Saturday, June 02, 2012

Daily Devotional Saturday 2nd June

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”” Revelation 21: 2-4 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh."
Galatians 5:17
In every believer's heart there is a constant struggle between the old nature and the new. The old nature is very active, and loses no opportunity of plying all the weapons of its deadly armoury against newborn grace; while on the other hand, the new nature is ever on the watch to resist and destroy its enemy. Grace within us will employ prayer, and faith, and hope, and love, to cast out the evil; it takes unto it the "whole armour of God," and wrestles earnestly. These two opposing natures will never cease to struggle so long as we are in this world. The battle of "Christian" with "Apollyon" lasted three hours, but the battle of Christian with himself lasted all the way from the Wicket Gate to the river Jordan. The enemy is so securely entrenched within us that he can never be driven out while we are in this body: but although we are closely beset, and often in sore conflict, we have an Almighty helper, even Jesus, the Captain of our salvation, who is ever with us, and who assures us that we shall eventually come off more than conquerors through Him. With such assistance the new-born nature is more than a match for its foes. Are you fighting with the adversary today? Are Satan, the world, and the flesh, all against you? Be not discouraged nor dismayed. Fight on! For God Himself is with you; Jehovah Nissi is your banner, and Jehovah Rophi is the healer of your wounds. Fear not, you shall overcome, for who can defeat Omnipotence? Fight on, "looking unto Jesus;" and though long and stern be the conflict, sweet will be the victory, and glorious the promised reward. "From strength to strength go on; Wrestle, and fight, and pray, Tread all the powers of darkness down, And win the well-fought day."

Evening

"Good Master."
Matthew 19:16
If the young man in the gospel used this title in speaking to our Lord, how much more fitly may I thus address him! He is indeed my Master in both senses, a ruling Master and a teaching Master. I delight to run upon his errands, and to sit at his feet. I am both his servant and his disciple, and count it my highest honour to own the double character. If he should ask me why I call him "good," I should have a ready answer. It is true that "there is none good but one, that is, God," but then he is God, and all the goodness of Deity shines forth in him. In my experience, I have found him good, so good, indeed, that all the good I have has come to me through him. He was good to me when I was dead in sin, for he raised me by his Spirit's power; he has been good to me in all my needs, trials, struggles, and sorrows. Never could there be a better Master, for his service is freedom, his rule is love: I wish I were one thousandth part as good a servant. When he teaches me as my Rabbi, he is unspeakably good, his doctrine is divine, his manner is condescending, his spirit is gentleness itself. No error mingles with his instruction--pure is the golden truth which he brings forth, and all his teachings lead to goodness, sanctifying as well as edifying the disciple. Angels find him a good Master and delight to pay their homage at his footstool. The ancient saints proved him to be a good Master, and each of them rejoiced to sing, "I am thy servant, O Lord!" My own humble testimony must certainly be to the same effect. I will bear this witness before my friends and neighbours, for possibly they may be led by my testimony to seek my Lord Jesus as their Master. O that they would do so! They would never repent so wise a deed. If they would but take his easy yoke, they would find themselves in so royal a service that they would enlist in it forever.

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Today's reading: 2 Chronicles 15-16, John 12:27-50 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
Asa’s Reform
    1 The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Oded. 2 He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. 3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. 4But in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them. 5 In those days it was not safe to travel about, for all the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil. 6 One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every kind of distress. 7 But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”
   8 When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Azariah son of Oded the prophet, he took courage. He removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had captured in the hills of Ephraim. He repaired the altar of the LORD that was in front of the portico of the LORD’s temple.
   9 Then he assembled all Judah and Benjamin and the people from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who had settled among them, for large numbers had come over to him from Israel when they saw that the LORD his God was with him.
   10 They assembled at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign. 11 At that time they sacrificed to the LORD seven hundred head of cattle and seven thousand sheep and goats from the plunder they had brought back. 12They entered into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul. 13 All who would not seek the LORD, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman. 14 They took an oath to the LORD with loud acclamation, with shouting and with trumpets and horns. 15 All Judah rejoiced about the oath because they had sworn it wholeheartedly. They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the LORD gave them rest on every side.
   16 King Asa also deposed his grandmother Maakah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive image for the worship of Asherah. Asa cut it down, broke it up and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 17 Although he did not remove the high places from Israel, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the LORD all his life. 18 He brought into the temple of God the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated.
   19 There was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.

2 Chronicles 16

Asa’s Last Years
    1 In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and fortified Ramah to prevent anyone from leaving or entering the territory of Asa king of Judah.
   2 Asa then took the silver and gold out of the treasuries of the LORD’s temple and of his own palace and sent it to Ben-Hadad king of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus. 3 “Let there be a treaty between me and you,” he said, “as there was between my father and your father. See, I am sending you silver and gold. Now break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so he will withdraw from me.”
   4 Ben-Hadad agreed with King Asa and sent the commanders of his forces against the towns of Israel. They conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel Maim and all the store cities of Naphtali. 5 When Baasha heard this, he stopped building Ramah and abandoned his work. 6 Then King Asa brought all the men of Judah, and they carried away from Ramah the stones and timber Baasha had been using. With them he built up Geba and Mizpah.
   7 At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: “Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand. 8 Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the LORD, he delivered them into your hand. 9 For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”
   10 Asa was angry with the seer because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison. At the same time Asa brutally oppressed some of the people.
   11 The events of Asa’s reign, from beginning to end, are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD, but only from the physicians.13 Then in the forty-first year of his reign Asa died and rested with his ancestors. 14 They buried him in the tomb that he had cut out for himself in the City of David. They laid him on a bier covered with spices and various blended perfumes, and they made a huge fire in his honor.

John 12

   27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”
   Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.
   30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.
   34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”
   35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.
Belief and Unbelief Among the Jews
    37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:
   “Lord, who has believed our message 
   and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
    39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
   40 “He has blinded their eyes 
   and hardened their hearts, 
so they can neither see with their eyes, 
   nor understand with their hearts, 
   nor turn—and I would heal them.”
   41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.
   42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.
   44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
   47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

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Jeroham [Jĕr'ohăm]—loved or he findeth mercy.
  1. The father of Elkanah, and grandfather of Samuel (1 Sam. 1:11 Chron. 6:2734).
  2. The head of a Benjamite familydwelling in Jerusalem (1 Chron. 8:27).
  3. A Benjamite and father of Ibneiah. Perhaps the same as No. 2 (1 Chron. 9:8).
  4. A priest, whose son, Adaiah, lived in Jerusalem after the exile, and who was of the house of Malchijah ( 1 Chron. 9:12Neh. 11:12).
  5. A Benjamite of Gedor whose two sons joined David at Ziklag (1 Chron. 12:7).
  6. The father of Azareel, prince of Dan in the reign of David (1 Chron. 27:22).
  7. The father of Azariah who aided Jehoiada in putting Joash on the throne (2 Chron. 23:1).

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The church of Christ

“And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.” Ezekiel 34:26
Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 67
The object of God in choosing a people before all worlds, was not only to save that people, but through them to confer essential benefits upon the whole human race. When he chose Abraham he did not elect him simply to be God’s friend, and the recipient of peculiar privileges; but he chose him to make him, as it were, the conservator of truth. He was to be the ark in which the truth should be hidden. He was to be the keeper of the covenant on behalf of the whole world; and when God chooses any men by his sovereign electing grace, and makes them Christ’s, he does it not only for their own sake, that they may be saved, but for the world’s sake. For know ye not that “ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” “Ye are the salt of the earth;” and when God makes you salt, it is not only that you may have salt in yourselves, but that like salt you may preserve the whole mass. If he makes you leaven it is that like the little leaven you may leaven the whole lump. Salvation is not a selfish thing; God does not give it for us to keep to ourselves, but that we may thereby be made the means of blessing to others; and the great day shall declare that there is not a man living on the surface of the earth but has received a blessing in some way or the other through God’s gift of the gospel. The very keeping of the wicked in life, and granting of the reprieve, was purchased with the death of Jesus and through his sufferings and death the temporal blessings which both we and they enjoy are bestowed on us. The gospel was sent that it might first bless those that embrace it, and then expand, so as to make them a blessing to the whole human race.
For meditation: God kept his promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:2,3). Has God blessed you? In what ways are you passing on the blessing to others?
Sermon no. 28 
2 June (Preached 3 June 1855)

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Sovereign Regeneration

Acts 9:1-19 "Falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?' And he said, 'Who are you, Lord?'" ( vv. 4-5a).
We made the point a few days ago that every Christian tradition has formulated some doctrine of regeneration. Despite the differing formulations of this doctrine, however, there are ultimately only two different views of the role of man and the role of God in regeneration: monergism or synergism.
A synergistic view of regeneration says man and God cooperate in bringing new life to a person. The Lord acts upon the heart of the unbeliever, imploring him to change. However, though God calls to the heart, regeneration cannot occur unless the unbeliever, who has the ability to say, "yes," or "no," embraces the divine call. There are several problems with this view. First, synergism sees the human will working with the divine will to achieve salvation. Yet we all come into the world spiritually dead and, being dead, cannot take hold of God's grace unless first moved by His grace (Ps. 51:5 Eph. 2:4-5). Synergism also reverses the order of regeneration and faith. Synergists argue that we first come to faith, and then we are born again. But if being born again is necessary to see the kingdom (John 3:3), regeneration must precede faith. After all, you cannot trust the Lord if you cannot see the truth of His kingdom.
Monergism, on the other hand, says that God's Spirit is the sole agent in regeneration. God moves sovereignly upon the souls of those He has chosen, enabling them to have faith. He takes the spiritually dead and makes them alive. We are actually born again - regenerated - before we have faith. We are not born again because we trust Jesus; we trust Jesus because we are born again.
God's sovereignty in regeneration is seen clearly in the account of Paul's conversion found in today's passage. Saul of Tarsus was completely unwilling to follow Jesus the Messiah before God took the initiative. He was so hard-hearted, in fact, that he did all he could to destroy the church of Jesus Christ. But when Jesus appeared to Him, Saul could not resist. Christ, by His Spirit, gave Paul the eyes to see the kingdom and to become one of its greatest ambassadors (Acts 9:1-19 ). Had Jesus not overpowered Saul's natural inclination against Him, there never would have been an apostle Paul.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Some of us have had dramatic conversion experiences that we remember vividly. Others cannot remember a time when they did not trust in Jesus. Whatever our story, the same God who raised Jesus to life and knocked Saul of Tarsus to the ground also overpowered our natural bent against Him. The fact that you believe is evidence of the Lord's mighty working in your life. He loved us enough to seek us out when we were running from Him.
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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Sovereign Regeneration

Some of us have had dramatic conversion experiences that we remember vividly. Others cannot remember a time when they did not trust in Jesus. Whatever our story, the same God who raised Jesus to life and knocked Saul of Tarsus to the ground also overpowered our natural bent against Him. The fact that you believe is evidence of the Lord's mighty working in your life. He loved us enough to seek us out when we were running from Him.
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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Karen Ehman
June 1, 2012
Tool, Toy or Tangent?
Karen Ehman
"My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me." Psalm 31:15 (NIV 1984)
I have a love/hate relationship with social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest...
I love that it keeps me connected to family and friends. It allows me to spy on ... er ... keep up with my kids, and I can post a prayer request when accidents or sickness occur. And I love re-connecting with friends from my past.
But I hate the way, if left unchecked and without boundaries in place, social media can become a ginormous black hole, eating up time and energy while diverting my attention from what's most important.
As a guideline I have learned to ask myself, is this a tool, a toy, or a tangent?
The Internet in general is a fabulous tool. It can be used for God and for good-organizing meals for a hurting family or participating in an online Bible study. But it can also be used for bad-cyber-bullying, extramarital affairs and airing our frustrations about other people.
It can also be a toy.
Nothing wrong with toys. We all need a little fun and relaxation. And if we enjoy playing games online that's great. What crosses the line is when any online activity becomes a tangent: a sudden diversion that takes us off track from our priorities and responsibilities.
Tangents torch our time, sap our strength and can cause us to ignore loved ones. Tangents give us a false sense of being productive, doing something. When in reality, we aren't accomplishing anything. Then we feel frustrated, defeated and even guilty when we realize how much time we've wasted.
In today's key verse, the psalmist placed his time in God's hands and asked for deliverance from his enemies. Although he was speaking of physical enemies who could do him harm, we need to realize our tools, toys and tangents can harm us, too.
I've had my own tangents that led me off track and caused me to neglect my family and household responsibilities. And both of these situations made me feel like a failure.
Maybe you have too. Today let's prayerfully and carefully (with all honesty) ask ourselves while spending time online, "Is this a tool, a toy, or a tangent?" By doing this and setting healthy boundaries, we can overcome the enemy of defeat and eliminate frustration. We can free up time for the important relationships and tasks God has for us and live our lives in a meaningful, not frivolous, way.
Dear Lord, teach me to use my time wisely, in a way that honors You and doesn't get derailed by tangents. I want to be efficient and effective for Your Kingdom's work. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
For more on this topic, including 5 Keys to Tangent-Proofing Your Time, visit Karen's blog.
Would you like to bring a life-changing message to the women of your church? Click here to find out more about considering Karen as your next event or keynote speaker.
When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We wish we could, but we simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you!
Reflect and Respond:
What things in your life can morph from a tool to a toy, or perhaps even become a tangent?
How can you tell when you are wasting time on a tangent? When you sense this is happening, what should you do?
Power Verse:
Ecclesiastes 8:5, "Whoever keeps a command will know no evil thing, and the wise heart will know the proper time and the just way." (ESV)
© 2012 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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June 1, 2012
Reaching and Teaching
Gwen Smith
Today's Truth
"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind..." (Titus 2:3-5,NIV).
Friend to Friend 
One day after I'd led worship at church, another worship leader approached me. She is a darling, hip, 'just-turned-30' chick who totally loves Jesus. To my surprise, she asked if I would consider becoming her mentor. 'What?' At first I thought...'I'm way too young to be your mentor!' Then I woke up from my momentary dream and remembered that I am a wise-on-my-good-days, slightly-seasoned '40-something' chick with a decade of life, marriage, and ministry on her. Excitement and trepidation danced together in my heart when I prayerfully agreed.
Mentoring is important. I've been deeply blessed by the women that speak into my life who are slightly more gray and less green than I am! Have you ever longed for advice but didn't know who to talk to? I know I have. We need spiritual mentors to take our hand as we face life. Likewise, we also need to grab hold of a younger spiritual hand for the journey, to bring them along in Christ and strengthen their spiritual muscles, to encourage, teach and admonish.
As runners in a relay race reach forward to grab the baton from their teammate in front of them, they also extend the baton back to a runner about to take off in her own race. We need to be reaching forward and reaching backward. Reaching and teaching! Look at what the apostle Paul told his disciple, Titus, about women doing life with other women:
"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God" (Titus 2:3-5, NIV).
The Bible says in Mark chapter 6 that after John the Baptist had died, his disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. I find it interesting that the word 'disciples' is used instead of the word friends or associates. The implication is that John had poured his life into guiding and instructing these men in the truth and hope of Christ. 
The Bible also tells us that Jesus revered John the Baptist as one of the greatest men to ever walk the earth. Interestingly, John did not consider himself even worthy to tie the sandals of Jesus. So even a man such as John the Baptist, who was set apart for a special God-mission to prepare the way for the LORD, needed to reach forward to Christ for guidance and wisdom. Though he was not one of the twelve disciples that did life with Jesus during His years of public ministry, John the Baptist was, indeed, a disciple of the Lord. What a beautiful example we see here. John was a disciple and made disciples. With God's help and a little effort, we can do both, too! 
Friend, this is what GiG (Girlfriends in God) is all about. Sharon, Mary and I purpose to pour in to you each day through these devotions – to encourage you and spur you on toward the heart of God. But we can't be the only resource you've got in this area. Beyond us e-GiGs, you need flesh-friends in your life for the same purpose.
I challenge you to prayerfully connect with one or two women this week to discuss this mentoring topic. Reach ahead. Reach behind. When you do, deep blessings and growth will be evidenced in your life and in the life of those with whom you connect.
Let's Pray
Dear Lord, You are so good to instruct us toward relationships...both with You and with others. Would you help me to grow in faith?  Would you use me to make a difference in the lives of other women as well? Please lead me in Your will and in Your ways.  
In the powerful name of Jesus, 
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
  • Do you have a spiritual mentor?
  • Have you spoken with her recently?
  • Why not call or email her to set up a date to meet for coffee or lunch this week?
  • Are you mentoring anyone right now?
  • If so, why don't you call or email her to set up a time to meet for coffee or lunch sometime in the next week or two?
  • If you are not a spiritual mentor yet or don't have a spiritual mentor, take a few moments to seek God's heart about this for your life.
More from the Girlfriends
GiGs - Thanks for joining us on this journey. Sharon, Mary and I love you and pray for you regularly. Beyond the devotions, be sure to visit us on Facebook so we can have a continuous e-connection. Today on my Facebook page, we will be gathering to pray for one another. Got a prayer need? Stop by and connect/pray with GiGs all over the world right now: www.Facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic.
STORIES, SCRIPTURE and SONGS – These are the three words that embody the ministry of Gwen Smith. She shares both stories and songs in the resources available on her website. Longing to go deeper in your faith? Love a good God-story? Looking for Scripturally-sound inspiration and hope? Grab a few CDs or her book, Broken into Beautiful, today at www.GwenSmith.net.
LIKE SAVING MONEY? Check out the SPECIALS on Gwen's website athttp://www.gwensmith.net/store/specials.htm.  When you order more than one CD, you save!

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Jehovah-tsidkenu—the Lord our Righteousness

‘This is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.’ Jeremiah 23:6
Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 61:1–11
In Scripture, Christ’s righteousness is compared with fair white linen; then I am, if I wear it, without spot. It is compared with wrought gold; then I am, if I wear it, dignified and beautiful, and worthy to sit at the wedding feast of the King of kings. It is compared, in the parable of the prodigal son, with the best robe; then I wear a better robe than angels have, for they have not the best; but I, poor prodigal, once clothed in rags, companion to the nobility of the pigsty—I, fresh from the husks that swine do eat, am nevertheless clothed in the best robe, and am so accepted in the Beloved. Moreover, it is also everlasting righteousness. This is, perhaps, the fairest point of it—that the robe shall never be worn out; no thread of it shall ever give way. It shall never hang in tatters upon the sinner’s back. He shall live, and even though it were a Methuselah’s life, the robe shall be as if it were woven yesterday. He shall pass through the stream of death, and the black stream shall not foul it. He shall climb the hills of heaven, and the angels shall wonder what this whiteness is which the sinner wears, and think that some new star is coming up from earth to shine in heaven. He shall wear it among principalities and powers, and find himself no whit inferior to them all. Cherubic garments and seraphic mantles shall not be so lordly, so priestly, so divine, as this robe of righteousness, this everlasting perfection which Christ has wrought out, and brought in and given to all his people. Glory unto thee, O Jesus, glory unto thee! Unto thee be hallels for ever; Hallelu-Jah! Thou art Jah—‘Jehovah, the Lord our Righteousness.’
For meditation: The robe of Christ’s righteousness which the Christian has received (Isaiah 61:10) is not only for show; it also serves as a vital piece of the Christian’s spiritual armour (Ephesians 6:14 ). To rely on our own righteousness is no better than fighting a battle armed in nothing but filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).
Sermon no. 395
2 June (1861)

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Anne Hutchinson: New England "Heretic"

Quote: "As I do understand it, laws, commands, rules and edicts are for those who have not the light which makes plain the pathway. He who has God's grace in his heart cannot go astray." (Anne Hutchinson)
She was considered a dangerous woman, a much greater threat to the community than the ordinary "gossip" or "scold" who often found her way into the Massachusetts Bay Selectmen's Minutes. She was intelligent and articulate and commanded a hearing that few others enjoyed.
Born in Lincolnshire, England, Anne Marbury Hutchinson (1591 – 1643) is the daughter of an Anglican cleric who was twice imprisoned for his dissenting beliefs and his criticism of the incompetence of the clergy. Young Anne was home-schooled in her father's library, and like him she challenges the authority of the Church of England. In 1612, the year after her father died, she marries William Hutchinson, an up-and-coming merchant. She and her husband remain in England, where she mostly has children and studies the Bible. Later, they move to Boston.
Middle-aged and the mother of fifteen children, Hutchinson is an intelligent and thoughtful woman, highly respected in the community. Her "heresy" is to challenge the religious establishment, especially on the issue of liberty of conscience. But her challenge is also related to gender, though she is not a seventeenth-century feminist, as some writers have suggested.
Initially, her activities do not create controversy. She holds weekly meetings in her home with neighborhood women, offering advice on childcare and homemaking and making comments on the Sunday sermon. Soon word spreads and more women attend — so many that they cannot be accommodated in her home without scheduling extra meetings. Women return home and tell their husbands, and the men begin to attend as well, fulfilling the fears of the authorities.
The authorities have good reason to oppose her. She is critical of the Boston ministers, spreading the word that the only ones who are truly elect are John Cotton and her brother-in-law, John Wheelwright. In her mind, the Puritan "covenant of works" represents no more than a man-made code of legal requirements that has no place in true religion, which, she insists, is a "covenant of grace" as one is guided by the Spirit through one's conscience. She testifies to special revelations from God, revelations that Puritans simply cannot tolerate.
That she would make such claims is serious offense, but that she has a following who fill her house at weekly meetings calls for court action. Indeed, the dozens of people who crowd into her home to listen to her sermon critiques and biblical expositions include, according to a contemporary observer, "some of the magistrates, some gentlemen, some scholars and men of learning."
By 1637, only three years after arriving with her family, Hutchinson is branded a "Jezebel" who is spreading "abominable" teachings, a "thing not tolerable nor comely in the sight of God, nor fitting for [her] sex." That same year, at age forty-six and several months into her fifteenth and final pregnancy, she is called before the General Court of Massachusetts. She might have been intimidated by their charges of insubordination, but she stands her ground.
The court issues a sentence of banishment, but she is permitted to remain in Boston under house arrest until spring. O March 22, 1638, she appears again and makes concessions, including an admission of saying "rash and ungrounded" things against the magistrates. But after further questioning and wrangling, the effort to "bring her to see her sin" was "all in vain, [and] the church, with one consent, cast her out." With her excommunication, "her spirits, which seemed before to be somewhat dejected, revived again, and she gloried in her sufferings, saying, that it was the greatest happiness, next to Christ, that ever befell her."
On March 28, under the orders of Governor Winthrop, Hutchinson left Boston for Providence, where her husband had purchased land from the Indians. Following an agonizing miscarriage soon after her exile, the Puritan leaders went to great lengths to besmirch her reputation. But if a miscarriage was not enough to prove her reprobation, her untimely death was. After she and her family had moved to Long Island, word came back to Boston vindicating her detractors and warning any other would-be heretics, that "the Indians set upon them, and slew her and all the family . . .; and therefore God's hand is the more apparently seene herein, to pick out this wofull woman..."

If you enjoyed the above article, please take a minute to read about the book that it was adapted from:
ParadeofFaith-Bookcover

Parade of Faith: A Biographical History of the Christian Church

by Ruth A. Tucker 
Buy the book!
The story of Christianity centers on people whose lives have been transformed by the resurrected Lord. Tucker puts this front and center in a lively overview peppered with sidebars; historical "what if?" questions; sections on everyday life; drawings and illustrations; bibliographies for further reading.

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40-Day Journey with Bonhoeffer Header

Day 1

Those who follow Jesus' commandment entirely, who let Jesus' yoke rest on them without resistance, will find the burden they must bear to be light. In the gentle pressure of this yoke they will receive the strength to walk the right path without becoming weary....Where will the call to discipleship lead those who follow it? What decisions and painful separations will it entail? We must take this question to him who alone knows the answer. Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow him, knows where the path will lead. But we know that it will be a path full of mercy beyond measure. Discipleship is joy.

Biblical Wisdom

Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

Questions to Ponder

  • What is Jesus' "commandment" that we are to follow? (See John 15:12)
  • If this commandment is Jesus' "yoke," how might we be changed if we bear it without resistance?
  • Why might following Jesus' commandment lead to tough "decisions and painful separations"?

Psalm Fragment

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
   teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
   for you are the God of my salvation;
   for you I wait all day long. Psalm 25:4-5

Journal Reflections

  • To be a disciple is not just to believe in Jesus, it is to follow Jesus. In your journal, reflect on the ways in which you are presently following Jesus.
  • Do you experience your discipleship as "joy"? Is the "burden" of your discipleship "light"?
  • Do you sense there are places Jesus might want to lead you where you would rather not go? If so, where are they and what is holding you back?

Intercessions

Pray specifically for family, friends, and colleagues that they might clearly hear the call to discipleship (which is the call to love and justice), and that they might experience following Jesus' commandment as joy in the concrete realities of their lives.

Prayer for Today

Lord Jesus, only you know where my path will lead, but I trust that, even if I do not know either the way or the destination, you are with me and before me, and I follow you with joy.
40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.

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He Is- My Rock

In a time when he felt crushed by opposition within his kingdom, David turned to the Lord, begging God to save him. David called God "my Rock." This powerful image suggests that God is both strong and immovable.
Because God is your rock, you will not be shaken. His stability becomes your stability. His strength, your strength. His steadiness, your steadiness. When you feel overwhelmed by problems or people in your life, follow David's lead and cry out to God, your rock. He will not turn a deaf ear to you but will hear your prayer and be your strength.
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The devotionals for this newsletter were drawn from the following two Bibles:
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NIV Women's Devotional Bible
by Zondervan


The New Women's Devotional Bible helps a new generation of Christian women apply God's Word to their lives. 

True Identity: The Bible for Women
by Zondervan


The Bible that helps you see yourself as God sees you! Find your true identity in Christ through your relationship with him.
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SSTS_Devotional_header

WHERE IS YOUR HOUSE?

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21
This scripture is best illustrated by the testimony of a nameless (for security) Arab Christian woman:
“My grandfather was born in one village, grew up, got married and died in the same village. I was born in one city, and by the age of ten, I already had lived in three different countries and moved five times because my parents were looking for better job opportunities. After marriage, and by the age of thirty-five, I had already moved fifteen times mainly because of three different war situations in my home country!
Is there some kind of prize for people moving so often? Some of the changes were done willingly but for most of them, I had no choice! I lived in stone houses, brick houses and even in a prefabricated one (with thin walls like cardboard) and that was at a time when Beirut was being bombarded! I have to admit that I had fears not because of the bombardment but because of not being able to find a place we could afford to pay rent!
One day, I was so worried that I couldn’t sleep; so, I sat down to figure out how I would overcome this fear. I thought to myself, What is the worst thing that can happen to me? If I cannot afford to sleep in a building, I will go and sleep under a tree; no one would charge me money for doing that and no one has died because of sleeping under a tree!
Then, I looked back into the past years and saw how God had taken good care of me, helping me not only to survive during wartime, but also to be productive and render services to my community. If, by faith I am God’s child, according to His promises in the Bible, He will continue to take care of me. So, having these thoughts, I began singing, “You are my hiding place, You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance, Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in you!” That was it, my fears were gone! I still do not own my own place to live, but I carry the same song in my heart and in my laptop, to listen to whenever I change the places I sleep!
I discovered that the best thing to do is not to get attached to material things or even people, because they will be there for some time and will be gone soon. The best thing is to get my heart attached to God, because He will go with me everywhere, will provide for me what I need and in the end take me to live in the heavenly city where my eternal house is! So, where is your house?”
RESPONSE: Today I will seriously evaluate where my “treasure” and “house” are because that’s where Jesus says my heart will also be.
PRAYER: Help me Father to accumulate treasures in heaven and not on earth.
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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