Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Daily Devotional Wednesday 6th June

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV
===
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Behold, I am vile."
Job 40:4
One cheering word, poor lost sinner, for thee! You think you must not come to God because you are vile. Now, there is not a saint living on earth but has been made to feel that he is vile. If Job, and Isaiah, and Paul were all obliged to say "I am vile," oh, poor sinner, wilt thou be ashamed to join in the same confession? If divine grace does not eradicate all sin from the believer, how dost thou hope to do it thyself? and if God loves his people while they are yet vile, dost thou think thy vileness will prevent his loving thee? Believe on Jesus, thou outcast of the world's society! Jesus calls thee, and such as thou art.
"Not the righteous, not the righteous;
Sinners, Jesus came to call."
Even now say, "Thou hast died for sinners; I am a sinner, Lord Jesus, sprinkle thy blood on me;" if thou wilt confess thy sin thou shalt find pardon. If, now, with all thy heart, thou wilt say, "I am vile, wash me," thou shalt be washed now. If the Holy Spirit shall enable thee from thy heart to cry
"Just as I am, without one plea
But that thy blood was shed for me,
And that thou bidd'st me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come!"
thou shalt rise from reading this morning's portion with all thy sins pardoned; and though thou didst wake this morning with every sin that man hath ever committed on thy head, thou shalt rest tonight accepted in the Beloved; though once degraded with the rags of sin, thou shalt be adorned with a robe of righteousness, and appear white as the angels are. For "now," mark it, "Now is the accepted time." If thou "believest on him who justifieth the ungodly thou art saved." Oh! may the Holy Spirit give thee saving faith in him who receives the vilest.

Evening

"Are they Israelites? so am I."
2 Corinthians 11:22
We have here a personal claim, and one that needs proof. The apostle knew that his claim was indisputable, but there are many persons who have no right to the title who yet claim to belong to the Israel of God. If we are with confidence declaring, "So am I also an Israelite," let us only say it after having searched our heart as in the presence of God. But if we can give proof that we are following Jesus, if we can from the heart say, "I trust him wholly, trust him only, trust him simply, trust him now, and trust him ever," then the position which the saints of God hold belongs to us--all their enjoyments are our possessions; we may be the very least in Israel, "less than the least of all saints," yet since the mercies of God belong to the saints as saints, and not as advanced saints, or well-taught saints, we may put in our plea, and say, "Are they Israelites? so am I; therefore the promises are mine, grace is mine, glory will be mine." The claim, rightfully made, is one which will yield untold comfort. When God's people are rejoicing that they are his, what a happiness if they can say, "So am I !" When they speak of being pardoned, and justified, and accepted in the Beloved, how joyful to respond, "Through the grace of God, so am I." But this claim not only has its enjoyments and privileges, but also its conditions and duties. We must share with God's people in cloud as well as in sunshine. When we hear them spoken of with contempt and ridicule for being Christians, we must come boldly forward and say, "So am I." When we see them working for Christ, giving their time, their talent, their whole heart to Jesus, we must be able to say, "So do I." O let us prove our gratitude by our devotion, and live as those who, having claimed a privilege, are willing to take the responsibility connected with it.

===

Today's reading: 2 Chronicles 23-24, John 15 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
   In the seventh year Jehoiada showed his strength. He made a covenant with the commanders of units of a hundred: Azariah son of Jeroham, Ishmael son of Jehohanan, Azariah son of Obed, Maaseiah son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat son of Zikri. 2They went throughout Judah and gathered the Levites and the heads of Israelite families from all the towns. When they came to Jerusalem, 3 the whole assembly made a covenant with the king at the temple of God.
   Jehoiada said to them, “The king’s son shall reign, as the LORD promised concerning the descendants of David. 4 Now this is what you are to do: A third of you priests and Levites who are going on duty on the Sabbath are to keep watch at the doors, 5 a third of you at the royal palace and a third at the Foundation Gate, and all the others are to be in the courtyards of the temple of the LORD. 6 No one is to enter the temple of the LORD except the priests and Levites on duty; they may enter because they are consecrated, but all the others are to observe the LORD’s command not to enter. 7 The Levites are to station themselves around the king, each with weapon in hand. Anyone who enters the temple is to be put to death. Stay close to the king wherever he goes.”
   8 The Levites and all the men of Judah did just as Jehoiada the priest ordered. Each one took his men—those who were going on duty on the Sabbath and those who were going off duty—for Jehoiada the priest had not released any of the divisions. 9 Then he gave the commanders of units of a hundred the spears and the large and small shields that had belonged to King David and that were in the temple of God. 10He stationed all the men, each with his weapon in his hand, around the king—near the altar and the temple, from the south side to the north side of the temple.
   11 Jehoiada and his sons brought out the king’s son and put the crown on him; they presented him with a copy of the covenant and proclaimed him king. They anointed him and shouted, “Long live the king!”
   12 When Athaliah heard the noise of the people running and cheering the king, she went to them at the temple of the LORD.13 She looked, and there was the king, standing by his pillar at the entrance. The officers and the trumpeters were beside the king, and all the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets, and musicians with their instruments were leading the praises. Then Athaliah tore her robes and shouted, “Treason! Treason!”
   14 Jehoiada the priest sent out the commanders of units of a hundred, who were in charge of the troops, and said to them: “Bring her out between the ranks and put to the sword anyone who follows her.” For the priest had said, “Do not put her to death at the temple of the LORD.” 15 So they seized her as she reached the entrance of the Horse Gate on the palace grounds, and there they put her to death.
   16 Jehoiada then made a covenant that he, the people and the king would be the LORD’s people. 17 All the people went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars and idols and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars.
   18 Then Jehoiada placed the oversight of the temple of the LORD in the hands of the Levitical priests, to whom David had made assignments in the temple, to present the burnt offerings of the LORD as written in the Law of Moses, with rejoicing and singing, as David had ordered. 19 He also stationed gatekeepers at the gates of the LORD’s temple so that no one who was in any way unclean might enter.
   20 He took with him the commanders of hundreds, the nobles, the rulers of the people and all the people of the land and brought the king down from the temple of the LORD. They went into the palace through the Upper Gate and seated the king on the royal throne. 21 All the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was calm, because Athaliah had been slain with the sword.

2 Chronicles 24

Joash Repairs the Temple
    1 Joash was seven years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty years. His mother’s name was Zibiah; she was from Beersheba. 2 Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years of Jehoiada the priest. 3Jehoiada chose two wives for him, and he had sons and daughters.
   4 Some time later Joash decided to restore the temple of the LORD. 5 He called together the priests and Levites and said to them, “Go to the towns of Judah and collect the money due annually from all Israel, to repair the temple of your God. Do it now.” But the Levites did not act at once.
   6 Therefore the king summoned Jehoiada the chief priest and said to him, “Why haven’t you required the Levites to bring in from Judah and Jerusalem the tax imposed by Moses the servant of the LORD and by the assembly of Israel for the tent of the covenant law?”
   7 Now the sons of that wicked woman Athaliah had broken into the temple of God and had used even its sacred objects for the Baals.
   8 At the king’s command, a chest was made and placed outside, at the gate of the temple of the LORD. 9 A proclamation was then issued in Judah and Jerusalem that they should bring to the LORD the tax that Moses the servant of God had required of Israel in the wilderness. 10 All the officials and all the people brought their contributions gladly, dropping them into the chest until it was full. 11 Whenever the chest was brought in by the Levites to the king’s officials and they saw that there was a large amount of money, the royal secretary and the officer of the chief priest would come and empty the chest and carry it back to its place. They did this regularly and collected a great amount of money. 12 The king and Jehoiada gave it to those who carried out the work required for the temple of the LORD. They hired masons and carpenters to restore the LORD’s temple, and also workers in iron and bronze to repair the temple.
   13 The men in charge of the work were diligent, and the repairs progressed under them. They rebuilt the temple of God according to its original design and reinforced it. 14 When they had finished, they brought the rest of the money to the king and Jehoiada, and with it were made articles for the LORD’s temple: articles for the service and for the burnt offerings, and also dishes and other objects of gold and silver. As long as Jehoiada lived, burnt offerings were presented continually in the temple of the LORD.
   15 Now Jehoiada was old and full of years, and he died at the age of a hundred and thirty. 16 He was buried with the kings in the City of David, because of the good he had done in Israel for God and his temple.
The Wickedness of Joash
    17 After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king, and he listened to them. 18 They abandoned the temple of the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols. Because of their guilt, God’s anger came on Judah and Jerusalem. 19 Although the LORD sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen.
   20 Then the Spirit of God came on Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before the people and said, “This is what God says: ‘Why do you disobey the LORD’s commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you.’”
   21 But they plotted against him, and by order of the king they stoned him to death in the courtyard of the LORD’s temple. 22King Joash did not remember the kindness Zechariah’s father Jehoiada had shown him but killed his son, who said as he lay dying, “May the LORD see this and call you to account.”
   23 At the turn of the year, the army of Aram marched against Joash; it invaded Judah and Jerusalem and killed all the leaders of the people. They sent all the plunder to their king in Damascus. 24 Although the Aramean army had come with only a few men, the LORD delivered into their hands a much larger army. Because Judah had forsaken the LORD, the God of their ancestors, judgment was executed on Joash. 25 When the Arameans withdrew, they left Joash severely wounded. His officials conspired against him for murdering the son of Jehoiada the priest, and they killed him in his bed. So he died and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.
   26 Those who conspired against him were Zabad, son of Shimeath an Ammonite woman, and Jehozabad, son of Shimrith a Moabite woman. 27 The account of his sons, the many prophecies about him, and the record of the restoration of the temple of God are written in the annotations on the book of the kings. And Amaziah his son succeeded him as king.

John 15

The Vine and the Branches
    1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
   5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
   9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
The World Hates the Disciples
    18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’
The Work of the Holy Spirit
    26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

===

Aholiab [Ăhō'liăb], AHOLAH [Ā ho'lah], AHOLIBAH [Ăhŏlĭbah], AHOLIBAMAH [Ăhŏl ibā'mah]—a tent. These names in the A.V. are also given in the RV as Oholah - her own tent; Oholiab - a father’s tent; Oholibah - my tent is in her; Oholibamah - tent of high place.
  1. A Danite, appointed by God to work with Bezaleel in the erection of the Tabernacle (Exod. 31:635:3436:12;38:23).
  2. A chief who sprang from Esau ( Gen. 36:411 Chron. 1:52).

===


TT_Coramdeo_ttlogo

Regeneration Is Permanent

The permanency of our regeneration is something we must not take for granted. Knowing that we have been born again should motivate us to live out this truth by heeding the many warnings in Scripture against unbelief (Heb. 6:1-12). If we do not heed these warnings and repent when necessary, we reveal that we are still slaves to sin and must question whether we have been born again in the first place ( Rom. 6:1-215-16). What sins do you need to repent over this day?
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. 

===


Spurgeon-MetropolitanTabernacle-Header-1

Obedience better than sacrifice

‘Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.’ 1 Samuel 15:22
Suggested Further Reading: James 4:11–17
If you are failing to keep the least of one of Christ’s commands to his disciples, I pray you, brethren, be disobedient no longer. I know, for instance, that some of you can see it to be your duty, as believers, to be baptized. If you did not think it to be your duty, I would not bring this text to bear upon you; but if you feel it to be right, and you do it not, let me say to you that all the pretensions you make of attachment to your Master, and all the other actions which you may perform, are as nothing compared with the neglect of this. ‘To obey,’ even in the slightest and smallest thing, ‘is better than sacrifice,’ and to hearken diligently to the Lord’s commands is better than the fat of rams. It may be that some of you, though you are professed Christians, are living in the prosecution of some evil trade, and your conscience has often said, ‘Get out of it.’ You are not in the position that a Christian ought to be in; but then you hope that you will be able to make a little money, and you will retire and do a world of good with it. God cares nothing for this rams’ fat of yours; he asks not for these sacrifices which you intend to make. ‘To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.’ Perhaps you are in connection with a Christian church in which you may see much that is wrong, and you know that you ought not to tolerate it, but still you do so. You say, ‘I have a position of usefulness, and if I come out I shall not be so useful as I am now.’ My brother, your usefulness is but as the fat of rams, and ‘to obey is better than’ it all.
For meditation: To argue that the end justifies the means is to claim to know better than God. Saul knew God’s will (1 Samuel 15:3), failed to do it (1 Samuel 15:11), claimed to have done so ( 1 Samuel 15:13,20) and paraded the best of motives (1 Samuel 15:15,21). Ignorance of God’s will and failure to do it is a lesser evil than knowledge of God’s will and failure to do it (Luke 12:47–48).
Sermon no. 686
6 June (Undated Sermon)

===


TT_devotionswithrc_ttlogo

Regeneration Is Permanent

Philippians 1:6 "I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" ( v. 6).
We conclude our brief study of regeneration today with an examination of its permanency. One of the most important questions we can answer is whether or not the new birth is something that can be lost. If God has regenerated a person, can that person return permanently to a state of degeneracy?
Looking at Scripture as a whole, it is clear that those who are transformed by the Holy Spirit will continue in that state until the end of life. Many passages of the Bible teach this doctrine, one of the most important being Paul's exhortation to the Philippians in today's passage. In 1:6, the apostle clearly proclaims the permanency of regeneration. God will bring the good work He started in us to completion. The Lord never aborts the person that He has quickened.
This is comforting because we know that if it were up to us, none of us would be able to die in a state of grace. This does not mean that sanctification is passive or that we should sit back and let God do all of the work. Paul tells us in Philippians to work out our salvation in fear and trembling (2:12). Nevertheless, God undergirds all of our efforts to pursue maturity in Christ. His sovereign presence and saving power is what ultimately keeps us in the faith (v. 13).
The fact that regeneration is permanent does not mean that believers cannot fall into sin, even heinous ones. Simon Peter illustrates this truth well. Remember that he committed the worst sin of all, denying the Lord and Master who would redeem His soul (Matt. 26:69-75). But Peter did not remain in sin forever; he came to repent of his sin and found restoration in Christ Jesus (John 21:15-19 ). For this reason we must always turn to the Lord even if we have transgressed His will most grievously. He will restore us when we humbly confess our sin, and this confession is an outward evidence of repentance and the staying power of regeneration in our hearts (1 John 1:8-10).
Furthermore, we should also pray for those who seem to have fallen from the faith. We do not know their most inner thoughts, and they may be regenerate, though in sin. Therefore, we pray for their hearts to be softened that they might bear the fruit of the new birth once more.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

The permanency of our regeneration is something we must not take for granted. Knowing that we have been born again should motivate us to live out this truth by heeding the many warnings in Scripture against unbelief (Heb. 6:1-12). If we do not heed these warnings and repent when necessary, we reveal that we are still slaves to sin and must question whether we have been born again in the first place (Rom. 6:1-215-16). What sins do you need to repent over this day?
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. 


===
P31Header
Sarah Martin
June 5, 2012
A Pursuit of Happiness
Sarah Martin
"You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 16:11 (NIV)
I stood numb in the makeup aisle at the drugstore. The glittery pink and shimmery red tubes served as color therapy after a stressful day. Surely brand new lip gloss would alleviate the dismal feelings and ignite some sense of happiness.
Several hours later I added my new purchase to an already full makeup drawer. That's when it hit me. I have 47 other tubes of lip gloss; 47 other purchases on a journey — a pursuit — of happiness.
The coral pink tube was bought to ease my heart after a fight with a loved one.
The ruby red tube was purchased to distract myself from worrying over money.
The glossy sheer tube was meant to cover up my loneliness.
Buying lip gloss (clothes, jewelry, fill in the blank) isn't wrong in and of itself. What is wrong is how I insert short-term pleasures to find happiness, instead of seeking long-term joy in God.
The difference is happiness is fleeting, but joy is eternal. It's joy that sticks with us through stressful days, because joy is found in our always-present Lord. The psalmist says in our key verse, "You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." (Psalm 16:11b) Instead of looking for a short-lived high in things, I'm challenged to find lasting joy in God.
Looking at this very important difference makes me wonder what would happen if ...
Instead of a mad dash to our favorite store for retail therapy, we pursue God and allow Him to give rest to our weary body and mind after a difficult day.
Instead of drowning our frustrations in a tub of ice cream after our car breaks down, we vent our feelings to God and wait on Him to calm us down.
Instead of adding yet another song to our iPod to spark happiness, we make a list of everything we're grateful for and turn around a bad attitude.
I'm tempted to throw out my lip gloss as a symbol of ending this pursuit of happiness. I'm tempted to never buy a tube again. Because I want to show God that I can pursue Him, rather than seeking satisfaction in a temporary thrill.
But, I think I will honor my renewed relationship with joy in the Lord by using each and every tube — knowing that the only road that leads to joy and fulfillment is in Him.
Dear Lord, thank You for the ever-available joy found in You. Please bring it to mind when I'm tempted to replace my frustrations and pain with a temporary fix. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
We're celebrating the release of Sarah Martin's new book,Stress Point. In it Sarah helps young adult women address common stress points and gives them practical ways to wait on the Lord, worship Him and make Him the focus of their lives.
Click here to join Sarah on her blog for helpful tips and a give-away of Stress Point!
Connect with She Seeks, our division for 20-somethings by clicking here.
Reflect and Respond:
What is your go-to temporary happiness?
Spend 10-15 minutes in the Lord's presence today, asking Him to fill you with His joy.
Power Verses:
Psalm 43:4-5, "Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." (NIV)
© 2012 by Sarah Martin. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

===

Spurgeon-NewParkStreet-Header-3

The report of the spies

“And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.” Numbers 13:32 and 14:6-7
Suggested Further Reading: Romans 2:17-24
Every unguarded word you use, every inconsistent act, puts a slur on Christ. The world, you know, does not find fault with you—they lay it all to your Master. If you make a slip tomorrow, they will not say, “That is John Smith’s human nature;” they will say, “That is John Smith’s religion.” They know better, but they will be sure to say it; they will be sure to put all the mischief at the door of Christ. Now, if you could bear the blame yourself you might bear it manfully; but do not allow Christ to bear the blame—do not suffer his reputation to be tarnished—do not permit his banner to be trampled in the dust. Then there is another consideration. You must remember, if you do wrong, the world will be quite sure to notice you. The world carries two bags: in the bag at the back they put all the Christian’s virtues—in the bag in front they put all our mistakes and sins. They never think of looking at the virtues of holy men; all the courage of martyrs, all the fidelity of confessors, and all the holiness of saints, is nothing to them; but our iniquities are ever before them. Please do recollect, that wherever you are, as a Christian, the eyes of the world are upon you; the Argus eyes of an evil generation follow you everywhere. If a church is blind the world is not. It is a common proverb, “As sound asleep as a church,” and a very true one, for most churches are sound asleep; but it would be a great falsehood if anyone were to say, “As sound asleep as the world,” for the world is never asleep. Sleeping is left to the church. And remember, too, that the world always wears magnifying glasses to look at Christians’ faults.
For meditation: Like Mary our souls and words may magnify the Lord (Luke 1:46), but does any area of our lives allow the unbelieving world to magnify our sins instead?
Sermon no. 197
6 June (1858)

===

GiG Banner 2012 Big
June 5, 2012
Time for a Change?
Mary Southerland
Today's Truth
Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV) Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Friend to Friend
Have you ever wanted to "freeze" a moment and make it last a lifetime? I have. I have also lived through certain moments that I wish I could change or even delete and pretend they never happened. But change is a natural part of life. We can embrace it, or we can fight it.
My husband often says that the only people who really like change are wet babies. However, I have discovered that some people thrive and live for change to the point that they are "change junkies" and have little stability in life. Others dig in their heels and refuse to change a thing and ultimately become prisoners of old habits – good and bad. When it comes to change, we have a decision to make – just like the eagle.
The eagle has the longest life-span among birds. It can live up to 70 years, but to reach this age, the eagle has to make a hard decision. In its' 40s, the eagle's long and flexible talons can no longer grab prey, which serves as food. Its long and sharp beak becomes bent and its old and heavy wings, covered with feathers that have grown thick over the years, become stuck to its chest, making it difficult to fly.  
The eagle is then left with only two options: die or go through a painful process of change, which lasts 150 days. The difficult process requires the eagle to fly to a mountain top and sit on its nest. There the eagle knocks its beak against a rock until the beak falls off. The eagle will then wait for a new beak to grow back and use the new beak to pluck out its talons. When the new talons grow back, the eagle starts plucking out all of the old feathers. After five months, the eagle takes a famous flight of rebirth and lives 30 more years.
Change is sometimes needed to survive. God may be asking you to step out in faith and make a change in your life. He has already been where He is asking you to go and prepared every step of the way for you. You don't have to be afraid of the unknown. It is unknown only to you. God is well aware of where you are and of every step He is asking you to take. He may be asking you to get rid of old memories, eliminate destructive habits and forsake lifeless traditions. He is waiting for you to take one step. Faith in God does not come all at once. Faith is a step-by-step process that begins with one small step and increases as we go.  An Old Testament story found in Joshua 3 illustrates this truth.
The Israelites are camped on the bank of the Jordan River. Forty years earlier, they had escaped from Egypt and have been wandering around in the wilderness ever since. All of their needs have been met by God. They have seen miracle after miracle and now they can see Canaan, the Promised Land. However, there is a problem. 
A huge river stands between them and the Promised Land, and there is no way around it. God told His people that He would make a dry path through the river, but the priests had never seen that happen. In fact, they hadn't even been born when the Red Sea was parted and there were no reruns of the Ten Commandments at the local Wilderness Theatre. The Israelites had spent their entire adult lives in the wilderness and finally, they could see a way out. Oh, and one more problem -- the priests couldn't swim. This was probably the first river they had even been close to in their lives. I can imagine their fear and questions. God was asking them to step out in faith as never before. 
I don't imagine the Israelites had a great deal of faith in God at that moment, but they had just enough faith to take that first step. And that was enough.
Joshua 3:15-17 (NCV) During harvest the Jordan overflows its banks. When the priests carrying the Ark came to the edge of the river and stepped into the water, the water upstream stopped flowing. It stood up in a heap. So the people crossed over.
Notice that God did nothing until those toes touched the water. That first step was all God needed to see. Many times, we won't take the first step of change because we're afraid we won't be able to make the whole journey.
Don't wait until you believe it all.
Don't wait until you can see it all.
Don't wait until you understand it all.
Trust God and step out in faith. He will meet you there.
Let's Pray
Father, I come to You in faith. I will admit that change scares me because it means I have to face the unknown. I know it is a control issue, Lord. Right now, I surrender the control of my life and my journey to You. Give me the strength to step out in faith and make the changes You are asking me to make.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Read Isaiah 40:28-31 again.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Make a list of the reasons we can trust God – even when facing uncertainty.
Are you tired? Is God asking you to make some changes in your life? Record those changes in your journal.
What one thing is keeping you from stepping out in faith? Are you willing to surrender that one thing to God right now?
More from the Girlfriends
Check out Mary's E-Bible Study: What Am I Doing in this Pitfor ways to deal with the chains that are holding you prisoner. And if you need help with trusting God, get Mary's MP3 download, Stepping Out in Faith
Need help learning how to live a life of power and purpose? Check out Mary's weekly online Bible Study, How to Dress for Success and learn how to live a life of victory. 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

===
Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional

RICHES BEYOND RICHES

[continued from our last e-newsletter, "The Most Wonderful Tomb" ]
Any of us can choose whether to hope that we have enough gold in the tomb to make ourselves comfortable in the coffin, or whether we have the vivifying Spirit of Christ filling the decayed parts of our lives now, and carrying us along with the promise of eternal life.
Look at this phrase: "the unsearchable riches of Christ." The apostle Paul uses an adjective here (Ephesians 3:8), "unsearchable," which means something so great you can't track or trace it. You can't really get your mind around it. It is unsearchable, untraceable, unfathomable, inexhaustible, inscrutable, incalculable, infinite. No matter how much gold you put in a tomb or in a bank account, there is always limit to its measure.
But the riches of Christ go beyond all measurement. There is no scale in the realm of human experience that can quantify it. Human love is only a hint of the love of God. Acts of mercy we read about in the newspaper are just a trickle compared to the flow of mercy that comes from God. Forgiveness is something that is so satisfying when we break open our clutches on someone else and are freed from resentment, but that is just a faint shadow of the forgiveness that God offers us in Christ.
In Ephesians 2 Paul also talks about riches:
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Here's the real promise: if you want to know treasure in life, then realize that it comes from being treasured by God.
Say, friends, could you help us by taking this 2-minute quiz on "spiritual influence"? You'll learn interesting things!
Thanks, Mel Lawrenz
ADVERTISEMENT

Resources

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.

===
A free, biblical way to manage your money
Mobile Management

You can even manage money on the go with our app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch! Get your free account and download the App to get started.
Top-Notch Security

Your information is always safe and secure using Mvelopes®. Passwords and encrypted server technology keeps your information from prying eyes.
Get Your Free Account Now!  No strings attached!  Start managing your money better today!




===

What makes prayer pure?

Pure motives. Job said his prayers were sincere: He was honestly seeking answers from God without ulterior motives. He was not lying to God; his heart was clean (see Job 6:28).
One of the temptations of prayer is self-gratification. We are inclined to ask repeatedly for things we want, not just things we need. The line between selfish and unselfish prayer is often fuzzy. Scrutinizing our motives can help sort through self-deceit.
Confession is a prerequisite to sincere prayers. Jesus taught us not to pray if we are carrying a grudge. The psalmist wrote that if there is sin in our hearts, God will not hear us (see Ps 66:18 ). Cleaning up unfinished business involving offenses against family or fellow workers clears the conscience so we can pray with purer motives.
We'll never be able to fully evaluate every prayer we pray. Motives are like mercury; getting a grip on them is next to impossible. But God's people are not left alone. Asking the Holy Spirit to search our hearts puts us on the right track (seePs 139:23-24). The Holy Spirit promises to work on our behalf while we seek God in prayer (see Ro 8:26-27).
NIVSocialicons
===

SSTS_Devotional_header

THE BIBLE

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:20-21
Daniel, a Chinese brother from Singapore, sat in the chair still shaking his head in unbelief. He had just returned from his first extensive visit to the People’s Republic of China. Now in the freedom of his home city, he was trying to assimilate and communicate all the impressions and messages he had received.
“How would you summarize what you learned on your visit, Daniel?” I asked him. He continued to shake his head and smile. Finally he began to speak.
“Probably by my visit to one particular house church,” he slowly replied. “It numbers several hundred believers who have had a lot of persecution over the past years. I asked them how they had been victorious and even grown in numbers during such terrible experiences. They quickly replied, telling me three things,” he continued. “First, obedience to the Word of God; second, communication with God, that is, prayer. And third, love for the brothers and sisters.”
This group memorized one chapter of the Bible every week. They began doing this because of a lack of Bibles, but continued doing so after they realized the blessing it brought to their lives.
The Bible is God’s written revelation of Himself and His desire for a relationship with people. It is more than just a revelation of God’s character. It is also a revelation of His intricate plan for the world. We could never have understood our great God if He had not chosen to reveal Himself.
His greatest revelation of Himself was when He came to live among us in a human body and was known as Jesus Christ. But even our knowledge of that revelation depends upon His written Word, the Bible.
Satan has conducted a massive propaganda campaign in the last century in an attempt to discredit the Bible. He would love to see Christians lose faith in the Word of God. In spite of his efforts, however, no one has ever been able to disprove its reliability. It remains the only absolute truth known to humankind.
The Bible is our God-given basis for faith, doctrine and practice. Many times Christians have knowingly departed from its teachings and suffered because of doing so. Many times when Christians depart from the Word, it is because they do not know or understand it.
The church can only be true to the revealed Word of God when its people know what it teaches. Study of God’s Word is an essential part of the Christian life. When Christians doubt, ignore or fail to understand the teachings of scripture and depart from its principles, they lose their spiritual power.
RESPONSE: Today I will recommit to the daily study and application of God’s Word, the Bible.
PRAYER: Pray for believers in many parts of the world who still yearn for a copy of the Bible.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission

BGiOS-300x250-2
twitter-sstts facebook_small_email
Join us on Facebook
and follow us on Twitter for
real-time persecution updates
===

40-Day Journey with Bonhoeffer Header
Due to a technical error, the June 3 devotional was not sent out on Sunday morning as it should have been. You can read the missing devotional here. We apologize for the mistake!

Day 5

Thankfulness works in the Christian community as it usually does in the Christian life. Only those who give thanks for the little things receive the great things as well. We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts prepared for us because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We think that we should not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience, and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be seeking the great gifts. Then we complain that we lack the deep certainty, the strong faith, and the rich experiences that God has given to other Christians, and we consider these complaints to be pious. We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the small (and yet really not so small!) gifts we receive daily. How can God entrust great things to those who will not gratefully receive the little things from God's hand?

Biblical Wisdom

You will say in that day: I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, and you comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord GOD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name.... Isaiah 12:1-4

Questions to Ponder

  • What are the cultural forces in our society that work against the experience and expression of thankfulness?
  • What are the "small gifts" we receive from God each day?
  • How could such "small gifts" be affirmed, honored, and celebrated in a community of faith?

Psalm Fragment

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
   and do not forget all his benefits․
   who forgives all your iniquity,
   who heals all your diseases,
   who redeems your life from the Pit,
   who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
   who satisfies you with good as long as you live
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. Psalm 103:1-5

Journal Reflections

  • At the end of each remaining day in this 40-day journey, write in your journal a list of those things from that day for which you are grateful.
  • Reflect on how the "small gifts" you receive from God shape your life and your relationships.

Intercessions

Pray that you would be a voice of thanksgiving in your family, among your friends and co-workers, and in your community of faith. Pray that your voice of thanksgiving would encourage others to give voice to the many things for which they are thankful.

Prayer for Today

Lord, open my eyes that I may see the giftedness of my life and let my life be a hymn of praise and thanksgiving.
40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.
ADVERTISEMENT

db-book-image40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Buy a copy here!

One of the most widely admired theologians of the 20th century, Bonhoeffer was a profound yet clear thinker. Klug selects significant passages from his works, pairs them with appropriate Scripture, sets up a journal-writing exercise, and concludes with prayer.

More Titles from Bonhoeffer!
Interested in learning more from and about Dietrich Bonhoeffer? The Bible Gateway store has a special page filled with his books and devotionals as well as biographies and videos about him!
db_small

Post a Comment