Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Daily Devotional Wednesday 27th June

““‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Only ye shall not go very far away."
Exodus 8:28
This is a crafty word from the lip of the arch-tyrant Pharaoh. If the poor bondaged Israelites must needs go out of Egypt, then he bargains with them that it shall not be very far away; not too far for them to escape the terror of his arms, and the observation of his spies. After the same fashion, the world loves not the non-conformity of nonconformity, or the dissidence of dissent; it would have us be more charitable and not carry matters with too severe a hand. Death to the world, and burial with Christ, are experiences which carnal minds treat with ridicule, and hence the ordinance which sets them forth is almost universally neglected, and even condemned. Worldly wisdom recommends the path of compromise, and talks of "moderation." According to this carnal policy, purity is admitted to be very desirable, but we are warned against being too precise; truth is of course to be followed, but error is not to be severely denounced. "Yes," says the world, "be spiritually minded by all means, but do not deny yourself a little gay society, an occasional ball, and a Christmas visit to a theatre. What's the good of crying down a thing when it is so fashionable, and everybody does it?" Multitudes of professors yield to this cunning advice, to their own eternal ruin. If we would follow the Lord wholly, we must go right away into the wilderness of separation, and leave the Egypt of the carnal world behind us. We must leave its maxims, its pleasures, and its religion too, and go far away to the place where the Lord calls his sanctified ones. When the town is on fire, our house cannot be too far from the flames. When the plague is abroad, a man cannot be too far from its haunts. The further from a viper the better, and the further from worldly conformity the better. To all true believers let the trumpet-call be sounded, "Come ye out from among them, be ye separate."

Evening

"Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called."
1 Corinthians 7:20
Some persons have the foolish notion that the only way in which they can live for God is by becoming ministers, missionaries, or Bible women. Alas! how many would be shut out from any opportunity of magnifying the Most High if this were the case. Beloved, it is not office, it is earnestness; it is not position, it is grace which will enable us to glorify God. God is most surely glorified in that cobbler's stall, where the godly worker, as he plies the awl, sings of the Saviour's love, aye, glorified far more than in many a prebendal stall where official religiousness performs its scanty duties. The name of Jesus is glorified by the poor unlearned carter as he drives his horse, and blesses his God, or speaks to his fellow labourer by the roadside, as much as by the popular divine who, throughout the country, like Boanerges, is thundering out the gospel. God is glorified by our serving him in our proper vocations. Take care, dear reader, that you do not forsake the path of duty by leaving your occupation, and take care you do not dishonour your profession while in it. Think little of yourselves, but do not think too little of your callings. Every lawful trade may be sanctified by the gospel to noblest ends. Turn to the Bible, and you will find the most menial forms of labour connected either with most daring deeds of faith, or with persons whose lives have been illustrious for holiness. Therefore be not discontented with your calling. Whatever God has made your position, or your work, abide in that, unless you are quite sure that he calls you to something else. Let your first care be to glorify God to the utmost of your power where you are. Fill your present sphere to his praise, and if he needs you in another he will show it you. This evening lay aside vexatious ambition, and embrace peaceful content.

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Today's reading: Job 5-7, Acts 8:1-25 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Job 5

   1 “Call if you will, but who will answer you?
   To which of the holy ones will you turn?
2 Resentment kills a fool,
   and envy slays the simple.
3 I myself have seen a fool taking root,
   but suddenly his house was cursed.
4 His children are far from safety,
   crushed in court without a defender.
5 The hungry consume his harvest,
   taking it even from among thorns,
   and the thirsty pant after his wealth.
6 For hardship does not spring from the soil,
   nor does trouble sprout from the ground.
7 Yet man is born to trouble
   as surely as sparks fly upward.
   8 “But if I were you, I would appeal to God;
   I would lay my cause before him.
9 He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
   miracles that cannot be counted.
10 He provides rain for the earth;
   he sends water on the countryside.
11 The lowly he sets on high,
   and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
12 He thwarts the plans of the crafty,
   so that their hands achieve no success.
13 He catches the wise in their craftiness,
   and the schemes of the wily are swept away.
14 Darkness comes upon them in the daytime;
   at noon they grope as in the night.
15 He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth;
   he saves them from the clutches of the powerful.
16 So the poor have hope,
   and injustice shuts its mouth.
   17 “Blessed is the one whom God corrects;
   so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
18 For he wounds, but he also binds up;
   he injures, but his hands also heal.
19 From six calamities he will rescue you;
   in seven no harm will touch you.
20 In famine he will deliver you from death,
   and in battle from the stroke of the sword.
21 You will be protected from the lash of the tongue,
   and need not fear when destruction comes.
22 You will laugh at destruction and famine,
   and need not fear the wild animals.
23 For you will have a covenant with the stones of the field,
   and the wild animals will be at peace with you.
24 You will know that your tent is secure;
   you will take stock of your property and find nothing missing.
25 You will know that your children will be many,
   and your descendants like the grass of the earth.
26 You will come to the grave in full vigor,
   like sheaves gathered in season.
   27 “We have examined this, and it is true.
   So hear it and apply it to yourself.”

Job 6

Job
    1 Then Job replied:
   2 “If only my anguish could be weighed
   and all my misery be placed on the scales!
3 It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas—
   no wonder my words have been impetuous.
4 The arrows of the Almighty are in me,
   my spirit drinks in their poison;
   God’s terrors are marshaled against me.
5 Does a wild donkey bray when it has grass,
   or an ox bellow when it has fodder?
6 Is tasteless food eaten without salt,
   or is there flavor in the sap of the mallow?
7 I refuse to touch it;
   such food makes me ill.
   8 “Oh, that I might have my request,
   that God would grant what I hope for,
9 that God would be willing to crush me,
   to let loose his hand and cut off my life!
10 Then I would still have this consolation—
   my joy in unrelenting pain—
   that I had not denied the words of the Holy One.
   11 “What strength do I have, that I should still hope?
   What prospects, that I should be patient?
12 Do I have the strength of stone?
   Is my flesh bronze?
13 Do I have any power to help myself,
   now that success has been driven from me?
   14 “Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend
   forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
15 But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams,
   as the streams that overflow
16 when darkened by thawing ice
   and swollen with melting snow,
17 but that stop flowing in the dry season,
   and in the heat vanish from their channels.
18 Caravans turn aside from their routes;
   they go off into the wasteland and perish.
19 The caravans of Tema look for water,
   the traveling merchants of Sheba look in hope.
20 They are distressed, because they had been confident;
   they arrive there, only to be disappointed.
21 Now you too have proved to be of no help;
   you see something dreadful and are afraid.
22 Have I ever said, ‘Give something on my behalf,
   pay a ransom for me from your wealth,
23 deliver me from the hand of the enemy,
   rescue me from the clutches of the ruthless’?
   24 “Teach me, and I will be quiet;
   show me where I have been wrong.
25 How painful are honest words!
   But what do your arguments prove?
26 Do you mean to correct what I say,
   and treat my desperate words as wind?
27 You would even cast lots for the fatherless
   and barter away your friend.
   28 “But now be so kind as to look at me.
   Would I lie to your face?
29 Relent, do not be unjust;
   reconsider, for my integrity is at stake.
30 Is there any wickedness on my lips?
   Can my mouth not discern malice?

Job 7

   1 “Do not mortals have hard service on earth?
   Are not their days like those of hired laborers?
2 Like a slave longing for the evening shadows,
   or a hired laborer waiting to be paid,
3 so I have been allotted months of futility,
   and nights of misery have been assigned to me.
4 When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’
   The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn.
My body is clothed with worms and scabs,
   my skin is broken and festering.
   6 “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,
   and they come to an end without hope.
7 Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath;
   my eyes will never see happiness again.
8 The eye that now sees me will see me no longer;
   you will look for me, but I will be no more.
9 As a cloud vanishes and is gone,
   so one who goes down to the grave does not return.
10 He will never come to his house again;
   his place will know him no more.
   11 “Therefore I will not keep silent;
   I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit,
   I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
12 Am I the sea, or the monster of the deep,
   that you put me under guard?
13 When I think my bed will comfort me
   and my couch will ease my complaint,
14 even then you frighten me with dreams
   and terrify me with visions,
15 so that I prefer strangling and death,
   rather than this body of mine.
16 I despise my life; I would not live forever.
   Let me alone; my days have no meaning.
   17 “What is mankind that you make so much of them,
   that you give them so much attention,
18 that you examine them every morning
   and test them every moment?
19 Will you never look away from me,
   or let me alone even for an instant?
20 If I have sinned, what have I done to you,
   you who see everything we do?
Why have you made me your target?
   Have I become a burden to you?
21 Why do you not pardon my offenses
   and forgive my sins?
For I will soon lie down in the dust;
   you will search for me, but I will be no more.”

Acts 8

   1 And Saul approved of their killing him.
The Church Persecuted and Scattered
    On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.
Philip in Samaria
    4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
Simon the Sorcerer
    9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. 12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
   14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
   18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
   20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
   24 Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”
   25 After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.

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Ahitub [Ăhī'tub]—brother of benevolence or father of goodness.
  1. A son of Phinehas and grandson of Eli (1 Sam. 14:322:911,1220).
  2. A son of Amariah and father of Zadok the priest (2 Sam. 8:171 Chron. 6:1112). Perhaps the same as No. 1.
  3. A priest and ruler of the House of God in Nehemiah’s time (1 Chron. 9:11Neh. 11:11).

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Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional

DAWN OF FAITH

When faith happened in my life it was like the irrepressible onset of dawn.
I love watching the sunrise on the horizon of Lake Michigan, and it always reminds me of the dawning of the new life of faith. The black-painted sky gradually thins and stars lose their sparkle against the graying morning. On the horizon, where the sun hides low, the darkness melts before the advancing, red-tinged light. A fire is coming. And then it shoots out across the landscape-just a small ray-but the darkness has no chance against it. Then the brilliant arc advances. By the time the full orb rides on the horizon, its heat is already drying the night air and warming my face.
Others would say that faith happened to them in a more muted and overcast way, but no less genuine. It was still the birth of day after the night. I say "happen" because it is foolish for us to think that we initiate faith or define it or shape it. When I became a believer in a dramatic new way at the age of 17, it was like being irradiated by a power over which I had no control, and which compelled me to believe. I was able to tell people, "I really believe in God now," not with any sense that I had done anything, or read the right book, or talked to the right person, or been in the right place. It would be foolish to brag that you believe in the sun. No, you believe it because it is so obvious.
It is extraordinarily hard to live without faith, because we were created to be trusting creatures-and in that trust to be connected with the altogether Trustworthy Creator. Without faith you cannot call somebody else a friend, and the thought would never cross your mind to call God your friend.
Faith is never a matter of proofs and statistics. One thing I believe is that my wife loves me. I know that to be a fact. Yet I can't tell you exactly the date on which that faith came alive in me. I can't give you a list of empirical evidence that proves her love. I could list examples of that love-instances of compassion, understanding, support, joy. But my trust that she does love me comes not just from a stack of evidence that goes to the ceiling, but somehow from the core of one person to another.
At its heart, that's the way faith in God works. There is, of course, evidence of his existence and his love and power, but all kinds of people look at that same body of evidence and some conclude there is a loving God, and others that there is not.
Faith is born in a person's inner being; it is not simply a decision. Faith is a dynamic relationship, not just a stack of assertions.
People of faith who believe that God is real, and that he is alive and active in the world, have simply registered in a conscious way that a brilliant light has overwhelmed them. Like a new day dawning, they realize one moment that they have awakened, even if they don't know exactly when the waking started.
Here is one definition of faith: "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1).
(To be continued next week)
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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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When does God refuse to hear our prayers?

God sees, hears and knows everything-including our prayers. Nothing escapes his attention. Why then did God say he would not listen to the people's cries for help? There are several possible reasons.
In this case, God did not respond because judgment was unavoidable. Judah had disobeyed God's laws and ignored his pleas for so long that judgment was, in effect, already on the way. Their cries were too little, too late. God even told Jeremiah not to pray for the people (see Isa 14:11-12)-that not even Moses and Samuel could have persuaded him to offer further compassion to them (see Isa 15:1).
It's also possible that people sometimes sabotage their own prayers. The Bible mentions several attitudes and actions that can short-circuit our prayers: sin (see Ps 66:18Isa 59:2Jer 14:10-12), disobedience (see Pr 28:9), hypocrisy and insincerity (see Isa 29:13Mal 1:7-9), wrong motives (see Mt 6:5-6Lk 18:11-14Jas 4:3), lack of faith ( Heb 11:6Jas 1:6) and even marital problems (see 1Pe 3:7).
Finally, what sometimes appears to be no answer to prayer may actually be a delayed answer (see Da 10:12-13 ). Other times God may deny our request in order to give us something better than what we knew to ask for.
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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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GOD ANSWERS PRAYER

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:7
In the mid-1990’s, my Canadian co-worker, PJ, and I were leading a ministry trip of Canadians and Americans to Iran. This was the first trip with a sizable group of Americans so there was a lot of excitement about it. And as expected, it took us right to the wire (two hours before our air flight) to secure their visitor visas.
As we finally relaxed on the long air flight, we realized we’d been so busy with travel details we’d had no time to shop for gifts for the brothers and sisters we’d be meeting. So on the plane, we bought every box of chocolates that were on the duty-free carts.
On arrival in Iran, our women were all conservatively dressed in their black chadors allowing them to travel anywhere in the country and be accepted. It also enabled many discussions with other women on the street. Only their shoes gave them away as westerners.
One of our tasks was to deliver some funds for widow support for the several Christian widows of martyred pastors in the country at that time. We channelled this through Sister Takoosh who was the widow of well-known Pastor Haik, the leader of the evangelicals in the entire country until his untimely murder.
We sent our group of chador-covered ladies to meet Takoosh at night at her home. They were received with the traditional great hospitality of the Persian culture and Christian community. They drank tea together and enjoyed wonderful fellowship in Jesus after sharing the financial and other gifts they brought.
Just before leaving, one of the Canadians remembered something. She reached into her large purse and pulled out a box of chocolates. She handed it to Sister Takoosh and said, “The two Pauls sent this as a gift for you.”
Unexpectedly, Takoosh began to weep. She then wiped her tears and said, “I really love chocolate. And when I get any, I cut it into small pieces to make it last as long as possible. Just yesterday I ate my last piece. And I said to the Lord, ‘I know this is a very selfish request, Lord, but would You please bring me some more chocolate!’”
God is concerned about even the small things in our lives. Talk to Him about them.
RESPONSE: Today I will talk to God about every detail of my life and trust Him with the answers.
PRAYER: Thank You, Lord that You care about my every need. I will Trust You to take care of every detail.

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 26

Whoever cannot be alone should beware of community. Such people will only do harm to themselves and to the community. Alone you stood before God when God called you. Alone you had to obey God's voice. Alone you had to take up your cross, struggle, and pray and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot avoid yourself, for it is precisely God who has singled you out. If you do not want to be alone, you are rejecting Christ's call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called...
But the reverse is also true. Whoever cannot stand being in community should beware of being alone. You are called into the community of faith; the call was not meant for you alone. You carry your cross, you struggle, and you pray in the community of faith, the community of those who are called. You are not alone even when you die, and on the day of judgment you will be only one member of the great community of faith of Jesus Christ...
Whoever cannot be alone should beware of community. Whoever cannot stand being in community should beware of being alone.

Biblical Wisdom

For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. Romans 12:4-5

Questions to Ponder

  • Why do so many people in our society seem to fear being alone?
  • Why do so many churches seem to be mere aggregates of individuals rather than true communities of faith?
  • In what ways can a disciple establish a healthy balance between aloneness and community?

Psalm Fragment

Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
    in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord,
   studied by all who delight in them. Psalm 111:1-2

Journal Reflections

  • Write about times when you have intentionally been alone. How did it make you feel? What did you do? Did your aloneness have any impact on how you felt when you were with others again?
  • Write about your experience in community. Do you feel an integral part of your community? Do you feel like you have a good balance between time in community and time alone?

Intercessions

If you know anyone who seems lonely, pray that they might discover true community. If you know anyone who seems afraid to be alone with themselves, pray that they might discover the joy of solitude, of being alone with God.

Prayer for Today

O Lord, when I am too much alone, help me seek community. When I am too dependent on the community, help me to set aside time to be alone.
40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.
Missed the first couple devotionals in this series, or want to re-read an earlier devotional? You can find a complete online archive of Bonhoeffer devotionals at BibleGateway.com. The first devotional can be found here.

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June 26, 2012
Stop! Drop! Roll!
Mary Southerland
Today's Truth
Luke 2:52 "Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."
Friend to Friend
A friend recently sent me the following message in an email with a subject line that said, "I immediately thought of you when I read this!"
"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body. But rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming, "Wow, what a ride!"
As I read the words on the computer screen, I wasn't sure if I had just received a sweet compliment or some badly needed correction – or both. The part about arriving at the grave in a pretty and well preserved body was flattering, but the part about being thoroughly used up and totally worn out – well, not so much. My next thought was, "Boredom is highly underrated!" I suspect that the truth lies somewhere in between, maybe around the area of balance.
Contrary to popular belief and the way that I have lived a great deal of my life, "balance" is not a dirty word. In fact, a balanced life is a powerful life. It must be. I wrote those words in one of my books. I also stated that a busy life is not necessarily a productive life. I think it is time for a refresher course on how to find God's balance in life because being out of balance is not a good thing. When our finances are out of balance, we hear from the bank. When the washer is out of balance, it dances across the floor. When the tires on our car are out of balance, the ride is rough. But when our life is out of balance, disaster is just around the corner.
As I was praying about this devotional, the Father brought to mind my elementary school days when the firemen came to our school to teach us what we should do in case we ever caught on fire. I remember the drill clearly. Stop! Drop! Roll! Let's apply that same drill to the area of balance. 
Stop! When was the last time you stopped, got off the merry-go-round and out of the fast lane to take a long, hard look at your life? It is so easy to live each day just doing "the next thing" that comes along. The "one size fits all" mentality about life plans is from the pit and smells like smoke, girlfriend. God has a plan for your life that is unique and you are the only person who can be "you." Build on your strengths. Accept your limitations and yield to the seasons of life. Get in the Word and ask God to show you His plan.
Drop! Once you discover your life plan, eliminate anything that does not fit that plan. Learn to invest your time instead of just spending it or allowing others to steal it. Choose to budget your time just like you budget your money and learn to say "no" without feeling guilty. We are all responsible for how we spend the time God has given us. Every morning we are credited with 86,400 seconds. No balance is carried into the next day and every night erases what we fail to use.
Roll! Roll away the burdens you are carrying and learn the value of resting in God. Every opportunity to worry is also an opportunity to trust Him. I heard a story about a man who had to cross a wide river on the ice. He was afraid it might be too thin, so he began to crawl on his hands and knees in fear, thinking he would fall through the icy surface at any time. Just as he neared the opposite shore, exhausted and weak, another man glided past him sitting on a sled loaded with iron. The promises of God will not break under the weight of any problem or trial you will ever face. Take Him at His Word. Let God be God in your life and trust Him.
When Jesus was twelve years old, He traveled to Jerusalem with His parents for the annual Passover Celebration. When Mary and Joseph began the long trip home, they assumed Jesus was traveling with friends. When they realized Jesus was missing, their search found Him at the temple, teaching.
Don't miss this important truth. Jesus returned home with His parents and spent the next twenty years growing and maturing. Luke 2:52 tells us that "Jesus grew in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and men." Then in Luke 3, we see Jesus as He began His ministry on earth. Don't miss this important truth! Jesus grew mentally and emotionally, physically, spiritually and socially. His life was balanced – before He began His ministry. You may be waiting for your life to just fall into place, hoping that the things you are doing will achieve balance. The opposite is true. A powerful life comes from a balanced life. Now is the time for you to stop ... drop ... and roll.
Let's Pray
Father, I am tired. My life is out of control and I don't know what to do. Please help me examine my priorities by Your standards and expectations and live for Your pleasure and glory. I choose now to trust You, knowing that You are in control whether it looks like it or not. My faith is weak, Lord. Strengthen me to do what You created me to do.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Set aside time to come before God, in total surrender and with a willing heart. Ask Him to show you His plan. Choose to follow that plan now.
Stop: Read and memorize Psalm 139:16. Examine your priorities. Do they line up with God's priorities?
Drop: What activity or time consumer do you need to eliminate from your life? For example, how much time do you spend watching television or online? What would your life look like if you invested that time in studying the Bible, praying or serving God?
Roll: Exodus 31:17 says, "For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed." What does this verse say to you about the importance of rest?
2 Timothy 1:7 says, "God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control." What is your greatest fear? Give it to God today and trust Him.
More from the Girlfriends
I know it is hard to find the right balance in life. Only God can make that happen when we make the choice to let Him. Are you ready to make that choice? Know that we are praying for you and asking God to fill your life with peace and joy as you seek Him. We are with you, girlfriend.
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
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Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 725
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Glynnis Whitwer
June 26, 2012
God Never Wastes Our Pain
Glynnis Whitwer
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
She'd betrayed me again. Hurt and anger simmered as I walked away counting to 10, then 20. Lord, this assignment is difficult! I feel like such a failure.
Feelings of shame filled me as I thought about my reaction toward my child who'd taunted me. Shouldn't I be above this? I asked myself. Shouldn't I be able to deal with rejection and deceit without getting angry? Why can't I rejoice in my trials like those first followers of Jesus?
That day, as always, God let me vent. As I presented my hurt and angry emotions to Him, He poured peace over my heart. My circumstances hadn't changed, but once again my heart was restored, and I felt encouraged.
God and I have been through this before. Despite my battered heart, this assignment to care for my wounded girl is mine.
You see, seven years ago, God added to our family through an international adoption. We didn't know the trauma our beautiful girls had experienced, but God did. And although some people's adoption story seems almost effortless, ours has come with a high cost. And for most of those seven years we have walked a painful journey with our daughters while sharing in their suffering.
In those seven years I've learned more about living with pain and helplessness than in all my previous years combined. I've also had to make some hard decisions about what I believe about God.
Mostly I've had to dig deep into whether or not I believe God can truly bring good out of all pain, or if my daughters' suffering and ours is just a waste.
In that process, I've come to believe that God will never waste our pain, but I can.
• When I'm not honest about the reality of how hard life is, I waste God's offer of peace.
• When I try to do things in my own strength, I waste God's offer of power.
• When I keep the pain to myself, and pretend everything is perfect, I waste opportunities to minister to others walking a similar path.
But when I confess my feelings of inadequacies, when I admit I'm helpless to heal the wounded ones in my care, I get to a place of reliance - and that's just where God wants me. For in this place of helplessness, God takes center stage. And when I let God lead, miracles start to happen.
Although I'd remove the pain and trauma with a snap of my fingers if I could, I know God is working even in this.
Especially in this.
I can talk about God's power all day long, but experiencing it changes me. It changes those around me.
Like Paul said in our key verse today, I find my way to being glad for this weakness in me. I'm not glad for sin or what caused the brokenness my daughters and I are facing. But I see pain for what it is - a condition of this fallen world, and a place for God to do His best work. The evil one's plans don't succeed, because the battle isn't mine anymore. God's power takes over when I step back.
This perspective shift helps me face another day. My circumstances haven't changed, but hope has seeped in through the cracks. No pain is wasted when I submit myself to God's plans. And we are seeing God's healing power in the lives of two precious girls.
Dear Lord, we've been here before, with me asking for relief. Help me to accept my weakness in this situation, and to allow Your power to take over. I admit I don't understand how this works, but I'm choosing to trust Your Word. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:Visit Glynnis' blog for a discussion on how God uses hard times in our lives.
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:
Think about a painful time in your life. How was God's power revealed during that time?
It's easy to allow painful circumstances to bring us to a place of bitterness. If you are in that place today, write down 10 things you are thankful for. As you review that list, praise God for His work in your life to bring you these things.
Power Verses:
1 Corinthians 1:25, "For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." (NIV)
1 Peter 2:20, "But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God." (NIV)
© 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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Another Request for a Sign

Matthew Henry comments, "It is an instance of the deceitfulness of the heart, to think that we should be influenced by the means and advantages which we do not have, while we slight those which we have." The Sadducees and Pharisees kept demanding one more sign from Jesus even when they had already seen enough evidence of His messianic vocation. Let us never be guilty of demanding more signs or answers to prayer than God has already given us.
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 conversion of Saul of Tarsus

“And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” Acts 26:14
Suggested Further Reading: John 15:16-25
When you were first pricked in the heart, how personal the preacher was. I remember it well. It seemed to me that I was the only person in the whole place, as if a black wall were round about me, and I were shut in with the preacher, something like the prisoners at the penitentiary, who each sit in their cell and can see no one but the chaplain. I thought all he said was meant for me; I felt persuaded that some one knew my character, and had written to him and told him all, and that he had personally picked me out. Why, I thought he fixed his eyes on me; and I have reason to believe he did, but still he said he knew nothing about my case. Oh, that men would hear the word preached, and that God would so bless them in their hearing, that they might feel it to have a personal application to their own hearts. But note again—the apostle received some information as to the persecuted one. If you had asked Saul who it was he persecuted, he would have said, “Some poor fishermen, that had been setting up an impostor; I am determined to put them down.” “Why, who are they? They are the poorest of the world, the very scum and dregs of society; if they were princes and kings we perhaps might let them have their opinion; but these poor miserable ignorant fellows, I do not see why they are allowed to carry out their infatuation, and I shall persecute them. Moreover, most of them are women I have been persecuting—poor, ignorant creatures. What right have they to set their judgement up above the priests? They have no right to have an opinion of their own, and therefore it is quite right for me to make them turn away from their foolish errors.” But see in what a different light Jesus Christ puts it. He does not say, “Saul, Saul, why didst thou persecute Stephen?” or “Why art thou about to drag the people of Damascus to prison;” No—“Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”
For meditation: What a personal Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ is! He personally calls his people to himself ( Luke 19:5) and he takes it personally when they are persecuted (Luke 10:16).
Sermon no. 202
27 June (1858)

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The garden of the soul

‘A place called Gethsemane.’ Matthew 26:36
Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 27:35–56
Watch inward. Look at Christ. ‘Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself.’ Watch the Saviour, and watch with the Saviour. Brethren and sisters, I should like to say this to you so emphatically that you would never forget it. Be familiar with the passion of your Lord. Get right up to the cross. Do not be satisfied with that, but get the cross on your shoulders; get yourself bound to the cross in the spirit of the apostle when he said, ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live.’ I do not know that I have had sweeter work to do for a long time than when a few weeks ago I was looking over all the hymn-writers and all the poets I knew of for hymns upon the passion of the Lord. I tried to enjoy them as I selected them, and to get into the vein in which the poets were when they sung them. Believe me, there is no fount that yields such sweet water as the fount that springs from Calvary just at the foot of the cross. Here it is that there is a sight to be seen more astounding and more ravishing than ever from the top of Pisgah. Get into the side of Christ; it is a cleft of the rock in which you may hide until the tempest is overpassed. Live in Christ; live near to Christ; and then, let the conflict come, and you will overcome even as he overcame, and rising up from your sweat and from your agony you will go forth to meet even death itself with a calm expression on your brow, saying, ‘My Father, not as I will, but as thou wilt.’
For meditation: The recent research connected with hymns to which Spurgeon refers was probably in preparation for Our Own Hymnbook which he was compiling and which was published in September 1866 (this undated sermon appeared in June 1866). Do the hymns and spiritual songs you like to sing have an important and meaningful place for the Lord Jesus Christ, his death and the salvation of sinners (Revelation 5:912) or are they more taken up with yourself and your own experiences?
Sermon no. 693
27 June (Undated Sermon)

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Another Request for a Sign

Matthew 16:1-4 "You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times" ( v. 3).
In The Emperor's New Clothes, Hans Christian Andersen tells the story of an emperor who is convinced by two criminals that they have made for him a magnificent set of clothes. Even though the thieves have created nothing, the ruler's subjects also affirm the beauty of the non-existent clothes when the emperor parades his "garments" through the town. Finally, a child points out the plain fact that nobody will admit - the emperor is wearing nothing at all.
The Pharisees and the Sadducees are like the emperor and the townspeople in that they have a gift for refusing to accept the obvious. Coming to test Jesus, they request a special sign (Matt. 16:1), which some of Christ's other enemies also looked for once (12:38 ). The Pharisees and Sadducees are strange bedfellows because they hold different theological and political views. For instance, the Sadducees are willing to adopt the ways of the Romans, and, unlike the Pharisees, they deny the future resurrection of the dead. Still, both parties have representatives on the Sanhedrin, the religious governing body of the Jews, and can unite behind their opposition to this Nazarene, whose popularity threatens their own power. As John Calvin tells us in his commentary on this passage, "Though ungodly men quarrel among themselves, their internal broils never prevent them from conspiring against God, and entering into a compact for joining their hands in persecuting the truth."
Christ's reply reveals that the Pharisees and Sadducees reject the obvious truth about Him. Though able to predict future weather patterns, they cannot interpret properly the clear signs they have seen in the present (16:2-3). In other words, the Pharisees and the Sadducees are too hard-hearted to receive the messianic proofs our Savior has already displayed (11:1-6; see Isa. 35). Blinded by sin, these two parties are looking for reasons not to believe in the abundant proof regarding Jesus' identity. Our Lord will not indulge them; all they will get is the sign of Jonah (Matt. 16:4). Just as God rescued the prophet from drowning and death (Jonah 1-2 ), so too will He miraculously raise Jesus from the dead. But even then His hardened opponents will not believe (Matt. 28:1-15).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Matthew Henry comments, "It is an instance of the deceitfulness of the heart, to think that we should be influenced by the means and advantages which we do not have, while we slight those which we have." The Sadducees and Pharisees kept demanding one more sign from Jesus even when they had already seen enough evidence of His messianic vocation. Let us never be guilty of demanding more signs or answers to prayer than God has already given us.
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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