Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Daily Devotional Tuesday 29th May

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Thou hatest wickedness."
Psalm 45:7
"Be ye angry, and sin not." There can hardly be goodness in a man if he be not angry at sin; he who loves truth must hate every false way. How our Lord Jesus hated it when the temptation came! Thrice it assailed him in different forms, but ever he met it with, "Get thee behind me, Satan." He hated it in others; none the less fervently because he showed his hate oftener in tears of pity than in words of rebuke; yet what language could be more stern, more Elijah-like, than the words, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer." He hated wickedness, so much that he bled to wound it to the heart; he died that it might die; he was buried that he might bury it in his tomb; and he rose that he might forever trample it beneath his feet. Christ is in the Gospel, and that Gospel is opposed to wickedness in every shape. Wickedness arrays itself in fair garments, and imitates the language of holiness; but the precepts of Jesus, like his famous scourge of small cords, chase it out of the temple, and will not tolerate it in the Church. So, too, in the heart where Jesus reigns, what war there is between Christ and Belial! And when our Redeemer shall come to be our Judge, those thundering words, "Depart, ye cursed" which are, indeed, but a prolongation of his life-teaching concerning sin, shall manifest his abhorrence of iniquity. As warm as is his love to sinners, so hot is his hatred of sin; as perfect as is his righteousness, so complete shall be the destruction of every form of wickedness. O thou glorious champion of right, and destroyer of wrong, for this cause hath God, even thy God, anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

Evening

"Cursed be the man before the Lord, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho."
Joshua 6:26
Since he was cursed who rebuilt Jericho, much more the man who labours to restore Popery among us. In our fathers' days the gigantic walls of Popery fell by the power of their faith, the perseverance of their efforts, and the blast of their gospel trumpets; and now there are some who would rebuild that accursed system upon its old foundation. O Lord, be pleased to thwart their unrighteous endeavours, and pull down every stone which they build. It should be a serious business with us to be thoroughly purged of every error which may have a tendency to foster the spirit of Popery, and when we have made a clean sweep at home we should seek in every way to oppose its all too rapid spread abroad in the church and in the world. This last can be done in secret by fervent prayer, and in public by decided testimony. We must warn with judicious boldness those who are inclined towards the errors of Rome; we must instruct the young in gospel truth, and tell them of the black doings of Popery in the olden times. We must aid in spreading the light more thoroughly through the land, for priests, like owls, hate daylight. Are we doing all we can for Jesus and the gospel? If not, our negligence plays into the hands of the priestcraft. What are we doing to spread the Bible, which is the Pope's bane and poison? Are we casting abroad good, sound gospel writings? Luther once said, "The devil hates goose quills" and, doubtless, he has good reason, for ready writers, by the Holy Spirit's blessing, have done his kingdom much damage. If the thousands who will read this short word this night will do all they can to hinder the rebuilding of this accursed Jericho, the Lord's glory shall speed among the sons of men. Reader, what can you do? What will you do?

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Today's reading: 2 Chronicles 4-6, John 10:24-42 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
The Temple’s Furnishings
    1 He made a bronze altar twenty cubits long, twenty cubits wide and ten cubits high. 2 He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it. 3Below the rim, figures of bulls encircled it—ten to a cubit. The bulls were cast in two rows in one piece with the Sea.
   4 The Sea stood on twelve bulls, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south and three facing east. The Sea rested on top of them, and their hindquarters were toward the center. 5 It was a handbreadth in thickness, and its rim was like the rim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It held three thousand baths.
   6 He then made ten basins for washing and placed five on the south side and five on the north. In them the things to be used for the burnt offerings were rinsed, but the Sea was to be used by the priests for washing.
   7 He made ten gold lampstands according to the specifications for them and placed them in the temple, five on the south side and five on the north.
   8 He made ten tables and placed them in the temple, five on the south side and five on the north. He also made a hundred gold sprinkling bowls.
   9 He made the courtyard of the priests, and the large court and the doors for the court, and overlaid the doors with bronze.10 He placed the Sea on the south side, at the southeast corner.
   11 And Huram also made the pots and shovels and sprinkling bowls.
   So Huram finished the work he had undertaken for King Solomon in the temple of God:
   12 the two pillars;
   the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars;
   the two sets of network decorating the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars;
   13 the four hundred pomegranates for the two sets of network (two rows of pomegranates for each network, decorating the bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars);
   14 the stands with their basins;
   15 the Sea and the twelve bulls under it;
   16 the pots, shovels, meat forks and all related articles.
   All the objects that Huram-Abi made for King Solomon for the temple of the LORD were of polished bronze. 17 The king had them cast in clay molds in the plain of the Jordan between Sukkoth and Zarethan. 18 All these things that Solomon made amounted to so much that the weight of the bronze could not be calculated.
   19 Solomon also made all the furnishings that were in God’s temple:
   the golden altar;
   the tables on which was the bread of the Presence;
   20 the lampstands of pure gold with their lamps, to burn in front of the inner sanctuary as prescribed;
   21 the gold floral work and lamps and tongs (they were solid gold);
   22 the pure gold wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, dishes and censers; and the gold doors of the temple: the inner doors to the Most Holy Place and the doors of the main hall.

2 Chronicles 5

   1 When all the work Solomon had done for the temple of the LORD was finished, he brought in the things his father David had dedicated—the silver and gold and all the furnishings—and he placed them in the treasuries of God’s temple.
The Ark Brought to the Temple
    2 Then Solomon summoned to 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. 3 And all the Israelites came together to the king at the time of the festival in the seventh month.
   4 When all the elders of Israel had arrived, the Levites took up the ark, 5 and they brought up the ark and the tent of meeting and all the sacred furnishings in it. The Levitical priests carried them up; 6 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.
   7 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. 8 The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and covered the ark and its carrying poles. 9 These poles were so long that their ends, extending from the ark, could be seen from in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. 10 There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt.
   11 The priests then withdrew from the Holy Place. All the priests who were there had consecrated themselves, regardless of their divisions. 12 All the Levites who were musicians—Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives—stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. 13 The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang:
   “He is good; 
   his love endures forever.”
   Then the temple of the LORD was filled with the cloud, 14 and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God.

2 Chronicles 6

   1 Then Solomon said, “The LORD has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; 2 I have built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever.”
   3 While the whole assembly of Israel was standing there, the king turned around and blessed them. 4 Then he said:
   “Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who with his hands has fulfilled what he promised with his mouth to my father David. For he said, 5 ‘Since the day I brought my people 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, nor have I chosen anyone to be ruler over my people Israel. 6 But now I have chosen Jerusalem for my Name to be there, and I have chosen David to rule my people Israel.’
   7 “My father David had it in his heart to build a temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 8 But the LORD said to my father David, ‘You did well to have it in your heart to build a temple for my Name. 9 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.’
   10 “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. 11 There I have placed the ark, in which is the covenant of the LORD that he made with the people of Israel.”
Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication
    12 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands. 13Now he had made a bronze platform, five cubits long, five cubits wide and three cubits high, and had placed it in the center of the outer court. He stood on the platform and then knelt down before the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven. 14 He said:
   “LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. 15 You 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.
   16 “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 according to my law, as you have done.’ 17 And now, LORD, the God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David come true.
   18 “But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 19 Yet, LORD my God, give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence. 20 May your eyes be open toward this temple day and night, this place of which you said you would put your Name there. May you hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 21 Hear the supplications 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.
   22 “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, 23 then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty and bringing down on their heads what they have done, and vindicating the innocent by treating them in accordance with their innocence.
   24 “When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you and when they turn back and give praise to your name, praying and making supplication before you in this temple, 25 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to them and their ancestors.
   26 “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, 27 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.
   28 “When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when enemies besiege them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, 29 and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel—being aware of their afflictions and pains, and spreading out their hands toward this temple— 30 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive, and deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know the human heart), 31 so that they will fear you and walk in obedience to you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors.
   32 “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, 33 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.
   34 “When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to you toward this city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name, 35 then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.
   36 “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 the enemy, who takes them captive to a land far away or near; 37 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 captivity and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong and acted wickedly’; 38 and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their captivity where they were taken, and pray toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and toward the temple I have built for your Name; 39 then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their pleas, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you.
   40 “Now, my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.
   41 “Now arise, LORD God, and come to your resting place, 
   you and the ark of your might. 
May your priests, LORD God, be clothed with salvation, 
   may your faithful people rejoice in your goodness. 
42 LORD God, do not reject your anointed one. 
   Remember the great love promised to David your servant.”

John 10

24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
   25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
   31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
   33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
   34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.
   40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.

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Deborah No. 2

The Woman Who Was a Fearless Patriot

Scripture ReferencesJudges 4 and5Hebrews 11:32-34
Name Meaning —Although we know nothing of the early history of this prophetess-judge, it may be that her parents with a knowledge of the unselfish and untiring service of Deborah the nurse, gave their baby girl the same name which, as already indicated, means “a bee.” This we do know that the practical qualities symbolized by the busy bee were as necessary to Deborah as they were to the right performance of the less conspicuous and humbler duties of the former nurse Deborah. While Deborah the patriot gathered honey for her friends, like a bee she had a fatal sting for her enemies as the Canaanites came to experience. “Science confirms the ancient belief that, of all the animal kingdom, the bee ranks among the highest in intelligence” says Mary Hallet. “So Deborah stands out as among the wisest of all the Old Testament women.”
Family Connections—We have no genealogy of this female warrior and writer. The only personal touch we have is that she was “the wife of Lapidoth” (Judges 4:4 ), whose name is the only thing the Bible gives us. Their home was between Bethel and Ramah in the hill country of Ephraim. The palm tree under which Deborah ruled and possibly lived was a land mark, as palms were then rare in Palestine. In honor of her works, it became known as “The Palm of Deborah” (Judges 4:5). Although referred to as a “mother in Israel,” we have no record of Deborah being a mother of natural children by Lapidoth.
Occasionally, a strong-minded and unique woman breaks in upon human history and by her exploits leaves the impact of her personality upon events and secures for herself an imperishable honor. England, for instance, will never forget the bolds deeds of Margaret of Anjou, who at the head of her northern forces swept over the country like a cyclone, destroying armies and tearing down thrones. In France, Joan of Arc, the patron saint of her country, professed to have divine visions as to her destiny to restore peace to her distracted nation by the crowning of Charles. From school days we have known how she led 10,000 troops against the English at Orleans, and compelled them to retreat, and of how other victories followed as her consecrated banner struck terror into the hearts of her enemies. Ultimately, she was burned at the the stake as “a martyr to her religion, her country and her king.” Her ashes, thrown into the Seine, were carried to the sea, and the sea, taking them around the world became emblematic of her universal fame.
Similarly gifted with superior spiritual, mental and physical powers to leave her mark upon the annals of time was Deborah whom God raised up and endowed with a remarkable personality and varied gifts for the deliverance of His distressed and defeated people. A woman of unusual attainments, Deborah carved out an enviable niche for herself. With characteristic resoluteness she occupied several positions.

She Was a Wife

While nothing is said of her husband and home life, there is no reason to affirm, as some writers do, that being born to rule, Deborah was master in her own home. Some writers feel that since Lapidoth was the husband of a prominent woman, that he was “hen-pecked” or that Deborah “wore the trousers.” Wharton in Famous Women suggests that Lapidoth was a weak man married to a strong-willed and a strong-bodied woman. “His very name is in the original Hebrew put not in the masculine, but in the feminine gender. I have no doubt that while by no means so great, he was yet ‘as meek as Moses.’” Although meek, Moses was by no means weak.
We prefer to believe that Lapidoth admired the ability and influence of his more conspicuous wife. His name means, “torches” or “lightning flashes,” and we can well imagine how in his quieter way he was the encourager of Deborah in all her activities. Although not so forceful and capable as his wife, yet he was illuminative in his own way and behind the scenes was as good and conspicuous in faith as the woman he loved, and in whose glory he was content to bask. Many of the notable men of the world have testified to the succor and inspiration they received from their wives who walked with them in full agreement as they climbed the heights. Perhaps the shoe was on the other foot in that God-fearing home. Deborah would never have become the dazzling figure she did, had she not had the love, sympathy, advice and encouragement of a husband who was happy to ride in the second chariot.

She Was a Prophetess

Deborah is one of several females in Scripture distinguished as being endowed with the prophetic gift, which means the ability to discern the mind and purpose of God and declare it to others. In the days of the Old Testament, prophets and prophetesses were the media between God and His people Israel, and their gift to perceive and proclaim divine truth stamped them as being divinely inspired. Such an office, whether held by a male or female, was a high one and corresponds to the ministry of the Word today. Can you not picture how hungry-minded Israelites found their way to that conspicuous palm tree beneath which Deborah sat, stately in person with her dark, penetrating, prophetic eyes, and poured out wisdom and instruction as she declared the whole counsel of God? As a woman, she had intuition as well as inspiration, which is always better than a man’s cold reasoning. Had Pontius Pilate taken the advice of his wife he would not have signed the death warrant of Jesus Christ.

She Was an Agitator

As one meaning of “agitation” is to stir up or excite public discussion with the view of producing a change, then Deborah was an effective agitator who stirred up Israel’s concern about its low spiritual condition. The land was debauched and well-nigh ruined, and under the rule of the Canaanites liberty had been lost. The people were dejected and afraid, for their spirits had been broken and all hope of deliverance had vanished. But Deborah did more than prophesy; she aroused the nation from its lethargy and despair. Hers was a fearless and unsolicited devotion to the emancipation of God’s people, and she awoke in them a determination to free themselves from their wretched bondage and degradation. Out went her call and challenge to the help of the Lord against the enemy. Day after day, she excited those who gathered to hear her words of divine wisdom with the certainty of deliverance from a heathen foe if only they would bestir themselves from their folly and fear and go out and fight.

She Was a Ruler

Deborah was the fifth of the leaders or “Judges” of Israel raised up by God to deliver His people from the bondage their idolatry had caused, and instant both in word and deed she fulfilled her role as “Judge,” at a time when men tried to do right in the sight of their own eyes. As the position of woman in those days was of a distinctily subordinate character, Deborah’s prominence as a ruler is somewhat remarkable. All Israel was under her jurisdiction, and from the palm tree bearing her name, and elsewhere, called “the sanctuary of the palm,” she dispensed righteousness, justice and mercy. After the victory over the nation’s foes, she ruled with equity a land that had rest from war and captivity for forty years.

She Was a Warrior

Having fought with words she went forth to throw off the oppressor’s yoke with swords, and what a fighter this patriotic and inspired heroine proved to be. Deborah sent for Barak, the son of Abinoam of Naphtali, and told him that it was God’s will that he should lead her forces and deliver the country. Long slavery and repeated failures made Barak hesitate, but ultimately he decided to lead the army provided Deborah, the brave-hearted and dauntless ruler, went with him. Barak felt he could face the foe if his ruler were at hand, and out they went to meet Sisera, a mighty man of war, who had terrorized Israel for many years. Great were the odds against Deborah and Barak, for their army consisted of some 10,000 men. Sisera commanded 100,000 fighters, and had 900 iron chariots. When the eventful moment of combat came, the dauntless spirit of Deborah did not quail. True, tremendous odds were against them, but Deborah had God as her Ally and “the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.” A fearful hailstorm overtook the land, and the Canaanites were almost blinded by the rain, and were ultimately overwhelmed in the swollen river of Kishon. Sisera escaped but was killed by Jael while asleep in her tent. (See Jael .) Thus Deborah gained undying fame as the female warrior who rescued her people from their cruel foes.

She Was a Poetess

The prose and poem of Judges 4 and are associated with the same historic event, and reveal that Deborah could not only prophecy, arouse, rule and fight, but also write. It was said of Julius Caesar that, “he wrote with the same ability with which he fought.” This observation can also be true of Deborah, who, after her victory over the Canaanites, composed a song which is regarded as one of the finest specimens of ancient Hebrew poetry, being superior to the celebrated song of Miriam (seeMiriam). This song of praise, found in Judges 5, magnifies the Lord as being the One who enabled Israel’s leaders to conquer their enemies. Out of the contest and conquest came the moral purification of the nation, and the inspiring genius of it was a woman daring and dynamic in the leadership of her nation. No character in the Old Testament stands out in bolder relief than Deborah—prophetess, ruler, warrior and poetess. Her song is immortal because her life was dedicated to God and her deeds heroic and sublime.

She Was a Maternal Figure

The last glimpse we have of Deborah is as “a mother in Israel” (5:7 ). Commenting upon our Lord’s action in taking up little children into His arms and blessing them as being a father’s act in Hebrew custom, Bengel says, “Jesus had no children that He might adopt all children.” Perhaps it was so with Deborah who, as far as we know, had never experienced actual motherhood, but yet became as a mother to all in Israel, and the source of this spiritual motherhood was her piety. Above all of her remarkable gifts was her trust in God which is ever the source of any woman’s highest adornment. As she sat under her palm tree to rule in righteousness and translate the revelation of God, her heart was filled with that “grace divine which diffused itself like a sweet-smelling savor over the whole land.” Hers was a brilliant career because of a heart that was fixed in God. Meroz failed God, and under a curse, vanished, but Deborah is immortal because she served God to the limit of her ability and capacity. She was indeed the female Oliver Cromwell of ancient Israel who went out to fight the Lord’s battles with a psalm on her lips and a sword in her hand.

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Jacob [Jā'cob]—he that supplanteth orfolloweth after.
1. The second son of Isaac and Rebekah, and a twin brother of Esau. Jacob appeared a short time after Esau and is therefore called the younger brother. Isaac was sixty years old when Jacob and Esau were born.

The Man of Two Natures

Jacob is an outstanding illustration of the presence and conflict of the two natures within a believer. Similar to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of Robert Louis Stevenson’s story, Jacob is good and bad; he rises and falls, yet in spite of his failures was a chosen instrument.
Jacob’s character then, is full of interest and difficulty because of its weakness and strength. His is not a life to be described by a single word as, for example, the faith of Abraham or the purity of Joseph. Jacob seemed to have a many-sided life. He was a man of guile, yet a man of prayer . Inconsistencies are everywhere. His life began with a prophetic revelation of God to his mother, but Jacob’s early years were a singular mixture of good and bad—the bad being very bad.
I. Jacob was the victim of his mother’s partiality. “Rebekah loved Jacob” (Gen. 25:28). This fault must be kept in mind as we judge his character.
II. Jacob was selfish. When his brother came in from the fields faint with hunger, Jacob would not give him food without bargaining over it.
III. Jacob was naturally crafty and deceitful. He violated his conscience when he allowed his mother to draw him away from the path of honor and integrity. He practiced deception upon his blind father with the covering of kid skins. Then he told a deliberate lie in order to obtain a spiritual blessing. He further sinned upon most sacred ground, when he blasphemously used the name of the Lord to further his evil plans.
The thoroughness with which he carried out his mother’s plan is one of the worst features in the life of this misguided son. “Had it been me,” says Martin Luther, “I would have dropped the dish.” It would have been better for Jacob had he dropped that dish of venison. But his proficiency in evil doing is to be despised.
In the life of this sharp trader who mended his ways, for there were two remarkable spiritual experiences in his life—at Bethel and Peniel—the preacher might find the following points suggestive: Jacob cheated (Gen. 25:29-34); deceived ( Gen. 27:1-29); was compelled to flee (Gen 27:4328:1-5); was brought on to a higher level (Gen 28:10-22 ); had a romance spoiled, and was paid back in his own coin of deception (Gen. 29:15-30); was affectionate (Gen. 29:18); was industrious (Gen. 31:40); was prayerful ( Gen. 32:9-1224-30); received a divine call to the promised land (Gen. 31); was disciplined by God through affliction ( Gen. 37:2842:36); was a man of faith (Heb. 11:21); was blessed with sons who became the foundation of a nation. The Hebrew nation is spoken of as “the sons of Jacob” and “the children of Israel” (Gen. 4849 Num. 24:19).
2. The father of Joseph, the husband of Mary (Matt. 1:1516).

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Spurgeon-MetropolitanTabernacle-Header-1

Laus Deo (Glory to God)

‘For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.’ Romans 11:36
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:31–11:1
The apostle puts his pen back into the ink bottle and falls on his knees—he cannot help it—he must have a doxology. ‘To whom be glory for ever. Amen.’ Beloved, let us imitate this devotion. I think that this sentence should be the prayer, the motto for every one of us—‘To whom be glory for ever. Amen.’ This should be the single desire of the Christian. I take it that he should not have twenty wishes but only one. He may desire to see his family well brought up, but only that ‘To God may be glory for ever.’ He may wish for prosperity in his business, but only so far as it may help him to promote this—‘To whom be glory for ever.’ He may desire to attain more gifts and more graces, but it should only be that ‘To him may be glory for ever.’ This one thing I know, Christian, you are not acting as you ought to do when you are moved by any other motive than the one motive of your Lord’s glory. As a Christian, you are ‘of him, and through him;’ I pray you be ‘to him.’ Let nothing ever set your heart beating but love to him. Let this ambition fire your soul; be this the foundation of every enterprise upon which you enter, and this your sustaining motive whenever your zeal would grow cold—only make God your object. Depend upon it, where self begins, sorrow begins; but if God be my supreme delight and only object,
‘To me ’tis equal whether love ordain 
My life or death—appoint me ease or pain.’
To me there shall be no choice, when my eye singly looks to God’s glory.
For meditation: If some of us were given one wish, it would not be a patch on the single-minded desires expressed by God’s people in the Bible, such as David (Psalm 27:4), Asaph (Psalm 73:25) and Paul (Philippians 3:8–1013–15). What would your wish be? Could you pray for it with a clear conscience?
Sermon no. 572
29 May (1864)
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Justice satisfied

“Just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Suggested Further Reading: Genesis 50:15-21
I have heard of Mr John Wesley, that he was attended in most of his journeyings by one who loved him very much, and was willing, I believe, to have died for him. Still he was a man of a very stubborn and obstinate disposition, and Mr Wesley was not perhaps the very kindest man at all times. Upon one occasion he said to this man, “Joseph, take these letters to the post.” “I will take them after preaching, sir.” “Take them now, Joseph,” said Mr Wesley. “I wish to hear you preach, sir; and there will be sufficient time for the post after service.” “I insist upon your going now, Joseph.” “I will not go at present.” “You won’t?” “No, sir.” “Then you and I must part,” said Mr Wesley. “Very good, sir.” The good men slept over it. Both were early risers. At four o’clock the next morning, the refractory helper was accosted with, “Joseph, have you considered what I said—that we must part?” “Yes, sir.” “And must we part?” “Please yourself, sir.” “Will you ask my pardon, Joseph?” “No, sir.” “You won’t?” “No, sir.” “Then I will ask yours, Joseph!” Poor Joseph was instantly melted, and they were at once reconciled. When once the grace of God has entered the heart, a man ought to be ready to seek forgiveness for an injury done to another. There is nothing wrong in a man confessing an offence against a fellow-man, and asking pardon for the wrong he has done him. If you have done aught, then, against any man, leave thy gift before the altar, and go and make peace with him, and then come and make peace with God. You are to make confession of your sin to God. Let that be humble and sincere. You cannot mention every offence, but do not hide one.
For meditation: If we cannot bring ourselves to apologise to and to forgive those we have seen, we must know little about true confession to and the forgiveness of God whom we have not seen (Matthew 6:14,151 John 4:20).
Sermon no. 255
29 May (1859)


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May 28, 2012
Tragedy Into Triumph
Mary Southerland
Today's Truth
Romans 8:28 (NIV) "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."
Friend to Friend
I will never forget the day I learned how God really can turn tragedy into triumph. I was sitting at my desk, working on an assignment from the counselor I had been seeing. For months, I had been wrestling with my past - slowly, methodically working through painful issues and buried memories that seemed to be feeding the clinical depression I was battling. As page after page filled with harsh realities, a memory slammed into my heart and mind.
The pain was overwhelming as a vile scene from my childhood slowly took shape. I could hardly breathe as I frantically tried to escape the certainty I had been molested. The perpetrator had been our family doctor and a trusted friend. He had even provided free medical treatment when we couldn't pay for it. I trusted him, counted on him. As a nurse, my mother worked beside this man every day and often babysat his children to earn extra money.
Anger unlike any I had ever known fueled violent thoughts of revenge and retaliation. I was angry with this man – and angry with God. How could He have let this happen? Where was the light in this dark place?
For months, I worked through painful memories and raging emotions until I saw the first glimmer of light. It was wrapped in chosen forgiveness. I began to see that had I never been wounded so badly, I would never have been able to forgive so freely – and in doing so, discover a depth of healing and freedom only the greatest pain can produce. Today, I can honestly thank God for all He has accomplished in me through the sin of that man.
There are no accidents with God, nor is He surprised by anything or anyone in the life of His child. God uses even the most horrendous circumstances for our good. Every circumstance comes to us for a purpose, bound by God's love and plan and faithfully delivered with His permission. While we cannot go back and change our past, we can change the way we respond to our past and determine how much power it has in our lives today.
Only God can take the broken pieces of your life and make something beautiful out of each one. He is waiting for you to let go of your pain and trust Him. And you really can. No one loves you like He does. You may not always understand or even like His process, but you can always trust His heart of love for you!
Let's Pray
Father, I choose to believe You are faithful and will do what You promise to do in Your Word.  I believe when I lay the pain and hurt of my past at Your feet, You not only can but will transform it all into something beautiful. I choose to believe You will turn the broken places of my life into living illustrations of Your sufficiency and healing power. I trust You, Lord. 
In Jesus' name,
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Isaiah 45:3 is one of my favorite life verses. Read it carefully:
Isaiah 45:3 (NLT) "And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name."
What treasures have you discovered in the dark times of your life? What tragedy has God transformed into a triumph that has changed your life? Praise Him right now for doing so.
More from the Girlfriends
Storms are a reality of life. If you need help facing and dealing with the storms in your life, check out Mary's E-Bible Study and video download, Strength for the Storm.
Need help learning how to live a life of power and purpose? Check out Mary's weekly online Bible Study, How to Dress for Success and learn how to live a life of victory. Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.
Seeking God?
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 Parable of the Soils

Matthew 13:18-23 "As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit" ( v. 23).
Matthew groups Jesus' teaching into five major discourses, and the parables in chapter 13 constitute the third of these collections. Of these parables, few are more well known than the parable of the sower (vv. 1-918-23).
Though this parable is more commonly named after the sower of the seed, the "parable of the soils" is a more fitting title. The role of the sower in the story is important, but the parable's point is twofold: first, to explain why different soils - different people - respond differently to the Gospel and, second, to invite us to examine ourselves to think about the kind of soil we hope to be.
The parable and its explanation are straightforward enough. All of the first three people portrayed are ultimately hard in heart, but the hardness is especially clear in the person described inverses 4 and 19 since that individual never shows an interest in the Gospel. His heart is calcified to the point where it resists all penetration by the seed, which is devoured by the Evil One and his minions, who were often represented by birds in first-century Jewish literature.
Those who fall away after professing faith are represented by the second and third soils. Without solid rooting in good soil, plants will wither and die under the sun's heat ( vv. 5-6). Similarly, some people appear to be thriving believers until persecution reveals their true colors (vv. 20-21), just like those in the first century who left Jesus when the going got tough (Heb. 3:12). Others, like vegetation choked by weeds, are strangled by the cares of this world and the love of money (Matt. 13:722). This is an especially dreadful fate, for the one ensnared in such things does not usually know his predicament until it is too late, considering himself Christ's follower even though he serves his riches (Mark 10:17-22).
Yet the fourth soil is notably different. This one understands and bears fruit - he accepts and conforms his life to the Gospel ( Matt. 13:8-923). The presence of fruit, not its quantity, is what matters. John Calvin says, "The fertility of that soil which yields a thirty-fold produce is small compared with that which yields a hundred-fold...[but Jesus] classes together all kinds of soil which do not entirely disappoint the labors and expectations of the husbandman."

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Matthew Henry writes: "That which distinguished this good ground from the rest, was, in one word, fruitfulness. He does not say that this good ground has no stones in it, or no thorns; but there were none that prevailed to hinder its fruitfulness." Stones or thorns may be found in the good soil of a true believer's heart, but such obstructions do not finally prevent him from bearing fruit. Despite your remaining sin, is your life bearing fruit for Christ?
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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Personal Development: Self-discipline

The apostle Paul understood the importance of discipline. In this passage he emphasized that as followers of Christ our spiritual lives form the core of our character. As we spend time in the disciplines of the spirit, we're to be like runners or boxers. During the course of a race, runners don't stagger from one lane to another. They rivet their attention on the finish line and run a disciplined race toward it. So also boxers train with purpose so they can absorb powerful blows without falling down. They build up their physical stamina so that their legs will hold out for the final rounds.
Paul trained for his daily spiritual journey like a world-class athlete. Why? Because he wanted to have the self-control to finish the race without being disqualified. Godly leaders need to cultivate this same kind of spiritual fitness. Doing so can and will affect other areas of leadership life-how we treat others, where we go for answers to major decisions, and the skills we use in accomplishing our daily tasks.
If you want to be an effective leader, identify the habits you need to build into your life so you can lead with diligence-habits such as physical fitness, balance between work and home, financial and personal accountability, proactivity in the workplace, and the like. Strap on your shoes and get going. Disciplined habits will give you the momentum you need to not only move forward, but also to run your earthly race with strength and purpose. Read this passage again to see how this amazing man disciplined his life so magnificently that he became God's champion.
Self-discipline and Who God Is
History has repeatedly witnessed the combination of great power without moral restraint, and the results have always been disastrous. How reassuring to know that the ultimate power behind all things is also the supreme source of good who demonstrates patience and mercy toward humanity. Turn to Jeremiah 18:1-12 to see God's loving forbearance and restraint in action.
Self-discipline and Who I Am
Composure, presence of mind, cool-headedness, patience, self-possession, restraint-only a few people display these qualities, and those who do usually make effective leaders. People who demonstrate the fruit of self-control are productive, dependable and influential. Turn to 2 Timothy 1:7 to study Paul's exhortation to his coworker Timothy.
Self-discipline and How It Works
Self-discipline may be defined simply as that quality that allows a person to do what needs to be done when he or she doesn't feel like doing it. From that basic working definition we look at an example of a woman who exhibited great self-discipline in her own life, and reaped the rewards of her efforts. Turn to Proverbs 31:10-31 for today's study.
Self-discipline and What I Do
The need for self-discipline applies in a leader's personal life as well as in the workplace. Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend offer some specific advice regarding how this can be done. Turn to Proverbs 12:26 for today's reading.
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Passage to memorize this week:
PROVERBS 23:22-25Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding. The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him. May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice!

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Glynnis Whitwer
May 28, 2012
The Leading Role
Glynnis Whitwer
"Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching." Proverbs 1:8 (NIV)
When our third son was born, the balance of power shifted in our family. My husband and I were outnumbered and the three little blue-blankets knew it. Every day it seemed a conspiracy was afoot to make me slightly bonkers.
I devoured parenting books but usually slapped them down on the coffee table in disgust. The authors offered great advice, but not one told me what to do when three little boys were misbehaving in three different ways at exactly the same time.
Was I the first mother in the history of the world to have this situation?
Frustration at my inability to get things under control increased daily. Why couldn't I manage my children? I had been successful in my career, scored high in leadership on several spiritual gifts tests and easily led others in clubs or organizations.
So what happened? Where was my initiative? My influence? Rather than a leader to follow, my boys saw a frazzled woman with no vision. No wonder they weren't lining up to obey.
And there I was feeling like a prisoner with three little wardens. I had relinquished my authority and was simply trying to survive.
The day finally came when I decided to make a change. It was the day I realized motherhood is another opportunity to lead. Proverbs 1:8 reminded me that that God had called me to instruct, teach and lead my boys, not the other way around!
The more I thought about it, the more excited I became. It energized me to consider motherhood as a leadership role. And I longed to learn more.
Yet I was also concerned about usurping the authority of Jesus and my husband in my children's lives. Each day I prayerfully asked God to help me live within His hierarchy of honor and respect while showing me how to effectively lead my children.
I was desperate for direction and wisdom from God, which meant lots of time in His Word seeking to understand my position in Christ and as a mom.
It meant reminding myself on those really hard days, "I am the mother, I am the mother."
It also meant leading and modeling the behavior I wanted to see in them, rather than pouting, which is what I often felt like doing. And oh my, is this hard.
Leading as a mother is particularly difficult given the dailyness of it. Plus my emotional responses aren't always logical. So when I get worn down with challenges and disappointments, I'm tempted to let my children lead. Rather than setting the bar high, I think about lowering it just to get through the day.
Sometimes I do. Sometimes I give in when I should stand strong. And in those moments of weakness I've discovered God's grace is there for me ... especially then. For it's in in the weakest moments of my parenting that God has seemed the closest. And knowing He's there for me gives me courage to try again.
Since those hard early years, God added two little girls to our family through adoption and those little boys are now 20, 18 and 16. I truly love teaching and instructing my kids. But some days are still hard; on those days I remind myself that I'm the mother. And I'm still seeking God's direction and wisdom for this new phase of parenting and transitional leadership.
Leading my children is the hardest job I've ever tackled. The costs have been high. But for the five young people who call me "Mom," it's a price I'm willing to pay.
Dear Lord, thank You for being a leader I can follow. You inspire me to be the woman You've called me to be. But I need Your help to encourage and inspire those You've put in my care. Stir up in me a passion for godly leadership. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:Need encouragement and ideas to not only manage your kids but to manage your home and your busy schedule? If so, join Melissa Taylor's new online study of Glynnis Whitwer's book: I Used to Be So Organized. For more information click here.
Visit Glynnis' blog where she discusses the difference between leading and managing children.
Want help taking care of the practical parts of your life? Consider I Used to Be So Organized by Glynnis Whitwer
When Your Child Is Hurting by Glynnis Whitwer
Reflect and Respond:
Few people willingly step into positions of leadership. Why do so many avoid leading?
We all have the opportunity to lead others. What is one thing you can do to develop your influence?
Power Verses:
1 Corinthians 11:3, "But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God." (ESV)
Proverbs 31:30, "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." (NIV)
© 2012 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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The Parable of the Soils

Matthew Henry writes: "That which distinguished this good ground from the rest, was, in one word, fruitfulness. He does not say that this good ground has no stones in it, or no thorns; but there were none that prevailed to hinder its fruitfulness." Stones or thorns may be found in the good soil of a true believer's heart, but such obstructions do not finally prevent him from bearing fruit. Despite your remaining sin, is your life bearing fruit for Christ?
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

Are You Opposing God?

Additional Scripture Readings: Jonah 1:2-3:3; Matthew 28:19-20
Peter had resisted taking the gospel to the Gentiles. It made no sense to him to share the good news of salvation with those who were not of Jewish descent. Except for a few Samaritans and other such stragglers who had "detoured" into the faith, few believers were from outside of Judaism. A direct evangelistic effort toward Gentiles? How bizarre!
But after God revealed his will to Peter through a vision, Peter began to reexamine his position asking, "Who was I to think that I could oppose God?"
Are you resisting the opportunity to share God with a co-worker? With a neighbor? Is there someone in your family who has been an unbeliever for so long (like the Gentiles) that you can't picture him or her becoming a believer (like Peter)? Are you opposing God?
God desires all to believe in him and experience a relationship of love with him-no matter what you or I think. Who are you to oppose God?
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Real Joy

Several years ago, at a women's retreat where their theme was "Experiencing the Joy!" I remember telling them that "real joy is knowing the depth of your sin and the extent of your idolatry." Until you believe with your whole being that, given the right set of circumstances, you are capable of committing any sin, and until you know that apart from Christ there is nothing that's naturally good in you, then you will never know real joy.
Real joy is knowing how bad I am and then comparing it to how much I have been forgiven. Jesus said it himself: Those who have been forgiven much, love much. Their gratitude spills over, and they find themselves crazy in love with God, falling at his feet, worshiping with abandon. They find themselves loving others extravagantly and forgiving others from the heart. For not only do those who have been forgiven much love much, but they forgive much too (see Luke 7:41-48 ). As the Bible instructs, we are to "be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32).
Although some sins are more heinous than others-murder is more detrimental to society than entertaining lustful thoughts or stealing a packet of Sweet 'N Low-all sin is grievous to God. All sin separates us from him. All sin is serious . . .
Whenever my heart starts to grow cold, when I take comfort in being "not so bad" and seek satisfaction in feeling superior to others, all I need is to look at the cross of Christ. Then, once I see clearly that it was me who put Jesus there, I remember his words to another sinful woman: "Your sins are forgiven . . . Your faith has saved you; go in peace" (Luke 7:4850).
-Nancy Kennedy

Reflection

  1. Put yourself in Hosea's place. How do you think he felt when he was asked to take back an adulteress wife?
  2. Now put yourself in Hosea's wife's place. How grateful do you think she was for Hosea's love? How does it make you feel to know that God is always willing to take you back-regardless of how "bad" you are?
  3. Spend some time reflecting on the thought that real joy is knowing how much you've been forgiven. Thank your heavenly Husband for forgiving you and loving you enough to send his Son to provide perfect peace and joy.
Hosea 3:1 
The LORD said to me, "Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes."

Related Readings

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STRATEGIC LEVEL SPIRITUAL WARFARE

Then he [angel] continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Daniel 10:12-13
There is considerable interest and teaching today about “territorial spirits,” that is, spiritual warfare waged against high-ranking principalities and powers assigned to a locale. The Scripture passage here indicates that a particular evil spirit was assigned to Daniel’s human government or territory. But what we lack biblically is any example of or injunction to engage these spirits directly or by name. Daniel only prayed to his God who sovereignly directs angels to war against the territorial rulers. The Apostle Paul taught that demonic emissaries who attack the church and hinder its mission can be overcome only through reliance on the power of God.
That same power of God is much needed in the world today. For example, witchcraft is being used as a strategic weapon by traditional Indian authorities in western Colombia in an attempt to weaken and even stamp out the faith of indigenous Christians. Sorcerers or witchdoctors, called te walas by the indigenous peoples, have started sending messengers to sit in the back during church services, rather than going directly themselves. When the pastors invite listeners to receive Christ, these messengers say, “No, we have just come to listen.” But while Christians are praying, the te walas sprinkle the cursed waters around the church.
If their incantations bring no results, the te walasthemselves come to the church, surrounding it with occult rites to cause the believers to lose their desire to pray and read the Bible. In some recent night-time visits by these traditional “healers,” the witchdoctors made pacts with animal blood as well as sprinkled their cursed waters on the church.
A seventeen-year-old girl in one church was induced to participate in these practices, despite having Christian parents. She actually made a pact of witchcraft, her pastor said, to give over one of her relatives to Satan. Discouraged, her parents cannot understand how this could happen in their home, where she learned to know and love God. Church leaders and the pastor have united with this family to intercede for urgently for this young girl’s deliverance. The pastor admitted that he feared that more such cases are happening that have yet to be discovered. They need our prayers.
RESPONSE: Today I’ll not underestimate the power of God to defeat all that Satan throws against me.
PRAYER: Lord, may Your mighty power overcome the evil united against Your church in Colombia.
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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