Thursday, June 28, 2012

Daily Devotional Thursday 28th June

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”Matthew 16:25 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Looking unto Jesus."
Hebrews 12:2
It is ever the Holy Spirit's work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan's work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ. He insinuates, "Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus." All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within. But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: he tells us that we are nothing, but that "Christ is all in all." Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee--it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee--it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument--it is Christ's blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith. We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by "looking unto Jesus." Keep thine eye simply on him; let his death, his sufferings, his merits, his glories, his intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look to him; when thou liest down at night look to him. Oh! let not thy hopes or fears come between thee and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail thee.
"My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness:
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name."

Evening

"But Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods."
Exodus 7:12
This incident is an instructive emblem of the sure victory of the divine handiwork over all opposition. Whenever a divine principle is cast into the heart, though the devil may fashion a counterfeit, and produce swarms of opponents, as sure as ever God is in the work, it will swallow up all its foes. If God's grace takes possession of a man, the world's magicians may throw down all their rods; and every rod may be as cunning and poisonous as a serpent, but Aaron's rod will swallow up their rods. The sweet attractions of the cross will woo and win the man's heart, and he who lived only for this deceitful earth will now have an eye for the upper spheres, and a wing to mount into celestial heights. When grace has won the day the worldling seeks the world to come. The same fact is to be observed in the life of the believer. What multitudes of foes has our faith had to meet! Our old sins--the devil threw them down before us, and they turned to serpents. What hosts of them! Ah, but the cross of Jesus destroys them all. Faith in Christ makes short work of all our sins. Then the devil has launched forth another host of serpents in the form of worldly trials, temptations, unbelief; but faith in Jesus is more than a match for them, and overcomes them all. The same absorbing principle shines in the faithful service of God! With an enthusiastic love for Jesus difficulties are surmounted, sacrifices become pleasures, sufferings are honours. But if religion is thus a consuming passion in the heart, then it follows that there are many persons who profess religion but have it not; for what they have will not bear this test. Examine yourself, my reader, on this point. Aaron's rod proved its heaven-given power. Is your religion doing so? If Christ be anything he must be everything. O rest not till love and faith in Jesus be the master passions of your soul!

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Today's reading: Job 8-10, Acts 8:26-40 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
Bildad
    Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:
   2 “How long will you say such things? 
   Your words are a blustering wind. 
3 Does God pervert justice? 
   Does the Almighty pervert what is right? 
4 When your children sinned against him, 
   he gave them over to the penalty of their sin. 
5 But if you will seek God earnestly 
   and plead with the Almighty, 
6 if you are pure and upright, 
   even now he will rouse himself on your behalf 
   and restore you to your prosperous state. 
7 Your beginnings will seem humble, 
   so prosperous will your future be.
   8 “Ask the former generation 
   and find out what their ancestors learned, 
9 for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, 
   and our days on earth are but a shadow. 
10 Will they not instruct you and tell you? 
   Will they not bring forth words from their understanding? 
11 Can papyrus grow tall where there is no marsh? 
   Can reeds thrive without water? 
12 While still growing and uncut, 
   they wither more quickly than grass. 
13 Such is the destiny of all who forget God; 
   so perishes the hope of the godless. 
14 What they trust in is fragile; 
   what they rely on is a spider’s web. 
15 They lean on the web, but it gives way; 
   they cling to it, but it does not hold. 
16 They are like a well-watered plant in the sunshine, 
   spreading its shoots over the garden; 
17 it entwines its roots around a pile of rocks 
   and looks for a place among the stones. 
18 But when it is torn from its spot, 
   that place disowns it and says, ‘I never saw you.’ 
19 Surely its life withers away, 
   and from the soil other plants grow.
   20 “Surely God does not reject one who is blameless 
   or strengthen the hands of evildoers. 
21 He will yet fill your mouth with laughter 
   and your lips with shouts of joy. 
22 Your enemies will be clothed in shame, 
   and the tents of the wicked will be no more.”

Job 9

Job
    1 Then Job replied:
   2 “Indeed, I know that this is true. 
   But how can mere mortals prove their innocence before God?
3 Though they wished to dispute with him, 
   they could not answer him one time out of a thousand. 
4 His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. 
   Who has resisted him and come out unscathed? 
5 He moves mountains without their knowing it 
   and overturns them in his anger. 
6 He shakes the earth from its place 
   and makes its pillars tremble. 
7 He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; 
   he seals off the light of the stars. 
8 He alone stretches out the heavens 
   and treads on the waves of the sea. 
9 He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, 
   the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. 
10 He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, 
   miracles that cannot be counted. 
11 When he passes me, I cannot see him; 
   when he goes by, I cannot perceive him. 
12 If he snatches away, who can stop him? 
   Who can say to him, ‘What are you doing?’ 
13 God does not restrain his anger; 
   even the cohorts of Rahab cowered at his feet.
   14 “How then can I dispute with him? 
   How can I find words to argue with him? 
15 Though I were innocent, I could not answer him; 
   I could only plead with my Judge for mercy. 
16 Even if I summoned him and he responded, 
   I do not believe he would give me a hearing. 
17 He would crush me with a storm 
   and multiply my wounds for no reason. 
18 He would not let me catch my breath 
   but would overwhelm me with misery. 
19 If it is a matter of strength, he is mighty! 
   And if it is a matter of justice, who can challenge him? 
20 Even if I were innocent, my mouth would condemn me; 
   if I were blameless, it would pronounce me guilty.
   21 “Although I am blameless, 
   I have no concern for myself; 
   I despise my own life. 
22 It is all the same; that is why I say, 
   ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’ 
23 When a scourge brings sudden death, 
   he mocks the despair of the innocent. 
24 When a land falls into the hands of the wicked, 
   he blindfolds its judges. 
   If it is not he, then who is it?
   25 “My days are swifter than a runner; 
   they fly away without a glimpse of joy. 
26 They skim past like boats of papyrus, 
   like eagles swooping down on their prey. 
27 If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint, 
   I will change my expression, and smile,’ 
28 I still dread all my sufferings, 
   for I know you will not hold me innocent. 
29 Since I am already found guilty, 
   why should I struggle in vain? 
30 Even if I washed myself with soap 
   and my hands with cleansing powder, 
31 you would plunge me into a slime pit 
   so that even my clothes would detest me.
   32 “He is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer him, 
   that we might confront each other in court. 
33 If only there were someone to mediate between us, 
   someone to bring us together, 
34 someone to remove God’s rod from me, 
   so that his terror would frighten me no more. 
35 Then I would speak up without fear of him, 
   but as it now stands with me, I cannot.

Job 10

   1 “I loathe my very life; 
   therefore I will give free rein to my complaint 
   and speak out in the bitterness of my soul. 
2 I say to God: Do not declare me guilty, 
   but tell me what charges you have against me. 
3 Does it please you to oppress me, 
   to spurn the work of your hands, 
   while you smile on the plans of the wicked? 
4 Do you have eyes of flesh? 
   Do you see as a mortal sees? 
5 Are your days like those of a mortal 
   or your years like those of a strong man, 
6 that you must search out my faults 
   and probe after my sin— 
7 though you know that I am not guilty 
   and that no one can rescue me from your hand?
   8 “Your hands shaped me and made me. 
   Will you now turn and destroy me? 
9 Remember that you molded me like clay. 
   Will you now turn me to dust again? 
10 Did you not pour me out like milk 
   and curdle me like cheese, 
11 clothe me with skin and flesh 
   and knit me together with bones and sinews? 
12 You gave me life and showed me kindness, 
   and in your providence watched over my spirit.
   13 “But this is what you concealed in your heart, 
   and I know that this was in your mind: 
14 If I sinned, you would be watching me 
   and would not let my offense go unpunished. 
15 If I am guilty—woe to me! 
   Even if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head, 
for I am full of shame 
   and drowned in my affliction. 
16 If I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion 
   and again display your awesome power against me. 
17 You bring new witnesses against me 
   and increase your anger toward me; 
   your forces come against me wave upon wave.
    18 “Why then did you bring me out of the womb? 
   I wish I had died before any eye saw me. 
19 If only I had never come into being, 
   or had been carried straight from the womb to the grave! 
20 Are not my few days almost over? 
   Turn away from me so I can have a moment’s joy 
21 before I go to the place of no return, 
   to the land of gloom and utter darkness, 
22 to the land of deepest night, 
   of utter darkness and disorder, 
   where even the light is like darkness.”

Acts 8

Philip and the Ethiopian
    26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
   30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
   31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
   32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:
   “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, 
   and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, 
   so he did not open his mouth. 
33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. 
   Who can speak of his descendants? 
   For his life was taken from the earth.”
   34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
   36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” [37] 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

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Tychicus [Tĭch'ĭcŭs]—fortunate orfortuitousA Christian in Asia Minor, who traveled in advance of Paul as well as with him at times (Acts 20:4). Paul sent him to Ephesus where he delivered, and likely read, the circular letter, the Epistle to the Ephesians, to the Church there (Eph. 6:21). Then he went to Colosse and did the same with Colossians ( Col. 4:7). He also had a mission to fulfill in Crete (2 Tim. 4:12;Titus 3:12). Paul speaks of him in affectionate terms—“A brother beloved and faithful minister in the Lord,” and able to “comfort your hearts.”
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Promises, Promises

God promised to give Abraham all that he longed for ... and more
Genesis 22:18 "Through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."
Human beings haven't changed much in 4,000 years. The longing for children and the desire for land still surge up with surprising emotional power.
Consider the estimated six million American couples-one in seven would-be parents-who are unable to have children. For most of them, this brings deep anguish. Or think about the people who work double shifts, sacrificing their free time in order to own a home rather than rent.
Abraham would have understood. When God wanted his attention, he promised him land and more sons than he could count. To a Babylonian emigrant, 75 years old and childless, owning nothing but his tents and animals, the promises sounded wonderful. In fact, they sounded impossible. Yet, because God himself was making the promise, Abraham "believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness" (Genesis 15:6).
For the God who had created the heavens and the earth, making good on the promises ought to have been a snap. But God did not make it easy for Abraham. Not until 25 years later, when Abraham was 100, did the promise of a son come true. Then, incredibly, God told Abraham to make a human sacrifice of his young son.
Astonishingly, Abraham followed God's orders. And God gave him back his son.
Far From Fulfilled
When Abraham died, God's promises were far from fully realized. Abraham had only that one son to cling to. His only land was a burial plot. He still lived in a tent, and his only permanent structures were altars erected to worship the God who had made all those promises.
God, having promised him everything a man of that time could want, apparently wanted Abraham to think even bigger thoughts. He had slipped some words in along with the promises of offspring and land: "All peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (Genesis 12:3 ). God wanted to bless, not just Abraham, but the whole world. Thousands of years later, in the time of Jesus, the full meaning of those words would become clear (see Galatians 3:6-9,16-18).
Life Questions
What kind of promises does God make today? What longings does he fulfill?
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At Issue - Alcohol

Ashley believes she has freedom in her spiritual life to drink alcohol, as long as she doesn't get drunk. In her opinion, Christians who won't touch alcohol are legalistic. Ashley loves to flaunt her freedom and argue her point. Anna also believes God gave her the freedom to drink in moderation. But she's aware she could cause others to stumble. Because she's more concerned about peace and building up others' faith, she exercises her freedom quietly. Addy chooses not to drink at all in order to be a witness to others, but she can't help but look down on those who do. Who's got it right?
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PRISON PRAYER MIRACLE

So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. Acts 12:5
Nadia was in a prison in the Middle East for some months because she was a believer from Muslim background. She told the prison officials that she would not give them any information about the people she knew or about her husband, only about herself. This led her to being placed in an isolation cell for four days. The cell was small and extremely cold. There was no toilet or washing facilities at all.
“At one point,” Nadia reported, “I was feeling very cold and found the whole experience tough. Suddenly though, I felt warm air blowing in my face. So warm, in fact, that when I breathed in and the air hit my lungs I had to cough.”
She had no idea where the warmth was coming from and at the same time she became very joyful. This sense of joy overwhelmed her so much that she began to dance in the cell. Yet, at the same time, she also felt confused. How could she feel warm and joyful in a cold prison cell, she asked herself?
“Then I heard a voice,” said Nadia. She emphasized that it wasn’t an internal voice but audible, “as if someone in the cell was saying, ‘That is because people are praying for you. This is the Spirit of happiness that has come upon you. Receive it.’”
Later on, after her release, Nadia shared her amazing experience in the cell with her sister. Asking when it had happened, Nadia’s sister mentioned the same exact day and time when thirty-two believers had met to pray for Nadia and another believer in prison. Two of the participants had been appointed to represent Nadia and the other Christian. The remaining thirty believers gathered around them to ask God to comfort them, to fill them with joy and send His Spirit of happiness upon them.” They were deeply encouraged to hear Nadia’s experience.
Pastor Gambo Boka from northern Nigeria was falsely accused and sentenced by the Islamic court to three years of imprisonment. When he was put in prison, together with five other falsely accused Christians, he said, “God has a purpose in all of this. My soul is at rest.”
Though he lost weight and became weak, his faith became increasingly strong. He shared the Gospel with many fellow prisoners, who were almost all Muslims. “I experience comfort in this terrible place.” said Gambo. “I know that God’s promises are true.”
The Islamic court gave Pastor Gambo thirty days to appeal. While members of Pastor Gambo’s church prayed, God performed a miracle. Gambo and the other five Christians were acquitted by an Islamic court because of a lack of evidence. “This is God’s grace,” said one of the church members. “Our prayers have been heard and my faith has been strengthened. God’s promises are so special!”
Pastor Gambo and the other five Christians left the court singing, thanking God for His intervention.
RESPONSE: Today I will remember that God’s promises are true and He still performs miracles.
PRAYER: Pray earnestly today for Christians around the world in prison for their faith.
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 27

(When Bonhoeffer speaks of community, he means any gathering of Christians, including the family.)
The first service one owes to others in the community involves listening to them. Just as our love for God begins with listening to God's Word, the beginning of love for other Christians is learning to listen to them. ... We do God's work for our brothers and sisters when we learn to listen to them. So often Christians, especially preachers, think that their only service is always to have to "offer" something when they are together with other people. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking. Many people seek a sympathetic ear and do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking even when they should be listening. But Christians who can no longer listen to one another will soon no longer be listening to God either; they will always be talking even in the presence of God.

Biblical Wisdom

"Listen carefully to my words, and let my declaration be in your ears." Job 13:17

Questions to Ponder

  • What do you think of Bonhoeffer's statement that "the beginning of love for other Christians is learning to listen to them"?
  • In what way is listening to our brothers and sisters doing "God's work" for them?
  • Why do you suppose so many people find it so difficult to listen?

Psalm Fragment

But my people did not listen to my voice;
   Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,
   to follow their own counsels.
O that my people would listen to me,
   that Israel would walk in my ways! Psalm 81:11-13

Journal Reflections

  • Write about a time when you benefited from having another Christian listen to you.
  • Write about your experience as a listener. Are you a good listener? Did you feel like you were doing God's work as you listened?

Intercessions

Think about someone in your community of faith who never seems listened to. Pray that they might have the courage to speak what is on their heart and mind, and pray that you would have the compassion and interest to listen to them.

Prayer for Today

Lord Jesus, may I have the grace to listen to you and learn from you; may I have the grace to listen to and learn from others.
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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June 27, 2012
I Want Someone to Love Me
Sharon Jaynes
Today's Truth
"My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely" (Song of Solomon 2:14 NIV) (Today, read this verse as Jesus speaking to you, his bride.)
Friend to Friend
OK, let's talk some girlfriend talk. The subject – old boyfriends. In the eighth grade it was Mike Body who was as cute as he was quiet. I thought our "love" would last forever. It didn't. In the ninth grade it was Bill Pegram. He was two years older than me and his big blue eyes were the reason I joined the church youth choir. The music in my heart grew faint when he moved out of town the next year...but I stayed in the choir. In the tenth grade it was Jimmy Weeks, the football star. Our "romance" lasted from September until June when he broke my heart. I thought I would never recover until I caught a glimpse of Jim Byrd, the surfer boy, who rode a wave into my heart in the eleventh grade. That ended in a wipe out until the twelfth grade when a blind date grabbed my attention for the next three years.
Those teenage years can be quite dramatic and traumatic, but the search to know and be known doesn't end with high school graduation.  And while the scenery along that journey changes with the years, the longing remains the same. We all want to know and be known by someone. We long to find that special person who will look deep into our souls and share our lives.  And friend, I know just who you're looking for!
It doesn't matter if we're talking about the Samaritan woman at the well or the New York executive on Wall Street, human beings long to know and be known by someone on a personal and passionate level. And there is Someone who is pursuing you. His name is Jesus. He is the only One who can satisfy that inner longing to be completely known and sweetly loved. Could it be that you already have what you've always wanted? Do you know that He is pursuing you?
One of my pastors noted that 75-80% of college students who were actively involved in church in high school, fall away from the faith by their sophomore year of college. Thirty percent never return. Why? He believes one reason is overwhelming shame and guilt.
We only have to look at Adam and Eve who hid from God because of the shame and guilt of disobeying His one command. Then there was Moses who ran away from home and from God because of the shame and guilt of killing the Egyptian.  But in each case, God pursued the ones who ran. And the first question recorded in the Bible was when God asked Adam and Eve, "Where are you?"
I don't know where your heart is today. Maybe you are still looking to people, possessions or power to fill that God-shaped void in your life. Maybe you are struggling with guilt and shame and are wondering if God even wants to have a relationship with you. Oh dear friend, as a girlfriend who has done her share of hiding, I can promise you that God is asking right now, "Where are you?"
He loves you. He longs to be in relationship with you. He desires to see your face. Go to Him. No, run to Him. He's waiting with open arms.
Let me ask you the question I asked earlier. Could it be that you already have what you've always wanted? I believe the answer is "yes."
Let's Pray
Dear God, sometimes I wonder why you even bother with me. I make so many mistakes. How thankful I am that You continue to pursue me even when I mess up. How blessed I am to know that You love me just the way I am, but too much to let me stay that way. I love you so much.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Do you believe that God is pursuing you?
Do you believe that God longs to have a relationship with you, no matter what you've done in the past?
Are you hiding?
If so, I want you to know that reading this devotion today is no accident. Most of my devotions are directly related to books that I have written, but not today. This one is just for you. If you could sense God speaking to you, then I'd love to know about it. Log onto www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes and say, "This one was for me."
More from the Girlfriends
God has great dreams for you. He wants you to come out of hiding and begin the abundant life that He planned all along. If you'd like to learn more about His incredible plans for you, check out my book, The 5 Dreams of Every Women...and How God Wants to Fulfill Them. Your next great adventure is waiting just around the bend!
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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Luann Prater
June 27, 2012
Coming Back
Luann Prater
"'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.'" Luke15:18-19 (ESV)
Kay was a prodigal. She had been stunningly beautiful, but now her beauty was hollow and worn. Downcast with shoulders slumped, she walked through the doors of her childhood church.
Heads turned and steely whispers followed her as she made her way to the front of the church during an invitation. She fell to her knees at the altar. A group gathered around her and prayed for what seemed like an eternity. She slowly rose to her feet and was asked, "Did you pray through?" to which the weary wanderer replied, "I think so."
I don't remember ever seeing Kay back in church again.
In my small town church the phrase "pray through" was synonymous with striving, straining, and working to find grace and deliverance. When I became a prodigal myself and wanted desperately to find answers and deliverance, I remembered the forlorn look of Kay and decided to keep wandering. It just seemed easier than trying to "pray through" somehow.
Have you been wandering through life looking for answers? Do you long to return to the Father after being far away but hesitate, wondering how you will make it back to Him and what it will cost you?
When coming "back home" we often have the same mentality as the prodigal son in our key verses, Luke 15:18-19"'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.'"
Feeling worn down and unworthy, we come to our Heavenly Father thinking we have to work like hired servants to earn our place.
After many years, I discovered that forgiveness and salvation aren't chores for us to labor over. They are tremendous free gifts from an amazing God! How incredibly liberating to know that Jesus offers these to any and all who believe on His name.
Jesus says, "Come to me." Period. It really isn't any more complicated than that. He loves you. He has been waiting for you and He welcomes you with open arms. We don't have to work for forgiveness or "pray through" like those well-meaning people in my childhood church felt the need to do.
God's heart for us is the same as the prodigal son's father in Luke 15:20"So he [the prodigal son] got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him" (NIV).
When you come to Jesus, or when you allow Him to walk through the doors of your heart, no pleading or striving is necessary, only faith that His salvation and grace are your gifts. No need to "pray through." He is watching, willing and waiting to receive you.
Dear Lord, thank You for giving us the gift of salvation through Your Son Jesus Christ. Today I come to You and believe that You are my Savior. I ask You to come into my heart and forgive me. Help me to live in the freedom that You promised to give. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?
In her book, A Confident Heart, Renee Swope dives deep into the truths of God's grace and helps women know the difference between conviction and condemnation. If you long to live free from guilt-induced doubt and take hold of grace-induced confidence, find out more here.
Visit Luann's blog and listen to her Encouragement Caféradio show for loads of fun and spiritual application for real life!
Reflect and Respond:
Have you wandered away from home - even in some small area of your life - and need to return to the Father?
If you don't know Christ as your personal Lord and Savior,ask Him into your heart today.
If you are a believer and have seen weary wanderers walk through the doors of your church, show them unconditional love. Be grace-filled to them.
Power Verses:
John 6:37, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away." (NIV 1984)
Hebrews 10:22, "...let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." (NIV 1984)
© 2012 by Luann Prater. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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A Warning About Leaven

Matthew 16:5-12 "Jesus said to them, 'Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees'" ( v. 6).
At this point in His life, Christ begins to encounter greater and greater opposition from the religious leaders in Jerusalem. The Pharisees and Sadducees who ask Him for a sign in Matthew 16:1-4 are likely a delegation from Jerusalem sent to spy on Jesus. These two groups are usually at odds, but they can easily set aside their theological differences when they meet a common foe, just as they earlier did with John the Baptist (3:7).
Matthew 15:39 locates Jesus' meeting with these religious leaders in Magadan, west of the Sea of Galilee. The conversation with His disciples in 16:5-12 occurs on the eastern shore, or "other side" of the water. His clash with the Jerusalem officials and feeding of the four thousand ( 15:32-16:4) sets the stage for His warning: "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (16:6). The disciples are perplexed, thinking that Jesus has told them not to eat bread made by these authorities. His remark makes no sense to them as they have no bread with them and do not know how they will find food to eat (v. 7).
Our Savior rebukes His followers for lacking understanding and faith. After all, how could they not trust Him to feed them after seeing Him feed thousands with meager supplies (vv. 8-10)? Even so, Christ's warning is not about food; He is speaking of the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees (vv. 11-12).
Jesus does use leaven as a metaphor for the growth of God's kingdom ( 13:33), but in Matthew 16 He adapts Scripture's more common negative use of leaven (Ex. 13:31 Cor. 5:6-8 ). He is warning His followers not to embrace the Pharisees and Sadducees' view that the Messiah must live up to their false expectations and do miracles on demand. Otherwise, like leaven, this error will penetrate their souls and turn them against the Christ. We do well to heed the words of the church father Jerome: "Leaven has this power, that, if mixed with flour, that which seemed small would grow into something larger and draw to its own essence the whole loaf. So too with heretical doctrine, if it tosses even a tiny spark into your heart, in a short time a huge flame grows beneath and draws to itself a person's entire substance" (Commentary on Matthew 2.16.6).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

It is not always easy to recognize false teaching because those who teach error often mix it in with some legitimate truth. That is why we must be well grounded in the doctrines of Scripture, for if our grasp of the truth is becoming ever more comprehensive, we will be able to distinguish it from error. How grounded are you in the teachings of the Bible and the historic Christian faith? Make it your aim to learn anew one aspect of the faith this week.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living. 

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A Warning About Leaven

It is not always easy to recognize false teaching because those who teach error often mix it in with some legitimate truth. That is why we must be well grounded in the doctrines of Scripture, for if our grasp of the truth is becoming ever more comprehensive, we will be able to distinguish it from error. How grounded are you in the teachings of the Bible and the historic Christian faith? Make it your aim to learn anew one aspect of the faith this week.
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
Coram Deo from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living. 

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Prayer—the forerunner of mercy

“Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock.” Ezekiel 36:37
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Samuel 22:9-23:5
First, I enquire what the promise is. I turn to my Bible, and I seek to find the promise whereby the thing which I desire to seek is certified to me as being a thing which God is willing to give. Having enquired so far as that, I take that promise, and on my bended knees I enquire of God whether he will fulfil his own promise. I take to him his own word of covenant, and I say to him, “O Lord, wilt thou not fulfil it, and wilt thou not fulfil it now?” So that there, again, prayer is enquiry. After prayer I look out for the answer; I expect to be heard; and if I am not answered I pray again, and my repeated prayers are but fresh enquiries. I expect the blessing to arrive; I go and enquire whether there is any tidings of its coming. I ask; and thus I say, “Wilt thou answer me, O Lord? Wilt thou keep thy promise. Or wilt thou shut up thine ear, because I misunderstand my own wants and mistake thy promise?” Brethren, we must use enquiry in prayer, and regard prayer as being, first, an enquiry for the promise, and then on the strength of that promise an enquiry for the fulfilment. We expect something to come as a present from a friend: we first have the note, whereby we are informed it is upon the road. We enquire as to what the present is by the reading of the note; and then, if it arrive not, we call at the accustomed place where the parcel ought to have been left, and we ask or enquire for such and such a thing. We have enquired about the promise, and then we go and enquire again, until we get an answer that the promised gift has arrived and is ours. So with prayer.
For meditation: Asking comes in two shapes—questions and requests. God is able to give us all the answers we need (Luke 11:9,10).
Sermon no. 138
28 June (1857)

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The rainbow

‘And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.’ Genesis 9:16
Suggested Further Reading: 2 Timothy 2:8–13
Whenever we think of Christ let us be little children , and look, and look, and look again; and let us long to get at him, for unlike the rainbow, we can get at him. Pliny, who by the way talks a deal of nonsense, declares that wherever the rainbow’s foot rests the flowers are made much sweeter; and Aristotle says, the rainbow is a great breeder of honey-dew. I do not know how that is, but I know that wherever Jesus Christ is he makes the perfume of his people very sweet. His ‘name is as ointment poured forth,’ and I know he is ‘a great breeder of honey-dew.’ There is sure to be much more loving-kindness in that man’s heart who has seen much of Jesus. I recommend to you to follow that divine rainbow till you reach the foot of it, and till you embrace it, and say with Simeon, ‘Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace … for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.’ Play the child then. While we gaze, ought we not topraise and admire? One or two of the nations of antiquity had it as a part of their religion always to sing hymns when they saw the rainbow. Should not we whenever we see Christ? Should it not be a red-letter day marked in our diary? ‘This day let us praise his name.’ And as we ought always to see him, I may improve upon this, and bid you say—‘I will praise thee every day.’ And again, when we see Christ, we ought to confess our sin with humiliation . An old writer says that the Jews confess their sins when they see the rainbow. I am sure, whenever we see Christ, we ought to remember the deluge of wrath from which he has delivered us, the flames of hell from which he has saved us; and so, humbly bowing ourselves in the dust, let us love, and praise, and bless his name.
For meditation: Consider God’s promises to remember when he looked upon the bow (Genesis 9:16) and to pass over when he saw the blood (Exodus 12:13 ). The Christian can rejoice in God’s faithfulness.
Sermon no. 517
28 June (1863)



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