Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Daily Devotional Wednesday 20th June

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,” Ephesians 5:25-26 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth."
Amos 9:9
Every sifting comes by divine command and permission. Satan must ask leave before he can lay a finger upon Job. Nay, more, in some sense our siftings are directly the work of heaven, for the text says, "I will sift the house of Israel." Satan, like a drudge, may hold the sieve, hoping to destroy the corn; but the overruling hand of the Master is accomplishing the purity of the grain by the very process which the enemy intended to be destructive. Precious, but much sifted corn of the Lord's floor, be comforted by the blessed fact that the Lord directeth both flail and sieve to his own glory, and to thine eternal profit.
The Lord Jesus will surely use the fan which is in his hand, and will divide the precious from the vile. All are not Israel that are of Israel; the heap on the barn floor is not clean provender, and hence the winnowing process must be performed. In the sieve true weight alone has power. Husks and chaff being devoid of substance must fly before the wind, and only solid corn will remain.
Observe the complete safety of the Lord's wheat; even the least grain has a promise of preservation. God himself sifts, and therefore it is stern and terrible work; he sifts them in all places, "among all nations"; he sifts them in the most effectual manner, "like as corn is sifted in a sieve"; and yet for all this, not the smallest, lightest, or most shrivelled grain, is permitted to fall to the ground. Every individual believer is precious in the sight of the Lord, a shepherd would not lose one sheep, nor a jeweller one diamond, nor a mother one child, nor a man one limb of his body, nor will the Lord lose one of his redeemed people. However little we may be, if we are the Lord's, we may rejoice that we are preserved in Christ Jesus.

Evening

"Straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him."
Mark 1:18
When they heard the call of Jesus, Simon and Andrew obeyed at once without demur. If we would always, punctually and with resolute zeal, put in practice what we hear upon the spot, or at the first fit occasion, our attendance at the means of grace, and our reading of good books, could not fail to enrich us spiritually. He will not lose his loaf who has taken care at once to eat it, neither can he be deprived of the benefit of the doctrine who has already acted upon it. Most readers and hearers become moved so far as to purpose to amend; but, alas! the proposal is a blossom which has not been knit, and therefore no fruit comes of it; they wait, they waver, and then they forget, till, like the ponds in nights of frost, when the sun shines by day, they are only thawed in time to be frozen again. That fatal to-morrow is blood-red with the murder of fair resolutions; it is the slaughter-house of the innocents. We are very concerned that our little book of "Evening Readings" should not be fruitless, and therefore we pray that readers may not be readers only, but doers, of the word. The practice of truth is the most profitable reading of it. Should the reader be impressed with any duty while perusing these pages, let him hasten to fulfil it before the holy glow has departed from his soul, and let him leave his nets, and all that he has, sooner than be found rebellious to the Master's call. Do not give place to the devil by delay! Haste while opportunity and quickening are in happy conjunction. Do not be caught in your own nets, but break the meshes of worldliness, and away where glory calls you. Happy is the writer who shall meet with readers resolved to carry out his teachings: his harvest shall be a hundredfold, and his Master shall have great honour. Would to God that such might be our reward upon these brief meditations and hurried hints. Grant it, O Lord, unto thy servant!

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Today's reading: Nehemiah 12-13, Acts 4:23-37 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
Priests and Levites
    1 These were the priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and with Joshua:
   Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra,
   2 Amariah, Malluk, Hattush,
   3 Shekaniah, Rehum, Meremoth,
   4 Iddo, Ginnethon, Abijah,
   5 Mijamin, Moadiah, Bilgah,
   6 Shemaiah, Joiarib, Jedaiah,
   7 Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah and Jedaiah.
   These were the leaders of the priests and their associates in the days of Joshua.
   8 The Levites were Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and also Mattaniah, who, together with his associates, was in charge of the songs of thanksgiving. 9 Bakbukiah and Unni, their associates, stood opposite them in the services.
   10 Joshua was the father of Joiakim, Joiakim the father of Eliashib, Eliashib the father of Joiada, 11 Joiada the father of Jonathan, and Jonathan the father of Jaddua.
   12 In the days of Joiakim, these were the heads of the priestly families:
   of Seraiah’s family, Meraiah;
   of Jeremiah’s, Hananiah;
   13 of Ezra’s, Meshullam;
   of Amariah’s, Jehohanan;
   14 of Malluk’s, Jonathan;
   of Shekaniah’s, Joseph;
   15 of Harim’s, Adna;
   of Meremoth’s, Helkai;
   16 of Iddo’s, Zechariah;
   of Ginnethon’s, Meshullam;
   17 of Abijah’s, Zikri;
   of Miniamin’s and of Moadiah’s, Piltai;
    18 of Bilgah’s, Shammua;
   of Shemaiah’s, Jehonathan;
   19 of Joiarib’s, Mattenai;
   of Jedaiah’s, Uzzi;
   20 of Sallu’s, Kallai;
   of Amok’s, Eber;
   21 of Hilkiah’s, Hashabiah;
   of Jedaiah’s, Nethanel.
   22 The family heads of the Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, Johanan and Jaddua, as well as those of the priests, were recorded in the reign of Darius the Persian. 23 The family heads among the descendants of Levi up to the time of Johanan son of Eliashib were recorded in the book of the annals. 24 And the leaders of the Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, Jeshua son of Kadmiel, and their associates, who stood opposite them to give praise and thanksgiving, one section responding to the other, as prescribed by David the man of God.
   25 Mattaniah, Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon and Akkub were gatekeepers who guarded the storerooms at the gates. 26 They served in the days of Joiakim son of Joshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor and of Ezra the priest, the teacher of the Law.
Dedication of the Wall of Jerusalem
    27 At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres.28 The musicians also were brought together from the region around Jerusalem—from the villages of the Netophathites, 29from Beth Gilgal, and from the area of Geba and Azmaveth, for the musicians had built villages for themselves around Jerusalem. 30 When the priests and Levites had purified themselves ceremonially, they purified the people, the gates and the wall.
   31 I had the leaders of Judah go up on top of the wall. I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks. One was to proceed on top of the wall to the right, toward the Dung Gate. 32Hoshaiah and half the leaders of Judah followed them, 33 along with Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, 34 Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, Jeremiah, 35 as well as some priests with trumpets, and also Zechariah son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micaiah, the son of Zakkur, the son of Asaph, 36 and his associates—Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah and Hanani—with musical instruments prescribed by David the man of God. Ezra the teacher of the Law led the procession. 37 At the Fountain Gate they continued directly up the steps of the City of David on the ascent to the wall and passed above the site of David’s palace to the Water Gate on the east.
   38 The second choir proceeded in the opposite direction. I followed them on top of the wall, together with half the people—past the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall, 39 over the Gate of Ephraim, the Jeshanah Gate, the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Sheep Gate. At the Gate of the Guard they stopped.
   40 The two choirs that gave thanks then took their places in the house of God; so did I, together with half the officials, 41 as well as the priests—Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah and Hananiah with their trumpets— 42 and also Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malkijah, Elam and Ezer. The choirs sang under the direction of Jezrahiah. 43 And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.
   44 At that time men were appointed to be in charge of the storerooms for the contributions, firstfruits and tithes. From the fields around the towns they were to bring into the storerooms the portions required by the Law for the priests and the Levites, for Judah was pleased with the ministering priests and Levites.45 They performed the service of their God and the service of purification, as did also the musicians and gatekeepers, according to the commands of David and his son Solomon. 46For long ago, in the days of David and Asaph, there had been directors for the musicians and for the songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. 47 So in the days of Zerubbabel and of Nehemiah, all Israel contributed the daily portions for the musicians and the gatekeepers. They also set aside the portion for the other Levites, and the Levites set aside the portion for the descendants of Aaron.

Nehemiah 13

Nehemiah’s Final Reforms
    1 On that day the Book of Moses was read aloud in the hearing of the people and there it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever be admitted into the assembly of God, 2 because they had not met the Israelites with food and water but had hired Balaam to call a curse down on them. (Our God, however, turned the curse into a blessing.)3 When the people heard this law, they excluded from Israel all who were of foreign descent.
   4 Before this, Eliashib the priest had been put in charge of the storerooms of the house of our God. He was closely associated with Tobiah, 5 and he had provided him with a large room formerly used to store the grain offerings and incense and temple articles, and also the tithes of grain, new wine and olive oil prescribed for the Levites, musicians and gatekeepers, as well as the contributions for the priests.
   6 But while all this was going on, I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Some time later I asked his permission 7and came back to Jerusalem. Here I learned about the evil thing Eliashib had done in providing Tobiah a room in the courts of the house of God. 8 I was greatly displeased and threw all Tobiah’s household goods out of the room. 9 I gave orders to purify the rooms, and then I put back into them the equipment of the house of God, with the grain offerings and the incense.
   10 I also learned that the portions assigned to the Levites had not been given to them, and that all the Levites and musicians responsible for the service had gone back to their own fields. 11So I rebuked the officials and asked them, “Why is the house of God neglected?” Then I called them together and stationed them at their posts.
   12 All Judah brought the tithes of grain, new wine and olive oil into the storerooms. 13 I put Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and a Levite named Pedaiah in charge of the storerooms and made Hanan son of Zakkur, the son of Mattaniah, their assistant, because they were considered trustworthy. They were made responsible for distributing the supplies to their fellow Levites.
   14 Remember me for this, my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services.
   15 In those days I saw people in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs and all other kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Therefore I warned them against selling food on that day. 16People from Tyre who lived in Jerusalem were bringing in fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them in Jerusalem on the Sabbath to the people of Judah. 17 I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this wicked thing you are doing—desecrating the Sabbath day? 18 Didn’t your ancestors do the same things, so that our God brought all this calamity on us and on this city? Now you are stirring up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the Sabbath.”
   19 When evening shadows fell on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I ordered the doors to be shut and not opened until the Sabbath was over. I stationed some of my own men at the gates so that no load could be brought in on the Sabbath day. 20 Once or twice the merchants and sellers of all kinds of goods spent the night outside Jerusalem. 21 But I warned them and said, “Why do you spend the night by the wall? If you do this again, I will arrest you.” From that time on they no longer came on the Sabbath. 22 Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves and go and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy.
   Remember me for this also, my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love.
   23 Moreover, in those days I saw men of Judah who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. 24 Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples, and did not know how to speak the language of Judah. 25 I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath in God’s name and said: “You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take their daughters in marriage for your sons or for yourselves.26 Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon king of Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women. 27 Must we hear now that you too are doing all this terrible wickedness and are being unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women?”
   28 One of the sons of Joiada son of Eliashib the high priest was son-in-law to Sanballat the Horonite. And I drove him away from me.
   29 Remember them, my God, because they defiled the priestly office and the covenant of the priesthood and of the Levites.
   30 So I purified the priests and the Levites of everything foreign, and assigned them duties, each to his own task. 31 I also made provision for contributions of wood at designated times, and for the firstfruits.
   Remember me with favor, my God.

Acts 4

The Believers Pray
    23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:
   “‘Why do the nations rage 
   and the peoples plot in vain? 
26 The kings of the earth rise up 
   and the rulers band together 
against the Lord 
   and against his anointed one.’
   27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
   31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
The Believers Share Their Possessions
    32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
   36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

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Jehoram, Joram [Jēhō'ram,Jō'ram]—jehovah is high or exalted.
1. A son of Ahab, who became king of Israel after the brief reign of his brother Ahaziah (2 Kings 1:173:16;9:242 Chron. 22:5-7). When Jehoram allied himself with Jehoshaphat, he paid tribute to the power of the king of Moab. Dr. Joseph Parker has this to say of the somewhat remarkable character of Jehoram:
He was not an imitator of the evil of his father as to its precise form, but he had his own method of serving the devil. He superseded the arts of wickedness practiced by Ahab and Jezebel and found a way of his own of living an evil life ... He re-established the worship of the calf, after the pattern which Jeroboam, its founder, had patronized ... He made a kind of trick of wickedness, and knew how to give a twist to old forms.
Elisha was active during Jehoram’s reign, and rebuked the king ultimately slain by Jehu.
2. Son of Jehoshaphat , who succeeded his father on the throne of Judah. He was married to Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. History does not record much of this king’s life apart from the fact that he “walked in the ways of the kings of Israel” (1 Kings 22:502 Kings 1:178:16252912:182 Chron. 21:16 ). He gave his patronage to the worship of the Tyrian Baal. Although he knew the fate of those who had been guilty of idolatrous worship, he yet pursued his evil way. For provoking God by his idolatry, Jehoram was severely punished, and paid for his sin. He departed without any regret on the part of the people. Dishonor followed this king who died in contempt, for his body was not buried in “the sepulchers of kings.”
3. A priest sent by Jehoshaphat with Elishama to teach the law to Judah (2 Chron. 17:8).

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Bible Gateway | The Brook Network | Mel Lawrenz
Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional

BEACONS OF SALVATION

Over the years, I have been interested in lighthouses, probably because Door County, Wisconsin, where I grew up, has many lighthouses around its 200-mile shoreline. There are treacherous shoals around this peninsula, and in the days of wooden ships, hundreds were lost. A great, great uncle of mine lost his ship on one of the shoals, and I've gone scuba-diving on many of the wrecks.
My great-grandfather was the lighthouse keeper at Cana Island lighthouse, where treacherous autumn Lake Michigan storms beat against it. My grandmother told me about her childhood days living in the lighthouse. I have always seen lighthouses as a vivid symbol of salvation, because I imagine myself in a wooden sailing ship, out in the violent frigid waves of a November Lake Michigan storm, heaving a sigh of relief upon sighting a lighthouse, and knowing exactly where I am.
In a place called Bailey's Harbor, about halfway up the peninsula, there is a different kind of lighthouse. At the shore is a small white clapboard tower with a light in the top, just 20 feet or so off the ground. And then, set back from the shore about 200 yards is the main lighthouse. The trees are all cleared in that stretch between the two lights so that a boat off the shore can see both lights. The idea of this arrangement, called a range light, is that the captain of a boat can find not just a lighthouse, but, when he lines up those two lights, his precise location-and a safe way through the shoals.
The death and resurrection of Jesus are two beacons; one is incomplete without the other. But line them both up and you understand exactly what the purpose of Christ's death is and the power of his resurrection. Saving sacrifice works with triumphant resurrection. God is at work on the cross and in the tomb to our benefit.
And so you know exactly where you are.
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About The Author - Mel Lawrenz serves as minister at large for Elmbrook Church and leads The Brook Network. Having been in pastoral ministry for thirty years, the last decade as senior pastor of Elmbrook, Mel seeks to help Christian leaders engage with each other. Mel is the author of eleven books, the most recent for church leaders, Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement.

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What prevents God from hearing our prayers?

God's hearing is never impaired (see Ps 94:9 ). But the language of Biblical poetry sometimes pictures God as though he were deaf (see Dt 1:45). This was simply a figurative way to say that God does not always respond to requests as people might want. Sometimes answers come only after long delays; other times answers may come in an unrecognized form or in a manner the petitioner would not have wanted.
Effective prayer requires that the one praying have the right attitudes: reverence, humility, proper motivation and purity. Ineffectual prayer-that which God seems to ignore-often results from the lack of such qualities. Here are a few examples:
Irreverence: God may ignore those who are irreverent (see Ps 50:21). Pride: God wants to help those who are humble in spirit, not those who are proud (see Jas 4:6 ). Self-seeking: When people pray for selfish reasons, God may refuse their requests (see Jas 4:3). Sin: Disobeying God can separate someone from God and cause prayers to go unanswered (see Isa 59:1-2). Unbelief: Spiritual instability can undermine prayers (seeJas 1:6-7 ). Broken relationships: A husband's prayers may be hindered if he has treated his wife disrespectfully (see 1Pe 3:7).
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Today's reading is from theNIV Quest Study Bible
by Zondervan


This unique Bible addresses the common, uncommon, and perplexing questions people ask about Scripture.



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PROJECT PEARL WET BIBLES

All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. Psalm 104:27-28
There are stories and reports of “wet” Bibles and “perfume” Bibles from Project Pearl that continue to be shared to this day. Four hours after we left the beach that night of delivery of the one million Chinese Bibles on June 18, 1981, a patrol of Chinese police came by and found some boxes of Bibles stashed under the trees. They had not yet been transferred to the storage areas. The police tried unsuccessfully to burn the Bibles and then in frustration threw them into the water. The next morning, fishermen plucked these floating volumes out of the sea and put them on the roofs of their homes to dry. Later they sold them to Christians in the area. I personally treasure a sample of one of these “wet” Bibles that was used by a Chinese believer for fifteen years. One of the leading house church network leaders in China acknowledges receiving “wet” Bibles from Project Pearl.
Chinese Sister Ling shares the poignant story of how she pleaded with God for a Bible as a young evangelist. She found believers without Bibles doing unusual things—like carrying extra oil around so they’d be ready like the five wise virgins.
At the time of Project Pearl, she heard of a woman who had received “wet” Bibles and dried them. When Ling asked her for a Bible, the woman required her to quote the Lord’s Prayer without a single mistake to prove she was a believer. Ling memorized it from a handwritten copy of the Bible and passed the test. She received one “wet” Bible.
The woman apologized for being so overly careful but then explained, “After our brothers collected these Bibles from the shore, they began to distribute them about China. It was very dangerous and some paid with their lives. Remembering their sacrifice, I treasure these Bibles even more.” Ling went on to experience much suffering for her leadership role in the house church movement but now aware that suffering in the will of God has meaning and purpose.
RESPONSE:
Today I recommit to living the principles of God’s Word and not be ashamed of publicly sharing them.
PRAYER:
Thank God for the number of Bibles you have and ask Him to provide for those still without even one copy.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

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40-Day Journey with Bonhoeffer Header

Day 19

Costly grace is the hidden treasure in the field, for the sake of which people go and sell with joy everything they have. It is the costly pearl for whose price the merchant sells all that he has; it is Christ's sovereignty, for the sake of which you tear out an eye if it causes you to stumble. It is the call of Jesus Christ which causes a disciple to leave his nets and follow him.
Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which has to be asked for, the door at which one has to knock.
It is costly, because it calls to discipleship; it is grace, because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly, because it costs people their lives; it is grace, because it thereby makes them live. It is costly, because it condemns sin; it is grace, because it justifies the sinner. Above all, grace is costly, because it was costly to God, because it cost God the life of God's Son․"you were bought with a price"․and because nothing can be cheap to us which is costly to God. Above all, it is grace because the life of God's Son was not too costly for God to give in order to make us live...
Grace is costly, because it forces people under the yoke of following Jesus Christ; it is grace when Jesus says, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light" ( Matthew 11:30).

Biblical Wisdom

For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:20

Questions to Ponder

  • If costly grace means that God wants things from us as well as for us, what might those things be?
  • What is the difference between following Jesus Christ (costly grace) and simply believing things about Jesus Christ (cheap grace)?
  • What does it mean to say grace is costly "because it costs people their lives"?

Psalm Fragment

Glory in his holy name;
   let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Seek the Lord and his strength;
   seek his presence continually. Psalm 105:3-4

Journal Reflections

  • Have you experienced costly grace? If so, what did it feel like? If not, what do you imagine it might feel like?
  • What would it mean for you to "leave [your] nets and follow him"?

Intercessions

Pray for the church and for all Christians, that they may proclaim and practice costly grace.

Prayer for Today

Thank you, O God, for the costly grace you have offered me freely and which has made me a disciple of Jesus.
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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Feeding Five Thousand

Matthew 14:13-21 "They took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children" ( vv. 20b-21).
The miracle Matthew describes in today's passage, the feeding of the five thousand (14:13-21), is the only miracle found in each of the four gospels. It is a wonderful event in which Jesus actually provides food for as many as fifteen or twenty thousand (most of the five thousand men present would have had women and children from their families with them).
From a human perspective it is remarkable that there was an occasion for this miracle to take place at all. Christ is actually trying to get away from the great crowds that He is attracting, presumably to rest and devote Himself to prayer (see vv. 22-23). Hearing that Herod Antipas is beginning to take notice of His ministry motivates Jesus to go to a desolate place in order to find respite and commune with His Father (v. 13 ), but He is unable to arrive at His destination alone. Though He sets out by boat, the people follow the Savior's course by walking along the shore to meet Him when He makes landfall. Christ's compassion renders Him unable to ignore the needs of the people, and, as the Good Shepherd, He continues to meet their need for healing (vv. 13-14John 10:10-11).
The Messiah's powerful multiplication of five loaves and two fishes into a meal for thousands is well-known, but a critical theological emphasis of this passage is often overlooked. Of course, Jesus' ability to create so much out of so little demonstrates His mastery over the natural realm. Yet this act also has overtones that are strongly eschatological (end-times, the point at which God accomplishes His plan in full). In first-century Judaism, fish and bread were staples in the diet of the poor. More importantly, many Jewish thinkers believed these items would be part of the Messiah's banquet with His people in God's presence at history's end. The order in which Jesus takes, blesses, breaks, and distributes the bread also matches His institution of the Lord's Supper, which is itself a foretaste of the grand feast to come (Matt. 14:15-1926:26-29). In feeding the five thousand, Jesus commences this celebration and will fully realize it at His return. He is showing us that in Him we, even now, begin to enjoy that which God promises to His people at the end of the age ( Ezek. 34:20-24).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Matthew Henry writes about the tremendous leftovers found after the thousands were satisfied: "The provision Christ makes for those who are his is not bare and scanty, but rich and plentiful; an overflowing fullness." We should not be surprised when God goes above and beyond all that we would ask or dream. Consider a time in which He provided for you more abundantly than you could have imagined and tell another person of this occasion today.
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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June 19, 2012
I'm Just Passing Through 
Mary Southerland
Today's Truth
John 14:1-3 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."
Friend to Friend
I was flipping through television channels in a futile attempt to find something worth watching for a few minutes when the commercial for an upcoming movie grabbed my attention. A young man was trying to console his obviously upset friend. As he leaned across the table and took her hand, the young man quietly said, "God promised that everything will be okay in the end. So if everything is not okay, then this is not the end." The profound and simple truth stopped me in my tracks.
It had been a hard day – for many reasons. I have to admit that several times during the day I had thought, "God, I don't get it. Why is thishappening?" I have been a follower of Jesus Christ for many years, but my faith obviously still has a long way to grow. For a few minutes, I had forgotten that this world is not my eternal home, and its troubles and trials are only temporary. You see, when I came to Christ, my citizenship was automatically and eternally changed from earth to heaven.
I read about an American tourist who paid a visit to a renowned Polish rabbi. The tourist was astonished to see that the rabbi's home was just a simple room filled with books, a table and a cot. "Rabbi, where is your furniture?" the tourist asked. The rabbi simply replied, "Where is yours?" The puzzled American asked, "Mine? But I am only a visitor here. I'm only passing through." The rabbi smiled and replied, "So am I."
The apostle John wrote, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." In this passage, Jesus calls heaven "topos." In the Greek, the literal meaning of this word is "place." In other words, heaven is described as a real place. In this same passage, Jesus also calls heaven "oikos" which, in the Greek, literally means "a house or home, a dwelling." Some people say heaven is "a state of mind, a dream or wishful thinking," but the Bible is very clear about the fact that heaven is a real place. It is as real as the home and city in which you live.
  • Acts 1:11 "They said, 'Men of Galilee, why are you standing here staring at the sky? Jesus has been taken away from you into heaven. And someday, just as you saw him go, he will return!"'
Jesus did not go up into a state of mind, a dream or wishful thinking. He went to a real 
place and a real home.
  • Acts 10:9-11 "Peter was going up to the roof to pray. He was hungry and wanted to eat, but while the food was being prepared, he had a vision. He saw heaven opened."
  • Stephen was martyred for Christ. While he was being stoned, he spoke these words:
"Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God's right hand" (Acts 7:56).
The Bible repeatedly refers to heaven as a real place ... a very real and very beautiful place. Heaven is the workmanship of God. Think about that for a moment. Jesus was a carpenter, a builder. He announced that He was going away to prepare for us, a beautiful home in heaven. We know what kind of work He does. He created the universe in six days. Jesus loves detail. Look at the wings of a butterfly. He loves color. Look at a rainbow or a sunset. He loves beauty. Look into the face of a newborn baby. Jesus has been working on heaven for over 2,000 years. What a place it must be!
When I hold the troubles and trials of this world against the backdrop of heaven, peace floods my heart, mind and soul. I just need to remember that this world is not really my home. I am just passing through. How about you?
Let's Pray
Father, when I stand at the judgment seat of Christ and He shows me His plan for me
The plan of my life as it might have been if He'd had his way -- and I see
How I blocked Him here and I refused Him there and I would not yield my will –
Will there be grief in my Savior's eyes, grief though He loves me still?
He would have me rich and I stand there poor,
Stripped of all but His grace while memory runs like a hunted thing down the paths I cannot retrace.
Then my desolate heart will nearly break with the tears that I cannot shed;
I will cover my face with my empty hands; I will bow my uncrowned head.
Lord of the years that are left to me, I give them into your hands;
Take me and break me; mold me to the pattern that you have planned.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Heaven is the heart and soul of our faith. It is a reality. Read the following two verses. Record them in your journal. What new truth and hope about heaven does each verse give you?
  • Isaiah 63:15 "LORD, look down from the heavens and see; look at us from your wonderful and holy home in heaven."
  • Colossians 1:5 "You have this faith and love because of your hope, and what you hope for is kept safe for you in heaven."
More from the Girlfriends
Check out Mary's E-Book Bible Study, Strength for the Storm, if you need help navigating the storm in your life. MP3 downloads, CDs and books are also available in Mary's online store along with FREE resources on her site.
Looking for a Bible Study that is both practical and powerful? Check out Mary's E-Book Bible Studies. Each one includes a study guide that you can download for your personal use or for a small group study. 
Be sure to check out Mary's weekly Online Bible Study: How to Dress for Success. Enroll now and have access to all 2012 lessons. Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.
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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Glynnis Whitwer
June 19, 2012
Sometimes I Want to Run Away
Glynnis Whitwer
"Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." Luke 5:15-16 (NIV)
When my first three children were small, a book in a Christian store caught my eye. The title perfectly depicted how I felt at that time. So I bought it, carried it home, and hid it in my bedside table - still wrapped in the store bag.
The title was Sometimes I Feel Like Running Away From Home.
I was embarrassed for my husband to see it. My oldest was just learning to read and I didn't want him to see it either. What would they think? How could I explain that I didn't really want to leave, but every once in awhile I wanted to not be touched, pulled at or asked a question? I loved my family, but I felt like I was losing me.
And then the guilt set in.
How could a woman who had experienced three years of infertility and now had three healthy children ever want to be away from them? Wasn't I supposed to be enjoying every peanut-butter kiss and jelly-smeared hug? What was wrong with me?
I don't remember ever reading the book; I just kept it hidden. But I do remember the feelings:
• Inadequacy
• Being overwhelmed
• Exhaustion
While I never seriously considered running away, my soul longed for refreshment. As a full-time caregiver I needed to be reminded that I was important. And that it was okay to take time for myself so I could be refueled.
I remember when things changed for me. It wasn't a super-spiritual moment. It was a Target moment, looking at the most adorable girly shoes. As the mother of three boys my life was consumed with masculine things. So I dismissed the shoes thinking they were too girly and walked on. Two steps later I thought: Wait. I am a girl.
I tossed the cute shoes in my cart and determined to start rediscovering me. I could only do small things, but they sustained me on the hard days. Every day I tried to find a me-moment. A few quiet minutes with my Bible or book on the patio ... grocery shopping by myself ... a pretty coffee mug ... fresh cut flowers ... a ruffled blouse. In the midst of the chaos, I created little vignettes of beauty, little moments of peace. Yes Barney was still on the VCR and Hot Wheels were in the hall. But those moments helped.
Of course there are days when feeling overwhelmed and inadequate as a caregiver wasn't as simple as sipping from a cute coffee mug. In today's key verse Jesus modeled the most effective choice: time away and time alone - with our Heavenly Father.
Nothing can replace the peace only God can bring. Yet, in some seasons of life, getting away by ourselves for extended periods of time is near to impossible. In those seasons, we have to get creative. I had to discover ways to connect with God and renew my heart despite the daily demands. The only one who was going to make it happen was me.
In the midst of caring for those you love, don't neglect yourself. You are valuable and important. You are worth a little treat. You have a big job and need to be refreshed.
And by the way, I found the book recently and smiled at the reminder that time does pass, and perspective really helps. We all need a break to get God's viewpoint and peace. We need to refuel ourselves so we can continue to give to others. After all, if there's nothing left inside, what can we give?
Dear Lord, thank You for including in Scripture stories of how Jesus took time for Himself. Help me to accept that I have limits and needs. You know how overwhelmed I feel at times, please refuel and refresh me with Your Spirit first. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:Glynnis now has five children, ages 14 to 20 and she still needs to remember to care for herself. Visit Glynnis' blog for a list of her favorite ways to be refreshed.
I Used to Be So Organized by Glynnis Whitwer
Always There offers an inspiring combination of real-faith mothering stories and Scriptures that assures you of God's abiding presence, written by authors such as Renee Swope, Ann Voskamp and more.
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:
Is there something you love that you have given up because of your current circumstances? Consider if there is a way to re-incorporate that into your life.
Consider ways to be the hands of Jesus and bring refreshment to someone who is a full-time caregiver.
Power Verses:
Proverbs 11:25, "A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." (NIV)
Matthew 6:26, "Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (ESV)
© 2012 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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Feeding Five Thousand

Matthew Henry writes about the tremendous leftovers found after the thousands were satisfied: "The provision Christ makes for those who are his is not bare and scanty, but rich and plentiful; an overflowing fullness." We should not be surprised when God goes above and beyond all that we would ask or dream. Consider a time in which He provided for you more abundantly than you could have imagined and tell another person of this occasion today.
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 minister’s stock-taking

‘And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.’ Acts 28:24
Suggested Further Reading: John 3:16–18
There has never been a cross-breed between a believer and an unbeliever. A man must be either dead or alive. There is no neutral ground. You must either be on one side with those who are alive, or on the other side with those who are dead and need to be quickened. Think not to halt between two opinions. For the most part those who are said to be halting between two opinions are really of one opinion; they do not intend to serve the Lord, and they say in their hearts, ‘Who is the Lord that I should serve him?’ Now will you do me this favour? I asked it once, and it was blessed to the conversion of several. Will you take a little time alone, perhaps this evening; take a paper and pencil, and after you have honestly and fairly thought on your own state, and weighed your own condition before the Lord, will you write down one of two words: if you feel that you are not a believer write down this word—‘Condemned,’ and if you are a believer in Jesus, and put your trust in him alone, write down the word ‘Forgiven .’ Do it, even though you have to write down the word ‘Condemned.’ We lately received into church-fellowship a young man, who said, ‘Sir, I wrote down the word ‘Condemned’, and I looked at it; there it was; I had written it myself—‘Condemned’.’ As he looked the tears began to flow, and the heart began to break; and before long he fled to Christ, put the paper in the fire, and wrote down ‘Forgiven.’ This young man was about the sixth who had been brought to the Lord in the same way. So I pray you try it, and God may bless it to you.
For meditation : What is suggested is not a little game, but a matter of spiritual life and death. Are you prepared to examine yourself in this way (2 Corinthians 13:5) and to let God examine you and show you your real spiritual position (Psalm 26:2)?
Sermon no. 516
20 June (Undated Sermon)

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The outpouring of the Holy Spirit

“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” Acts 10:44
Suggested Further Reading: Micah 3:5-8
There is a necessity that the preacher himself, if souls are to be saved, should be under the influence of the Spirit. I have constantly made it my prayer that I might be guided by the Spirit even in the smallest and least important parts of the service; for you cannot tell if the salvation of a soul may depend upon the reading of a hymn, or upon the selection of a chapter. Two persons have joined our church and made a profession of being converted simply through my reading a hymn—“Jesus, lover of my soul.” They did not remember anything else in the hymn; but those words made such a deep impression upon their mind, that they could not help repeating them for days afterwards, and then the thought arose, “Do I love Jesus?” And then they considered what strange ingratitude it was that he should be the lover of their souls, and yet they should not love him. Now I believe the Holy Spirit led me to read that hymn. And many persons have been converted by some striking saying of the preacher. But why was it the preacher uttered that saying? Simply because he was led thereunto by the Holy Spirit. Rest assured, beloved, that when any part of the sermon is blessed to your heart, the minister said it because he was ordered to say it by his Master. I might preach today a sermon which I preached on Friday, and which was useful then, and there might be no good whatever come from it now, because it might not be the sermon which the Holy Spirit would have delivered today. But if with sincerity of heart I have sought God’s guidance in selecting the topic, and he rests upon me in the preaching of the Word, there is no fear but that it shall be found adapted to your immediate wants. The Holy Spirit must rest upon your preachers.
For meditation: The one who is filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) is filled with the word of Christ (Colossians 3:16 ); the mark of being filled with the Spirit is speaking the word of God (Luke 1:414267Acts 2:44:8317:55,56;13:9-10). Do you pray this for your preachers? And for yourself?
Sermon no. 201
20 June (1858)



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