Friday, July 13, 2012

Daily Devotional Friday 13th July


“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”” Matthew 4:4 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Sanctified by God the Father."
Jude 1
"Sanctified in Christ Jesus."
1 Corinthians 1:2
"Through sanctification of the Spirit."
1 Peter 1:2
Mark the union of the Three Divine Persons in all their gracious acts. How unwisely do those believers talk who make preferences in the Persons of the Trinity; who think of Jesus as if he were the embodiment of everything lovely and gracious, while the Father they regard as severely just, but destitute of kindness. Equally wrong are those who magnify the decree of the Father, and the atonement of the Son, so as to depreciate the work of the Spirit. In deeds of grace none of the Persons of the Trinity act apart from the rest. They are as united in their deeds as in their essence. In their love towards the chosen they are one, and in the actions which flow from that great central source they are still undivided. Specially notice this in the matter of sanctification. While we may without mistake speak of sanctification as the work of the Spirit, yet we must take heed that we do not view it as if the Father and the Son had no part therein. It is correct to speak of sanctification as the work of the Father, of the Son, and of the Spirit. Still doth Jehovah say, "Let us make man in our own image after our likeness," and thus we are "his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." See the value which God sets upon real holiness, since the Three Persons in the Trinity are represented as co-working to produce a Church without "spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." And you, believer, as the follower of Christ, must also set a high value on holiness--upon purity of life and godliness of conversation. Value the blood of Christ as the foundation of your hope, but never speak disparagingly of the work of the Spirit which is your meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light. This day let us so live as to manifest the work of the Triune God in us.

Evening

"His heavenly kingdom."
2 Timothy 4:18
Yonder city of the great King is a place of active service. Ransomed spirits serve him day and night in his temple. They never cease to fulfil the good pleasure of their King. They always "rest," so far as ease and freedom from care is concerned; and never "rest," in the sense of indolence or inactivity. Jerusalem the golden is the place of communion with all the people of God. We shall sit with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in eternal fellowship. We shall hold high converse with the noble host of the elect, all reigning with him who by his love and his potent arm has brought them safely home. We shall not sing solos, but in chorus shall we praise our King. Heaven is a place of victory realized. Whenever, Christian, thou hast achieved a victory over thy lusts--whenever after hard struggling, thou hast laid a temptation dead at thy feet--thou hast in that hour a foretaste of the joy that awaits thee when the Lord shall shortly tread Satan under thy feet, and thou shalt find thyself more than conqueror through him who hath loved thee. Paradise is a place of security. When you enjoy the full assurance of faith, you have the pledge of that glorious security which shall be yours when you are a perfect citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem. O my sweet home, Jerusalem, thou happy harbour of my soul! Thanks, even now, to him whose love hath taught me to long for thee; but louder thanks in eternity, when I shall possess thee.
"My soul has tasted of the grapes,
And now it longs to go
Where my dear Lord his vineyard keeps
And all the clusters grow.
"Upon the true and living vine,
My famish'd soul would feast,
And banquet on the fruit divine,
An everlasting guest."
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Zacchaeus

[Zăcchae'us] - pure or justified.

The Man Who Overcame Obstacles

Zacchaeus was the wealthy man of Jerusalem who gathered revenue for the Roman government, but who became a disciple of Christ (Luke 19:1-10). A "chief publican," Zacchaeus might have been of a higher grade than Matthew.
Although not one of Christ's expected converts, Zacchaeus had heard much about Christ and was determined to see Him for himself. When ultimately Christ came his way there were two obstacles in his way - the crowd, and his own short stature. But he quickly overcame both hindrances.
I. The crowd. It is strange that those who were enthusiastic about Christ were the very people blocking Zacchaeus'view. What a lesson for our hearts can be gleaned from this fact!
II. The short stature. The other difficulty was Zacchaeus himself. His native hindrance was his small stature, which he quickly overcame. Up the tree he climbed and had the best view of Jesus that day. If we would see Jesus we too must scramble higher than ourselves.
III. The call to discipleship. Our Lord called Zacchaeus down and invited Himself to his house. Zacchaeus was a sinner and Christ saved him. Quickly Zacchaeus revealed the depth of his surrender to his newly found Master. There came an immediate and generous restitution.
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Today's reading: Psalm 4-6, Acts 17:16-34 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Psalm 4-6

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of David.
1 Answer me when I call to you,
my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
2 How long will you people turn my glory into shame?
How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?
3 Know that the LORD has set apart his faithful servant for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him.
4 Tremble and do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.
5 Offer the sacrifices of the righteous
and trust in the LORD....

Today's New Testament reading: Acts 17:16-34

In Athens
16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods." They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean." 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
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July 12, 2011
Pride and Chiggers
Today's Truth
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you (Romans 12:3b, NIV).
Friend To Friend
A famous explorer in South America was once forced to abandon his journey by an almost invisible enemy. He was equipped to meet leopards, serpents and crocodiles. They proved to be no threat, but what he had failed to consider were the tiny insects called chiggers. They are so tiny that in North America we call them the "no see-ums." Someone composed this poem about these tiny invaders:
Here's to the chigger, the bug that's no bigger
Than the end of a very small pin;
But the itch that he raises simply amazes,
And that's where the rub comes in!
Pride and chiggers have a lot in common. Pride comes in little ways, unseen actions, subtle thoughts or inconspicuous comments. Unguarded attitudes and random thoughts are prime breeding grounds for pride. We must take charge of those thoughts, discipline our attitudes, training our thinking processes to give up and obey God.
Pride loves to take up residence in an undisciplined thought life, changing the setting and dictating attitudes with little or no resistance. When Paul encouraged the believers in Rome to cultivate "sober judgment," he was warning them to take charge of the mind, refusing to allow the entrance of any thoughts that would entertain pride. A disciplined thought life is the very foundation of a victorious journey with God.
I have heard it said that the bigger a man's head gets, the easier it is to fill his shoes. It is not wrong for Christians to recognize and even applaud gifts in our own lives and in the lives of others as long as we remember that spiritual gifts are ours to manage, not to own. Pride draws attention to those God given gifts and tempts us to take credit for their existence and the way in which they are used.
Many of us attempt to find worth and identity in what we do - not in who we are. As a result, our actions are intended to draw the attention of anyone and everyone in a vain effort to establish self-worth. There may be people in your life who are difficult to love. Our responsibility is to love and accept these difficult people without insisting they change or counting on them to change. In order to do that, we must choose grace and humility over pride and censure. Pride vanishes beneath the loving gaze of our Father who simply longs for each one of us to see ourselves through His eyes - no more and no less.
The frontline of battle against pride is in the mind. We must "take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5, NASB). To take something captive is a military tactic that we must use to guard against pride. It sometimes seems as if pride can actually crawl into my mind and grab hold of any undisciplined thoughts floating around. Pride then flings those random thoughts into my heart as an attitude laced with burning arrogance and prideful perception of who I am in comparison to others.
We can change our lives by changing how we think. We can dictate the attitudes of our heart by fixing our thoughts on God and His truth. The result is peace, which stands against pride, electing humility instead. "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you" (Isaiah 26:3). What does it mean to "fix" our thoughts? Webster's Dictionary defines "fixed" as "rigid, solid or firm." We must learn to fix our thoughts on the truth of God's word. We need to be rigid in controlling our thought processes, holding firm to God's standard for the mind. The result will be a stable way of thinking and living. To prevent pride requires a choice to take charge of our mind.
I once dated a young man I thought was "the one." For some reason, my mother did not like him. Knowing her daughter well, my mother said nothing but I am sure she was on her knees pleading with God to take that young man out of my life. He did. We eventually broke up and my mother finally spilled the beans, explaining why she had a problem with this young man. "If I could buy him for what he's worth and sell him for what hethinks he is worth, I would be a millionaire!" Mama did have a way with words. She was so right! Today, that man is out of ministry, divorced and living a life that is unpleasing to God. His pride robbed him of the best God had for him. Don't let that happen to you, girlfriend. Run from anyone or anything that promotes a prideful attitude. Eliminate the strongholds of pride in your life. Nail your ego to the cross and declare it powerless. Celebrate the trophy of grace you are in God.
Let's Pray
Father, thank You for the grace You give. Thank You that grace covers all my sin with unconditional love and forgiveness. Help me to walk in that grace, turning away from pride and arrogance. Give me a humble spirit that draws others to You. Help me to see myself through Your eyes and then live out what I see. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Now It's Your Turn
One of my favorite quiet time exercises is to create an acrostic using one word from the passage of Scripture I have read that day, pinpointing and explaining the main truth in the Scripture. Try it! Let me help you get started.
P. Pompous mindset
R. rejected
I. I sentence my ego to
D. death
E. Eliminating pride
More From The Girlfriends
Pride is an ugly thing, isn't it? I have come to realize that I must daily nail my old self to the cross and count it dead if pride is to be defeated in my life. What does that mean? We must constantly choose others first, refusing to enthrone self in any circumstance. Ouch! It is so easy to promote me instead of others but I am determined to do so. How about you?
Need help? Get Mary's CD - Divine Surprises: 7 Habits of a Successful Woman. Be sure to check out Mary's newweekly Online Bible Study beginning July 18: Stress Management 101. Enroll now and have access to all 2011 lessons. Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.
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Click here to find out more about
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Girlfriends in God
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Everything New - A Weeekly Devotional

WHY, WHY, WHY, OH GOD?

And I asked "why, why, why, oh God? Why did it have to be only my sister who was killed on the patrol that day?" -20-year-old female American soldier speaking at her twin sister's funeral.
It is the mystery that always seems to move further from our reach the more we reach out for an answer. The issue you bristle at hearing. The question you can't help but ask.
Why do bad things happen to innocent people?
Years ago I would have responded to this question differently than I do today. Like most questions, I assumed this one was a blank needing to be filled in, a query looking for the most biblical and reasonable solution that can be offered. And while that is partly true, it is obvious that for many who voice these words, it is not a question at all. It is a cry of anguish. It is the way people say, "I am hurting so badly, and I just don't understand it." No matter what "answer" someone gives to the problems of pain and evil, suffering people are still left with the gap of what or whom they have lost. Answers don't replace people. The question is not one of philosophy, but of personal need: "Why, oh why, does this have to be?" Or, as the Psalms so often say, "How long, O Lord?"
I've been asked many times by someone in a severe crisis, "Why?" The blank expression, the lines etched deeply in the face, the wide, searching eyes all echo the question. No matter what "explanation" I offer, the emptiness in the face doesn't disappear. It is like pouring water into a bucket with holes in it. The one thing that does seem to "take" is the truth that God is with us. And sometimes we are more aware of that when we are suffering than at any other time.
How can we explain that the people who suffer the most are usually driven not toward the black hole of skepticism, but toward God? The parent who loses a child, the worker who loses a job, the young woman whose doctor tells her she has to come back for a biopsy-how frequently these people cry out to God in their distress, their pain not taken as proof that no one above is listening, but as the occasion to believe all the more, to pray that most solemn of prayers: "Have mercy on me, O Lord."
Philip Yancey quotes Scottish theologian James Stewart on this point, "It is the spectators, the people who are outside, looking at the tragedy, from whose ranks the skeptics come; it is not those who are actually in the arena and who know suffering from the inside. Indeed, the fact is that it is the world's greatest sufferers who have produced the most shining examples of unconquerable faith."
Some people have looked for a common-sense, real-life kind of answer, and have thus wondered, "Maybe God isn't good, or maybe God isn't almighty." The first "solution" proposes that bad things happen because God can simply do whatever he wishes, and it just doesn't matter that it seems bad to us. The second is to say that God would like to prevent bad things from happening, but that he is just not able to do it-perhaps not even God is able to keep up with all the chaos in the world. If only God had one war to deal with at a time...
But most of us realize that to give up on God's goodness or his greatness is to believe in an utterly different kind of God. Not God at all, really. But this is not what Job or Jeremiah or David meant in the Old Testament when out of the pits of their distress they asked, "Aren't you good, O God?" In their most honest prayers (intentionally left there as markers in Holy Scripture so that we can know that God would rather have us say anything than stay silent) these sufferers were simply saying, we know, God, that the evil things that happen are so contradictory to who you are, such a violation of what you stand for-please reassure us that you are in fact the Good God.
Another misleading solution is to simply believe that God is not. But atheism has always been and always will be a cheap answer. Augustine pointed out that if you ask, "If there is a God, why is there so much evil?" then you also have to ask, "If there is no God, why is there so much good?" Atheism solves nothing. It offers no comfort, takes away no pain, provides no hope. The only comfort it provides is an act of supposed resignation that says, you should have known all along you are only dust. Forget God, and the Genesis breath that turns dust into man.
Others have tried to suggest that maybe the solution to the problem of pain is that suffering is illusory. It deals with pain by saying we only think we experience pain. The religion founded by Mary Baker Eddy, Christian Science, teaches this. Yet, Mrs. Eddy did die. The idea that suffering is an illusion flies in the face of common experience. Even if it is an illusion, the illusion hurts a lot. There is still a problem.

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.
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P31Header
Rachel Olsen
July 12, 2011
Laying Me Down to Sleep
Rachel Olsen
"God called the light 'day,' and the darkness he called 'night.' And there was evening, and there was morning- the first day." Genesis 1:5 (NIV)
What time did your day begin today?
Did it begin as the sun poked through the widow urging you to wake? Or, did the alarm buzz at 5:30 AM? Or maybe at 6:45? Perhaps you slept until 8:00?
What if I told you your day began last night as the sun set - would you disagree?
In the modern, westernized world we think of our days as sun rise to sun rise. In other words, we rise, we work, and then we end the day in rest. We rest to recover from our work ... with whatever time is left over after the work is done.
However, in the ancient Jewish tradition the day runs from sundown to sundown. That's quite a different concept. In other words, we rest, then we rise and do our work. Rest becomes the source and fuel for the work rather than merely recovery from it.
Where did the Hebrews get this seemingly backwards notion of the day beginning in the evening? From the God who never sleeps, in the Bible. Notice in today's key verse - in fact, in multiple verses throughout the Genesis creation account - there was evening, and then morning and that was counted as a day.
A secular rhythm of life makes work primary. We work first, then go from work to vacation. In contrast, a sacred rhythm makes rest primary, moving us from God-ordained rest into our vocation. The sacred rhythm is rest, rise, work rather than rise, work, rest. Let that difference sink in and sway the seat of your soul.
Internalizing this difference is the basis for connecting with God through rest. Pastor and author Eugene Peterson describes this ancient rest-first rhythm:
"This Hebrew evening/morning sequence conditions us to the rhythms of grace. We go to sleep, and God begins his work. As we sleep he develops his covenant. We wake and are called to participate in God's creative action. We respond in faith, in work. But always grace is previous. Grace is primary. We wake into a world we didn't make, into a salvation we didn't earn.
Evening: God begins, without our help, his creative day. Morning: God calls us to enjoy and share and develop the work he initiated. Creation and covenant are sheer grace and there to greet us every morning."
I don't know why God's Word marks out time in this way in Genesis, but I am discovering I think and live differently when I adopt this view of my days. I see each night's rest as something important, something to prepare for - and something important that prepares me. I've long known that rest prepares me physically to rise and work again, and now I'm finding it prepares me spiritually to rise walk in grace and faith.
As I lie down, close my eyes, pray, and slip from consciousness, I do so with the understanding that it is God who holds everything together during my temporary absence from the world. And it's Him who will continue to hold everything together when I rise and work in the coming daylight. At no point - day or night - am I independent of Him. He even has the power to direct my dreams should He desire.
So I've developed a theology of sleep that punctuates my days. It helps me see my nights and my rest as set apart and holy. It helps me to see God as I lay myself down to sleep. In fact, it helps me see that it is He who lays me down for the gracious gift of rest.
What about you? How do you think about rest? How do you treat it? How might God be calling you to look at it differently?
Dear Lord, thank You for rest. Thank You that I can rest while You continue to hold everything together. Help me rest well and worship You through rest. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Related Resources:
If today's topic struck a chord, you'll want to read the chapter "Turn the Beat Around" in Rachel's new bookIt's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know.
Visit Rachel's blog for six tips on resting well.
Jesus says, "Come to Me, and I will give you rest." Do you know Him?
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!
Application Steps:
Make intentional plans for how you will end this day in a way that is peaceful, restful and connects your heart with God. Head over to Rachel's blog for some ideas on this.
Reflections:
Do I make time for rest, or treat it as an afterthought?
Can I worship God through rest?
Power Verses:
Genesis 1:7-8, "So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse 'sky.' And there was evening, and there was morning - the second day." (NIV)
Psalm 3:5, "I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me." (NIV)
Colossians 1:17, "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (NIV)
© 2011 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org
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Greetings from Bible Gateway! We hope you're staying cool this summer. This week, we have a brand new devotional to announce, and our Tour of the Bible blog series has hit a major milestone. On to the news!
Announcing the "Insights for Students" devotional

If you're a high school or college student, you're probably doing your best right now 
not to think of school. But are you spiritually prepared to return to the challenges and opportunities of student life in just a few months?

We're excited to present a new email devotional to help you do just that: 
Insights for Students, a devotional that will both challenge and equip you as you seek to walk with Christ in your life and relationships. Each email features a short reflection that confronts the obstacles that get in the way of reading and understanding the Bible. Insights for Students begins tomorrow; you can sign up for it now!

Insights for Students draws on the NIV Student Bible, written and edited by Philip Yancey and Tim Stafford. This recently updated edition is due to be released this month. You'll get a sneak peek at some of its content through Insights for Students.

If that sounds interesting, 
sign up today! While the newsletter is geared toward students, its reflections will be helpful to anyone looking to deepen their understanding of the Bible.
Our Tour of the Old Testament is complete!

Have you been following our 
Tour of the Bible blog post series? Over the last few months, we've taken a whirlwind tour of each of the major sections of the Bible, discussing who wrote them and what they have to say. We've just completed our tour of the Old Testament! Here's what we've covered so far: We'll be venturing into the New Testament, starting with the Gospels, very soon. If your understanding of the Old Testament is a little shaky or if you could use a refresher course, take a look at the Tour so far , and we hope you'll stick around for the upcoming installments!

That's all the news for this week! Stay tuned for some more big news next week, including another email newsletter we're very excited about. Thanks, as always, for your support of Bible Gateway!

Sincerely,
the Bible Gateway team
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