Sunday, July 01, 2012

Daily Devotional Sunday 1st July

“The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.” Zechariah 14:9 NIV
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Today's reading: Job 17-19, Acts 10:1-23 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway 

1
 My spirit is broken, 
   my days are cut short, 
   the grave awaits me. 
2 Surely mockers surround me; 
   my eyes must dwell on their hostility.
   3 “Give me, O God, the pledge you demand. 
   Who else will put up security for me? 
4 You have closed their minds to understanding; 
   therefore you will not let them triumph. 
5 If anyone denounces their friends for reward, 
   the eyes of their children will fail.
    6 “God has made me a byword to everyone, 
   a man in whose face people spit. 
7 My eyes have grown dim with grief; 
   my whole frame is but a shadow. 
8 The upright are appalled at this; 
   the innocent are aroused against the ungodly. 
9 Nevertheless, the righteous will hold to their ways, 
   and those with clean hands will grow stronger.
   10 “But come on, all of you, try again! 
   I will not find a wise man among you. 
11 My days have passed, my plans are shattered. 
   Yet the desires of my heart 
12 turn night into day; 
   in the face of the darkness light is near. 
13 If the only home I hope for is the grave, 
   if I spread out my bed in the realm of darkness, 
14 if I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’ 
   and to the worm, ‘My mother’ or ‘My sister,’ 
15 where then is my hope— 
   who can see any hope for me? 
16 Will it go down to the gates of death? 
   Will we descend together into the dust?”

Job 18

Bildad
    1 Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:
   2 “When will you end these speeches? 
   Be sensible, and then we can talk. 
3 Why are we regarded as cattle 
   and considered stupid in your sight? 
4 You who tear yourself to pieces in your anger, 
   is the earth to be abandoned for your sake? 
   Or must the rocks be moved from their place?
   “The lamp of a wicked man is snuffed out; 
   the flame of his fire stops burning. 
6 The light in his tent becomes dark; 
   the lamp beside him goes out. 
7 The vigor of his step is weakened; 
   his own schemes throw him down. 
8 His feet thrust him into a net; 
   he wanders into its mesh. 
9 A trap seizes him by the heel; 
   a snare holds him fast. 
10 A noose is hidden for him on the ground; 
   a trap lies in his path. 
11 Terrors startle him on every side 
   and dog his every step. 
12 Calamity is hungry for him; 
   disaster is ready for him when he falls. 
13 It eats away parts of his skin; 
   death’s firstborn devours his limbs. 
14 He is torn from the security of his tent 
   and marched off to the king of terrors. 
15 Fire resides in his tent; 
   burning sulfur is scattered over his dwelling. 
16 His roots dry up below 
   and his branches wither above. 
17 The memory of him perishes from the earth; 
   he has no name in the land. 
18 He is driven from light into the realm of darkness 
   and is banished from the world. 
19 He has no offspring or descendants among his people, 
   no survivor where once he lived. 
20 People of the west are appalled at his fate; 
   those of the east are seized with horror. 
21 Surely such is the dwelling of an evil man; 
   such is the place of one who does not know God.”

Job 19

Job
    1 Then Job replied:
   2 “How long will you torment me 
   and crush me with words? 
3 Ten times now you have reproached me; 
   shamelessly you attack me. 
4 If it is true that I have gone astray, 
   my error remains my concern alone. 
5 If indeed you would exalt yourselves above me 
   and use my humiliation against me, 
6 then know that God has wronged me 
   and drawn his net around me.
   7 “Though I cry, ‘Violence!’ I get no response; 
   though I call for help, there is no justice. 
8 He has blocked my way so I cannot pass; 
   he has shrouded my paths in darkness. 
9 He has stripped me of my honor 
   and removed the crown from my head. 
10 He tears me down on every side till I am gone; 
   he uproots my hope like a tree. 
11 His anger burns against me; 
   he counts me among his enemies. 
12 His troops advance in force; 
   they build a siege ramp against me 
   and encamp around my tent.
   13 “He has alienated my family from me; 
   my acquaintances are completely estranged from me. 
14 My relatives have gone away; 
   my closest friends have forgotten me. 
15 My guests and my female servants count me a foreigner; 
   they look on me as on a stranger. 
16 I summon my servant, but he does not answer, 
   though I beg him with my own mouth. 
17 My breath is offensive to my wife; 
   I am loathsome to my own family. 
18 Even the little boys scorn me; 
   when I appear, they ridicule me. 
19 All my intimate friends detest me; 
   those I love have turned against me. 
20 I am nothing but skin and bones; 
   I have escaped only by the skin of my teeth.
   21 “Have pity on me, my friends, have pity, 
   for the hand of God has struck me. 
22 Why do you pursue me as God does? 
   Will you never get enough of my flesh?
   23 “Oh, that my words were recorded, 
   that they were written on a scroll, 
24 that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, 
   or engraved in rock forever! 
25 I know that my redeemer lives, 
   and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
26 And after my skin has been destroyed, 
   yet in my flesh I will see God; 
27 I myself will see him 
   with my own eyes—I, and not another. 
   How my heart yearns within me!
   28 “If you say, ‘How we will hound him, 
   since the root of the trouble lies in him,’ 
29 you should fear the sword yourselves; 
   for wrath will bring punishment by the sword, 
   and then you will know that there is judgment.”

Acts 10

Cornelius Calls for Peter
    1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. 3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”
   4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.
   The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
   7 When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. 8 He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.
Peter’s Vision
    9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
   14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
   15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
   16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
   17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. 18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.
   19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”
   21 Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?”
   22 The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” 23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.
Peter at Cornelius’s House
    The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along.

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MYSTERY

He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ… Ephesians 1:9
Human beings always want to know “why?” and “why not now?” But it’s precisely because we are human we cannot know. That’s why mystery is so important to understand. The entire book of Job is all about the “why” of suffering and in the end God invites Job to see a bigger picture than even his suffering.
Creation is a mistake if all you see is your suffering. But if you lift your eyes wider and let your gaze roam over the whole universe with God, you can also see that creation has even more beauty and grace.
So we are to value mystery because it enables us to feel God’s love…love that was fully revealed in Christ.
Sometimes we get to see “why?” and “why not now?” (one of the good aspects of growing older). Often we don’t because we are the players of life in the universe, not the playwright.
Christine Mallouhi in her excellent book, Waging Peace on Islam, makes this significant conclusion:
The victorious and triumphant Christian life does not conjure up pictures of suffering and death and feelings of abandonment. But this was all part of God's victory in Christ. If this was the path the Master trod why should it be any different for the servants? Jesus cried out "why?" and "where are you?" to God when circumstances were crushing him. God is always greater than our understanding of him and there will always be mystery about him that causes us to fall down in awe and worship. This mystery, which we want to tidily categorise, keeps causing struggles in our life. Every time we get God tidied up like a ball of rubber bands, another end bursts out and the struggle begins over again, until we learn to live in faith with untidy ends. If everything is clear then faith is irrelevant. We are not called to solve the mystery, but enter it.[1]
RESPONSE: Today I will value mystery because it enables me to feel God’s love.
PRAYER: Thank You Lord that though the world around us if full of suffering, it is more full of beauty and grace. Help me to trust You and value mystery.
1. Christine Mallouhi, Waging Peace on Islam(Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2000), p.52.
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 30

A Christian community either lives by the intercessory prayers of its members for one another, or the community will be destroyed. I can no longer condemn or hate other Christians for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble they cause me. In intercessory prayer the face that may have been strange and intolerable to me is transformed into the face of one for whom Christ died, the face of a pardoned sinner. That is a blessed discovery for the Christian who is beginning to offer intercessory prayer for others. As far as we are concerned, there is no dislike, no personal tension, no disunity or strife that cannot be overcome by intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer is the purifying bath into which the individual and the community must enter every day.

Biblical Wisdom

Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18

Questions to Ponder

  • What is more common in the church, generic prayers for "those in need" or specific prayers for specific individuals? Why?
  • How common is it for individual Christians and communities of faith to pray for the good of those they dislike or are in conflict with?
  • In what ways does intercessory prayer protect a community of faith?

Psalm Fragment

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
   "May they prosper who love you.
   Peace be within your walls,
      and security within your towers."
   For the sake of my relatives and friends
      I will say, "Peace be within you."
   For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
      I will seek your good." Psalm 122:6-9

Journal Reflections

  • Reflect on your prayer life. Have you ever prayed for the good of anyone you were in a conflict with?
  • If so, what happened as a result of your prayer? Did it change the way you thought about that person?
  • If not, reflect in your journal as to whether or not you are ready to pray for the good of people who have hurt you or whom you dislike for any reason.

Intercessions

Pray that your community of faith would be a place where conflict is resolved and hard feelings softened through intercessory prayer.

Prayer for Today

Forgiving God, may I see those with whom I am in conflict as your beloved, and may I share in your love for them by praying for them.
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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Worthy of Praise

This passage points to a major shift that is beginning to emerge in redemptive history—the visible reign of Christ on the earth. It represents the culmination of the work of God and the sacrifice and faithfulness of the stewards of God. It is a call to worship. It is a call to walk now in the way of Christ. Says theologian Lee C. Camp:
Worship leads us to become a particular kind of people, a people who reflect the ways of the God we worship. Worship develops, forms, and shapes a particular kind of people. The important question then, who or what are we truly worshiping? The New Testament points us, consistently, to recount the story of a God who has delivered through a crucified Messiah. That storytelling, that recounting of God’s redemptive work in human history, becomes our story, our identity, and our profession of allegiance. In biblically informed worship, we become a part of the people of God who celebrate this way of victory, this way of conquering, this way of defeating enemies. The New Testament celebrates not merely that God has won in Christ, but that God has won in the crucified Christ.
The description of worship given in the book of Revelation illuminates this relation between worship and ethics. The assembly of God’s people, gathered around the throne, giving honor and glory to a slaughtered Lamb, leads to a community of people willing to walk in the way of Christ themselves, trusting that just as God raised a slaughtered Lamb, so shall he raise those who lose their lives in obedience. To ascribe honor to a slaughtered Lamb—unless it be mere lip service—necessarily leads us to obedience to the way of the Lamb. God has conquered, and we praise him. And because he is worthy of our praise, he is worthy—and authoritative—to reveal how faithful followers are to participate in the triumph of God’s purposes in human history.
Worship is an all-encompassing activity. It is being on our face at Christ’s feet, but it is also an attitude, an attention to God that we pay as we do other things. Author Randy Alcorn says that in heaven we will worship in this way:
Scripture says we’ll being doing many other things—living in dwelling places, eating and drinking, reigning with Christ, and working for him. Scripture depicts people standing, walking, traveling in and out of the city, and gathering at feasts. When doing these things, we won’t be on our faces before Christ. Nevertheless, all that we do will be an act of worship … Have you ever spent a day or several hours when you sensed the presence of God as you hiked, worked, gardened, drove, read, or did the dishes? Those are foretastes of Heaven—not because we are doing nothing but worshiping, but because we are worshiping God as we do everything else.

Think About It

  • In what ways does Scripture inform your worship?
  • Why is God worthy of your praise and worship?
  • What do you think heaven will be like?

Act on It

Determine a time when you can focus on sensing the presence of God while you go about a task. Then spend time reflecting on the experience.
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The necessity of increased faith

“And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.” Luke 17:5
Suggested Further Reading: Romans 4:13-25
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” They went to the right person. They did not say to themselves, “I will increase my faith;” they did not cry to the minister, “Preach a comforting sermon, and increase my faith;” they did not say, “I will read such-and-such a book, and that will increase my faith.” No, they said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” Faith’s author can alone increase it. I could inflate your faith till it turned into presumption, but I could not make it grow. It is God’s work to feed faith, as well as to give it life at first; and if any of you desire to have a growing faith, go and take your burden this morning to God’s throne, crying, “Lord, increase our faith!” If you feel that your troubles have been increased, go to the Lord, and say, “Increase our faith!” If your money is accumulating, go to the Lord, and say, “Increase our faith;” for you will want more faith as you get more prosperity. If your property is diminishing, go to him, and say, “Increase our faith,” so that what you lose in one scale you may gain in the other. Are you sickly and full of pain this morning? Go to your Master, and say, “Increase our faith, so that I may not be impatient, but be able to bear it well.” Are you tired and weary? Go and supplicate, “Increase our faith!” Have you little faith? Take it to God, and he will turn it into great faith. There is no hot-house for growing tender plants in like a house that is within the curtains—the tabernacle of God, where his glory dwells.
For meditation: The Christian has no need to undertake pilgrimages and to seek out so-called holy men to increase his faith. The expert in increasing faith is the very one in whom we have faith, who lives in us by his Spirit (Hebrews 12:2).
Sermon no. 32
1 July (1855)

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Jesus Rebukes Peter

Matthew 16:21-23 "He turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man'" ( v. 23).
The fundamental point of ecclesiology is encapsulated in the lyric: "The church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord." In other words, God's people find their origin, grounding, direction, and security in Christ. Without a firm grasp of this truth, the church devolves into a man-made society governed by the whims of finite creatures, not the Word of the creator God Himself.
Scripture makes this point in many ways, but it can also speak of Peter and the other apostles as the foundation of the church ( Eph. 2:19-20), with Jesus being the "foundation of the foundation" because He is the cornerstone (Acts 4:11). The apostles function as the foundation of the church through their writings - the New Testament - which reveal and proclaim the church's Lord.
Key to this foundation is Peter's confession of Jesus as the Christ (that is, Messiah; Matt. 16:16-18 ), a divinely-revealed truth that sums up the Gospel. John Calvin writes: "The designation Christ, or Anointed, includes both an everlasting Kingdom and an everlasting Priesthood, to reconcile us to God, and, by expiating our sins through his sacrifice, to obtain for us a perfect righteousness, and, having received us under his protection, to uphold and supply and enrich us with every description of blessings."
Yet Peter did not fully know what he was saying when he first declared that Jesus is the Messiah - the son of David who builds God's house (2 Sam. 7:1-17 ). This is evident in today's passage, wherein Peter is rebuked for misunderstanding Jesus' work shortly after being praised for recognizing His office. Once it is out in the open that Jesus is indeed the Christ, our Lord begins to teach plainly His need to die for the sins of His people (Matt. 16:21). At first this is unacceptable to Peter; he does not want a Messiah who is anything but a mighty ruler who leads Israel to an earthly victory (v. 22 ). But there can be no conquering king until the Savior first takes the curse off His nation at Calvary (Gal. 3:10-14).
Peter stumbles and, like Satan in the wilderness, offers Jesus a crown without the cross (Matt. 4:1-11). Jesus has none of this, for He is committed to His Father, whose covenant demands that sin's debt be paid in full (Ex. 34:6-7 ).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Evangelicals often stress that Jesus has died for our sins, but it can be easy to forget that He was also raised for our sins. As we share the Gospel, let us remember to present the truth of the resurrection as well. John Calvin comments, "All ministers...who desire that their preaching may be profitable, ought to be exceedingly careful that the glory of his resurrection should be always exhibited by them in connection with the ignominy of his death."
For further study:
The Bible in a year:
For the weekend:
INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
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Ministering as a Team

When Priscilla and Aquila heard [Apollos], they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
Acts 18:26
A couple in our church provides invaluable training for people who are planning to go into the ministry. Marshall and Chris show young couples how to love one another and how to raise their children wisely and well. They host a small group in their home in which they study and apply Scripture together. They talk through what it means to shape their homes around Christ, and how to do so while working in the church. Marshall and Chris share special meals with these couples and fuss over the kids.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? But the work is draining. There are times when this mature couple would like a break from the emotional demands of such mentoring—even just a quiet night at home. Plus, it’s hard to constantly be saying goodbye to families they’ve grown to love who are moving on in ministry. But Marshall and Chris mentor others because they believe in building the church.
The apostle Paul knew a couple like that, a couple who always worked together as a team. Their names were Aquila and Priscilla. And they understood the price of following Christ. Paul wrote about them in Romans 16:3, saying, “They risked their lives for me.” Their initiative to live for others came from praying together and talking over ministry opportunities; it also came from a selfless love of other believers and, of course, their devotion to Jesus.
In more than 30 years of marriage, my wife and I have frequently invited people to stay in our home. Sometimes we offer a place to a student who is taking a two- or three-week class at Trinity Evangelical Seminary, which is near our home. Other times, we provide a place for someone who has nowhere else to go. Once we opened our home for 15 months to a young woman and her preschooler. Sometimes such commitments proved to be far more complicated than we had imagined; yet the rewards often exceeded our expectations.
Every ministry has its price and its privileges, and every ministry undertaken by a couple can be a challenge to their marriage. Learning to share the work, to complement one another’s gifts, and to pray together through difficulties are not always easy.
Think about some of the issues Aquila and Priscilla must have talked about and prayed through together. They must have recognized and valued one another’s natural and spiritual gifts and determined to work as a team. They were so good at working together that Scripture always mentions them as a team. They were such students of Scripture that they were able to make a significant contribution to the training of one of the church’s most promising leaders: Apollos. And they had the gift of hospitality, for a church met regularly in their home (see 1 Corinthians 16:19 ). What a model for marriage!
Lee Eclov

Let’s Talk

  • What about Priscilla and Aquila’s relationship appeals most to us?
  • What couples do we know who have effective ministries together (whether in their home or beyond it)? What are some ministries that most appeal to us as a couple? Why?
  • What steps might we take to expand or deepen our household ministry as a couple? Are we sensing that God wants us to open our home to others to perhaps lead a youth group, parent foster children, mentor engaged couples or host a neighborhood Bible study?
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Seeing is not believing, but believing is seeing

‘Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.’ 1 Peter 1:8
Suggested Further Reading: John 20:19–31
Carnal people will imagine that if there could be something to touch or smell they should get on, but mere believing and loving are too hard for them. Yet such thought is not reasonable, and I can show you so. Occasionally one meets with an illiterate working man who will say to those whose occupation is mental, ‘I work hard for my living,’ insinuating that the mind-worker does not work at all. Yet I ask any man who is engaged in a mental pursuit, whether he does not know that mental work is quite as real work—and some of us think more so—as working with the hand or the arm. The thing is mental, but is none the less real. Just transfer that thought. Coming into contact with Christ by touch looks to most people to be most real; that is because their animal nature is uppermost; coming into contact with Jesus by the spirit seems to them to be unreal, only because they know nothing of spiritual things. Mere animal men will often say, ‘I can understand the headache, I can understand the pain of having a leg cut off;’ but the pain of injured affection, or of receiving ingratitude from a trusted friend, this is by the rough mind thought to be no pain at all. ‘Oh,’ says he, ‘I could put up with that.’ But I ask you who have minds, is there any pain more real than mental pain? Is it not the sharpest when the iron enters into the soul? Just so the mental operation—for it is a mental operation—of coming into contact with Christ by loving him and trusting him is the most real thing in all the world, and no one will think it unreal who has once exercised it.
For meditation: Unlike Thomas we cannot touch the Lord to bolster our faith (John 20:27–29). Claiming that unscriptural religious acts are not articles of faith but visual aids to faith is carnal, not spiritual, in both origin and outcome (John 3:6 ). Finding it ‘helpful’ to confess sins to a human ‘priest’ ignores the existence of the Great High Priest in heaven who makes such a go-between surplus to requirements (Hebrews 4:14,16;8:1).
Sermon no. 698
1 July (1866)
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