre, because Hiram had supplied him with all the cedar and juniper and gold he wanted. 12 But when Hiram went from Tyre to see the towns that Solomon had given him, he was not pleased with them. 13 “What kind of towns are these you have given me, my brother?” he asked. And he called them the Land of Kabul, a name they have to this day. 14 Now Hiram had sent to the king 120 talents of gold.
   15 Here is the account of the forced labor King Solomon conscripted to build the LORD’s temple, his own palace, the terraces, the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer. 16 (Pharaoh king of Egypt had attacked and captured Gezer. He had set it on fire. He killed its Canaanite inhabitants and then gave it as a wedding gift to his daughter, Solomon’s wife. 17 And Solomon rebuilt Gezer.) He built up Lower Beth Horon, 18 Baalath, and Tadmor in the desert, within his land, 19as well as all his store cities and the towns for his chariots and for his horses—whatever he desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon and throughout all the territory he ruled.
   20 There were still people left from the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites (these peoples were not Israelites). 21 Solomon conscripted the descendants of all these peoples remaining in the land—whom the Israelites could not exterminate—to serve as slave labor, as it is to this day. 22But Solomon did not make slaves of any of the Israelites; they were his fighting men, his government officials, his officers, his captains, and the commanders of his chariots and charioteers.23 They were also the chief officials in charge of Solomon’s projects—550 officials supervising those who did the work.
   24 After Pharaoh’s daughter had come up from the City of David to the palace Solomon had built for her, he constructed the terraces.
   25 Three times a year Solomon sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings on the altar he had built for the LORD, burning incense before the LORD along with them, and so fulfilled the temple obligations.
   26 King Solomon also built ships at Ezion Geber, which is near Elath in Edom, on the shore of the Red Sea. 27 And Hiram sent his men—sailors who knew the sea—to serve in the fleet with Solomon’s men. 28 They sailed to Ophir and brought back 420 talents of gold, which they delivered to King Solomon.

Luke 21

The Widow’s Offering
    1 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times
    5 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6 “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”
   7 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”
   8 He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
   10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
   12 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 And so you will bear testimony to me.14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life.

===

Tamar

A few of the proper names in the Bible are associated with trees and flowers (Susanna—“white lily”), and it would prove a profitable exercise to group these names together. Tamar, used of three females, which means, “a palm tree,” is one such name. Abiathar, a compound of Tamar, signifies “a palm-island” or “like a palm.” As the palm tree is the most valuable of Eastern trees, the ideas of beauty and wealth are combined in such names. It is very rare, however, to come across a modern female with the name of Tamar, in spite of its rich significance.

===

Judah, Juda, Joda [Jū'dah]—object of praise or praise of the lordThe fourth son of Jacob by Leah, and founder of a tribal family (Gen. 29:35Num. 26:19-211 Chron. 2:3-6).

The Man Who Was Praised

The character of Judah is revealed in his confession of sin before Joseph (Gen. 44:18-34). This appeal has been described as “One of the noblest pieces of natural eloquence in any literature, sacred or profane.” In the last words of Jacob much is said of Judah (Gen. 49:8 ). We have:
I. His praise. “Thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise.” The origin of his name is to be found in the gratitude of his mother at the time of his birth (Gen. 29:35). A still more distinguished mother praised the Lord for a greater Son who came from the tribe of Judah (Luke 1:4647).
II. His conquests. “Thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies.” Here we have the prophecy of a conqueror, the anticipation of the figure of the lion, which was emblazoned on the flag of Judah, and was symbolic of the strength of the tribe in battle. Judah was the first tribe called to fight the Canaanites after Joshua’s death (Judg. 1:1 2)—a battle ending in victory for Judah. See also Psalm 18:40.
III. His pre-eminence. “Thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.” The superiority of the tribe of Judah continued almost to the end of the Old Testament and passed on to Him who has the pre-eminence in all things. Judah was first in numbers, first in territory, first in marching order, first in prowess, first in war.
IV. His regal dignity. The lion-king of the forest became the symbol of Judah, as the king of the tribes (Num. 2:34 ). “A lion’s whelp,” speaks of the first energy of youth, and the early days of Judah were full of vigor and energy. How prophetic all this is of Him who came as the Lion of the tribe of Judah! The old divines said that Christ was a lamb in His death, but a lion in His resurrection. How different is His prowess from the deadly power of him who is a roaring lion!
2. An ancestor of Kadmiel who helped to rebuild the Temple (Ezra 3:9).
3. A Levite who had taken a strange wife ( Ezra 10:23).
4. A Benjamite, son of Senuah, second in authority over Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s day (Neh. 11:9).
5. A Levite who returned from exile with Zerubbabel (Neh. 12:8).
6. A prince of Judah (Neh. 12:34).
7. A priest and musician (Neh. 12:36).

===

GiG Banner 2012 Big
April 30, 2012
What Did You Say?
Mary Southerland
Today's Truth
"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver" (Proverbs 25:11).
Friend to Friend
Fruit is one of my favorite foods. When I go grocery shopping, it always takes me longer to get through the fruit section than any other area of the store.I spend what some might consider a ridiculously long time picking out what I hope will be the juiciest apples, the plumpest grapes and sweetest bananas. Experience has taught me to quickly discard any piece of fruit that is bruised, mushy or discolored. I shake cantaloupe and thump watermelons. Ripe strawberries have a unique sweet scent and only the reddest cherries will do. Plums and tomatoes must be firm to the touch, bright in color and wrinkle-free while the more wrinkles the better when it comes to choosing passion fruit. 

On a recent trip to the grocery store, I was carefully making my fruit selections when the thought occurred to me that I spend more time choosing fruit than I spend choosing my words.
Words are power tools that can build and encourage. Words can also destroy and cause confusion. We have all been hurt and even defeated by words spoken in anger or words rising out of a wounded and bitter heart. I have been guilty of speaking damaging words with the ulterior motive of flaunting power or demonstrating control. It is so easy for my mouth to be in motion before my mind is in gear, and the result is rarely good or godly.
The words we speak can clarify or complicate a situation. I have watched my husband diffuse an emotional bomb and avoid a potentially explosive situation with a few carefully chosen and quietly spoken words of wisdom. I have also observed him in the art of confrontation – and with Dan, it really is an art. In fact, one person told me that he was halfway home before he realized that Dan had just confronted and corrected him.
Solomon offers great wisdom concerning the use of words, "Whoever controls his mouth protects his own life. Whoever has a big mouth comes to ruin" (Proverbs 13:3 GWT). If we do not learn to use and control our tongue, it will use and control us. While it is true that we need to choose our words carefully, it is just as true that the tongue is a spiritual thermometer that reflects the condition of the heart.
I am not a good patient and tend to think that most medical rules apply to everyone else in my life – but not to me. After all, I am a woman and I am a Southerland. According to my husband, it doesn't get much tougher than that. Several years ago, I was slammed with a high fever and blinding headache that sent me to bed for days, something highly unusual for me. I called my doctor. When he heard my symptoms, he told me to come in immediately and even though his waiting room was full, he would make room for me in his already crowded schedule. His urgency was not encouraging.
The minute I walked in his office, the receptionist waved me back to the patient area where a nurse promptly escorted me to an examination room, hurriedly recorded my symptoms, took my temperature, glanced briefly at my throat and quickly left the room. Minutes later, the doctor and a nurse walked in and stood on the opposite side of the room, almost smiling at me. At this point, I realized that whatever I had was evidently highly contagious and probably fatal. I felt so awful that the latter was definitely appealing.
"Mary, I am almost certain you have viral meningitis," the doctor said. Seeing the blank look on my face, he explained, "Your abnormally high fever of 104 and severe headache are classic symptoms of meningitis, but we need to run some tests to verify my suspicions. Oh, and by the way, how long have you had the solid white coating on your tongue?" I was stunned! What coating? Why is the color of my tongue even important in determining my illness? The doctor continued, "The health of the tongue is a very strong indicator of the health of the entire body."
The same is true when it comes to the words we speak. "The mouth speaks the things that are in the heart. Good people have good things in their hearts, and so they say good things. But evil people have evil in their hearts, so they say evil things" (Matthew 12:34-35, NCV). If my words are boastful, my heart is insecure. If my words are filthy, my heart is impure and if my words are critical, my heart is filled with pride and anger. In other words, the problem is not really my mouth, it's my heart. The words I speak reflect the true condition of my heart.
Careless words can cause such grief. Unless strained through discipline and holiness, words can convey false perspectives and untruths. However, the right word, spoken at the right time and in the right way can bring order in the midst of confusion and light on a very dark path. I believe God gives us spiritual "radar" so we can assess a situation and speak the right word for that circumstance. We just need to check the "radar screen" before we speak.
Let's Pray
Father, I can be so careless with the words I speak. Forgive me. Please help me learn how to control my tongue. Create in me a clean heart, God, so that I can speak words filled with grace and love. 
In Jesus' name, 
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Read Colossians 4:6. "Let your conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right answer for everyone."
How would you describe words that are "gracious?" 
How can our words be "effective" in the lives of others? 
What do you think Paul means when he says that we can have the "right answer for everyone?"
More from the Girlfriends
The subject of taming the tongue is a hard one. Since communication is a gift from God, He has a plan for the right way to use it. My problem is that I tend to think my plan is better. I know. I can be arrogant … and stubborn. Someone recently sent me this prayer: "Lord, keep Your arm around my shoulder and Your hand over my mouth." Amen!
Stressed out? Mary's book, Escaping the Stress Trap is based on Psalm 23 and will help you learn how to control the stress in your life instead of allowing stress to control you. Check it out!
Need a good laugh? Mary's MP3, Laugh More – Live Better, is a refreshing message filled with humor and Biblical principles that will help you learn how to celebrate life. (Also available as CD)
Need something for your pain? Enroll in Mary's weekly online Bible Study, How to Handle Hurt and learn how to face and deal with the pain in your life.
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

info@girlfriendsingod.com
www.girlfriendsingod.com

===

LeadershipBible-Header-550

Skills: Double-loop Learning

Organizational life is becoming more and more complicated as technology has increased our speed of operation. The mountains of data can overwhelm the decision maker and problem solver. A recent emphasis in leadership, popularized by Peter Senge in the Fifth Discipline, is "the learning organization." His basic point is that if we aren't learning, we are on the fast track to extinction.
But double-loop learning asks, "learning what?" Jesus modeled an essential discipline of effective leadership. We have the luxury of learning from it because John recorded the event in John 21. Peter had failed Jesus miserably. Overwhelmed by intense pressure, he had abandoned his mentor and friend in the moment Jesus most needed his friendship and support. How humiliated and degraded Peter must have felt. But John was careful to record the amazing story of how Jesus reconstructed Peter.
Notice carefully how Jesus proceeded. He could have delivered a lecture on commitment. He didn't. He could have drawn a diagram on dedication. He didn't. Jesus didn't address Peter's behavior at all; he knew he didn't have to. Rather, Jesus penetrated to the heart of the problem and of the man who had the problem. He realized that good behavior grows out of a good heart (conversely . . . well, you get the picture). Jesus practiced what Chris Argyris calls "double-loop learning". Three times Jesus forced Peter to examine the root cause of his problem. While Peter's behavioral problem was important, Jesus knew that a change wouldn't last unless the root of the behavior was addressed.
As a leader who is committed to God's best for your followers, learn well the lesson of double-loop learning. First time around the loop-behavior. Second time around the loop-values and attitudes that drive behavior. Great leaders don't stop after one lap around the loop.
Double-loop Learning and Who God Is
We think we know more than we do. We often use words like time, energy, spirit and God, but we would probably be hard-pressed to define specifically what we mean by these terms. Similarly, the existence and nature of the uncreated being we call God would be utterly beyond our imaginations had he not chosen to reveal himself to us. Turn to Isaiah 55:6-11 to consider what it means to learn from God and to respond in appropriate ways.
This Week's Verse to Memorize PROVERBS 9:8-10

Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."
Double-loop Learning and Who I Am
All of us can relate to the painful truth of George Santayana's observation that "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Failure to learn lessons from the past is only part of the problem; we also struggle with responding in timely and appropriate ways to current situations. Turn to 1 Samuel 13:1-22; 15:1-35 to examine two instances of King Saul's failure to respond correctly to the truth he had received from God's messenger.
Double-loop Learning and How It Works
It's tough to teach new behaviors. Yet leadership requires change and growth to achieve new and better systems and results. But sustaining the change is often tougher than initiating it. Jesus and Peter teach us how double-loop learning-learning new behavior and attitudes that sustain new behavior-works. Turn to today's study in the book of 1 Peter for an exercise in the mechanics of double-loop learning.
Functional Development Double-loop Learning
Solomon made it clear that wise men learn what they need to know. Chris Argyris helps leaders understand the meaning and importance of "double-loop learning." Turn to Proverbs 9:7-9 for today's study.

jesusexperimentpaddedhandbookleadership150Handbook to Leadership: Leadership in the Image of God
by Kenneth Boa 
Buy the Handbook!
The Handbook to Leadership includes: 52-Week Leadership Guide, Topical Leadership Guide, Leadership Character Studies, and Books of the Bible Leadership Guide.


===

TT_Coramdeo_ttlogo

An Obstinate Generation

Matthew Henry asks, "If people will neither be awakened by the greatest things, nor allured by the sweetest things, nor startled by the most terrible things, nor be made aware by the plainest of things; if they will listen to the voice neither of Scripture, nor reason, nor experience, nor providence, nor conscience, nor interest, what more can be done?" There are none so blind as those who will not see. Are you like those who refuse to heed our Lord's call?
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. 

===
TT_devotionswithrc_ttlogo

An Obstinate Generation

Matthew 11:16-19 "To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates" ( v. 16).
Jesus finishes His teaching on Elijah and John the Baptist with the enigmatic statement, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear" (Matt. 11:15 ). This saying presupposes the biblical view of human depravity, revealing that human beings need more than ears to hear - to receive, understand, and act upon - divine revelation. It is not as if those who oppose Christ's message cannot hear spoken syllables and sounds with their ears. Instead, the hurdle that prevents sinful humanity from receiving and embracing the Lord's message is a moral one. Apart from God's sovereign grace, His enemies do not want to believe His promises or follow His agenda (Ex. 7:13Matt. 23:37-39Rom. 1:18-32).
Christ makes this point forcefully in today's passage, assessing the hearts of His contemporaries using a back-and-forth exchange between two different groups of children. Some kids complain that the other group does not dance to the tune of a flute; the other group complains that their dirge does not make the first crowd of children lament ( Matt. 11:16-17). The kids represent those set against the Father. On the one hand, they did not join in when John came in the wilderness living an austere life and exhorting Israel to repentance (3:4-6). Yet this same group does not rejoice when Jesus preaches about the inauguration of God's kingdom (4:179:32-34). In other words, there is nothing that the Lord's messengers can do to make those who hate Him happy. Whether the message is joyful or sad, the Father's opponents will find an excuse to deny it (11:18-19). Their hearts are hardened, and their failure to embrace the Almighty's word to their generation is the fault of neither Jesus nor John.
As one commentator has noted, many of those living during the ministry of Jesus are like children who pout and whine when others will not play their game. They are hypocrites who will always find a reason to complain when God's Word offends their ears. Without seeing the inconsistencies of their view, they reject both lamentation and celebration. But in attributing sin to John and Jesus and not themselves, they show themselves to be fools. For the miraculous works of Jesus show that the unbeliever's estimation is patently false (11:19b).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Matthew Henry asks, "If people will neither be awakened by the greatest things, nor allured by the sweetest things, nor startled by the most terrible things, nor be made aware by the plainest of things; if they will listen to the voice neither of Scripture, nor reason, nor experience, nor providence, nor conscience, nor interest, what more can be done?" There are none so blind as those who will not see. Are you like those who refuse to heed our Lord's call?
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. 

===

Spurgeon-MetropolitanTabernacle-Header-1

Labour in vain

‘Jonah said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not.’ Jonah 1:12–13
Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 12:38–42
Jesus came down into this ship of our common humanity to deliver it from tempest. The vessel had been tossed about on all sides by the waves of divine wrath. Men had been tugging and toiling at the oar; year after year philosopher and teacher had been seeking to establish peace with God; victims had been offered and rivers of blood had flowed, and even the first-born of man’s body had been offered up; but the deep was still tempestuous. But Jesus came, and they took him and cast him overboard. Out of the city they dragged him; ‘Away with him, away with him, it is not fit that he should live.’ As he, Jesus dies, there is a calm. Deep was the peace which fell upon the earth that dreadful day; and joyous is that calm which yet shall come as the result of the casting out of that representative man who ‘suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.’ Brethren I wish I had suitable words with which I could fitly describe the peace which comes to a human heart when we learn to see Jesus cast into the sea of divine wrath on our account. Conscience accuses no longer. Judgment now decides for the sinner instead of against him. Memory can look back upon past sins, with sorrow for the sin it is true, but yet with no dread of any penalty to come. It is a blessed thing for a man to know that he cannot be punished, that heaven and earth may shake, but he cannot be punished for his sin.
For meditation: Jonah was a type of Christ. He was sent by God (Jonah 1:1–21 John 4:10); sacrificed as God’s gift to save the perishing (Jonah 1:6,11–15John 3:16); swallowed and buried (Jonah 1:171 Corinthians 15:4a); surfacing again (Jonah 2:101 Corinthians 15:4b); successful ( Jonah 3:5,10;Luke 24:46–47). At every point ‘a greater than Jonas is here’ (Matthew 12:41).
Sermon no. 567
1 May (1864)

===

Inside Out

Like many women each morning, perhaps you wake up, pour yourself a cup of caffeine, take a shower and then get ready to meet the world. You pick out an outfit (preferably one that makes you look five to ten pounds lighter), do your hair and put on makeup. Finally, you add jewelry, a belt and maybe a purse. Voilá! You're ready to meet the day.
The care involved in our routines begs the question: How much time do we spend getting ready spiritually each morning? Do we take any time at all to ask God to guide us during our day? Do we read the Scriptures, meditate or pray so that we can be more patient, kind and loving with our spouse and children? Or do we worry more about getting out the door than about the condition of our hearts?
Caring for our outward appearance is not wrong . . . as long as we don't neglect focusing on our inner thoughts and attitudes too. The prophet Jeremiah noted that women are unlikely to forget their accessories, but God's people are prone to forget him. If we're honest, we'll admit that we are much like the Israelites. In the midst of our busy lives, God often gets pushed to the bottom of our to-do lists. But spiritual growth happens from the inside out.
Try this: Tomorrow as you shower, praise God for the cleansing that Jesus' forgiveness provides. As you're getting dressed, thank God for clothing you with Christ's righteousness. When you put on your moisturizer, ask God to soften your heart to his leading throughout the day. As you apply your makeup, thank him for being the foundation of your life. When you put in your contacts, ask God to give you eyes to see his workings in the world. And as you put on your earrings, thank him for beautifying your life with the fruits of the Spirit.
Who knows? After talking to God throughout the morning, you might not even need caffeine!

Reflection

  1. What "enemies of the soul" (busyness, etc.) cause you to sometimes forget to take time with God?
  2. How much time do you spend daily in prayer and Bible study, preparing your heart for the day?
  3. What are some ways you can become more balanced in your life?
Jeremiah 2:32
"Does a young woman forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments? Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number."

Related Readings

NIVSocialicons

===
Win free classes! Offer ends today! Enroll today, April 30th, and you could win free classes for a year! See below!
Considering going back to school? Why not try to win Free Classes for the year at Liberty University Online? Register by April 30th and be entered for a chance to win. Liberty University Online's flexible and affordable online degree programs mean you can earn your degree where and when you want.Click here to learn more about winning free classes - Don't miss out!


===

NIV Devotions for Moms

Neighbor Needs

Additional Scripture Readings: Proverbs 14:21; Romans 15:2
Eight times in the New Testament we're commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves. But how do we love people we don't even know? We can begin by looking for places where our lives overlap, touching them there. Even though we may not really know them, we have something in common with our neighbors. We share common needs.
"How can we have the same needs?" you ask. "She's so different! I have a day-care center in my home. She doesn't have children. They mow their lawn every Friday. We mow ours when it needs it. She sleeps in on the weekend. I go to church."
Ah, but how about her deeper needs? She needs friendship, just like we do. She needs meaning in her life, just like we do. She needs healing from the bruises of life, just like we do.
She seems so different, unreachable, hard to understand. But it's really very simple. We begin to love our neighbor as ourselves by touching the ground we share in common: our needs. And many of hers are the same as ours.
NIVSocialicons
===

SSTS_Devotional_header

GOD USES PROBLEMS AND PERSECUTION TO PERFECT YOU

"We can rejoice when we run into problems...they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady.” Romans 5:3-4 LB
Here is the final of five ways God uses problems and persecution in your life: God uses problems and persecution to PERFECT you.
Problems, when responded to correctly, are character builders. God is far more interested in your character than your comfort. Your relationship to God and your character are the only two things you are going to take with you into eternity.
Christian singer, Helen Berhane, wrote a song of victory while in the terrible conditions of an Eritrean shipping container cell for almost three years:
Christianity costs you your life
But at the end, its outcome is victory
The beating of the Hebrews with the whip was awful
The waves of the sea and the mighty wind
Crushed by the stone, suffering by day and night;
Paul’s faithfulness was tested by a sword.
Christianity costs you your life
But at the end, its outcome is victory
The journey of Ruth was a hope where there was no hope;
A sacrifice was paid even for a despised tribe.
Although there was nothing promised for Ruth
By faith she made her way toward Nazareth
And she entered into Jesus’ genealogy.
Christianity costs you your life
But at the end, its outcome is victory[1]
RESPONSE: God is at work in my life—even when I do not recognize it or understand it. It is much easier and more profitable when I cooperate with Him. This is the way to victory!
PRAYER: Thanks be to God who gives us the victory!
1. Ibid, p.106.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

BGiOS-300x250-2
twitter-sstts facebook_small_email
Join us on Facebook
and follow us on Twitter for
real-time persecution updates

===
P31Header
Amy Carroll
April 30, 2012
A New Way to Process Conflict
Amy Carroll
"When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly." Proverbs 31:26 (MSG)
It was like we were speaking two different languages. Even though my friend and I were both talking in English, we couldn't seem to understand each other. I started the conversation with the assumption we would see things the same way, but emotions rose, opinions conflicted, and wounds were inflicted. How did we get here?
After a little cooling-off period, I called a wise, truth-telling friend. I told her the basic outline of the conversation, trying to keep it neutral. Finally I asked, "What do you think went wrong?" She astutely turned the question back to me. "What could you have done differently?"
Honestly, at first, I couldn't think of one thing. After all, I was convinced this conflict wasn't my fault! But after some reflection, God began to soften my heart and show me some big mistakes I made.
I called my friend during an extremely busy time in her life with a suggestion that would add to her overloaded schedule. Instead of being sensitive, I pushed and pushed my own agenda. As our emotions escalated, my defensiveness increased, making my responses sharp and prickly.
My wise friend who I had called for advice gently prodded, "How could you have listened more carefully? Would truly listening have made you more compassionate? How could you have responded with more grace?"
For the rest of the afternoon, God etched a new way of interacting in hard situations on my heart. This is the truth He carved: Listen with compassion. Speak with grace.
Listen with Compassion
Years ago, my pastor shared an invaluable method for re-adjusting his attitude when dealing with conflict. He asks, "Is this behavior consistent with the person's general character?"
Wow! If I had applied that question in the conversation with my friend, I would have remembered her kindness, her servant heart and her calm nature. Then I might have wondered what was changing her normal response. I could have been compassionate toward her and the stress she was under. I would've listened with a heart to serve her, instead of insisting on my own way.
At its core, listening with compassion is simply obeying the biblical commands to die to ourselves (John 12:24-25) and to consider others more highly than ourselves (Philippians 2:3).
Speak with Grace
Proverbs 15:1 says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (NIV). There is no downside to a gentle, grace-filled answer. I'm embarrassed to admit that I've often viewed responding this way as losing or giving in. That's simply not true. Needed truths can be told in very kind and gentle ways. Just think about how my wise friend treated me when I sought her advice.
Before I called my friend to ask for forgiveness and clear up the misunderstanding, I prayed for a Jesus-sized dose of compassion and grace.
Since then, I've been rehearsing "Listen with Compassion - Speak with Grace" over and over in my mind. Last week I had a chance to put it into practice when I received a difficult email. My first response was defensiveness, but then I started to repeat my new way of processing until I could hear the needs in the email with compassion and respond with grace.
I love how God gave me the chance to practice when I had time to take a breath, pause, rehearse my new motto and then respond. Life and relationships are filled with conflict, so I have no doubt I'll have a chance to practice again. Next time, I'm praying I'll be ready!
Related Resources:
God, Grace and Girlfriends by Mary Snyder
Would you like to bring the message of this devotion to the women of your church? Click here to find out more and consider Amy as your next retreat / key note speaker.
Visit Amy's blog for more insights into dealing with conflict in relationships.
Reflect and Respond:
Who am I focused on during a hard conversation? Am I really trying to understand the person who is speaking or already working on my defense?
If you feel yourself becoming defensive, make yourself pause and put yourself in the other person's shoes.
Remind yourself that responding with kindness and grace is a win-win.
Power Verses:
Proverbs 17:27, "A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered." (NLT)
Proverbs 18:15, "The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; for the ears of the wise seek it out." (NIV)
© 2012 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org



Post a Comment