Saturday, June 09, 2012

Daily Devotional Saturday 9th June

“The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.” Habakkuk 3:19NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad."
Psalm 126:3
Some Christians are sadly prone to look on the dark side of everything, and to dwell more upon what they have gone through than upon what God has done for them. Ask for their impression of the Christian life, and they will describe their continual conflicts, their deep afflictions, their sad adversities, and the sinfulness of their hearts, yet with scarcely any allusion to the mercy and help which God has vouchsafed them. But a Christian whose soul is in a healthy state, will come forward joyously, and say, "I will speak, not about myself, but to the honour of my God. He hath brought me up out of an horrible pit, and out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings: and he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God. The Lord hath done great things for me, whereof I am glad." Such an abstract of experience as this is the very best that any child of God can present. It is true that we endure trials, but it is just as true that we are delivered out of them. It is true that we have our corruptions, and mournfully do we know this, but it is quite as true that we have an all-sufficient Saviour, who overcomes these corruptions, and delivers us from their dominion. In looking back, it would be wrong to deny that we have been in the Slough of Despond, and have crept along the Valley of Humiliation, but it would be equally wicked to forget that we have been through them safely and profitably; we have not remained in them, thanks to our Almighty Helper and Leader, who has brought us "out into a wealthy place." The deeper our troubles, the louder our thanks to God, who has led us through all, and preserved us until now. Our griefs cannot mar the melody of our praise, we reckon them to be the bass part of our life's song, "He hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad."

Evening

"Search the Scriptures."
John 5:39
The Greek word here rendered search signifies a strict, close, diligent, curious search, such as men make when they are seeking gold, or hunters when they are in earnest after game. We must not rest content with having given a superficial reading to a chapter or two, but with the candle of the Spirit we must deliberately seek out the hidden meaning of the word. Holy Scripture requires searching--much of it can only be learned by careful study. There is milk for babes, but also meat for strong men. The rabbis wisely say that a mountain of matter hangs upon every word, yea, upon every title of Scripture. Tertullian exclaims, "I adore the fulness of the Scriptures." No man who merely skims the book of God can profit thereby; we must dig and mine until we obtain the hid treasure. The door of the word only opens to the key of diligence. The Scriptures claim searching. They are the writings of God, bearing the divine stamp and imprimatur--who shall dare to treat them with levity? He who despises them despises the God who wrote them. God forbid that any of us should leave our Bibles to become swift witnesses against us in the great day of account. The word of God will repay searching. God does not bid us sift a mountain of chaff with here and there a grain of wheat in it, but the Bible is winnowed corn--we have but to open the granary door and find it. Scripture grows upon the student. It is full of surprises. Under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, to the searching eye it glows with splendour of revelation, like a vast temple paved with wrought gold, and roofed with rubies, emeralds, and all manner of gems. No merchandise is like the merchandise of Scripture truth. Lastly, the Scriptures reveal Jesus: "They are they which testify of me." No more powerful motive can be urged upon Bible readers than this: he who finds Jesus finds life, heaven, all things. Happy he who, searching his Bible, discovers his Saviour.

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Today's reading: 2 Chronicles 30-31, John 18:1-18 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
Hezekiah Celebrates the Passover
    1 Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting them to come to the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel. 2 The king and his officials and the whole assembly in Jerusalem decided to celebrate the Passover in the second month. 3 They had not been able to celebrate it at the regular time because not enough priests had consecrated themselves and the people had not assembled in Jerusalem. 4 The plan seemed right both to the king and to the whole assembly. 5 They decided to send a proclamation throughout Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, calling the people to come to Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel. It had not been celebrated in large numbers according to what was written.
   6 At the king’s command, couriers went throughout Israel and Judah with letters from the king and from his officials, which read:
   “People of Israel, return to the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the LORD, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. 8 Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the LORD. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the LORD your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. 9 If you return to the LORD, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”
   10 The couriers went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun, but people scorned and ridiculed them. 11 Nevertheless, some from Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem. 12 Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the LORD.
   13 A very large crowd of people assembled in Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread in the second month. 14 They removed the altars in Jerusalem and cleared away the incense altars and threw them into the Kidron Valley.
   15 They slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and the Levites were ashamed and consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings to the temple of the LORD. 16 Then they took up their regular positions as prescribed in the Law of Moses the man of God. The priests splashed against the altar the blood handed to them by the Levites. 17 Since many in the crowd had not consecrated themselves, the Levites had to kill the Passover lambs for all those who were not ceremonially clean and could not consecrate their lambs to the LORD. 18 Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the LORD, who is good, pardon everyone 19 who sets their heart on seeking God—the LORD, the God of their ancestors—even if they are not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.” 20 And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people.
   21 The Israelites who were present in Jerusalem celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great rejoicing, while the Levites and priests praised the LORD every day with resounding instruments dedicated to the LORD.
   22 Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites, who showed good understanding of the service of the LORD. For the seven days they ate their assigned portion and offered fellowship offerings and praised the LORD, the God of their ancestors.
   23 The whole assembly then agreed to celebrate the festival seven more days; so for another seven days they celebrated joyfully. 24 Hezekiah king of Judah provided a thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep and goats for the assembly, and the officials provided them with a thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep and goats. A great number of priests consecrated themselves. 25 The entire assembly of Judah rejoiced, along with the priests and Levites and all who had assembled from Israel, including the foreigners who had come from Israel and also those who resided in Judah. 26 There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. 27 The priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place.

2 Chronicles 31

   1 When all this had ended, the Israelites who were there went out to the towns of Judah, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. They destroyed the high places and the altars throughout Judah and Benjamin and in Ephraim and Manasseh. After they had destroyed all of them, the Israelites returned to their own towns and to their own property.
Contributions for Worship
    2 Hezekiah assigned the priests and Levites to divisions—each of them according to their duties as priests or Levites—to offer burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, to minister, to give thanks and to sing praises at the gates of the LORD’s dwelling.3 The king contributed from his own possessions for the morning and evening burnt offerings and for the burnt offerings on the Sabbaths, at the New Moons and at the appointed festivals as written in the Law of the LORD. 4 He ordered the people living in Jerusalem to give the portion due the priests and Levites so they could devote themselves to the Law of the LORD. 5 As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, olive oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything. 6 The people of Israel and Judah who lived in the towns of Judah also brought a tithe of their herds and flocks and a tithe of the holy things dedicated to the LORD their God, and they piled them in heaps. 7 They began doing this in the third month and finished in the seventh month. 8 When Hezekiah and his officials came and saw the heaps, they praised the LORD and blessed his people Israel.
   9 Hezekiah asked the priests and Levites about the heaps; 10and Azariah the chief priest, from the family of Zadok, answered, “Since the people began to bring their contributions to the temple of the LORD, we have had enough to eat and plenty to spare, because the LORD has blessed his people, and this great amount is left over.”
   11 Hezekiah gave orders to prepare storerooms in the temple of the LORD, and this was done. 12 Then they faithfully brought in the contributions, tithes and dedicated gifts. Konaniah, a Levite, was the overseer in charge of these things, and his brother Shimei was next in rank. 13 Jehiel, Azaziah, Nahath, Asahel, Jerimoth, Jozabad, Eliel, Ismakiah, Mahath and Benaiah were assistants of Konaniah and Shimei his brother. All these served by appointment of King Hezekiah and Azariah the official in charge of the temple of God.
   14 Kore son of Imnah the Levite, keeper of the East Gate, was in charge of the freewill offerings given to God, distributing the contributions made to the LORD and also the consecrated gifts. 15 Eden, Miniamin, Jeshua, Shemaiah, Amariah and Shekaniah assisted him faithfully in the towns of the priests, distributing to their fellow priests according to their divisions, old and young alike.
   16 In addition, they distributed to the males three years old or more whose names were in the genealogical records—all who would enter the temple of the LORD to perform the daily duties of their various tasks, according to their responsibilities and their divisions. 17 And they distributed to the priests enrolled by their families in the genealogical records and likewise to the Levites twenty years old or more, according to their responsibilities and their divisions. 18 They included all the little ones, the wives, and the sons and daughters of the whole community listed in these genealogical records. For they were faithful in consecrating themselves.
   19 As for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who lived on the farmlands around their towns or in any other towns, men were designated by name to distribute portions to every male among them and to all who were recorded in the genealogies of the Levites.
   20 This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah, doing what was good and right and faithful before the LORD his God. 21 In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered.

John 18

Jesus Arrested
    1 When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.
   2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
   4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
   5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
   “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
   7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
   “Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
   8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”
   10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
   11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
   12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.
Peter’s First Denial
    15 Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, 16 but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in.
   17 “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.
   He replied, “I am not.”
   18 It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.

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Jesse [Jĕs’se]—jehovah exists or firm.The son of Obed and father of David, and grandson of Boaz and Ruth, and an ancestor of Christ (Ruth 4:1722). Jesse had eight sons and two daughters by different wives ( 1 Sam. 17:12-14,25). Isaiah speaks of “the stock of Jesse,” a phrase indicating that it was from Jesse the Messiah would come. The humble descent of the Messiah is contrasted with the glorious kingdom He is to have ( Isa 11:1).
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Teaching in Parables

Matthew 13:34-35 "All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable" (v. 34).
Matthew pauses his record of Jesus' kingdom parables in today's passage to summarize His teaching method. Emphasizing His use of parables, the first evangelist reveals that the Savior's teaching fulfills prophecy (13:34-35).
Before we exegete (examine the original meaning of) verse 35 , we need to look at what it means that Jesus "said nothing to them without a parable" (v. 34). Some scholars read this verse absolutely, as if Jesus only told stories and never used discourses such as are found in the gospel of John. Consequently, they say, John's gospel contains original doctrine not in line with Jesus' teaching. This view is untenable. If Matthew thought Jesus taught only in parables, why did he record a discourse like the Sermon on the Mount (chap. 5-7)?Matthew 13:34 simply means that parables were essential to Jesus' teaching. He never usually spoke on a topic without, at some point, telling a parable about that topic.
Matthew 13:35 says that Psalm 78:2 is fulfilled in Christ's teaching ministry. The psalm's author, Asaph, retells the history of Israel from exodus to exile in Psalm 78, drawing out lessons that might not be crystal clear even to those who know the history. For example, because Ephraim successfully established its own kingdom (1 Kings 11:26-12:20), the tribe might falsely believe that this act was acceptable to the Lord. Asaph's psalm corrects the Ephraimites, reminding them of what they should already know - that God chose Judah, not Ephraim, to be the ruling tribe ( Ps. 78:67-68; see Gen. 49:8-12).
Similarly, Jesus' parables drew out lessons that should have been plain to His hearers even though they usually missed them. Based on Israel's past transgressions, the people should have known that not every Jew would embrace the Messiah (Ex. 32Matt. 13:1-23). That the Messiah would be David's greatest son and the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 should have been clear to Israel because the line of David had to suffer for the sins into which they led the nation (2 Sam. 7:4-17Isa. 53Matt. 21:33-46). Jesus' parables reveal truths that might have otherwise been hidden, fulfilling the intent of Psalm 78, albeit on a grander scale. For the truth Christ reveals is the inbreaking of God's kingdom.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

The Bible does not say that there are secret truths that only certain believers can find in Scripture. Those things that we do not see upon our first reading of a text are not invisible; rather, incomplete knowledge is often what prevents us from seeing the full implications of a passage. That is why we need the teaching ministry of the church to help us. Do you support your church's teachers with encouraging words or faithful Bible study attendance?
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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Peace by believing

‘Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Romans 5:1
Suggested Further Reading: Exodus 12:1–13
Write this for your motto—‘None but Jesus.’ Men and brethren, if those Israelites of old, who were inside their houses that night, had gone outside to the lintel of their door-post, and said, ‘Now here is this lintel made of very common wood; we will paint and grain it;’ and if they had then gone inside, and trusted to the painting and graining of the lintel, the destroying angel would have found them out and destroyed them. If, again, they had said, ‘We will write up our name over the door—it is a respectable name; we will record the list of our charities and good works over the door,’ the plague-angel would have smitten through the whole, and there would have been a wailing through the house as through the houses of the Egyptians. But what did they do? They took the blood; they marked the lintel and the two side posts, and smeared them with a crimson stain. Then in they went, and ate the passover with joy; and while the shrieks of Egypt went up in the cold midnight air, the sons of Israel went up also into heaven, for the angel of death had seen the blood, and by that mark he knew that he must pass by that habitation, and smite none that were there. The word of the Lord was not ‘When I see your faith,’ but ‘when I see the blood, I will pass over you.’ O soul, if you trust Christ, the blood is on your brow today; before the eye of God there is no condemnation. Why, then, do you need to fear? You are safe, for the blood secures every soul that once is sheltered thereby. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, but if you believe not, trust where you may, you shall be damned.
For meditation: A lamb within the house, dead or alive, was not enough for the Israelites. It had to be sacrificed and its blood applied (Exodus 12:6–7). Likewise it is not enough for us to admire the life of Christ, our Passover Lamb ( 1 Corinthians 5:7), or to assume that his death automatically saves us. His blood had to be shed and must be ‘sprinkled’ upon us individually by faith (Hebrews 9:2212:241 Peter 1:2).
Sermon no. 510
9 June (Undated Sermon)

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A free salvation

“Yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Isaiah 55:1
Suggested Further Reading: Romans 15:13-16
He who is a happy Creator will be a happy Redeemer; and those who have tasted that the Lord is gracious, can bear witness that the ways of religion “are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace.” And if this life were all, if death were the burial of all our life, and if the shroud were the winding-sheet of eternity, still to be a Christian would be a bright and happy thing, for it lights up this valley of tears, and fills the wells in the valley of Baca to the brim with streams of love and joy. The gospel, then, is like wine. It is like milk, too, for there is everything in the gospel that you want. Do you want something to bear you up in trouble? It is in the gospel—“a very present help in time of trouble.” Do you need something to nerve you for duty? There is grace all-sufficient for everything that God calls you to undergo or to accomplish. Do you need something to light up the eye of your hope? Oh! There are joy-flashes in the gospel that may make your eye flash back again the immortal fires of bliss. Do you want something to make you stand steadfast in the midst of temptation? In the gospel there is that that can make you immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. There is no passion, no affection, no thought, no wish, no power which the gospel has not filled to the very brim. The gospel was obviously meant for manhood; it is adapted to it in its every part. There is knowledge for the head; there is love for the heart; there is guidance for the foot. There is milk and wine, in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For meditation: Do you limit the Gospel to being something only for the need of the unconverted? It also strengthens the believer (Romans 16:25).
Sermon no. 199
9 June (Preached 11 June 1858)


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Teaching in Parables

The Bible does not say that there are secret truths that only certain believers can find in Scripture. Those things that we do not see upon our first reading of a text are not invisible; rather, incomplete knowledge is often what prevents us from seeing the full implications of a passage. That is why we need the teaching ministry of the church to help us. Do you support your church's teachers with encouraging words or faithful Bible study attendance?
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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Glynnis Whitwer
June 8, 2012
"Harmless" Little Lies?
Glynnis Whitwer
"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much." Luke 16:10 (NIV)
My job was overwhelming, yet I was desperate to appear competent. With each passing week, I found myself giving misleading responses to my boss. All right ... they were lies.
As a young college graduate, I was grateful for the position. It included writing, which I loved, plus answering the phones, which I didn't love quite so much. But the owners promised the position would develop as the company expanded.
Over time, both the company and my work level grew ... but I still answered the phones. Eventually, it got to the point where I couldn't manage everything, at least not well.
My boss was very hands on and often called me into her office for an update on my projects. I found myself dreading those meetings, knowing she'd be displeased with my lack of progress. I could feel myself getting anxious as I fell further behind.
And that is when the lies started:
"Yes, that project is coming along nicely." "I'm almost finished." "Just waiting for a few more pieces of information."
After our meetings, I'd rush back to my desk and frantically try to make my progress match the inaccurate response I'd just given. Over time, the lies and truth became jumbled.
I'd crossed a line of personal integrity that nagged at the edges of my conscience, but not enough to make a change. Until one day my boss gave me another request: to lie for her.
She hadn't gotten something done, and asked me to give false information to a person on the phone. I felt sick to my stomach. This wasn't right. She hadn't even started the project. And now I was supposed to cover for her? It was as if God made me do a 180 and stare at the line of integrity I had already crossed.
I'd compromised my character one half-truth, one excuse, one rationalization at a time. But no more. I had some decisions to make. I needed to determine on which side of the line I would stand.
Would integrity be a mask I put on at church and took off at work? Was my career more important than my character?
Those were heavy questions for a young woman. Especially one who desperately needed a job. But they were necessary. God was using this situation to help shape the person He wanted me to be.
It was a defining moment, and I knew where I wanted to stand.
Knowing I could lose my job, with humility and respect I told my boss I couldn't, no I wouldn't, lie for her. Amazingly, she didn't fire me. With a huff and a sigh, she accepted my decision.
While I wasn't up to confessing all my lies to her, I did confess them to God. And I made a commitment that day to honesty, no matter how personally difficult it was. Luke 16:10 reminds us that God cares about what may seem like a harmless little lie: "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much."(NIV)
Compromise is easy, but character takes work. Yet with God's help, I'm making progress to become the woman of integrity He has called me to be.
Dear Lord, You are the source of all truth. Please forgive me for the times I've twisted the truth to manipulate the opinions of others. I want to be a woman who is filled with Your truth and in whom there is not a shadow of a lie. Help me to uncover whatever stands in the way of becoming that woman. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Visit Glynnis' blog for more encouragement and insights on the dangerous patterns of lying in our culture.
I Used to Be So Organized by Glynnis Whitwer
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:
Compromise is easy, but character takes work. Yet with God's help, you can make progress to become the woman of integrity He has called you to be.
What little decisions of integrity can you make to help strengthen your character?
Power Verse:
2 Corinthians 8:21, "For we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord's sight but also in the sight of man." (ESV)
© 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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June 8, 2012
Keep Watch!Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith... (1 Peter 5:8-9, NIV).
Friend to FriendI was really excited that evening because I actually had a fun dinner plan ... which is not always the case. There was some grilled chicken left over from dinner the night before, so I decided to bust out my griddle and whip up some yummy grilled chicken quesadillas – a simple, yet very popular Smith-family delicacy. I know: it's a crazy-easy make, but for some reason my kids think I'm a genius when quesadillas are on the menu. Go figure.
  
I grabbed a knife, a chopping board, and the leftover chicken from the fridge. Minutes later, the chicken was ready for it's cheese and tortilla companions. While the griddle was heating up, I turned my attention to a few other family matters. I don't even remember what those matters were. It might have been a buzzer noising from laundry room – alerting me of dry clothes that needed hung. I might have turned away to set the table or perhaps I had to intervene between my children who perpetually struggle to keep their hands to themselves. Whatever it was that drew my attention away from dinner prep was innocent – normal stuff – nothing out of the ordinary. 
  
When I turned back to the business of quesadilla making, confusion gripped me as an empty cutting board glared at me. With an eyebrow raised quizzically, I asked my husband if he had moved my chicken. 
  
"No Honey. I haven't touched your chicken." He replied, with a twinkle in his eye. 
  
Hmmmmm. A chicken mystery. How odd.
  
I grew a bit anxious and quickly began to interview each of my children, "Did you take the chicken off the cutting board?"
  
"No, Mom. I didn't touch the chicken," they said one after another.
  
I wondered, "If I didn't move the chicken and my family didn't move the chicken, then where is my chicken?" I looked around the room once more just to be sure that I hadn't simply placed the chicken somewhere else. 
  
Then I saw it ... a look of guilt. A look that screamed and pleaded, "Yes! I took your chicken, but please don't be angry with me. It smelled so good and ... and ... I'm a big dog – I need my nourishment. Was it wrong? Okay. I know it was wrong. Please forgive me. I did it. I ate your chicken. I'm sorry. I'd like to go to my crate now..."

His ears lowered as my eyes met his. My brows furrowed. "Rocky! YOU ate my chicken! Bad dog!" I lamented in frustration as I began to make a new chickenless dinner plan...
  
Rocky's just a dog. He's not out to get me and he didn't mean to mess up our dinner plans, but he did prey on our family meal that night. He came and took what wasn't his because I had let my guard down. I wasn't watching over my chicken. 
As believers in Jesus Christ, you and I must guard our hearts and watch over our homes. The Bible warns Christians to keep watch. Beyond things seen, there are spiritual battles taking place around us continually. If you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, then you have an enemy and his name is Satan. If you live to listen to the voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, then strap on your battle gear, girlfriend, because your enemy has a mission to destroy you. Beware! 
  
In the New Testament book of John, chapter 10, Jesus identified himself as the exclusive way to our salvation – as the Gate for the sheep of God – as the One who loves, leads and rescues us. In John 10:10, Jesus warns that though His plan for us is protection, love and help, the enemy ... Satan, "...the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full." 
  
The Bible has a lot to say about this. It tells us time and time again to be alert to the schemes of Satan. To keep watch. "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith..." (1 Peter 5:8-9, NIV).
  
Though we have an enemy with a real plan to mess with our emotions, our health, our marriages, our children, our relationships, our jobs and our thoughts, we are not without help or hope. We have both. God's power and protection are readily available to believers. 24/7. "But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one" (2 Thessalonians 3:3, NIV). 

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people" (Ephesians 6:10-18, NIV).

I was caught off guard the night that our dog, Rocky, took the chicken off the counter... and there have been times when I've been caught off guard in the midst of spiritual battles. As Christian women, let's remember to keep watch – over our hearts, our minds, and our homes. Let's purpose to proactively pray for protection, power and perseverance. May we always keep watch.
Let's Pray
Dear Lord, You are all-powerful and mighty to save. I praise you and delight in your plan for me to have abundant life through Jesus. Please cover me in Your Spirit today and equip me to fend off attacks from the enemy in your power and help. 
In Jesus' Name I pray, 
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
What came to your mind/heart as you read this devotion? Can you identify an area where you feel the enemy is attacking you? Grab your journal and write about it. Pray for specific people and relationships that you feel need protection.
More from the Girlfriends
Are you an armed and dangerous Girlfriend in God? Be that woman! Let's pray for one another today. If you want to link arms with GiGs from across the globe and stand unified in prayer against the schemes of the devil, click over to my Facebook page: 
www.facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic. For FUN: I'm posting a picture of our dog Rocky so you can see the chicken thief!
Check out Gwen's most recent CD, Uncluttered. The songs of Uncluttered are purposed to sweep you away from life-noise and to focus your heart and mind on the one thing that matters: your relationship with Jesus Christ. You can download songs on iTunes or Amazon – or order CDs on www.GwenSmith.net.
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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Myth: "I need to maintain a certain lifestyle."

"How do they do it?" asked my husband, Dan. He tossed his keys down and slumped into his old, forest green recliner, a relic from his bachelor days that he'd insisted we keep when we got married. "They must have inherited money. Honestly, do you think they make more than we do?"
I sighed. We'd just gotten home from a party at a friend's house. We have this conversation, or versions of it, all the time.
I guess it all started when we got involved in our church's young marrieds group. The people were very nice-and extremely successful. Although we were all in our early thirties, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw one couple's lakeside home. They had all the toys-a boat and a jet ski in the boathouse (nearly as big as our house at the time) and a premium-packaged Tahoe in the three-car garage.
Once Dan and I started spending time with our new, affluent friends, our life didn't seem all that great anymore. Our modest, three-bedroom ranch felt cramped. Our used Honda looked cheap. I cringed when I looked at that old recliner and the rest of our hand-me-down furniture, which prior to visiting "Trump Tower Lakeside" had been tolerable (strictly functional, but tolerable). Our old TV with giant rabbit ears just couldn't compare with Tom and Kris's state-of-the-art entertainment system.
So every time the topic came up, we spent a good hour or so arguing. "Just because nearly everyone in our class shows off how rich they are doesn't mean we ought to run out and buy something we can't afford," I snapped at Dan.
"I make good money, Lauren," Dan shot back. "We could get financed for a new home, you know, if that's what we wanted."
And so we did. Six months later, we moved from our affordable home to a new community near the lake with a gorgeous view from the front porch of our Georgian colonial. It wasn't more than our friends had; it was just more than we'd ever had. It was bigger than our parents' homes.
We agreed we wouldn't take a vacation that summer. But we can't take one next summer either because we're so behind on our payments. We do more than a little finagling to get the checkbook to balance most months. We're finally fitting in with our friends' lifestyles. I just hope we can keep the pace.
-Lauren
Would Jesus drive a BMW?
That question has floated around in the Christian community and even in an environmentalist ad campaign. Regardless of what you think about Jesus' supposed motor vehicle of choice, the root issue is this: "What should Christians do with their money?" No doubt, money-either the lack of it or its abundance-conditions our lifestyle choices. The temptation is to think that we're not successful until we have a large home, drive a nice car, put our kids in the best private schools and take exciting vacations to Aruba. Sadly, many of us are willing to risk our future well-being and financial freedom in order to be happy today, at any price.
The Bible says the world clamors and "runs" after all it can grab in this life (see Luke 12:29-30). Women who are committed to Jesus have to make counter-cultural choices in their lifestyles. Emulating Jesus' lifestyle does not necessarily mean pursuing poverty (as if by it one is inherently more spiritual). It means internally identifying with the overarching themes of his life. Consider the themes of Jesus' life:
  • Contentment
  • Outrageous generosity
  • Impenetrable joy
  • Unselfishness
These characteristics, not dollar signs, are the primary distinctions between Jesus' lifestyle versus the way the world lives.
Deciding you're not going to live like the rest of the world-even if you can afford it-is that much more difficult when you realize that Jesus is talking about a change of heart. Trading in a new BMW for a used Honda is much easier than taking a realistic look behind what is driving your lifestyle choices. Your attitude toward money, not what's in your garage, is one of the quickest external indicators of your inward commitment.
"[In our media-saturated culture,] people can see, in agonizing detail, all the expensive things they will never possess. This may make what a typical person possesses seem insufficient, even if the person is one of the tens of millions of Americans living, by the standards of history, in unprecedented comfort and freedom."
-Gregg Easterbrook
"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'"
Hebrews 13:5

See also

Deuteronomy 8:10-18; Matthew 19:23-29; 1 Corinthians 3:12-13
NIVSocialicons

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SSTS_Devotional_header

INTERNALIZE GOD’S WORD

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:8
A co-worker who was teaching Christian leaders in Vietnam shares this experience:
I immediately realized that not one of these pastors owned a Bible and that they were waiting to hear from scripture. As I started sharing, one pastor raised his hand. “Excuse me brother, is that the Bible or is that you?”
“This is scripture,” I answered and immediately the leaders took out a notebook and eagerly started writing every word down. I then understood that this was the only way that they could collect scripture verses. I wanted to cry.
As I continued the teaching, the same question came once again. “Excuse me brother, is that the Bible or is that you?”
“This time it’s me,” I answered and suddenly everybody put their “Bibles” down and took out a different notebook and once again wrote down every word I said. Then came lunch break and the leading pastor stood up. “We will now have a time to test our Bible knowledge,” he announced.
I wondered how my Bible knowledge, with more than ten Bibles at my disposal, would measure up with these leaders who do not have their own copies. The leader asked the first question. “What does it say in Obadiah 2:4?”
I shrank in my chair. Please don’t look at me , I thought. I know there is a book of Obadiah but I must confess it has been some time since I read it. The pastors started laughing and then one raised his hand.
“Obadiah only has one chapter, brother!” I felt so ashamed. How is it possible I did not know this and these believers without their own Bibles knew.
Then came the second question. “What does the Bible teach in Nahum 1:7?
An elderly pastor in the front row raised his hand like an eager school child. He then started quoting the scripture: “The Lord is good, a strength in the day of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.”
“Well done brother,” said the leader. “You may sit down now.” But the elderly pastor was not finished yet. “Please,” he asked, “may I continue?” After a nod, he quoted the whole book of Nahum faultlessly.
I was also later introduced to another believer who came to know the Lord only during recent years. His passion for the Word of God is displayed in the fact that he has already memorized seventy-eight chapters of the Bible.
RESPONSE: Today, I will begin a program to internalize God’s Word and hide it in my heart.
PRAYER: Lord, give me a passion for Your Word like believers in Vietnam.
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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40-Day Journey with Bonhoeffer Header

Day 8

The disciples are needy in every way. They are simply "poor" (Luke 6:20 ). They have no security, no property to call their own, no piece of earth they could call their home, no earthly community to which they might fully belong. But they also have neither spiritual power of their own, nor experience or knowledge they can refer to and which could comfort them. For his sake they have lost all that. When they followed him, they lost themselves and everything else which could have made them rich. Now they are so poor, so inexperienced, so foolish that they cannot hope for anything except him who called them.

Biblical Wisdom

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3

Questions to Ponder

  • What kinds of poverty are there?
  • In the life of faith, what is the point of disciples being poor?
  • Bonhoeffer asserts that for Jesus' sake disciples lose everything. Why would Jesus want that?

Psalm Fragment

As for me, I am poor and needy,
   but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
   do not delay, O my God. Psalm 40:17

Journal Reflections

  • Reflect on why you would (or would not) consider yourself poor as a disciple of Jesus.
  • Could you imagine yourself as ever seeing poverty as a gift? Why, or why not?

Intercessions

Pray for the "rich" that they may have compassion for the "poor." Pray for the "poor" that they may have compassion for the "rich."

Prayer for Today

Lord, help me to lose everything for your sake and so discover all that I have and am in you.
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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