Friday, June 29, 2012

Daily Devotional Friday 29th June

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 NIV
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Today's reading: Job 11-13, Acts 9:1-21 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Job 11

Zophar
    1 Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:
   2 “Are all these words to go unanswered?
   Is this talker to be vindicated?
3 Will your idle talk reduce others to silence?
   Will no one rebuke you when you mock?
4 You say to God, ‘My beliefs are flawless
   and I am pure in your sight.’
5 Oh, how I wish that God would speak,
   that he would open his lips against you
6 and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom,
   for true wisdom has two sides.
   Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.
   7 “Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
   Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
8 They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do?
   They are deeper than the depths below—what can you know?
9 Their measure is longer than the earth
   and wider than the sea.
   10 “If he comes along and confines you in prison
   and convenes a court, who can oppose him?
11 Surely he recognizes deceivers;
   and when he sees evil, does he not take note?
12 But the witless can no more become wise
   than a wild donkey’s colt can be born human.
   13 “Yet if you devote your heart to him
   and stretch out your hands to him,
14 if you put away the sin that is in your hand
   and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,
15 then, free of fault, you will lift up your face;
   you will stand firm and without fear.
16 You will surely forget your trouble,
   recalling it only as waters gone by.
17 Life will be brighter than noonday,
   and darkness will become like morning.
18 You will be secure, because there is hope;
   you will look about you and take your rest in safety.
19 You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid,
   and many will court your favor.
20 But the eyes of the wicked will fail,
   and escape will elude them;
   their hope will become a dying gasp.”

Job 12

Job
    1 Then Job replied:
   2 “Doubtless you are the only people who matter,
   and wisdom will die with you!
3 But I have a mind as well as you;
   I am not inferior to you.
   Who does not know all these things?
   4 “I have become a laughingstock to my friends,
   though I called on God and he answered—
   a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless!
5 Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune
   as the fate of those whose feet are slipping.
6 The tents of marauders are undisturbed,
   and those who provoke God are secure—
   those God has in his hand.
   7 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
   or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
   or let the fish in the sea inform you.
9 Which of all these does not know
   that the hand of the LORD has done this?
10 In his hand is the life of every creature
   and the breath of all mankind.
11 Does not the ear test words
   as the tongue tastes food?
12 Is not wisdom found among the aged?
   Does not long life bring understanding?
   13 “To God belong wisdom and power;
   counsel and understanding are his.
14 What he tears down cannot be rebuilt;
   those he imprisons cannot be released.
15 If he holds back the waters, there is drought;
   if he lets them loose, they devastate the land.
16 To him belong strength and insight;
   both deceived and deceiver are his.
17 He leads rulers away stripped
   and makes fools of judges.
18 He takes off the shackles put on by kings
   and ties a loincloth around their waist.
19 He leads priests away stripped
   and overthrows officials long established.
20 He silences the lips of trusted advisers
   and takes away the discernment of elders.
21 He pours contempt on nobles
   and disarms the mighty.
22 He reveals the deep things of darkness
   and brings utter darkness into the light.
23 He makes nations great, and destroys them;
   he enlarges nations, and disperses them.
24 He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason;
   he makes them wander in a trackless waste.
25 They grope in darkness with no light;
   he makes them stagger like drunkards.

Job 13

   1 “My eyes have seen all this,
   my ears have heard and understood it.
2 What you know, I also know;
   I am not inferior to you.
3 But I desire to speak to the Almighty
   and to argue my case with God.
4 You, however, smear me with lies;
   you are worthless physicians, all of you!
5 If only you would be altogether silent!
   For you, that would be wisdom.
Hear now my argument;
   listen to the pleas of my lips.
7 Will you speak wickedly on God’s behalf?
   Will you speak deceitfully for him?
8 Will you show him partiality?
   Will you argue the case for God?
9 Would it turn out well if he examined you?
   Could you deceive him as you might deceive a mortal?
10 He would surely call you to account
   if you secretly showed partiality.
11 Would not his splendor terrify you?
   Would not the dread of him fall on you?
12 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes;
   your defenses are defenses of clay.
   13 “Keep silent and let me speak;
   then let come to me what may.
14 Why do I put myself in jeopardy
   and take my life in my hands?
15 Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;
   I will surely defend my ways to his face.
16 Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance,
   for no godless person would dare come before him!
17 Listen carefully to what I say;
   let my words ring in your ears.
18 Now that I have prepared my case,
   I know I will be vindicated.
19 Can anyone bring charges against me?
   If so, I will be silent and die.
   20 “Only grant me these two things, God,
   and then I will not hide from you:
21 Withdraw your hand far from me,
   and stop frightening me with your terrors.
22 Then summon me and I will answer,
   or let me speak, and you reply to me.
23 How many wrongs and sins have I committed?
   Show me my offense and my sin.
24 Why do you hide your face
   and consider me your enemy?
25 Will you torment a windblown leaf?
   Will you chase after dry chaff?
26 For you write down bitter things against me
   and make me reap the sins of my youth.
27 You fasten my feet in shackles;
   you keep close watch on all my paths
   by putting marks on the soles of my feet.
   28 “So man wastes away like something rotten,
   like a garment eaten by moths.

Acts 9

Saul’s Conversion
    1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
   5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
   “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
   The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
   10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
   “Yes, Lord,” he answered.
   11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
   13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
   15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
   17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Saul in Damascus and Jerusalem
    Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?”

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Joab [Jō'ăb]—jehovah is a good father.
  1. A descendant of Caleb the son of Hur, a Judahite (1 Chron. 2:54).
  2. Son of Seraiah, grandson of Kenaz, associated with valley craftsmen (1 Chron. 4:1314).
  3. An Israelite whose posterity went up from Babylon with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:6Neh. 7:11).
  4. One whose descendants went up from Babylon with Ezra ( Ezra 8:9.)
  5. The son of David’s half-sister, Zeruiah. This nephew of David became the most overbearing captain in his uncle’s army (1 Sam. 26:62 Sam. 213).

The Man Who Was Overambitious

Joab was the first person to be thought of in Joab’s mind. His apparent devotion to David had one objective, namely that he himself should have first place. He loved self. He murdered those who stood in the way of pre-eminence as the leader of Israel’s hosts (2 Sam. 3:27 ). Alexander Whyte says, “Had it not been for David, Joab would have climbed up into the throne of Israel. . . Even the king himself was afraid of his commander-in-chief. The sovereign took his orders meekly from his subject.” In his own well-read and picturesque way, Dean Stanley describes Joab aptly as the Marlborough of the empire of Israel.
W. O. E. Osterley gives us the following summary of Joab’s life and labors:
I. He was a skilled general, proven by the number of victories he gained ( 2 Sam. 2:12-321011:112:26-2920:4-221 Chron. 11:6-9).
II. He was loyal to the house of David as his whole life of devoted service illustrates ( 2 Sam. 12:2614:118:2019:5-7).
III. He was guilty of vindictiveness and ruthless cruelty. The treacherous and bloodthirsty acts of which Joab was guilty constitute a dark blot upon his character (2 Sam. 3:22-2718:14;20:9101 Kings 11:16).
The tragedy is that in spite of all his abundant energy, boldness, ability, shrewdness and common sense, he never manifested any real faith in God. The nearest he came to such a faith is to be found in 2 Samuel 10:12, where his trust was more in “Providence” than a personal resting in the God of Israel. Full of self-confidence, ambition and selfishness, Joab never got far away from his own interests.

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June 28, 2012
Don't Quit! 
Mary Southerland
Today's Truth
Galatians 6:9 "So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up."
Friend to Friend
A great pianist was scheduled to perform for a small country town. Everyone in the town was excited since they rarely had the opportunity to hear a famous musician. A young mother was especially excited. Her son had been taking piano lessons and showed great promise. However, he hated to practice. His mother was hoping that if her son saw the great pianist perform, he would be motivated to take his music more seriously.
The night of the concert finally arrived, and it seemed as if everyone in town had come. As the young mother settled her son in his seat, her attention turned to the crowd pouring in. Everyone was dressed in their finest, and a buzz of excitement filled the concert hall. No one noticed the little boy as he slipped out of his seat and made his way down the aisle toward the stage. No one noticed the little boy as he walked onto the stage, climbed up on the piano stool and began to play "Chopsticks."
The concert hall fell silent as every eye turned toward the stage. People began to yell, "Where is that child's mother? How did he get on stage? Somebody get him down immediately! This is so embarrassing for our town!" The guest artist was standing in the wings, getting ready to make his entrance when he heard the shouts and saw and heard the little boy. Grabbing his jacket, the great pianist ran onto the stage, came up behind the little boy and placed his masterful hands on the keyboard beside the hands of the small child. The little boy was startled but did not move as the man whispered in the boy's ear, "Don't stop. Don't quit. Keep going." As the little boy began to play again, the great pianist began to play as well, composing a beautiful counter melody to "Chopsticks."
I know some of you are ready to give up and quit. Some mountain is standing between you and the dream you thought was sure to become a reality. You think God has lost track of where you are and what you are going through. He hasn't, girlfriend.
I know you don't understand why a loving God would allow so much pain to saturate this broken world and perpetuate such loss and hurt. I don't either. But God's ways are so much higher than my ways, and His thoughts are for my eternal good – not my temporary comfort. I am banking on eternity. I am counting on the character of God and His heart of unconditional, unmerited and undeserved love. God's forgiveness gives me the strength to get out of bed each morning, and His peace is my comfort in the dark, lonely night. Like you, I sometimes ask God why He has allowed a circumstance to exist. I have questioned His favor and allowed fear and worry to make me doubt His plan. And I have to tell you that I can now look back and see so many of the question marks yanked into exclamation points in my life. I am so thankful that He said "no" to so many of the prayers I desperately wanted Him to answer with "yes." He is God. He is able and He is more than enough.
No matter where you are today, know He is with you and that His heart is for you. Don't quit. He is not angry with you. You are His daughter, the apple of His eye and His cherished child. Don't give up. Right now, surrender all of your pain to Him. Shed your tears, knowing He will collect them all and one day pour them back into your life as a refreshing rain of restoration and healing. Keep going. Ask your questions, knowing Heaven is not in a panic and that your God really is who He says He is and will do what He has promised to do. He simply waits for you to trust Him.
Let's Pray
Father, I come to You like a child. My faith is small and my strength almost gone. I am desperate for You. I don't understand what is happening in my life, and I am ready to give up. I want to quit. Please don't let me, Lord. Give me Your strength and hope for today. Help me to keep going, trusting You every step of the way.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
Read Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take" (NLT).
Record these verses in your journal. Circle each action word and then right out the plan you need to follow to trust God.
What "next step" do you need to take in order to begin again and trust God?
More from the Girlfriends  
Check out Mary's E-Book Bible Study, Strength for the Storm, if you need help navigating the storm in your life. MP3 downloads, CDs and books are also available in Mary's online store along with FREE resources on her site.
Looking for a Bible Study that is both practical and powerful? Check out Mary's E-Book Bible Studies. Each one includes a study guide that you can download for your personal use or for a small group study. 
Be sure to check out Mary's weekly Online Bible Study: How to Dress for Success. Enroll now and have access to all 2012 lessons. Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.
Seeking God?
Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 725
Matthews, NC 28106

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Lysa TerKeurst
June 28, 2012
What Our Pastors Wish We Knew
Lysa TerKeurst
"The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching." 1 Timothy 5:17 (NIV 1984)
My friend shocked me. She and her husband, a pastor, were not just resigning from their church, they were leaving the ministry all together. "It's just too much," she said with tears streaming down her face. "We gave all we could. But there were too many people who felt what we did was never enough."
My heart sank. Sadly, this pastor and his wife aren't alone.
According to research 40% of pastors and 47% of spouses are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules, and/or unrealistic expectations.
These numbers are heartbreaking and convicting. I'm passionate about understanding how to love and support those who lead my church. But I have to admit, I'm still learning how to apply the biblical principle of our key verse, 1 Timothy 5:17.
Paul knew that supporting and blessing the pastor was remarkably important when he said these words to Timothy and now to us all.
A wise, incredibly humble Texas pastor once told me, "Some would think double honor sounds excessive, but the reality is no one fully understands the pressures on your pastor at any given time as they carry with them the burdens of many in the congregation quietly and confidentially. This is not work that you can leave at the office, it weighs on you. I believe it is for this reason Paul calls us to double honor."
So, how do we apply this? Here are some insights shared with me from pastors and their wives all over the country:
Do the basics consistently.
The greatest way to bless your pastor is to be one of those faithful people who attends, serves and gives consistently. This offers such assurance to a pastor and their staff. One of the most well-studied pastors I know on church leadership said, "When people do the regular basics and never make a big deal about it, the other stuff you do for your pastor is so much more meaningful. Some people try to bless their pastor on their terms and they are loud about it. They don't tithe, but ... 'Hey pastor, you can use our lake house with strings attached.'"
Let's bless our pastor and his staff with the basics. Give gifts without strings. And don't toot our horn about doing so.
Let go of the unrealistic expectations.
Almost every pastor addressed the issue of inviting he and his family over for dinner. While it seems like something we're doing for the pastor, it usually isn't the gift they need. More than spending time with our family, they need to spend time with theirs. Bless them with gift certificates. Or schedule to drop off a meal - especially during those busy times like Easter and Christmas.
Of course, they'll have friends where a dinner with that family is completely comfortable and refreshing. Give them the freedom to have close friends and not feel guilty or exclusive in doing so. One pastor's wife said to me, "I think the thing that discourages me the most is people commenting on my friendships. Using the word clique to describe my friendships, rather than just being happy I have a community, is hurtful."
Let's bless our pastor and his family with freedom. They need friends. And it's okay if we're not dinner buddies.
Love the pastor's wife.
Two pastors wrote, "Please give my wife face-to-face affirmation," and "When my wife hears negative things about the church or me it crushes her."
Another pastor's wife gave insight into how to greet her so she doesn't feel like a heel for not remembering everyone personally. She said, "It's hard when people say, 'Do you remember me?' Instead, introduce yourself and remind me where we've met before."
Let's commit to our pastor's wife the gift of kind words. As a woman in ministry, when someone commits to saying kind and affirming things about me, my ministry, and my family, it makes me feel so safe.
Don't assume other people are encouraging your pastor.
Send notes of encouragement. Write the email telling what a difference that sermon made in your life. Don't assume they get plenty of positive feedback-usually they don't.
Let's commit to not just be someone who appreciates our pastor in our hearts, but let's let them know over and over.
Keep studying how to bless your pastor.
Become aware of how your pastor best needs to be blessed and step into that role. Make it a family mission to be one of those foundational families at church who stays out of the drama, seeks to give and not take, and stays for the long haul honoring him all the way.
And don't forget the other pastoral staff members who serve so faithfully as well.
It's biblical. It's good. And while I've got a long way to go, I'm committed to honoring my pastors with much more intentionality.
Dear Lord, thanks for the gift of my pastor, his wife, his staff, his time. Please show me ways to give them double honor, and help me follow through on it. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
Lysa's new book and six-week Bible study, Unglued - Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions - will be releasing August 1st, just in time for Fall Bible studies!Click here for more information.
For a chance to win a pre-release copy of Unglued, visit Lysa's blog by clicking here.
Click here to visit Lysa's Facebook page and tell us how you plan to bless your pastor this week. There are hundreds of practical ideas readers have already shared!
Reflect and Respond:
Sit down with the Lord and ask Him to show you a few ways to bless your pastor this week.
While in prayer, get honest with God. Have you had unfair expectations of your pastor, his wife and family, or his staff? Repent.
Power Verse:
1 Thessalonians 5:12, "Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you." (NIV)
© 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

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Peter, the Rock

Matthew 16:13-20 "I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" ( v. 18).
The most disputed text on ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church) is Matthew 16:13-20. Protestants and Eastern Orthodox alike contest the use of Christ's affirmation of Peter by Roman Catholics to establish the papacy.
Unfortunately, we can consider the issues raised by today's passage only in brief. Foremost among these is what Jesus does not say in His commendation of Peter. Though invested with authority in verse 19, Peter is not thereby given supreme authority over the church universal. As a steward over God's house, Peter's keys give him (but not only him) authority among God's people. For example, he can assure repentant sinners of divine pardon, not because he is able to forgive sin, but because he proclaims the free Gospel of forgiveness. Therefore, the keys also enable him to assure the impenitent that they can by no means inherit the kingdom of God. Yet Peter's keys also belong to every apostle and, in a qualified sense, church leaders today as well ( 18:15-20Eph. 2:19-20). Furthermore, Matthew 16:13-20 says nothing about Peter passing on a "unique" office to successive bishops, and it gives no support for papal infallibility.
Historic Protestantism recognizes such truths, and often says that Peter's confession is the rock to which Jesus refers. This makes good sense, but we err if we say that Peter himself is not in any sense a rock upon which the church is built (Eph. 2:22). There is a play on words in the original Greek text: Peter's name, Petros, is based on petra, that is, "rock" (v. 18 ). In other words, Jesus declares, "Simon, you are the rock, and on this rock I will build my church." Peter has primacy in the church - a historical primacy, not papal primacy. Aside from being the first to confess Christ, Peter is the first apostle to extend the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10), and his leadership and teaching set the stage for the church's expansion and maturity (chap. 1-151 and 2 Peter). Thus, we conclude with John Calvin: "It is a foolish inference of the Papists, that he received the primacy, and became the universal head of the whole Church. Rank is a different thing from power, and to be elevated to the highest place of honor among a few persons is a different thing from embracing the whole world under his dominion."

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

When we study Scripture, we should be careful not to let the excesses of opposing positions unduly influence our own applications of the text. All the teachings of those with whom we disagree may not necessarily be wrong, and we should strive to be faithful to God's Word, not driven to make decisions that are contrary to what our opponents do just because we do not want in any way to look like them. Let us be true to Scripture no matter what others do.
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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Peter, the Rock

When we study Scripture, we should be careful not to let the excesses of opposing positions unduly influence our own applications of the text. All the teachings of those with whom we disagree may not necessarily be wrong, and we should strive to be faithful to God's Word, not driven to make decisions that are contrary to what our opponents do just because we do not want in any way to look like them. Let us be true to Scripture no matter what others do.
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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Hatred without cause

“They hated me without a cause.” John 15:25
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Peter 4:12-19
Take care, if the world does hate you, that it hates you without a cause. If the world is to oppose you, it is of no use making the world oppose you. This world is bitter enough, without my putting vinegar in it. Some people seem to fancy the world will persecute them; therefore, they put themselves into a fighting posture, as if they invited persecutions. Now, I do not see any good in doing that. Do not try and make other people dislike you. Really, the opposition some people meet with is not for righteousness’ sake, but for their own sin’s sake, or their own nasty temper’s sake. Many a Christian lives in a house—a Christian servant girl perhaps; she says she is persecuted for righteousness’ sake. But she is of a bad disposition; she sometimes speaks sharp, and then her mistress reproves her. That is not being persecuted for righteousness’ sake. There is another, a merchant in the city, perhaps; he is not looked upon with much esteem. He says he is persecuted for righteousness’ sake; whereas, it is because he did not keep a bargain some time ago. Another man says he is persecuted for righteousness’ sake; but he goes about assuming authority over everybody, and now and then persons turn round and reproach him. Look to it, Christian people, that if you are persecuted, it is for righteousness’ sake; for if you get any persecution yourself you must keep it yourself. The persecutions you bring on yourself for your own sins, Christ has nothing to do with them; they are chastisements on you. They hated Christ without a cause; then fear not to be hated. They hated Christ without a cause; then court not to be hated, and give the world no cause for it.
For meditation: The apostle Paul knew what suffering for Christ’s sake really means (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). It was something he avoided when he could appeal to the law, ( Acts 22:25-29) and he did not pretend to be persecuted when he brought trouble upon himself (Acts 23:1-5).
Sermon no. 89
29 June (1856)

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The friend of sinners

‘He was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.’ Isaiah 53:12
Suggested Further Reading: John 7:37–52
Trust Christ and you are saved. Outside in the street there is a drinking-fountain. When you get there, if you are thirsty go to it; you will find no policeman there to send you away. No one will cry, ‘You must not drink because you do not wear a satin dress.’ ‘You must not drink because you wear a corduroy jacket.’ No, go and drink; and when you have hold of the ladle and are putting it to your lips, if there should come a doubt—‘I do not feel my thirst enough,’ still take a drink whether you do or not. So I say to you, Jesus Christ stands like a great flowing fountain in the corners of the street, and he invites every thirsty soul to come and drink. You need not stop and say, ‘Am I thirsty enough? Am I dirty enough?’ You do need it whether you think you do or not. Come as you are. Every fitness is legality; every preparation is a lie; every getting ready for Christ is coming the wrong way. You are only making yourselves worse while you think you are making yourselves better. You are like a boy at school who has made a little blot, and he gets out his knife to scratch it out, and makes it ten times worse than before. Leave the blots alone. Come as you are. If you are the dirtiest soul out of hell, trust Christ, and that act of trust shall make you clean. This seems a simple thing, and yet it is the hardest thing in the world to bring you to it; so hard a thing that all the preachers that ever preached cannot make a man believe in Christ.
For meditation: Those who take their spiritual thirst to the living God (Isaiah 55:1John 7:37Revelation 22:17) know where to drink in the future (Psalm 42:263:1143:6) and never need to try to satisfy that thirst anywhere else (John 4:14–15;6:35).
Sermon no. 458
29 June (1862)

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How Has Archaeology Confirmed the Details of Biblical Stories?

By the time Rehoboam became king, the northern tribes had grown weary of Solomon's oppressive forced labor policy (see 1 Kings 5:13-1812:4). They asked Rehoboam to lighten their burden; but rather than following the wise counsel of the elders who had served under Solomon, Rehoboam listened to his young peers and pledged to intensify the burden of labor (see 1 Kings 12:6-14). This prompted the ten northern tribes to secede (see 1 Kings 12:16). Their new leader was Jeroboam, himself a former overseer of forced labor for the "tribes of Joseph," the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (see 1 Kings 11:28).
In a final effort to resolve the crisis, Rehoboam dispatched Adoniram, the official in charge of forced labor, to broker a settlement. Adoniram was experienced in these matters, having served as national overseer of forced labor under both David (see 2 Samuel 20:24) and Solomon (see 1 Kings 5:14). Tragically, Adoniram was stoned to death, and Rehoboam himself had to flee in his chariot to avoid a similar fate (see 1 Kings 12:18).
The seal of a later overseer of forced labor has appeared on the antiquities market. One side was for personal use, while the other designated his official title. Side A reads "(Belonging) to Pelayahu (son of) Mattityahu," while Side B specifies "(Belonging) to Pelayahu over(seer of) the forced labor."
Pelayahu ("Yahweh [the LORD] is wondrous") is not mentioned in the Bible. His function as an administrator "over the forced labor," however, uses exactly the same terminology found in the Old Testament with regard to Adoniram and Jeroboam. The seal therefore serves as external verification for the administrative policies of the early monarchy as described in the Bible.
Adapted from the Archaeological Study Bible
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PRAY AS A WARRIOR

Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. Colossians 4:12-13
Today’s devotional comes from a Bible study prepared by a church leader in North Korea encouraging his fellow believers to “pray as a warrior.” It is fascinating to see how our persecuted brothers and sisters in North Korea regard prayer. He begins inColossians 4:12-13:
What can we learn from this? That Epaphras wrestled in prayer. He prayed as a warrior. The word “wrestling” in the text means “battling, fighting.” We, too, must pray as warriors. I must do so. In the past, I often went to the mountains and prayed all night…God uses this prayer to open doors. It is not for nothing that Paul tells us at the beginning of chapter four that we must be watchful and thankful and must keep praying. Then…God opens doors to proclaim the mystery of Christ.
What does “praying as a warrior” entail?
1. Discovering God's will - Just like Paul, we must take our strategies from the Lord God. Paul wrestled in prayer in order to discover the will of God. This meant that God was able to lead him…When we make plans, we must pray according to His will. The Spirit knows what Satan is intending. God will reveal it to us and warn us if there is any danger.
2. Concentrated prayer - We must pray in a concentrated way, and for a long time…while I was praying in a concentrated way, a sentence came to my mind: “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” I did not know this text. When I spoke to a friend about it, he told me that it is in the Bible, inPhilippians 4:13. There was much sin in my life. I had to pray long and often in order to break down the barriers between God and me. This, too, is praying as a warrior.
3. Prayer of sacrifice - The prayer of a warrior is also the prayer of sacrifice. Praying is the most important thing you do in a day. Whatever you do each day, begin everything with prayer. Prayer is the shortest way, not the longest! By sacrificing yourself and applying yourself to praying as a warrior, God will open the hearts of people and break through their thinking…this type of prayer helps us to conquer evil with good. This is why we pray that Kim Jong-Il will become a Christian. And even more, that he will combat the evil in our society.
Epaphras remained faithful to Jesus Christ until the end. He was a prayer warrior. In this, he followed our Lord Himself…How can we manage without this prayer?
RESPONSE: Today I will pray as a warrior…especially remembering Christians in North Korea.
PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for the example of Epaphras in the hard work of wrestling in prayer.

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 28

The other service one should perform for another person in a Christian community is active helpfulness. To begin with, we have in mind simple assistance in minor, external matters. There are many such things wherever people live together. Nobody is too good for the lowest service. Those who worry about the loss of time entailed by such small, external acts of helpfulness are usually taking their own work too seriously. We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God, who will thwart our plans and frustrate our ways time and again, even daily, by sending people across our path with their demands and requests.

Biblical Wisdom

"The greatest among you will be your servant." Matthew 23:11

Questions to Ponder

  • What are the forms "active helpfulness" might take in a community of faith?
  • Is it true that: "Nobody is too good for the lowest service"? Why, or why not?
  • How does taking their own work too seriously tempt people to undervalue the real needs of others?

Psalm Fragment

For he [the ruler] delivers the needy when they call,
   the poor and those who have no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
   and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life;
   and precious is their blood in his sight. Psalm 72:12-14

Journal Reflections

  • Reflect on specific instances in which you were "interrupted by God" in the form of someone in need of help who crossed your path. What did you do? How did you feel about it?
  • Write about your degree of willingness to be "interrupted by God."
  • What might the "lowest service" be in your community of faith?

Prayer for Today

Lord, as I go about my business today, don't hesitate to interrupt me, and give me the grace to notice the interruption.
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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