Saturday, June 16, 2012

Daily Devotional Saturday 16th June

“The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.” Proverbs 23:24NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish."
John 10:28
The Christian should never think or speak lightly of unbelief. For a child of God to mistrust his love, his truth, his faithfulness, must be greatly displeasing to him. How can we ever grieve him by doubting his upholding grace? Christian! it is contrary to every promise of God's precious Word that thou shouldst ever be forgotten or left to perish. If it could be so, how could he be true who has said, "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I never forget thee." What were the value of that promise--"The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee." Where were the truth of Christ's words--"I give unto my sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." Where were the doctrines of grace? They would be all disproved if one child of God should perish. Where were the veracity of God, his honour, his power, his grace, his covenant, his oath, if any of those for whom Christ has died, and who have put their trust in him, should nevertheless be cast away? Banish those unbelieving fears which so dishonour God. Arise, shake thyself from the dust, and put on thy beautiful garments. Remember it is sinful to doubt his Word wherein he has promised thee that thou shalt never perish. Let the eternal life within thee express itself in confident rejoicing.
"The gospel bears my spirit up:
A faithful and unchanging God
Lays the foundation for my hope,
In oaths, and promises, and blood."

Evening

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"
Psalm 27:1
"The Lord is my light and my salvation." Here is personal interest, "my light," "my salvation;" the soul is assured of it, and therefore declares it boldly. Into the soul at the new birth divine light is poured as the precursor of salvation; where there is not enough light to reveal our own darkness and to make us long for the Lord Jesus, there is no evidence of salvation. After conversion our God is our joy, comfort, guide, teacher, and in every sense our light: he is light within, light around, light reflected from us, and light to be revealed to us. Note, it is not said merely that the Lord gives light, but that he is light; nor that he gives salvation, but that he is salvation; he, then, who by faith has laid hold upon God, has all covenant blessings in his possession. This being made sure as a fact, the argument drawn from it is put in the form of a question, "Whom shall I fear?" A question which is its own answer. The powers of darkness are not to be feared, for the Lord, our light, destroys them; and the damnation of hell is not to be dreaded by us, for the Lord is our salvation. This is a very different challenge from that of boastful Goliath, for it rests, not upon the conceited vigour of an arm of flesh, but upon the real power of the omnipotent I AM. "The Lord is the strength of my life." Here is a third glowing epithet, to show that the writer's hope was fastened with a threefold cord which could not be broken. We may well accumulate terms of praise where the Lord lavishes deeds of grace. Our life derives all its strength from God; and if he deigns to make us strong, we cannot be weakened by all the machinations of the adversary. "Of whom shall I be afraid?" The bold question looks into the future as well as the present. "If God be for us," who can be against us, either now or in time to come?

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Today's reading: Nehemiah 1-3, Acts 2:1-21 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
Nehemiah’s Prayer
    1 The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah:
   In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.
   3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”
   4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said:
   “LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.
   8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’
   10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”
   I was cupbearer to the king.

Nehemiah 2

Artaxerxes Sends Nehemiah to Jerusalem
    1 In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, 2so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”
   I was very much afraid, 3 but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”
   4 The king said to me, “What is it you want?”
   Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”
   6 Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.
   7 I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? 8 And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. 9 So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.
   10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.
Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem’s Walls
    11 I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days 12I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.
   13 By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; 15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.
   17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.
   They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.
   19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?”
   20 I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”

Nehemiah 3

Builders of the Wall
    1 Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set its doors in place, building as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and as far as the Tower of Hananel. 2 The men of Jericho built the adjoining section, and Zakkur son of Imri built next to them.
   3 The Fish Gate was rebuilt by the sons of Hassenaah. They laid its beams and put its doors and bolts and bars in place. 4Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, repaired the next section. Next to him Meshullam son of Berekiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs, and next to him Zadok son of Baana also made repairs. 5 The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors.
   6 The Jeshanah Gate was repaired by Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah. They laid its beams and put its doors with their bolts and bars in place. 7 Next to them, repairs were made by men from Gibeon and Mizpah—Melatiah of Gibeon and Jadon of Meronoth—places under the authority of the governor of Trans-Euphrates. 8 Uzziel son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired the next section; and Hananiah, one of the perfume-makers, made repairs next to that. They restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. 9 Rephaiah son of Hur, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section. 10 Adjoining this, Jedaiah son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his house, and Hattush son of Hashabneiah made repairs next to him. 11 Malkijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath-Moab repaired another section and the Tower of the Ovens. 12 Shallum son of Hallohesh, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section with the help of his daughters.
   13 The Valley Gate was repaired by Hanun and the residents of Zanoah. They rebuilt it and put its doors with their bolts and bars in place. They also repaired a thousand cubits of the wall as far as the Dung Gate.
   14 The Dung Gate was repaired by Malkijah son of Rekab, ruler of the district of Beth Hakkerem. He rebuilt it and put its doors with their bolts and bars in place.
   15 The Fountain Gate was repaired by Shallun son of Kol-Hozeh, ruler of the district of Mizpah. He rebuilt it, roofing it over and putting its doors and bolts and bars in place. He also repaired the wall of the Pool of Siloam, by the King’s Garden, as far as the steps going down from the City of David. 16Beyond him, Nehemiah son of Azbuk, ruler of a half-district of Beth Zur, made repairs up to a point opposite the tombs of David, as far as the artificial pool and the House of the Heroes.
   17 Next to him, the repairs were made by the Levites under Rehum son of Bani. Beside him, Hashabiah, ruler of half the district of Keilah, carried out repairs for his district. 18 Next to him, the repairs were made by their fellow Levites under Binnui son of Henadad, ruler of the other half-district of Keilah. 19 Next to him, Ezer son of Jeshua, ruler of Mizpah, repaired another section, from a point facing the ascent to the armory as far as the angle of the wall. 20 Next to him, Baruch son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section, from the angle to the entrance of the house of Eliashib the high priest. 21 Next to him, Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, repaired another section, from the entrance of Eliashib’s house to the end of it.
   22 The repairs next to him were made by the priests from the surrounding region. 23 Beyond them, Benjamin and Hasshub made repairs in front of their house; and next to them, Azariah son of Maaseiah, the son of Ananiah, made repairs beside his house. 24 Next to him, Binnui son of Henadad repaired another section, from Azariah’s house to the angle and the corner, 25and Palal son of Uzai worked opposite the angle and the tower projecting from the upper palace near the court of the guard. Next to him, Pedaiah son of Parosh 26 and the temple servants living on the hill of Ophel made repairs up to a point opposite the Water Gate toward the east and the projecting tower. 27Next to them, the men of Tekoa repaired another section, from the great projecting tower to the wall of Ophel.
   28 Above the Horse Gate, the priests made repairs, each in front of his own house. 29 Next to them, Zadok son of Immer made repairs opposite his house. Next to him, Shemaiah son of Shekaniah, the guard at the East Gate, made repairs. 30 Next to him, Hananiah son of Shelemiah, and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another section. Next to them, Meshullam son of Berekiah made repairs opposite his living quarters. 31Next to him, Malkijah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs as far as the house of the temple servants and the merchants, opposite the Inspection Gate, and as far as the room above the corner; 32 and between the room above the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and merchants made repairs

Acts 2

The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost
    1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
   Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
   13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
Peter Addresses the Crowd
    14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
   17 “‘In the last days, God says, 
   I will pour out my Spirit on all people. 
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, 
   your young men will see visions, 
   your old men will dream dreams. 
18 Even on my servants, both men and women, 
   I will pour out my Spirit in those days, 
   and they will prophesy. 
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above 
   and signs on the earth below, 
   blood and fire and billows of smoke. 
20 The sun will be turned to darkness 
   and the moon to blood 
   before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 
21 And everyone who calls 
   on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
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Barnabas [Bär'nabăs]—son of prophecy or consolationSurname of Joses, Paul’s companion in several of his missionary journeys (Acts 4:36;9:27).

The Man Renowned for His Winsomeness

The features of this lovable man stand out in bold relief.
I. His magnificent generosity. The first recorded deed of this Levite of Cyprus was the selling of his property and the grateful sacrifice of the money secured to the common fund of the first Christian community (Acts. 4:36). The Church has many on her ancient roll who knew what it was to be baptized with the baptism of Barnabas. His exuberant generosity inspired them to surrender their all.
II. His impressive personality. The Lycaonians named Barnabas Jupiter, the name of the emperor of gods in Grecian mythology (Acts 14:12). Evidently this “son of comfort” had a commanding, dignified, venerable appearance and his physical nobility added to his influence. The culture and consecration of a commendable physical personality is not to be despised. Also mentally and morally, Barnabas was a man among men.
III. His innate goodness. What triple grace this man possessed! “A good man and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith” (Acts 11:24). God-possessed, Barnabas was full of love, sympathy and faith. Vision and allegiance were his. Spirit-filled, he exuded the comfort of the Spirit. Dean Church says that Barnabas was “an earthly reflection of the Paraclete.”
IV. His notable ministry. Barnabas had an inspiring influence (Acts 11:2526), was trustworthy ( Acts 11:2930), was adapted to missionary work (Acts 13:2), encouraged converts (Acts 11:23 ), was a son of Christian prophecy in that he uttered God’s messages, was a devoted toiler and self-supporting (1 Cor. 9:6).
V. His lamentable contention. It is sad to realize that such a captivating man as Barnabas was a party to a quarrel. How true it is that there are “surprises of sin in holiest histories.” The doleful story of the sharp contention between Paul and Barnabas is told in Acts 15:36-39 . Perhaps both good men were wrong. Paul proposed to Barnabas that they should visit the brethren in every city where they had labored. Barnabas agreed and wanted to take Mark, his nephew, with them. Paul felt that Mark, having left them once, was not fit to accompany them, so they parted. Had Paul been too resentful against Mark? Had Barnabas been too eager to urge the claims of his relative? Was one too stern, the other too easy? It is good to know that they were afterwards reconciled.
There are also hints of a certain lack of firmness in Barnabas'otherwise strong character. Writing of dissembling Jews, Paul had to say that even “Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation” (Gal. 2:13). Barnabas, like the rest of us, had some defective qualities. There has only been one perfect Man on earth—the Saviour Barnabas loved and rejoiced to preach about.

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A Prophet without Honor

Western society is blessed to be steeped in the teaching of Scripture and the person and work of Christ. However, we must take care that this blessing of familiarity does not motivate contempt in us for the things of God. Even if we do not consciously disregard the Lord, failing to marvel at the Father's grace - because we hear of it every week - is a subtle and powerful form of contempt. Take time to meditate on the greatness of our God and His love for us.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
For the weekend:
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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A Prophet without Honor

Matthew 13:53-58 "'A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.' And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief" ( vv. 57-58).
Yesterday we saw that those who have been led by the Spirit in the way of Christ can see treasures new and old in the Old Testament. However, while all believers are granted insight into the Scriptures (1 John 2:27), the teaching ministry of the church is still necessary for the spiritual health of God's people. Jesus speaks of "scribes" being trained for the kingdom inMatthew 13:51-52, and in His day the scribes were those specially trained to interpret the Law and the Prophets. Our Lord is probably alluding to the need for trained teachers in the new covenant community in this passage and may be emphasizing the role of the apostles as the church's foundation (John 16:12-15Eph. 2:19-20).
The one place we might expect Jesus to receive a warm welcome is in Nazareth, the town in which He was raised (Matt. 2:19-23). The people of Nazareth (Jesus' "hometown," 13:54 ) are amazed at the wisdom and power of the carpenter's son. This is due to their familiarity with Jesus and His upbringing. They know His family well, and apparently no one in His clan is all that remarkable. Lacking a formal education, Jesus should not be able to teach with the authority that He conveys. Yet Mary's son is unafraid to instruct with boldness (vv. 55-56). We would therefore expect the people in Nazareth to experience awe when in the presence of Jesus, whose teaching demonstrates that He is the Holy One of God. But as verse 57makes clear, their questions arise from contempt and offense. Basically they are saying, "Who does this carpenter think He is? He is no scribe and comes from a family of no special import. How can He possibly act as if He has the right to do what He is doing?"
Like the Pharisees before them (12:22-32 ), the citizens of Nazareth acknowledge the good work that Jesus is doing and yet fail to discern the source of His authority. For them, familiarity has bred contempt, and they will do whatever they can to deny the obvious. Once more, as John Calvin comments, we find sinners unwilling to believe in what God has sent. "It is not mere ignorance that hinders men, but that, of their own accord, they search after grounds of offense, to prevent them from following the path to which God invites."

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Western society is blessed to be steeped in the teaching of Scripture and the person and work of Christ. However, we must take care that this blessing of familiarity does not motivate contempt in us for the things of God. Even if we do not consciously disregard the Lord, failing to marvel at the Father's grace - because we hear of it every week - is a subtle and powerful form of contempt. Take time to meditate on the greatness of our God and His love for us.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
For the weekend:
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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June 15, 2012
Longing To Be Loved
Gwen Smith
Today's Truth
"The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." (Zephaniah 3:17)
Friend to Friend 
Every once in a while one of my children surprises me with unexpected sweetness. Like most children, my kids are sweet on a regular basis, but I'm talking about a special, take-my-breath-away sweetness that creates a time capsule moment for my mommy heart. A moment that I will cherish forever.  
  
I had one of those special conversations with my middle child, Hunter, when he was nine year-old. It was bedtime. Teeth were brushed. Jammies were on. Prayers had been prayed. The smell of shampoo lingered from his freshly showered head as I brushed a stray hair from his eye. That's when he initiated "project: unexpected sweetness" with an innocent question: "Mommy, do you know what I love?"
"What do you love, Hunter?" I asked quietly.
"I love being loved," he said thoughtfully.  "Yep. I really love being loved."
As I lay beside him in the dark room I could scarcely process the vastness of his statement.  It was the simplest of thoughts, delightfully honest, yet one of the most profound and insightful statements I'd ever heard come from his lips. From his heart.
When he spoke those four little words, "I love being loved," he communicated several things to me:
  • He had a deep longing to be loved.
  • He knew he was loved.
  • His love tank was being re-filled as I tucked him in.
  • His greatest need is love.
Like Hunter, our greatest longing is also to be loved... to feel safe, adored, and content in love.
I don't know where this devotion finds you today, but I sense God nudging me to tell you that He loves you. Completely. Perfectly. Eternally. (Yes, I'm talking to you!) He knows your name, He knows your heart, He knows your circumstances, and He hears your prayers. He loves you and desires for you to rest in His love.
God's love is not based on performance or beauty. It's not based on position or abilities. Many times we mistakenly think that if we could just do this or that better – that God would love us more. That if we just hadn't done this or that – God would love us more. The truth is this: God will never love you more or less...no matter what.  His love is complete and you are the object of His heart. Savor the special sweetness of God's love for you today. Linger on thoughts of His affection for you.
But don't take my word for it – take His! The Bible tells us that God's love for us is unstoppable, unsearchable and unbreakable: "...that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
No matter what you've believed in the past, choose by faith to believe this now: you are valued, priceless, and adored by God. "Take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:18–19, MSG).
When you embrace the deep love of Christ as a personal reality, you gain traction for powerful, meaningful living that begins with forgiveness and continues on in truth and grace. Go in His love today. Be assured of it. Share it. Be changed by it. Change others with it.
Let's Pray
"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen" ( Ephesians 3:16-21).
Amen?  Amen!
Now It's Your Turn 
Do you know that you're loved? I'm sure that you're familiar with the famous Scripture verse John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Read it again, but this time, insert your name in replacement of "the world."
"For God so loved _______________ that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
God loves you and takes pleasure when you go to Him. Why? Because you're His. Made in His image. Restored to His heart through Jesus Christ. Allow Him to quiet you with His love today.  Spend a few moments in prayer right now. Thank Him for His love. Worship at His feet. Be still before Him.
More from the Girlfriends
Okay.  So you know that I'm a worship chick from the word go, right? Well, I think that the perfect ending to our time together today would be to worship. Click over to my Facebook page to listen to a worship song from my latest CD, Uncluttered.  Here's the link:www.Facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic. You can download the songs fromUncluttered on iTunes or Amazon – or order CDs on www.GwenSmith.net.
God's love is perfect. He has seen our biggest failures, our greatest places of shame and hurt – and yet, He beckons us to His love, forgiveness, healing, and grace. He has a plan for each life that is far beyond the shattered matters we deal with. Every step of transformation begins with our surrender to the heart of God. If you would like to learn more about how your brokenness can be reworked into a picture of God's beauty, order the book on Amazon or, for a signed copy, order from Gwen's website: www.gwensmith.net . This resource will help you experience the power of hope, healing and restoration!
Seeking God?  
Click here to find out more about 
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 725
Matthews, NC 28106

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Unimpeachable justice

“Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” Psalm 51:4
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Samuel 15:1-31
We have heard of men who have confessed their guilt, and afterwards tried to extenuate their crime, and show some reasons why they were not so guilty as apparently they would seem to be; but when the Christian confesses his guilt, you never hear a word of extenuation or apology from him. He says, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight:” and in saying this, he makes God just when he condemns him, and clear when he sentences him for ever. Have you ever made such a confession? Have you ever thus bowed yourselves before God? Or have you tried to palliate your guilt, and call your sins by little names, and speak of your crimes as if they were but light offences? If you have, then you have not felt the sentence of death in yourselves, and you are still waiting till the solemn death-knell shall toll the hour of your doom, and you shall be dragged out, amidst the universal hiss of the execration of the world, to be condemned for ever to flames which shall never know abatement. Again: after the Christian confesses his sin, he offers no promise that he will of himself behave better. Some, when they make confessions to God, say, “Lord, if thou forgive me I will not sin again;” but God’s penitents never say that. When they come before him they say, “Lord, once I promised, once I made resolves, but I dare not make them now, for they would be so soon broken, that they would increase my guilt; and my promises would be so soon violated, that they would sink my soul deeper in hell. I can only say, if thou wilt create in me a clean heart, I will be thankful for it, and will sing to thy praise for ever; but I cannot promise that I will live without sin, or work out a righteousness of my own. I dare not promise, my Father, that I shall never go astray again.”
For meditation: Does your confession of sin to God include the excuses of a King Saul or the acquiescence of a King David, the man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14 )?
Sermon no. 86
16 June (Preached 15 June 1856)


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Climbing the mountain

‘Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?’ Psalm 24:3
Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 12:18–24
From lofty mountains you can look on that side and see the lakes and the rivers; and on this side the green and laughing valleys, and far away, the wild black forest. The view is wide, but what a view is that which we shall have in heaven! There ‘shall I know even as also I am known.’ Here ‘we see through a glass, darkly;’ but there ‘face to face.’ And chief and foremost, best of all, my eyes shall see the King in his beauty. We shall behold his face; we shall look into his eyes; we shall drink love from the fountain of his heart, and hear the music of his love from the sweet organ of his lips; we shall be entranced in his society, emparadised on his bosom. Up, Christian, up, Christ waits for thee! Come, man, tread the thorny way and climb, for Christ stands on the summit stretching out his hands, and saying, ‘Come up hither;’ ‘to him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.’ And there is this sweet reflection—all that we shall see upon the top of the hill of God shall be ours. We look from earthly mountains and we see, but we do not possess. That mansion yonder is not ours; that crystal stream belongs not to us; those widespread lawns are beautiful, but they are not in our possession. But on the hill-tops of heaven, all that we see we shall possess. We shall possess the streets of gold, the harps of harmony, the palms of victory, the shouts of angels, the songs of cherubim, the joy of the divine Trinity, and the song of God as he rests in his love, and rejoices over us with singing, and God the Eternal One himself shall be ours, and ours for ever and for ever.
For meditation: Since the Lord Jesus Christ has ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9–11), the Christian should set his affection on things above where Christ sits (Colossians 3:1–2 ). The best thing about ascending to heaven is that the Lord is there (Psalm 139:8) in all his love and beauty (Revelation 21:22–2322:3); the worst thing about descending to hell is that the Lord is there (Psalm 139:8) in his just wrath and judgment.
Sermon no. 396
16 June (1861)

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Glynnis Whitwer
June 15, 2012
I Longed for Something More
Glynnis Whitwer
"... It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD's people Israel-I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this..." 2 Samuel 6:21-22 (NIV)
I grew up in a traditional church, singing traditional hymns. Being a Christian was very matter-of-fact for me. I was a Christian in the same way I would have told you I was a student. It was very academic.
Nothing much changed in my faith experience. Every Sunday, I gathered with faithful men and women of God, who taught Sunday school and served on committees. It was wonderful and I grew up loving God's Word and His church. Yet something in me longed for more.
Then, when I was a high schooler in the late 70s, I was introduced to Christian "rock and roll." I heard songs by Keith Green, Second Chapter of Acts and Phil Keaggy. These songs depicted a faith in God that was passionate and alive. Something stirred within me as I listened to that music on my record player. The "more" I wanted was taking shape. My faith was moving from head-knowledge to heart-change.
I can still picture myself in a sold-out symphony hall before a live concert as one half of the room yelled, "We love Jesus, yes we do. We love Jesus how 'bout you?" I was on the other side, and we answered as loudly as we could, repeating the challenge. Joy and celebration vibrated through the hall as we shouted, jumped up and down, and waved our arms in the air for love of Jesus.
It was completely undignified and I was completely undone ... never to be the same. I knew I wanted a faith like that. I wanted to be so excited about Jesus that it overflowed, and I didn't care what my worship of Him looked like to others.
A few years ago, I read the story of King David dancing before the Lord. Now there was someone who didn't worry what others thought. David had overseen the return of the ark of the Lord, and as it neared, he couldn't contain his joy. He replaced his kingly attire with a simple outfit and danced with all his might.
His wife, Michal, watched from the window and didn't approve of David's behavior. She was disgusted with him, and told him so. David wasn't fazed, and responded with words that encourage me today, "... It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD's people Israel-I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this..." (2 Samuel 6:21-22 NIV).
David was so in tune with God's heart, that he was unconcerned with the judgmental comments of others. David's only focus was on worshipping his God with sincerity and abandon.
That is my hope and prayer for myself. I want my longing for more of God to help me release completely the fear of man, and worship with uncontained joy. When I am older, too old to dance in some people's opinion, I hope you'll find my wrinkled hands raised, my gray head bobbing and my body swaying in worship - still wanting more. And then one day, beyond that, all my longings will be fulfilled. Oh what a day that will be!
Dear Lord, King David got it right, and I want to as well. You are worthy of all my worship and adoration. Forgive me for letting the opinions of others influence my worship of You. Help me to focus more on Your majesty, and less on myself. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:Have you met a King who is worthy of your devotion? If not, click here to learn more: Do You Know Him?
Visit Glynnis' blog for more on the subject of worship.
Worship: Nearing the Heart of God by Brian T. Anderson & Glynnis Whitwer
Reflect and Respond:
Set aside time this week to worship God. Read the Psalms, listen to music or just sit somewhere quietly. Write down five characteristics of God that make Him worthy of our praise.
Read 2 Samuel 6:14-23. Describe the scene in verses 14 and 15. What are some of the ways people are rejoicing and worshiping God?
How can David's answer to Michal help us overcome the fear of other's opinions?
Power Verses:
Proverbs 29:25, "Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe." (NIV)
John 4:23, "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks." (NIV)
© 2012 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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He Is- My Shield

In Psalm 33, the psalmist praises God for his Word, his creation and his sovereignty. This time of praise helped the psalmist put life in perspective and reminded him to wait for the Lord, his shield.
Sometimes we lack the strength or courage to face difficult situations in our lives, as the psalmist did. In times like these, the best way to remind ourselves that God is our protection today is to remember what he did for us in the past. This gives us a whole new perspective on what we're facing and reminds us that God is our shield to protect us and give us hope. See also Ephesians 6:10-18.
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TEACH YOUR CHILDREN

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7
An extraordinary life in Christ does not just depend on teachings, circumstances or comfort. In many countries in the world today there are severe restrictions and obstacles facing parents in instructing their children in the ways of the Lord. In communist countries like China and Vietnam it is officially against the law to share the gospel with anybody under the age of eighteen years, including your own children.
In the Middle East, Christian schools are non-existent and Christian children are forced to attend Muslim schools and receive instruction from the Koran and Muslim teachers. Yet, it seems as if Christian families in restricted areas are more Godly and committed to the Lord than their counterparts in the west, where opportunities abound and Christians live in abundance.
The lessons that we learn from the persecuted church are of far more value than seminars or devotionals can ever be—the lessons of true discipleship and wholesome living. Lessons that are neither theology nor speculation but teachings of life, reality and practice.
Gerhard Hamm was one of the thousands of faithful believers through whom God’s light continued to shine in the Soviet Union during the years when communism reigned there.
He grew up in the Ural Mountains where his parents farmed. But then communism arose and in 1929 the “bandits” came, as Gerhard later often called the Bolsheviks. Because his father was a Christian and of German descent, he was arrested and exiled to Siberia. The farm was confiscated.
Mother Hamm and her twenty children also moved to Siberia. For a few years, the family was together. Then Gerhard’s father was taken away from his family and never came back. None of the family knows where his grave is. All the churches were closed and atheistic propaganda was being disseminated all around
As a young boy Gerhard lost his father, his security, his home and his freedom—all because of the name of Jesus. Hunger and cold were his daily lot, an obvious reason for a young teenager to resent God and His commands. But despite the difficulties, ridicule and persecution, Mother Hamm prayed every day with her children, and they read the Bible together.
When Gerhard Hamm died in 1999 at the age of 76, he left a legacy of faithful children behind. All of his children and their spouses were devoted Christians. His grandchildren have all committed their lives to the Lord. All of Gerhard’s nineteen brothers and sisters and their spouses and children followed the footsteps of Jesus and many are still involved in various ministries reaching all corners of the globe.
RESPONSE: Today I will take seriously the challenge of teaching, training and discipling my children or young people with whom I have close relationship.
PRAYER: Lord, help me to live a life of self-sacrifice so young people will see You and want to follow.
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 15

This does not refer to God's righteousness, but to suffering for the sake of a righteous cause, suffering because of the righteous judgment and action of Jesus' disciples. In judgment and action those who follow Jesus will be different from the world in renouncing their property, happiness, rights, righteousness, honor, and violence. They will be offensive to the world. That is why the disciples will be persecuted for righteousness' sake. Not recognition, but rejection will be their reward from the world for their word and deed. It is important that Jesus calls his disciples blessed, not only when they directly confess his name, but also when they suffer for a just cause.

Biblical Wisdom

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:10

Questions to Ponder

  • What do you think of Bonhoeffer's assertion that discipleswill be "offensive to the world"?
  • Why is it today that the world often seems more indifferent to Christians and the church than offended by them?
  • In what way is a disciple "blessed" when he or she "suffers for a just cause"?

Psalm Fragment

For the righteous will never be moved; 
   they will be remembered forever.
They are not afraid of evil tidings;
   their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord.
Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid;
   in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
They have distributed freely, they have given to the poor;
   their righteousness endures forever.... Psalm 112:6-9

Journal Reflections

  • Write about a time when you suffered for doing the right thing. Reflect on your feelings about that experience.
  • Have you ever held back from doing the right thing because you were afraid of rejection or suffering? If so, reflect on how it felt to hold back.

Intercessions

Think of people you know (or know of) who are suffering "for righteousness sake." Pray that they might receive courage and comfort from their faith and that they might prevail.

Prayer for Today

Lord, give me the wisdom to know what is right and make me willing to suffer for a just cause.
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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