Friday, June 08, 2012

Daily Devotional Friday 8th June

“Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” Psalm 90:2,4 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"There fell down many slain, because the war was of God."
1 Chronicles 5:22
Warrior, fighting under the banner of the Lord Jesus, observe this verse with holy joy, for as it was in the days of old so is it now, if the war be of God the victory is sure. The sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh could barely muster five and forty thousand fighting men, and yet in their war with the Hagarites, they slew "men, an hundred thousand," "for they cried to God in the battle, and he was entreated of them, because they put their trust in him." The Lord saveth not by many nor by few; it is ours to go forth in Jehovah's name if we be but a handful of men, for the Lord of Hosts is with us for our Captain. They did not neglect buckler, and sword, and bow, neither did they place their trust in these weapons; we must use all fitting means, but our confidence must rest in the Lord alone, for he is the sword and the shield of his people. The great reason of their extraordinary success lay in the fact that "the war was of God." Beloved, in fighting with sin without and within, with error doctrinal or practical, with spiritual wickedness in high places or low places, with devils and the devil's allies, you are waging Jehovah's war, and unless he himself can be worsted, you need not fear defeat. Quail not before superior numbers, shrink not from difficulties or impossibilities, flinch not at wounds or death, smite with the two-edged sword of the Spirit, and the slain shall lie in heaps. The battle is the Lord's and he will deliver his enemies into our hands. With steadfast foot, strong hand, dauntless heart, and flaming zeal, rush to the conflict, and the hosts of evil shall fly like chaff before the gale.
Stand up! stand up for Jesus!
The strife will not be long;
This day the noise of battle,
The next the victor's song:
To him that overcometh,
A crown of life shall be;
He with the King of glory
Shall reign eternally.

Evening

"Thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not."
Numbers 11:23
God had made a positive promise to Moses that for the space of a whole month he would feed the vast host in the wilderness with flesh. Moses, being overtaken by a fit of unbelief, looks to the outward means, and is at a loss to know how the promise can be fulfilled. He looked to the creature instead of the Creator. But doth the Creator expect the creature to fulfil his promise for him? No; he who makes the promise ever fulfils it by his own unaided omnipotence. If he speaks, it is done--done by himself. His promises do not depend for their fulfilment upon the co-operation of the puny strength of man. We can at once perceive the mistake which Moses made. And yet how commonly we do the same! God has promised to supply our needs, and we look to the creature to do what God has promised to do; and then, because we perceive the creature to be weak and feeble, we indulge in unbelief. Why look we to that quarter at all? Will you look to the north pole to gather fruits ripened in the sun? Verily, you would act no more foolishly if ye did this than when you look to the weak for strength, and to the creature to do the Creator's work. Let us, then, put the question on the right footing. The ground of faith is not the sufficiency of the visible means for the performance of the promise, but the all-sufficiency of the invisible God, who will most surely do as he hath said. If after clearly seeing that the onus lies with the Lord and not with the creature, we dare to indulge in mistrust, the question of God comes home mightily to us: "Has the Lord's hand waxed short?" May it happen, too, in his mercy, that with the question there may flash upon our souls that blessed declaration, "Thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not."

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Today's reading: 2 Chronicles 28-29, John 17 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
Ahaz King of Judah
    1 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD. 2 He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and also made idols for worshiping the Baals. 3 He burned sacrifices in the Valley of Ben Hinnom and sacrificed his children in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. 4 He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree.
   5 Therefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hands of the king of Aram. The Arameans defeated him and took many of his people as prisoners and brought them to Damascus.
   He was also given into the hands of the king of Israel, who inflicted heavy casualties on him. 6 In one day Pekah son of Remaliah killed a hundred and twenty thousand soldiers in Judah—because Judah had forsaken the LORD, the God of their ancestors. 7 Zikri, an Ephraimite warrior, killed Maaseiah the king’s son, Azrikam the officer in charge of the palace, and Elkanah, second to the king. 8 The men of Israel took captive from their fellow Israelites who were from Judah two hundred thousand wives, sons and daughters. They also took a great deal of plunder, which they carried back to Samaria.
   9 But a prophet of the LORD named Oded was there, and he went out to meet the army when it returned to Samaria. He said to them, “Because the LORD, the God of your ancestors, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand. But you have slaughtered them in a rage that reaches to heaven. 10 And now you intend to make the men and women of Judah and Jerusalem your slaves. But aren’t you also guilty of sins against the LORD your God? 11 Now listen to me! Send back your fellow Israelites you have taken as prisoners, for the LORD’s fierce anger rests on you.”
   12 Then some of the leaders in Ephraim—Azariah son of Jehohanan, Berekiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum, and Amasa son of Hadlai—confronted those who were arriving from the war. 13 “You must not bring those prisoners here,” they said, “or we will be guilty before the LORD. Do you intend to add to our sin and guilt? For our guilt is already great, and his fierce anger rests on Israel.”
   14 So the soldiers gave up the prisoners and plunder in the presence of the officials and all the assembly. 15 The men designated by name took the prisoners, and from the plunder they clothed all who were naked. They provided them with clothes and sandals, food and drink, and healing balm. All those who were weak they put on donkeys. So they took them back to their fellow Israelites at Jericho, the City of Palms, and returned to Samaria.
   16 At that time King Ahaz sent to the kings of Assyria for help. 17 The Edomites had again come and attacked Judah and carried away prisoners, 18 while the Philistines had raided towns in the foothills and in the Negev of Judah. They captured and occupied Beth Shemesh, Aijalon and Gederoth, as well as Soko, Timnah and Gimzo, with their surrounding villages. 19The LORD had humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had promoted wickedness in Judah and had been most unfaithful to the LORD. 20 Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came to him, but he gave him trouble instead of help. 21 Ahaz took some of the things from the temple of the LORD and from the royal palace and from the officials and presented them to the king of Assyria, but that did not help him.
   22 In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the LORD. 23 He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus, who had defeated him; for he thought, “Since the gods of the kings of Aram have helped them, I will sacrifice to them so they will help me.” But they were his downfall and the downfall of all Israel.
   24 Ahaz gathered together the furnishings from the temple of God and cut them in pieces. He shut the doors of the LORD’s temple and set up altars at every street corner in Jerusalem. 25In every town in Judah he built high places to burn sacrifices to other gods and aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of his ancestors.
   26 The other events of his reign and all his ways, from beginning to end, are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. 27 Ahaz rested with his ancestors and was buried in the city of Jerusalem, but he was not placed in the tombs of the kings of Israel. And Hezekiah his son succeeded him as king.

2 Chronicles 29

Hezekiah Purifies the Temple
    1 Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done.
   3 In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the LORD and repaired them. 4 He brought in the priests and the Levites, assembled them in the square on the east side 5 and said: “Listen to me, Levites! Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the LORD, the God of your ancestors. Remove all defilement from the sanctuary. 6 Our parents were unfaithful; they did evil in the eyes of the LORD our God and forsook him. They turned their faces away from the LORD’s dwelling place and turned their backs on him. 7 They also shut the doors of the portico and put out the lamps. They did not burn incense or present any burnt offerings at the sanctuary to the God of Israel. 8 Therefore, the anger of the LORD has fallen on Judah and Jerusalem; he has made them an object of dread and horror and scorn, as you can see with your own eyes. 9 This is why our fathers have fallen by the sword and why our sons and daughters and our wives are in captivity. 10 Now I intend to make a covenant with the LORD, the God of Israel, so that his fierce anger will turn away from us. 11 My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before him and serve him, to minister before him and to burn incense.”
   12 Then these Levites set to work:
   from the Kohathites, 
   Mahath son of Amasai and Joel son of Azariah;
   from the Merarites, 
   Kish son of Abdi and Azariah son of Jehallelel;
   from the Gershonites, 
   Joah son of Zimmah and Eden son of Joah;
   13 from the descendants of Elizaphan, 
   Shimri and Jeiel;
   from the descendants of Asaph, 
   Zechariah and Mattaniah;
   14 from the descendants of Heman, 
   Jehiel and Shimei;
   from the descendants of Jeduthun, 
   Shemaiah and Uzziel.
   15 When they had assembled their fellow Levites and consecrated themselves, they went in to purify the temple of the LORD, as the king had ordered, following the word of the LORD. 16 The priests went into the sanctuary of the LORD to purify it. They brought out to the courtyard of the LORD’s temple everything unclean that they found in the temple of the LORD. The Levites took it and carried it out to the Kidron Valley. 17 They began the consecration on the first day of the first month, and by the eighth day of the month they reached the portico of the LORD. For eight more days they consecrated the temple of the LORD itself, finishing on the sixteenth day of the first month.
   18 Then they went in to King Hezekiah and reported: “We have purified the entire temple of the LORD, the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the table for setting out the consecrated bread, with all its articles. 19 We have prepared and consecrated all the articles that King Ahaz removed in his unfaithfulness while he was king. They are now in front of the LORD’s altar.”
   20 Early the next morning King Hezekiah gathered the city officials together and went up to the temple of the LORD. 21They brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven male lambs and seven male goats as a sin offering for the kingdom, for the sanctuary and for Judah. The king commanded the priests, the descendants of Aaron, to offer these on the altar of the LORD.22 So they slaughtered the bulls, and the priests took the blood and splashed it against the altar; next they slaughtered the rams and splashed their blood against the altar; then they slaughtered the lambs and splashed their blood against the altar. 23 The goats for the sin offering were brought before the king and the assembly, and they laid their hands on them. 24The priests then slaughtered the goats and presented their blood on the altar for a sin offering to atone for all Israel, because the king had ordered the burnt offering and the sin offering for all Israel.
   25 He stationed the Levites in the temple of the LORD with cymbals, harps and lyres in the way prescribed by David and Gad the king’s seer and Nathan the prophet; this was commanded by the LORD through his prophets. 26 So the Levites stood ready with David’s instruments, and the priests with their trumpets.
   27 Hezekiah gave the order to sacrifice the burnt offering on the altar. As the offering began, singing to the LORD began also, accompanied by trumpets and the instruments of David king of Israel. 28 The whole assembly bowed in worship, while the musicians played and the trumpets sounded. All this continued until the sacrifice of the burnt offering was completed.
   29 When the offerings were finished, the king and everyone present with him knelt down and worshiped. 30 King Hezekiah and his officials ordered the Levites to praise the LORD with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with gladness and bowed down and worshiped.
   31 Then Hezekiah said, “You have now dedicated yourselves to the LORD. Come and bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the temple of the LORD.” So the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all whose hearts were willing brought burnt offerings.
   32 The number of burnt offerings the assembly brought was seventy bulls, a hundred rams and two hundred male lambs—all of them for burnt offerings to the LORD. 33 The animals consecrated as sacrifices amounted to six hundred bulls and three thousand sheep and goats. 34 The priests, however, were too few to skin all the burnt offerings; so their relatives the Levites helped them until the task was finished and until other priests had been consecrated, for the Levites had been more conscientious in consecrating themselves than the priests had been. 35 There were burnt offerings in abundance, together with the fat of the fellowship offerings and the drink offerings that accompanied the burnt offerings.
   So the service of the temple of the LORD was reestablished.36 Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced at what God had brought about for his people, because it was done so quickly.

John 17

Jesus Prays to Be Glorified
    1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
   “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
Jesus Prays for His Disciples
    6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
   13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
Jesus Prays for All Believers
    20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
   24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
   25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

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Ahimaaz [Ăhĭm'aăz]—a rascal, powerful brother or my brother is counselor.
  1. Father of Ahinoam, Saul’s wife (1 Sam. 14:50).
  2. A son of Zadok the priest, who kept David informed of Absalom’s revolt ( 2 Sam. 15:27,3617:1720).
  3. One of Solomon’s officers, responsible for the monthly supply of victuals for the royal household ( 1 Kings 4:15).

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Salvation to the uttermost

“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25
Suggested Further Reading: Romans 8:31-34
It is pleasant to look back to Calvary’s hill, and to behold that bleeding form expiring on the tree; it is sweet, amazingly sweet, to pry with eyes of love between those thick olives, and hear the groanings of the Man who sweat great drops of blood. Sinner, if you ask me how Christ can save you, I tell you this—he can save you, because he did not save himself; he can save you, because he took your guilt and endured your punishment. There is no way of salvation apart from the satisfaction of divine justice. Either the sinner must die, or else someone must die for him. Sinner, Christ can save you, because, if you come to God by him, then he died for you. God has a debt against us, and he never remits that debt; he will have it paid. Christ pays it, and then the poor sinner goes free. And we are told another reason why he is able to save: not only because he died, but because he lives to make intercession for us. That Man who once died on the cross is alive; that Jesus who was buried in the tomb is alive. If you ask me what he is doing, I bid you listen. Listen, if you have ears! Did you not hear him, poor penitent sinner? Did you not hear his voice, sweeter than harpers playing on their harps? Did you not hear a charming voice? Listen! What did it say? “O my Father! Forgive…….!” Why, he mentioned your own name! “O my Father, forgive him; he knew not what he did. It is true he sinned against light, and knowledge, and warnings; sinned willfully and woefully; but, Father, forgive him!” Penitent, if you can listen, you will hear him praying for you. And that is why he is able to save.
For meditation: How often do you stop and think what Christ is doing for you right now, if you are a Christian (1 John 2:1)?
Sermon no. 84
8 June (1856)
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The child Samuel’s prayer

‘Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth.’ 1 Samuel 3:9
Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 21:6–16
Children who are taught a form of prayer may perhaps by divine grace be enabled to use the form in all sincerity of heart: I hope they may; but I think they are more likely to understand the things of God, if instead of teaching them the form, you explain to them the meaning and the value of prayer. I take this to be the best plan. Let the Christian parent explain to the child what prayer is; tell him that God answers prayer; direct him to the Saviour, and then urge him to express his desires in his own language, both when he rises, and when he goes to rest. Gather the little ones around your knee and listen to their words, suggesting to them their needs, and reminding them of God’s gracious promise. You will be amazed and, I may add, somewhat amused too; but you will be frequently surprised at the expressions they will use, the confessions they will make, the desires they will utter; and I am certain that any Christian person standing within earshot, and listening to the simple prayer of a little child earnestly asking God for what it thinks it wants, would never afterwards wish to teach a child a form, but would say, that as a matter of education to the heart, the extemporaneous utterance was infinitely superior to the best form, and that the form should be given up for ever. However, do not let me speak too sweepingly. If you must teach your child to say a form of prayer, at least take care that you do not teach him to say anything which is not true. If you teach your children a catechism, mind that it is thoroughly scriptural, or you may train them up to tell falsehoods.
For meditation: When secondhand man-made devotions begin in the mouth rather than in the heart, they are not acceptable to God (Isaiah 29:13). The Lord Jesus Christ loved children to come to him as children (Mark 10:13–16 ); God can teach them heartfelt praise (Matthew 21:15–16).
Sermon no. 586
8 June (Undated Sermon)

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Mustard Seed and Leaven

Matthew 13:31-33 "He told them another parable. 'The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened'" ( v. 33).
As we begin our study today, note again that parables are usually stories drawn from everyday life. Jesus' comparison of the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed and leaven illustrates this fact (Matt. 13:31-33). Men typically worked in agriculture, and women performed domestic chores like the baking of bread in first-century Palestine. In telling parables related to these tasks, Jesus conveys His message in terms that are familiar to ordinary people.
Our studies in Matthew have thus far shown that the Messiah ushered in God's kingdom in a manner that did not meet the expectations of His contemporaries. Instead of an immediate and final entry of God's saving presence, there was an inauguration of the kingdom that is followed by a long period of growth before the final consummation. The mustard plant's growth and the leaven's permeation, both of which take time, illustrate this point.
For clarity's sake, the niv describes the mustard seed in verse 32 as "the smallest of all your seeds" (emphasis added). Smaller seeds than those of the mustard plant exist, but Jesus is not making an absolute statement on the size of seeds. Mustard seeds are the smallest of those commonly used by His audience and are used in the parable to make His point easy to grasp. Like the seemingly insignificant mustard seed, God's kingdom starts out small and all but hidden. In time, however, it becomes so large that no one can ignore it - just like the Palestinian mustard plants that can reach ten feet in height. Despite its humble beginning, the kingdom will grow to an immense size ( Dan. 2:31-45).
The parable of the leaven makes virtually the same point, albeit from a slightly different perspective (Matt. 13:33 ). A morsel of yeast is seemingly engulfed and consumed in the larger lump of dough; however, the leaven actually ends up permeating the flour, transforming the dough and making it rise. So too will the Gospel, with slow growth at first, penetrate and transform society. John Chrysostom comments, "The leaven, though it is buried, is not destroyed. Little by little it transmutes the whole lump into its own condition. This happens with the gospel" (Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, 46.2).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Matthew Henry reminds us that yeast "works silently and insensibly, yet strongly and irresistibly." The kingdom of God works in a similar fashion. Though Christians often suffer and the darkness looks overwhelming, the kingdom is growing nonetheless. One day it will be fully manifest in all creation. Consider today how you have seen the presence of the Lord in your life and pray for His kingdom to come.
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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Mustard Seed and Leaven

Matthew Henry reminds us that yeast "works silently and insensibly, yet strongly and irresistibly." The kingdom of God works in a similar fashion. Though Christians often suffer and the darkness looks overwhelming, the kingdom is growing nonetheless. One day it will be fully manifest in all creation. Consider today how you have seen the presence of the Lord in your life and pray for His kingdom to come.
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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Lysa TerKeurst
June 7, 2012
Asking God for the Impossible
Lysa TerKeurst
"I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name." Isaiah 45:2-3(NIV 1984)
Several years ago I sat beside my youngest sister and listened as she boldly rejected my views of God. She told me how she'd always been a free spirit, much too non-conventional for traditional religion.
"Good thing I'm not into religion," I gently replied.
She twisted her face as if half expecting a lightening bolt to strike us both. "But you ARE religious."
I laid my head against the back of the lounge chair, closed my eyes to the sun now washing over me and simply replied, "Nope."
Letting my statement just sit for a while, I decided not to clarify unless she asked. And ask she did.
That's when I explained that I follow God, not a list of rules. I am passionate about getting into the Bible - God's teachings - and letting the Bible get into me. I no longer evaluate life based on my feelings. Instead, I let my feelings and experiences be evaluated in light of God's Word.
I have watched God chase me around with rich evidence of His presence and invitations to trade apathy for active faith. But I had to make the choice to see God. Hear God. Know God. And follow hard after God.
Then I took my sister's hand and told her I'd be praying for God to mess with her in ways too bold for her to deny.
Fast forward over six years later. My sister walks into her professor's office and sees one of my books on her bookshelf. I don't think she really believed anyone actually read my books. But there it was. And it messed with her.
She later went home and poked around my blog a bit where she found a clip of my testimony. Again, it messed with her. One verse in particular messed with her so much that she let the possibility that God exists slip into her heart.
A few days later she went and had Jeremiah 29:11tattooed on the back of her neck. And she started calling wanting to talk to me. About life. About tattoos. And about God.
A few weeks later I stood in the middle of an airport praying for my precious sister who called while I was traveling, and asked me to pray for her. She had called. She had asked. And that's the miracle of our Jesus. He is the God of the impossible.
I wonder what might happen if we dared to ask God for the impossible just a little more often. I'm up for it? Are you?
Dear Lord, use me today to reach the heart of one. I want to trade any apathy I may have for active faith. Lead me, and I will follow. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
Visit Lysa's blog by clicking here to read this article about a completely different way to look at the word "impossible."
Lysa will be speaking in over 40 cities this year and would love to meet you! To check for a city near you, click here.
Learn how to study the Bible in a fun and relevant way on your own by reading Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst
Reflect and Respond:
Read the book of John over the next several days. Let the truths of Jesus' life resonate in your mind and soul. As you read and ponder each verse daily, let your feelings and experiences be evaluated in the light of God's Word.
How can you, right where you are, choose to see the rich evidences of God? How can you show this to someone else who needs to hear it?
Have you asked God for the impossible lately?
Power Verses:
John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." (NIV)
Colossians 1:9, "For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding." (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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June 7, 2012
Trusting God with the Future
Mary Southerland
Today's Truth
2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV) "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
Friend to Friend
In an effort to escape the brutal summer heat of South Florida, our family headed to the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of our favorite spots for hiking, so we planned a day trip that included exploring a few hiking trails, a picnic and a visit to the beautiful and historic colonial home of Carl Sandburg. We woke to discover the beautiful weather of the day before had dissolved into a soupy mix of drizzle and fog, but we were not about to let a little fog and rain deter us from our original plan. We had been vacationing in North Carolina for years and knew fog is a common occurrence – even in the summer. We piled into our van and made our way up the mountain. The closer we got to the Sandburg home, the heavier the fog became. In fact, when we arrived, the fog was so thick we could barely see the walkway leading to the gift shop where we needed to purchase tickets for the tour of the home and grounds. We decided we would have to come back another day for the tour, but since we were already at the gift shop, it wouldn't hurt to do a little browsing.
The shop owner greeted us warmly and asked if we would like to purchase tickets for the guided tour scheduled to leave in an hour. Always the diplomat, I responded, "Are you kidding me? Have you looked outside?" The owner smiled and said, "Oh, you mean the fog? It will be gone in a little while. Now – how many tickets do you need?" I don't like pushy salesmen, even when they are sweet and kind – and maybe a little near-sighted. "I think we will just wait and see if the fog actually lifts," I responded, convinced the thick fog would last all day, and resumed my browsing.  I lost track of time and was surprised to hear the owner announce, "The tour is leaving in 15 minutes. This is our final call for tickets." I walked out of the gift shop to discover the fog really was lifting and the skies were actually beginning to clear. I couldn't believe my eyes! Within minutes, the sun was shining - as if the fog had never existed.
It sometimes feels as if the fog of doubt and fear of darkness will never lift from our lives. The promises of God seem to get swallowed up by the problems we face. We want to curse our crisis – not praise God in the midst of that crisis. The hurt and pain overwhelm our faith, and we lose sight of the fact that this world is not our home and the troubles we face are only temporary. Lift up your eyes, girlfriend. Fix your heart and mind on God – He is with you – and makes every problem point to a promise.
Promise of direction Proverbs 20:30 "Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways." 
God uses problems to show us the way. We would walk through the wrong door if He didn't close it. Years ago, I dated a young man I thought I would marry. I began to pray, "Lord, if he is not the one, just close the door." The very next conversation I had with this young man ended our relationship and resulted in my taking a church staff position that led me to Dan Southerland.
Promise of correction Psalm 119:71-72 "It was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to your laws."
God uses problems to correct us. When our daughter was a toddler, she was fascinated with electrical outlets. Nothing we said or did seemed to deter her ... until the day she stuck a safety pin in the outlet. "Ouch!" she cried, holding up her little red finger for me to kiss. She never played with an outlet again.
Promise of protection Genesis 50:20 "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good."
A problem can be a blessing in disguise if it keeps you from being hurt by something more serious. I dreaded taking our children to get their immunization shots. I took a healthy child to the doctor and came home with a little one who was fussy, sore and running a low grade temperature. Our pediatrician finally said, "Mary, think of it like this. You are allowing your babies to experience a little hurt in order to prevent them from experiencing a bigger hurt.  A tetanus shot is nothing compared to tetanus itself."
Promise of perfection Romans 5:3-4 "We can rejoice when we run into problems ... they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady."
Problems, when responded to correctly, are character builders. I once spoke for a women's conference with the theme of "Problems into Pearls." The leader welcomed me and said, "We have to get you some pearls!" Digging in her purse, she produced a beautiful pearl necklace for me to wear. I spoke several times, counseled and prayed with numerous women and tried to meet as many women as possible. When the woman came to retrieve her pearl necklace, I was embarrassed. I had worked up quite a sweat with all of that hugging, laughing, talking. She brushed my apology aside and said, "Sweat is good for pearls. It helps them keep their luster."
God is at work in and around you.  You may not see His hand, hear His voice or even understand His process, but you can rest assured that you can trust His heart.  Remember, every problem points to a promise.
Let's Pray
Lord, I am tired of trying to face my problems in my own strength. Today, I choose to fix my gaze on You and praise You for Your presence and power in my life. I will give You praise, knowing You take up residence in the praises of Your people. I will walk through my fear, knowing You are with me. I declare my belief in Your willingness to help me face anything that comes my way. I trust You with my problems, Lord.  
In Jesus' name,
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Read each of the following verses. Choose at least one to memorize and record in your journal.
Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV) "I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth."
Psalm 46:1 (NIV) "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."
Psalm 63:7-8 (NIV) "Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me."
More from the Girlfriends
Check out Mary's E-Bible Study How to Find Your Missing Peace for ways to deal with fear and walk in peace. And if you need help with trusting God, get Mary's MP3 download, Stepping Out in Faith.  Helpful MP3 downloads, CDs and books are also available in Mary's online store along with FREE resources on her site.
Need help learning how to live a life of power and purpose? Check out Mary's weekly online Bible Study, How to Dress for Success and learn how to live a life of victory. Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.
Seeking God?
Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Girlfriends in God
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Matthews, NC 28106

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Did the Original Bible Manuscripts Claim Jesus Was God?

In the bestseller Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the authors claim that in A.D. 303 Emperor Diocletian destroyed all Christian writings that could be found. That's why, they assert, there are no New Testament manuscripts prior to the fourth century. Later, Emperor Constantine commissioned new versions of these documents, which allowed the "custodians of orthodoxy to revise, edit, and rewrite their material as they saw fit." It was at this point that "most of the crucial alterations in the New Testament were probably made and Jesus assumed the unique status he has enjoyed ever since."
In response to this book, Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, a New Testament Greek scholar, says, "Do these authors know anything about history at all? Diocletian did not destroy all the Christian manuscripts. He did destroy several, but mostly in the East and South. As far as having no manuscripts prior to the fourth century- well, we have more than four dozen in Greek alone that are prior to the fourth century. And these manuscripts have numerous passages- John 1:11820:28;Titus 2:13Hebrews 1:82 Peter 1:1- that affirm the deity of Jesus. So it's nonsense to say Jesus' deity wasn't invented until the fourth century when you've already got the evidence in earlier manuscripts.
"Besides, we still have lots and lots of quotations by church fathers prior to the fourth century. Ignatius, in about A.D. 110, calls Jesus 'our God' and then says, 'the blood of God,' referring to Jesus. Where does he get this idea if it wasn't invented for more than two hundred years? And you have a steady march from Ignatius right through the rest of the patristic writers- I mean, you can't make that kind of a claim and be any kind of a responsible historian."
Because Scriptures that affirm the deity of Christ are so numerous and central to the New Testament, an incredible feat of editing would have been required to add them. Accepting the claims of Jesus' deity as part of the original manuscripts is much more natural and believable.
Adapted from interview with Dr. Daniel B. Wallace
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Today's reading is from theThe Case for Christ Study Bible
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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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Fear the Lord ... But Don't Be Afraid

In his autobiography, Blessings in Disguise, the late actor Alec Guinness wrote that as he was walking up Kingsway in the middle of an afternoon, he had an impulse to start running. He ran until he reached a little church. He'd never been there before, but he caught his breath and knelt to pray. For the next ten minutes he "was lost to the world."
Guinness explained the compulsion as a "rather nonsensical gesture of love," an outburst of thanksgiving. He ran to the church and fell on his knees in prayer not long after March 24, 1956, the day he had converted to Christianity after years of being an atheist.
Guinness, in a move reflective of the movement of the Holy Spirit in his life, learned in part what "fearing God" is all about. Although Scripture uses the word "fear," God doesn't want us to be afraid of him. Instead, he wants us to realize how magnificent, awe-inspiring and deserving of our worship he is.
Interestingly, knowing that God desires our worship also helps us understand just how special we are to him. This can lead us into a more active relationship with God. God always expresses his love in some kind of action toward us, and he desires that we return our loving expressions in action, as well as in trusting his leading and following his commands for our life.
God's love, coupled with our sense of awe and reverence, leads us to action. It led Alec Guinness to run down the street and then fall on his knees in thanksgiving and adoration. Perhaps you've only recently come to know about God's grace revealed through Jesus Christ. Perhaps you've been his devoted follower for years. Or perhaps you're just looking for a fresh experience of God in your life. What actions will you take today to express your "fear of God"?
Don't be afraid to go for it!

To Take Away

  • Describe in your own words what it means to fear God.
  • How does knowing that God desires our worship help us understand how special we are to him?
  • What actions can you take to express your love to God?

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THE WRITTEN WORD OF GOD

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 1 Peter 1:22-23
The Bible has always been an important resource to those who have not had access to it… especially those in prison. Christian singer, Helen Berhane shares how she smuggled a Bible into a shipping container prison in Eritrea and later was moved to another container which already held eighteen Christian women who had refused to give up their faith. She writes in her book, Song of the Nightingale,how the Word of God impacted her and the other women:
We were very overcrowded, but I was happy to join a Christian group again. Since I was the longest serving prisoner, I took charge. I wanted to help them as much as I could, because I knew they would be comforted by the thought that someone cared for them. I would fold the older ladies’ blankets when they went out to the toilet in the morning, and I would stay behind to clean the container [of human waste].
Many of them were worried about their husbands and children, so I tried to keep them busy and establish a routine. I would start by preparing breakfast; at this point we got four bread rolls each, two in the morning and two in the evening, with weak lentil soup, and a cup of tea.
Then I would lead a Bible meditation and then I would sing. A month after I was first imprisoned I had managed to smuggle a Bible past the guards. I can’t tell you exactly how I did it, as people still use this method and it is important that the authorities don’t find out how it’s done, but I can say it was a whole Bible split into five smaller sections. This made it easier for me to hide it. Previously I had just read it alone, but now we did group readings every day. I also sang new songs to the group that I had written in prison.[1]
RESPONSE: Today I will cherish my Bible and make sure that in my freedom I internalize it as much as those in prison for the faith.
PRAYER: Pray that all Christian prisoners will somehow gain access to a Bible or the message of the Bible today for encouragement and hope.
1. Berhane, p.49.
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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Day 7

Do not worry! Earthly goods deceive the human heart into believing that they give it security and freedom from worry. But in truth, they are what cause anxiety. The heart which clings to goods receives with them the choking burden of worry. Worry collects treasures, and treasures produce more worries. We desire to secure our lives with earthly goods; we want our worrying to make us worry-free, but the truth is the opposite. The chains which bind us to earthly goods, the clutches which hold the goods tight, are themselves worries.
Abuse of earthly goods consists of using them as a security for the next day. Worry is always directed toward tomorrow. But the goods are intended only for today in the strictest sense. It is our securing things for tomorrow which makes us so insecure today. It is enough that each day should have its own troubles. Only those who put tomorrow completely into God's hand and receive fully today what they need for their lives are really secure. Receiving daily liberates me from tomorrow.

Biblical Wisdom

"But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today." Matthew 6:33-34

Questions to Ponder

  • If "worry collects treasures, and treasures produce more worries," how might one stop worrying?
  • How can we tell the difference between what we really "need" for our lives and what we think we need but really only want? Can we be content with what we really need?
  • Practically speaking, what would it mean to stop our "abuse of earthly goods" and "put tomorrow completely into God's hand"?

Psalm Fragment

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
   All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
   and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
   in your light we see light. Psalm 36:7-9

Journal Reflections

  • Write down your worries of today.
  • Reflect on why you have these worries.
  • How many of them have to do with things you have or want to have?
  • Explore ways in which trusting God for today and tomorrow might relieve your worry and fear.

Intercessions

Pray for the people you know who are worried or afraid. Ask God to deliver them from their worries by increasing their trust in God's providential care.

Prayer for Today

Lord, I place my worries in your gracious hand and live this day trusting that you are with me and that what I have is more than I need.
40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.
Missed the first couple devotionals in this series, or want to re-read an earlier devotional? You can find a complete online archive of Bonhoeffer devotionals at BibleGateway.com. The first devotional can be found here.
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One of the most widely admired theologians of the 20th century, Bonhoeffer was a profound yet clear thinker. Klug selects significant passages from his works, pairs them with appropriate Scripture, sets up a journal-writing exercise, and concludes with prayer.

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