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Through Thy Knowledge (Tuesday, November 28, 2017)

1 Corinthians 8:1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.
4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.
5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)
6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
7 Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.
8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.
9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;
11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.
13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

Introductory Thoughts

Christian believers possess a broad spectrum of knowledge. For instance, some believers are weak in the Lord with little knowledge concerning the Lord or His word. Other believers are stronger, possessing a deeper understanding of the word of God. One man may understand that an idol means nothing. He may understand that meat given to an idol is merely meat. However, the less knowledgeable man may not possess that same level of understanding. Christians more scripturally knowledgeable should never mock or disdain any weaker believer, nor should they seek to allow themselves to become a stumblingstone toward these weaker brethren. If the more knowledgeable person is not careful, he may allow his superior knowledge to puff him up. Instead of pride, stronger believers should demonstrate charity.

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): Do you laugh at a baby because he cannot do math? Of course not—he simply needs to grow and learn. Converts also need to grow (1 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 5:13-14). We should help them (1 Corinthians 14:26b; Ephesians 4:29) as Jesus did (Mark 10:1) and Paul did (Acts 20:20).
• (For everyone): Have you ever had the experience of another believer mocking you because you lacked understanding in a certain area? Did that encourage you to learn more or discourage and embarrass you?
• Have you ever mocked a believer for his or her lack of knowledge in the scriptures? Should you have handled the situation differently? Can you make it right at this point?

Prayer Thoughts

• Thank God for His graciousness with you.
• Ask God to help you deal with others in a charitable manner.

SONG: TEMPLES OF THE HOLY GHOST

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Christ Is Preached (Monday, November 27, 2017)

Philippians 1:12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;
13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;
14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:
16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:
17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.
18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

Introductory Thoughts

Because of Paul’s imprisonment, many more people were moved to preach the gospel of Christ. Some did so from a pure heart with pure motives, but others did so “of envy and strife” (Philippians 1:15). The Bible also points out that some preached Christ “of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to” Paul’s bonds (Philippians 1:16). Paul did not want to waste his time concerned with determining other men’s motives. Instead, he simply rejoiced that Christ was being preached because the lost could be saved which was Paul’s chief concern. Was he happy to see men preach out of spite? No. Yet, he was not going to allow other men’s perceived motives to rob him of the joy he knew from hearing that Jesus Christ was being preached.

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): Paul loved to preach. This was his calling (Acts 20:22-24). He preached Christ (Acts 9:20; 2 Corinthians 4:5-6). Even in jail he was encouraged (2 Timothy 2:2, 8-9). He knew God could use the message of his enemies (Psalm 76:10; Romans 8:28).
• (For everyone): Were those who preached “of envy and strife” right in doing so? Why would Paul not be overly concerned with other men’s motives? If those men were “brethren in the Lord” (Philippians 1:14), to whom would they have to give an account?
• Are there some brethren of which you do not approve? Are they preaching Christ? Do you rejoice in that truth?

Prayer Thoughts

• Thank God for those who are preaching Christ.
• Ask the Lord to give you wisdom like He gave to the apostle Paul.

SONG: TELL IT TO JESUS

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Strengthening the Hand of the Wicked (Saturday, November 25, 2017)

Ezekiel 13:22 Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:

Introductory Thoughts

The righteous should rebuke and reprove the works of the wicked in every way possible. We should always try to remove the confidence the wicked might gain by thinking they are right in the eyes of the Lord. There are many ways that the hands of the wicked are strengthened: when believers approve the works of the wicked; when believers remain silent concerning the wickedness of the wicked; and when believers lie concerning the works of the wicked especially by suggesting that they are righteous. The wicked only need one preacher who suggests that God approves of their wickedness to help them grow in strength. They begin spouting about how God made them that way or how God is pleased with them just as they are. They may believe they are okay, but they are in fact tottering on the brink of destruction.

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): God is displeased with anyone who encourages the actions of the wicked (Proverbs 17:15; Isaiah 5:20). The wicked should be warned (Ephesians 5:11; 1 Timothy 5:20; Titus 1: 12-13). Consider Peter’s words to Simon (Acts 8:17-22).
• (For everyone): As technology opens the door for more voices to be heard, it also opens the door for more voices to be approved by others. What are some ways in which we can approve or disapprove of the words and deeds of the wicked?
• Why is it so important that we not strengthen the hands of the wicked? Whose hands are you strengthening?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask the Lord to help you reprove, not approve, the works of sin.
• Ask God to cause your words to weaken the hands of the wicked.

SONG: MY PRAYER

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If Thou Faint, Thy Strength Is Small (Friday, November 24, 2017)

Proverbs 24:10 If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.

Introductory Thoughts

Strength is not tested or demonstrated during times of ease. Rather, it is during times of adversity that one finds out just how strong he is (or how weak he has become). According to scripture, a man who faints in the day of adversity is a man who already possessed little strength. God does not require man to always be at the peak of strength, but God does ask that man to stay in the fight and to refuse to quit (Galatians 6:9). Only those who endure hardness and fight through adversity will enjoy the rewards promised to them. If one considers fainting, he need look no further than the Lord Jesus Christ, who “endured such contradiction of sinners against himself” (Hebrews 12:3), but pressed forward for the souls of men.

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): How did these men faint: Peter (Luke 22:31-34, 54-62); Aaron (Exodus 32:1-5); John Mark (Acts 15:36-39)? Consider these who remained strong: Esther (Esther 4:16); Paul and Silas (Acts 16:23-25); Stephen (Acts 7:51-54).
• (For everyone): How do you fare in days of adversity? Is your strength sufficient for the winds of trouble and the storms of doubt? Do you remain stedfast and loyal to the Saviour during troublesome times?
• Can you think of any examples in scripture of individuals who remained strong in days of adversity? Can you think of any individuals who demonstrated small strength?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask God to help strengthen you ahead of the days of adversity.
• Ask the Lord to preserve you through whatever comes your way.

SONG: WE HAVE AN ANCHOR

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Wisdom Strengtheneth More (Tuesday, November 21, 2017)

Ecclesiastes 7:19 Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city.

Introductory Thoughts

“Wisdom is better than strength” (Ecclesiastes 9:16). Yet, at the same time, wisdom is strength. According to scripture, it “strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city” (Ecclesiastes 7:19). “A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength” (Proverbs 24:5). He “scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof” (Proverbs 21:22). Certainly, the greater goal would be to be filled with both wisdom and strength. In fact, we are told that these two attributes make up the very nature of God. He “is mighty, and despiseth not any: he is mighty in strength and wisdom” (Job 36:5).

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): Read Ecclesiastes 10:10. In this verse, how is wisdom better than strength? Consider how wisdom helped these women save a household (1 Samuel 25:5-35) and a city (2 Samuel 20:13-22). What could wisdom help you to do?
• (For everyone): The race is not always “to the swift, nor the battle to the strong” (Ecclesiastes 9:11). What part does wisdom play in this truth?
• Can you think of any events in scripture where the strong fell in battle at the feet of the wise? What practical truths can you learn from these historic events?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask the Lord to give you both strength and wisdom.
• Ask God to guard you against relying upon your own strength.

SONG: O! TO BE LIKE THEE

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The Joy of the Lord (Monday, November 20, 2017)

Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

Introductory Thoughts

It may seem odd to think that there is great strength in joy. Yet, this truth was something the saints of God earnestly needed to hear since they were filled with sorrow from hearing the pronouncements of God for their wickedness. They had failed the Lord in so many areas and stood guilty before a righteous and holy God. Being filled with sorrow was not wicked, but rather refreshing since it showed that their hearts were tender toward the words of God. The right kind of sorrow does bring benefits. For instance, God uses this right type of sorrow to lead men to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9-11). Yet, it is in the joy of the LORD that saints specifically find strength. Among the people of God, sorrow had done its work, now it was time to turn the sorrow to joy and find the strength to do what was right.

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): David wanted to bring the ark of God to Jerusalem. Because he did it the wrong way, he had sorrow (2 Samuel 6:1-11). Sorrow turned to joy when David discovered the correct way (1 Chronicles 15:2, 25-28). Consider another example: Jeremiah 13:19, 25; Psalm 137:1-4; Psalm 126:1-3.
• (For everyone): Are you experiencing the joy of the LORD? In what ways is that joy the source of your strength?
• Why did the people in Nehemiah’s day need strength? What are some reasons you might need strength too? Can you find that strength by allowing the Spirit of God to bring about His fruit in you (see Galatians 5:22)?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask God to give you of His joy.
• Ask God to help sorrow and joy accomplish their God-given purposes.

SONG: TAKE THE NAME OF JESUS WITH YOU

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Church Day (Sunday, November 19, 2017)

Strength— found throughout the Bible, but specifically 111 times in 103 verses in the Book of Psalms

Variations: strength, strengthen, strengthened, strengthenedst, strengtheneth, strengthening, strong, stronger, strongest, strongly

First usage in the Book of Psalms: Psalm 8:2 (strength)

Last usage in the Book of Psalms: Psalm 147:13 (strengthened)

Interesting fact: The Bible uses the phrase “strengthened himself” or “strengthened themselves” on multiple occasions. The implication of these uses most often implies the failure of an individual or group to yield and to walk in God’s strength. It is an act of rebellion rather than that of submission.

Bible study tip: When seeking to define and understand a Bible word, group the word in its proper category with other words of like usage. For example, in order to understand the word wisdom, one might group this word with other words like knowledge, understanding, and discretion. Sometimes one of the associated words is more general in nature and can be used as a description of the entire group of words.

Sunday, Day 316—Church Day (no devotional)
Monday, Day 317—The Joy of the LORD
Tuesday, Day 318—Wisdom Strengtheneth More
Wednesday, Day 319—Church Night (no devotional)
Thursday, Day 320—My Strength Faileth
Friday, Day 321—If Thou Faint, Thy Strength Is Small
Saturday, Day 322—Strengthening the Hands of the Wicked
Day 316: Church Day
Psalm 18:32 It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.

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Be Strong, and Do It (Friday, November 17, 2017)

1 Chronicles 28:9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
10 Take heed now; for the LORD hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it.

Introductory Thoughts

God has a specific calling on the life of each person. For Solomon, a large part of that calling was the call “to build an house for the sanctuary” (1 Chronicles 28:10). Solomon’s father David had the desire to build the Lord an house, but the Lord reserved that work for Solomon. As king David prepared to pass the responsibility of the kingdom to his son, he encouraged Solomon to follow the Lord and to serve Him with a perfect heart. Concerning the building of the temple, David admonished Solomon to “be strong, and do it” (1 Chronicles 28:10). Although each believer has his own calling from God, these words are a wonderful admonition to all.

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): God encouraged Joshua to take the lead after Moses (Joshua 1:5-9). Azariah encouraged Asa to make changes (2 Chronicles 15:1-2, 7-8). Haggai and Zechariah encouraged the people to finish the temple (Haggai 2:1-4; Zechariah 8:9; Ezra 6:14).
• (For everyone): What are some great works the Lord called men to do? How did each of those responsible for the work require God’s strength to complete the task?
• What has the Lord asked you to do? Have you heeded the admonition to “be strong, and do it” (1 Chronicles 28:10)? Have you failed to use God’s strength to do God’s work?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask God to help you obey His calling.
• Thank the Lord for giving you the strength to do His work.

SONG: GOD LEADS US ALONG

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Give Not Thy Strength Unto Women (Thursday, November 16, 2017)

Proverbs 31:3 Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.

Introductory Thoughts

“Give not thy strength unto women,”—these words were spoken to a son by his mother (Lemuel—see Proverbs 31:1). Most Bible students believe that Lemuel addressed in the Proverb was Solomon. Since Solomon had over 1,000 wives, there is little wonder why his mother’s words were called “prophecy” (Proverbs 31:1). Solomon greatly harmed his kingdom by refusing to heed his mother’s admonition. Eventually, Solomon’s “wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 11:4). Those in the kingdom depended upon Solomon’s strength in the Lord. When he surrendered that strength to women, he sealed the judgment and guaranteed the division of the entire kingdom.

Devotional Thoughts

• (For children): Nehemiah was a godly leader who knew the danger in Proverbs 31:3. He rebuked God’s people, even referring back to Solomon (Nehemiah 13:1-3, 23-27). God still warns us today (2 Corinthians 6:14, 17; Psalm 106:34-36).
• (For everyone): Read Judges 16:1-21. How did Samson’s actions go against the wisdom of Proverbs 31:3? For what did he ask the Lord in Judges 16:28? Why did he have to ask for renewed strength?
• If a man, have you given your strength unto women? If a woman, have you sought to rob a man of his strength by your beauty, emotions, or wiles?

Prayer Thoughts

• Ask the Lord to protect the men in your family.
• Ask God to work in the hearts of the ladies in your family.

SONG: HIS WAY WITH THEE

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