Friday, June 01, 2012

Daily Devotional Friday 1st June

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"The evening and the morning were the first day."
Genesis 1:5
Was it so even in the beginning? Did light and darkness divide the realm of time in the first day? Then little wonder is it if I have also changes in my circumstances from the sunshine of prosperity to the midnight of adversity. It will not always be the blaze of noon even in my soul concerns, I must expect at seasons to mourn the absence of my former joys, and seek my Beloved in the night. Nor am I alone in this, for all the Lord's beloved ones have had to sing the mingled song of judgment and of mercy, of trial and deliverance, of mourning and of delight. It is one of the arrangements of Divine providence that day and night shall not cease either in the spiritual or natural creation till we reach the land of which it is written, "there is no night there." What our heavenly Father ordains is wise and good.
What, then, my soul, is it best for thee to do? Learn first to be content with this divine order, and be willing, with Job, to receive evil from the hand of the Lord as well as good. Study next, to make the outgoings of the morning and the evening to rejoice. Praise the Lord for the sun of joy when it rises, and for the gloom of evening as it falls. There is beauty both in sunrise and sunset; sing of it, and glorify the Lord. Like the nightingale, pour forth thy notes at all hours. Believe that the night is as useful as the day. The dews of grace fall heavily in the night of sorrow. The stars of promise shine forth gloriously amid the darkness of grief. Continue thy service under all changes. If in the day thy watchword be labour, at night exchange it for watch. Every hour has its duty, do thou continue in thy calling as the Lord's servant until he shall suddenly appear in his glory. My soul, thine evening of old age and death is drawing near; dread it not, for it is part of the day; and the Lord has said, "I will cover him all the day long."

Evening

"He will make her wilderness like Eden."
Isaiah 51:3
Methinks, I see in vision a howling wilderness, a great and terrible desert, like to the Sahara. I perceive nothing in it to relieve the eye, all around I am wearied with a vision of hot and arid sand, strewn with ten thousand bleaching skeletons of wretched men who have expired in anguish, having lost their way in the pitiless waste. What an appalling sight! How horrible! a sea of sand without a bound, and without an oasis, a cheerless graveyard for a race forlorn! But behold and wonder! Upon a sudden, upspringing from the scorching sand I see a plant of renown; and as it grows it buds, the bud expands--it is a rose, and at its side a lily bows its modest head; and, miracle of miracles! as the fragrance of those flowers is diffused the wilderness is transformed into a fruitful field, and all around it blossoms exceedingly, the glory of Lebanon is given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon. Call it not Sahara, call it Paradise. Speak not of it any longer as the valley of deathshade, for where the skeletons lay bleaching in the sun, behold a resurrection is proclaimed, and up spring the dead, a mighty army, full of life immortal. Jesus is that plant of renown, and his presence makes all things new. Nor is the wonder less in each individual's salvation. Yonder I behold you, dear reader, cast out, an infant, unswathed, unwashed, defiled with your own blood, left to be food for beasts of prey. But lo, a jewel has been thrown into your bosom by a divine hand, and for its sake you have been pitied and tended by divine providence, you are washed and cleansed from your defilement, you are adopted into heaven's family, the fair seal of love is upon your forehead, and the ring of faithfulness is on your hand--you are now a prince unto God, though once an orphan, cast away. O prize exceedingly the matchless power and grace which changes deserts into gardens, and makes the barren heart to sing for joy.

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Today's reading: 2 Chronicles 13-14, John 12:1-26 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
Abijah King of Judah
    1 In the eighteenth year of the reign of Jeroboam, Abijah became king of Judah, 2 and he reigned in Jerusalem three years. His mother’s name was Maakah, a daughter of Uriel of Gibeah.
   There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. 3 Abijah went into battle with an army of four hundred thousand able fighting men, and Jeroboam drew up a battle line against him with eight hundred thousand able troops.
   4 Abijah stood on Mount Zemaraim, in the hill country of Ephraim, and said, “Jeroboam and all Israel, listen to me! 5Don’t you know that the LORD, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt? 6 Yet Jeroboam son of Nebat, an official of Solomon son of David, rebelled against his master. 7 Some worthless scoundrels gathered around him and opposed Rehoboam son of Solomon when he was young and indecisive and not strong enough to resist them.
   8 “And now you plan to resist the kingdom of the LORD, which is in the hands of David’s descendants. You are indeed a vast army and have with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made to be your gods. 9 But didn’t you drive out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and make priests of your own as the peoples of other lands do? Whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull and seven rams may become a priest of what are not gods.
   10 “As for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him. The priests who serve the LORD are sons of Aaron, and the Levites assist them. 11 Every morning and evening they present burnt offerings and fragrant incense to the LORD. They set out the bread on the ceremonially clean table and light the lamps on the gold lampstand every evening. We are observing the requirements of the LORD our God. But you have forsaken him. 12 God is with us; he is our leader. His priests with their trumpets will sound the battle cry against you. People of Israel, do not fight against the LORD, the God of your ancestors, for you will not succeed.”
   13 Now Jeroboam had sent troops around to the rear, so that while he was in front of Judah the ambush was behind them. 14Judah turned and saw that they were being attacked at both front and rear. Then they cried out to the LORD. The priests blew their trumpets 15 and the men of Judah raised the battle cry. At the sound of their battle cry, God routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. 16 The Israelites fled before Judah, and God delivered them into their hands. 17 Abijah and his troops inflicted heavy losses on them, so that there were five hundred thousand casualties among Israel’s able men. 18The Israelites were subdued on that occasion, and the people of Judah were victorious because they relied on the LORD, the God of their ancestors.
   19 Abijah pursued Jeroboam and took from him the towns of Bethel, Jeshanah and Ephron, with their surrounding villages.20 Jeroboam did not regain power during the time of Abijah. And the LORD struck him down and he died.
   21 But Abijah grew in strength. He married fourteen wives and had twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters.
   22 The other events of Abijah’s reign, what he did and what he said, are written in the annotations of the prophet Iddo.

2 Chronicles 14

   1 And Abijah rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. Asa his son succeeded him as king, and in his days the country was at peace for ten years.
Asa King of Judah
    2 Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God. 3 He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. 4He commanded Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his laws and commands. 5 He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him. 6 He built up the fortified cities of Judah, since the land was at peace. No one was at war with him during those years, for the LORD gave him rest.
   7 “Let us build up these towns,” he said to Judah, “and put walls around them, with towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought the LORD our God; we sought him and he has given us rest on every side.” So they built and prospered.
   8 Asa had an army of three hundred thousand men from Judah, equipped with large shields and with spears, and two hundred and eighty thousand from Benjamin, armed with small shields and with bows. All these were brave fighting men.
   9 Zerah the Cushite marched out against them with an army of thousands upon thousands and three hundred chariots, and came as far as Mareshah. 10 Asa went out to meet him, and they took up battle positions in the Valley of Zephathah near Mareshah.
   11 Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, “LORD, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. LORD, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.”
   12 The LORD struck down the Cushites before Asa and Judah. The Cushites fled, 13 and Asa and his army pursued them as far as Gerar. Such a great number of Cushites fell that they could not recover; they were crushed before the LORD and his forces. The men of Judah carried off a large amount of plunder. 14 They destroyed all the villages around Gerar, for the terror of the LORD had fallen on them. They looted all these villages, since there was much plunder there. 15 They also attacked the camps of the herders and carried off droves of sheep and goats and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem.

John 12

Jesus Anointed at Bethany
    1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
   4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
   7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
   9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.
Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King
    12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
   “Hosanna!”
   “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
   “Blessed is the king of Israel!”
   14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:
   15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; 
   see, your king is coming, 
   seated on a donkey’s colt.”
   16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.
   17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”
Jesus Predicts His Death
    20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
   23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

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Shimei, Shimi, Shimhi [Shĭm'eī, Shī'mī, Shĭm'hī]—jehovah is fame orfamous.
Shimei, we are told, was a popular name among the Hebrews, being especially common in Levitical circles. But of the majority of men bearing it, little is known apart from the name.
1. The Benjamite of the clan of Saul, son of Gera who cursed David when he fled from Absalom ( 2 Sam. 16:571319:16182123). Although we have little knowledge of this most prominent Shimei, what we do know proves him to be, as Dr. Alexander Whyte expresses it, “A reptile of the royal house of Saul.” This Shimei can be described as:

The Man Who Hated the Truth He Knew

This man who lived to curse knew only too well that David had never shed a single drop of Saul’s blood, but it was not in his interest to admit the truth he knew. Because of his tribal and family connections it was natural for Shimei to be David’s bitter enemy, and to heap his curses and insults upon the fugitive monarch.
When, however, David triumphantly returned after Absalom’s tragic death, Shimei met the king with a hypocritical repentance. David accepted his apology and gave an oath that he would not put him to death. When further resistance was useless, Shimei feigned obedience to David, but in his heart was still bitterly opposed to him.
On his deathbed David’s last words to Solomon about Shimei’s blood being spilt, cause one to wonder whether David’s long-suppressed revenge upon his enemy found utterance. Solomon would not allow Shimei to go beyond the walls of Jerusalem. All the time he remained in his city of refuge he was safe. If he passed without it, he would die. Shimei kept this arrangement for three years, then broke it on some trifling occasion and justly forfeited his life. At the command of Solomon he was executed by Benaiah. This was the last of those acts of justice on offenders against David which Solomon performed.
How do we act when men say all manner of evil against us falsely? Do we see the Lord in it all, and that He will work out our salvation in spite of adverse and sore criticisms and circumstances? Do we rest in the fact that the Lord will look upon our affliction and will requite us good for all evil, if only we wisely and silently and adoringly submit ourselves to it?
2. A Courtier, Shimei by name, an officer of David, remained true to the king when Adonijah sought to usurp the throne (1 Kings 1:8).
3. A son of Elah , one of the twelve purveyors of Solomon, in Benjamin (1 Kings 4:18). This Shimei has been identified as the one above in 1 Kings 1:8.
4. A son of Gershon, son of Levi, who founded a subdivision of the tribal family of Gershon (Exod. 6:17).
5. A grandson of Jeconiah, son of Jehoiakim king of Judah. A prince of the royal house ( 1 Chron. 3:19).
6. A son of Zacchur, the Benjamite with sixteen sons and six daughters (1 Chron. 4:2627).
7. A Reubenite, son of Gog ( 1 Chron. 5:4).
8. A Merarite, son of Libni (1 Chron. 6:29).
9. Father of a chief family in Judah (1 Chron. 8:21).
10. A Levite of the family of Laadan—grandson of Levi (1 Chron. 23:9).
11. A Levite to whom the tenth lot fell in the singing service of the Tabernacle during David’s time. A son of Jeduthun (1 Chron. 25:317).
12. A Ramathite who was overseer in David’s vineyards (1 Chron. 27:27).
13. A descendant of Heman, who took part in the cleansing of the Temple in Hezekiah’s time (2 Chron. 29:14).
14. A Levite and brother of Conaniah, who had charge of the tithes (2 Chron. 31:1213).
15. A Levite who had taken a strange wife (Ezra 10:23).
16. One of the family of Hashum who put away his wife (Ezra 10:33).
17. A son of Bani, who also put away his strange wife (Ezra 10:38).
18. A Benjamite, son of Kish and grandfather of Mordecai ( Esther 2:5).
19. A representative, perhaps of the Gershonites who participated in mourning for national guilt (Zech. 12:13).

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Regeneration Is the Start

Ephesians 2:1-10 "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ" ( vv. 4-5).
It is common for Christians to equate the new birth, or regeneration, with the new life in Christ that God provides to all who believe. Because of the way the Gospel is taught in many churches, it is easy to think that regeneration is something that happens when we first confess Jesus as our Savior. We are accustomed to making the moment at which we are born again and the moment at which we repent and believe one and the same.
However, while we cannot usually distinguish the point at which the Holy Spirit changes our hearts from the point at which we come to Christ, it must be noted that regeneration always takes place before we exercise faith. Our new life - our love for and trust of the Savior - flows from the new birth, not vice versa. This is clearly taught in John 3:3 where Jesus tells us we cannot even see the kingdom of God unless we are first born again. If we cannot see the kingdom, we certainly cannot enter it; thus, regeneration precedes faith. In regenerating our hearts, the Holy Spirit opens our eyes, making us able to obey in faith.
The truth that regeneration is the beginning of the Christian life is also taught in today's passage. As Paul tells us inEphesians 2:4-5 , all of us were dead in our sins before we knew Jesus. Dead people cannot bring themselves back to life, someone else must rescue us. We will have no desire for the things of God without the Spirit's work; He must take the initiative. He brings us to life and sets us on our spiritual pilgrimage, which is not complete until we are resurrected.
Remembering that regeneration is the beginning of the Christian life is important for our sanctification. The new life that comes when the Holy Spirit transforms our hearts does not eradicate sin's presence from our lives. Even regenerate people still have great capacity for evil after their hearts have been redirected towards the Savior. The power of sin to compel us to do evil is broken, but our ability to sin remains (Rom. 7:4-25 ). Therefore, we must do all that we can to put to death the lusts of the flesh. If we remember that regeneration is only the beginning of our walk, we will be less surprised at our struggles with temptation and more vigilant in mortifying the flesh.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

As we mature in Christ we will find ourselves more sensitive to the presence of sin in our lives, noticing "minor" transgressions that were once easily overlooked. This in turn should make us more vigilant to do what is necessary to prevent bitterness and other invisible sins from welling up within us. Let not your growing awareness of your own sinfulness discourage you. Instead, arm yourself to fight your flesh more effectively with such knowledge.
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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Indwelling sin

“Then Job answered the Lord, and said, Behold, I am vile.” Job 40:3,4
Suggested Further Reading: Galatians 5:13-24
When we believe in Jesus Christ all our sins are pardoned; yet the power of sin, although it is weakened and kept under by the dominion of the new-born nature which God infuses into our souls, does not cease, but still lingers in us, and will do so to our dying day. It is a doctrine held by all the orthodox, that there still dwells in the regenerate the lusts of the flesh, and that there still remains in the hearts of those who are converted by God’s mercy, the evil of carnal nature. I have found it very difficult to distinguish, in experimental matters, concerning sin. It is usual with many writers, especially with hymn writers, to confound the two natures of a Christian. Now, I hold that there is in every Christian two natures, as distinct as were the two natures of the God-Man Christ Jesus. There is one nature which cannot sin, because it is born of God—a spiritual nature, coming directly from heaven, as pure and as perfect as God himself, who is the author of it; and there is also in man that ancient nature which, by the fall of Adam, has become altogether vile, corrupt, sinful, and devilish. There remains in the heart of the Christian a nature which cannot do that which is right, any more than it could before regeneration, and which is as evil as it was before the new birth—as sinful, as altogether hostile to God’s laws, as ever it was—a nature which, as I said before, is curbed and kept under by the new nature in a great measure, but which is not removed and never will be until this tabernacle of our flesh is broken down, and we soar into that land into which there shall never enter anything that defiles.
For meditation: Are there times when you cannot understand your own behaviour? You are in good company (Romans 7:15-25). But the Christian, having received the new nature, need not and should not give in to the old nature as if he could do nothing about it.
Sermon no. 83
1 June (1856)

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Regeneration Is the Start

As we mature in Christ we will find ourselves more sensitive to the presence of sin in our lives, noticing "minor" transgressions that were once easily overlooked. This in turn should make us more vigilant to do what is necessary to prevent bitterness and other invisible sins from welling up within us. Let not your growing awareness of your own sinfulness discourage you. Instead, arm yourself to fight your flesh more effectively with such knowledge.
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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Compassion for the multitude

‘And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. He said, Bring them hither to me.’ Matthew 14:17–18
Suggested Further Reading: Romans 12:1–8
The Church’s first duty is, when she looks to her resources and feels them to be utterly insufficient for her work, still to bring all that she has to Christ. But how shall she bring them? Why, in many ways. She must bring them to Christ in consecration. There is a brother yonder who says, ‘Well, I have but little money to spare!’ ‘Never mind,’ says Christ, ‘let what you have be brought to me.’ ‘Ah,’ says another, ‘I have very short time that I can spare in labouring to do good.’ ‘Bring it to me.’ ‘Ah,’ says another, ‘but I have small ability; my stock of knowledge is very slender; my speech is contemptible.’ ‘Bring it to me.’ ‘Oh,’ says one, ‘I could only teach in the Sunday School.’ ‘Bring it to me.’ ‘Ah,’ says another, ‘and I do not know that I could do that; I could but distribute a tract.’ ‘Bring it to me.’ Every talent that the Church has is to be brought to Christ, and consecrated. And mark you this—I speak a strong thing which some will not be able to receive—anything which you have in this world, which you do not consecrate to Christ’s cause, you do rob the Lord of. Every true Christian, when he gave himself to Christ, gave everything he had. Neither calls he anything that he has his own, but it is all the Master’s. We are not true to the Master’s cause unless it be so. ‘What! not provide for our families?’ Yes, but that is given to God. ‘Not provide for ourselves?’ Yes, so long as you are not covetous. Remember, it is your Master’s business to provide for you. If he provides for you through your own exertions, you are doing your Master’s work and receiving of his bounty, for it is his work to provide for you. But there still must always be a thorough consecration of everything you have to Christ. Where your consecration ends, your honesty with God ends.
For meditation: Six things you should commit to God—your cause (Job 5:8), your self ( Psalm 10:14), your spirit (Psalm 31:5), your ways (Psalm 37:5), your works (Proverbs 16:3), your soul (1 Peter 4:19 ). Does he have them all? He is able to look after all that we commit to him (2 Timothy 1:12).
Sermon no. 453
1 June (1862)
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Lysa TerKeurst
May 31, 2012
I'm Really Afraid!
Lysa TerKeurst
"The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them." Psalm 34:7 (NIV)
Last year one of my back teeth started hurting. Again. And quite honestly, I just didn't want to deal with it. That tooth had been a complete pain. Literally.
I'd had not one, not two, but three crowns done on the same tooth. The first one broke. The second one broke. And though the third one seemed like it would finally work, the tooth started aching again. Ugh!
The dentist informed me the only thing to do was to have a root canal.
I'm okay with the word "root." And I'm okay with the word "canal." But when he put those two words together, a wild fear whipped its tentacles around my heart and squeezed the life out of me. I couldn't do it. I just couldn't bring myself to schedule the appointment.
So I dealt with the throbbing pain.
For a year I didn't chew on that side of my mouth. I didn't let cold drinks leak over to that side. And I took ibuprofen when the throbbing got the best of me.
A year!
Finally I'd had enough. The pain overrode the fear and I made an appointment for the dreaded root canal.
And you know what? I survived! Not only did I survive but I honestly found the whole root canal ordeal to be no big deal. The fear of it was so much worse than actually having the procedure done.
I think fear often plays out that way. Many times living in fear of what might be causes more stress and anxiety than actually facing what we fear. Is there something you're avoiding because you're afraid?
Psalm 34:7 reminds me, "The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them." To fear the Lord means to honor Him and magnify Him in my heart most of all. When I focus on or magnify my fears, they become all I can think about. So instead I've learned to focus on God by doing three things:
• I cry out to Him with honest prayers. I verbalize to God what I'm afraid of and how paralyzing my fear is. I ask Him to help me see each next step I need to take.
• I open my Bible and look for verses that show me what He wants me to do in that moment of fear. I write down truths from the Bible about fear and then align my next actions with His truth. (For a list of verses to use, see the link in the recommended resources section below.)
• Then I walk in the assurance that I am fearing (or honoring) the Lord as Psalm 34:7 tells me to, therefore I know with certainty an angel of the Lord is encamped around me and God will deliver me.
I like this promise so much. It comforts me. It reassures me. And it challenges me to really live like I know it is true.
What's a fear you can face today? Think of an everyday fear holding you back. Is there a fear of confronting an issue with a friend? Is there a fear of stepping out in obedience to something God is calling you to do? Is there a fear of a medical diagnosis you just received? Fear of a root canal?
Oh if I were there I would totally hold your hand. Better yet, God is with you. And when you know He is with you, and His angels are encamped around you, you can face your fears.
Dear Lord, help me to only fear You with reverence and obedience. If a feeling of fear is a legitimate warning from You, help me to know that. But if this feeling of fear is more of a distracting detriment, help me be courageous and walk assured in Your presence. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
Click here to visit Lysa's blog for a list of empowering verses to use in your moments of fear.
Reflect and Respond:
Is there something you've been avoiding because you're afraid?
When you feel fear, focus on God by crying out to Him in prayer. Align your next actions with His truth. Then you can pray with the reassurance of the Lord's presence. And when you know He is with you, you can face your fears.
Power Verses:
Psalm 139:7-12, "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you." (NIV)
© 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org
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May 31, 2012
Someone's Watching Someone's Listening
Sharon Jaynes
Today's Truth
"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them," (Acts 16:25 NIV).
Friend to Friend
Did you know someone is watching you? Did you know someone is listening to you?
Mary, Gwen and I were speaking at a Girlfriends in God conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The night before the event, we sat at a table in the hotel lobby, visiting with a mutual ministry friend. It was getting rather late, but we were enjoying being together and just didn't want to go to bed. After about an hour of chatting, three ladies from the church ministry team came into the lobby with beautiful gift bags in their hands.
"What are you doing here?" we asked.
"We have been watching you through the window and waiting for you to go to bed!" one of the gals exasperatingly announced. "But you just keep sitting here talking!  (Surprise, surprise) The plan was for the three of you to go to bed, and then we were going to place gift bags by your doors, knock and run away. (I know. How sweet.) But you just won't go to bed! So here we are. Here are your goodie bags."
After we gave hugs and kisses, and went to our separate rooms, I was struck with this truth. When we thought we were "off-line" so to speak, not in the public eye, not in the act of ministry we really were. They were watching us through the window
Girlfriend, there is never a time when we are "off-line." There is never a time when our actions and our words do not matter.
Acts 16 has a wonderful story about Paul and Silas. They were arrested, beaten and thrown in prison for preaching the gospel. The Message says they were beaten within an inch of their lives. The Scripture also tells us that their feet were placed in stocks a form of restraint reserved for dangerous criminals. So what did they do? Complain? Grumble? Question God? No. They prayed. They sang.
"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them," (Acts 16:25 NIV). It is amazing that they were singing and praying, but don't miss the last part of that sentence "the other prisoners were listening to them." Underline that in your Bible. Ponder it. Remember it. "The other prisoners were listening to them."
Someone is always watching. Someone is always listening. What will they see in our actions? What will they hear in our words? Will they hear coarse talk? Will they hear gracious words?
Later Paul wrote: "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving," (Ephesians 5:3-5 NIV). Another translation says it this way: "and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks," (NASB).
I read this poem years ago, and it has served as a wonderful reminder about my actions and words.
You are writing a gospel, a chapter each day;
By things that you do; By things you say.
Others read that gospel, whether faithless or true!
Say! What is the Gospel According To You?
Someone's watching. Someone's listening. Say! What is the Gospel according to you?
Let's Pray
Lord, I pray that You will "set a guard over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips," (Psalm 141:3). "Let no unwholesome talk come out of my mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen," (Ephesians 4:29). I pray that my words will represent You well today.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Why do you think Paul includes so many verses in his letters to the churches warning them about the dangers of unwholesome talk?
What do you think happens in a "seeker's" mind when she or he hears a Christian swear or tell a coarse joke?
We live in a culture where coarse words are inescapable. They are on TV, in movies, and everywhere you turn. You don't even have to be watching a bad television program to hear them. The words fill the commercials. I know it is tough not to fall into the world's parade. But God calls us to march to a different drummer and Jesus is leading the band.
Here's something to ponder: Sometimes what makes you stand out as a Christian is not what you say, but what you don't say. If you prayed the prayer for today, let me know. Log onto www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes and say, "I asked God to watch over the door of my lips today."
More from the Girlfriends
Words are one of the most powerful forces in the universe. They can change the course of a life for good or for bad! If you would like to learn more about how to control your tongue and use your words to speak life into those around you, then see my book, The Power of a Woman's Words. It also has an accompanying Bible Study Guide and a teaching DVD. Perfect for group studies. The solution to many of your problems might just be right under your nose!
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
info@girlfriendsingod.com
www.girlfriendsingod.com
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What Should We Make of the Discrepancies Found in the Bible?

Skeptics often charge that the Bible's historical books hopelessly contradict each other. And if that's the case, they charge, then the Bible cannot be trusted in anything it says. Take, for example, 1 Chronicles 2:13-15, which states that Jesse had seven sons, while 1 Samuel 17:12 indicates Jesse had eight sons.
On the surface, the Bible's historical books can appear to disagree. These range all the way from very minor variations in wording to the most famous apparent contradictions. But once you allow for paraphrase, abridgment, explanatory additions, selection and omission-acceptable techniques even in many of today's writing styles-the books are extremely consistent with each other by ancient standards, which are the only standards by which it's fair to judge them. As in the case of Jesse's sons, it's important to realize that the reference to the fewer number of sons appears in a genealogical section of the Bible. If one of David's brothers died without leaving an heir, he would have been properly omitted from the list.
For another example, consider the writings of the New Testament. Ironically, if the events recorded in the Gospels were identical to each other, word for word, this would have raised charges that the authors had conspired among themselves to coordinate their stories in advance, and that would have cast doubt on them. If the Gospels were too consistent, that in itself would invalidate the gospel writers as independent witnesses. People would then say we really only have one testimony that everybody else parroted.
Simon Greenleaf of Harvard Law School is one of history's most important legal figures and the author of an influential treatise on evidence. After studying the consistency among the four gospel writers, he offered this evaluation: "There is enough of a discrepancy to show that there could have been no previous concert among them; and at the same time such substantial agreement as to show that they all were independent narrators of the same great transaction."
German scholar Hans Stier has concurred that agreement over basic data and a divergence of details suggest credibility, because fabricated accounts tend to be fully consistent and harmonized. "Every historian," he wrote, "is especially skeptical at that moment when an extraordinary happening is only reported in accounts which are completely free of contradictions."
Adapted from interview with Dr. Craig Blomberg
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Today's reading is from theThe Case for Christ Study Bible
by Zondervan


Investigate the Bible's most compelling claims: the existence of a compassionate God and the promise of eternal life through His Son, Jesus.


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A Majority of One

Recommended Reading: Psalm 18:1-50; Philippians 4:12-13
Have you ever met a man like Caleb? Oh, they're out there all right. All you have to do is look around.
Think of your neighbor down the street who has taken it upon himself to replace his entire kitchen. He's done the homework, learned from others and bravely undertaken the demolition with a seeming fearlessness that you admire. Think of a boss you once had who was wildly optimistic in the face of competition and adversity. He strategized with an enthusiasm that inspired you and your coworkers. Think of the disabled young girl in your community who refuses to let her physical disabilities keep her from a normal life with her friends.
All of these people face obstacles with a courage that defies the circumstances they face. Their drive seems to gather momentum despite adversity. Do they always succeed? No, but they don't let fear stop them in their tracks before moving ahead.
Caleb faced similar pressure to despair after his spy mission in Canaan. Ten of his fellow spies panicked when they saw the size of some of the people living in Canaan-enemies the Israelites would need to defeat in order to claim the promised land. "There's no way we can beat them," the other spies assessed. "They're too powerful."
Caleb's scouting report reflected a different perspective. He wasn't impressed by the size of the Anakites-he was bowled over by the power of the One who had held back the waters of the Red Sea. He didn't fear the fighting force of the Amalekites-it paled in comparison to the artillery of the One who had brought Egypt to its knees. He brushed aside doubts that God would protect the Israelites-this wasn't any more of a challenge for God than the manna, quail and water he had provided in the desert.
Caleb surveyed the obstacles in front of him and concluded that nothing else was a match for God's power.
Have you reached the same conclusion regarding the obstacles in your life? Perhaps the financial crisis that seems hopeless? The coworkers who are hostile to your Christian faith? The medical crisis that is turning your world upside down? The destructive habit no one else knows about?
Instead of allowing the problem at hand to overwhelm you, think about the Resource at your disposal. Make a mental list of past situations in which God protected you, provided for you and cared for you. Refuse to be intimidated by your spiritual enemies-no matter how enormous they seem. Remind yourself of the One who is on your team. And be the guy in your neighborhood whose optimism in the face of adversity inspires others.

To Take Away

  • What problems or obstacles are overwhelming you right now?
  • How can you show the same boldness Caleb displayed in dealing with your own troubles?
  • Make a list of instances in which you sensed God's protection, provision or care. When you pray, ask God to remind you of these blessings whenever you begin to feel overwhelmed.

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New Men's Devotional BibleToday's reading is from theNew Men's Devotional Bible
by Zondervan


The New Men's Devotional Biblehelps apply God's Word to a new generation of Christian men. It includes a full year of all-new devotions by well-known and not-so-well-known men of God.


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ONE WITH THEM

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 1 Corinthians 12:26
For Marina Shestakov and her three daughters, the imprisonment of their husband and father, Dmitry, was a time of great loss. But four years of loss soon became four years of gain, as Marina and the girls discovered they had a new family—a family without boundaries. Christians from around the world came alongside them reminding them of God’s love through their prayers, letters of support and offers of practical help.
In 2007, Pastor Dmitry Shestakov was sentenced to four years in a labor camp. He was leading a church in the east of Uzbekistan and had been watched by the security services for some time. In an attempt to blacken his name, he was falsely accused of many things, such as the excessive use of drugs and alcohol.
Marina will never forget the moment Dmitry was arrested. “It was a huge shock,” she says. “Suddenly I was left alone. Quickly many things changed in our family. The girls (Sasha, Masha
and Vera) were at an age when they were discovering all sorts of things, and sometimes they did not take notice of what I told them. Once Dmitry was gone, that changed. Gradually we became a close-knit team. That was good, but at the same time hard. They missed a part of their childhood.”
After Dmitry’s arrest, division arose in the church that he led. Some of the Christians were afraid and fled. However, God also brought good out of the situation. “Often in Central Asian cultures, when the pastor is removed, the whole church falls apart,” explains Marina. “Although some families left, new leaders arose as well. I’m thankful to everyone who took over Dmitry’s work,” she adds.
When Dmitry’s arrest became known outside Uzbekistan, several organisations launched aid campaigns for the Shestakovs. Open Doors started a writing campaign and encouraged its supporters to send cards and letters to encourage the Shestakov family. This support was vital for Marina and the girls.
“All the cards were a great encouragement for me,” shares Marina. “I thought it was so wonderful that people sent cards which were intended especially for one of us: for Dmitry or for me, or for one of the girls.
“I gained most strength from the Bible verses. The promises of God that He was watching over me, that He was holding me in His hand: those promises that people had written on the cards helped me to get through.”
RESPONSE: Today I will thank God for the oneness of His body around the world and the encouragement we can be to one another.
PRAYER: Pray for the Shestakov family—and others like them—as they struggle to resume their lives after the pressures of isolation and separation.
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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Tomorrow, we're launching a brand new devotional project! When the opportunity arose to make this project available to Bible Gateway visitors, we jumped at it--it combines our love of Scripture reading with our respect for church history and the "cloud of witnesses" that has gone before us. Starting tomorrow, you can take...

A 40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Pastor_BonhoefferBetween unending war and Hitler's policies of genocide, there was very little spiritual light to be seen in 1940s Germany. Yet even in the dark night of Nazi Germany, there were followers of Christ who held up a light. The most famous of these was pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who actively worked against Hitler for years--until he was murdered by the Nazi regime in the final days of the war.

Bonhoeffer is a challenging and inspiring voice for the church, and this summer, we want to introduce you to that voice. Beginning on Friday, June 1, Bible Gateway is running a special devotional exercise called A 40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Each day for 40 days, we'll email you a devotional based on the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Each day's reading features:
  • A short devotional excerpt from Bonhoeffer's writing.
  • Relevant Scripture passages to ponder.
  • Discussion questions to help you think through the devotional, and journal reflections that encourage you to put your thoughts down on paper.
  • Prayer suggestions, and a concluding prayer.
Bonhoeffer's writing has been enormously influential on the Christian church. In his sermons, letters, and other written works, we can see a picture of a committed Christian struggling to find a way to live out his faith in the midst of overwhelming evil. Our hope is that you'll emerge from this everyday reading and journaling experience inspired, and feeling that you've learned something from one of Christianity's most powerful voices.

A 40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer begins this Friday, June 1. It's completely free; you can sign up at ournewsletter signup page. We hope you'll join us for this unique look at one of modern Christianity's most challenging heroes!

Sincerely,

The Bible Gateway team
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