Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Daily Devotional Tuesday 8th May

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"He that was healed wist not who it was."
John 5:13
Years are short to the happy and healthy; but thirty-eight years of disease must have dragged a very weary length along the life of the poor impotent man. When Jesus, therefore, healed him by a word, while he lay at the pool of Bethesda, he was delightfully sensible of a change. Even so the sinner who has for weeks and months been paralysed with despair, and has wearily sighed for salvation, is very conscious of the change when the Lord Jesus speaks the word of power, and gives joy and peace in believing. The evil removed is too great to be removed without our discerning it; the life imparted is too remarkable to be possessed and remain inoperative; and the change wrought is too marvellous not to be perceived. Yet the poor man was ignorant of the author of his cure; he knew not the sacredness of his person, the offices which he sustained, or the errand which brought him among men. Much ignorance of Jesus may remain in hearts which yet feel the power of his blood. We must not hastily condemn men for lack of knowledge; but where we can see the faith which saves the soul, we must believe that salvation has been bestowed. The Holy Spirit makes men penitents long before he makes them divines; and he who believes what he knows, shall soon know more clearly what he believes. Ignorance is, however, an evil; for this poor man was much tantalized by the Pharisees, and was quite unable to cope with them. It is good to be able to answer gainsayers; but we cannot do so if we know not the Lord Jesus clearly and with understanding. The cure of his ignorance, however, soon followed the cure of his infirmity, for he was visited by the Lord in the temple; and after that gracious manifestation, he was found testifying that "it was Jesus who had made him whole." Lord, if thou hast saved me, show me thyself, that I may declare thee to the sons of men.

Evening

"Acquaint now thyself with him."
Job 22:21
If we would rightly "acquaint ourselves with God, and be at peace," we must know him as he has revealed himself, not only in the unity of his essence and subsistence, but also in the plurality of his persons. God said, "Let us make man in our own image"--let not man be content until he knows something of the "us" from whom his being was derived. Endeavour to know the Father; bury your head in his bosom in deep repentance, and confess that you are not worthy to be called his son; receive the kiss of his love; let the ring which is the token of his eternal faithfulness be on your finger; sit at his table and let your heart make merry in his grace. Then press forward and seek to know much of the Son of God who is the brightness of his Father's glory, and yet in unspeakable condescension of grace became man for our sakes; know him in the singular complexity of his nature: eternal God, and yet suffering, finite man; follow him as he walks the waters with the tread of deity, and as he sits upon the well in the weariness of humanity. Be not satisfied unless you know much of Jesus Christ as your Friend, your Brother, your Husband, your all. Forget not the Holy Spirit; endeavour to obtain a clear view of his nature and character, his attributes, and his works. Behold that Spirit of the Lord, who first of all moved upon chaos, and brought forth order; who now visits the chaos of your soul, and creates the order of holiness. Behold him as the Lord and giver of spiritual life, the Illuminator, the Instructor, the Comforter, and the Sanctifier. Behold him as, like holy unction, he descends upon the head of Jesus, and then afterwards rests upon you who are as the skirts of his garments. Such an intelligent, scriptural, and experimental belief in the Trinity in Unity is yours if you truly know God; and such knowledge brings peace indeed.

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Today's reading: 2 Kings 1-3, Luke 24:1-35 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
The LORD’s Judgment on Ahaziah
    1 After Ahab’s death, Moab rebelled against Israel. 2 Now Ahaziah had fallen through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria and injured himself. So he sent messengers, saying to them, “Go and consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, to see if I will recover from this injury.”
   3 But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Go up and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?’ 4 Therefore this is what the LORD says: ‘You will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!’” So Elijah went.
   5 When the messengers returned to the king, he asked them, “Why have you come back?”
   6 “A man came to meet us,” they replied. “And he said to us, ‘Go back to the king who sent you and tell him, “This is what the LORD says: Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!”’”
   7 The king asked them, “What kind of man was it who came to meet you and told you this?”
   8 They replied, “He had a garment of hair and had a leather belt around his waist.”
   The king said, “That was Elijah the Tishbite.”
   9 Then he sent to Elijah a captain with his company of fifty men. The captain went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, “Man of God, the king says, ‘Come down!’”
   10 Elijah answered the captain, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men.
   11 At this the king sent to Elijah another captain with his fifty men. The captain said to him, “Man of God, this is what the king says, ‘Come down at once!’”
   12 “If I am a man of God,” Elijah replied, “may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then the fire of God fell from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men.
   13 So the king sent a third captain with his fifty men. This third captain went up and fell on his knees before Elijah. “Man of God,” he begged, “please have respect for my life and the lives of these fifty men, your servants! 14 See, fire has fallen from heaven and consumed the first two captains and all their men. But now have respect for my life!”
   15 The angel of the LORD said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.” So Elijah got up and went down with him to the king.
   16 He told the king, “This is what the LORD says: Is it because there is no God in Israel for you to consult that you have sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron? Because you have done this, you will never leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!” 17 So he died, according to the word of the LORD that Elijah had spoken.
   Because Ahaziah had no son, Joram succeeded him as king in the second year of Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah. 18 As for all the other events of Ahaziah’s reign, and what he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?

2 Kings 2

Elijah Taken Up to Heaven
    1 When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the LORD has sent me to Bethel.”
   But Elisha said, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.
   3 The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?”
   “Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “so be quiet.”
   4 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the LORD has sent me to Jericho.”
   And he replied, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho.
   5 The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?”
   “Yes, I know,” he replied, “so be quiet.”
   6 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.”
   And he replied, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on.
   7 Fifty men from the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.
   9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”
   “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.
   10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.”
   11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two.
   13 Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.
   15 The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, “The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.” And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. 16“Look,” they said, “we your servants have fifty able men. Let them go and look for your master. Perhaps the Spirit of the LORD has picked him up and set him down on some mountain or in some valley.”
   “No,” Elisha replied, “do not send them.”
   17 But they persisted until he was too embarrassed to refuse. So he said, “Send them.” And they sent fifty men, who searched for three days but did not find him. 18 When they returned to Elisha, who was staying in Jericho, he said to them, “Didn’t I tell you not to go?”
Healing of the Water
    19 The people of the city said to Elisha, “Look, our lord, this town is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive.”
   20 “Bring me a new bowl,” he said, “and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him.
   21 Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, “This is what the LORD says: ‘I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.’”22 And the water has remained pure to this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken.
Elisha Is Jeered
    23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. 25 And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.

2 Kings 3

Moab Revolts
    1 Joram son of Ahab became king of Israel in Samaria in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned twelve years. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, but not as his father and mother had done. He got rid of the sacred stone of Baal that his father had made. 3 Nevertheless he clung to the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit; he did not turn away from them.
   4 Now Mesha king of Moab raised sheep, and he had to pay the king of Israel a tribute of a hundred thousand lambs and the wool of a hundred thousand rams. 5 But after Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. 6 So at that time King Joram set out from Samaria and mobilized all Israel.7 He also sent this message to Jehoshaphat king of Judah: “The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to fight against Moab?”
   “I will go with you,” he replied. “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.”
   8 “By what route shall we attack?” he asked.
   “Through the Desert of Edom,” he answered.
   9 So the king of Israel set out with the king of Judah and the king of Edom. After a roundabout march of seven days, the army had no more water for themselves or for the animals with them.
   10 “What!” exclaimed the king of Israel. “Has the LORD called us three kings together only to deliver us into the hands of Moab?”
   11 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no prophet of the LORD here, through whom we may inquire of the LORD?”
   An officer of the king of Israel answered, “Elisha son of Shaphat is here. He used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.”
   12 Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the LORD is with him.” So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.
   13 Elisha said to the king of Israel, “Why do you want to involve me? Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother.”
   “No,” the king of Israel answered, “because it was the LORD who called us three kings together to deliver us into the hands of Moab.”
   14 Elisha said, “As surely as the LORD Almighty lives, whom I serve, if I did not have respect for the presence of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I would not pay any attention to you. 15 But now bring me a harpist.”
   While the harpist was playing, the hand of the LORD came on Elisha 16 and he said, “This is what the LORD says: I will fill this valley with pools of water. 17 For this is what the LORD says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. 18 This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD; he will also deliver Moab into your hands. 19 You will overthrow every fortified city and every major town. You will cut down every good tree, stop up all the springs, and ruin every good field with stones.”
   20 The next morning, about the time for offering the sacrifice, there it was—water flowing from the direction of Edom! And the land was filled with water.
   21 Now all the Moabites had heard that the kings had come to fight against them; so every man, young and old, who could bear arms was called up and stationed on the border. 22 When they got up early in the morning, the sun was shining on the water. To the Moabites across the way, the water looked red—like blood. 23 “That’s blood!” they said. “Those kings must have fought and slaughtered each other. Now to the plunder, Moab!”
   24 But when the Moabites came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and fought them until they fled. And the Israelites invaded the land and slaughtered the Moabites. 25They destroyed the towns, and each man threw a stone on every good field until it was covered. They stopped up all the springs and cut down every good tree. Only Kir Hareseth was left with its stones in place, but men armed with slings surrounded it and attacked it.
   26 When the king of Moab saw that the battle had gone against him, he took with him seven hundred swordsmen to break through to the king of Edom, but they failed. 27 Then he took his firstborn son, who was to succeed him as king, and offered him as a sacrifice on the city wall. The fury against Israel was great; they withdrew and returned to their own land.

Luke 24

Jesus Has Risen
    1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8Then they remembered his words.
   9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
On the Road to Emmaus
    13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
   17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
   They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
   19 “What things?” he asked.
   “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
   25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
   28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
   30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
   33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

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Lois

Scripture Reference2 Timothy 1:5
Name Meaning—Agreeable ordesirable
While there are numerous grandmothers mentioned in the Bible, as these cameos show, the term “grandmother” itself is only used once in the Bible, and that is in connection with Lois, the mother of Eunice, and grandmother of Timothy (see Eunice ). Lois preserves in her name an old Greek word and corresponds to Naamah and Naomi, both of which carry a similar significance. We can imagine how the nature of Lois corresponded to the implication of her name.
Lois was a devout Jewess who had instructed her beloved daughter and grandson in Old Testament Scriptures. The family lived at Lystra, and it is possible that Paul, during his visit there, had the joy of leading Lois, Eunice, and Timothy to Christ ( Acts 14:6716:1), and then wrote of the “unfeigned faith” that dwelt in all three. We have no record of Timothy’s father apart from the fact that he was a Gentile. Fausset observes, “One godly parent may counteract the bad influence of the ungodly, and win the child to Christ” ( 1 Corinthians 7:14;2 Timothy 3:15). Paul dwells upon the faith of the mother and grandmother alone in the spiritual instruction of Timothy who became his son in the faith.

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Absalom [Ăb’salŏm]—father of peace.The third son of David by his wife Maacah, daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur. He was born of a polygamous marriage (2 Sam. 3:21314).

The Man Whose Lovely Hair Meant His Death

What a singular fascination there is in the story of Absalom who, lacking capacity, certainly made up for it in charm! As to the story of his rebellion against David his father, such a heartless deed carries with it one of the most solemn lessons in the whole of the Bible. Let us briefly touch on some aspects of Absalom’s character and conduct.
I. He was of royal descent on both sides, for his mother was a king’s daughter. Undoubtedly he was heir to the throne, and the favorite, the idol of his father.
II. He was gifted with remarkable physical beauty—“no blemish in him” (2 Sam. 14:25). A commanding presence, natural dignity, extraordinary graces of person made him a conspicuous figure.
III. He also possessed a charm of eloquence and persuasiveness which won him the hearts of all Israel, who felt that in him they had a God-sent champion.
IV. He had a traitorous nature. Absalom murdered his own brother ( 2 Sam. 13:29), was guilty of designing politeness (2 Sam. 15:23), and conspired against his own father ( 2 Sam. 15:1314).
V. He came to an untimely end (2 Sam. 18:9 ). Having everything in his favor—a throne ready made for him, and fortune bowing at his feet to load him with favors, his life ended in tragedy. Brilliant in its beginnings, he was buried like a dog in a pit in a lonely wood, leaving a name that was execrated. What brought Absalom to his Paradise Lost?
A. His all-absorbing egotism. Self-aggrandizement was Absalom’s sin. He had no thought, no feeling, no pity for anyone else but himself. Those around him were only of use to him as they helped him to secure his own desires and build up his own grandeur. Filial affection and generous sentiment were sacrificed on the altar of his inordinate ambition. But in trying to save his life, he lost it.
B. His was a practical godlessness. Those around Absalom recognized God, and had a religious faith giving some restraint and principle to their conduct. But the handsome, selfish, scheming Absalom had none of this feeling. He was his own master. His own will was his only law. He was destitute of principle and destitute of faith. Love, tenderness, pity, were not his traits because he had no reverence for God.
C. His glory brought about his final tragedy. Adding to the beauty of Absalom was his flowing hair forming a crown to his person which made him the delight of Israel’s daughters. Being proud of his chief ornament he must have carefully attended to it. But as Absalom was pursued by Joab’s men his beautiful hair was caught fast in the thick and tangled boughs of an oak tree and he could not free himself. Thus his graceful personal endowment left him a target for those who hated him and sought his death.
May such a lesson not be lost upon us! Our chief glory can become the cause of our greatest shame. Our choicest endowments and most cherished gifts can become our greatest temptations. Our gifts, like ourselves, need to be rewashed every day in the fountain of God’s truth, and guarded and sanctified by prayer, if they are to be fit for the highest service.

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Tracie Miles
May 7, 2012
But I Have a Right to Be Angry
Tracie Miles
"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires." James 1:19-20 (NLT)
I had been lied to, betrayed and hurt. I was angry, and thought I had every right to be.
Day after day, anger crushed my desire to forgive. Although I had asked God to fill my heart with mercy, my mental list of reasons I should be mad kept overriding my empty prayers.
It was as if voices in my head were arguing with each other. One tried to convince me I was correct in feeling angry; the other tried to persuade me that mercy was the right choice.
For months, the loudest voice was the one that aligned with my damaged emotions, and unfortunately the one I listened to. Yes, I have a right to be angry. Anyone would agree.
Listening to the voice of bitterness and unforgiveness, I started lashing out in my actions with impatience and unkindness. Oh, I could play the good-Christian-girl for a while, masking my feelings. But if something was said or done to trigger my suppressed hurt, hostility and resentment would catapult to the surface.
Reading our key verse from James one morning, I felt God urging me to realize the misleading direction my emotions were taking me, and damage they were doing. I couldn't help but notice how it says "everyone" should be slow to speak and slow to anger.
This truth from God's Word left no room for my excuses or righteous indignation, even though I felt like my anger was justified for being wronged. And then a few verses later, I read James 1:22"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says" (NIV).
I knew that from a worldly perspective, I had every right to be angry. But from God's perspective, my anger was adding to the sin of the situation. My unforgiveness was keeping me from living out the reality of the Gospel in my own life-by extending the same mercy and forgiveness God has given me through Jesus.
Through the words of James, God softened my heart, making me aware that although I said I'd forgiven this person with my words, I had not forgiven with my heart and it was time to do so and move on.
In every area of life, including managing our most powerful emotions, God tells us to be quick to listen (to Him and others), slow to speak and slow to become angry. As we apply these practices in our relationships, we become 'doers' of His Word, not just 'hearers' and that leads to the righteousness God desires in each of us.
Dear Lord, please forgive me for harboring anger in my heart. Equip me with a supernatural ability to forgive those who have hurt me and to guard my heart when old emotions threaten to surface. Strip my heart of anger and replace it with joy. Thank You for Your mercy. Help me be more merciful because of You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?
Visit Tracie's blog for more discussion on anger management and forgiveness.
30 Days To Taming Your Tongue by Deborah Smith Pegues
When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We wish we could, but we simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you!
Reflect and Respond:
Have you felt justified in your anger towards someone?
Today, might you ask God to help you sincerely forgive them with your whole heart, so you can be freed from the bondage of negative emotions?
Power Verses:
Ephesians 4:26-27, "In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold." (NIV)
Ephesians 4:30-31, "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice." (NIV)
© 2012 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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Skills: Empowerment

Jesus commissioned his disciples to reach the world with his message. Then, as only Jesus could, he gave them the power needed to succeed. He promised them the Holy Spirit, who would work through them to achieve God's plan. A few important observations about this passage can stimulate our thinking about empowerment.
First, Jesus did not promise his disciples authority or influence. Rather, he promised them "power," the only resource they really needed in order to succeed at the job he had given them. By promising to supply what they needed in order to succeed, Jesus empowered his followers.
Leaders can't literally confer power upon others. Delegating authority without resources does not automatically empower others. Leaders can, however, supply the resources and create the conditions that allow people to develop the power they need to do their jobs. Effective leaders think in terms of "enablement" and "freedom" in order to empower their followers.
A second essential to effective empowerment may be observed by noting when the events of Acts 1:8 occurred. Jesus had spent three years educating these men to lead the church. Only at the point at which they could properly manage the resource did Jesus empower them. Jesus invested time and energy developing these leaders. Then he supplied what they needed to accomplish the task he had given them. The leader who offers empowerment too early sets up followers for failure. On the other hand, the leader who fails to empower capable people creates frustration. Leaders should empower only people who are prepared.
How, in your setting, can you truly empower others to succeed?
Empowerment and Who God Is
Christianity is not a set of regulations and instructions but the key to a life-giving relationship with the person by whom and for whom we were created. It is not a matter of telling us what to do. It is rather a matter of God empowering us to be the people we were meant to be. Turn to Romans 8:1-39 to review the richness of the resources we enjoy through the indwelling Spirit of God.
Empowerment and Who I Am
As you look back over the course of the years, who are the people who have made significant investments in your life? In what ways have they empowered you? Conversely, what investments have you made in the lives of others? Turn to Titus 2:15 for a model of a man who personally equipped and empowered others.
Empowerment and How It Works
On Day 1 we looked at Luke's record in Acts of Jesus' empowerment of his disciples. Since this event reflects history's greatest moment of empowerment (think about it!), let's look at another account of it. Further principles of empowerment may be found in Matthew 28:18-20.
Empowerment and What I Do
Leaders do more than merely point people in the right direction; they empower them to do the job. Warren Bennie and Burt Nanus articulate the nature of empowerment and John 16:5-15 reveals Jesus' understanding and implementation of empowerment.


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May 7, 2012

Taking Every Thought Captive
Part 1
Sharon Jaynes
Today's Truth
"We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5 NASB).
Friend to Friend
Several years ago, my family went on an excursion out West. We flew to Nevada, rented a car, and then proceeded to log in 2500 miles in ten days. One of our stops was Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Cowboy Country.
On Saturday night, we attended the local rodeo. There we sat, three city slickers among whoopin' hollerin' locals. The cowboys' skills entertained and amazed those of us who thought a Bronco was a 4-wheel drive. Cowboys, young and old, rode bucking broncos, raced around barrels, and conquered angry bulls. But the most thrilling event was the lassoing contest.
We all sat on the edge of our seats as the cowboy waited, poised in his saddle, anticipating the calf's release from the chute. The corral door swung open and the calf burst from the gate. The cowboy exploded through a second door with lasso in hand, and pursued the bucking, twisting, galloping animal. He lassoed the calf's neck, threw him to the ground, quickly wrapped the rope around his legs, tied them securely in place, and immediately jumped up and raised his arms in victory. As the victor stood receiving his applause, his trained steed took three steps backward to secure the rope in place. 
The timer continued to run for a few seconds to make sure the calf was indeed captive.  Then the cowboy's time was posted on the scoreboard. Time and time again, cowhands lassoed little calves, secured their captives, and raised their hands in victory. Only a few times did a calf escape the rope and make his way out the door on the other end of the corral.
I'll admit that I was feeling a bit sorry for the little calves, even though they were released as soon as the time was logged. The first time one escaped the lasso, I applauded wildly.  Angry onlookers let me know with a glare that cheering for the calf was not acceptable.  As I continued to watch the contest, the Lord prodded my mind and told me to look and learn. Suddenly it hit me. This event was a perfect picture of what Paul described in today's truth.
Those calves reminded me of wild and wooly thoughts that burst forth from the stable of my mind at times: negative, rebellious, fearful, angry, worrisome, jealous, degrading thoughts that are untamed and unruly, bucking, jumping and running wild across pleasant plains. And when my thoughts are ungodly, my reaction should be like the cowboy's: ride up hot on the thought's heels, lasso it with the truth, tie it up securely, and throw it in the dust. My response should be just like the cowboy's trusty trained horse who, automatically, because of practice, takes three steps backward to make sure the deceptive thought "ain't goin' nowhere."            
Trained because of practice. Taking every thought captive. Yes siree. Let's lasso those thoughts little sister, tie 'em up, and throw em' back in the dust where they came from in the first place. Then we can raise our arms in victory with all the heavenly hosts applauding in victory. And believe me, the faster we do it, the better.
In my next four devotions, we'll look at four simple steps for taking every thought captive. Mary and Gwen's devotions will be interspersed. I don't want you to miss them. I couldn't go a week without these gal pals. But when I return, I'll pick right back up where we left off in taking every thought captive.
 My prayer is that you'll put these steps into practice in your own life and light up the scoreboard with victory in lassoing those runaway thoughts.
See you next time!
Let's Pray
Dear Heavenly Father, sometimes my thoughts run wild. I believe things are true when they aren't and don't believe things are true when they are. Help me to take every thought captive that is not of You. Fill me with Your Truth.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
When is the last time you had a runaway thought that was not godly?
At what point did you realize the thought was not of God?
Look up Philippians 4:8 and meditate on this litmus test for our thoughts.
Pick one of the guidelines from Philippians 4:8 and tell me which one you are going to focus on today atwww.facebook.com/sharonjaynes.
More from the Girlfriends
Every spiritual battle is won or lost at the threshold of the mind. If you would like to learn more about how to take every thought captive, Sharon's book, I'm Not Good Enough…and Other Lies Women Tell Themselves, is the perfect resourceThis will help you change that stinkin' thinkin' and start believing the truth. While you're there, download a free sample chapter and watch the introductory video.
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
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The necessity of the Spirit’s work

“And I will put my Spirit within you.” Ezekiel 36:27
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:1-13
Talking one day with a countryman, he used this figure: “In the middle of winter I sometimes think how well I could mow; and in early spring I think, how I would like to reap; I feel just ready for it; but when mowing time comes, I find I have no strength to spare.” So when you have no troubles, couldn’t you mow them down at once? When you have no work to do, couldn’t you do it? But when work and trouble come, you find how difficult it is. Many Christians are like the stag, who talked to itself, and said, “Why should I run away from the dogs? Look what a fine pair of horns I’ve got, and look what heels I’ve got too; I might do these hounds some mischief. Why not let me stand and show them what I can do with my antlers? I can keep off any quantity of dogs.” No sooner did the dogs bark, than off the stag went. So with us. “Let sin arise,” we say, “we will soon rip it up, and destroy it; let trouble come, we will soon get over it;” but when sin and trouble come, we then find what our weakness is. Then we have to cry for the help of the Spirit; and through him we can do all things, though without him we can do nothing at all. In all the acts of the Christian’s life, whether it be the act of consecrating one’s self to Christ, or the act of daily prayer, or the act of constant submission, or preaching the gospel, or ministering to the necessities of the poor, or comforting the desponding, in all these the Christian finds his weakness and his powerlessness, unless he is clothed about with the Spirit of God.
For meditation: The Christian is dependant on the Holy Spirit for gifts, graces (Galatians 5:22,23) and devotions (Romans 8:26). Do you serve God in the strength which he supplies ( 1 Peter 4:11) or are you content to struggle on uselessly in your own strength?
Sermon no. 251
8 May (1859)

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What God cannot do!

‘God, that cannot lie.’ Titus 1:2
Suggested Further Reading: John 17:6–19
Walking through our museums nowadays, we smile at those who think that Scripture is not true. Every block of stone from Nineveh, every relic which has been brought from the Holy Land, speaks with a tongue which must be heard even by the deaf adder of secularism, and which says, ‘Yes, the Bible is true, and the Word of God is no fiction.’ Beloved, we may rest assured that we have not a word in the Book of God which is untrue. There may be an interpolation or two of man’s which ought to be revised and taken away, but the Book as it comes from God is truth, and nothing but truth; not only containing God’s Word, but being God’s Word; being not like a lump of gold inside a mass of quartz, but all gold, and nothing but gold; and being inspired to the highest degree. I will not say verbally inspired but more than that, having a fulness more than that which the letter can convey, having in it a profundity of meaning such as words never had when used by any other being, God having the power to speak a multitude of truths at once. And when he means to teach us one thing according to our capability of receiving it, he often teaches us twenty other things, which for the time we do not comprehend, but which by and by, as our senses are exercised, reveal themselves by the Holy Spirit. Every time I open my Bible I will read it as the Word of ‘God, that cannot lie;’ and when I get a promise or a threatening, I will either rejoice or tremble because I know that these stand fast.
For meditation: Because God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18), he does not lie (Numbers 23:19). Every word of his is pure truth (Proverbs 30:5John 17:17 ). Do you love that as good news or hate it as bad news?
Sermon no. 568
8 May (1864)

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A Fresh Start

Starting over. It's the second chance we didn't think we'd have. It's a wave of relief that washes over our past mistakes. It is a gift from God we don't deserve.
In the book of Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah looks back at the destruction of Jerusalem. God promised that his people would face punishment for their sinful choices, and he was true to his word. Their city had been ravaged, and they were now living in exile. The temple was completely destroyed.
In the midst of Jeremiah's lament, however, he remembers the mercy of God. Were it not for God's mercy, every one of God's people would have perished. The judgment on them was painful, but God would not leave them ruined. Eventually, after they acknowledged their disobedience and confessed their sin, God would forgive and restore them. He would allow them to start over once more. And he does the same for us.
Maybe you have experienced the discipline of God in your own life. You have suffered painful consequences for sinful choices you have made. Perhaps you feel that God has left you there. If so, remember that although God is just, he is also full of mercy. His compassions never fail. He promises to forgive us when we come to him and confess what we have done or not done. No matter how you have offended God, you can have hope because of his great mercy. You can always have a fresh start with him because his compassions are "new every morning."
Take some time to thank God for the specific ways he has acted mercifully toward you. Thank him for forgiving your sin. Express gratitude to him for actively restoring you. You may even want to sing or pray the words to the hymn, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness":
>"Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
>Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
>Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
>Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!"

Reflection

  1. Recall a time in your life when you experienced God's discipline for disobedient choices. How did you feel?
  2. When you disobey God, do you quickly respond with repentance and confession? Why or why not?
  3. In what way have you experienced the ever-new compassion of God?
Lamentations 3:21-23
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Related Readings

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NIV Devotions for Moms

Listen to the Stones

Additional Scripture Readings: Proverbs 1:5
When Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, crowds cheered, "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Luke 19:38). The Pharisees ordered Jesus to tell the disciples to be quiet. Jesus replied, "If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out" ( Luke 19:40). Surely Jesus meant that the good news of his coming was so overwhelming that, if human voices failed, the most ordinary, inanimate objects of the earth would have to shout his praise.
In the same way, if we miss God in the big picture, he will be sure to make himself known in the plain, the small and the near. The ordinary stones of our lives are ready to tell us something important. They praise a God who is ever-present. They bless the name of a God who cares.
Like the unexpected note that picks up our spirits. Or the nearby parking space when we're in a hurry with a baby and toddler in tow. Or the hug from a friend that says, "I understand."
In life's tough times, evidence of God's care may seem to evaporate. But his presence in daily moments is there nonetheless-if we'll just listen to the stones.
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RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE

Make every effort to live in peace with all men…Hebrews 12:14a
Other religious groups are one of the most threatening tactics Satan uses against the church of Jesus Christ. In the book of Acts we see over and over that the primary opposition to the spread of the gospel in the early church was from religious groups. Again we must never view these groups as the enemy. We know who our real enemy is. In some parts of the world, the small percentage of extremists among Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims have encouraged mob violence and other forms of persecution against Christians. Our attitude toward them should be as Brother Andrew’s acronym for ISLAM suggests: ISincerely Love All Muslims.
The tactic that our enemy uses in these major religions of the world is the same. It comes from his character of deceiving and lying. Some people are able to perceive elements of truth within the major religions of the world, but their essential teachings are deceivingly false.
Wherever possible, missionaries of cults and other religions do whatever possible to encourage Christians—usually those who are Christian in name only—to convert to their religion. Unfortunately, in countries such as Egypt, a significant number do convert to a cult or to some other religion. The lure to convert can be marriage, money, employment, social acceptance, and any other similar attraction.
Hardini was born to a devout Muslim family in Indonesia where everyone must go to the mosque every day to pray. Her father had strict rules for everyone in the family. One rule was that Hardini should never associate with Christians. Despite Hardini’s devotion to Islam, her heart was heavy and she longed for inner peace. A Christian with a great sense of joy and peace befriended Hardini.
Hardini had the courage to tell her new friend about her spiritual hunger, and the friend offered to pray for her in the name of Jesus. After the Christian girl prayed, peace filled Hardini’s heart and her life radically changed.
When Hardini’s family discovered she had become a Christian, they spent hours and hours trying to entice her with force to recant her new faith. Hardini remained steadfast. Finally her parents made a painful decision—they totally disowned their daughter. That left Hardini with the choices of either recanting her faith or fleeing from her home and family. She chose to flee.
RESPONSE: Today I will pray for believers like Hardini who experience religious intolerance.
PRAYER: Lord, help me to sincerely love all Muslims and people of other faith systems.
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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A Mission of Service

The truth that Jesus will not snuff out a smoldering wick or break a bruised reed is one of the most encouraging truths of Christianity. When others would give up on us because of our failures, lack of money, talent, or experience, Jesus still sees fit to use us. If your faith is weak this day, know that Christ will not put it out but will, by His Word and Spirit, fan it into a glowing flame by which He will guide others into His fold.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
Coram Deo from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
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A Mission of Service

Matthew 12:15-21 "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope" ( vv. 20-21).
Jesus describes Himself as "gentle and lowly in heart" (Matt. 11:29), but this gentleness is by no means weakness. The Lord is unafraid to confront authorities who lead His people astray (23:1-36). Neither does He let opposition from the religious leaders keep Him from cleansing the temple when necessary (21:12-13). Jesus also allows the people to pay homage to Him as the Christ on Palm Sunday (vv. 1-11), though it must be admitted that He generally discourages such enthusiasm prior to His triumphal entry (16:20).
These controversies and Jesus' self-identification as the Messiah will occur in Jerusalem a few days before His death, which explains His reticence to draw attention to Himself in Galilee. Today's passage tells us of Christ's withdrawal after proclaiming His messianic authority on the Sabbath (12:1-14). He also continues to forbid those whom He has healed from spreading the word about Him (vv. 15-16 ). Jesus knows such acclaim will earn Him enemies and notoriety beyond what is prudent if He is to complete His work before going to Calvary. When the time comes in Jerusalem to die, Jesus will thrust Himself into places where hatred will certainly meet Him. Until then, He walks away from trouble and asks others to refrain from saying too much. To do otherwise would fan the flames of messianic expectation and jeopardize His life before the proper time.
If the people really knew what the Messiah would have to do, Jesus could proclaim Himself as the Christ. But the Israelites want a conquering king, not the Suffering Servant who goes to the cross before receiving the crown. Thus, as Matthew says inverses 17-21, Jesus' hiding of Himself fulfills Isaiah 42:1-4 . As the prophet predicted, the servant does not cry aloud; that is, He does not make His identity known at first. Christ will wait until He has fulfilled His mission to broadcast the truth about Himself far and wide (Matt. 28:18-20).
The son of David comes first as the Suffering Servant unwilling to break the bruised reed and smother the smoldering wick (12:20 ) - to discard what may otherwise appear useless. His army will be made up of the broken and oppressed who through their suffering help usher in God's kingdom.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

The truth that Jesus will not snuff out a smoldering wick or break a bruised reed is one of the most encouraging truths of Christianity. When others would give up on us because of our failures, lack of money, talent, or experience, Jesus still sees fit to use us. If your faith is weak this day, know that Christ will not put it out but will, by His Word and Spirit, fan it into a glowing flame by which He will guide others into His fold.
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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