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August 2012

August 2012 Devotions

Abraham & Sarah

      Abraham & Sarah On The Way To Caanaan 

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1.                           God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion

Today’s First Thoughts                                 August 1, 2012

Good Morning!
As we compare the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we are impressed with the significant prophecies fulfilled, as well as with the content of each Gospel.

FOUR GOSPELS, THE FOUR-FOLD PORTRAIT OF CHRIST:
Matthew 1:22. “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
2:5. “And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
2:17. “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,
2:23. “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.”.

Matthew quotes more frequently from the Old Testament than do the other three evangelists, some sixty or more references being found in this first Gospel alone, references which take us back to the Hebrew Scriptures. Moreover, Matthew did not find it necessary to explain his many illusions to Jewish customs and practices and laws. He was writing particularly to Hebrews who knew the Old Testament. He was seeking to show Israel that Jesus of Nazareth was the long-promised Messiah, of whom the Old Testament spoke.

In the first two chapters of Matthew alone, there are five quotations from the Old Testament concerning the birth and early years of Christ on earth: The prophecies of the virgin birth, Bethlehem as the place of His birth, God’s Son “called out of Egypt,” the “slaughter of the innocents” and the mourning of their mothers as foretold by Jeremiah; these are direct quotations of prophecy fulfilled. (See Isaiah 7:14; Micah 5:2; Hos. 11:1; Jeremiah 31:15.) And the quotation, “He shall be called a Nazarene,” Matthew says plainly, was in fulfillment of the prophets — probably from Isaiah 11:1, “where Christ is spoken of as ‘a netzer’ (or ‘a rod’) out of the stem of Jesse.” (Scofield’s marginal note, Matthew 2:23.)

While Mark, Luke and John also quote from the Old Testament, yet they do not quote it nearly so often as does Matthew, whose special thought was for the Jew. Matthew has more to say of the King and His kingdom than do the others. He tells us of the birth of the King, the herald of the King, the laws of the kingdom; and in like manner, throughout the book he speaks to us of the King of the Jews.

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Esther  4  5       Hebrews   7      Psalm   107

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net 

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2.                           God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion

Today’s First Thoughts                                 August 2, 2012

Good Morning!
The Gospel of Mark record is the story of deeds more than of words.

FOUR GOSPELS, THE FOUR-FOLD PORTRAIT OF CHRIST:
Mark 1:32. “And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. 33. And all the city was gathered together at the door. 34. And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.

Mark opens his record with the beginning of our Lord’s public ministry; his key words are “straightway,” or “immediately,” or “forthwith,” words that speak of work promptly done, service faithfully rendered. Mark tells us about more of Christ’s miracles than do the others; indeed, his record leaves us almost breathless — from the very swiftness of movement, as the untiring Servant of God went forth “to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

This same Greek word appears more than forty times in the sixteen chapters that comprise the book of Mark. Without hesitancy or delay, the Lord Jesus went about doing His Father’s will; so that those who witnessed His mighty works were “beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well” (Mark 7:37).

Luke tells us most about our Lord’s prayer-life; for as a Man, He was subject unto His Father, and needed to pray — for fellowship and strength for His labor of love. Luke tells us the only incident from our Lord’s Childhood, as a Boy in the Nazareth home. He has much to say about man’s frailty and the need of a Savior; much to say about the ministry of women in the Lord’s work. His is the Gospel of the home; setting forth the perfect humanity of the Son of Man. - Luke tells us that, in His agony, angels ministered unto our Lord; - Matthew tells us that, when He comes as King, He will command angels!

Whereas Matthew, Mark and Luke tell the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, John makes no reference to it. Why? Do we need to explain so marvelous a fact? John was presenting the portrait of the eternal God, who was ever holy! James tells us that “God cannot be tempted with evil” (James 1:13).

Matthew, Mark and Luke, just as emphatically as John, tell us that our Lord was absolutely holy, that He withstood every temptation of Satan, that He could not be tempted to sin! (Hebrews 4:15.) But they were portraying Christ as Israel’s coming King; as the Servant of God; and as the “Man, Christ Jesus.”

 Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Esther 6  7           Hebrews  8  

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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3.                           God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion

Today’s First Thoughts                                August 3, 2012

Good Morning!
When the Children Of Israel thought that they had been brought out of Egypt only to starve to death in the wilderness, God gave them angel's food to eat.

MANNA:
Exodus 16:4. Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.
The Manna was given to The Children Of Israel by the Lord for two purposes.  To keep them from hunger and to prove whether or not they would be obedient to the laws of God.  They would gather manna each day of the week, an o-mer (2 quarts) for each person in the household. A miraculous thing happened when some gathered more, some gathered less, but each had exactly enough. On the day before the Sabbath they were to gather twice as much because the manna did not fall on the Sabbath.

Another thing miraculous about the manna it had all the nutrients that the human body needed. If left un-altered it tasted like wafers made with honey (Exodus 16:31). When they tried to change the taste and added something to it, or cooked it, it tasted like fresh oil (Numbers 11:6-8).

Our lesson from this is, let us take what God gives us without trying to alter or change it. Let us take God's Word like it is, not trying to change it to suit our wants. God's Word is food for our souls and has eternal life built into every passage. It is sweet to the taste with good instructions for every situation.

There are many references in the Bible which likens the Word of God to food. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter 2:2-3). “Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:32-35).

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Esther  8   9      Hebrews  9        Psalm  108 

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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4.  5.                      God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion

Today’s First Thoughts                                 August 4 & 5, 2012

Good Morning!
The world can, at any season, spare its Ahab's and Jezebels, but never, and especially at a crisis, can it spare its Elijah's, so God calls him back to service.

A STILL SMALL VOICE:
1 Kings 19:12. “And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” (KJV)
What a night of terror, I know of no other man who experienced so many violent acts of nature in one single night. Any one of these would have been enough to terrorize any man. All the upheavals of nature were a reflection of the conflict within the heart of Elijah. How many of us have had, or are having, such conflicts?

The uproar in nature was succeeded by a solemn calm; and as Elijah waited for the next marvelous display of Divine Power, “A Still Small Voice” broke the silence. The "Still Small Voice," which only a listening man can hear, was more Divine and more mighty that all Elijah had witnessed before.

John 12:28 “Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. 29 The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. 30 Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.  Here we have an incident where God spoke and John recognized who spoke, but some of the crowd heard only a noise like thunder, others thought an angel had spoken .

We must be in a receptive mood to hear from God. A few times, to a few people, God has spoken. Not often has God's voice been heard on earth; but always when heard it has spoken in words not soon to be forgotten. Thus to Adam, “Where art thou?” to Eve, “What is this that thou hast done?” to Cain, “Where is Able thou brother?” yet the day will come when everyone will hear his voice.

How stern Elijah was with Ahab, how overbearing and commanding he was with the prophets of Baal but when he stood in the presence of "The Lord  God of Israel" (1 kings 19:13), he was the humble servant the perfect picture of reverence, even to the point of covering his eyes.

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Esther  10      Job  1       Hebrew 10  
Job  2  3          Hebrews  11      Psalm 109  

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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6.                           God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion

Today’s First Thoughts                                 August 6, 2012

Good Morning!
It does make a difference whom we think Jesus is.

WHOM DO MEN SAY THAT I AM:
Matthew 16:16. And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Just before the transfiguration of Jesus, he asked His disciples, "Whom Do men Say that I the Son of Man am?" (Matthew 16:13) (KJV)

One commented that some said he was Elijah. They compared Him to the Old Testament prophet who called the nation back to God. Another said they thought that He was John the Baptist, comparing the ministry of Jesus to the one who thundered against the sins of the land.

They said others likened Jesus to Jeremiah. Perhaps they had witnessed Jesus weeping over Jerusalem and thought about the former prophet and his lamentation. Jeremiah had said, “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughters of my people.” (Jeremiah 9:1).

The disciples told Jesus that others said that He was one of the prophets. They knew He spoke with authority, but did not really know the prophet with whom they could compare Jesus. Peter then, under inspiration said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).

The real witness of who Jesus was came on the Mount of Transfiguration when the Voice spoke out of the cloud. All doubt was to be eliminated. Once and for all they were to know the truth regardless of what skeptics might say in the future. The Voice said, “This is my beloved Son: hear him(Luke 9:35).

The real question comes down to whom do ‘we’ think that He is. Is he just another figure in history, another prophet, another person who lived many years ago, or do we look upon Him as the Son of God, our Savior, our soon coming king. It does make a difference whom we think that he is. What role does He play in your life?

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Job  4  5        Hebrews  12

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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7.                           God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion

Today’s First Thoughts                                 August 7, 2012

Good Morning!
How many times have our minds, our intentions, our purpose, been changed by some moving thought or circumstance? 

PILATE’S WIFE:
Matthew 27:19:. When he (Pilate) was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.

Pilate's wife comes to us from a single sentence, we see her for a moment, her footsteps come and are gone so swiftly. Her life and her voice is silent again after this one very moving sentence. She is the only one who took a stand for the defense of our Lord. She was a Gentile, a heathen from most standards.

We want to attempt to find the reason for Pilate's wife's sudden intrusion into the Bible Story. Almighty God has complete control. And continual command, of all the avenues that lead into the soul of man. He sends his message to the soul at the time, and the way that seems wisest and best to him. God sent some fearful dreams that night to Pilate’s wife. “Suffered many things.” This tells us that she was not just robbed of a nights sleep but these dreams were near life threatening.

Once again God on that fateful night, and early morning before the Crucifixion of our Lord, takes charge of the mind and soul of one of his earthly creatures. A message was divinely sent to convey a lesson to Pilate through his wife, who alone, perhaps, was able to arouse the better feelings of his heart. This was another warning given to Pilate to arrest him in his criminal cowardice. The message was urgent, why did she not deliver it herself?

Pilate's Wife never came into the presence of Jesus, Yet she was convinced He was just. She is the only one who spoke for him.  The blood of Jesus Christ could cleanse even those who shed it. It could cleanse Pilate, Caiaphas, the crowd who cried crucify Him, the soldiers who carried out the orders. Pilate knew that the blood was innocent, but he knew not the cleansing power of it.

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Job 6  7     Hebrews   13     Psalm  110 

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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 8.                           God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                          

Today’s First Thoughts                                  August 8, 2012

Good Morning!
This glorious salvation was not an after-thought of God, but it was conceived in eternity, executed in time and consummated in the Church.

THE GLORIOUS SALVATION:
1 Peter 1:10. “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:”

Although the law brought condemnation for sin and required a sacrifice as payment for that sin, yet it provided no power to prevent sin. “The Glorious Salvation” preached for the first time on the Day of Pentecost, ushered in the dispensation of “grace.” All other dispensations gave man knowledge of his sin, but grace gave man power over sin. The dispensation of grace is also known as the “Holy Ghost Dispensation,” because it is through the power of the Holy Ghost that we overcome evil. In Acts 1:8 Jesus told His disciples, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.”

The word “grace” comes from the Greek word ‘charis’ and means “the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.” In other words, it means God giving us the ability to do His will. God's will is that we love our enemies, Love our neighbor as ourselves, do good for evil, turn the other cheek, go the second mile, sin not. These commandments we would transgress but for the grace of God.

Peter was pointing out to the suffering saints of his generation and all Generations since then that the trail of their faith down through the years was part of the great plan of God to help bring about what will one day be viewed as “The Glorious Salvation” --conceived before the foundation of the world, executed step by step in the world, and consummated out of this world.

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Job  8   9          James 1

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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9.                           God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion

Today’s First Thoughts                                 August 9, 2012

Good Morning!
The first Christians were scattered abroad went everywhere evangelizing the world, preaching the word of the Gospel: It was this that filled them, in which they endeavored to fill the country with, those of them that were preachers in their preaching, and others in their conversation.

PHILIP: DEACON AND EVANGELIST:
Acts 8:4. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. 5. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.

Phillip was one of the seven ‘deacons’ who was chosen to look after the welfare of the many new converts who were added in the first few months after the Day Of Pentecost. These men also became evangelists and preachers. Philip chose the city of Samaria, which is the city of Sychar where Jesus met the woman at the well (John 4:5-7), for his evangelistic work. Philip preached unto them that Jesus was the Christ, whom they had already met (John 4:39). The proofs that he produced for the confirmation of his doctrines were miracles, to convince them that he had his commission from Heaven. They heard the commanding words that he spoke, and saw the amazing effects of them immediately; in that He spoke and it was done.

This was signified by the casting out of unclean spirits. Philip was fulfilling the words of Jesus. He was sent to heal the minds of men, to cure a distempered world, and to put it in a good state of health physically, mentally and Spiritually. This should be a source of hope for people when they began to take notice of what is said to them concerning the things of their souls and eternity. This brought great joy in Samaria, each one rejoiced for himself, as he in the parable who found the treasure in the field.

Philip baptized the people of Samaria in the Name of Jesus Christ. Peter and John came to Samaria prayed and laid their hands upon the people and they also received the Holy Ghost. The Gospel Of Jesus Christ had begun to spread outside the confines of Jerusalem into the rest of the world.

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Job  10  11        James 2         Psalm   111

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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10.                          God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                   

Today’s First Thoughts                                  August 10, 2012

Good Morning!
It was most evident that the gospel was beginning to send forth its rays of hope in an ever-broadening radius, ultimately to encircle the globe. The Church of Christ was growing.

PAUL WAS A CHRISTIAN:
Acts 11:26. "And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch"
 
The great persecution after to Stephen’s death forced the disciples to move out in various directions, witnessing to the Truth of God as they journeyed, and tabulating amazing results. Perhaps the greatest number of converts recorded in any one place following the Pentecostal ingathering was at Antioch in Syria, a city three hundred miles north of Jerusalem. There, “a great number believed and turned unto the Lord, and the hand of the Lord was with them” (Acts 11:21).

Barnabas was sent to Antioch. How very reasonable that they should appoint Barnabas, the son of consolation. Surely, we, too, would have unhesitatingly cast our vote for him. He was eminently qualified to be a spiritual nurse for the newborn babes in Christ reported there. How overwhelming the developments must have been at Antioch during those glorious days! It was a sweeping victory for the cause of Christ, for “much people was added unto the Lord.” In the midst of all this holy, happy experience, Barnabas acquired a desire to have Paul with him, not so much for fellowship as for assistance in dealing with the many converts whose establishment in the faith was eminently essential lest Satan should take advantage of their immaturity.

The converts conducted themselves as though something had transpired, as, indeed, something really had. Their attitudes and actions were commending the gospel to their fellowmen and their conviviality permeated the atmosphere with an exhilarating encouragement for others to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” “The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” True conversion and proper training always result in Christ-like-ness. While it may not have been intended as a compliment, these followers of Christ were dubbed “Christian,” a name which has attached itself to believers to this very day.

How appropriate that Paul should have been among those who first were honored with this expressive name. Our vocabulary would be impoverished indeed without the word “Christian.” Paul could not have sought a greater honor.

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Job 12  13         James  3 

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net


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11.  12.                  God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion

Today’s First Thoughts                                 August 11 & 12, 2012

Good Morning!
The tongue has immense possibilities for both evil and good. Only when God controls the heart can He control the tongue.

CONTROL OF THE TONGUE:
Psalm 19:14. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Maturity of Christian character is reflected in our ability to control the Tongue and direct our conversation. It matters not how knowledgeable we are in the Truth of God's Word, we must keep a guard before our lips.

When the tongue is sanctified to the Master's service, it is not hard to render praise. Praise not only becomes an act of worship in the church, but the fruit of our lips at home, on the job or driving down the freeway. The power of praise is one of the best ways to defeat the enemy when he comes to depress. We are assured in the Word, that if we will draw near to God, He will draw near to us. There is no better way to draw near to Him than through praise.

The tongue can be controlled, but it involves the will to do so. The tongue can be tamed, but we must have a desire to bridle it and bring it under control and into obedience.

The tongue can be used of God as an instrument of righteousness when is enthroned in the heart. There is no stronger evidence of a disciplined life than sound speech seasoned with salt. Marks of Christian maturity will be reflected in our conversation.

What God creates, however, He can control. If we will come to Him, asking and believing Him, to do something for us that we cannot do for ourselves.
He will not fail us.

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Job   14   15        James  4         Psalm   112
Job   
16   17        James  5 

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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13.                         God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                         

Today’s First Thoughts                                 August 13, 2012

Good Morning!
The Word produces faith; Faith produces works. You can have religion without
any of these; you cannot have pure religion, however, without all of these.

PURE RELIGION:
James 1:27. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

The first test of true religion is “to visit the fatherless and widows in their Affliction” (James 1:27)The second test of true religion is “to keep himself unspotted from the world.”  (James 1:27)

The Word translated ‘visit’ by the King James Bible means more that just going to see someone. It means ‘seeing to their welfare.’ The doctrine of works as presented by James does not in any way lead a man to think he can be saved by good works. The benevolent acts of clothing and feeding the poor are not a means to justification before God. Yet a man who has been born again should manifest such benevolence as a result of his new birth experience.

James also states that a true Christian will ‘keep himself unspotted from the world.’ This means a true Christina will live a Godly life of holiness. Not be contaminated by worldly things which would nullify their Christian character.

Just as a man is not saved by stating, “I believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” But rather he is saved by acting upon the Word in faith. Repentance, Water Baptism in Jesus' name, the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, walking in holiness. These are the steps of a man who acts in faith upon the Word of God.

Our religion is not one sided. A life of holiness is not complete without a compassionate love for humanity that is accompanied by good works.

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Job 18   19      1 Peter 1       Psalm  113

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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14.                         God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                       

Today’s First Thoughts                                August 14, 2012

Good Morning
The Gospel (Good News) of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ was for all men whether Jews or Gentiles. Its benefits may be received by everyone through the Salvation which He purchased at Calvary.

UNIVERSAL GOSPEL:
Mark 16:15. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. (KJV)

Mark 16:15. records the actual command given to the Church by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ immediately after He had provided Salvation for every lost soul. This command, or commission, is in effect and will continue to be until He comes for His Bride, the Church. It is our duty to God and our responsibility to our fellow men to preach this Gospel to the entire world so as to give an opportunity for every man to be saved. Jesus made a very clear statement of the purpose of His coming into the world: Luke 19:10: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is God's power to save the lost, which means the ultimate total destruction of Satan. Presently, it means that the results of sin in man is completely overcome through the power of the Gospel, and the saved from among the sinners the world are now empowered to overcome the world, the flesh, and the Devil by the power of the Holy Ghost.

The Gospel is declared to be pure and able to present sinners in the presence of God, at that day, in His righteousness, and in true holiness that we may be fully accepted of Him. It is further made emphatically clear that salvation is for all men of whatever race or nationality.

Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.   (Romans 1:16).

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Job  20  21         1 Peter  2 

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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15.                          God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                                         

Today’s First Thoughts                                  August 15, 2012

Good Morning!
In the next few days we will be looking into the life of the Apostle Paul who I feel like is one of the greatest men who ever lived. We will look at his upbringing; his personal life before Christ came into it, his conversion, and his life afterwards.

CRUCIFIED TO LIVE:
Galatians 2:20. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

What would require libraries filled with volumes, and involve deep theories and endless explanations for us to set forth, this trophy of divine grace in early times presented in eight simple, well-chosen words: “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live . . .” It was a terse and telling testimony, prayerful, premeditated and without precedence in the whole of Scripture. It is personal as a testimony for it attests the work of Christ upon a fallen son of Adam. It is an open confession, to be read and known of all men, that Saul of Tarsus died when he came face to face with Jesus of Nazareth; and, in his stead, there is now a man possessing the nature of God, indwelt by the Spirit and dominated by Christ his Lord. It is profound as a truth for it treats of the miraculous.

One look at the cross and this new creature in Christ sensed that he had been chief of sinners. - One look at the cross, and this preeminent representative of the Christian faith lost sight of self and placed his own rating at the bottom of the apostolic roster. - One look at the cross and this vilified but valiant servant knew he would wear a crown of glory.

The so-called paradoxes of the Bible are multiple.
- One loses one's life to find it.
- One gives away to have.
- One is exalted by being abased.
- One is first by being last.
- One dies to live.

The paradox of his revelation is amazingly marvelous. “I am crucified . . . I live.”
Paul was literally averring that he died to live, and his statement is by no means a confusion of words.

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Job 22  23         1 Peter  3       Psalm  114

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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16.                          God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion

Today’s First Thoughts                                  August 16, 2012

Good Morning!
What does Paul mean to be “crucified with Christ?”

CRUCIFIED YET I LIVE:
Galatians 2:20. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
I am crucified,” Paul contended, and it was in the sweetest and wisest advisement to others that his testimony was declared abroad; for, to be crucified with Christ, to forfeit the best this world can offer, is to live with Christ, and share, here and now, the richest that heaven can bestow upon one yet in the flesh. To really understand what Paul means we must realize what it cost him to become a disciple of Jesus.

Paul was highly educated and very learned in the Old Testament Scriptures. Paul was of the strictest sect, a Pharisee, one of that company of Hebrew religionists who thanked God publicly that they were “not as other men.” They could not preserve their sacred standing and fraternize with Gentiles or “other men.” Paul had risen in status among the Pharisees until he no doubt would have become a member of the Sanhedrin, a ruler among the Jews. This is the high life Paul gave up. This is what Paul means when he says, “I am crucified with Christ.”

To be ‘crucified’ is no ordinary death, it is a cruel death, an agonizing death, it takes time to die on a cross. Paul was leaving or giving up a form of life that all men crave. Once it was given up there was no going back to it, he could never expect to be accepted back into the favor of the Sanhedrin. All the other Apostles could have gone back to their former life but not Paul. In fact it seems like the Simon Peter kept his boat even until after Jesus was crucified, and returned to a fishing excursion along with some more of the Apostles (John 21:2-3). Abraham could have gone back to Haran, Moses and David could have returned to keeping sheep but Paul could never return to his old life.

To be ‘crucified with Christ’ means a total giving up of our old way of life. It is a complete turn-around from the plans we had laid out for our life. Some times it is agonizing, but the rewards are great. When we die for Christ or with Christ, we begin a new life, a life with Him living our life for us. Paul says, “and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Job 24  25        1 Peter  4  

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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 17.                        God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion

Today’s First Thoughts                                August 17, 2012

Good Morning!
No Philistine or Amalekite was ever a more potent enemy of God’s people than Saul. His hatred and wrath grew until he searched out followers of Jesus in other cities and countries to bring them to justice before the Sanhedrin.

PAUL THE PERSECUTOR:
Acts 9:1. “And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2. And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

Paul (Saul) was one of the first to take a stand against these new followers of Jesus. He is mentioned as being among the group who stoned Stephen (Acts 7:58). “And Saul was consenting (approving) unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; (Acts 8:1).In the following days his hatred grew towards any who believed on Jesus, taking it upon himself to destroy the faith. “As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison” (Acts 8:3).

The days immediately following Saul (his Hebrew name, Paul his Roman name) leaving the confines of Jerusalem, and somewhere on the road to Damascus, Paul having in his possession the documents necessary to rid Damascus of the hated followers of Christ, when suddenly a very bright light, like a bolt of lightening, shone down from heaven and Saul fell to the earth from the impact of it. A Voice from heaven called out to the prostrate figure of Saul. “Saul, Saul why persecutest  thou Me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” (Acts 9:4-5).

At the time of this query, there was a pronounced inward reaction, more spiritual than psychological. His whole emotional life was thrown into a state of quickened action. He was trembling as he spoke. Those who knew him before and after observed him as one who was not easily frightened. On the contrary, he was recognized as an unusually fearless type of individual. “And he trembling and astonished said,” (Acts 9:6).  This is the way all men will ultimately be when thy come face to face with God on the Day of Judgment (Philippians 2:10-11).

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Job 26  27       1 Peter  5         Psalm  115 

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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18.  19.                  God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion

Today’s First Thoughts                                August 18 &19, 2012

Good Morning!
This query, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” was directed to the Supreme Issuer of commands. In a sense, it was the surrender signal of a treacherous enemy who thereby conceded defeat.

PAUL SALUTES A NEW CAPTAIN:
Acts 9:6. “And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.”

Paul, immediately before his conversion, had reached the pinnacle of sheer fanaticism in his expressed animosity toward Christ. Never had a Philistine so plagued the people of God. Though small of stature, he was a Goliath of opposition. However, one pebble from the greater David felled him. It was not a stone in the cup of a sling which wrought his undoing; it was the force in the crook of a question:—“Why persecutest thou me?”

The account reveals that he not only trembled but was profoundly astonished. It was not an ordinary bewilderment, but an enlightening disillusionment. He was amazed that anything, or any one, could stop the fulfillment of his determined effort. He was stunned by a challenge so convincing in its presentation. He was surprised at the spectacular suddenness of this transforming experience. He was overwhelmed above all that Christ, so utterly despised by him and his colleagues, should so completely arrest his determined venture.

His meeting with the Christ of God wrought miraculous changes. His planned undertaking was permanently disrupted. It was, in all probability, the only unfinished assignment of his life. The natural emphasis of his philosophy was to see a job to its completion. He bade farewell to his present endeavors and humbled himself at the feet of a new Master. Even as Peter, James and John left their nets, and Matthew the receipt of custom, so Saul resigned his post at once. The search warrant in his pocket became utterly useless. There is no record of its actual disposition, but we know the legal document of condemnation was exchanged for the message of divine salvation. His threats of slaughter vanished forever.

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Job  28  29       2 Peter   1
Job  30  31       2 Peter   2     Psalm   116

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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20.                          God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion

Today’s First Thoughts                                  August 20, 2012

Good Morning!
The ninth chapter of the Book of Acts is one of the most important chapters in the entire Bible. For in it we have the story of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus and his commission by the Lord Himself. Without this story we would not know the weight behind his wonderful life and writings.

LORD I AM READY FOR SERVICE:
Acts 9:6. “And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. 7. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8.And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.”

The salutation “Lord” was indicative of putting the Savior first, of giving Him His rightful place, of owning Him as the proper one to exercise lordship. It was a salutation that never lost its appeal for Paul. There seemed to be no hesitance whatsoever in his acceptance when once the identity was made clear. His eyes were closed in blindness but his ears were open in willingness. He had heard a voice saying, “I am Jesus Whom thou persecutest.” There was no argument, no self-justification, no procrastination. There was a deep repentance which at once softened a hardened heart and sweetened a bitter soul, so that he could, with tender reverence, acclaim Jesus as Lord. This was the first reverential articulation that ever came from his lips for Jesus, Who, from henceforth and forever, would be everything to him.

Somehow, Paul must have understood that this One, to whom he was applying, knew all things and could penetrate into the secret chambers of a man’s soul. Peter, one morning after a meal with his Lord, commented, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest I love thee” (John 21:17). Paul did not use the same words, but they are inferred. If he received an assignment, then he could, through faithfulness, prove to others that he had met the Lord. He wanted to get established. He meant to be useful. He was ready to sign on the dotted line, willing to suffer reproach, if need be, as a true and faithful follower of the Lord of glory. The question was pressing in challenge. “What wilt Thou have me TO DO?”

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Job  32  33      2 Peter  3 

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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21.                           God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion

  Today’s First Thoughts                                 August 21, 2012

Good Morning!
If I had been choosing I would have chosen one of the deacons that had been chosen by the Church that had a good report and filled with the Holy Ghost (Acts 6:3-6).

A CHOSEN VESSEL:
Acts 9:15. “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:”
As we look at this phrase ‘a chosen vessel’ it seems that the Lord had a choice of the vessels he could have chosen. Humanly speaking if the choice had been left to almost every person in the early Church, Paul would have been the last to be chosen to be an Apostle. He was the most feared person in Jerusalem and one to stay hidden from. Hundreds had been rounded up by him and many had lost loved ones to his wrath. In the eyes of the followers of Christ, Saul would never change. We could wonder if anyone prayed that Saul would be saved.

At least two of the deacons Philip and Stephen, were outstanding men of great ability and the power of God rested upon them in great measure. Philip had preached and the entire city of Samaria had been converted, baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost, and many miracles of healing had taken place. Stephen was a mighty preacher that preached one of the greatest sermons listed in the entire book of Acts (Acts 6, 7). He brought things out of the Old Testament that are not recorded anywhere else in the Bible.

Why, we ask God, did Stephen have to die so early in his ministry, and then choose one of the main men responsible for his death to be the ‘chosen vessel?’ But God always knows what he id doing. Un-be-known to Saul and the rest of his world God had his eyes upon him from his youth, and he was being prepared through education, training, physical and mental toil, to stand the strain that it would take to be the ‘vessel’ that was need for the task that God was calling him to do.

This ‘vessel’ would carry the greatest contents that any vessel had ever carried before. This ‘vessel’ was chosen to bear the name of Jesus “he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:” No vessel ever carried a more precious thing in it than this ‘chosen vessel.’ Paul would later say “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of power may be of God and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Job 34  35       1 John  1     Psalm  117  

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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22.                          God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion

Today’s First Thoughts                                  August 22, 2012

Good Morning!
The brightness of the Glory of God that shone down upon Saul blinded his eyes.

SAUL IN PRAYER:
Acts 9:9. “And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.”
11. “And the Lord said unto him (Ananias), Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,”

Now this is not the first time Saul had prayed. Saul (Paul) had prayed before. Every Pharisee knew how to pray. They practiced their prayers daily, in the temple, on the street corners, long prayers in public. They stood (not kneeling) and “prayed within himself” thanked God that they were, “not like other men, other men are extortioners, unjust, adulterers—I’m not like the publicans, I fast twice a week, I pay tithes on everything—Lord don’t You think I am a good person?” His prayer had never reached up into heaven.

But now, God said to Ananias, he’s really praying. This is the first time his prayers had ever been recorded in heaven. And ever after Paul was a praying man. His letters are filled with prayers, and encouragement for other men to pray. “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands,” (1 Timothy 2:8). “In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). “I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also:” (1 Corinthians 14:15). “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,” (Ephesians 6:18). “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Yes Paul learned the value of prayer during those three days.

Yes Saul (Paul) learned how to pray during the three days and nights without sight. And he taught other men the value of prayer. He taught them to “Pray every where,” “Lift up your hands in prayer,” “Pray in the spirit, pray so people can understand you,” “Pray always with all kinds of prayer,” “Don’t cease to Pray.” Pray before meals, Pray when you read your Bible, Pray before you go to Church, Pray while you are at Church, Pray on the way home from Church. “Pray Always.”

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Job  36  37           1 John  2

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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23.                          God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion                        

Today’s First Thoughts                                  August 23. 2012

Good Morning!
Paul opened his eyes and he saw nothing but total blackness.

PAUL FASTING IN TOTAL DARKNESS:
Acts 9:9. “And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.”
Paul was led by the hand into a strange house among strangers. We do not know anything about Judas, the man into whose home Saul was brought, other than being a Jew, by having a Jewish name. He, no doubt, tried to help Saul by trying to feed him and make him as comfortable as possible, but Saul refused food and water or could not bring himself to eat nor drink.

I can understand three days without food, you get very hungry, but it is bearable, many people have done it. But without water is a different story. Your mouth and throat begin to feel dry—you long for a drink. The second day it begins to get unbearable—you would give half you own for a drink of water. By the third day your tongue begins to protrude out of your mouth—you can’t talk any more—the noise coming from your mouth is just a sucking sound grasping for another breath.

By the end of the third day the soldiers who stood guard around Judas’ house were preparing for Saul’s death. No one could live much longer in the condition Saul was in. He refused all help and nourishment—death is at the door.

And it was true in since—Saul was dying—the old man was dying—the old man was being crucified, and crucifixion is a terrible death. It took three days for Saul to die. All during this time Saul was praying. His men could not understand his words, just groaning and utterances not understandable. For three days and three nights Saul was going through a transformation. Saul was dying but Paul was being born. Like a worm wrapped in a cocoon—there is a bursting forth a new creature—a butterfly.

I feel that it was during this time he was caught up into the paradise and God showed him the rewards of the sufferings and persecutions he would face in the coming years (2 Corinthians 12:3-4). Whatever happened during the three days and nights of blindness and fasting, there was such a mighty change wrought in him that it lasted a lifetime. “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Philippians 3:11).

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Job  38  39        1 John  3       Psalm  118  

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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24.                         God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion

Today’s First Thoughts                                 August 24, 2012

Good Morning!
Divine optometry is hardly a fitting term for the clearing of impaired spiritual vision, yet the Great Physician performs just such operations. Of the Emmaus sojourners, it was said, “Their eyes were opened and they knew Him.”

PAUL’S VISION RESTORED:
Acts 9:9. “And he was three days without sight,”
12. “And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.”
17. “Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
People who suddenly lose their sight become more aware through their other senses. They hear strange noises, strange voices, smell strange odors, everything they touch becomes a new feeling. They feel, rather than see, the presence of other people. Saul went through all these sensations for three days and three nights, trembling at each new sensation. Early on the fourth day he felt two hands that were gripping his head, what can this be? One of the members of the Sanhedrin coming to examine me? One of the soldiers coming to take me back to Jerusalem? Uneasiness crept over him as he waited for the next thing to happen.

Then a kind voice saying, “Brother Saul.” Brother Saul, he had never been called brother before. The voice continued, “The Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.”

WHEN THE SCALES FALL: It is a glorious fact, prolifically substantiated by Scripture, that this is precisely what the Lord desires to do for each one, even in this our day. Patiently He waits for eager hearts to cry, “Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law [word].” In the experience of Paul, when the scales fell, there was new light for a new life. His vision was at once majestic and grand in its sweep. There was a broad horizon with new values and countless opportunities.

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Job  40  41       1 John  4

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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25.  26.                  God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion

Today’s First Thoughts                                 August 25 & 26, 2012

Good Morning!
Saul was used to giving and receiving orders. He would take orders form no one who was not in a higher authority than he. Now he was convinced that his new assignment was given from the highest source in the universe, God Himself.

PAUL HAD RECEIVED A NEW ASSIGNMENT:
Acts 9:15. “For he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:” 18. “and arose, and was baptized. 19. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 20. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

This new convert was called of God to bear the name of Christ “before the Gentiles, and kings and the children of Israel.” In each case, the assignment, humanly speaking, was most difficult of performance. “To the Gentiles.”  The Gentiles, or the heathen (goyim), were looked upon with much disfavor by the Jews, and that natural aversion had to be overcome. Jonah fled from such a task. Paul was of the strictest sect, a Pharisee, one of that company of Hebrew religionists who thanked God publicly that they were “not as other men.” They could not preserve their sacred standing and fraternize with Gentiles; and to make it doubly hard in the fulfillment of this new commission, he had been indoctrinated with a hatred for Christ and a bitterness toward His message.

However, immediately upon coming to grips with the Savior, he received his assignment. This was it—bearing before the Gentiles that Name which is above every name. How else were they to receive hope? Jesus was born to be “a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of Israel (Luke 2:32). Not only that, “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). But what could a name mean to a people who were outside the sphere of covenant privilege? What could one name mean to such a countless number? What could a name mean to a people who had so long worshipped idols? They knew the names of countless gods.

What success would he have to bear that Name to a people who already knew some of the greatest names in human history, Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Alexander the Great, Socrates, Abraham, Moses, David, could any name appear above these?

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Job  42    Proverbs 1     1 John  5    Psalm 119 :1-8
Proverbs   1        2 John   1 

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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27.                         God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion

Today’s First Thoughts                                 August 27, 2012

Good Morning!
With all that it meant, with all that it promised, that Name had to be borne by human agency, and Paul was a transformed vessel called for this very purpose, to minister its message and meaning to the Gentiles, The Kings and his own people.

BEAR MY NAME BEFORE KINGS AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL:
Acts 9:15. “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:”

The coverage of his commission was extensive. It ranged from the most degraded to the most elevated. Kings as well as commoners are lost without Christ and there is no hope for anyone apart from the Name that came from heaven. True, not many noble are called (I Corinthians 1:26). It is equally true that not many noble are evangelized. Few of God’s servants have had the boldness, through the Spirit, to preach Christ to the nobility of the earth.

Gaining an hearing before Kings and nobility was more difficult than giving the message, but an entre through legal proceedings, instituted by others, on more than one occasion brought him before governmental officials where he capitalized on the slightest opportunity to bear a witness for Jesus the Christ. God had worked it into Paul’s schedule by having him put in bonds to gain a royal audience (Acts 26:1-32).

Paul witnessing to King Agrippa about his experience on the road to Damascus, “Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. (Acts 26:19-20).

With all of Paul’s culture and refinement, education and training, he never seemed to recognize nobility apart from the earthly dignity of the office which always elicited an appropriate salutation. The royal robes of regal elegance were as paupers’ apparel compared with the robe of righteousness. He thought more of a man’s destination than of his distinction. He was an ambassador of the King of Kings.

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Proverbs  4  5      3 John  1       Psalm 119 :9-16          

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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28.                          God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion

Today’s First Thoughts                                  August 28, 2012

Good Morning!
This faithful servant made an earnest, honest effort to break through the defenses of the children of Israel, but too little avail.

TO BEAR MY NAME UNTO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL:
Acts 9:15. “And the children of Israel:”

It is interesting to follow his procedure from the practical point of view. He did not build an edifice or rent a hall. He went straightway to the Jewish synagogues. Many, since Paul’s day, have had an inspiration or a divine unction, and started a new denomination or cult following, but Paul wanted his ministry to coincide with the Apostles at Jerusalem (Galatians 2:1-2). Since he had so completely renounced Judaism, does it not seem strange that he would venture into Jewish places of worship? It was not that he had received any official invitation.

While Paul was especially the apostle to the Gentiles, the divine commission included a ministry among his own people according to the flesh; and, hardly had he received his sight, until “straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). But the Jews of Paul’s day were no more receptive to the message of God than were their forbears in the day of Ezekiel when they were said to be impudent, stiff-hearted and rebellious scorpions. The Apostle confessed, “but even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart” (2 Corinthians 3:15).

“But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, ‘it was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles’” (Acts 13:45, 46). Judaism never accepted him. Yet he went boldly into their synagogues. He knew that people needed, more than anything else in the world, the experience which had so revolutionized his own life. It was worth the attempt. His Lord would be pleased.

He might meet with some embarrassment, but, then, he was willing to become a fool for Jesus’ sake, and into the synagogues he went. His message was Christ. This was not a matter to be treated reverently there. Christ was from the little town of Nazareth and it was said in that day, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Proverbs  6  7        Jude 1

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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29.                         God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion

Today’s First Thoughts                                 August 29, 2012

Good Morning!
Instead of Saul from that day of baptism, till the end of time be known as Paul.

SIGHT TO THE BLIND:
Acts 9:18. “And he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.”

Paul, the greatest Christian example that ever lived, was not baptized by Jesus himself, or even by Peter, or one of the other Apostles, but by an almost unknown disciple in faraway Damascus. The scales had fallen from his eyes and he could see, but a far more wondrous marvel filled him, so that he could scarce find breath to speak. The eyes of his body had been sightless only three days, but the eyes of his soul had been blind for his whole life. Into the darkness of his spirit at the moment Ananias baptized him, and coming up out of the water the glorious light of the Holy Ghost came resting upon him illuminating his soul with almost unbearable purity.

One cannot help from wondering whether this student of Gamaliel had ever heard, up to this time, the story of Nicodemus, a former ruler of the Jews. Yet one may know about the power of the gospel without experiencing its force, and about transforming grace without being changed. “The wind bloweth where it listeth and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).

Paul had contacted a power and was transformed. Of this, he never, through all his subsequent years, had reason to doubt. Accounting himself the chief of sinners, he knew that if he could be saved, then salvation was possible for all. He knew it brought a newness of life. This conviction moved him to assert, “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Those men who journeyed with him toward Damascus “stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no man” (Acts 9:7). If they heard the Lord’s voice, they must have heard Paul’s. They were not offended because he had pledged allegiance to another for “they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.” It would not be difficult to believe they received his first sermon. It would be most interesting, indeed, to know about the details of their conversation during the remainder of the journey, to learn just what their several reactions were and to determine whether or not any of them accepted Christ as their Savior.

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Proverbs  8   9     Revelation  1     Psalm 119 :17-24

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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30.                         God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion

Today’s First Thoughts                                 August 30, 2012

Good Morning!
In recounting some of his experiences at a later date, Paul spoke about being in perils of his own countrymen.

ASSASSINS AT THE GATE:
Acts 9:23. “And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: 24. But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. 25. Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

The first of many such experiences, which was a serious one, took place at Damascus soon after his conversion. He had outwitted the Jews there in a discussion about his Lord, “proving that this is very Christ.” To overcome their chagrin and to give vent to their inherent antichristian bitterness, they produced some legal technicality whereby they could demand his life. Machinery was quickly thrown into operation, plans were drawn up, and all that remained to put an abrupt end to this new “perverter” was to apprehend the culprit. That was all, but that was much when God was on the side of the man sought (2 Corinthians 11:32-33).

Moved by the same prompting that caused Mary and Joseph to take Jesus as a babe from Bethlehem to Egypt, the few believers at Damascus effected an escape for Paul by placing him in an improvised elevator made of a basket and a rope and letting him down over the wall. Doubtless their hearts still feared for his safety as he left the basket and disappeared into the darkness of the night unarmed and unescorted, but the Lord was with him. Saul vanished into the darkness to spend the next three years in solicitude and prayer in the desert of Arabia (Galatians 1:16-17). There was a lot of emptying out of the old life and a lot of new incoming thoughts and feelings that took place in the desert of Arabia. Many of God’s Servants spent time there.

Saul baptized!” Now there was a tale the Christians back in Jerusalem would find hard to believe. By the grapevine that news passed from Damascus to Joppa, from Nazareth and Capernaum even to Jericho, through Galilee into Samaria and where-ever Christians were hiding, the word would go out that Saul, the persecutor, had been stricken blind near Damascus, had seen the Lord Jesus, had heard his voice, had been healed and baptized by a man named Ananias, and now he himself was a Christian. Who could be expected to believe a wild story like that? Yet by traveling traders, by soldiers who witnessed the fact the news came and spread like wildfire.

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Proverbs  10  11      Revelation  2

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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31.                         God’s Grazingfield Daily Devotion

Today’s First Thoughts                                 August 31, 2012

Good Morning!
From Damascus Paul is sent into the desert wilderness to be alone with God.

THE DESERT OF ARABIA:
Galatians 1:15. “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, 16. To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17. Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.”

Without Paul’s personal statement that he waited three years before presenting himself to Peter, it would easy to misread the facts Luke recites in Acts 9:25-26. Luke’s narrative glides over those three years as if they had no significance. Yet they were among the most important in Paul’s life. Paul went into the desert wilderness to be alone with God. He retreated from the world to silence where he could nourish his spirit, explore his new views, weigh and test his understanding and his will.

As Jesus had often “gone apart from the crowds” to renew himself in solitary prayer, so now Paul went, driven by a commandment beyond his own mind. Jesus had spent three years instructing his disciple; Paul took three years to be alone with him also, and to satisfy his mind and bridle his will. He went from Damascus into Arabia seeking to hear the voice of God in his soul. But he could not have hoped to for the stunning gift of glory that he was to receive, visions and revelations that were to dazzle Paul’s memory the rest of his life.

Later Paul wrote, “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. (2 Corinthians 12:7). Paul had a lifetime of Pharisaic ideas and Galatians experiences to go over in his mind and many of them had to be exchanged for this new revelation which was being shown him. It took time for God to reveal His Son to Him (Galatians 1:16).

And whatever the “thorn on the flesh” was it was a reminder from God, for Paul never forgot the lessons God taught him in the desert of Arabia, lessons he passed on to Christians living then, and ever since. He knew he had direct revelations, communion with God, and an appointment from heaven as an Apostle.

Read Thru The Bible
Click the links below to read today's Bible verses online:
Proverbs  12  13      Revelation  3       Psalm 119 :25--32

James & Mary Lee Thornton
www.Godsgrazingfield.net

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