Sunday, July 08, 2012

Daily Devotional Sunday 8th July

“As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30 NIV
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Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon

Morning

"Tell me I pray thee wherein thy great strength lieth."
Judges 16:6
Where lies the secret strength of faith? It lies in the food it feeds on; for faith studies what the promise is--an emanation of divine grace, an overflowing of the great heart of God; and faith says, "My God could not have given this promise, except from love and grace; therefore it is quite certain his Word will be fulfilled." Then faith thinketh, "Who gave this promise?" It considereth not so much its greatness, as, "Who is the author of it?" She remembers that it is God who cannot lie--God omnipotent, God immutable; and therefore concludeth that the promise must be fulfilled; and forward she advances in this firm conviction. She remembereth,why the promise was given,--namely, for God's glory, and she feels perfectly sure that God's glory is safe, that he will never stain his own escutcheon, nor mar the lustre of his own crown; and therefore the promise must and will stand. Then faith also considereth the amazing work of Christ as being a clear proof of the Father's intention to fulfil his word. "He that spared not his own Son, but freely delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" Moreover faith looks back upon the past, for her battles have strengthened her, and her victories have given her courage. She remembers that God never has failed her; nay, that he never did once fail any of his children. She recollecteth times of great peril, when deliverance came; hours of awful need, when as her day her strength was found, and she cries, "No, I never will be led to think that he can change and leave his servant now. Hitherto the Lord hath helped me, and he will help me still." Thus faith views each promise in its connection with the promise-giver, and, because she does so, can with assurance say, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life!"

Evening

"Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day."
Psalm 25:5
When the believer has begun with trembling feet to walk in the way of the Lord, he asks to be still led onward like a little child upheld by its parent's helping hand, and he craves to be further instructed in the alphabet of truth. Experimental teaching is the burden of this prayer. David knew much, but he felt his ignorance, and desired to be still in the Lord's school: four times over in two verses he applies for a scholarship in the college of grace. It were well for many professors if instead of following their own devices, and cutting out new paths of thought for themselves, they would enquire for the good old ways of God's own truth, and beseech the Holy Ghost to give them sanctified understandings and teachable spirits. "For thou art the God of my salvation." The Three-One Jehovah is the Author and Perfecter of salvation to his people. Reader, is he the God of your salvation? Do you find in the Father's election, in the Son's atonement, and in the Spirit's quickening, all the grounds of your eternal hopes? If so, you may use this as an argument for obtaining further blessings; if the Lord has ordained to save you, surely he will not refuse to instruct you in his ways. It is a happy thing when we can address the Lord with the confidence which David here manifests, it gives us great power in prayer, and comfort in trial. "On thee do I wait all the day." Patience is the fair handmaid and daughter of faith; we cheerfully wait when we are certain that we shall not wait in vain. It is our duty and our privilege to wait upon the Lord in service, in worship, in expectancy, in trust all the days of our life. Our faith will be tried faith, and if it be of the true kind, it will bear continued trial without yielding. We shall not grow weary of waiting upon God if we remember how long and how graciously he once waited for us.

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Today's Reading: Job 34-35, Acts 15:1-21

Job 34

   1 Then Elihu said:
   2 “Hear my words, you wise men; 
   listen to me, you men of learning. 
3 For the ear tests words 
   as the tongue tastes food. 
4 Let us discern for ourselves what is right; 
   let us learn together what is good.
   5 “Job says, ‘I am innocent, 
   but God denies me justice. 
6 Although I am right, 
   I am considered a liar; 
although I am guiltless, 
   his arrow inflicts an incurable wound.’ 
7 Is there anyone like Job, 
   who drinks scorn like water? 
8 He keeps company with evildoers; 
   he associates with the wicked. 
9 For he says, ‘There is no profit 
   in trying to please God.’
   10 “So listen to me, you men of understanding. 
   Far be it from God to do evil, 
   from the Almighty to do wrong. 
11 He repays everyone for what they have done; 
   he brings on them what their conduct deserves. 
12 It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, 
   that the Almighty would pervert justice. 
13 Who appointed him over the earth? 
   Who put him in charge of the whole world? 
14 If it were his intention 
   and he withdrew his spirit and breath, 
15 all humanity would perish together 
   and mankind would return to the dust.
   16 “If you have understanding, hear this; 
   listen to what I say. 
17 Can someone who hates justice govern? 
   Will you condemn the just and mighty One? 
18 Is he not the One who says to kings, ‘You are worthless,’ 
   and to nobles, ‘You are wicked,’ 
19 who shows no partiality to princes 
   and does not favor the rich over the poor, 
   for they are all the work of his hands? 
20 They die in an instant, in the middle of the night; 
   the people are shaken and they pass away; 
   the mighty are removed without human hand.
   21 “His eyes are on the ways of mortals; 
   he sees their every step. 
22 There is no deep shadow, no utter darkness, 
   where evildoers can hide. 
23 God has no need to examine people further, 
   that they should come before him for judgment. 
24 Without inquiry he shatters the mighty 
   and sets up others in their place. 
25 Because he takes note of their deeds, 
   he overthrows them in the night and they are crushed. 
26 He punishes them for their wickedness 
   where everyone can see them, 
27 because they turned from following him 
   and had no regard for any of his ways. 
28 They caused the cry of the poor to come before him, 
   so that he heard the cry of the needy. 
29 But if he remains silent, who can condemn him? 
   If he hides his face, who can see him? 
Yet he is over individual and nation alike, 
   30 to keep the godless from ruling, 
   from laying snares for the people.
   31 “Suppose someone says to God, 
   ‘I am guilty but will offend no more. 
32 Teach me what I cannot see; 
   if I have done wrong, I will not do so again.’ 
33 Should God then reward you on your terms, 
   when you refuse to repent? 
You must decide, not I; 
   so tell me what you know.
   34 “Men of understanding declare, 
   wise men who hear me say to me, 
35 ‘Job speaks without knowledge; 
   his words lack insight.’ 
36 Oh, that Job might be tested to the utmost 
   for answering like a wicked man! 
37 To his sin he adds rebellion; 
   scornfully he claps his hands among us 
   and multiplies his words against God.”

Job 35

   1 Then Elihu said:
   2 “Do you think this is just? 
   You say, ‘I am in the right, not God.’ 
3 Yet you ask him, ‘What profit is it to me, 
   and what do I gain by not sinning?’
   4 “I would like to reply to you 
   and to your friends with you. 
5 Look up at the heavens and see; 
   gaze at the clouds so high above you. 
6 If you sin, how does that affect him? 
   If your sins are many, what does that do to him? 
7 If you are righteous, what do you give to him, 
   or what does he receive from your hand? 
8 Your wickedness only affects humans like yourself, 
   and your righteousness only other people.
   9 “People cry out under a load of oppression; 
   they plead for relief from the arm of the powerful. 
10 But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker, 
   who gives songs in the night, 
11 who teaches us more than he teaches the beasts of the earth
   and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?’ 
12 He does not answer when people cry out 
   because of the arrogance of the wicked. 
13 Indeed, God does not listen to their empty plea; 
   the Almighty pays no attention to it. 
14 How much less, then, will he listen 
   when you say that you do not see him, 
that your case is before him 
   and you must wait for him, 
15 and further, that his anger never punishes 
   and he does not take the least notice of wickedness. 
16 So Job opens his mouth with empty talk; 
   without knowledge he multiplies words.”

Acts 15

The Council at Jerusalem
    1 Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.
   5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”
   6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
   12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:
   16 “‘After this I will return 
   and rebuild David’s fallen tent. 
Its ruins I will rebuild, 
   and I will restore it, 
17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, 
   even all the Gentiles who bear my name, 
says the Lord, who does these things’— 
   18 things known from long ago.
   19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

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Greetings from Bible Gateway! Here's the latest news:

Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament Now Online

We're excited to announce that we've added a new Bible to our online library: the Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament! If you've always wanted to explore the original Greek of the New Testament but weren't sure how or where to begin, this is an excellent place to start.

An interlinear Bible presents the original Bible language alongside-in printed Bibles, usually above-the modern translation, so that you can easily see exactly how each word and phrase of the original language is being translated. At the moment, only the English portion of the Mounce NT is available on Bible Gateway; the Greek will be added soon. In the meantime, you can get the experience of an interlinear Bible by using our side-by-side Bible viewHere's an example using the Mounce and SBL Greek New Testaments.

One of the driving goals behind this translation is to help Bible readers who don't necessarily know any ancient Greek to experience the original Bible text alongside a familiar modern translation. You can read more about this translation at the Bible Gateway blog.

The Mounce NT is an exciting addition to our library; we hope our visitors will find it useful-especially those of you who are Bible students or who are just interested in exploring the New Testament's original language!

Two New Spanish Bibles Added to Our Library

We're also pleased to add two new Spanish Bibles to our online library! Courtesy of the Bible Society of Spain, the La Palabra Bible is now available on Bible Gateway in two different editions: the España edition (BLP) and theHispanoamérica edition (BLPH)-each adapted to the different uses of the Spanish language on opposite sides of the Atlantic.

Both editions of La Palabra are available in the drop-down menu on the Bible Gateway homepage, and the individualEspaña and Hispanoamérica editions can be read at their respective Bible version pages.

That's all the news this week. Have a good weekend!

Sincerely,

The Bible Gateway Team

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Sin condemned and executed by Christ Jesus

‘For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.’ Romans 8:3
Suggested Further Reading: Luke 7:34–50
The Friend of sinners was emphatically beyond all other public teachers the Enemy of sin. His hatred towards sin was not a mere passion, it was a principle; it did not flash forth now and then, it was a constant flame. He hated sin, if I may so say, implacably, never making a moment’s truce with it; he pursued it by day in his ministry, and by night in his prayers; he lived to smite it, and he died to destroy it; and now in his risen glory it is upon sin as well as upon Satan that he sets his heel. He was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil, and he has erected a battering engine which will not leave of Satan’s strongholds so much as one stone upon another which shall not be thrown down. In the life of our Lord his tenderness for sinners was but the natural form in which his hatred for sin displayed itself; just as a physician, from the very fact that he is the antagonist of disease displays a deep interest in those afflicted thereby. Our Lord’s keeping company with sinners by no means proved that he was the friend of sin any more than the physician’s attendance at the hospital would at all lead to the suspicion that he was the friend of disease. The skilful physician is the friend of the diseased, but to the disease itself what enemy shall be found more determined and inveterate? Because the whole have no need of a physician, Jesus seeks them not; but since the sick need him he seeks them, not out of love to their sin, but out of love to them, that they may be delivered from the cruel bondage under which their sin has held them.
For meditation: God hates all sins (Proverbs 6:16–19;Zechariah 8:17Malachi 2:16Revelation 2:6). Amazingly he takes no pleasure in our destruction, but wants us to turn away from sin and back to him (Ezekiel 33:11). The Lord Jesus Christ is neither prepared to condone your sin nor eager and impatient to condemn you for it (John 8:112 Peter 3:9). Are you making the most of your present opportunity to trust in him?
Sermon no. 699
8 July (1866)

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Day 37

(Bonhoeffer's view of a life among enemies was formed in the Nazi Germany of the 1930s, a situation that was becoming increasingly hostile to Christians.)
The Christian cannot simply take for granted the privilege of living among other Christians. Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. In the end all his disciples abandoned him. On the cross he was all alone, surrounded by criminals and the jeering crowds. He had come for the express purpose of bringing peace to the enemies of God. Christians, too, belong not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the midst of enemies. There they find their mission, their work.

Biblical Wisdom

"See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." Mathew 10:16

Questions to Ponder

  • How would you define the "enemies" Christians are to live "in the midst of"?
  • What is the "mission" or "work" of Christians toward these "enemies"?
  • Jesus said: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you" (Luke 6:27-28 ). Does this fit with the reading from Bonhoeffer for today? How, or how not?

Psalm Fragment

You prepare a table before me
   in the presence of my enemies;
   you anoint my head with oil;
   my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
   all the days of my life,
   and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
   my whole life long. Psalm 23:5-6

Journal Reflections

  • As a Christian, do you find yourself living "in the midst of enemies"? How, or how not? If so, who are they? How do you feel about them?
  • What do you understand to be your personal mission or work in the midst of these enemies?

Prayer for Today

Lord Jesus, give me the faith, the courage, and the love to live faithfully in the midst of enemies as you did.
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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All Things New

This passage presents the vision of shalom—wholeness, restoration—as we have not seen since the fall. All things will be made new! Author Eugene H. Peterson says that John’s vision shows us not only what is to come, but what is—though imperfectly—already ours.
Heaven reasserts the beginning. It clarifies the conditions of our basic humanity by putting us in touch with the abundant, creative sources of strength and health, water of life and tree of life. We never graduate from life and what maintains life. Heaven is not an advance over the basic, but a deepening of it. And what is basic, water and fruit, is also abundant. Our lives flow in a river. Our lives ripen into fruit. In such ways [the apostle’s] vision of heaven provides images of the conditions that support and promote vigorous growth in Christ and steady maturation in discipleship. We are already, in Christ, a “new creation” (2Co 5:17) and in our life of faith are presently “[being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit]” (2Co 3:18). We are therefore, in one sense, “in heaven”—part of and participant in the new creation, the holy city in which God is ruling and having his way.
But, says Peterson, we live surrounded by the world’s images; they are not conducive to our perception of glory, but are instead characterized by illusion and fraud. John’s images of heaven are, says Peterson, “a means for discovering the real in the tangle of illusion.”
By means of the vision, we come to know that heaven is not what we passively wait for, but that it is (among other things) the activity that furnishes images by which we achieve clarity regarding conditions propitious to our sound development as creatures in Christ.
Prominent among these conditions, as we have seen, are a holiness that is neither cramped or distorted, but spacious; an illumination that goes beyond the minimum of showing what is true by showing it extravagantly beautiful; a nourishment that is the healthy feeding of our lives, not the frivolous adornment of them. The dimensions of the city make our lives ample in holiness (for holiness is amplitude), the light of the city makes our lives beautiful (for the truth is many-splendored), the food of the city makes our lives robust (for life is abundant).
And, as always, the faithful will be stewards of their praise and worship of the Lamb of God.
The command requires repetition, again and again. [The apostle] repeated it: Worship God … The work of worship gathers everything in our common lives that has been dispersed by sin and brings it to attention before God … All of this does not take place merely in a single hour of worship. But, faithfully repeated, week after week, year after year, there is an accumulation to wholeness.

Think About It

  • In what ways is heaven already yours?
  • What visions of heaven illuminate your life on earth?
  • How does continual worship keep your priorities in order?

Act on It

Think of someone who needs to hear about the reality of heaven and the hope of a better world. Share the Good News of Jesus Christ with that person this week.
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OPEN AND CLOSED DOORS

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
The Bible has much to say about open doors but many times – even as Christians – we seem to face obstacles on our path and in our ministry. Blocked doors can be VERY frustrating. Yet God often uses closed doors to advance His cause.
Bible teachers like Max Lucado remind us that God closed the womb of a young Sarah so he could display His power to the elderly one. He shut the palace door on Moses the prince so he could open shackles through Moses the liberator. He marched Daniel out of Jerusalem so he could use Daniel in Babylon.
And even Jesus knew the challenge of a blocked door. When he requested a path that bypassed the cross, God said no. He said no to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane so He could say yes to us at the gates of heaven.
It’s not that our plans are bad but that God’s plans are better.
A prayer is circulating on the Internet that expresses it this way:
He asked for strength that he might achieve,
he was made weak that he might endure;
He asked for health to do larger things,
he was given infirmity that he might do better things;
He asked for power that he might impress men,
he was given weakness that he might seek God;
He asked for wealth that he might be free from care,
he was given poverty that he might be wiser than carefree.
He asked for all things that he might enjoy life,
he was given life that he might enjoy all things;
He received nothing he asked for.
He received more than he ever hoped for.
His prayer was answered!
Blessed man!
The shortest distance between a closed and open door is the distance between your knees and the floor. The one who kneels to the Lord can stand up to anything.
RESPONSE: Today I will accept that my blocked door doesn’t mean God doesn’t love me. Quite the opposite. I’ll see it as proof that He does.
PRAYER: Thank You Lord that You know best and have even better plans for me and my service for You. Help me wait patiently for You to open the right door at the right time!
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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A wise desire

“He shall choose our inheritance for us.” Psalm 47:4
Suggested Further Reading: Genesis 45:4-11
If you turn to the pages of inspiration, and read the lives of some of the most eminent saints, I think you will be obliged to see the marks of God’s providence in their histories too plainly to be mistaken. Take, for instance, the life of Joseph. There is a young man who from early life serves God. Read that life till its latest period when he gave commandment concerning his bones, and you cannot help marvelling at the wondrous dealings of providence. Did Joseph choose to be hated of his brethren? But, yet, was not their envy a material circumstance in his destiny? Did he choose to be put into the pit? But was not the putting into the pit as necessary to his being made a king in Egypt as Pharaoh’s dream? Did Joseph desire to be tempted of his mistress? He chose to reject the temptation, but did he choose the trial? No; God sent it. Did he choose to be put into the dungeon? No. And had he anything to do with the baker’s dream, or with Pharaoh’s either? Can you not see, all the way through, from first to last, even in the forgetfulness of the butler, who forgot to speak of Joseph till the appointed time came, when Pharaoh should want an interpreter, that there was truly the hand of God? Joseph’s brethren did just as they liked when they put him into the pit. Potiphar’s wife followed the dictates of her own abandoned lust in tempting him. And yet, notwithstanding all the freedom of their will, it was ordained of God, and worked according together for one great end; to place Joseph on the throne; for as he said himself, “Ye meant it for evil, but God intended it for good, that he might save your souls alive!”
For meditation: You may find yourself in undesirable circumstances, but God can take these bad things and work them together for your good and his glory if you are his child (Romans 8:28). The all-knowing God knows what is best for us and can direct us clearly by our circumstances (Isaiah 48:17).
Sermon no. 33
8 July (1855)
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