Thursday, June 07, 2012

Daily Devotional Thursday 7th June

“so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Ye that love the Lord hate evil."
Psalm 97:10
Thou hast good reason to "hate evil," for only consider what harm it has already wrought thee. Oh, what a world of mischief sin has brought into thy heart! Sin blinded thee so that thou couldst not see the beauty of the Saviour; it made thee deaf so that thou couldst not hear the Redeemer's tender invitations. Sin turned thy feet into the way of death, and poured poison into the very fountain of thy being; it tainted thy heart, and made it "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." Oh, what a creature thou wast when evil had done its utmost with thee, before divine grace interposed! Thou wast an heir of wrath even as others; thou didst "run with the multitude to do evil." Such were all of us; but Paul reminds us, "but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." We have good reason, indeed, for hating evil when we look back and trace its deadly workings. Such mischief did evil do us, that our souls would have been lost had not omnipotent love interfered to redeem us. Even now it is an active enemy, ever watching to do us hurt, and to drag us to perdition. Therefore "hate evil," O Christians, unless you desire trouble. If you would strew your path with thorns, and plant nettles in your death-pillow, then neglect to "hate evil:" but if you would live a happy life, and die a peaceful death, then walk in all the ways of holiness, hating evil, even unto the end. If you truly love your Saviour, and would honour him, then "hate evil." We know of no cure for the love of evil in a Christian like abundant intercourse with the Lord Jesus. Dwell much with him, and it is impossible for you to be at peace with sin.
"Order my footsteps by thy Word,
And make my heart sincere;
Let sin have no dominion, Lord,
But keep my conscience clear."

Evening

"Be zealous."
Revelation 3:19
If you would see souls converted, if you would hear the cry that "the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord;" if you would place crowns upon the head of the Saviour, and his throne lifted high, then be filled with zeal. For, under God, the way of the world's conversion must be by the zeal of the church. Every grace shall do exploits, but this shall be first; prudence, knowledge, patience, and courage will follow in their places, but zeal must lead the van. It is not the extent of your knowledge, though that is useful; it is not the extent of your talent, though that is not to be despised; it is your zeal that shall do great exploits. This zeal is the fruit of the Holy Spirit: it draws its vital force from the continued operations of the Holy Ghost in the soul. If our inner life dwindles, if our heart beats slowly before God, we shall not know zeal; but if all be strong and vigorous within, then we cannot but feel a loving anxiety to see the kingdom of Christ come, and his will done on earth, even as it is in heaven. A deep sense of gratitude will nourish Christian zeal. Looking to the hole of the pit whence we were digged, we find abundant reason why we should spend and be spent for God. And zeal is also stimulated by the thought of the eternal future. It looks with tearful eyes down to the flames of hell, and it cannot slumber: it looks up with anxious gaze to the glories of heaven, and it cannot but bestir itself. It feels that time is short compared with the work to be done, and therefore it devotes all that it has to the cause of its Lord. And it is ever strengthened by the remembrance of Christ's example. He was clothed with zeal as with a cloak. How swift the chariot-wheels of duty went with him! He knew no loitering by the way. Let us prove that we are his disciples by manifesting the same spirit of zeal.

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Today's reading: 2 Chronicles 25-27, John 16 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
Amaziah King of Judah
    1 Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Jehoaddan; she was from Jerusalem. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, but not wholeheartedly. 3After the kingdom was firmly in his control, he executed the officials who had murdered his father the king. 4 Yet he did not put their children to death, but acted in accordance with what is written in the Law, in the Book of Moses, where the LORD commanded: “Parents shall not be put to death for their children, nor children be put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin.”
   5 Amaziah called the people of Judah together and assigned them according to their families to commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds for all Judah and Benjamin. He then mustered those twenty years old or more and found that there were three hundred thousand men fit for military service, able to handle the spear and shield. 6 He also hired a hundred thousand fighting men from Israel for a hundred talents of silver.
   7 But a man of God came to him and said, “Your Majesty, these troops from Israel must not march with you, for the LORD is not with Israel—not with any of the people of Ephraim. 8Even if you go and fight courageously in battle, God will overthrow you before the enemy, for God has the power to help or to overthrow.”
   9 Amaziah asked the man of God, “But what about the hundred talents I paid for these Israelite troops?”
   The man of God replied, “The LORD can give you much more than that.”
   10 So Amaziah dismissed the troops who had come to him from Ephraim and sent them home. They were furious with Judah and left for home in a great rage.
   11 Amaziah then marshaled his strength and led his army to the Valley of Salt, where he killed ten thousand men of Seir. 12The army of Judah also captured ten thousand men alive, took them to the top of a cliff and threw them down so that all were dashed to pieces.
   13 Meanwhile the troops that Amaziah had sent back and had not allowed to take part in the war raided towns belonging to Judah from Samaria to Beth Horon. They killed three thousand people and carried off great quantities of plunder.
   14 When Amaziah returned from slaughtering the Edomites, he brought back the gods of the people of Seir. He set them up as his own gods, bowed down to them and burned sacrifices to them. 15 The anger of the LORD burned against Amaziah, and he sent a prophet to him, who said, “Why do you consult this people’s gods, which could not save their own people from your hand?”
   16 While he was still speaking, the king said to him, “Have we appointed you an adviser to the king? Stop! Why be struck down?”
   So the prophet stopped but said, “I know that God has determined to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel.”
   17 After Amaziah king of Judah consulted his advisers, he sent this challenge to Jehoash son of Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, king of Israel: “Come, let us face each other in battle.”
   18 But Jehoash king of Israel replied to Amaziah king of Judah: “A thistle in Lebanon sent a message to a cedar in Lebanon, ‘Give your daughter to my son in marriage.’ Then a wild beast in Lebanon came along and trampled the thistle underfoot. 19 You say to yourself that you have defeated Edom, and now you are arrogant and proud. But stay at home! Why ask for trouble and cause your own downfall and that of Judah also?”
   20 Amaziah, however, would not listen, for God so worked that he might deliver them into the hands of Jehoash, because they sought the gods of Edom. 21 So Jehoash king of Israel attacked. He and Amaziah king of Judah faced each other at Beth Shemesh in Judah. 22 Judah was routed by Israel, and every man fled to his home. 23 Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Joash, the son of Ahaziah,at Beth Shemesh. Then Jehoash brought him to Jerusalem and broke down the wall of Jerusalem from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate—a section about four hundred cubits long. 24 He took all the gold and silver and all the articles found in the temple of God that had been in the care of Obed-Edom, together with the palace treasures and the hostages, and returned to Samaria.
   25 Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah lived for fifteen years after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel. 26As for the other events of Amaziah’s reign, from beginning to end, are they not written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel? 27 From the time that Amaziah turned away from following the LORD, they conspired against him in Jerusalem and he fled to Lachish, but they sent men after him to Lachish and killed him there. 28 He was brought back by horse and was buried with his ancestors in the City of Judah.

2 Chronicles 26

Uzziah King of Judah
    1 Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in place of his father Amaziah. 2He was the one who rebuilt Elath and restored it to Judah after Amaziah rested with his ancestors.
   3 Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother’s name was Jekoliah; she was from Jerusalem. 4 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Amaziah had done. 5He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success.
   6 He went to war against the Philistines and broke down the walls of Gath, Jabneh and Ashdod. He then rebuilt towns near Ashdod and elsewhere among the Philistines. 7 God helped him against the Philistines and against the Arabs who lived in Gur Baal and against the Meunites. 8 The Ammonites brought tribute to Uzziah, and his fame spread as far as the border of Egypt, because he had become very powerful.
   9 Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate, at the Valley Gate and at the angle of the wall, and he fortified them.10 He also built towers in the wilderness and dug many cisterns, because he had much livestock in the foothills and in the plain. He had people working his fields and vineyards in the hills and in the fertile lands, for he loved the soil.
   11 Uzziah had a well-trained army, ready to go out by divisions according to their numbers as mustered by Jeiel the secretary and Maaseiah the officer under the direction of Hananiah, one of the royal officials. 12 The total number of family leaders over the fighting men was 2,600. 13 Under their command was an army of 307,500 men trained for war, a powerful force to support the king against his enemies. 14Uzziah provided shields, spears, helmets, coats of armor, bows and slingstones for the entire army. 15 In Jerusalem he made devices invented for use on the towers and on the corner defenses so that soldiers could shoot arrows and hurl large stones from the walls. His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful.
   16 But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God, and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.17 Azariah the priest with eighty other courageous priests of the LORD followed him in. 18 They confronted King Uzziah and said, “It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the LORD God.”
   19 Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the LORD’s temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. 20 When Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead, so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the LORD had afflicted him.
   21 King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house—leprous, and banned from the temple of the LORD. Jotham his son had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land.
   22 The other events of Uzziah’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded by the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 23 Uzziah rested with his ancestors and was buried near them in a cemetery that belonged to the kings, for people said, “He had leprosy.” And Jotham his son succeeded him as king.

2 Chronicles 27

Jotham King of Judah
    1 Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. His mother’s name was Jerusha daughter of Zadok. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Uzziah had done, but unlike him he did not enter the temple of the LORD. The people, however, continued their corrupt practices. 3 Jotham rebuilt the Upper Gate of the temple of the LORD and did extensive work on the wall at the hill of Ophel. 4 He built towns in the hill country of Judah and forts and towers in the wooded areas.
   5 Jotham waged war against the king of the Ammonites and conquered them. That year the Ammonites paid him a hundred talents of silver, ten thousand cors of wheat and ten thousand cors of barley. The Ammonites brought him the same amount also in the second and third years.
   Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the LORD his God.
   7 The other events in Jotham’s reign, including all his wars and the other things he did, are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. 8 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. 9Jotham rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. And Ahaz his son succeeded him as king.

John 16

   1 “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, 5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
   12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
The Disciples’ Grief Will Turn to Joy
    16 Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”
   17 At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”
   19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
   25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”
   29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”
   31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.
   33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

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Presumptuous sins

“Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins.” Psalm 19:13
Suggested Further Reading: 2 Samuel 11
This prayer was the prayer of a saint, the prayer of a holy man of God. Did David need to pray thus? Did the “man after God’s own heart” need to cry, “Keep back thy servant”? Yes, he did. And note the beauty of the prayer. If I might translate it into more metaphorical style, it is like this: “Curb thy servant from presumptuous sins.” “Keep him back, or he will wander to the edge of the precipice of sin. Hold him in, Lord; he is apt to run away; curb him; put the bridle on him; do not let him do it; let thine overpowering grace keep him holy; when he would do evil, then do thou draw him to good, and when his evil propensities would lead him astray, then do thou check him.” “Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins.” What, then? Is it true that the best of men may sin presumptuously? Ah! It is true. It is a solemn thing to find the apostle Paul warning saints against the most loathsome of sins. He says, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, idolatry, inordinate affection,” and such like. What! Do saints want warning against such sins as these? Yes, they do. The highest saints may sin the lowest sins, unless kept by divine grace. You old experienced Christians, boast not in your experience; you may yet trip up unless you cry, “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.” You whose love is fervent, whose faith is constant, whose hopes are bright, say not, “I shall never sin,” but rather cry out, “Lord, lead me not into temptation, and when there leave me not there; for unless thou hold me fast I feel I must, I shall decline, and prove an apostate after all.”
For meditation: Five ways to lay hold of the power of God against temptation:
Pray (Luke 22:40)
Obey (Psalm 17:5)
Exhort (Hebrews 3:13)
Read (Psalm 119:11)
Sermon no. 135
7 June (1857)

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The young man’s prayer

‘O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.’ Psalm 90:14
Suggested Further Reading: Ecclesiastes 11:6–12:7
They who love Jesus Christ early, have the best hope of enjoying the happiest days as Christians. They will have the most service , and the service of God is pure delight. Their youthful vigour will enable them to do more than those who enlist when they are old and decrepit. The joy of the Lord is our strength; and on the other hand, to use our strength for God is a fountain of joy. Young man, if you give fifty years of service unto God, surely you shall rejoice all your days. The earlier we are converted, having the longer time to study in Christ’s college, the more profound shall be our knowledge of him . We shall have more time for communion, more years for fellowship. We shall have more seasons to prove the power of prayer, and more opportunities to test the fidelity of God than we should if we came late. Those who come late are blessed by being helped to learn so much, but those that come in early shall surely outstrip them. Let me be young, like John, that I may have years of loving service, and like him may have much of intimate acquaintance with my Lord. Surely those who are converted early may reckon upon more joy, because they never will have to contend with and to mourn over what later converts must know . Your bones are not broken, you can run without weariness, you have not fallen as some have done, you can walk without fainting. Often the grey-headed man who is converted at sixty or seventy, finds the remembrance of his youthful sins clinging to him; when he would praise, an old lascivious song revives upon his memory; when he would mount up to heaven, he suddenly remembers some scene in a haunt of vice which he would be glad to forget. But you, saved by divine grace before you thus fall into the jaw of the lion, or under the paw of the bear, will certainly have cause for rejoicing all your life.
For meditation : Consider some young believers who bore much fruit for God—Joseph (Genesis 41:12), Joshua (Exodus 33:11), Samuel (1 Samuel 2:18), David (1 Samuel 17:33), Solomon ( 1 Chronicles 22:5), Josiah (2 Chronicles 34:3), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:6), Timothy (1 Timothy 4:12). Tomorrow’s church leaders will come from today’s young believers.
Sermon no. 513
7 June (1863)

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June 6, 2012
I Just Called to Say, "I Love You"
Sharon Jaynes
Today's Truth
"Call to me," says the Lord, "and I will answer you and tell you great and mighty things which you do not know," (Jeremiah 33:3 NASB).
Friend to Friend
It was an unusual phone call from my son, Steven. It was the second week of his second semester, his third year in college.
"Hey mom, this is Steven. I just wanted to call and say 'hello'. I haven't talked to you in a while and wanted to see how you were doing."
  
"Hey bud," I replied. "How are you? How are your classes? Do you like your professors?"
We volleyed questions and answers back and forth. It was a nice intro, and I kept waiting for the request such as, "Could you put an extra $50 in my account for another Philosophy book I had to buy," or a question such as "Does my car insurance go up if I get a parking ticket." But those type questions never came.
"Mom, how are you doing?"
"What have you been up to this week?"
"How's the new book coming?"
After about fifteen minutes into our conversation, I reluctantly asked, "Is everything OK?"
"Yeah," he chuckled. "I just called to talk. Are you surprised?"
"Sort of," I sheepishly admitted. "But it is a wonderful surprise!"
A few minutes later we said our "goodbyes" and "I love yous." Then I sat there and savored the joy of knowing that my son had called...not because he needed anything or had a problem to solve, but just because he loved me. Suddenly I got another call. Only this one was from my Heavenly Father. No, the phone didn't ring, but like a cell phone set on silent mode, God vibrated my heart with that still small voice that I have grown to love so well. Let me paraphrase what He said...
"Sharon, I want you to remember how you feel at this moment. Your son, whom you love more than life itself, has just called to talk to you...not because He wanted anything, not because he had a question about a decision or a detail of life, not because he had a problem to solve. He called just to talk, simply to see what was on your heart - because he loves you. That, my child, whom I love more than life, is the same way I feel when you talk to Me – not because you want something, not because you have a question about a decision you have to make, not because you have a problem to solve. That is how I feel when you talk to Me simply because you want to learn what is on My heart...simply because you love Me."
Steven's call was a poignant reminder that the God of the universe delights when His children call...just to say, "I love You."
 "Call to me," says the Lord, "and I will answer you and tell you great and mighty things which you do not know," (Jeremiah 33:3 NASB).
Let's Pray
Dear Father, I love You. That's really all I want to say today. I love you, not because of what You do, but because of Who You are...my Heavenly Dad.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Have you told God you love Him lately?  If not, one of the best ways to praise Him is to use the names of God found in the Bible. Let's look at a few. I'll give you the Hebrew name found in the Old Testament and the English translation.
"God we praise you that you are:
  • Jehovah – The Self Existent One who had no creator and was before all things (Exodus 3:13-16)
  • Jehovah-Raah – The Lord my Shepherd who takes care of me (Psalm 23)
  • Jehovah-Jireh – The Lord my Provider who provides for my every need (Genesis 22:814)
  • Jehovah-Shalom – The Lord my Peace who gives peace beyond human understanding (Judges 6:24)
  • Jehovah-Rophe - The Lord Who Heals  physically, emotionally, and spiritually (Exodus 15:26)
  • Jehovah-Tsidkenu – The Lord our Righteousness who cleanses us from all our sin (Jeremiah 23:6)
  • Jehovah-Shammah – The Lord is There and Who will never leave us alone (Ezekiel 48:35)
  • Jehovah-Nissi – The Lord my Banner Who brings victory in all my spiritual battles (Exodus 17:15)
  • Jehovah-M'Kaddesh – The Lord who Sanctifies and sets us apart (Leviticus 20:8)
If you would like a "printer friendly" list of 25 names of God in the Old Testament, log onto my website atwww.sharonjaynes.com and click on the Living Life Resourses under the Free Resources page.
When looking at these names of God, which one means the most to you today? Let's share atwww.facebook.com/sharonjaynes.
More from the GirlfriendsToday's devotion was taken from Sharon's book, 5 Dreams of Every Woman and How God Wants to Fulfill Them.Make no mistake about it, even if your life has not turned out the way you thought it would, your Heavenly Father has great plans for your life. When you release the broken pieces to Him, He creates a beautiful mosaic more fabulous that anything you could have ever imagined. Let's learn to dream again!
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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Samantha Reed
June 6, 2012
God is Working on Your Behalf
Samantha Reed
"Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him." Isaiah 64:4(NIV)
An ultimatum from my boss left me no choice but to head into unemployment. I'll never forget the day she asked me to lead an initiative that went against God's Word.
Staying at my job would deny my faith. Leaving would challenge it. Fears clamored. If I quit, I'd be broke. I had no husband, no savings, no additional source of provision.
Day after day I pleaded with God to intervene, to change my boss's mind. But it didn't happen.
She made her decision, which solidified mine: I turned in my two weeks notice.
That was my first step into my journey of joblessness. My mind raced with fears: would I be able to pay rent, find a new job, hold onto hope? Day by day, my financial, spiritual and emotional accounts were depleted. I couldn't see beyond my raw emotions and dreary situation.
God nudged me to send my resume to a ministry. A place I knew rarely hired. Somewhere I didn't know if my gifts could even be used. I doubted they'd accept my application, and pushed aside the thought to apply.
If only I had lifted my eyes away from the despair, I might have realized God was working on my behalf, much like He did for Naomi in the book of Ruth.
You see, at the same time soil churned, seeds nestled underground, and crops waved in the wind, Naomi needed God to intervene. She lamented to her widowed daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth:
"Even if I thought there was still hope for me-even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons- would you wait until they grew up?" (Ruth 1:12b-13a NIV)
Perceived destitution left her feeling desperate. Can you feel it in this widow's words?
Then Naomi told them, "'Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me?'" (vs. 11a)
It would take time for Naomi to look beyond her dire circumstances and see the divine intervention waiting on her. God had plans of redemption that involved Ruth, the very person Naomi tried to push away. Yet she was so engulfed by her emotions and circumstances, she couldn't fathom how God might provide.
"Call me not Naomi [pleasant]; call me Mara [bitter], for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me." (vs. 20b AMP)
Perhaps your current situation is bitter and dismal. Maybe your journey has been long. You can't see how God is working things out. You don't have the energy to apply for one more job, so you turn down the lead a friend sends you. Your marriage is on the verge of collapse anyhow, so you opt to cancel your counseling appointment. Life in general is bleak, so you withdraw rather than join your sister for dinner.
If you are weary; if the road is too difficult; if you feel destitute financially, emotionally, spiritually; don't miss this-
"So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning." (vs. 22 NIV, emphasis added)
Naomi's journey was hard and long. Yet her first step began at the same time soil churned, seeds nestled underground, crops waved in the wind. And when she arrived at her place of redemption, the harvest was beginning; a harvest that was gleaned by Ruth, the very one she had pushed away.
It was in that field that Ruth caught Boaz's attention. Boaz, who was Naomi's kinsmen redeemer, unceremoniously provided above and beyond for both women for the rest of their lives.
Well before I turned in my two weeks notice, the Lord was tilling the heart of my would-be new employer to hire an assistant. He faithfully watered that seed as I was searching for a job. And a new position was created shortly after I applied.
Looking back now, I wish I had chosen to believe and looked expectantly for His faithfulness instead of torturing myself with worry and fear.
Though unseen, God is divinely intervening. If you are walking in what feels like a desperate and destitute place, might I encourage you? Look to the Lord instead of your circumstances today. He's working on your behalf.
Dear Lord, You are faithful. Please direct my thoughts and my steps. Take what doesn't belong-fear, doubt, unbelief-and replace them with hope, trust and joy as I focus on You instead of my circumstances. Thank You for working on my behalf. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?
A Confident Heart by Renee Swope
Click here for the whole story of God's faithfulness on Samantha's behalf.
Reflect and Respond:
What might the Lord be doing on your behalf, even now? Who or what could He be using, that you may be trying to push away?
"When God seems furthest, He may be laying the foundation of showing His greatest faithfulness." David Platt
Power Verse:
Psalm 66:5, "Come and see what God has done, how awesome His works in man's behalf!" (NIV 1984)
© 2012 by Samantha Reed. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616G MatthewsMint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org


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The Last Days

Presently, there is much fervor over the "last days," and many people declare that we are living in the last days for the first time in world history. However, while the return of Christ is most certainly closer to us today than it was yesterday, it still may yet be thousands of years off. We have been living in the last days since Jesus rose from the dead, and we should be conducting our lives in the fear of God accordingly ( 2 Peter 3:11-13).
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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The Last Days

Matthew 13:24-30 "At harvest time I will tell the reapers, 'Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn'" ( v. 30).
One reason non-believing Jews do not recognize Jesus as Messiah is that in His coming He did not set Israel over the earth and remove the presence of evil, as was widely expected. Since suffering and death remain, they argue, Jesus is not the Christ. Such horrors would not occur under the Messiah's reign.
Jesus' earliest followers shared these assumptions and were troubled by the seemingly unchanged situation with His advent. Returning to Matthew 13 , we read of the history of Christ's kingdom in the parable of the wheat and the tares (vv. 24-30). In a few days we will study this parable in more detail, but for now note the growth period between seedtime and harvest. God's kingdom, Jesus teaches, does not come all at once. It is inaugurated in His first advent, continues to grow after His exaltation, and is consummated when He returns to judge creation. Along with the work of Jesus comes an increase in the Devil's activity, which is why the kingdom's arrival brings strife for the Lord's servants.
It must be said that a selective reading of Scripture prompts many Jews to reject Jesus. Read in isolation, certain passages in the prophets teach that the Messiah brings the kingdom fully and immediately. For example, the "day of the Lord" texts apparently teach that God's salvation and judgment occur on a single day (Ezek. 30:1-3Zech. 14:1-9).
However, the inauguration, continuation, and consummation pattern of Christ's kingdom is not without precedent in Scripture if we read the "day of the Lord" passages alongside other biblical texts. Abraham owned only a portion of Palestine before his death (Gen. 23); his children waited centuries to possess the land. David was anointed as king (1 Sam. 16) years before the nation of Israel came under his control ( 1 Sam. 17-2 Sam. 7). Even the old covenant saints lived with the reality of kingdom inauguration, continuation, and consummation.
Our Savior's apostles would later see that the day of the Lord, otherwise called the "last days," refers to this time of kingdom expansion (Acts 2:14-41). Though consummated at the final judgment, the day of the Lord is longer than twenty-four hours. It covers the entire period between Christ's two advents.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Presently, there is much fervor over the "last days," and many people declare that we are living in the last days for the first time in world history. However, while the return of Christ is most certainly closer to us today than it was yesterday, it still may yet be thousands of years off. We have been living in the last days since Jesus rose from the dead, and we should be conducting our lives in the fear of God accordingly (2 Peter 3:11-13).
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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Read the shocking true story of a pastor imprisoned and tortured for his Christian faith. Request your complimentary copy of this international bestseller, Tortured for Christ.

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A Modern Shepherd

What a "good shepherd" would look like today
John 10:10 "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
Some of the Bible's rural illustrations simply do not transfer easily into modern life. What is a "good shepherd" like? What did Jesus mean by the term?
A small drama that took place on the slopes of Washington's Mount Rainier may shed light on the meaning of the "good shepherd." One Memorial Day weekend a Christian dentist named James Reddick was teaching his 12-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son the joy of mountain hiking. A sudden storm came up, battering them with hurricane-force winds and thick, wet sheets of snow. A blinding "whiteout" made it impossible to see or move on the steep slopes.
Willing to Die
Reddick laboriously dug an oblong trench with an aluminum mess kit, then tucked his children into sleeping bags away from the entrance. He covered the opening with a tarp, but it kept blowing away, exposing the trench to the swirling snow outside. Reddick found he had to lie directly across the opening, using his own weight to hold down the edges of the tarp. His body protected his son and daughter from the howling wind.
Two days passed before searchers finally noticed the corner of a backpack protruding from deep snow. They rushed to the site, hoping the snow-covered mound would contain the three missing hikers. Inside, they found Sharon and David Reddick, very much alive. But the stiff body of their father lay against one wall of the snow cave. He had "taken the cold spot," in one searcher's words, by using his own back as the outer wall.
An image something like that must have filled the minds of Jesus' listeners as he described a good shepherd who "lays down his life" for his sheep (John 10:11 ). Nothing-not ravaging cold, thieves or wolves-would come between the good shepherd and his sheep. He would die for their protection.
Popularity, for a While
As Jesus headed toward his final days in Jerusalem, the theme of death, his death, kept surfacing in his parables and direct statements. Ironically, his followers were growing in numbers. His popularity had reached a peak with the feeding of 5,000 people on a handful of morsels, a miracle mentioned by all four Gospel writers.
The groundswell of support to make Jesus king deeply impressed his followers; Jesus, however, escaped into the hills (see John 6:15). He would not be a king on the crowd's terms. He continued on his lonely mission, stirring up controversy and hatred by healing people on the Sabbath and by proclaiming himself equal with God.
Ignoring an Impressive Miracle
Many Jews came over to Jesus after one of his most impressive signs: bringing Lazarus back to life. But, simultaneously, religious leaders concluded callously that it was best for one man (Jesus) to die rather than to upset the whole nation (see John 11:50). Four separate times they tried to seize him.
Jesus came to offer "life"-one of those one-syllable words, swollen with meaning, that John threaded through his narrative. Lazarus received that life in an astonishingly literal way, providing yet another sign of Jesus' ultimate power. Jesus, though, made preparations to give up his own life, making the ultimate sacrifice of the good shepherd.
Life Questions
What have you sacrificed for the sake of another person?
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At Issue - Burnout

Feeling burnt out, disillusioned, exhausted or lonely? At some point on the road of life we all hit "empty." When it happens to you, it's time to pray Paul's prayer here-and expect God to answer it. Ask God to strengthen your inner self-because only Christ can fill the emptiness in your heart. Ask God to help you grasp a measure of his immeasurable love for you-to experience it yourself so that you may be filled with the fullness of God. His unfathomable love is always the renewing antidote for burnout. It may take time, but God will answer.
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MEMORIZING GOD’S WORD

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
When China’s best-known pastor, Wang Ming-dao, was finally released from prison, he stated, “In these past twenty years, I have not had a copy of the Bible. Happily between the ages of twenty-one to twenty-four, I spent my time at home doing the housework and studying the scriptures. I memorized many passages. These passages in my heart came out one by one and strengthened me. Had it not been for those words of God, then not only I, but many others, would also have been defeated.”
Pastor Lamb in southern China was in prison for many years at that same time. “I understood then why I had memorized so much of God’s Word while in Bible school,” he says. “I kept my sanity only by repeating Bible verses over and over.”
The best way the church can prepare for trials and persecution is by seriously studying and learning the Word of God. Christians need an overview of the whole Bible. Understanding God’s outline for mankind in the Bible aids in memorization as well.
What is the right attitude to bring to Bible study? Some read and study the Bible with the intent to get something from it to teach to others. But first, we should approach the Bible with the desire to see the goodness and loving-kindness of God and understand how “wide and long and high and deep” is His love for us (Ephesians 3:17-19). Let His love show you His supply for your own need and then you are better able to meet the needs of others.
Second, approach the Bible with humility. Study the Bible to discover what God has said. Bible study is meant not merely to inform but to transform.
In restricted countries where Bibles are in short supply, pastors are often in a quandary as to which of the many spiritually needy he should share these precious books with. Progress in Bible memorization is one method they can use for determining who will receive the available Bibles. One house church group in Vietnam decided to give them to the believers who were most determined to use them. The criterion used was memory work. So Bibles were shared only with those who recited flawlessly Psalm 119—all 176 verses!
Open Doors is committed to provide God’s Word to those for whom it is not available. “It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes....”(Romans 1:16)
RESPONSE: Today I will memorize a new verse from God’s Word, the Bible.
PRAYER: Pray for the Christians in restricted countries where there is a shortage of God’s Word.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

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Day 6

Goods are given to us to be used, but not to be stored away. Just as Israel in the desert received manna daily from God and did not have to worry about food and drink, and just as the manna which was stored from one day for another rotted, so should Jesus' disciples receive their share daily from God. But if they store it up as lasting treasure, they will spoil both the gift and themselves. The heart clings to collected treasure. Stored-up possessions get between me and God. Where my treasure is, there is my trust, my security, my comfort, my God. Treasure means idolatry.
But where is the boundary between the goods I am supposed to use and the treasure I am not supposed to have? If we turn the statement around and say, What your heart clings to is your treasure, then we have the answer. It can be a very modest treasure; it is not a question of size. Everything depends on the heart, on you. If I continue to ask how can I recognize what my heart clings to, again there is a clear and simple answer: everything which keeps you from loving God above all things, everything which gets between you and your obedience to Jesus is the treasure to which your heart clings.

Biblical Wisdom

"Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things." Matthew 6:31-32

Questions to Ponder

  • In our consumerist, acquisitive culture, how can we know when enough is enough?
  • If "treasure means idolatry," how might a community of faith both sanction and promote idolatry?
  • If we "loved God above all things," how might our relationship to "all things" change?

Psalm Fragment

The eyes of all look to you,
   and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand,
   satisfying the desire of every living thing.
The Lord is just in all his ways,
   and kind in all his doings.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
   to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18

Journal Reflections

  • Reflect (as honestly as you can) upon your particular idolatries, on those things (or people) to which your heart clings in such a way that they get between you and your obedience to Jesus.
  • Wonder in your journal about what you might do to turn your heart from such idols to God.

Intercessions

Pray that you, your family, and friends (name them) might have the wisdom to identify your idols and the grace to let them go and love God above all things.

Prayer for Today

Lord, may my true treasure be knowing you and following you. May nothing stand in the way of your love for me and my love for you.
40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.
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One of the most widely admired theologians of the 20th century, Bonhoeffer was a profound yet clear thinker. Klug selects significant passages from his works, pairs them with appropriate Scripture, sets up a journal-writing exercise, and concludes with prayer.

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Alphaeus [Ălphē'us]—transient, chief or a thousand.
  1. The father of Levi or Matthew the Apostle (Mark 2:14).
  2. The father of James, one of the twelve apostles (Matt. 10:3;Mark 3:18Luke 6:15Acts 1:13). Sometimes identified as the same person in No. 1 and also as Cleophas.
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