Thursday, June 21, 2012

Daily Devotional Thursday 21st June

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” Mark 8:36 NIV
===
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Thou art fairer than the children of men."
Psalm 45:2
The entire person of Jesus is but as one gem, and his life is all along but one impression of the seal. He is altogether complete; not only in his several parts, but as a gracious all-glorious whole. His character is not a mass of fair colours mixed confusedly, nor a heap of precious stones laid carelessly one upon another; he is a picture of beauty and a breastplate of glory. In him, all the "things of good repute" are in their proper places, and assist in adorning each other. Not one feature in his glorious person attracts attention at the expense of others; but he is perfectly and altogether lovely.
Oh, Jesus! thy power, thy grace, thy justice, thy tenderness, thy truth, thy majesty, and thine immutability make up such a man, or rather such a God-man, as neither heaven nor earth hath seen elsewhere. Thy infancy, thy eternity, thy sufferings, thy triumphs, thy death, and thine immortality, are all woven in one gorgeous tapestry, without seam or rent. Thou art music without discord; thou art many, and yet not divided; thou art all things, and yet not diverse. As all the colours blend into one resplendent rainbow, so all the glories of heaven and earth meet in thee, and unite so wondrously, that there is none like thee in all things; nay, if all the virtues of the most excellent were bound in one bundle, they could not rival thee, thou mirror of all perfection. Thou hast been anointed with the holy oil of myrrh and cassia, which thy God hath reserved for thee alone; and as for thy fragrance, it is as the holy perfume, the like of which none other can ever mingle, even with the art of the apothecary; each spice is fragrant, but the compound is divine.
"Oh, sacred symmetry! oh, rare connection
Of many perfects, to make one perfection!
Oh, heavenly music, where all parts do meet
In one sweet strain, to make one perfect sweet!"

Evening

"The foundation of God standeth sure."
2 Timothy 2:19
The foundation upon which our faith rests is this, that "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." The great fact on which genuine faith relies is, that "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us," and that "Christ also hath suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God"; "Who himself bare our sins in his own body on the tree"; "For the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed." In one word, the great pillar of the Christian's hope is substitution. The vicarious sacrifice of Christ for the guilty, Christ being made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, Christ offering up a true and proper expiatory and substitutionary sacrifice in the room, place, and stead of as many as the Father gave him, who are known to God by name, and are recognized in their own hearts by their trusting in Jesus--this is the cardinal fact of the gospel. If this foundation were removed, what could we do? But it standeth firm as the throne of God. We know it; we rest on it; we rejoice in it; and our delight is to hold it, to meditate upon it, and to proclaim it, while we desire to be actuated and moved by gratitude for it in every part of our life and conversation. In these days a direct attack is made upon the doctrine of the atonement. Men cannot bear substitution. They gnash their teeth at the thought of the Lamb of God bearing the sin of man. But we, who know by experience the preciousness of this truth, will proclaim it in defiance of them confidently and unceasingly. We will neither dilute it nor change it, nor fritter it away in any shape or fashion. It shall still be Christ, a positive substitute, bearing human guilt and suffering in the stead of men. We cannot, dare not, give it up, for it is our life, and despite every controversy we feel that "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure."

===

Today's reading: Esther 1-2, Acts 5:1-21 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
Queen Vashti Deposed
    This is what happened during the time of Xerxes, the Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush: 2 At that time King Xerxes reigned from his royal throne in the citadel of Susa, 3 and in the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials. The military leaders of Persia and Media, the princes, and the nobles of the provinces were present.
   4 For a full 180 days he displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and glory of his majesty. 5 When these days were over, the king gave a banquet, lasting seven days, in the enclosed garden of the king’s palace, for all the people from the least to the greatest who were in the citadel of Susa. 6 The garden had hangings of white and blue linen, fastened with cords of white linen and purple material to silver rings on marble pillars. There were couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and other costly stones. 7 Wine was served in goblets of gold, each one different from the other, and the royal wine was abundant, in keeping with the king’s liberality. 8 By the king’s command each guest was allowed to drink with no restrictions, for the king instructed all the wine stewards to serve each man what he wished.
   9 Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes.
   10 On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him—Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Karkas— 11 to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. 12 But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.
   13 Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times 14 and were closest to the king—Karshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena and Memukan, the seven nobles of Persia and Media who had special access to the king and were highest in the kingdom.
   15 “According to law, what must be done to Queen Vashti?” he asked. “She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes that the eunuchs have taken to her.”
   16 Then Memukan replied in the presence of the king and the nobles, “Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes. 17 For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.’ 18 This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.
   19 “Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she. 20 Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest.”
   21 The king and his nobles were pleased with this advice, so the king did as Memukan proposed. 22 He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each people in their own language, proclaiming that every man should be ruler over his own household, using his native tongue.

Esther 2

Esther Made Queen
    1 Later when King Xerxes’ fury had subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what he had decreed about her. 2 Then the king’s personal attendants proposed, “Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king. 3 Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful young women into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them. 4 Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it.
   5 Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, 6 who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah. 7 Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.
   8 When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. 9 She pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem.
   10 Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so. 11Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.
   12 Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics. 13 And this is how she would go to the king: Anything she wanted was given her to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she would go there and in the morning return to another part of the harem to the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the concubines. She would not return to the king unless he was pleased with her and summoned her by name.
   15 When the turn came for Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. 16 She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.
   17 Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 And the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality.
Mordecai Uncovers a Conspiracy
    19 When the virgins were assembled a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. 20 But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up.
   21 During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. 22 But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai. 23 And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were impaled on poles. All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.

Acts 5

Ananias and Sapphira
    1 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.
   3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
   5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
   7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”
   “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”
   9 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”
   10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
The Apostles Heal Many
    12 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.
The Apostles Persecuted
    17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”
   21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.
   When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles.

===

Tubal-Cain [To̅o̅'bal-cāin]—production of forged work or flowing forth of cain.The son of Zillah, one of Lamech’s wives, of the race of Cain (Gen. 4:22).

The Man Who Invented Metal Tools

Tubal (or the Tibureni, noted for production of bronze articles, Ezek. 27:13 ) and Cain meaning “smith” marks Tubal-cain as “the father of every forger of copper and iron.” InEzekiel 27:13, Tubal is found bringing brass to the market of Tyre, and in Persian the word means copper. The alloy we call brass was absolutely unknown to the ancients. From the world’s first coppersmith we learn that “metals and their use were kept a guarded secret in the possession of a single family, or clan, for many generations.”

===


TT_devotionswithrc_ttlogo

Walking on Water

Matthew 14:22-36 "Peter answered him, 'Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.' He said, 'Come.' So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water" ( vv. 28-29).
After miraculously increasing a few loaves and fish into a quantity that can feed thousands, Jesus sends the crowd away and withdraws to a mountain to pray. Shortly before dismissing the crowd, our Savior orders His disciples to return to the boat in order to give Him time alone with His Father (Matt. 13:22-23). Many scholars believe Jesus separates His disciples from the crowd so that they might not get caught up in the crowd's messianic expectations, which were probably not in line with the fact that the Messiah had to suffer.
In any case, we know that Christ spends many hours in prayer. He begins as soon as the evening comes (six o'clock or so, v. 23) and we do not see Him in action again until the fourth watch of the night (anywhere between three and six in the morning, v. 25 ). Such perseverance in prayer must not be overlooked. If Jesus, who always does His Father's will, needed to pray for such a lengthy period, how much more should extended communion with our Creator be a part of our lives? It is a fact that those believers who have made a great impact on history were men and women who spent a lot of time on their knees.
Jesus is walking upon the water, approaching their ship tossed far from the shore by a powerful storm, the first time the disciples see Him after this prayer vigil (vv. 25-27 ). This act is a powerful proof of His deity. In Scripture, Yahweh, the one, true Lord of all, is described as walking upon the water (Ps. 77:16-20Hab. 3:15 ). Whether or not Peter has a full-orbed understanding of Christ's divinity at this point in his life is doubtful, but he does understand the extraordinary authority that Jesus must possess if He can make His path on top of the waves. Such faith prompts Peter to ask for permission from Jesus to step off the boat and join Him upon the sea (Matt. 14:28-29).
Peter takes his eyes off of Jesus and sinks, but we would miss a vital lesson of this story if we focus only on Christ's criticism of His disciple's "little faith" ( vv. 30-31). Though mixed with doubt and fear, Peter's faith is nonetheless true - he does walk on the water. More importantly, the fisherman is not abandoned when he falters; rather, the Savior extends His hand to save him (vv. 32-33).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

As many commentators have said regarding this passage, Peter's faith is much like ours, small and incomplete, a mixture of trust and doubt. Nevertheless, God does not wait for us to have perfect faith before He saves us. The mere presence of authentic trust is required, and periods of doubt say nothing about the legitimacy of our faith. No matter the fervor of your trust this day, know that Jesus is a Savior who rescues those who struggle with doubt.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living. 

===


Spurgeon-MetropolitanTabernacle-Header-1

The sinner’s advocate

‘My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.’ 1 John 2:1
Suggested Further Reading: 1 John 1:5–10
This truth, so evangelical and so divine, should be practically remembered. It should be practically remembered, dear friends, at all times. Every day I find it most healthy to my own soul to try and walk as a saint, but in order to do so I must continually come to Christ as a sinner. I would seek to be perfect; I would strain after every virtue, and forsake every false way; but still, as to my standing before God, I find it happiest to sit where I sat when I first looked to Jesus, on the rock of his works, having nothing to do with my own righteousness, but only with his. Depend on it, dear friends, the happiest way of living is to live as a poor sinner and as nothing at all, having Jesus Christ as your all in all. You may have all your growths in sanctification, all your progress in graces, all the development of your virtues that you will; but still I do earnestly pray you never to put any of these where Christ should be. If you have begun in Christ then finish in Christ. If you have begun in the flesh and then go on in the flesh, we know what the sure result will be. But if you have begun with Jesus Christ as your Alpha, let him be your Omega. I pray you never think you are rising when you get above this, for it is not rising, but slipping downwards to your ruin. Stand still to this—
‘Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling.’
Still a sinner, but still having an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous—let this be the spirit of your everyday life.
For meditation: Three things about the Christian life which the Christian needs to remember at all times:- the fact of sin (1 John 1:8,10), the forgiveness of sin (1 John 1:792:1–2) and the fight with sin (1 John 2:1). The first should protect us from pride, the second from despair and the third from licence. Forget any one of these and you are at risk.
Sermon no. 515
21 June (1863)

===


TT_Coramdeo_ttlogo

Walking on Water

As many commentators have said regarding this passage, Peter's faith is much like ours, small and incomplete, a mixture of trust and doubt. Nevertheless, God does not wait for us to have perfect faith before He saves us. The mere presence of authentic trust is required, and periods of doubt say nothing about the legitimacy of our faith. No matter the fervor of your trust this day, know that Jesus is a Savior who rescues those who struggle with doubt.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
Coram Deo from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living. 

===


Spurgeon-NewParkStreet-Header-3

Mercy, omnipotence, and justice

“The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked.” Nahum 1:3
Suggested Further Reading: Nehemiah 9:9-31
Have you ever observed that scene in the garden of Eden at the time of the fall? God had threatened Adam, that if he sinned he should surely die. Adam sinned: did God make haste to sentence him? ‘Tis sweetly said, “The Lord God walked in the garden in the cool of the day.” Perhaps that fruit was plucked at early morn, maybe it was plucked at noon-tide; but God was in no haste to condemn; he waited till the sun was well nigh set, and in the cool of the day came, and as an old expositor has put it very beautifully, when he did come he did not come on wings of wrath, but he “walked in the garden in the cool of the day.” He was in no haste to slay. I think I see him, as he was represented then to Adam, in those glorious days when God walked with man. Methinks I see the wonderful similitude in which the unseen did veil himself: I see it walking among the trees so slowly—if it is right to give such a picture—beating its breast, and shedding tears that it should have to condemn man. At last I hear its doleful voice: “Adam, where art thou? Where hast thou cast thyself, poor Adam? Thou hast cast thyself from my favour; thou hast cast thyself into nakedness and into fear; for thou art hiding thyself. Adam, where art thou? I pity thee. Thou thoughtest to be God. Before I condemn thee I will give thee one note of pity. Adam, where art thou?” Yes, the Lord was slow to anger, slow to write the sentence, even though the command had been broken, and the threatening was therefore of necessity brought into force.
For meditation: There are good and bad ways of taking advantage of God’s apparent slowness (2 Peter 3:3,4,9).
Sermon no. 137
21 June (1857)

===

 

At Issue - Dieting

Paul was intent on pleasing God-not others-so he didn't change his message to please the crowds. What does this have to do with dieting? Just hold on. Why do many of us diet? Because we like how it feels when people notice and say we look good ... so others will find us more attractive ... so we can win their approval. But God wants us to focus on pleasing him. Women diet for many reasons. Ask yourself: When I diet, is my goal to gain human approval or to please God by improving my health?
NIVSocialicons

===

An Invisible Danger

Taking precautions: like a surgeon preparing to operate
Leviticus 11:47 You must distinguish between the unclean and the clean.
For many years surgery remained a desperate last resort for the hopelessly ill. Surgeons knew nothing about germs. Without washing, they would don operating garb, usually an old coat caked with blood and pus from numerous operations. They would pick up the scalpel, wiped clean with an old rag after the last operation, and go to work. Half of those operated on died.
One pioneer after another stumbled on the correct sterile techniques. But each was scorned and humiliated by fellow doctors. Professor Ignaz Semmelweis, for one, discovered that making doctors wash their hands could dramatically cut the death rate in maternity wards. Yet his colleagues opposed Semmelweis strenuously, and though he argued for handwashing throughout his life, he died without seeing his ideas take hold.
Why So Slow?
Why were doctors so slow to adopt sterile techniques? The answer is simple: Germs had not yet been discovered. Doctors could not see-and reformers like Semmelweis could not give them-any reason why washing hands should make a difference.
Then Louis Pasteur discovered micro-organisms under his microscope. Sterile procedures began to make sense: They made war on germs. Even so, each reform, from rubber gloves to gauze masks, was accepted only grudgingly and with considerable opposition. It was as though doctors had a hard time remembering that something invisible could be so devastating. Fifty years of constant education and reform were necessary before "sterile technique" became a routine part of surgery, and germs became "real" to most medical minds.
Why All the Rules?
As germs are to a surgeon, "uncleanness" is to Leviticus. Leviticus 11-15 describe elaborate precautions-what animals to avoid and how to treat "unclean" skin disease, mildewed clothing or walls and bodily emissions.
Scholars point out that many clean and unclean rules have good health habits behind them, such as the rule to quarantine a person with an infectious disease or the rule against eating pork (which carries many parasites).
Others say that dietary laws were meant to keep the Israelites apart from their neighbors. Pigs were prominent in Canaanite worship; therefore the Israelites were not to eat pigs. A different dietary standard would keep the two groups from mixing socially, for a meal was always part of Middle Eastern hospitality.
Still other scholars suggest that the uncleanness rules simply fit into what Israelites intuitively thought proper. God was reinforcing a natural sense of repulsion toward creeping insects, scavenger birds, bodily emissions and skin diseases.
The Habit of Carefulness
All these explanations have merit, but the underlying basis of clean and unclean was religious. Being unclean was not dangerous or wrong. In fact, you could hardly avoid it. Practically everyone became "unclean" from time to time. But you could not worship God in the tent of meeting while you were unclean, nor bring anything unclean into the presence of God. His holiness would destroy it-and you (see Leviticus 15:31).
So Leviticus trains God's people to watch their lives as carefully as surgeons watch their sterile techniques. They must develop the habit of carefulness, even about something they cannot see or feel. They must think about preparing themselves for God, not just do whatever "feels right."
It was not a question of how they felt about God, any more than a surgeon's concern is how he "feels" about germs. Clear, absolute standards laid out what could be acceptable to a God who is perfectly clean, absolute, unchanging. Just as surgeons had to struggle to take germs seriously, so God's people must learn to "purify themselves" for God.
Touching the Unclean
The uncleanness rules of Leviticus are outmoded because of Jesus' declaration that all things are clean (see Mark 7:19; see also Acts 10:9-16). But the lessons behind these rules remain valid. God still may not be approached carelessly. Each person must examine his or her life to be certain that God's purity is not violated.
Until Jesus' day, the slow spread of uncleanness seemed irreversible. You could avoid it, but you could not get rid of it. Contact with anything unclean made you unclean yourself. Naturally, certain diseases, notably leprosy, were twice cursed: They were both dangerous and unclean. You kept away from leprosy, absolutely.
Then Jesus touched a man with leprosy, and the man became clean. Jesus touched a woman suffering from internal bleeding, and she was healed. For the first time, cleanness rather than uncleanness spread. The rules of Leviticus tell how to avoid uncleanness. Contact with Jesus, however, changes the unclean to clean.
Life Questions
Suppose sin were visible-small green spots that break out on the skin. Do you think this would help people to take sin more seriously?
NIVSocialicons

===


SSTS_Devotional_header

PROJECT PEARL PERFUME BIBLES

They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. Psalm 19:10
In 1977, Peter Xu became the leader of the Born-Again Movement—a large house church network today in China. Ten years ago he was visiting in the United States and shared a devotional at the Open Doors-USA office. When he saw a sample of a Project Pearl Bible on the shelf, he became very animated. Then a long story developed:
After Project Pearl Bibles were stored in depositories in southern China in the early 1980s, Peter Xu sent three men every month by train to the depository contacts to bring back about 1,000 Bibles per trip for his growing house church movement. One month the three men were discovered with their Bible load by the local police of the depository city. The police threw the 1,000 Project Pearl Bibles into the cesspool of the public latrine and the three men were interrogated and jailed for the weekend.
Monday they were released and commanded to return straight home and never return. Instead they waited inside the latrine until darkness fell. Then they climbed down into the filthy cesspool of human waste carefully retrieving each of the foul smelling books. They washed them off under the local water tap and carried them home. There they dried them out, sprayed them with perfume and circulated them through their network. Such was the hunger and importance of every copy of God’s Word.
Project Pearl certainly had an impact on the future printing of Bibles inside China which continues today. Shortly after the project was completed, China’s Three Self Patriotic Movement announced the first official printing of Bibles inside the country. Noted author and China watcher, David Aikman, wrote in his book, Jesus in Beijing, “[Project] Pearl had a major long-term impact on the overall availability of Bibles in China.”[1]
But more important are the personal evaluations from Chinese believers: “These gifts are more precious than gold!”
RESPONSE: Today I will treasure God’s Word as more valuable than any precious metal or gem.
PRAYER: Thank You, Lord that Your precious Word is being made available in countries where it is not valued by those in authority.
1. David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2003), p. 270.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

BGiOS-300x250-2
twitter-sstts facebook_small_email
Join us on Facebook
and follow us on Twitter for
real-time persecution updates

===

40-Day Journey with Bonhoeffer Header

Day 20

Only the obedient believe. A concrete commandment has to be obeyed in order to come to believe. A first step of obedience has to be taken, so that faith does not become pious self-deception, cheap grace. The first step is crucial. It is qualitatively different from all others that follow. The first step of obedience has to lead Peter away from his nets and out of the boat; it has to lead the young man away from his wealth. Faith is possible only in this new state of existence created by obedience.

Biblical Wisdom

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea․for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fish for people." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. Mark 1:16-18

Questions to Ponder

  • How do you understand the relationship between obedience and true faith?
  • How might a "first step of obedience" change your relationship to Jesus?
  • Why is the first step "qualitatively different from all others that follow"?

Psalm Fragment

O come, let us worship and bow down,
   let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
   and we are the people of his pasture,
   and the sheep of his hand.
O that today you would listen to his voice! Psalm 95:6-7

Journal Reflections

  • Is there a moment when you took a "first step of obedience"? If so, write about it. What was it like? How did it change your life?
  • Do you need to take a "first step of obedience"? If so, any ideas or intuitions about what form that might take?

Intercessions

Pray that you, your family, and your spiritual friends would have the courage to be obedient to whatever God is calling you to.

Prayer for Today

Gracious God, grant me the wisdom to see what you need me to do and the courage to do it.
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.
ADVERTISEMENT

db-book-image40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Buy a copy here!

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.

More Titles from Bonhoeffer!
Interested in learning more from and about Dietrich Bonhoeffer? The Bible Gateway store has a special page filled with his books and devotionals as well as biographies and videos about him!
db_small


===


GiG-Banner-450
June 20, 2012
Struggling Together in Prayer
Sharon Jaynes
Today's Truth
"I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me," (Romans 15:30NIV). 
Friend to Friend
I am so glad that God gave us girlfriends who will struggle with us in prayer. Paul wasn't a Girlfriend in God, but he certainly understood the power of praying for our friends.
He wrote: "I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me" (Romans 15:30 NIV). "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should" (Ephesians 6:18-20 NIV). 
The New Testament was originally written in Greek and sometimes looking at the original definitions of the words can give us great insight. The Greek word Paul uses for struggle in Romans 15:30 issunagonizomai, which means "to struggle in the company of; i.e., to be a partner (assistant), strive together with."  The root word means "to endeavor to accomplish something: fight, labor fervently, strive," for example, to compete for a prize or to contend with an adversary.
Prayer for another person is not simply a nice thing to say or a pat on the back. It is more than a "God bless Suzie." When we tell someone that we will pray for them we are agreeing to put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6) and head to the front lines of battle on her behalf. 
Many ancient shields had brackets attached to the sides. These brackets were a type of latch that soldiers could use to lock shields during battle. When the shields were locked together, the soldiers moved as one force, forming a barricade against the enemy.  Alone, the shield was a small defense. Together they formed a human wall. Do you see the significance? When we lock arms in prayer with others, we are locking our shields together and forming a powerfully strong fortress of defense.
One night I was in the restroom touching up my makeup before speaking to several hundred women. I was having one of those moments when I looked in the mirror and several thoughts began to swirl in my mind. What am I doing here? What do I possibly have to say to these women that could make any difference in their lives? I am not capable of walking to that podium tonight.
While I was mulling over the lies, the fiery darts Satan was shooting into my mind, my cell phone rang.
"Hello."
  
Hi Sharon.  This is Mary. (My GiG Mary)  Where are you?"
"Actually, I'm standing in the restroom at a speaking engagement getting ready to walk out on the stage. I forgot to turn off my cell phone!"
"I want you to know," Mary continued, "God interrupted me while I was cooking dinner and told me to pray for you. Not only that, He told me to call you...now."
I imagined Mary standing in her kitchen with spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove and stopping mid-stir. There might have been a little conversation with God that went something like this:
 "Call Sharon and pray for her", God might have said.
 "Could you just wait a minute God? The sauce is almost done." 
"Call Sharon and pray for her," God repeated.
"Ok, Ok, I'll do it now," she sighed.
There was great power in Mary's instant obedience. If she had waited, I would not have known that she was praying. Not only did God prompt her to pray at that moment, He prompted her to tell me that she was doing so. Why? God knew that there was power in her prayer and He wanted me to know that I was not going into battle alone. He had called Mary to "struggle with me," to "strive together in battle," to lock shields with me and march into victory.
Let's Pray
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us Girlfriends in God to pray for us and with us. Thank you that you called women to join together as mighty prayer warriors with shields hooked together, marching into battle as one unified force.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Is there someone God is calling you to pray for today?
If so, why not give him or her a call or send an e-mail to let the person know.
Better yet, e-mail them the prayer or pray for them over the phone!
While you're praying, we'd love for you to pray for the ministry of Girlfriends in God. We love doing life with you and we need prayer! Thank you for allowing us to share life with you and to struggle with you in prayer.
We love praying for you. We love it when you pray for us. If you would like to share your prayer for this ministry with us, log ontowww.facebook.com/sharonjaynes and pray away! I'll make sure that Mary and Gwen see how you have prayed for them today.
More from the Girlfriends
Do you ever feel like you don't know what to pray? One of the ways I pray for people is to pray Scripture over them. On my website, I havelaminated Scripture prayer cards that you can tuck on your Bible. Check them out on the bookstore page.
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

===

P31Header
Renee Swope
June 20, 2012
When Worry Makes Me Weary
Renee Swope
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 (NIV)
As we drove home from a weekend in the mountains, I felt a heavy sense of dread and sadness. Laying my head back on my seat, I told my husband, J.J., "I don't want to go home."
After talking through my reasons with him, I realized the stress and strain of countless commitments - at home and work - were taking a toll on me. I just wanted to go back to the mountains where I could rest.
J.J. encouraged me to make a list of everything on my plate and ask God what I needed to cut back. At first I resented his suggestion. It felt like he'd just added one more thing I "needed to do." Yet I knew J.J. was right and eventually I made the list.
Then I asked God to show me where to make changes. Much to my surprise the changes I sensed Him leading me to make weren't in my schedule - they were in me.
God didn't show me I needed to cut back at work or in ministry. He didn't show me our kids were in too many activities. He didn't lead me to take a sabbatical, although I was kind of hoping He would.
Instead, I sensed it was worry - not my workload - that was making me weary.
I thought about the months leading up to this point and realized I'd spent almost as much time thinking and worrying about deadlines as I spent working on them. Some days my concerns about commitments and meeting people's expectations had consumed me.
I had let my mind dwell on the possible outcome of several different decisions - all at the same time - and it left me depleted mentally, emotionally and physically.
Honestly though, until I stopped and talked to God about it, I didn't recognize my mental mayhem as worry.
My mind is wired to think a lot so I'd gotten used to the constant flurry of motion in my brain. Yet anxiety had crept in slowly, causing tangles in my thoughts, a tightening in my chest, and tension in my neck. Some days I couldn't stop thinking about ALL I needed to do.
Instead of going back to the mountains to rest, I sensed God wanted me to find a resting place in His presence right in the middle of my busy life. Through today's key verse from Matthew 11:28, He invited me to come to Him with the worries that were making me weary.
Do you sense Him inviting you to come to Him today?
He promises a place to quiet your thoughts in His presence. "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'" (Ps. 91:1-2 NIV)
He offers freedom from the captivity of your concerns when you bring them to Him: "'Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. And I will lead you back from captivity.'" (Jeremiah 29:13-14 NIV)
Today, instead of letting our worries make us weary, let's respond to God's invitation and come to Him - asking, seeking and finding a resting place for our restless thoughts.
Dear Lord, when my concerns consume me, help me remember You are there inviting me to come to You and talk about all I'm thinking and doing. Show me if my workload or my worries are making me weary and help me trust You with both. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
Renee would love to share with you three steps to recognize and overcome worry and a practical way to physically give God your concerns! Also, she's giving away a "Come to Me" stress-relief gift pack" that you can enter to win! Click here to find out more.
If today's devotion resonated with your heart, you don't want to miss Renee Swope's best-selling book: A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God's Promises. To order your copy, click here.
Reflect and Respond:
God promises a place to quiet your thoughts in His presence. "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'" (Ps. 91:1-2 NIV)
When you think about all you need to get done, do you ever feel like you're coming undone? Learn how to "cast your cares upon Him" in a practical way that significantly reduces worry. Renee shares how here.
Power Verses:
1 Peter 5:7, "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you." (NLT)
Hebrews 4:16, "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (NIV)
© 2012 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org



Post a Comment