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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Verse of the Day from Bible Gateway - December 20, 2014

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Luke 2:1, 4-5


New Century Version

[ The Birth of Jesus ] At that time, Augustus Caesar sent an order that all people in the countries under Roman rule must list their names in a register. So Joseph left Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and went to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, known as the town of David. Joseph went there because he was from the family of David. Joseph registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was now pregnant.

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The Holy Bible, New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.


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Daily Audio Bible - December 20, 2014

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Haggai 1-2

A Call to Build the House of the Lord

In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest:
This is what the Lord Almighty says: "These people say, 'The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord's house.'"
Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: "Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?"
Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."
This is what the Lord Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored," says the Lord. "You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?" declares the Lord Almighty. "Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands."
12 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord.
13 Then Haggai, the Lord's messenger, gave this message of the Lord to the people: "I am with you," declares the Lord. 14 So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month.

The Promised Glory of the New House

In the second year of King Darius, on the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: "Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, 'Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? But now be strong, Zerubbabel,' declares the Lord. 'Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,' declares the Lord, 'and work. For I am with you,' declares the Lord Almighty. 'This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.'
"This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the Lord Almighty. 'The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the Lord Almighty. 'The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,' says the Lord Almighty. 'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the Lord Almighty."

Blessings for a Defiled People

10 On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Haggai: 11 "This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Ask the priests what the law says: 12 If someone carries consecrated meat in the fold of their garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, olive oil or other food, does it become consecrated?'"
The priests answered, "No."
13 Then Haggai said, "If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?"
"Yes," the priests replied, "it becomes defiled."
14 Then Haggai said, "'So it is with this people and this nation in my sight,' declares the Lord. 'Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled.
15 "'Now give careful thought to this from this day on—consider how things were before one stone was laid on another in the Lord's temple. 16 When anyone came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten. When anyone went to a wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were only twenty. 17 I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not return to me,' declares the Lord. 18 'From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid. Give careful thought: 19 Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit.
"'From this day on I will bless you.'"

Zerubbabel the Lord's Signet Ring

20 The word of the Lord came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month: 21 "Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah that I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. 22 I will overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms. I will overthrow chariots and their drivers; horses and their riders will fall, each by the sword of his brother.
23 "'On that day,' declares the Lord Almighty, 'I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,' declares the Lord, 'and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,' declares the Lord Almighty."
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Revelation 11

The Two Witnesses

11 I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, "Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth." They are "the two olive trees" and the two lampstands, and "they stand before the Lord of the earth." If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.
Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city—which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days some from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. 10 The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.
11 But after the three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on.
13 At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
14 The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon.

The Seventh Trumpet

15 The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:
"The kingdom of the world has become
the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever."
16 And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying:
"We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
the One who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power
and have begun to reign.
18 The nations were angry,
and your wrath has come.
The time has come for judging the dead,
and for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your people who revere your name,
both great and small—
and for destroying those who destroy the earth."
19 Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Psalm 139

Psalm 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Proverbs 30:15-16

15 "The leech has two daughters.
'Give! Give!' they cry.
"There are three things that are never satisfied,
four that never say, 'Enough!':
16 the grave, the barren womb,
land, which is never satisfied with water,
and fire, which never says, 'Enough!'
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


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C.S. Lewis Daily - Today's Reading

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C.S. Lewis Daily

Today's Reading
On worry
A great many people (not you) do now seem to think that the mere state of being worried is in itself meritorious. I don't think it is. We must, if it so happens, give our lives for others: but even while we're doing it, I think we're meant to enjoy Our Lord and, in Him, our friends, our food, our sleep, our jokes, and the birds' song and the frosty sunrise.
From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II
Compiled in Words to Live By
The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume II: Family Letters 1905-1931. Copyright © 2004 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

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NIV Devotions for Couples

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NIV Devotions for Couples

Building Our Relationship

1 Chronicles 22:2–19
Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the LORD gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.
1 Chronicles 22:13

"Marriage is a most remarkable and courageous human act," says Ernest Boyer in A Way in the World (HarperSanFrancisco, 1984). "It's the promise of two human beings to share life together on all levels, physical, economic, and spiritual. It's a promise made despite the certainty of death, the certainty of change, and the uncertainty of everything else. There is nothing else we might choose to do that is quite like this act, nothing so foolish or so profound."
Why do so many of us enter into this "foolish and profound" commitment when we realize that it is such a difficult thing to unify two separate individuals? Why do we assume we will have success when we know that others fail?
Before his death, David shared his vision for building a temple for the Lord with his son Solomon, to whom God had entrusted this sacred task. David had spent countless hours collecting and preparing all of the materials his son would need to build a house worthy of the Lord. Then David told Solomon that if he was careful to observe the laws of the Lord, he would have success.
Likewise we, too, need to take great care in preparing for the construction of a marriage. Marriage is like a temple—a magnificent living, breathing house for the Lord. When we stand at the altar exchanging wedding vows, we're essentially agreeing to erect a temple in which to honor God. By following God's plan for marriage—loving, honoring, and remaining faithful to each other—we will have success in honoring him. When we're strong and courageous, we'll be able to overcome obstacles and persevere.
Sounds easy. But it's not.
When Dan and I were preparing to get married, we spent an entire year budgeting, envisioning, and getting quotes on bands, caterers, cakes and invitations—planning all of the elements that go into making a wedding day a success. Soon after we walked down the aisle as Mr. and Mrs., we realized we would need to apply that same kind of care to building our relationship for a lifetime, not just planning for a day.
Marriages often include struggles. Changes in career aspirations, guilty feelings over past mistakes, conflicts in other relationships—these and a myriad of other situations present many opportunities to be either the afflicted or the comforter within marriage. In these periods the one doing the supporting may begin to think, "I am not being helped by this person, only held back." But because of that foolish, extraordinary vow of marriage, he or she keeps going.
Through the ordinary pains and sharing of day-to-day life, marital love matures into a love that models God's own love for us. It is in this temple we call marriage that God profoundly manifests himself, giving us the tools we need to be successful as husband and wife.
Marian V. Liautaud

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  • How has our love for each other and for God deepened as a result of persevering through struggles in our marriage?
  • Which one of us needs the most help now, and how can the other provide that help?
  • What can we do today to build a strong marriage relationship?

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Fatherheart.tv Daily Reading


Fatherheart.tv Daily Reading


Posted: 19 Dec 2014 09:01 PM PST

Colossians 3:17
17 Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through him.
(WEB)

In today's Bible reading, Paul the Apostle encourages us to do everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ with a spirit of thanksgiving to our heavenly Father. Having a thankful heart is a blessing to us and those around us. When we are thankful for what God has given us, it is hard to complain about what we don't have.

I truly believe that thankfulness brings joy and contentment. Thankfulness celebrates the simple things in life that many take for granted. When we thank God for the day, for the birds, for our family, for each breath, etc... it opens up a world of wonder to us.

Our God and Father is truly the Father of Lights as is described in James 1:17. The Bible says in Psalm 145:16 that when our Father opens up His hand, He provides for all that He created. The more that we can celebrate the simple things that we have, the more contagious our thankfulness will be to others.

James 1:17
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, nor turning shadow. (WEB)

Christmas for the Faithful Woman - December 20, 2014



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Treasured Thoughts of a Mother
Wendy Pope
"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19 (NIV)
I remember it like it was yesterday: the long-awaited arrival of my first-born child. Conception had evaded us for two years, so when she finally arrived and was placed in my arms, I could hardly contain myself. I counted all her fingers and toes, then inspected every inch of her soft, pink wrinkled skin.
Family and friends came from many miles away just to see our little one. As I stared at this long-awaited miracle I wondered about her life. What would it be like? The thoughts and emotions I felt were too much for words. I treasured these moments in my heart like another young mother I once read about.
That mother's name was Mary and the name of her long-awaited miracle was Jesus. Her baby was born in a stable. People heard of his birth and traveled many miles just to see her little one. She must have wondered what his life would be like. Her thoughts and emotions were too much for words. She treasured and pondered them in her heart.
Mary, a young teenage girl, was chosen to be the mother of the Savior of the world. I have often wondered exactly what Mary knew about her son's future. Did she know he would heal the sick and raise the dead? Did she know that he would calm storms and feed the hungry? I am not sure what she knew, but according to the Scripture she got a glimpse into to her son's future as well as her own when she and Joseph, following Jewish custom, brought the newborn into the temple to be consecrated to the Lord. A man by the name of Simeon was in the temple that day and was moved by the Spirit to speak prophecy over the infant child.
He spoke, "And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, 'Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed – and a sword will pierce even your own soul – to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed'" (Luke 2:34-35, NASB).
I can't even imagine what this young mother thought as she heard these words prophesied about her tiny miracle. How does a mother respond to hearing the news that a sword would pierce her soul, the very soul that days earlier had treasured the wonders of the birth of her first born son? Did Mary spend her entire life wondering, "Is today the day my soul will be pierced?"
Her soul was pierced 33 short years after she pondered the first moments of her son's life. Her soul was pierced on a hill called Calvary where she was an eyewitness to the purpose of her son's life. The events that took place on that hill tell us what her son's life was all about: He was born to die. The purpose of His life was to give my life and your life purpose. For a moment, will you treasure these thoughts and ponder them in your heart?
How will you respond to the treasured thought that Jesus' death at Calvary means life for you? Perhaps your thoughts are leading you to desire to call Him Savior for the first time. If so, would you let us know?
Dear Lord, I want to live a life of gratitude. Thank You for the sacrifice You made to make sure that I would spend eternity with You. Consume my thoughts today. Awaken my soul to new delight in You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Truth For Today:
Isaiah 9:6, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (NIV)
Luke 1:29-33, "Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.'" (NIV)
Luke 2:11-12, "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." (NIV)
Related Resources:
To discover more about Mary and other key figures surrounding Jesus' life, The Women of Christmasby Liz Curtis Higgs makes a great gift.
Join Wendy Pope on her blog where she leads women through the Bible each year.
Reflect and Respond:
What does Jesus' birth mean to me?
What is my reaction to God when He calls me to do a God-sized task?
Proverbs 31 Ministries
© 2014 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Road, Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org


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