Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Daily Devotional Tuesday 22nd May

"I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” 1 Corinthians 1:10NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"He led them forth by the right way."
Psalm 107:7
Changeful experience often leads the anxious believer to inquire "Why is it thus with me?" I looked for light, but lo, darkness came; for peace, but behold, trouble. I said in my heart, my mountain standeth firm; I shall never be moved. Lord, thou dost hide thy face, and I am troubled. It was but yesterday that I could read my title clear; today my evidences are bedimmed, and my hopes are clouded. Yesterday, I could climb to Pisgah's top, and view the landscape o'er, and rejoice with confidence in my future inheritance; today, my spirit has no hopes, but many fears; no joys, but much distress. Is this part of God's plan with me? Can this be the way in which God would bring me to heaven? Yes, it is even so. The eclipse of your faith, the darkness of your mind, the fainting of your hope, all these things are but parts of God's method of making you ripe for the great inheritance upon which you shall soon enter. These trials are for the testing and strengthening of your faith--they are waves that wash you further upon the rock--they are winds which waft your ship the more swiftly towards the desired haven. According to David's words, so it might be said of you, "So he bringeth them to their desired haven." By honour and dishonour, by evil report and by good report, by plenty and by poverty, by joy and by distress, by persecution and by peace, by all these things is the life of your souls maintained, and by each of these are you helped on your way. Oh, think not, believer, that your sorrows are out of God's plan; they are necessary parts of it. "We must, through much tribulation, enter the kingdom." Learn, then, even to "count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations."
"O let my trembling soul be still,
And wait thy wise, thy holy will!
I cannot, Lord, thy purpose see,
Yet all is well since ruled by thee."

Evening

"Behold, thou art fair, my Beloved."
Song of Solomon 1:16
From every point our Well-beloved is most fair. Our various experiences are meant by our heavenly Father to furnish fresh standpoints from which we may view the loveliness of Jesus; how amiable are our trials when they carry us aloft where we may gain clearer views of Jesus than ordinary life could afford us! We have seen him from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, and he has shone upon us as the sun in his strength; but we have seen him also "from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards," and he has lost none of his loveliness. From the languishing of a sick bed, from the borders of the grave, have we turned our eyes to our soul's spouse, and he has never been otherwise than "all fair." Many of his saints have looked upon him from the gloom of dungeons, and from the red flames of the stake, yet have they never uttered an ill word of him, but have died extolling his surpassing charms. Oh, noble and pleasant employment to be forever gazing at our sweet Lord Jesus! Is it not unspeakably delightful to view the Saviour in all his offices, and to perceive him matchless in each?--to shift the kaleidoscope, as it were, and to find fresh combinations of peerless graces? In the manger and in eternity, on the cross and on his throne, in the garden and in his kingdom, among thieves or in the midst of cherubim, he is everywhere "altogether lovely." Examine carefully every little act of his life, and every trait of his character, and he is as lovely in the minute as in the majestic. Judge him as you will, you cannot censure; weigh him as you please, and he will not be found wanting. Eternity shall not discover the shadow of a spot in our Beloved, but rather, as ages revolve, his hidden glories shall shine forth with yet more inconceivable splendour, and his unutterable loveliness shall more and more ravish all celestial minds.

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Today's reading: 1 Chronicles 13-15, John 7:1-27 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 

Bringing Back the Ark

13 David conferred with each of his officers, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. He then said to the whole assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you and if it is the will of the Lord our God, let us send word far and wide to the rest of our people throughout the territories of Israel, and also to the priests and Levites who are with them in their towns and pasturelands, to come and join us. Let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we did not inquire of it during the reign of Saul.” The whole assembly agreed to do this, because it seemed right to all the people.
So David assembled all Israel, from the Shihor River in Egypt to Lebo Hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath Jearim.David and all Israel went to Baalah of Judah (Kiriath Jearim) to bring up from there the ark of God the Lord, who is enthroned between the cherubim —the ark that is called by the Name.
They moved the ark of God from Abinadab’s house on a new cart, with Uzzah and Ahio guiding it. 8  David and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before God, with songs and with harps, lyres, timbrels, cymbals and trumpets.
When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled. 10 The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God.
11 Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.
12 David was afraid of God that day and asked, “How can I ever bring the ark of God to me?” 13  He did not take the ark to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 14 The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house for three months, and theLord blessed his household and everything he had.

David’s House and Family

14  Now Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with cedar logs, stonemasons and carpenters to build a palace for him. And David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and that his kingdom had been highly exalted for the sake of his people Israel.
In Jerusalem David took more wives and became the father of more sons and daughters. These are the names of the children born to him there: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Ibhar, Elishua, Elpelet, Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia,Elishama, Beeliada and Eliphelet.

David Defeats the Philistines

When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over all Israel, they went up in full force to search for him, but David heard about it and went out to meet them. Now the Philistines had come and raided the Valley of Rephaim; 10  so David inquired of God: “Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hands?”
The Lord answered him, “Go, I will deliver them into your hands.”
11 So David and his men went up to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them. He said, “As waters break out, God has broken out against my enemies by my hand.” So that place was called Baal Perazim. 12 The Philistines had abandoned their gods there, and David gave orders to burn them in the fire.
13 Once more the Philistines raided the valley; 14 so David inquired of God again, and God answered him, “Do not go directly after them, but circle around them and attack them in front of the poplar trees. 15 As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the poplar trees, move out to battle, because that will mean God has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.” 16 So David did as God commanded him, and they struck down the Philistine army, all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.
17 So David’s fame spread throughout every land, and the Lordmade all the nations fear him.

The Ark Brought to Jerusalem

15 After David had constructed buildings for himself in the City of David, he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it. Then David said, “No one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, because the Lord chose them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister before him forever.”
David assembled all Israel in Jerusalem to bring up the ark of the Lord to the place he had prepared for it. He called together the descendants of Aaron and the Levites:
From the descendants of Kohath,
Uriel the leader and 120 relatives;
from the descendants of Merari,
Asaiah the leader and 220 relatives;
from the descendants of Gershon,
Joel the leader and 130 relatives;
from the descendants of Elizaphan,
Shemaiah the leader and 200 relatives;
from the descendants of Hebron,
Eliel the leader and 80 relatives;
10 from the descendants of Uzziel,
Amminadab the leader and 112 relatives.
11 Then David summoned Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel and Amminadab the Levites. 12 He said to them, “You are the heads of the Levitical families; you and your fellow Levites are to consecrate yourselves and bring up the ark of the Lord , the God of Israel, to the place I have prepared for it. 13 It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the Lord our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way. ” 14 So the priests and Levites consecrated themselves in order to bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel. 15 And the Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the Lord.
16  David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their fellow Levites as musicians to make a joyful sound with musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals.
17 So the Levites appointed Heman son of Joel; from his relatives, Asaph son of Berekiah; and from their relatives the Merarites, Ethan son of Kushaiah; 18  and with them their relatives next in rank: Zechariah, Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-Edom and Jeiel, the gatekeepers.
19 The musicians Heman, Asaph and Ethan were to sound the bronze cymbals; 20 Zechariah, Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah and Benaiah were to play the lyres according to alamoth, 21 and Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-Edom, Jeiel and Azaziah were to play the harps, directing according to sheminith. 22 Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it.
23 Berekiah and Elkanah were to be doorkeepers for the ark.24 Shebaniah, Joshaphat, Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah and Eliezer the priests were to blow trumpets before the ark of God. Obed-Edom and Jehiah were also to be doorkeepers for the ark.
25 So David and the elders of Israel and the commanders of units of a thousand went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the house of Obed-Edom, with rejoicing.26 Because God had helped the Levites who were carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord, seven bulls and seven rams were sacrificed. 27 Now David was clothed in a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and as were the musicians, and Kenaniah, who was in charge of the singing of the choirs. David also wore a linen ephod. 28 So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouts, with the sounding of rams’ horns and trumpets, and of cymbals, and the playing of lyres and harps.
29 As the ark of the covenant of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David dancing and celebrating, she despised him in her heart.

John 7:1-27

Jesus Goes to the Festival of Tabernacles

After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3  Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” 9  After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.
10 However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11 Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?”
12  Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.”
Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders.

Jesus Teaches at the Festival

14  Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”
16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19  Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”
20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”
21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22  Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

Division Over Who Jesus Is

25 At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26  Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? 27 But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.”

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Elisabeth

The Woman Who Bore a Son in Her Old Age

Scripture ReferenceLuke 1:5-80
Name Meaning—Elisabeth means “God is my oath” that is, “a worshiper of God.” In his hymn of praise, uttered soon after the birth of his son John, Zacharias alludes to the significance of his wife’s name when he said, “the oath which God swore to Abraham.” The son was called John by divine command, and means “the mercy or favor of God.”
Family Connections —Luke describes Elisabeth as “one of the daughters of Aaron” which means she came of an honored priestly line (Exodus 6:23). She was the wife of a priest, Zacharias, of the course of Abia, that is one of the sets of priests who ministered in the Temple from Sabbath to Sabbath (1 Chronicles 24:10). There was thus a priestly descent on both sides. Priests were allowed to marry pious women ( Leviticus 21:7). Elisabeth became the mother of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ. Assessing the life and character of Elisabeth we know that she was prominent as—

A Godly Woman

It is said of both Elisabeth and Zacharias that they were “righteous before God, walking in all the commandments of the Lord blameless.” What a coveted commendation! The priestly wife was a woman of unusual piety, strong faith and spiritual gifts. All through her life she preserved the blessed traditions of Aaron and his descendants.

A Childless Woman

Righteous toward God and most faithful to her husband we yet have five words containing a world of heartbreak and disappointment, “And they had no child.” For years they had both prayed and longed for a child; now they were both well-stricken in years and the prospect of natural childbearing was past. A childless state, more so for the daughter of a priest and the wife of a priest, was humiliating, for in Israel it was the dream of every woman that it might be her privilege to be the mother of the Messiah, promised to Eve, earth’s first mother.

A Privileged Woman

For this beloved wife with a pious heart and cultivated intellect, God performed a miracle, as He did for Mary her cousin. “She conceived a son in her old age.” It was while Zacharias was exercising his holy office in the sanctuary that the angelic messenger appeared and said, “Thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.” Although beyond the age when the birth of a child was possible, did Zacharias and his wife believe that God was able to do the impossible, and even at their advanced age remove their “reproach among men”? Well, the miracle happened. God gave Elisabeth conception, and after six months of her pregnancy, another miracle happened when without cohabitation Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit.
Zacharias, who had been struck dumb as a sign that God would fulfill His word and grant him a son, had his speech restored when John was born. He hailed John’s birth with a God-glorifying song in which he said of the God-given child, “Thou shalt be called the prophet of the highest.” This famous son, who came to prepare the way of the Lord, was privileged to have such godly parents to teach him ineffaceable lessons. But John was also directly nurtured by God in the deserts where he lived “till the day of his shewing unto Israel.” Thus, as Donald Davidson reminds us in Mothers of the Bible
It was not at his mother’s knee that John learned the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but out on the lonely desert where in the silence and the solitude he found close fellowship with God, and came to know the secrets of His will.
Because of their old age when their son was born, we can assume that Zacharias and Elisabeth both died years before their godly son was cruelly murdered by Herod.
But Elisabeth was a privileged woman in another way in that she was the first woman to confess Jesus in the flesh. When she was six months with child she was visited by her cousin Mary and as soon as the Virgin entered the home, the babe leaped in Elisabeth’s womb, as if to welcome the One whom Mary was to bear. Both mother and child were affected by the Holy Spirit, and Elisabeth gave Mary the most honorable of names, “The mother of my Lord.” Elisabeth knew the Messiah was come and she prayed to Him and confessed Him. All Messianic hopes were about to be fulfilled for, “There, beneath that woman’s clothes, my Saviour is concealed.” It was her Spirit-filled greeting which prompted Mary to reply in a song called, The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-56; compare 1 Samuel 2:1-10).
For queens and females of all walks of life Elisabeth has been a favorite name, evidenced by the fact that in America alone there are almost two million females bearing such an honored name. If only all who bear this name would be “righteous before God” and blameless in character, what a mighty spiritual force they would be in the life of the nation of which they are a part. The present sovereign of Great Britain is Queen Elizabeth II, who seeks to live a life beyond reproach, and who manifests deep interest in Dr. Billy Graham’s work.

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Onesiphorus [Ŏne sĭph'o rŭs]—bringing advantageA believer in Ephesus who befriended Paul (2 Tim. 1:164:19).

The Man Who Was Kind to His Friend

From the description Paul gives us of Onesiphorus, he must have been a lovely character. In his revealing essay of this rare character, Alexander Whyte speaks of him as “an elder in the Church of Ephesus, and a better elder there never was.”
Much controversy has raged around Paul’s cameo of Onesiphorus. Was he adorning the brow of a living man with a garland? Or was he placing a wreath upon the tomb of a saint? Some see in Paul’s reference to “the house of Onesiphorus” a proof for the lawfulness of prayers for the dead. But Paul’s language does not constitute a prayer, but only a wish or exclamation. The dead are beyond the influence of our intercessions.
There are several traits of the admirable life of Onesiphorus we can profitably meditate upon:
I. He was repeatedly kind. “He oft refreshed me.” In the overwhelming heat of his trials, Paul found himself revived when this dear saint came his way. What a blessed ministry it is to refresh the needy children of God!
II. He associated himself with Paul’s suffering. “He was not ashamed of my chain.” Some of the apostle’s friends did not like to own any connection with a chained man. But not so Onesiphorus. He had a big soul and brought consolation to the manacled prisoner. Many of God’s best servants are harassed with chains of sorrow and of affliction. Let us not shrink from helping them.
III. He made it his business to find Paul. “He sought me out.” Matthew Henry says, “A good man will seek opportunities of doing good, and will not shun that offer.” Is there someone you should hunt up and cheer?
IV. He and his house were blessed for kindness shown. “The Lord give mercy to the house of Onesiphorus.” Paul was not able to reward his friend for all his gracious solicitation, but the Lord could, and would. In ministering to Paul, Onesiphorous had ministered to the Lord, and of the Lord would be blessed.

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A psalm of remembrance

“We have known and believed the love that God hath to us.” 1 John 4:16
Suggested Further Reading: Habakkuk 3:16-19
“Hast thou considered my servant Job?” “Ah,” says Satan, “he serves thee now, but thou hast set a hedge about him and blessed him, let me but touch him.” Now he has come down to you, and he has afflicted you in your estate, afflicted you in your family, and at last he has afflicted you in your body. Shall Satan be the conqueror? Shall grace give way? O my dear brother, stand up now and say once more, once for all, “I tell thee, Satan, the grace of God is more than a match for thee; he is with me, and in all this I will not utter one word against the Lord my God. He doeth all things well—well, even now, and I do rejoice in him.” The Lord is always pleased with his children when they can stand up for him when circumstances seem to belie him. Here come the witnesses into court. The devil says, “Soul, God has forgotten thee, I will bring in my witness.” First he summons your debts—a long bill of losses. “There,” says he “would God suffer you to fall thus, if he loved you?” Then he brings in your children—either their death, or their disobedience, or something worse, and says, “Would the Lord suffer these things to come upon you, if he loved you?” At last he brings in your poor tottering body, and all your doubts and fears, and the hidings of Jehovah’s face. “Ah,” says the devil, “do you believe that God loves you now?” Oh, it is noble, if you are able to stand forth and say to all these witnesses, “I hear what you have to say, let God be true, and every man and everything be a liar. I believe none of you. You all say, God does not love me; but he does, and if the witnesses against his love were multiplied a hundredfold, yet still would I say, “I know whom I have believed.”
For meditation: The question is bound to be asked sooner or later (Psalm 42:3,10). The apostle Paul gives the greatest answer ( Romans 8:35-39).
Sermon no. 253
22 May (1859)

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Unbelievers stumbling; believers rejoicing

‘As it is written, Behold I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.’ Romans 9:33
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Peter 2:4–8
Who are they who shall never be ashamed? The answer is general and special. The text says, ‘Whosoever believeth’—that is, any man who ever lived, or ever shall live, who believes in Christ, shall never be ashamed. Whether he has been a gross sinner or a moralist; whether he is learned or illiterate; whether he is a prince or a beggar, it matters not—‘Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.’ Though you may very seldom come to the house of God, yet if you believe in Christ today you shall never be ashamed of him. You who have sat in God’s house for years, and feel yourselves guilty of having rejected Christ, yet if now you trust him you shall not be ashamed. But there is a speciality; it is ‘Whosoever believeth .’ Others shall be ashamed. There must be a real and hearty believing; there must be a simple confidence in the person and work of Jesus: wherever this is, there shall be no shame. One says, ‘But I have such a little faith; I am afraid I shall be confounded.’ No; you come in under the ‘Whosoever’—‘Whosoever believeth,’ though his faith be never so little, ‘shall never be ashamed.’ Another says, ‘But I have so many doubts.’ Still, dear heart, since you believe you shall not be ashamed; all your doubtings and your fearings shall never damn you, for your faith will prevail. ‘But,’ says another, ‘my corruption is so strong; I have come today lamenting because of my imperfections; they have obtained the mastery of my faith, and I have fallen during the week.’ Yes, soul, all fallen as you are, yet if you believe you shall never be ashamed.
For meditation: Whosoever trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ shall not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:15–16), shall not abide in darkness (John 12:46), shall receive forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43 ) and shall not be ashamed (Romans 10:11). The opposite will be true of whosoever does not trust in him. Which ‘whosoever’ are you?
Sermon no. 571
22 May (1864)


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Personal Development: Commitment

Effective leadership flows from commitment to the right things. As followers of Christ, the single most important commitment of our lives is to God. Any true (and eternal) success we experience as leaders will flow from that commitment.
The apostle Paul urges us on God's behalf to devote ourselves to God. The word "Therefore" (v. 1) points to all the apostle has written in the previous eleven chapters. In light of God's mercy, which justifies, sanctifies, and will someday glorify us, we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to him. In other words, we should allow God's mercy to accomplish this additional work in our lives. We should let it drive us to absolute commitment.
The word "offer" implies that this act, much like a wedding vow, occurs once. It may be renewed, but at some point we should be motivated by God's mercy to devote ourselves to him. When we take this step, we're acknowledging Christ's leadership in our lives. We sacrifice our selfish desires and misguided ambitions as we strive to align ourselves with God's will. Once this act of commitment occurs, our talents and dreams will be surrendered to his purpose. And the more we give ourselves to him, the more he will bless and use us.
Have you committed yourself completely to Christ? If not, consider doing so now. If you're a devoted follower of Christ, perhaps you could consider renewing this commitment.
Commitment and Who God Is
What is the basis for security and significance in life? Security relates to commitment, and significance relates to how long something will last. God tells us that he is committed to all who are in Christ, and that our relationship with him will last forever. Turn to Jeremiah 31:31-36 to see the covenant of commitment the Lord made with his people.
Commitment and Who I Am
Quality relationships are founded on the rock of commitment, not the shifting sand of feelings or emotions. God calls us to be a people of commitment, first to him and then to others. Turn to the note on Joshua 24:14-27 to study the parting words of a man whose entire life was marked by commitment.
Commitment and How It Works
How on earth do leaders establish and retain committed followers? How, in some cases, do we get ourselves committed enough to pay the high price of success? God knows how, and the prophet Habakkuk (Habakkuk 3:17-18) models an essential truth about God-focused commitment.
Commitment and What I Do
What does commitment look like in a leader, and how can we practice it? Turn to the note on Matthew 16:24-26 to examine Jesus' standard of deeper commitment.

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The Adversary

1 Peter 5:8-9 "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith" ( vv. 8-9).
During the Middle Ages, the common people were acutely aware of the presence and power of the supernatural. They were especially sensitive to the reality of the Devil and sought ways to attack him where he is most vulnerable. After determining that Satan's pride was a good avenue of attack, the Evil One was routinely depicted as having horns, cloven feet, and other such things that we normally associate with cartoon illustrations of the Devil today. It was thought that these caricatures would weaken Satan by deflating his pride.
Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the origin of this depiction of the Devil and, having seen only this silly illustration of Satan, do not take him seriously at all. This is the first mistake we can make whenever we consider the Devil. For as today's passage indicates, the Evil One is real indeed, and he is looking for those whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8-9).
We can also make the mistake of ascribing too much power to Satan, viewing him as if he is a being on par with God. However, Scripture knows no such dualism. Compared to our Creator the Devil is nothing - merely a creature who is subject ultimately to the Lord's sovereign designs (Job 1:1-2:10). Nevertheless, the Evil One is mighty and we dare not underestimate him.
The Bible gives us significant information about the nature of the Devil. He is our Adversary (1 Peter 5:8 ), the chief enemy of God's people and therefore the archfoe of the Almighty. Satan is crafty and subtle (Gen. 3:1a), apt to emphasize what God has forbidden rather than the true liberty found within the boundaries of His law (vv. 1b-5James 1:25). Jesus says the Adversary is the "father of lies" ( John 8:44) who tempts us to believe our desires should always take first place and that we have every right to throw off God's "tyrannical" rule. Finally, Satan is potent, more than a match for even the great Simon Peter when the apostle placed confidence in himself (Luke 22:31-3454-62).
Despite his strength and our relative weakness, in Christ we have all we need to ward off the Devil's assaults. Satan will flee if we resist him by relying on the Holy Spirit and the truths of Scripture (James 4:71 John 4:4).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

It is unlikely that Satan himself comes after us directly, for he is not omnipresent and can only go after one person at a time. He himself probably goes after targets who have great influence over the world and church, while he sends his evil minions after the entire church. But we can defeat the Devil when we trust in the power of the Holy Spirit, who prompts us to flee temptation and believe what God says, not Satan's lies.
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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Micca Campbell
May 21, 2012
For Our Greater Good
Micca Monda Campbell
"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." Genesis 50:20 (ESV)
Beyond a doubt, Joseph was a beloved son. Reading his story in Genesis 37-50, I can't help but think how Joseph would make a great guest on any talk show if he were alive today. The title of the TV program might go something like this: From the Pit to the Palace.
Joseph's story begins much like ours. He came into this world an innocent child. He didn't ask to be born. Joseph, like any of us, deserved to be cared for, loved, and nurtured by his parents. On the other hand, so did Joseph's brothers. But in the eyes of their father, they were second best to Joseph. The rejection of their father caused terrible sibling rivalry until one day Joseph's brothers threw him into a pit.
While Joseph's brothers were eating supper and discussing what to do with him, the opportunity of a lifetime arose. A caravan of Midianites passed their camp on the way to Egypt. Seizing the opportunity, the brothers sold Joseph as a slave for twenty pieces of silver. In U.S. money, that amounts to about $1.28.
Is that where you are right now, friend? Have you been rejected by someone and thrown into the pit? Don't fear. You're not lost. God has not abandoned you. He knows your whereabouts. He is using your circumstance as a stepping-stone for a greater plan just as He did for Joseph.
Several years later during a life-threatening drought, many traveled to Egypt to buy grain, including Joseph's brothers. It was Joseph who had foretold the drought and prepared Egypt for survival. By now, he had been promoted to second in command in Egypt.
In his powerful position, Joseph could have taken revenge on his brothers for betraying him. Instead, he chose to forgive them and reunite with his family.
As his brothers bowed before Joseph in fear of their lives, Joseph said, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today" (Genesis 50:20). This verse is often compared to Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (NIV).
When you and I let down those walls of fear and trust God for the greater good, we'll find a measure of healing and restoration just as Joseph did. Instead, we often want to cling to the pain. That kind of thinking only keeps us in the pit and allows our wounds and fears to fester and grow. God has so much more for us.
What was meant for evil in your life, God wants to use for your good.
The Lord wants to bring you and me out of the pit and place us in His palace. The choice is ours. We can focus on our bad experience and miss the joy that can be ours. Or, like Joseph, we can take the risk, venture out, forgive those who hurt us and truly believe that God has a greater good in His plans for our future.
Dear Lord, Your promises are a gift to me. You've given them to sustain me, to provide hope and peace while I'm in a pit. Help me to trust in all Your promises until You bring me out. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
This devotion was based on Micca's book An Untroubled Heart: Finding Faith that is Stronger than My Fears.
Visit Micca's blog.
For daily encouragement to stay out of your pit, join us onFacebook.
Reflect and Respond:
Do you daily feed your heart, soul and mind with God's promises or are you starving spiritually?
Shake off the dust of your past by trusting in God's promises today. His Word is a light unto our path and our thinking. Instead of thinking about the pit, set your mind on how God is working for your greater good. This will open your eyes to His presence and allow you to rest in His promise.
Power Verse:
Psalm 18:30, "As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD's word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him." (NIV)
© 2012 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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May 21, 2012
Gossip is Deadly
Sharon Jaynes
Today's Truth
"Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down," (Proverbs 26:20 NIV).
Friend to Friend 
A monster was sneaking into my yard in the dark of night and devouring my prize plants. I never saw his beady eyes or heard his pounding footsteps – just the aftermath of his destruction. He left a trail of slim as he moved from plant to plant, leaving large gaping holes in broad leaf Gerber Daisies, gnawing entire velvety trumpet-shaped blossoms on purple petunias and reducing bushy begonias to naked stalks.
I asked a neighbor about my flowerbed's demise and she determined, "You've got slugs."
            
Slugs!" I exclaimed. "The yard monster is a tiny little slug?"
"You can put out slug bait to catch them and see for yourself," my confident neighbor continued.
I sprinkled slug bait all around the yard and then waited. The next morning I viewed the "monsters" remains. The beasts were about ¼ inch long – about the size of my little toe nail.
How could something so small cause so much damage in such a short amount of time? I mused. Then my mind thought of something else that is very small that can cause enormous damage in a short amount of time… gossip. King Solomon wrote, "The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts." Just as one tiny slug can destroy an entire flower bed, so can one tiny morsel of gossip destroy a person's reputation, mare one's character, and devour a friendship.
In the South we have this knack for making gossips sound…almost nice. All you have to do is add "bless her heart" to the end of the sentence. It goes like this: "Susie gained fifty pounds with that last pregnancy, bless her heart." "Marcy's husband ran off with his secretary, bless her heart." "I heard Clair yelling at the postman yesterday, bless her heart." But all the "bless her hearts" don't make mask what it really is…gossip.
Solomon wrote, "Whoever repeats the matter separates close friends," (Proverbs 17:9 TNIV).  Charles Allen, the author of God' Psychiatry observed: "Those of great minds discuss ideas, people of mediocre minds discuss events, and those of small minds discuss other people."  Maybe if we are spending our time talking about people, we need to fill our minds with better material such as good books and other reading material (and I don't mean People Magazine or the National Enquirer).
What exactly is gossip? Webster defines gossip as "easy, fluent, trivial talk, talk about people behind their backs." It is repeating information about another person's private affairs. If you have to look around to make sure that no one can hear what you are saying, you are probably gossiping. If you would not say something in front of the person you are talking about, then you're probably gossiping.
We have often heard the phrase, "knowledge is power." Perhaps that is why gossip is so appealing. It suggests a certain amount of power because, "I have the inside scoop." But gossip is not power. On the contrary it shows a lack of power…lack of self-control.
Today, let's make our lives a NO GOSSIP ZONE.
Let's Pray
Lord, please keep a guard over my mouth today. If I even consider gossiping about someone, convict me before a word leaves my mouth. May the words of my mouth be pleasing in Your sight today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Go back to Webster's definition of gossip.  Can you think of anything you have said in the last week that would fit that description?
Let's "say no" to gossip. If you are willing to eliminate gossip from your life, click over towww.facebook.com/sharonjaynes and type in the following words: I'm living in a NO GOSSIP ZONE.
More from the Girlfriends
Today's devotion was taken from Sharon's book, The Power of a Woman's Words. If you would like to learn about how to control your words and use them to speak life into those in your sphere of influence, then this is the book for you. Visit www.sharonjaynes.com to download a free chapter, watch a video or place an order.
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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The Adversary

It is unlikely that Satan himself comes after us directly, for he is not omnipresent and can only go after one person at a time. He himself probably goes after targets who have great influence over the world and church, while he sends his evil minions after the entire church. But we can defeat the Devil when we trust in the power of the Holy Spirit, who prompts us to flee temptation and believe what God says, not Satan's lies.
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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NIV Devotions for Moms

Jesus’ Prayer for Us

Additional Scripture Readings: Romans 8:26-27; 2 Peter 3:9
Before we believed in Jesus, before we even knew who he was, Jesus prayed for us.
Jesus prayed in the garden, prior to his arrest and crucifixion. First, he prayed for himself, that God would complete the work of salvation he began in sending Jesus to live and die. He prayed for his disciples, that God would keep them faithful, that they might have God's joy within them, and that God would protect them from the evil one.
And then he prayed for us. For you and me and for all who would come to believe in him after his death, that we would be unified and that God's love would be in us.
When we read Jesus' words in this passage, remember that he prayed them for all of us. We can insert our own names and picture ourselves as the subject of his prayer. We can see in his prayers the events of our lives. Jesus also prayed for those we love who have yet to come to know him as Savior and Lord. He loves them even more than we do-so much that he prayed for them before he died on the cross on their behalf.
Jesus prayed for you. Nearly two thousand years ago, in a garden in Israel, you were on his mind. Don't you feel loved?
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PERSECUTION CAN HAPPEN HERE!

I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:14b
Colleague Ron Boyd-MacMillan recounts an interesting experience in China:
There’s a house church in Beijing I like to take my friends to visit. The members are all young professionals, about twenty of them, and they meet in a huge, darkened, open-plan office at midnight once a week. It’s totally illegal. Some of them are quite high ranking members of the communist party. If their faith is discovered, it would end their careers…or worse.
At the beginning of each meeting, the leader goes round and asks each member this question – the most challenging question I’ve ever heard in church:What are your wounds for Christ this week?
On one occasion I had brought two pastor friends, and the same question—through translation—was put to each of them. They replied, “Oh, we are not wounded or persecuted, you see, we live in Britain, where we have religious freedom, and we are so grateful for that!”
This reply was greeted with uncomprehending silence by the Chinese house church. Then a young woman spoke up, and without a trace of irony asked, “You mean they don’t let the devil into Britain?”
The house church leader patiently explained to the visitors the biblical understanding of persecution. “In the Bible, to be persecuted means to be pursued by the enemies of Christ. When we become a Christian, his enemies become our enemies, and we are pitched into a battle with the world and the devil, and this fight will draw wounds. So it doesn’t matter whether you are in Beijing or Birmingham, the fight is the same, only the degree and type of suffering may differ. You’re going to get pursued…that’s persecution.”
“But we thought persecution was legal discrimination, or being put into jail for one’s faith” replied the pastors. The house church leader answered, “That’s the extreme tip of it. Look, we may not sit on the same thorn, but we all sit on the same branch.”
Still the pastors did not look convinced. Another Chinese member said, “If you don’t have wounds for Christ, how do you know you are alive in Christ? Wounds bring joy, because then you know you are making a difference.”
This struck a chord with the visitors. As preachers, they knew that nothing communicates like joy. That’s why persecuted churches are growing churches—they are alive in Christ, and they know it because they have wounds! So find the source of resistance to the gospel in your local area, and when you apply the gospel, watch the fight begin.
RESPONSE: Today I will accept negative reactions as a sign that I am making a difference in my community.
PRAYER: Lord, may I also experience the joy resulting from doing right and opposing evil in my sphere of influence.
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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