Monday, July 02, 2012

Daily Devotional Monday 2nd July

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Romans 12:3 NIV
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Today's reading: Job 20-21, Acts 10:24-48 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 
Zophar
    1 Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:
   2 “My troubled thoughts prompt me to answer 
   because I am greatly disturbed. 
3 I hear a rebuke that dishonors me, 
   and my understanding inspires me to reply.
   4 “Surely you know how it has been from of old, 
   ever since mankind was placed on the earth, 
5 that the mirth of the wicked is brief, 
   the joy of the godless lasts but a moment. 
6 Though the pride of the godless person reaches to the heavens 
   and his head touches the clouds, 
7 he will perish forever, like his own dung; 
   those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’ 
8 Like a dream he flies away, no more to be found, 
   banished like a vision of the night. 
9 The eye that saw him will not see him again; 
   his place will look on him no more. 
10 His children must make amends to the poor; 
   his own hands must give back his wealth. 
11 The youthful vigor that fills his bones 
   will lie with him in the dust.
   12 “Though evil is sweet in his mouth 
   and he hides it under his tongue, 
13 though he cannot bear to let it go 
   and lets it linger in his mouth, 
14 yet his food will turn sour in his stomach; 
   it will become the venom of serpents within him. 
15 He will spit out the riches he swallowed; 
   God will make his stomach vomit them up. 
16 He will suck the poison of serpents; 
   the fangs of an adder will kill him. 
17 He will not enjoy the streams, 
   the rivers flowing with honey and cream. 
18 What he toiled for he must give back uneaten; 
   he will not enjoy the profit from his trading. 
19 For he has oppressed the poor and left them destitute; 
   he has seized houses he did not build.
   20 “Surely he will have no respite from his craving; 
   he cannot save himself by his treasure. 
21 Nothing is left for him to devour; 
   his prosperity will not endure. 
22 In the midst of his plenty, distress will overtake him; 
   the full force of misery will come upon him. 
23 When he has filled his belly, 
   God will vent his burning anger against him 
   and rain down his blows on him. 
24 Though he flees from an iron weapon, 
   a bronze-tipped arrow pierces him. 
25 He pulls it out of his back, 
   the gleaming point out of his liver. 
Terrors will come over him; 
   26 total darkness lies in wait for his treasures. 
A fire unfanned will consume him 
   and devour what is left in his tent. 
27 The heavens will expose his guilt; 
   the earth will rise up against him. 
28 A flood will carry off his house, 
   rushing waters on the day of God’s wrath. 
29 Such is the fate God allots the wicked, 
   the heritage appointed for them by God.”

Job 21

Job
    1 Then Job replied:
   2 “Listen carefully to my words; 
   let this be the consolation you give me. 
3 Bear with me while I speak, 
   and after I have spoken, mock on.
   4 “Is my complaint directed to a human being? 
   Why should I not be impatient? 
5 Look at me and be appalled; 
   clap your hand over your mouth. 
When I think about this, I am terrified; 
   trembling seizes my body. 
7 Why do the wicked live on, 
   growing old and increasing in power? 
8 They see their children established around them, 
   their offspring before their eyes. 
9 Their homes are safe and free from fear; 
   the rod of God is not on them. 
10 Their bulls never fail to breed; 
   their cows calve and do not miscarry. 
11 They send forth their children as a flock; 
   their little ones dance about. 
12 They sing to the music of timbrel and lyre; 
   they make merry to the sound of the pipe. 
13 They spend their years in prosperity 
   and go down to the grave in peace.
14 Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone! 
   We have no desire to know your ways. 
15 Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? 
   What would we gain by praying to him?’ 
16 But their prosperity is not in their own hands, 
   so I stand aloof from the plans of the wicked.
   17 “Yet how often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out? 
   How often does calamity come upon them, 
   the fate God allots in his anger? 
18 How often are they like straw before the wind, 
   like chaff swept away by a gale? 
19 It is said, ‘God stores up the punishment of the wicked for their children.’ 
   Let him repay the wicked, so that they themselves will experience it! 
20 Let their own eyes see their destruction; 
   let them drink the cup of the wrath of the Almighty. 
21 For what do they care about the families they leave behind 
   when their allotted months come to an end?
   22 “Can anyone teach knowledge to God, 
   since he judges even the highest? 
23 One person dies in full vigor, 
   completely secure and at ease, 
24 well nourished in body,
   bones rich with marrow. 
25 Another dies in bitterness of soul, 
   never having enjoyed anything good. 
26 Side by side they lie in the dust, 
   and worms cover them both.
   27 “I know full well what you are thinking, 
   the schemes by which you would wrong me. 
28 You say, ‘Where now is the house of the great, 
   the tents where the wicked lived?’ 
29 Have you never questioned those who travel? 
   Have you paid no regard to their accounts— 
30 that the wicked are spared from the day of calamity, 
   that they are delivered from the day of wrath? 
31 Who denounces their conduct to their face? 
   Who repays them for what they have done? 
32 They are carried to the grave, 
   and watch is kept over their tombs. 
33 The soil in the valley is sweet to them; 
   everyone follows after them, 
   and a countless throng goes before them.
   34 “So how can you console me with your nonsense? 
   Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!”

Acts 10

24 The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”
   27 While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”
   30 Cornelius answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor.32 Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”
   34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
   39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
   44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
   Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

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OUR SACRIFICES, NOT OUR ACHIEVEMENTS

…now God is building you, as living stones into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are God’s holy priests, who offer the spiritual sacrifices that please him because of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5
Our Open Doors colleague, Ron Boyd-MacMillan, shares the following insight from his teaching, “Why I Need to Encounter the Persecuted Church.”
When I lived in Los Angeles, I was always stressed about one key question—am I fulfilling my potential? Everywhere I drove, I was surrounded by advertisements telling me that I was not earning enough, that I needed to have an “attitude transplant.” I worried about whether I should take more courses in the elusive search for more success. My friends were actors and actresses desperate to attract the attention of some film producer, and working a couple of part-time jobs in the vain hope that someday, they will be discovered. I too always felt unfulfilled.
But is the purpose of my life really to maximize my potential? A visit to the persecuted soon cured me of that idea. This fact becomes clear—fulfilling one’s potential cannot possibly be the purpose to life because so few actually get the opportunity to do so!
Look at the millions of Christians in China’s house churches. All of them live lives in which—for want of a better term—they are trapped. They do not have choices. Because of their Christianity, many are denied access to education, or are barred from developing promising careers. I sat in a house church of seventy peasant Christians, and wondered, how many great scientists, violin players, or philosophers could be in here, but they and the world will never know, because they never had the chance to study, learn algebra, or hold a musical instrument.
Would God really make a world where only a tiny minority could fulfill their life’s purpose, and doom the rest of us to a lifetime of frustration?
We were studying 1st Peter one night, and suddenly I had an insight while reading chapter 2 verse 5. It struck me: God makes each life that is yielded to him a living stone in building his temple. That’s why we are alive. That’s the purpose of it all. We are all made to become a stone in his spiritual temple, his eternal kingdom. And everybody gets the opportunity to become a “living stone” just by virtue of giving our lives to him. We are priests because we offer a sacrifice. That sacrifice is the only one we can make—that of our lives. And so we find the purpose for which God made the world—to build a kingdom of worshippers for Himself. That old man in the house church whose back is bent double from a life in the rice paddies is a living stone. That woman whose baby was taken away during the Cultural Revolution because she was a Christian is also a living stone. No one wastes their life who gives it to Jesus. They are placed into an eternal structure—the kingdom of God, and will rejoice forever in that status.
No one goes unfulfilled because God builds his kingdom on our sacrifices, not on our achievements.
RESPONSE: Today I will be fulfilled as a “living stone” for God and offer Him the sacrifice of my life.
PRAYER: Thank You Lord that I don’t need to spend my life seeking fulfillment other than in You!
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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Day 31

Offering intercessory prayer means nothing other than Christians bringing one another into the presence of God, seeing each other under the cross of Jesus as poor human beings and sinners in need of grace. Then, everything about other people that repels me falls away. Then I see them in all their need, hardship, and distress. Their need and their sin become so heavy and oppressive to me that I feel as if they were my own, and I can do nothing else but bid: Lord, you yourself, you alone, deal with them according to your firmness and your goodness.

Biblical Wisdom

Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. James 5:15-16

Questions to Ponder

  • How does seeing others under the cross of Jesus Christ cause all that "repels me" about them to fall away?
  • In what way is everyone equal under the cross?
  • How does looking at other people through the lens of God's mercy change our feelings about them and about ourselves?

Psalm Fragment

May he judge your people with righteousness, 
   and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
   and the hills, in righteousness.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
   give deliverance to the needy,
   and crush the oppressor. Psalm 72:2-4

Journal Reflections

  • Make a list of the people whom you would like to bring into the presence of God today.
  • Write a line or two describing the nature of your relationship with each of these people.

Intercessions

For each person listed in your journal today, pray: Lord, you yourself, you alone, deal with (name) according to your firmness and your goodness.

Prayer for Today

Forgiving and transforming God, thank you that under the cross of Christ we all stand equally together under your love and mercy.
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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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.

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Personal service

“O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.” Psalm 116:16
Suggested Further Reading: Romans 6:15-23
A liberty to be holy is a grander liberty than a licence to be sinful. A liberty to be conscientious; a liberty to know forgiven sin; a liberty to trample upon conquered lusts, this is an infinitely wider liberty than that which would permit me to be the comfortable slave of sin, and yet indulge the elusive hope that I may one day enter the kingdom of heaven. The largest expressions that can ever be used by the boldest minister of free grace, cannot here be exaggerations. Luther may exhaust his thunders, and Calvin may spend his logic, but after all the grand things that have been spoken about the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, we are freer than those men knew. Free as the very air he breathes is the Christian, if he lives up to his privileges. If he is in bondage at all, it is because he has not as yet yielded his spirit fully to the redeeming and emancipating influence of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the fullest and widest sense therefore, the believer may cry, “Thou has loosed my bonds.” Nor is this liberty merely consistent with the profoundest and most reverent service, but the service is, indeed, a main characteristic of the exalted freedom. “Truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant and the son of thine handmaid.” This does not conflict with the sentence that follows it,—“Thou hast loosed my bonds.” This fact of my being God’s servant is to me a proof and evidence, and a delightful fruit and effect of my having had my bonds loosed by the great emancipator, the Lord Jesus Christ. Service then, as well as liberty!
For meditation: The Christian has been freed from being a slave of sin in order to become a servant of God. Does your lifestyle illustrate this (Galatians 5:13)?
Sermon no. 312
2 July (Preached 3 May 1860)

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The dove’s return to the ark

‘But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot.’ Genesis 8:9
Suggested Further Reading: Mark 12:28–34
We must love something, or some one. Man was not made to live alone, and therefore no man lives unto himself. Our heart must flow like a river, or it corrupts like a stagnant pool. Some have great hearts, and they require a great object on which to spend their love. They love fondly and firmly, too fondly and too firmly for earthly love. These are they who suffer from broken hearts. They have so much love that when they set it upon an unworthy object they reap a proportionate degree of misery and disappointment. Now let me say solemnly that no heart of a child of God will ever be satisfied with any object or person short of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is room for wife and children, there is room for friend and acquaintance, and all the more room in one’s heart because Christ is there, but neither wife, nor children, nor friends, nor kinsfolk can ever fill the believers’s heart. He must have Christ Jesus; there is no rest for him elsewhere. Do I address any believer who has been making an idol? Have you set up any god in your heart? Have you loved any creature so as to forget your Saviour? Be it child, or husband, or friend, take heed of the sin of idolatry. You cannot, you shall not find rest for the sole of your foot in the creature, however fair that creature may seem. God will break your idol before your eyes, or if he suffer that idol to stand, it shall remain to plague and curse you, for ‘thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm.’ ‘Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?’ Give your hearts to the Lord Jesus and he will never disappoint you. Lean on him with all your weight of affection, for he will never fail you.
For meditation: The Lord Jesus Christ has told us that we must love both God and man, but he has also specified who should come first (Mark 12:28–30), who should come second (Mark 12:31) and where we should place the emphasis (Matthew 10:37).
Sermon no. 637
2 July (1865)


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