Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Daily Devotional Wednesday 23rd May

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me."
Psalm 138:8
Most manifestly the confidence which the Psalmist here expressed was a divine confidence. He did not say, "I have grace enough to perfect that which concerneth me--my faith is so steady that it will not stagger--my love is so warm that it will never grow cold--my resolution is so firm that nothing can move it"; no, his dependence was on the Lord alone. If we indulge in any confidence which is not grounded on the Rock of Ages, our confidence is worse than a dream, it will fall upon us, and cover us with its ruins, to our sorrow and confusion. All that Nature spins time will unravel, to the eternal confusion of all who are clothed therein. The Psalmist was wise, he rested upon nothing short of the Lord's work. It is the Lord who has begun the good work within us; it is he who has carried it on; and if he does not finish it, it never will be complete. If there be one stitch in the celestial garment of our righteousness which we are to insert ourselves, then we are lost; but this is our confidence, the Lord who began will perfect. He has done it all, must do it all, and will do it all. Our confidence must not be in what we have done, nor in what we have resolved to do, but entirely in what the Lord will do. Unbelief insinuates--"You will never be able to stand. Look at the evil of your heart, you can never conquer sin; remember the sinful pleasures and temptations of the world that beset you, you will be certainly allured by them and led astray." Ah! yes, we should indeed perish if left to our own strength. If we had alone to navigate our frail vessels over so rough a sea, we might well give up the voyage in despair; but, thanks be to God, he will perfect that which concerneth us, and bring us to the desired haven. We can never be too confident when we confide in him alone, and never too much concerned to have such a trust.

Evening

"Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money."
Isaiah 43:24
Worshippers at the temple were wont to bring presents of sweet perfumes to be burned upon the altar of God: but Israel, in the time of her backsliding, became ungenerous, and made but few votive offerings to her Lord: this was an evidence of coldness of heart towards God and his house. Reader, does this never occur with you? Might not the complaint of the text be occasionally, if not frequently, brought against you? Those who are poor in pocket, if rich in faith, will be accepted none the less because their gifts are small; but, poor reader, do you give in fair proportion to the Lord, or is the widow's mite kept back from the sacred treasury? The rich believer should be thankful for the talent entrusted to him, but should not forget his large responsibility, for where much is given much will be required; but, rich reader, are you mindful of your obligations, and rendering to the Lord according to the benefit received? Jesus gave his blood for us, what shall we give to him? We are his, and all that we have, for he has purchased us unto himself--can we act as if we were our own? O for more consecration! and to this end, O for more love! Blessed Jesus, how good it is of thee to accept our sweet cane bought with money! nothing is too costly as a tribute to thine unrivalled love, and yet thou dost receive with favour the smallest sincere token of affection! Thou dost receive our poor forget-me-nots and love-tokens as though they were intrinsically precious, though indeed they are but as the bunch of wild flowers which the child brings to its mother. Never may we grow niggardly towards thee, and from this hour never may we hear thee complain of us again for withholding the gifts of our love. We will give thee the first fruits of our increase, and pay thee tithes of all, and then we will confess "of thine own have we given thee."

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Today's reading: 1 Chronicles 16-18, John 7:28-53 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
Ministering Before the Ark
    1 They brought the ark of God and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and they presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before God. 2 After David had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD. 3 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each Israelite man and woman.
   4 He appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, to extol, thank, and praise the LORD, the God of Israel: 5 Asaph was the chief, and next to him in rank were Zechariah, then Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-Edom and Jeiel. They were to play the lyres and harps, Asaph was to sound the cymbals, 6 and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests were to blow the trumpets regularly before the ark of the covenant of God.
   7 That day David first appointed Asaph and his associates to give praise to the LORD in this manner:
   8 Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; 
   make known among the nations what he has done. 
9 Sing to him, sing praise to him; 
   tell of all his wonderful acts. 
10 Glory in his holy name; 
   let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. 
11 Look to the LORD and his strength; 
   seek his face always.
   12 Remember the wonders he has done, 
   his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced, 
13 you his servants, the descendants of Israel, 
   his chosen ones, the children of Jacob. 
14 He is the LORD our God; 
   his judgments are in all the earth.
    15 He remembers his covenant forever, 
   the promise he made, for a thousand generations, 
16 the covenant he made with Abraham, 
   the oath he swore to Isaac. 
17 He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, 
   to Israel as an everlasting covenant: 
18 “To you I will give the land of Canaan 
   as the portion you will inherit.”
   19 When they were but few in number, 
   few indeed, and strangers in it, 
20 they wandered from nation to nation, 
   from one kingdom to another. 
21 He allowed no one to oppress them; 
   for their sake he rebuked kings: 
22 “Do not touch my anointed ones; 
   do my prophets no harm.”
   23 Sing to the LORD, all the earth; 
   proclaim his salvation day after day. 
24 Declare his glory among the nations, 
   his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
   25 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; 
   he is to be feared above all gods. 
26 For all the gods of the nations are idols, 
   but the LORD made the heavens. 
27 Splendor and majesty are before him; 
   strength and joy are in his dwelling place.
   28 Ascribe to the LORD, all you families of nations, 
   ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 
29 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; 
   bring an offering and come before him. 
Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness. 
   30 Tremble before him, all the earth! 
   The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.
   31 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; 
   let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!” 
32 Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; 
   let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them! 
33 Let the trees of the forest sing, 
   let them sing for joy before the LORD, 
   for he comes to judge the earth.
   34 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; 
   his love endures forever. 
35 Cry out, “Save us, God our Savior; 
   gather us and deliver us from the nations, 
that we may give thanks to your holy name, 
   and glory in your praise.” 
36 Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, 
   from everlasting to everlasting.
   Then all the people said “Amen” and “Praise the LORD.”
   37 David left Asaph and his associates before the ark of the covenant of the LORD to minister there regularly, according to each day’s requirements. 38 He also left Obed-Edom and his sixty-eight associates to minister with them. Obed-Edom son of Jeduthun, and also Hosah, were gatekeepers.
   39 David left Zadok the priest and his fellow priests before the tabernacle of the LORD at the high place in Gibeon 40 to present burnt offerings to the LORD on the altar of burnt offering regularly, morning and evening, in accordance with everything written in the Law of the LORD, which he had given Israel. 41 With them were Heman and Jeduthun and the rest of those chosen and designated by name to give thanks to the LORD, “for his love endures forever.” 42 Heman and Jeduthun were responsible for the sounding of the trumpets and cymbals and for the playing of the other instruments for sacred song. The sons of Jeduthun were stationed at the gate.
   43 Then all the people left, each for their own home, and David returned home to bless his family.

1 Chronicles 17

God’s Promise to David
    1 After David was settled in his palace, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of the covenant of the LORD is under a tent.”
   2 Nathan replied to David, “Whatever you have in mind, do it, for God is with you.”
   3 But that night the word of God came to Nathan, saying:
   4 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD says: You are not the one to build me a house to dwell in. 5 I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought Israel up out of Egypt to this day. I have moved from one tent site to another, from one dwelling place to another. 6 Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their leaders whom I commanded to shepherd my people, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’
   7 “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 8 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name like the names of the greatest men on earth. 9 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 10 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also subdue all your enemies.
   “‘I declare to you that the LORD will build a house for you: 11When your days are over and you go to be with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. 13 I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor.14 I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.’”
   15 Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation.
David’s Prayer
    16 Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said:
   “Who am I, LORD God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 17 And as if this were not enough in your sight, my God, you have spoken about the future of the house of your servant. You, LORD God, have looked on me as though I were the most exalted of men.
   18 “What more can David say to you for honoring your servant? For you know your servant, 19 LORD. For the sake of your servant and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made known all these great promises.
   20 “There is no one like you, LORD, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 21 And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth whose God went out to redeem a people for himself, and to make a name for yourself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? 22 You made your people Israel your very own forever, and you, LORD, have become their God.
   23 “And now, LORD, let the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house be established forever. Do as you promised, 24 so that it will be established and that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The LORD Almighty, the God over Israel, is Israel’s God!’ And the house of your servant David will be established before you.
   25 “You, my God, have revealed to your servant that you will build a house for him. So your servant has found courage to pray to you. 26 You, LORD, are God! You have promised these good things to your servant. 27 Now you have been pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, LORD, have blessed it, and it will be blessed forever.”

1 Chronicles 18

David’s Victories
    1 In the course of time, David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and he took Gath and its surrounding villages from the control of the Philistines.
   2 David also defeated the Moabites, and they became subject to him and brought him tribute.
   3 Moreover, David defeated Hadadezer king of Zobah, in the vicinity of Hamath, when he went to set up his monument at the Euphrates River. 4 David captured a thousand of his chariots, seven thousand charioteers and twenty thousand foot soldiers. He hamstrung all but a hundred of the chariot horses.
   5 When the Arameans of Damascus came to help Hadadezer king of Zobah, David struck down twenty-two thousand of them.6 He put garrisons in the Aramean kingdom of Damascus, and the Arameans became subject to him and brought him tribute. The LORD gave David victory wherever he went.
   7 David took the gold shields carried by the officers of Hadadezer and brought them to Jerusalem. 8 From Tebah and Kun, towns that belonged to Hadadezer, David took a great quantity of bronze, which Solomon used to make the bronze Sea, the pillars and various bronze articles.
   9 When Tou king of Hamath heard that David had defeated the entire army of Hadadezer king of Zobah, 10 he sent his son Hadoram to King David to greet him and congratulate him on his victory in battle over Hadadezer, who had been at war with Tou. Hadoram brought all kinds of articles of gold, of silver and of bronze.
   11 King David dedicated these articles to the LORD, as he had done with the silver and gold he had taken from all these nations: Edom and Moab, the Ammonites and the Philistines, and Amalek.
   12 Abishai son of Zeruiah struck down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt. 13 He put garrisons in Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David. The LORD gave David victory wherever he went.
David’s Officials
    14 David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people. 15 Joab son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder; 16 Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimeleki] son of Abiathar were priests; Shavsha was secretary; 17 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites and Pelethites; and David’s sons were chief officials at the king’s side.

John 7

   28 Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, 29 but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”
   30 At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?”
   32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him.
   33 Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”
   35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? 36 What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”
   37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
   40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.”
   41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.”
   Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee?42 Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.
Unbelief of the Jewish Leaders
    45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”
   46 “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied.
   47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. 48 “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.”
   50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”
   52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”
   [The earliest manuscripts and many other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53—8:11. A few manuscripts include these verses, wholly or in part, after John 7:36, John 21:25, Luke 21:38 or Luke 24:53.]
   53 Then they all went home...
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Ezekiel [Ĕzēkĭel]—god is strong or the man god strengthensThe son of Buzi, a priest who prophesied to the exiles by the river Chebar, and fourth of “The Greater Prophets” (Ezek. 1:324:24).

The Man Who Was Every Inch a Churchman

Little is known of this man of a priestly family (Ezek. 1:330:1). His father’s name, Buzi, was a Gentile one ( Gen. 22:21Job 32:26). Referring to himself as “a priest,” Ezekiel was akin to Jeremiah who was also a prophet and a priest. Because of his priestly lineage, levitical tendencies appear in his book (Ezek. 40-46 ), as well as foregleams of the high priestly character of the Messiah (Ezek. 21:2545:22). Ezekiel is every inch a churchman, and his strong ecclesiastical characteristics pervade and give tone to his prophecies.
Ezekiel’s call came in his thirtieth year ( Ezek. 1:1), in the fifth year and on the fifth day of the month of king Jehoiachin’s captivity (Ezek. 12). With the call to service there came the impartation of the prophetic gift ( Ezek. 3:22). The theme of the prophetic message he was commissioned to proclaim was the same as that of Jeremiah, namely, the downfall of Judah and Jerusalem with judgment upon foreign nations. The keynote of his book is: through tribulation into rest. Residing with a company of captives by the river Chebar (Ezek. 1:18:1) he labored as “a prophet of the iron harp.”
With divine authority Ezekiel dispelled illusions, denounced false prophets, declared repentance, restoration and renewal. He was a true shepherd of souls. Dr. Donald Fraser wrote of him: “Like a giant, he wrestled against Jewish degeneracy and Babylonish pride. Remote as we are from his times, we are stirred by his vivid imagination and his power of fervid denunciation and strenuous appeal. Even when the understanding is puzzled, the heart burns inwardly at the recital of Ezekiel’s visions and those burdens which the Lord laid upon his spirit.”
Ezekiel was happy in his home life ( Ezek. 8:1). God, however, revealed to him that the desire of his eyes would die of a sudden sickness, which his wife did during the siege of Jerusalem. Although her death was a heavy blow, yet Ezekiel was not allowed to publicly weep or lament her passing. His anguish was to serve as a sign that Jerusalem would be destroyed without wailing or lamentation (Ezek. 24:15-27 ). After a prophetic ministry lasting for at least twenty-two years, tradition has it that Ezekiel was put to death by his fellow exiles because of his faithfulness and boldness in denouncing them for their idolatry.
Several aspects of the prophet’s life can be applied with profit to ourselves:
I. He was an exile (Ezek. 1:1); so are we (Heb. 11:131 Pet. 2:11).
II. He was an ambassador (Ezek 1:12:1-63:1-3 ); so are we (Eph. 6:20).
III. He was a watchman (Ezek. 3:17-20); so are we (Heb. 13:17).
IV. He was a sign (12:1-7); so are we ( 1 Tim. 1:10 ).

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GiG Banner 2012 Big
May 22, 2012
Let's Get it Together
Part 1
Mary Southerland
Today's Truth
1 Corinthians 6:19 (NIV) "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body."
Friend to Friend
It is much easier to give in to sin or yield to temptation when we are physically depleted. Discipline begins in the mind and then travels to the body. I can hear you groaning already, but stay with me. Sin and temptation often find their greatest opportunity to work in the body. I have struggled with diet and exercise from childhood. Part of my struggle is rooted in "fluffy" genes lovingly passed down to me through several generations of "fluffy" relatives. The remainder of my struggle is firmly rooted in the fact that I enjoy eating, hate exercise and sometimes use food as an emotional outlet. Consequently, over the years, my weight has fluctuated like a championship yo-yo. Satan rejoiced as I deemed myself "worthy" when I lost the weight and "unworthy" when I gained it back. Guilt and shame attached themselves to every bite of food, while the Battle of the Bulge became the War of Worthiness.
Marriage, motherhood and ministry brought new weapons into the fray. Ridiculously crowded schedules and chronic fatigue seemed to be regarded as holy Medals of Honor, so I signed up and quickly learned the unspoken rules of successful Christian living - rest is for the wicked, exhaustion is for the holy, fast food is for the fully devoted and burnout the ultimate goal.  At times, I can almost hear Satan, standing in the wings, laughing at my skewed priorities and lack of discipline, knowing that his opening is just around the corner.  
There is simply no way around the truth that discipline is part of trusting God with our health. We cannot give our hearts to God but keep our bodies for ourselves. To do so is sin. It's time for a new plan and a new way of thinking when it comes to disciplining the body. 
Eliminate diets.  Replace all "diets" with a "healthy eating plan." Fad diets are quick-fixes and rarely work long-term. A healthy eating plan requires a lifestyle change and is not only a matter of how much we weigh but a matter of what we eat, as well. Many thin people follow diets that are just as unhealthy as the diets of overweight people. Ask yourself, "Is this good for me?" instead of "Is this fattening?" A healthy eating plan honors God
Get moving.  A friend once told me her favorite exercise was opening and closing the refrigerator door. Hmm … not good! Set realistic goals in the area of exercise. Start with 15 minutes a day, three times a week. Gradually increase that time. Choose an activity with a dual purpose. For example, while you are walking, you can pray. Walking can be a healthy way of dealing with anger, venting frustration to God instead of others. A walk can also serve as a "mini-retreat" during a chaotic day. Ask God to change your perspective on exercise – then take the first step. He will meet you there.
Learn to rest.  Rest is not an option if we are to function at our best. We sometimes try to feed emotional needs by refusing to rest. We stay busy because we are afraid to face our past or even the future. Guilt keeps us moving, trying to prove our worth. 
For most of my adult life, I have wrongly equated being busy with being productive. I am guilty as charged when it comes to living each day in overdrive. My Day Timer has, at times, been my Bible.  The result has always been exhaustion, burnout and watered down living. When I fell into the pit of clinical depression, everything looked great on the outside, but God and I both knew that the facade I had so carefully erected was nothing more than a meaningless monument to self. The house built upon the sand seemed like very familiar digs and I was not alone. 
We are masters of rationalizing our way to man's approval. I am convinced that when we are willing to surrender our lives to the tyranny of the urgent, the enemy will keep 'em coming – people who need us immediately, those who clamor for our attention above our family and our personal relationship with God or the person who can talk to no one but us. The list of ego strokes is long.
Let's Pray
Father, I recognize my body as Your temple. Forgive me for the times when I do not care for it in a way that honors and pleases You. Give me the strength to eat right, exercise and learn to rest. I have given You my heart. I now give You my body. Glorify Yourself in and through me, Lord.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Memorize today's key verse of Scripture in 1 Corinthians 6:19 (NIV).
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body."
Which one of the following steps do you need to take first in order to honor God with your body?
_____ Eliminate diets
_____ Get moving
_____ Learn to rest
More from the Girlfriends
I know it is hard to deal with temptation when it comes to treating our bodies in a godly way. Need help? Check out my E-Bible Study, Winning the War with Temptation. 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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P31Header
Nicki Koziarz
May 22, 2012
Unlikely
Nicki Koziarz
"Jesus replied, 'What is impossible with men is possible with God.'" Luke 18:27 (NIV 1984)
It was my senior year of high school. The grass was turning greener, birds were chirping louder, and department stores were lining their racks with beautiful formal gowns.
Spring had sprung and that meant just one thing to a senior girl: prom.
Taking my seat in my homeroom class, I began working on the previous night's history assignment. The bell dinged and the redundant morning announcements blasted over the loud speaker. I didn't pay much attention until I heard, "Today in every homeroom class you will need to nominate this year's prom king and queen."
Suddenly my stomach was tangled in knots. I knew never to get my hopes up. After all, I was the athletic girl who was at church every time the doors opened, not the socialite this honor required. While I knew not to expect it, inside I still wanted to be worthy of being prom queen.
I couldn't shake the dreadful feeling as sheets of paper were passed around the room for us write down our nominations. Would my name be on any of them?
It wouldn't take long to find out. Our teacher took his place, front and center of the classroom. As he collected the papers, he called out the names written down. I waited on pins and needles. Thirty seconds before the bell rang we'd nominated that year's prom king and queen.
Quickly I made my way to the only place a girl can get an ounce of privacy in a large high school: the bathroom. I shut the rusted stall door and wept.
It wasn't me ... again. No one picked me. I was forever an unlikely prom queen candidate.
That moment was defining. Looking back, I can see that I started to become unlikely in a different way.
It could have ruined me - and in a way it did. For good. You see I discovered in Scripture there are many who didn't meet the qualifications of society; great heroes of faith that were improbable candidates. Men and women who faced impossible odds with the God of all possibilities.
Moses was not an eloquent speaker, but he met with God and delivered the Ten Commandments to a generation of people (Exodus 19).
David was an adulterer, but is described as a man after God's heart (1 Kings 14:8).
The Samaritan woman was a repeat sinner, but her testimony led her entire community to see Jesus (John 4). Jesus' very own disciple Peter denied Him three times, but he went on to be the rock of the Church (Matthew 16:18).
God seemed to have handpicked and set apart theseunlikely people. He used each of them for a redemptive purpose, despite their inadequacies. And turned their impossible, to possible.
I'm finding this is exactly what God wants to do through my own flawed life. He wants me to be unlikely.
Is there something in your past that you feel is too far a stretch for God to use? Do you possess a quality that the world would look at and say, "Nope, not you?" Have you ever felt completely unqualified, but still dream of doing impossible things?
If so, you should get ready. God qualifies the unqualified and He deems the unlikely, likely. Never think your inadequacies are too much for Him.
He's called you. He's chosen you. Go ... do great things for God. You ARE qualified and likely. For "What is impossible with men is possible with God."
Dear Lord, I am inspired by those You chose for such great purposes. I believe You are choosing me, despite my inadequacies. Please open my heart to Your movement through my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst
Visit Nicki's blog for tips on discovering your purpose in God's Kingdom.
In your 20s or love someone who is? Visit She Seeks, our division for 20'somethings!
Reflect and Respond:
What are some unique qualities or life-situations God has given you?
How could God use those for a redemptive purpose in your life?
Power Verses:
John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (NIV 1984)
1 Corinthians 1:25, "For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." (NIV 1984)
2 Corinthians 12:9, "But he said to me, 'my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'" (NIV 1984)
© 2012 by Nicki Koziarz. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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The Angel of Light

2 Corinthians 11:14-15 "Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness" ( vv. 14-15a).
Second Corinthians 11:14-15 contains perhaps the most important bit of information all believers need to remember concerning the nature of Satan and his work. Paul tells us in today's passage that the Devil "disguises himself as an angel of light" (v. 14 ). Of course, Satan and his minions are often the direct source of much of the outright perversity and evil that we see on this planet. However, since he is the "father of lies" (John 8:44), the Evil One would much rather approach us in the guise of something good and not something wicked. If he came at us blatantly, Satan would be easy to resist. We are more likely to embrace his lies if he approaches us under the guise of the good.
With respect to his influence on believers, the Adversary comes at us to accuse us and tempt us. The Devil can often appear to us as an angel of light when he works to accuse us. The story of Job gives a good example of the accusatory nature of Satan. Appearing before God on His throne, Satan once accused Job of being upright only because the Lord had blessed him (Job 1:6-11 ). In like manner, the Devil likes to remind us of our sin, to tell us the Father cannot possibly love us because we always serve Him with mixed motives. This work is very hard to distinguish from the work of the Holy Spirit, who convicts us of our wickedness and makes us feel the pain of offending God as well as the terrible sense that we are absent from His presence. Yet the Holy Spirit always wounds us so that He may bring healing and restoration with the Father (Ps. 147:1-3 ). Satan's work of accusation only keeps us away from God and paralyzes us with the horror of sin, preventing us from serving the Lord and others. This is why we must remember God's grace in the Gospel. True, every sin is deeply offensive to the Lord, but in light of our justification (Rom. 8:31-39) no charge can be laid against us. When we repent, God really does forgive us.
Our Creator is sovereign, not the Devil. As the story of Job also illustrates, anything that Satan does is done only because the Father has permitted it ( Job 1:12). Sometimes God lets the Evil One tempt us and assault us, but even in these cases our Lord's purpose is our ultimate good and His final glory (Rom. 8:28).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Today we can rejoice because the accuser of the brethren has been cast down and defeated (Rev. 12:7-12 ). Even though he rages on the earth because he knows his time is short, none of his charges can ever stick against those in Christ because we have been declared righteous in Him. If you feel as if God cannot forgive you for the things you have done, then your view of God is not biblical. He can and does pardon all those who repent and trust Jesus alone.
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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The Holy Spirit compared with the wind

‘The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.’ John 3:8
Suggested Further Reading: Song of Solomon 4:12–16
I have known ministers who had some peculiar idiosyncrasy of experience which was not important; but their people all began to think and talk in the same way, and to have the same doubts and fears. Now that will not do. It is not the way in which the Most High acts with regard to the wind, and if he chooses to take all the points of the compass, and make use of them all, let us bless and glorify his name. Are not the different winds various in their qualities? Few of us like an east wind. Most of us are very glad when the wind blows from the south. Vegetation seems to love the south-west. A stiff north-easter is enough to make us perish; and long continuance of the north wind may well freeze the whole earth; while from the west, the wind seems to come laden with health from the sea; and though sometimes too strong for the sick, yet it is never a bad time when the west wind blows. The ancients all had their different opinions about wind; some were dry, some were rainy, some affected this disease, some touched this part of men, some the other. Certain it is that God’s Holy Spirit has different qualities. In the Canticles he blows softly with the sweet breath of love: turn on farther, and you get the same Spirit blowing fiercely with threatening and denunciation; sometimes you find him convincing the world ‘of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment;’ that is the north wind: at other times opening up Christ to the sinner, and giving him joy and comfort; that is the south wind, that blows softly, and gives a balminess in which poor troubled hearts rejoice; and yet ‘all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit.’
For meditation: When the Holy Spirit blows like a wind, healthy effects follow, for example, causing the Scriptures to be written (2 Peter 1:21), stimulating the early church into evangelism (Acts 2:1–2 ) and bringing sinners to new birth (John 3:8). Beware of other winds and their unhealthy spiritual effects (Ephesians 4:14).
Sermon no. 630
23 May (Undated Sermon)

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The Angel of Light

Today we can rejoice because the accuser of the brethren has been cast down and defeated (Rev. 12:7-12 ). Even though he rages on the earth because he knows his time is short, none of his charges can ever stick against those in Christ because we have been declared righteous in Him. If you feel as if God cannot forgive you for the things you have done, then your view of God is not biblical. He can and does pardon all those who repent and trust Jesus alone.
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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Looking unto Jesus

“They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.” Psalm 34:5
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-7
See there he sits in heaven, he has led captivity captive, and now sits at the right hand of God, for ever making intercession for us. Can your faith picture him today? Like a great high priest of old, he stands with outstretched arms: there is majesty in his demeanour, for he is no mean cringing suppliant. He does not beat his breast, nor cast his eyes upon the ground, but with authority he pleads, enthroned in glory now. There on his head is the bright shining mitre of his priesthood, and look you, on his breast are glittering the precious stones whereon the names of his elect are everlastingly engraved; hear him as he pleads, hear you not what it is?—is that your prayer that he is mentioning before the throne? The prayer that this morning you offered before you came to the house of God, Christ is now offering before his Father’s throne. The vow which just now you uttered when you said, “Have pity and have mercy,”—he is now uttering there. He is the Altar and the Priest, and with his own sacrifice he perfumes our prayers. And yet, mayhap, you have been at prayer many a day, and had no answer; poor weeping suppliant, you have sought the Lord and he has not heard you, or at least not answered you to your soul’s delight; you have cried unto him, but the heavens have been as brass, and he has shut out your prayer, you are full of darkness and heaviness on account of this, “Look to him, and be lightened.” If you do not succeed, he will; if your intercession be unnoticed, his cannot be passed away; if your prayers can be like water spilt on a rock which cannot be gathered up, yet his prayers are not like that, he is God’s Son, he pleads and must prevail.
For meditation: The prayers of the true seeker and of believers are not a waste of effort; they are not like letters lost in the post, but reach the throne of God (Acts 10:4Revelation 5:8 ). But only praying in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is accepted; prayers addressed to saints, to false gods or to the dead are always turned away—“not known here.”
Sermon no. 195
23 May (1858)

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Women in Apologetics

Mary Jo Sharp is equipping more and more women to defend their faith - and finding an increasingly enthusiastic response.

A professor of apologetics and founder of Confident Christianity Apologetics Ministry, Mary Jo Sharp is passionate about enlisting more women in defending the faith. In this interview, she describes how she's finding a very receptive audience as she speaks at women's ministries around the country:
• Why has there traditionally been a shortage of women in the field of apologetics?
I don't have any statistical research on why women are not as publicly involved with apologetics. However, from my interaction with women at conferences, I have found a few repeating thoughts on the issue:
1) They've never been introduced to the field of apologetics before and/or they are not sure of its relevance to their life. Women in the church need to understand the importance of apologetics and its potential impact. I've found that once women's groups are aptly introduced to the subject, they have some of the most impassioned responses to the material. It's not so much of a lack of desire as a lack of proper introduction.
2) One reason that shocked me was the concern women shared with me of appearing to be unintelligent. I've heard women say they don't want to come across as the one who asks the "stupid question." They feel like they should know more of the content of their faith at this point in their spiritual life, and so they don't want fellow church members to know that they really don't have answers yet.
3) Women have told me that their churches are not a safe place to discuss their doubts. So those who have potential for great learning in apologetics may have no outlet within their church family to explore and learn about their questions.
4) As for why we don't see women in leadership in apologetics: As with any issue, there are many reasons that contribute. Instead of tackling all of them, I will focus on a couple personal reasons with which I've struggled....
Read the rest at BibleGateway.com!
Visit Us on the Web: LeeStrobel.com - The Ambition - BibleGateway.com
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Questions from Readers

• Did Jesus ever really live?
• Is Zechariah 12:10 about Jesus?
Q. I saw an article recently about a high school student in Tennessee who was awarded a $1,000 scholarship by an atheist group for dressing like Jesus on the school's "fictional character day." Is there a trend toward people saying Jesus was only a make-believe character? My nephew, who's a college freshman, said he doubts whether Jesus ever existed. - Natalie
A. If it's a trend, it's only because the Internet is so efficient at propagating silly and baseless theories. The vast majority of scholars scoff at the claims of these so-called "mythicists," who assert that Jesus never really existed but was created out of legend and mythology.
According to Bart Ehrman, the religious studies professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who is critical of many of the teachings of Christianity, skeptics started making these accusations in the 19th century. He said that communist leader Vladimir Lenin was influenced by these writings "and for that reason it became the dominant view in the Soviet Union throughout the 20th century." He said the mythicist view is "widely found in agnostic and atheist circles in the United States" and is a popular perspective in some other parts of the West, including Scandinavia.
But even Ehrman - himself an adamant agnostic - believes "Jesus almost certainly did exist." Ehrman recently wrote a book on the topic, because he wanted to establish that the mythicists "are wrong in what they think." He charged in a recent interview: "Rather than succeeding in debunking religion they just make themselves look foolish."
Read the rest of these Questions from Readers at Bible Gateway!

Have a question? Drop me a line atAskLee@Leestrobel.com. We'll answer the ones with the broadest interest in upcoming newsletters.

Lee's Notes

• Congratulations to my son, Dr. Kyle Strobel, on his appointment to the faculty of Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. He will be teaching on Christian worldview starting in the fall.
• My new video-driven small-group curriculum, Exploring Christianity's Ten Toughest Questions, is now available. Co-authored with my buddy Garry Poole, the sessions feature videos of debates between Christians and skeptics from my former TV show Faith Under Fire.
The topics include: Is the supernatural real? Is Jesus a prophet or the Son of God? Did Jesus rise from the dead? Do all roads lead to God? Is the Bible bogus? Does science point toward a creator? Is anything beyond forgiveness? Why does God allow suffering? The mystery of the Trinity. And do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?
Among the debaters are William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland, Hugh Hewitt, and Joni Eareckson Tada. To give you a sample, here's the video from the first session, featuring a debate between liberal former Episcopal biship John Shelby Spong and Baptist Albert Mohler on the issue of whether Christianity must change or die. Keep in mind that in addition to the videos, the curriculum features a discussion guide full of accompanying material.
• Glad to hear that my legal thriller, The Ambition, has now been released in paperback, just in time for leisurely summer reading on the beach. And it's on sale for 33 percent off!
• Are you on Twitter? Let's keep in touch via @LeeStrobel.
Responding to spiritual skeptics


We're seeing a trend of heightened skepticism toward God. How can we as individuals, and as churches, deal with the rising tide of atheism? In this short video, I'm joined by Mark Mittelberg in discussing why your church should participate in our upcoming global simulcast called "Unpacking Atheism," which will feature apologist William Lane Craig and a panel of former atheists who will reveal why they have become Christians.

Lee's Links: Suggested articles from the web
Apologetics in church
The popular apologetics315.com website talks about how to get apologetics into your local church.
Celebrating Colson
Charles Colson is honored at a memorial service at Washington National Cathedral.
Missions to Mexico
In light of the increasingly violent drug war, should churches stop mission trips to Mexico?
Building up moms
Time's breast-feeding cover reminds Christians to support mothers of all parenting styles.

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Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional

THE MOST WONDERFUL TOMB

Howard Carter and a few workmen made their way down an ancient 30-foot passageway cut into the rock in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. For over 3,000 years, no human had stepped down that corridor. At the end, Carter began cutting a hole in the door until he peered inside and saw “wonderful things.”
Breaking into the chamber, Carter was astonished to be standing among elaborate vases, couches, statues, jewelry, chariots, and a beautiful ostrich feather fan that stood in perfect condition. The scent of perfume still hung in the air. But then in another chamber came the big surprise, a solid gold coffin containing the mummified remains of King Tutankhamen, a solid gold mask covered the face, and a wreath of flowers on top of it. No one had ever seen a spectacularly rich tomb of an Egyptian king that had gone undiscovered and undisturbed by robbers. And it was all sealed up in the general era of the great Exodus of the Israelites-one of the greatest moments of salvation the world had ever seen.
Tombs are sometimes places of epiphany, but none more so than the one used for Jesus. His tomb was sealed in Jerusalem about 1400 years after young King Tut’s. His was the burial of one judged a criminal, and mocked as a make-believe king. Those who loved Jesus dignified his burial with love and care. His tomb, however, did not remain undisturbed. It was cracked open within days of the burial, but not by human hands. And when first a few women, then a few men entered, they found… absolutely nothing. Grave cloths lay empty and useless. There were no statues or vases or piles of jewelry. No gold. No regal accessories. This tomb was not fit for a king, and it certainly was not fit for the King of Kings, who had no intention of lingering under the false pretense of perfumes.
And yet in that emptiness were riches none of us can comprehend even now. The power of God–by which Jesus came to life in the tomb, left the tomb, and left the earth in a confident rebuke of all of our greatest enemies, including death–has been unleashed in the world.
It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life” (1 Peter 1:18).
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About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for thirty years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, the most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement.

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Cru : a caring community passionate about connecting people to Jesus Christ

$47.50 = food and water for one child for a whole year!

Dear friend,
Orphaned and abandoned children in the Horn of Africa are dying daily as food is scarce and drought is a constant threat.
Those children who survive depend on adults to help make their hurts go away. But the family they were born into has either died or abandoned them.
Christians like you and me are clearly called to care for these suffering children. It costs us so little to help provide the two physical needs that matter most of all. Each $47.50 you give today will provide food and water for one African orphan for a year!
My name is Mike Duggins with Campus Crusade for Christ. We work every day to meet physical needs around the world. Even more importantly though, we’re passionate about telling people of Jesus Christ. Your gift today will meet urgent needs and help fulfill the Great Commission.
For His glory alone,

Mike Duggins
Director of Ministry Development
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ECFAYour trust is important to us, so a full description of Campus Crusade for Christ's fundraising policies and guidelines are available online for you to view anytime. We invite you to read more aboutour commitment to good stewardship.

 


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Why are we to dread God when judgment is falling?

This week's reading: Isaiah 8:12-15
We fear God because his judgment of sin is severe. God enacts his judgment on the basis of his holiness and omniscience. Thus his standards and knowledge of the sinner, individually or collectively, are infallibly true. As Abraham said, "Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Ge 18:25).
In this passage, Isaiah describes a fierce rivalry between the split kingdoms of old Israel. The northern king with his Syrian ally was attacking Jerusalem, capital of the south (see Isa 7:1-2). The prophet assures Judah that Jerusalem will survive as Assyria's army crushes this alliance (see Isa 8:14-17).
Yet even wicked Assyria with its powerful army would ultimately be punished by God (see Isa 10:12). Isaiah declares that God in his holiness will be victorious, saving his repentant people. He is "the Mighty God" ( Isa 10:20-21), who is to be feared.
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OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21
Colleague Ron Boyd-MacMillan shares part two of his experience in China:
The Chinese house church pastor put it this way, “Confront the defining evil in your area or your society–that will bring persecution. For us, the evil is obvious; for you, it may be more subtle.” You won’t necessarily be persecuted if you speak out against evil. You won’t necessarily be persecuted if you write an article about the evil. You won’t necessarily be persecuted if you organize a prayer meeting to pray against it. But you will be persecuted if you become athreat to the evil.
One pastor went back to his church in an inner city area of London. He asked the question, what’s the defining evil of this area? He became convicted that the youth gangs were the defining evil in the area, especially as they were going on killing sprees and starting to become drug pushers.
He began prayer meetings, and outreaches to the gangs. He even became a chaplain to a particularly violent gang. After a while, he saw fruit, but he also got a visit from a local gun runner,
“Leave the kids alone, or else” he said, “You’re bad for business.”
One night, six months later, a bullet came through the window as the church baptized five converted gang leaders. The reaction of the pastor could have come from the mouth of the Chinese house church leader. He said, “It was a beautiful bullet…because now we knew we were making a difference.”
That pastor had joined the persecuted church, and led his congregation into a greater awareness of the worldwide persecuted church. They wanted to know about their brothers and sisters in Eritrea, China, North Korea and Iran not just because the Christians there needed their prayers and their money, but because they were one in the same battleChristians in the West need the insights and prayers of suffering Christians around the world to fight their own battles better.
The other pastor returned to his church in a very upscale, business district. After praying with his elders, they came up with the defining evil or idol of the area, which they called “The Lie—get rich; be free.” This was the besetting idol, they felt, and began to model a downsizing lifestyle in the community that reversed consumerist expectations.
The pastor confesses, “I’m facing almost weekly votes of confidence from my elders because they don’t think I am teaching people enough about how to be successful.” But he also says, “I feel so much better, because I’m not such a hypocrite in the pulpit anymore.”
RESPONSE: Today I will respond to the defining evil around me and overcome it with good.
PRAYER: Lord, I need Your power and strength to effectively overcome the evil I experience. Help me stand strong in my opposition to the evil one.
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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