Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Daily Devotional Tuesday 19th June

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost."
Acts 2:4
Rich were the blessings of this day if all of us were filled with the Holy Ghost. The consequences of this sacred filling of the soul it would be impossible to overestimate. Life, comfort, light, purity, power, peace; and many other precious blessings are inseparable from the Spirit's benign presence. As sacred oil, he anoints the head of the believer, sets him apart to the priesthood of saints, and gives him grace to execute his office aright. As the only truly purifying water he cleanses us from the power of sin and sanctifies us unto holiness, working in us to will and to do of the Lord's good pleasure. As the light, he manifested to us at first our lost estate, and now he reveals the Lord Jesus to us and in us, and guides us in the way of righteousness. Enlightened by his pure celestial ray, we are no more darkness but light in the Lord. As fire, he both purges us from dross, and sets our consecrated nature on a blaze. He is the sacrificial flame by which we are enabled to offer our whole souls as a living sacrifice unto God. As heavenly dew, he removes our barrenness and fertilizes our lives. O that he would drop from above upon us at this early hour! Such morning dew would be a sweet commencement for the day. As the dove, with wings of peaceful love he broods over his Church and over the souls of believers, and as a Comforter he dispels the cares and doubts which mar the peace of his beloved. He descends upon the chosen as upon the Lord in Jordan, and bears witness to their sonship by working in them a filial spirit by which they cry Abba, Father. As the wind, he brings the breath of life to men; blowing where he listeth he performs the quickening operations by which the spiritual creation is animated and sustained. Would to God, that we might feel his presence this day and every day.

Evening

"My Beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies. Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my Beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether."
Song of Solomon 2:16-17
Surely if there be a happy verse in the Bible it is this--"My Beloved is mine, and I am his." So peaceful, so full of assurance, so overrunning with happiness and contentment is it, that it might well have been written by the same hand which penned the twenty-third Psalm. Yet though the prospect is exceeding fair and lovely--earth cannot show its superior--it is not entirely a sunlit landscape. There is a cloud in the sky which casts a shadow over the scene. Listen, "Until the day break, and the shadows flee away."
There is a word, too, about the "mountains of Bether," or, "the mountains of division," and to our love, anything like division is bitterness. Beloved, this may be your present state of mind; you do not doubt your salvation; you know that Christ is yours, but you are not feasting with him. You understand your vital interest in him, so that you have no shadow of a doubt of your being his, and of his being yours, but still his left hand is not under your head, nor doth his right hand embrace you. A shade of sadness is cast over your heart, perhaps by affliction, certainly by the temporary absence of your Lord, so even while exclaiming, "I am his," you are forced to take to your knees, and to pray, "Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my Beloved."
"Where is he?" asks the soul. And the answer comes, "He feedeth among the lilies." If we would find Christ, we must get into communion with his people, we must come to the ordinances with his saints. Oh, for an evening glimpse of him! Oh, to sup with him tonight!

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Today's reading: Nehemiah 10-11, Acts 4:1-22 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
   Those who sealed it were:
   Nehemiah the governor, the son of Hakaliah.
   Zedekiah, 2 Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah,
   3 Pashhur, Amariah, Malkijah,
   4 Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluk,
   5 Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah,
   6 Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch,
   7 Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin,
   8 Maaziah, Bilgai and Shemaiah.
   These were the priests.
   9 The Levites:
   Jeshua son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel,
   10 and their associates: Shebaniah,
   Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan,
   11 Mika, Rehob, Hashabiah,
   12 Zakkur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah,
   13 Hodiah, Bani and Beninu.
   14 The leaders of the people:
   Parosh, Pahath-Moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani,
   15 Bunni, Azgad, Bebai,
   16 Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin,
   17 Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur,
   18 Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai,
   19 Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai,
   20 Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir,
   21 Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua,
   22 Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah,
   23 Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub,
   24 Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek,
   25 Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah,
   26 Ahiah, Hanan, Anan,
   27 Malluk, Harim and Baanah.
   28 “The rest of the people—priests, Levites, gatekeepers, musicians, temple servants and all who separated themselves from the neighboring peoples for the sake of the Law of God, together with their wives and all their sons and daughters who are able to understand— 29 all these now join their fellow Israelites the nobles, and bind themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the Law of God given through Moses the servant of God and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations and decrees of the LORD our Lord.
   30 “We promise not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us or take their daughters for our sons.
   31 “When the neighboring peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day. Every seventh year we will forgo working the land and will cancel all debts.
   32 “We assume the responsibility for carrying out the commands to give a third of a shekel each year for the service of the house of our God: 33 for the bread set out on the table; for the regular grain offerings and burnt offerings; for the offerings on the Sabbaths, at the New Moon feasts and at the appointed festivals; for the holy offerings; for sin offerings to make atonement for Israel; and for all the duties of the house of our God.
   34 “We—the priests, the Levites and the people—have cast lots to determine when each of our families is to bring to the house of our God at set times each year a contribution of wood to burn on the altar of the LORD our God, as it is written in the Law.
   35 “We also assume responsibility for bringing to the house of the LORD each year the firstfruits of our crops and of every fruit tree.
   36 “As it is also written in the Law, we will bring the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, of our herds and of our flocks to the house of our God, to the priests ministering there.
   37 “Moreover, we will bring to the storerooms of the house of our God, to the priests, the first of our ground meal, of our grain offerings, of the fruit of all our trees and of our new wine and olive oil. And we will bring a tithe of our crops to the Levites, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all the towns where we work. 38 A priest descended from Aaron is to accompany the Levites when they receive the tithes, and the Levites are to bring a tenth of the tithes up to the house of our God, to the storerooms of the treasury. 39 The people of Israel, including the Levites, are to bring their contributions of grain, new wine and olive oil to the storerooms, where the articles for the sanctuary and for the ministering priests, the gatekeepers and the musicians are also kept.
   “We will not neglect the house of our God.”

Nehemiah 11

The New Residents of Jerusalem
    1 Now the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem. The rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten of them to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the remaining nine were to stay in their own towns. 2 The people commended all who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.
   3 These are the provincial leaders who settled in Jerusalem (now some Israelites, priests, Levites, temple servants and descendants of Solomon’s servants lived in the towns of Judah, each on their own property in the various towns, 4 while other people from both Judah and Benjamin lived in Jerusalem):
   From the descendants of Judah:
   Athaiah son of Uzziah, the son of Zechariah, the son of Amariah, the son of Shephatiah, the son of Mahalalel, a descendant of Perez; 5 and Maaseiah son of Baruch, the son of Kol-Hozeh, the son of Hazaiah, the son of Adaiah, the son of Joiarib, the son of Zechariah, a descendant of Shelah. 6 The descendants of Perez who lived in Jerusalem totaled 468 men of standing.
   7 From the descendants of Benjamin:
   Sallu son of Meshullam, the son of Joed, the son of Pedaiah, the son of Kolaiah, the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ithiel, the son of Jeshaiah, 8 and his followers, Gabbai and Sallai—928 men. 9 Joel son of Zikri was their chief officer, and Judah son of Hassenuah was over the New Quarter of the city.
   10 From the priests:
   Jedaiah; the son of Joiarib; Jakin; 11 Seraiah son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, the official in charge of the house of God, 12and their associates, who carried on work for the temple—822 men; Adaiah son of Jeroham, the son of Pelaliah, the son of Amzi, the son of Zechariah, the son of Pashhur, the son of Malkijah, 13 and his associates, who were heads of families—242 men; Amashsai son of Azarel, the son of Ahzai, the son of Meshillemoth, the son of Immer, 14 and his associates, who were men of standing—128. Their chief officer was Zabdiel son of Haggedolim.
   15 From the Levites:
   Shemaiah son of Hasshub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Bunni; 16 Shabbethai and Jozabad, two of the heads of the Levites, who had charge of the outside work of the house of God; 17 Mattaniah son of Mika, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, the director who led in thanksgiving and prayer; Bakbukiah, second among his associates; and Abda son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun.18 The Levites in the holy city totaled 284.
   19 The gatekeepers:
   Akkub, Talmon and their associates, who kept watch at the gates—172 men.
   20 The rest of the Israelites, with the priests and Levites, were in all the towns of Judah, each on their ancestral property.
   21 The temple servants lived on the hill of Ophel, and Ziha and Gishpa were in charge of them.
   22 The chief officer of the Levites in Jerusalem was Uzzi son of Bani, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Mika. Uzzi was one of Asaph’s descendants, who were the musicians responsible for the service of the house of God. 23The musicians were under the king’s orders, which regulated their daily activity.
   24 Pethahiah son of Meshezabel, one of the descendants of Zerah son of Judah, was the king’s agent in all affairs relating to the people.
   25 As for the villages with their fields, some of the people of Judah lived in Kiriath Arba and its surrounding settlements, in Dibon and its settlements, in Jekabzeel and its villages, 26 in Jeshua, in Moladah, in Beth Pelet, 27 in Hazar Shual, in Beersheba and its settlements, 28 in Ziklag, in Mekonah and its settlements, 29 in En Rimmon, in Zorah, in Jarmuth, 30 Zanoah, Adullam and their villages, in Lachish and its fields, and in Azekah and its settlements. So they were living all the way from Beersheba to the Valley of Hinnom.
   31 The descendants of the Benjamites from Geba lived in Mikmash, Aija, Bethel and its settlements, 32 in Anathoth, Nob and Ananiah, 33 in Hazor, Ramah and Gittaim, 34 in Hadid, Zeboim and Neballat, 35 in Lod and Ono, and in Ge Harashim.
   36 Some of the divisions of the Levites of Judah settled in Benjamin.

Acts 4

Peter and John Before the Sanhedrin
    1 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day.4 But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.
   5 The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”
   8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is
   “‘the stone you builders rejected, 
   which has become the cornerstone.’
   12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
   13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”
   18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
   21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.

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Leah

The Woman Lacking Loveliness Was Yet Loyal

Scripture ReferencesGenesis 29;3049:31Ruth 4:11
Name Meaning—Leah as a name has been explained in many ways. “Wearied” or “Faint from Sickness” with a possible reference to her precarious condition at the time of birth, is Wilkinson’s suggestion. Others say the name means “married” or “mistress.” The narrative tells us that she was “tender eyed” (Genesis 29:17 ), which can mean that her sight was weak or that her eyes lacked that luster reckoned a conspicuous part of female beauty which Rachel her sister “beautiful and well-favoured” evidently had.
Family Connections—Because Jacob was Rebekah’s son he was related to Leah by marriage. Leah was the elder daughter of Laban who, by deception, married her to Jacob, to whom she bore six sons and a daughter. By her maid, Zilpah, Leah added two more sons to her family.
The romantic story of Jacob and his two wives never loses its appeal. After fleeing from and meeting God at Bethel, Jacob reached Haran and at Laban’s well he met his cousin Rachel drawing water for the sheep. It was love at first sight for Jacob, and his love remained firm until Rachel’s death in giving birth to her second child. Going to work for his Uncle Laban, Jacob was offered wages in return for service rendered, but he agreed to serve Laban for seven years on the condition that at the end of the period Rachel should be his wife. Because of his love for Rachel those years seemed but a few days.
At the end of the specified period however, Jacob was cruelly deceived by his uncle. As it was a custom of the time to conduct the bride to the bedchamber of her husband in silence and darkness, it was only with the morning light that Jacob discovered that he had been deceived by Laban as he saw Leah and not Rachel at his side. Laban condoned his unrighteous act by saying that the younger girl could not be given in marriage before the first-born, and Jacob covenanted to serve another seven years for Rachel, his true love inspiring him to be patient and persevering. Perhaps Jacob treated the deception as a retributive providence, for he had previously deceived his blind and dying father.
Whether Leah participated in the deceit to win Jacob from her more beautiful sister we do not know. The moral tone of the home was low, and Leah may have been a child of environment. This much is evident, that although she knew that the love of her husband’s heart was not for her but for Rachel, Leah genuinely loved Jacob and was true to him until he buried her in the cave of Machpelah. While Jacob was infatuated with Rachel’s beauty, and loved her, there is no indication that she loved him in the same way. “Rachel remains one of those women with nothing to recommend her but beauty,” says H. V. Morton. “She is bitter, envious, quarrelsome and petulant. The full force of her hatred is directed against her sister, Leah.”
The names Leah gave her children testified to the miraculous faith God had planted in her heart. Somewhat despised by Jacob, she was yet remembered by the Lord. In spite of the polygamous marriage, she became the mother of six sons who were to become the representatives of six of the twelve tribes of Israel. The names Leah chose revealed her piety and sense of obligation to the Lord.
Reuben, her first-born, means “Behold a son,” and Leah praised God for looking favorably upon her. Thus, divine compassion was carefully treasured in such a name which also the holder tarnished.
Simeon, the second son, means “Hearing,” so given by Leah since God had heard her cry because of Rachel’s hatred. Such a name as Simeon is a lasting monument of answered prayer.
Levi, the next to be born implies, “Joined” and Leah rejoices feeling that her husband would now love her, and that through Levi’s birth she would be more closely united to her husband.
Judah was the fourth son to be born to Leah, and she gave him a name meaning “Praise.” Perhaps by now Jacob had become a little more affectionate. Certainly the Lord had been good to both Leah and Jacob, and with the selfishness in her heart defeated, Leah utters a sincere Soli Deo Gloria —“I will praise the Lord.” Leah had two other sons named Issachar and Zebulun, and a daughter, Dinah. Leah was uncomely when compared to her lovely sister, but what she lacked in beauty she made up for in loyalty to Jacob as a wife, and as a good mother to his children. “It seems that homely Leah was a person of deep-rooted piety and therefore better suited to become instrumental in carrying out the plans of Jehovah than her handsome, but worldly-minded, sister, Rachel.”
One evident lesson we can learn from the triangle of love in that ancient Israelite home is that solemn choices should not be based upon mere external appearances. Rachel was beautiful, and as soon as Jacob saw her he fell for her. But it was Leah, not Rachel, who bore Judah through whose line the Saviour came. The unattractive Leah might have repelled others, but God was attracted toward her because of an inner beauty which the lovely Rachel lacked. “There are two kinds of beauty,” Kuyper reminds us. “There is a beauty which God gives at birth, and which withers as a flower. And there is a beauty which God grants when by His grace men are born again. That kind of beauty never vanishes but blooms eternally.” Behind many a plain or ugly face there is a most lovely disposition. Also God does not look upon the outward appearance, but upon the heart.

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John [Jŏhn]—jehovah hath been gracious.
  1. A kinsman of Annas the High Priest (Acts 4:6).
  2. A son of Mary, sister of Barnabas, and surnamed Mark (Acts 12:122513:513;15:37). See MARK.
  3. The son of Zacharias and Elisabeth , who appeared as the forerunner of Christ, and who was beheaded by Herod (Matt. 3:1413).

The Man Who Was Plain But Powerful

With the appearance of John the Baptist we have the burial of the Old Dispensation and the emergence of the New. We seem to see his rugged figure standing with arms outstretched, as with one hand he takes the Old Testament, and with the other holds the New, and who, through his ministry, makes the transition from Law to Grace. He was the foreclosure of the old and the forerunner of the new. Perhaps we can helpfully gather the witness of John around these salient features:
I. His parentage. John came as the child of promise and was born in a city of Judah when his parents were old, and his mother long past conception ( Luke 1:71339). His parents were of priestly descent, his mother being a kinswoman of Mary the mother of our Lord (Luke 1:36 ).
II. His ascetic affinities. John, as a man of the desert, knew what it was to practice self-denial (Matt. 3:4). A Nazarite from his birth, he developed self-reliance and spiritual strength as he communed with God in the desert solitudes he loved (Luke 1:15). He was a plain man in every way, akin to Elijah whom many took him for.
He was plain of dress . He dressed simply, his raiment consisting of camel’s hair, that is, either a robe of camel’s skin or cloth woven from camel’s hair. What a humble habit compared with the luxurious robes of soft wool worn by the fashionable and great of his time!
He was plain of food. No sumptuous dishes for this Elijah-like prophet. It was on rough food he thrived. Vegetable honey exuding from fig-trees and palms, and edible locusts, classed among the flying, creeping things the Israelites were allowed to eat (Lev. 11:22), formed his diet ( Matt. 3:4). John the Baptist could subscribe to the words of a devout Englishman of a past century:
I shall be spare of sleep, sparer of diet, and sparest of time that, when the days for eating, drinking, clothing, and sleeping shall be no more, I may eat of my Saviour’s hidden manna, drink of the new wine in my Father’s kingdom, and inherit that rest which remaineth for the people of my God for ever and ever.
He was plain of speech . Living near to nature, he heard God’s voice in solitude as well as in Scripture. Familiar with the Old Testament, he made frequent use of its picturesque language (Luke 3:17Isa. 66:24; with Amos 9:6 ). After his sojourn in the desert, brooding over the need and peril of his time, he came forth to speak of barren trees fit only for burning—vipers fleeing before the flaming scrub. John saw in his desert surroundings much that symbolized his nation’s calamity and which lent color to his solemn warnings of impending doom.
There is a great deal we would like to say about this man sent from God who had the privilege of acting as the forerunner and then as the baptizer of Jesus, who said of him that he was greater than a prophet. Space, however, forbids a full exposition of this mighty character in the Bible’s portrait gallery. The preacher might be able to expand the following features: his self-denial (Matt. 3:4); courage ( Matt. 3:714:4); powerful preaching (Mark 1:5); humility (Mark 1:7); holiness (Mark 6:20); burning zeal ( John 5:35); honor (Matt. 11:11); ministry of witness (John 10:41); preparatory work (Matt. 11:10); testimony (John 1:29-36); results ( Matt. 9:14); death (Matt. 14:10), of which Spurgeon said, “John was the first Baptist Minister to lose his head through dancing.”
4. John, the son of Zebedee and Salome, the fisherman who became the beloved disciple, The Apostle of Love.

The Man Whom Jesus Loved

This younger brother of James has the rare distinction of being known as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” The original of his name means, “whom Jehovah loves” and John’s experience corresponded to his name. From the many references to this honored disciple we can gather these facts:
He was a native of Bethsaida in Galilee.
His godly parents were probably cousins of Christ, and John was their youngest son.
His mother followed Christ, ministered unto Him, was at the Cross and among those who went to anoint the body of Christ with sweet spices.
His father was a fisherman owning his own vessel and prosperous enough to hire servants.
John himself was also a successful fisherman.
He was called to discipleship while plying his nets.
He was the youngest of the disciples, the Benjamin among the Twelve.
He was one of the select triumvirate, Christ’s inner cabinet of three, Peter and James being the other two.
He was surnamed by Christ as a son of “Boanerges” because of his prophetic zeal and resolution to witness for Christ.
He was treated by Christ with greater familiarity than the others enjoyed.
He sat next to Christ at the Last Supper.
He was intrusted with the care of the mother of Jesus.
He died when he was almost one hundred years of age.
He wrote the gospel and three epistles bearing his name, and also the Book of Revelation. How true are Wesley’s words of John the Beloved:
A Caesar’s title less my envy moves
Than to be styled the man whom Jesus loves;
What charms, what beauties in his face did shine
Reflected ever from the face divine.
From manifold references in the four gospels, the Acts and Revelation, the preacher can develop these traits in John’s character: his natural energy (Mark 3:17 ); his intolerance (Mark 9:38); his vindictiveness (Luke 9:54); his ambition (Mark 10:35-37); his eagerness to learn (John 13:23; I John 2:9 ); his sympathy ( John 19:26); his love (1 John 4:7-21).

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The Death of John

Matthew 14:1-12 "He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother" ( vv. 10-11).
Because He is unwilling to make His ministry into a sideshow that performs wonders for those who will always find a reason to deny Him, Jesus does not do many miracles in Nazareth (Matt. 13:58; see 12:38-42 ). Still, the acclaim from our Lord's earlier works spreads throughout Galilee and reaches the tetrarch Herod, otherwise known as Herod Antipas, who rules the region (14:1).
Herod Antipas was a son of Herod the Great, the king who attempted to kill Jesus shortly after His birth (2:16-18). Upon hearing of our Lord's ministry, Antipas suggests that this Jesus is none other than John the Baptist, back from the dead ( 14:2). This gives Matthew an opportunity to bring us up to date on John's situation, especially since Herod Antipas indicates the Baptist has died.
John was in prison when Christ's Galilean ministry began (4:12-1711:1-6 ), and today's passage tells us why John was in jail. Herod Antipas had a brother named Herod Philip whose wife was Herodias. Antipas, who was once married to the daughter of an Arabic king, left his first wife and took Herodias from his brother, thereby violating Jewish law (Lev. 18:1620:21). John the Baptist spoke out against this incestuous union and was imprisoned as a consequence ( Matt. 14:3-4). But for a time Herod Antipas was unwilling to go further since he was a coward who feared the people would revolt should he dispose of John (v. 5).
The Herodians were well-known for their immorality, and John did not remain only a prisoner for long. After seeing Herodias' daughter, whom we know from historical sources as Salome, perform what was likely a sensual dance, Herod Antipas foolishly swore an oath that he would do whatever the young girl wanted. And though he should never have made the oath and once made, should never have kept it, Antipas acquiesced and put John to death according to the request of Herodias and Salome (vv. 6-12).
John's death foreshadows the death of Jesus and, indeed, the death of all those who are faithful to God. Matthew Henry comments, "It is no new thing for God's ministers to suffer ill for doing well. Troubles remain with those most who are most diligent and faithful in doing their duty."

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Herod Antipas beheaded John and did not give him a formal trial, thereby breaking the Mosaic code. We see in Matthew 14:9 that Herod did this because he wanted to save face and not look like a fool in front of his guests. Many of the sins we commit are done in order to save face. How many little white lies have you told because you are more concerned with looking good in front of others than you are with pleasing God?
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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The Death of John

Herod Antipas beheaded John and did not give him a formal trial, thereby breaking the Mosaic code. We see in Matthew 14:9 that Herod did this because he wanted to save face and not look like a fool in front of his guests. Many of the sins we commit are done in order to save face. How many little white lies have you told because you are more concerned with looking good in front of others than you are with pleasing God?
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 pierced One pierces the heart

‘And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.’ Zechariah 12:10
Suggested Further Reading: John 4:27–42
A personal faith it must be, and what if I urge you to let it be immediate faith? It will be no easier to flee tomorrow, than it is today. It is the same thing that you will have to believe tomorrow as it is today—that Jesus Christ gave himself for your sins. This is God’s testimony, that Christ is able to save. O that you would trust him. My soul, you have regretted a thousand things, but you have never regretted trusting Christ in your youth. Many have wept that they did not come to Christ before, but none ever lamented that they came too early. Why not this very day? O Holy Spirit, make it so! Behold the fields are showing the green ears ready for the harvest; the season advances, and the fields are prophesying the harvest. O that we might see some green ears today, some green ears prophetic of a blessed harvest of souls. As to myself, I cross this day into another year of my own life and history, and I bear witness that my Master is worth trusting. O it is a blessed thing to be a Christian; it is a sweet thing to be a believer in Christ, and though I, of all men, perhaps, am the subject of the deepest depression of spirits at times, yet there lives not a soul who can say more truthfully than I, ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.’ He who is mighty has looked upon me with eyes of love and made me his child, and I trust him this day as I have trusted him aforetime. But now I would to God that this day some of you would begin to trust in him.
For meditation: This was Spurgeon’s 30th birthday. Just as it is impossible to live on earth without having been born, it will be impossible to enter heaven without having been born again (John 3:3,5,). If you haven’t yet got a spiritual birthday, the best date to be born again is today’s date (2 Corinthians 6:2).
Sermon no. 575
19 June (1864)

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June 18, 2012
God's Gift to You
Sharon Jaynes
Today's Truth
"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God," (1 Corinthians 1:18NIV).
Friend to Friend
The sea breeze blew the tangles from my knotted nerves as a choir of various birds sang revelry to greet the day. Myrtle bushes, bursting with fuchsia blossoms added splashes of color to the sandy landscape. Jumping fish performed acrobatic feats for an audience of one.
Perhaps my favorite place in all the world is the beach. God seems to speak to me through each intricately carved sea shell, soaring gull, and majestic wave. On this particular spring morning, I had gotten up before the others stirred from their slumber to have a cup of coffee with the Lord. I sat rocking on the cottage porch surrounded by coastal beauty and watching the water of the lazy canal meander by.  As I was talking to God and thanking Him for all the splendor of His creation, He urged me to look closely at a reflection in the water. There it was...a cross. Reflected in the water was a simple cross.
Looking up from the water, I saw the two pieces of weathered wood that formed this cross. It was actually one end of an old forgotten clothesline, but it was much more than that to me. It was a reminder.
This cross was God's reminder to me that in all the majesty of His creation, it was a simple cross of two wooden beams that was the most majestic of all. Two beams displayed to the entire world, for all time, the surpassing greatness of His love, the incalculable riches of His grace, and the unfathomable depth of His mercy to all who believe. More beautiful than any blooming flower, more melodious than any song of my feathered friends, more powerful than the surf of the sea – the cross.
Let's Pray
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the cross. Through the finished work of Jesus on those two simple beams of wood, You have given me eternal life. I pray I will never forget Jesus' incredible sacrifice. Yes, the world may think the cross is foolish, but it represents the power of God through the gospel of Christ.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
What does the cross mean to you?
How would you explain that to someone who doesn't know Christ?
Why is the message of the cross called the power of God?
Have you, like me in this story, ever felt that God placed something right before you as a special gift or reminder of His presence?
If so, your GiGs would love to hear about it. Log ontowww.facebook.com/sharonjaynes.com and share your story!
More from the Girlfriends
Did you know that God is speaking all around you and in your life?  Would you like to learn more about how to hear His voice? If so, check out Sharon's book, Becoming a Woman who Listens to God. God is speaking to you today. Do you hear Him?
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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His name—the mighty God

“The mighty God.” Isaiah 9:6
Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 2:10-18
Great is the mystery of godliness, for the passage from which the text is taken says, “Unto us a child is born.” A child! What can a child do? It totters in its walk, it trembles in its steps—and it is a child newly born. Born! An infant hanging on its mother’s breast, an infant deriving its nourishment from a woman? That! Can that work wonders? Yea, saith the prophet, “Unto us a child is born.” But then it is added, “Unto us a Son is given.” Christ was not only born, but given. As man he is a child born, as God he is the Son given. He comes down from on high; he is given by God to become our Redeemer. But here behold the wonder! “His name,” this child’s name, “shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God.” Is this child, then, to us the mighty God? If so, O brethren, without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness indeed! And yet, just let us look through the history of the church, and discover whether we have not ample evidence to substantiate it. This child born, this Son given, came into the world to issue a challenge against sin. For thirty years and upwards he had to struggle and wrestle against temptations more numerous and more terrible than man had ever known before. Adam fell when a woman tempted him; Eve fell when a serpent offered fruit to her, but Christ, the second Adam, stood invulnerable against all the shafts of Satan, though tempted he was in all points like as we are. Not one arrow out of the quiver of hell was spared; the whole were shot against him. Every arrow was aimed against him with all the might of Satan’s archers, and that is not little! And yet, without sin or taint of sin, more than conqueror he stood.
For meditation: Here, on the morning of his 25th birthday, Spurgeon gloried in the birthday of his great elder brother, the Lord Jesus Christ—God born of a woman, given in the likeness of sinful flesh so that God could condemn our sin in his flesh (Galatians 4:4Romans 8:3). What an appropriate birthday meditation, remembering how Christ identified with us so that we could be identified with him!
Sermon no. 258
19 June (1859)


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Skills: Management of Human DAY Resources/Human Resource Development (MHR/HRD)

Jesus certainly understood the importance of managing and developing people. According to the apostle Paul, the risen Christ himself called those who would serve as the foundation stones of his church, "some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers" (v. 11). He endowed each believer with unique spiritual gifts, and, in addition, he gave the church special individuals whom he had particularly gifted for spiritual leadership.
Paul emphasized Christ's authority to distribute these gifts. Jesus ascended into heaven so that he might fill "the whole universe" (v. 10). This matchless Christ gave special gifts to his people in order to enhance the building of his church. Of course, he didn't impart those gifts merely for the enjoyment of the recipients. Jesus gifted people so that they could exercise these abilities in a way that would "prepare God's people for works of service" (v. 12), works that would bring glory to him and enjoyment and satisfaction to his people.
Jesus beautifully planned that those works of service, performed by his own people, would build up the body of Christ "until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (v. 13). What a wonderful use of the gifts of leaders-to help themselves and others attain "the fullness of Christ"!
In what capacity are you gifted by God to help in the development of others? How do you exercise that gift?
MHR-HRD and Who God Is
In what ways is God a manager and developer of human resources? Since God created us, he knows our aptitudes and abilities better than we do ourselves. Since God loves us, he wants us to move toward the fulfillment of our potential. But we cannot do this without personal commitment to the centrality of Christ in our lives. Turn to Jeremiah 1:4-10 for an example of a man whom God chose and developed for his own purposes.
MHR-HRD and Who I Am
Leadership is a privilege but also a responsibility. In Scripture, to be a leader is to be a steward who manages the resources that are owned by the Lord. When we build the lives of others and participate in the development of their potential, we are acting as faithful stewards of our divine responsibilities. Turn to Philemon to note the manner in which the apostle Paul served and transformed the life of a runaway slave.
MHR-HRD and How It Works
How MHR-HRD actually works in everyday life is one of the thorniest areas of leadership. How do we interact with people in a way that develops them, cares for them, protects them? Some of the loudest proclamations of our values are made in the MHR/HRD arena. Reflection on the insights of Paul offers a great starting point as a leader enters the morass of issues surrounding this seemingly "lose-lose" aspect of leadership. Turn to 1 Thessalonians 2:6-12.
MHR-HRD and What I Do
Solomon urged his readers to cultivate those skills necessary to achieve success in life. According to Charles C. Manz and Henry P. Sims, Jr., "SuperLeaders" do the same. Read Proverbs 4:1-9 for insight into what attribute Solomon considered to be essential.

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T. Suzanne Eller
June 18, 2012
"Or imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won't she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she'll call her friends and neighbors: 'Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!' Count on it—that's the kind of party God's angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God." Luke 15:8-10 (The Message)
I was awash in a sea of tiny toddlers. Going out of the house to do anything was an adventure. That day I had braved the mall to shop for Christmas.
As I stood at the register I asked my children to hold tight to mama's jeans. Their tightly clutched fists let me know that they were close. When the bill was paid, I turned around.
That's when I noticed that Ryan was nowhere in sight.
The three tiny hands clutching my pant leg was actually one child holding on with two hands, and the other holding on while their brother made his escape.
I buckled the kids in the monster-sized stroller, threw the package underneath and blasted through the store calling my two-year-old's name.
"Have you seen my son? He's two. He has brown hair and he's tall for his age. Has anyone seen him?"
Finally an older woman approached me. "Honey, I saw a little boy with brown hair just a few moments ago carrying a really large box out those doors."
"Those doors" led to the heart of the mall.
Seconds later I saw him. He was strolling through the mall with his little two-year-old gait, carrying an extra large shoe box. My son wasn't just lost. He had shoplifted a pair of men's size 13 shoes in the process.
I scooped up my little lost shoplifter and held him close.
Something had captured my toddler's attention and he wandered. As his mom I knew what might have easily happened to him if I had not found him. My love for him meant I'd push that stroller to the ends of the earth, calling his name, until he was safe in my arms.
In the book, Amazing Grace, K. W. Osbeck says, "If the New Testament teaches us anything, it teaches us about God's love in searching for lost men. Becoming a Christian in a very real sense is simply putting ourselves in the way of being found by God—to stop running from His loving pursuit."
Maybe today you have escaped God. One adventure took you to the next and suddenly you're lost in a crowd, wondering if you've gone too far.
You haven't.
Stop.
Right where you are.
Let Him scoop you up.
And that box of things you're carrying — those emotions, those mistakes, those choices you wish you'd never made — give it to Him. He'll return them to where they rightfully belong as He leads you back home.
Dear Lord, I willingly climb into Your arms, no matter how far I have strayed. Today I am joyfully found by You, In Jesus' name, Amen.
Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?
Visit Suzie's blog where she shares where to go next when you feel lost.
The Power of One by Lysa TerKeurst
Join Suzie in her Live Free Facebook community to find daily encouragement.
When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We wish we could, but we simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you!
Reflect and Respond:
"The deep, deep love of Jesus—vast, unmeasured, boundless free! Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me, underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love—leading onward, leading homeward, to my glorious rest above." ~S. Trevor Francis, Oh, The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus
Read Luke 15:1-7. How does this passage speak to you?
Power Verses:
Psalm 145:18-19, "The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them." (NIV)
© 2012 by T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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NIV Devotions for Moms

Best Intentions

Additional Scripture Readings: Philippians 1:6; Hebrews 13:21
We want to provide extra income for our family, so we take on a home-based job. Our children constantly interrupt and we find ourselves hollering, grouchy and running on empty. We want to lose fifty pounds, so we take diet pills and skip meals. Consequently, we’re shaky and irritable. We plan to spend quality time in the Bible, but when we sit down, our minds are assaulted by our to-do lists.
Here’s where we make our mistake, we who are pilgrims in progress, walking toward God. We think that because we set a good goal and are intent on reaching it, the road ahead will be easy. But the truth is, because we are focused, Satan will try all the harder to intercept us along the way. Our best intentions will always result in our enemy’s great interference. Paul’s encouraging words in 1 Corinthians 10:13 remind us that God wants us to succeed. He’s on our side!
Want to grow? Get ready to face temptation!
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Wishing Them Well

Have you ever had a friend or acquaintance who made a wrong choice for every right choice you made, yet in the end your friend seemed to face none of the consequences you faced? It's hard to take, watching someone come out smelling like roses when you know the stinky stuff they've been rooted in.
If you can relate, then you can empathize with Jonah when God told him to go to Nineveh. Now, that was not just any field of service for the ancient prophet. It was Israel's greatest national enemy. The Ninevites were citizens of Assyria, a brutal nation to the east, and Israel's greatest threat.
It's no wonder that when the people of Nineveh did clean up their act (for a while anyway), Jonah was distressed. How could God sanction the redemption of a country like that? It didn't seem fair. And in truth, at least from Jonah's perspective, it probably wasn't.
It's tough to just do what's asked of you and leave the fairness issue to God, isn't it? It's hard to see people receive good things when they've caused you (or someone you love) pain. Like when your ex-son-in-law remarries or when the disloyal secretary down the hall gets a promotion you deserved. It's even harder to facilitate their good fortune, like Jonah did. Jesus said to love our enemies, but when it comes right down to it, we'd rather not.
How do we get past our feelings and wish our enemies well? We grace them with the same kind of mercy with which God graced us without expectation of getting anything back in return (see Luke 6:35-36). We focus on God and on the good things he has given us and done for us. The key to countering the envy of another's fortune is to be grateful for our own. And when we do that, we let go of the part of God's job that we'd like to do-the finger-pointing. It's just too hard to do our own work and God's too. And he does it so much better! Since we don't have his insight into the hearts and minds of those people we'd like to judge and condemn, it's better for us to push aside our limited understanding of justice and just trust him instead.

Reflection

  1. Think about the feelings you have toward people who live under a completely different set of values than you do. How do your feelings for them compare to the love God has for them?
  2. When it comes to people you dislike, why is it difficult to "wish them well"?
  3. What keeps you from being able to leave that person solely accountable to God? Fear? Anger? Jealousy?
Jonah 3:1-2
Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: "Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you."

Related Readings

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PROJECT PEARL

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46
One hundred-foot-long tugboat Michael lumbered along at the sleepy speed of three knots. It towed the semi-submersible barge, Gabriella, loaded with the million Chinese Bibles in 232 waterproof wrapped one-ton packages. By 9 p.m. on that historic night of June 18, 1981, Michael and its crew of twenty men weaved through a maze of anchored Chinese navy ships in the darkness near the port city of Shantou, southern China. Thousands of local Christians waited patiently in the darkness on the appointed beach.
The off-loaded floating packages were towed to shore by small rubber boats. Chinese believers came out in the water—some up to their neck. They pulled the blocks up onto the beach and cut them open with shears, handing the 45-pound cardboard boxes of Bibles to one another up the sand to the tree-line.
Two hours later, Michael and Gabriella and the crew left the scene with one million Bibles in the care of Chinese believers. They promised to circulate them across the entire country. In some cases, that process took as much as five years and many Chinese Christians paid dearly for it.
Over the past 30 years, Open Doors has received documented story after story—often from unusual places and situations—of the impact of those Bibles on the fast growing church in China. Project Pearl Bibles have been seen in virtually every province of the country.
A former colleague of mine from Singapore continues to minister in China. In the late 1990s, he met a large house church network of Christians in central China who still had no contact at all with foreigners from outside the country. They testified that it was the receiving of many Project Pearl Bibles that encouraged them and motivated them to share the gospel widely and thus grow to their current significant numbers.
One of those pocket-sized Bibles was received by a young Christian who had been praying for a Bible of his own for three years. After reading it through three times in three weeks, he felt God calling him to become one of the many itinerant evangelists preaching in China’s countryside. After fifteen years of ministry, he pastored a network of house churches that grew to over 400,000 members. His network of churches continues to need more than 20,000 Bibles a month just for new believers.
RESPONSE: I will appreciate the several Bibles I have and commit myself to learning and living from it.
PRAYER: Pray for Christians today in a variety of situations who are still waiting for their first copy 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 18

The word of cheap grace has ruined more Christians than any commandment about works...
For integrity's sake someone has to speak up for those among us who confess that cheap grace has made them give up following Christ, and that ceasing to follow Christ has made them lose the knowledge of costly grace. Because we cannot deny that we no longer stand in true discipleship to Christ, while being members of a true-believing church with a pure doctrine of grace, but are no longer members of a church which follows Christ, we therefore have to try to understand grace and discipleship again in correct relationship to each other.

Biblical Wisdom

What then are we to say? Should we continue to sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead to the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.Romans 6:1-4

Questions to Ponder

  • What do you think Bonhoeffer meant by saying: "The word of cheap grace has ruined more Christians than any commandment about works"?
  • Why might cheap grace cause someone to give up following Christ?
  • What is the correct relationship between grace and discipleship?

Psalm Fragment

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
   let your face shine, that we may be saved. Psalm 80:19

Journal Reflections

  • Has the church's proclamation and practice of cheap grace ever led you to consider not following Christ anymore? If so, write about the experience.
  • Do you know anyone who has given up following Christ because of cheap grace? If so, did anyone speak up for her or him?

Intercessions

Pray for the church, and for all Christians, that they may not succumb to the lure of cheap grace.

Prayer for Today

Lord Jesus Christ, I would follow you, no matter what the cost; lead me in the way of true discipleship.
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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