Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Daily Devotional Wednesday 9th May

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings."
Ephesians 1:3
All the goodness of the past, the present, and the future, Christ bestows upon his people. In the mysterious ages of the past the Lord Jesus was his Father's first elect, and in his election he gave us an interest, for we were chosen in him from before the foundation of the world. He had from all eternity the prerogatives of Sonship, as his Father's only-begotten and well-beloved Son, and he has, in the riches of his grace, by adoption and regeneration, elevated us to sonship also, so that to us he has given "power to become the sons of God." The eternal covenant, based upon suretiship and confirmed by oath, is ours, for our strong consolation and security. In the everlasting settlements of predestinating wisdom and omnipotent decree, the eye of the Lord Jesus was ever fixed on us; and we may rest assured that in the whole roll of destiny there is not a line which militates against the interests of his redeemed. The great betrothal of the Prince of Glory is ours, for it is to us that he is affianced, as the sacred nuptials shall ere long declare to an assembled universe. The marvellous incarnation of the God of heaven, with all the amazing condescension and humiliation which attended it, is ours. The bloody sweat, the scourge, the cross, are ours forever. Whatever blissful consequences flow from perfect obedience, finished atonement, resurrection, ascension, or intercession, all are ours by his own gift. Upon his breastplate he is now bearing our names; and in his authoritative pleadings at the throne he remembers our persons and pleads our cause. His dominion over principalities and powers, and his absolute majesty in heaven, he employs for the benefit of them who trust in him. His high estate is as much at our service as was his condition of abasement. He who gave himself for us in the depths of woe and death, doth not withdraw the grant now that he is enthroned in the highest heavens.

Evening

"Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field ... let us see if the vine flourish."
Song of Solomon 7:11-12
The church was about to engage in earnest labour, and desired her Lord's company in it. She does not say, "I will go," but "let us go." It is blessed working when Jesus is at our side! It is the business of God's people to be trimmers of God's vines. Like our first parents, we are put into the garden of the Lord for usefulness; let us therefore go forth into the field. Observe that the church, when she is in her right mind, in all her many labours desires to enjoy communion with Christ. Some imagine that they cannot serve Christ actively, and yet have fellowship with him: they are mistaken. Doubtless it is very easy to fritter away our inward life in outward exercises, and come to complain with the spouse, "They made me keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept;" but there is no reason why this should be the case except our own folly and neglect. Certain is it that a professor may do nothing, and yet grow quite as lifeless in spiritual things as those who are most busy. Mary was not praised for sitting still; but for her sitting at Jesus' feet. Even so, Christians are not to be praised for neglecting duties under the pretence of having secret fellowship with Jesus: it is not sitting, but sitting at Jesus' feet which is commendable. Do not think that activity is in itself an evil: it is a great blessing, and a means of grace to us. Paul called it a grace given to him to be allowed to preach; and every form of Christian service may become a personal blessing to those engaged in it. Those who have most fellowship with Christ are not recluses or hermits, who have much time to spare, but indefatigable labourers who are toiling for Jesus, and who, in their toil, have him side by side with them, so that they are workers together with God. Let us remember then, in anything we have to do for Jesus, that we can do it, and should do it in close communion with him.

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Today's reading: 2 Kings 4-6, Luke 24:36-53 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
The Widow’s Olive Oil
    1 The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the LORD. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”
   2 Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”
   “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”
   3 Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. 4 Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”
   5 She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. 6 When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”
   But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.
   7 She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”
The Shunammite’s Son Restored to Life
    8 One day Elisha went to Shunem. And a well-to-do woman was there, who urged him to stay for a meal. So whenever he came by, he stopped there to eat. 9 She said to her husband, “I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. 10 Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us.”
   11 One day when Elisha came, he went up to his room and lay down there. 12 He said to his servant Gehazi, “Call the Shunammite.” So he called her, and she stood before him. 13Elisha said to him, “Tell her, ‘You have gone to all this trouble for us. Now what can be done for you? Can we speak on your behalf to the king or the commander of the army?’”
   She replied, “I have a home among my own people.”
   14 “What can be done for her?” Elisha asked.
   Gehazi said, “She has no son, and her husband is old.”
   15 Then Elisha said, “Call her.” So he called her, and she stood in the doorway. 16 “About this time next year,” Elisha said, “you will hold a son in your arms.”
   “No, my lord!” she objected. “Please, man of God, don’t mislead your servant!”
   17 But the woman became pregnant, and the next year about that same time she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her.
   18 The child grew, and one day he went out to his father, who was with the reapers. 19 He said to his father, “My head! My head!”
   His father told a servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 After the servant had lifted him up and carried him to his mother, the boy sat on her lap until noon, and then he died. 21 She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, then shut the door and went out.
   22 She called her husband and said, “Please send me one of the servants and a donkey so I can go to the man of God quickly and return.”
   23 “Why go to him today?” he asked. “It’s not the New Moon or the Sabbath.”
   “That’s all right,” she said.
   24 She saddled the donkey and said to her servant, “Lead on; don’t slow down for me unless I tell you.” 25 So she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.
   When he saw her in the distance, the man of God said to his servant Gehazi, “Look! There’s the Shunammite! 26 Run to meet her and ask her, ‘Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is your child all right?’”
   “Everything is all right,” she said.
   27 When she reached the man of God at the mountain, she took hold of his feet. Gehazi came over to push her away, but the man of God said, “Leave her alone! She is in bitter distress, but the LORD has hidden it from me and has not told me why.”
   28 “Did I ask you for a son, my lord?” she said. “Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t raise my hopes’?”
   29 Elisha said to Gehazi, “Tuck your cloak into your belt, take my staff in your hand and run. Don’t greet anyone you meet, and if anyone greets you, do not answer. Lay my staff on the boy’s face.”
   30 But the child’s mother said, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So he got up and followed her.
   31 Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the boy’s face, but there was no sound or response. So Gehazi went back to meet Elisha and told him, “The boy has not awakened.”
   32 When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his couch. 33 He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the LORD. 34 Then he got on the bed and lay on the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. As he stretched himself out on him, the boy’s body grew warm.35 Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got on the bed and stretched out on him once more. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.
   36 Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, “Call the Shunammite.” And he did. When she came, he said, “Take your son.” 37 She came in, fell at his feet and bowed to the ground. Then she took her son and went out.
Death in the Pot
    38 Elisha returned to Gilgal and there was a famine in that region. While the company of the prophets was meeting with him, he said to his servant, “Put on the large pot and cook some stew for these prophets.”
   39 One of them went out into the fields to gather herbs and found a wild vine and picked as many of its gourds as his garment could hold. When he returned, he cut them up into the pot of stew, though no one knew what they were. 40 The stew was poured out for the men, but as they began to eat it, they cried out, “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it.
   41 Elisha said, “Get some flour.” He put it into the pot and said, “Serve it to the people to eat.” And there was nothing harmful in the pot.
Feeding of a Hundred
    42 A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said.
   43 “How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked.
   But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the LORD says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’”44 Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the LORD.

2 Kings 5

Naaman Healed of Leprosy
    1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.
   2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
   4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”
   7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”
   8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house.10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
   11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
   13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
   15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”
   16 The prophet answered, “As surely as the LORD lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.
   17 “If you will not,” said Naaman, “please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the LORD. 18 But may the LORD forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I have to bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD forgive your servant for this.”
   19 “Go in peace,” Elisha said.
   After Naaman had traveled some distance, 20 Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said to himself, “My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean, by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”
   21 So Gehazi hurried after Naaman. When Naaman saw him running toward him, he got down from the chariot to meet him. “Is everything all right?” he asked.
   22 “Everything is all right,” Gehazi answered. “My master sent me to say, ‘Two young men from the company of the prophets have just come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two sets of clothing.’”
   23 “By all means, take two talents,” said Naaman. He urged Gehazi to accept them, and then tied up the two talents of silver in two bags, with two sets of clothing. He gave them to two of his servants, and they carried them ahead of Gehazi. 24When Gehazi came to the hill, he took the things from the servants and put them away in the house. He sent the men away and they left.
   25 When he went in and stood before his master, Elisha asked him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?”
   “Your servant didn’t go anywhere,” Gehazi answered.
   26 But Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes—or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves? 27Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and his skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow.

2 Kings 6

An Axhead Floats
    1 The company of the prophets said to Elisha, “Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us. 2 Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to meet.”
   And he said, “Go.”
   3 Then one of them said, “Won’t you please come with your servants?”
   “I will,” Elisha replied. 4 And he went with them.
   They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees. 5 As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. “Oh no, my lord!” he cried out. “It was borrowed!”
   6 The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. 7 “Lift it out,” he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.
Elisha Traps Blinded Arameans
    8 Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.”
   9 The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” 10 So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places.
   11 This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”
   12 “None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”
   13 “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” 14 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.
   15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
   16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
   17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
   18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.
   19 Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.
   20 After they entered the city, Elisha said, “LORD, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the LORD opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.
   21 When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?”
   22 “Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.” 23 So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.
Famine in Besieged Samaria
    24 Some time later, Ben-Hadad king of Aram mobilized his entire army and marched up and laid siege to Samaria. 25There was a great famine in the city; the siege lasted so long that a donkey’s head sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a quarter of a cab of seed pods for five shekels.
   26 As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried to him, “Help me, my lord the king!”
    27 The king replied, “If the LORD does not help you, where can I get help for you? From the threshing floor? From the winepress?” 28 Then he asked her, “What’s the matter?”
   She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him today, and tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’ 29 So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him,’ but she had hidden him.”
   30 When the king heard the woman’s words, he tore his robes. As he went along the wall, the people looked, and they saw that, under his robes, he had sackcloth on his body. 31 He said, “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if the head of Elisha son of Shaphat remains on his shoulders today!”
   32 Now Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. The king sent a messenger ahead, but before he arrived, Elisha said to the elders, “Don’t you see how this murderer is sending someone to cut off my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door and hold it shut against him. Is not the sound of his master’s footsteps behind him?” 33While he was still talking to them, the messenger came down to him.
   The king said, “This disaster is from the LORD. Why should I wait for the LORD any longer?”

Luke 24

Jesus Appears to the Disciples
    36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
   37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
   40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
   44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
   45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
The Ascension of Jesus
    50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

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Jehoahaz, Joahaz [Jēhō'ahăz]—jehovah upholds, hath laid hold or the lord that sees.
  1. A son and successor of Jehu and father of Joash who reigned for seven years (2 Kings 10:3513;142 Chron. 25:1725). We know little of this king of Israel apart from the length of his reign and the low estate of his kingdom owing to Syrian aggression.
  2. The son and successor of King Jehoram and father of King Joash, of Judah ( 2 Chron. 21:1725:23). Called Ahaziah.
  3. A son of Josiah who was deposed by Pharaoh-nechoh and who only reigned for three months ( 2 Kings 23:30-342 Chron. 36:1-4). Also called Shallum (1 Chron. 3:15).

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TT_devotionswithrc_ttlogo

David's Greatest Son

Matthew 12:22-23 "All the people were amazed, and said, 'Can this be the Son of David?'" (v. 23).
Jesus warns the people not to spread the news of His healing miracles in order to keep His identity from being disclosed too soon (Matt. 9:27-3112:15-16), but He does not tell them they are wrong to call Him the son of David - the Messiah. Our Savior does not yet proclaim Himself as the Messiah publicly, but neither does He correct those who see that He is the Christ.
Today's passage reveals that Jesus' healings and exorcisms prompt many to see Him as the son of David (vv. 22-23). A study of this title will help us understand why this is the case, and it will give us more insight into Christ's role.
David was the greatest king of ancient Israel. However, the idea of a ruler does not originate with the birth of David, for the necessity of kingship goes all the way back to creation itself. In fact, God commanded mankind to exercise dominion over the earth, thus glorifying its Creator ( Gen. 1:26-28). Adam, and in him all humanity, failed at this task, but our Creator did not remove from us the task of righteous dominion. Still, after the fall, God decreed that rule would belong to the seed of the woman - a sanctified people chosen by Him (3:14-15).
God then revealed that those who would reign would be Abraham's seed, specifically, those who love God above all else ( Gen. 17:1-21). This people - the Israel of God - would be governed by a king called to lead the people in holiness, representing them before the Lord (Deut. 17:14-20). The purpose for man would be realized in this king, who would then share his rule with God's people.
David's line was chosen to hold the office of king. The Lord promised to be with David forever, to defeat the king's enemies with His mighty arm and to set one of David's sons over the world. But God also promised in His covenant with David to discipline the kingly line, to pour His wrath upon David's sons for their sins and the sins Israel committed in imitation of them (2 Sam. 7:1-17Isa. 53).
Jesus' miracles demonstrate the presence of the Father's mighty arm; thus, the people recognize that He is the son of David who will rule the nations. But they fail so far to remember that the Messiah must first suffer vicariously for the sins of David's line and the sins of His people before He ascends the throne.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Righteous dominion over the earth is given to all of God's people. We cannot make all things serve the Lord by our own efforts, but Christ has come to die for our sins and fulfill God's purpose for mankind so that in Him we can find strength to pursue this task of exercising dominion. Lean on Jesus this day and do all things to the glory of God. Encourage others to see how they can serve the Lord at home, in the workplace, and in the church.
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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Glynnis Whitwer
May 8, 2012
Desperate Enough
Glynnis Whitwer
"She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped." Luke 8:44(NIV 1984)
Having three little boys in five years just about did me in. There was no such thing as a routine, as much as I tried to implement one. Just when I thought I had one behavior issue figured out, another one popped up.
Parenting books were somewhat helpful, but they didn't address how to manage three kids, with three unique personalities, at once. What worked for one didn't work for another. I was drowning and desperate.
My husband and I signed up for a parenting class at church, and received a glimpse of hope. We wanted more than one class, but there was no one to head up a parenting ministry. Our pastoral team was overwhelmed with existing responsibilities. Even though their hearts wanted to offer more, their time was limited. So when one of the pastors asked us to help out with the parenting ministry, we were desperate enough to say "yes."
As we stepped into a leadership role, we discovered most people declined to help, saying they didn't feel qualified. "Neither do we," we replied. But we were ready to try anything to get support, even revealing to everyone that we weren't perfect parents.
For the few years we led the parenting ministry we had to step far out of our comfort zone and risk much in order to get help. But it worked. As we shared our problems with other parents, we received wise counsel and practical suggestions that made a big difference.
Thousands of years ago there was another woman who was just desperate enough to get help. She had been bleeding for 12 years and no one could help her. But when Jesus came to her neighborhood, she was ready to try anything. I imagine she was embarrassed, and weakened because of her bleeding. She must have gathered every ounce of energy and courage to get to Jesus.
The Bible tells us there were crowds following Jesus that day. Yet somehow, this determined woman navigated her way through the masses to touch the cloak of Jesus, and the Bible tells us she was healed immediately.
In spite of all those people who must have been pressing up against Jesus, He knew someone had reached out and touched Him. As He stopped, the people stumbled into each other, turning their heads to determine what happened. In a gentle voice, Jesus asked, "Who touched me?"
After everyone denied it was them, the woman came trembling before Him. She told Jesus and the assembled crowd why she had touched Jesus and how He had healed her. Jesus then said to the women, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace."
Desperation causes people to do different things. Some people make wrong choices, believing their backs are against a wall. Some people go into hiding, hoping a problem will go away.
Yet others are desperate enough to do something risky and full of humility to get help. Sometimes God uses other people to help us, and sometimes He is the only One who has the answers.
In the difficult times we face, many of us have problems that push us to the point of desperation. It is my prayer that instead of desperation defeating you, it motivates you to seek help. Whether God Himself provides your deliverance, or He uses someone else, trust He already has a plan to help.
Dear Lord, only You know the desperation I feel right now. Only You see the troubles that weigh me down. I confess that I don't have the strength or wisdom to find an answer. However, I trust that You are already planning my deliverance. I trust in Your perfect timing. Please show me what to do next, and direct me to the source of help. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:When Your Child is Hurting (eBook) by Glynnis Whitwer
Always There, an inspiring compilation of devotions for moms written by Renee Swope, Ann Voskamp, Kim Hill, Haley DiMarco, Susan Wallace and many more.
Visit Glynnis' blog where she's giving away a copy ofAlways There and sharing more encouragement for desperate moms.
Reflect and Respond:
Identify one problem in your life that seems overwhelming. Commit to telling one person about that problem this week, and asking for prayer.
Pray Psalm 142:6 below when you're feeling desperate.
Power Verses:
Psalm 142:6, "Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me." (NIV)
Psalm 27:14, "Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD." (NAS)
© 2012 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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May 8, 2012
The Forever People
Mary Southerland
Today's Truth
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever (Psalm 23:6, NIV).
Friend to Friend
Life is a marathon – not a fifty yard dash. When the psalmist says, "I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever," he is reminding us that we were created for eternity. But instead of focusing on eternal things, we waste precious emotional energy and priceless spiritual power by fixing our gaze on the here and now. I am not saying that we need to ignore what God gives us to do today because the truth is that each step on each day's path is filled with God ordained opportunities. What I am saying is that much of our stress comes when we measure life and hold it up against the wrong backdrop. 
When our son was a little boy, he was photogenic and a full-fledged ham in front of just about any camera. I will never forget the day that a simple photo session turned into a holy moment for me.
Christmas was just around the corner which meant that it was time for new pictures. It seemed like everyone was having a special - you know the ones I'm talking about – where you get a ridiculous number of pictures for $2.99. When we arrived for our appointment, I was amazed to find that we were the only ones in the studio. The photographer took one look at the blue outfit Jered was wearing, and began to move props, pull down a different backdrop and rapidly snap pictures. Jered laughed, called out to the audience of shoppers strolling by and in general, put on quite a show. I was so proud!
When the session was done, the photographer asked if he could take some extra shots for his studio walls. Now I ask you, what mother is going to refuse that offer? Certainly not this one! For over an hour, Jered was framed against different colored backdrops as the photographer worked his magic. I began to notice a pattern. The blue backdrop made Jered's bright blue eyes dance while the red backdrop heightened his jet black hair. With every backdrop, Jered's appearance changed slightly. In was then that God quietly unveiled an extraordinary truth in an ordinary moment. 
We must be very careful to choose the right backdrop against which we live our lives. Our backdrop is eternity – not the tyranny of urgent demands made by a relentless world. Our backdrop is an old rugged cross and an empty tomb – not the temporary trials or painful circumstances we face in this very fleeting life. We are "forever" people. Like the old song says, "This world is not my home. I'm just passing through."
My favorite words in the Bible are "but God." Those two words create an eternal backdrop that changes everything. Everything looks different when He comes. Everything is made different by His presence. To survive and succeed in life, we must stop and take the long look, refusing to fix our gaze on the "little things" that are meant to divert God's plan. If we want to live a life of victory, our glance must be on the circumstances and ourgaze must be on Him.
A beekeeper once told pastor and evangelist, F.B. Meyer, how young bees are nurtured to ensure their healthy development. The queen lays each egg in a six-sided cell which is filled with enough pollen and honey to nourish the egg until it reaches a certain stage of maturity. The top is then sealed with a capsule of wax. When the food is gone, it is time for the tiny creature to be released. However, the wax is so hard to penetrate that the bee can only make a very narrow opening. In fact, the opening is so narrow that in the agony of exit, the bee rubs off the membrane that encases its wings. When the bee finally does emerge, its wings are strong enough to fly. The beekeeper said that a moth once got into the hive and devoured the wax capsules. The young bees easily escaped the capsule but they could not fly.
Choosing an eternal perspective is a spiritual discipline that makes stress yield to God's peace. Does that mean we will float through each day without facing trials, defeats, enemies or impossibilities? No – but it does mean that the backdrop against which we view those dark moments will be replaced with the truth that there is an eternal purpose in every pain and that is through the struggle out of that darkness that we gain the strength to fly and become all God created us to be – now and forever.
Let's Pray
Father, thank You for the eternal life I have in You. Forgive me when I get so caught up in the things of this world that I forget who I am and where I am going. I am Your child. I am Your daughter and my home is in Heaven with You. Praise God!
In Jesus' name,
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Does your life reflect the truth that you were made for Heaven?
Against what backdrop are you living your life?
Read Philippians 3:20. "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control; will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body" (NIV).
Where is your eternal citizenship?
More from the Girlfriends
If you have surrendered your life to Jesus Christ and made Him the Lord of your life, you can celebrate that fact that your eternal citizenship is in Heaven. But if you don't know Him, today is the day to invite Him into your life. Need help? Click HERE to find out how to make the most important decision of your life.
Mary's weekly online Bible Study, Light for the Journey, will help you learn how to understand and apply God's truth in your life. Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.
Seeking God?
Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 725
Matthews, NC 28106


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David's Greatest Son

Righteous dominion over the earth is given to all of God's people. We cannot make all things serve the Lord by our own efforts, but Christ has come to die for our sins and fulfill God's purpose for mankind so that in Him we can find strength to pursue this task of exercising dominion. Lean on Jesus this day and do all things to the glory of God. Encourage others to see how they can serve the Lord at home, in the workplace, and in the church.
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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The world turned upside down

“These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.” Acts 17:6
Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 5:1-12
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” The merciful are not much respected in this world—at least if they are imprudently merciful; the man who forgives too much, or who is too generous, is not considered to be wise. But Christ declares that he who has been merciful—merciful to supply the wants of the poor, merciful to forgive his enemies and to pass by offences, shall obtain mercy. Here, again, is the world turned upside down. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” The world says, “Blessed is the man who indulges in a carefree life.” If you ask the common run of mankind who is the happy man, they will tell you, “The happy man is he who has abundance of money, and spends it freely, and is freed from restraint—who leads a merry dance of life, who drinks deep of the cup of intoxication—who revels riotously, who, like the wild horse of the prairie, is not restrained by reason, but who dashes across the broad plains of sin, unharnessed, unguided, unrestrained.” This is the man whom the world calls happy: the proud man, the mighty man, the Nimrod, the man who can do just as he wishes, and who spurns to keep the narrow way of holiness. Now, the Scripture says, not so, for “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”
“Blest is the man who shuns the place Where sinners love to meet; 
Who fears to tread their wicked ways, And hates the scoffer’s seat….”
The man who cannot touch one thing because that would be lascivious, nor another because that would spoil his communion with his Master; a man who cannot frequent this place of amusement, because he could not pray there, and cannot go to another, because he could not hope to have his Master’s sanction upon an hour so spent—that man is blessed!
For meditation: The world was turned upside down through men who had been turned upside down (Mark 9:343510:42-44). Do we need to know a lot more of that in our churches and individual lives?
Sermon no. 193
9 May (1858)

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Quiet musing!

‘While I was musing the fire burned.’ Psalm 39:3
Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 119:97–104
The world has put a little letter before the word ‘musing,’ and these are the days, not for musing, but for a-musing. People will go anywhere for amusement; but to muse is a strange thing to them, and they think it dull and wearisome. Our fathers loved the quiet hour, and loved it so well, that they cherished those times which they could spend in musing as the most happy, because the most peaceful seasons of their life. We drag such time off to execution in a moment, and only ask men to tell us how we may kill it. Now there is much virtue in musing, especially if we muse upon the best, the highest, and the noblest of subjects. If we muse upon the things of which we hear and read in sacred Scripture, we shall do wisely. It is well to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. A man who hears many sermons, is not necessarily well-instructed in the faith. We may read so many religious books, that we overload our brains, and they may be unable to work under the weight of the great mass of paper and printer’s ink. The man who reads but one book, and that book his Bible, and then muses much upon it, will be a better scholar in Christ’s school than he who merely reads hundreds of books, and muses not at all. And he, too, who gets but one sermon in a day, though it is an ill habit to stay away from half our Sabbath engagements, and only go out once, yet, he who hears but one sermon in a day, if he meditates much upon it, will get far more out of it than he who hears two or three but meditates not. Truth is something like the cluster of the vine: if you would have wine from it, you must bruise it; you must press and squeeze it many times.
For meditation: The world sometimes describes Christians as killjoys. If meditation upon God’s Word is the believer’s joy and delight (Psalm 1:2104:34119:48,97) and if we fail to engage in it, perhaps the accusation is more accurate than we realise!
Sermon no. 576
9 May (Undated Sermon)

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Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional

PROMISE OF PARADISE

In his book, The Cruciality of the Cross, P. T. Forsyth wrote, "Christ is to us just what his cross is. All that Christ was in heaven or on earth was put into what he did there...Christ, I repeat, is to us just what his cross is. You do not understand Christ til you understand his cross."
What did Jesus want us to understand about his cross? And why did he "endure the cross, scorning its shame" because of the "joy set before him" (Hebrews 12:2)? It was because Jesus knew that when he would be "lifted up" he would draw all people to himself.
It is an insult and a source of anguish for Jesus that the human race is broken in so many ways-scattered, disrupted, and alienated. Left in pieces. Something was needed to draw people together, reconciled first to God and then to each other. When Jesus was lifted up, when his friends and followers stood stunned, and when even his bitterest enemies focused on his waning life, then he became the focal point of all human vision. And we have not been able to look away from the cross since. Think of all the places you see crosses today, and consider that even though we do not cringe at its horror when we glance at it up high on a church steeple or dangling loosely on a gold chain around a woman's neck, we still choose to focus on it. How can we not?
The crossroad of Golgotha was a great gathering of a scattered humanity. Some walked away no less scattered than before. But a marker had been planted on a hill that would keep us piecemeal people looking toward him and what he did that was utterly different from what any martyr had ever done. Was he a mock "king of the Jews," as the insulting sign placed above his head said? A Messiah who could not save himself? Or could he truly respond to that dying criminal's request, "Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom," with "Today, you will be with me in paradise"?
It's hard for us to know how that criminal who died next to Jesus could have had faith in Jesus on that day when Romans soldiers ripped and bloodied him, but he did. He didn't have the advantage that we do of seeing Jesus in his death and in his resurrection. And that makes it all the more remarkable that when that man said "remember me," Jesus promised him paradise.
Do you ever have days when you fear being forgotten?
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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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Should we live in terror of God?

This week's reading: Proverbs 1:7
The phrase "the fear of the LORD is the beginning of ... knowledge" ( Pr 1:7) is the cornerstone of Proverbs. Fear is actually another word for reverence or worship, suggesting that wisdom begins when we properly acknowledge who God is and offer him the worship he deserves. It reminds us that life's true significance is discovered when we approach God with an attitude of humility and awe, not dread and fright.
The remainder of Proverbs explains how we can fear God in our daily lives. Whether the topic is wealth, work or marriage, we are called to give God the honor due him by obeying his will in each of these areas. A wise person will humbly seek God's perspective on a matter before acting, but the fool will throw caution to the wind and act on his or her own impulses. What's the result of ignoring God and doing it our way? "There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death" (Pr 14:12).
But the person who fears God, who daily worships and honors him, has nothing to fear in either life or death. Also see Pr 9:10;Job 28:28Psalm 111:10.
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TRAINING CHILDREN

…do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.Ephesians 6:4
A Chinese Bible Woman shares the following situation that helped train her and her children in righteousness while her husband was in labor camp:
One day I said to my children, “The Lord has told me that today I will go to prison for Him. Father is also in prison so please behave. Love each other and don’t forget to bring food for your mom!”
During that time there were so many prisoners that the government could not provide for all of them so family members provided their food.
The children cried when they heard this. Daniel replied, “But mom, we have only five catties of rice left. How can we have rice and also send you some? When it’s all gone, we’ll die!”
I told the children, “The Lord can turn nothing into something!” and I reminded them of the story of Elijah and the widow. They had a simple child-like faith and believed that God could provide for their need. So they concluded, “Even though our rice is not enough, we will cook for you too!”
After talking with the children, The Public Security Bureau police came to the door and arrested me. Daniel followed me to the prison to find out which cell I would be in. The younger two children knelt in prayer. As I was taken away, my heart was wrenched as I heard their little voices trailing off.
I was in prison on that occasion for thirty days. All the while Daniel faithfully sent rice for me. When I returned home I asked, “Is there any rice left?”
Daniel's response was, “Mom, our rice container is overflowing!” It really was. Those five catties had inexplicably grown to about forty catties and were literally overflowing the container.
I said, “Praise the Lord! Now we can continue to cook for the other inmates and feed them as well.” The Lord’s grace is beyond measure.
RESPONSE: In fulfilling the functions of the church in each Christian home, we have the great responsibility to train and instruct our children in faith and righteousness.
PRAYER: Lord, help me model today Your love, faith and righteousness before the little ones I am in a position to influence.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

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