Saturday, March 26, 2016

Attitude Control

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 2:5

One morning, the late Bishop Fulton Sheen entered a greasy spoon for breakfast. “Bring me some ham and eggs and a few kind words for the day,” he said.

The waitress returned fifteen minutes later and set the food before him. “There,” she said. “What about the kind words?” he asked. She looked him over and replied, “I’d advise you not to eat them eggs!” Sometimes the first few events of the day make it clear it’s going to be a “downer.” No matter what you do, you can’t stop life’s bad turns: the car that rear‐ends yours on the way to work; the traffic jam that causes you to miss an important appointment. Yet you can choose your reaction to such irritating events.

We can live happily despite the ups and downs of everyday living, but to do so takes a great measure of dependence on Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul said it best: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12–13).

Just between us… 

  • Am I generally cheerful and optimistic—or gloomy and pessimistic?
  • How do I usually react when I’m disappointed or discouraged?
  • How do my mood swings affect you and our marriage? How can we respond more positively to difficult events?

Dear Father, we invite You to be at work in us—individually and in our relationship—to grow in us the same attitude as Jesus Christ. We don’t want to be ruled by circumstances or moods but by Your Spirit. Amen.

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Why Did I Lose My Job if God Loves Me?

Get Up!

Peter replied, “even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” —Matthew 26:33–34

Are you discouraged today because, in spite of your best efforts, you can’t seem to land a job interview? Are you wrestling with feelings of despair because full- time work continues to evade you? Has your spouse or another family member wounded you with their words because you’re unable to provide as you once did? Are you tempted to deny that God still cares for you because somehow you’ve blown it?

Let me unpack this two ways: with a personal illustration and with Peter’s story.

When I was 12 years old, I made the all-star team in the Chicago Baseball Little League. I’ll never forget one big game against a nearby league. I came up to bat in the bottom of the last inning; the score was tied, there were two outs, and the bases were loaded. I was shaking all over as I approached the plate.

The coach had told me to take the first four pitches. Four pitches? I could strike out without even swinging the bat.

The first two pitches were way outside. The next two were strikes. My coach called me over and said, “Take one more pitch, and then you’re on your own.” The next pitch missed the strike zone, so now the count was full. The pressure was unbelievable, as I realized this was a defining moment for me and for my team. I knew I could get a hit if I just kept my eye on the ball. I waited for the pitch. The ball had to be at least two feet outside. I swung . . . and missed. I would have sent the ball into the next county if my bat had only been several feet longer!

As I approached the dugout, the three guys who were stranded on base followed me in, saying, “Nice going, Rick. You just blew the game for the whole team!” Wow, did that hurt.

The game went into extra innings — and we lost. Even though I went on to bat .500 in post-season play, it seemed like I was never able to make up for my failure in their eyes.

The hurt and despair of being unemployed while in the ""big leagues"" of life, especially with a family to provide for, was far more devastating, since the consequences are greater than losing a ballgame. We’re talking a loss of career, a loss of income, a loss of self-respect and a loss of identity. What’s more, if we allow our emotions to go unchecked, failure in our career path has a way of leading to depression — especially the longer our job search drags on.

If anyone in the Bible had a reason to be crushed by despair it would have been Peter, a disciple of Jesus. Just before Jesus’ arrest, Peter arrogantly proclaimed that he would never leave or betray Jesus — even though Jesus had just predicted that all of his disciples would fall away. Jesus, in turn, assured Peter that he would indeed deny him before the rooster crowed three times. And sure enough, Peter did.

Listen to the intensity of Peter’s denial in Matthew 26:74: “Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know the man!’ ”

He called down curses? This was no casual denial or “innocent” white lie. After the rooster crowed, we’re told, “Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken . . . And he went outside and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75).

But that’s not the end of Peter’s story. Peter had a choice to make. He could fall into utter despair and accomplish nothing, or he could find his strength in Jesus to carry on — which is what he chose to do. This illustrates that even Jesus’ disciples messed up, yet they got up and continued on their assigned path.

Is our transition journey so very different? I think not. We fight despair. We wrestle with the debilitating thoughts and feelings that no one wants our talents. We even toy with the idea of giving up on God’s ability to provide for us.

Let me encourage you to get up! Your journey is not over. In fact, it may have just begun. With the Lord’s help we must get up from our self-pity, our sea of regrets and our fear of failure, and proceed to the next opportunity. Don’t allow anything to come between you and the assigned task the Lord has for you.

This seven-day devotional is drawn from Why Did I Lose My Job If God Loves Me: Help and Hope for Those in Career Transition by Rick J. Pritikin.

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday, the Saturday of Holy Week, also known as the Great Sabbath, Black Saturday, or Easter Eve, and called "Joyous Saturday" or "the Saturday of Light" among Coptic Christians, is the day after Good Friday. It is the day before Easter and the last day of Holy Week in which Christians prepare for Easter. It commemorates the day that Jesus Christ's body lay in the tomb and the Harrowing of Hell.

Holy Saturday is sometimes referred to as Easter Saturday. Some authorities consider that usage incorrect, holding that the term is only correctly applied to the Saturday in Easter Week. However, using the term "Easter Saturday" to refer to the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is used in legislation in the Australian states of New South Wales and Queensland, and is in common use in Australia, including by government agencies.

On this day, the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows is assigned the title Our Lady of Solitude, referring to her solace and grief at the death of her son Jesus.

In Roman Catholic churches, the chancel remains stripped completely bare (following the Mass on Maundy Thursday) while the administration of the sacraments is severely limited. Holy Communion, except for the Good Friday service, is given only as Viaticum to the dying. Baptism, Penance, and Anointing of the Sick may be administered because they, like Viaticum, are helpful to ensuring salvation for the dying.

All Masses are severely limited. No Mass at all appears in the normal liturgy for this day, although Mass can be said on Good Friday and on Holy Saturday for an extremely grave or solemn situation with a dispensation from the Vatican or the local bishop. Many of the churches of the Anglican Communion as well as Lutheran, Methodist, and some other Churches observe most of the same; however, their altars may be covered in black instead of being stripped.

In some Anglican churches, including the Episcopal Church in the United States, provision is made for a simple Liturgy of the Word on this day, with readings commemorating the burial of Christ. Daily Offices are still observed. In the Moravian churches in North America, the day is known as Great Sabbath. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer uses Easter Eve to designate the day.

Liturgically speaking, Holy Saturday lasts until 6pm or dusk, after which the Easter Vigil is celebrated, marking the official start of the Easter season. The rubrics state that the Easter Vigil must take place in the night; it must begin after nightfall and end before dawn. The service may start with a fire and the lighting of the new Paschal candle. In Roman Catholic and some Anglican observance, the Mass is the first Mass since that of Maundy Thursday, and during it, the "Gloria" — which has been absent during Lent — is used as the statues and icons, covered with purple veils during Passiontide, are dramatically unveiled. Some Anglican churches prefer to celebrate Easter and the lighting of the new Paschal candle at dawn on Easter Day. Baptisms may take place in this service and Baptism vows are often renewed.

Święconka, meaning "the blessing of the Easter baskets", on Holy Saturday, is one of the most enduring and beloved Polish traditions.

In the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines, the day is legally and colloquially known in English as Black Saturday, given the colour's role in mourning. Commercial establishments, along with television and radio stations operate on shorter hours or remain closed altogether, while the traditional taboos on merrymaking and eating meat are carried over from the previous day. After the liturgical changes of the Second Vatican Council, the term Sábado de Gloria (Spanish for Gloria Saturday) also became widely used, referring to the first chanting during the Easter Vigil of the Gloria in Excelsis Deo since Quinquagesima Sunday.

Daily Readings for March 26, 2016 - Holy Saturday

Job 14:1-14
"A mortal, born of woman, few of days and full of trouble, comes up like a flower and withers, flees like a shadow and does not last. Do you fix your eyes on such a one? Do you bring me into judgment with you? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one can. Since their days are determined, and the number of their months is known to you, and you have appointed the bounds that they cannot pass, look away from them, and desist, that they may enjoy, like laborers, their days. "For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. Though its root grows old in the earth, and its stump dies in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth branches like a young plant. But mortals die, and are laid low; humans expire, and where are they? As waters fail from a lake, and a river wastes away and dries up, so mortals lie down and do not rise again; until the heavens are no more, they will not awake or be roused out of their sleep. Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath is past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If mortals die, will they live again? All the days of my service I would wait until my release should come.

Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16
1   In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.
2   Incline your ear to me; make haste to deliver me.
3   Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe, for you are my crag and my stronghold; for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me.
4   Take me out of the net that they have secretly set for me, for you are my tower of strength.
15   My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me.
16   Make your face to shine upon your servant, and in your loving-kindness save me."

1 Peter 4:1-8
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God. You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. They are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of dissipation, and so they blaspheme. But they will have to give an accounting to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does. The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.

Matthew 27:57-66
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, "Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, 'After three days I will rise again.' Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, 'He has been raised from the dead,' and the last deception would be worse than the first." Pilate said to them, "You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can." So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

Daily Meditation for March 26, 2016 - Holy Saturday

From Forward Day by Day

John 19:40 They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths.

When you walk into the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, the first pilgrimage site is just inside the entrance. It is a marble slab, fragrant from the smell of myrrh rubbed into the stone. If you turn to the right, you can make your way to Golgotha Chapel, the traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion. And if you turn to the left, you can get to the Edicule, a large structure that covers what tradition says is the tomb of Christ. To the right or left are the most holy sites in Christendom, perhaps. But there, in the middle, in this simple slab, is one of the most tender pilgrimage sites in the world. For it is on that spot that tradition holds Jesus’ body was prepared for burial. Even today, the senses are overwhelmed with the scent of myrrh, the sound of weeping, and the sight of people kneeling. The stone feels cool.

Holy Saturday is a tender day. We are between two monumental days. Like Jesus’ body, which rested, we rest today. We prepare ourselves for joy, even as we grieve. But mostly, we rest.

Parental Lessons to Avoid

Ezekiel 20:1–29

“Do not follow the statutes of your parents or keep their laws or defile yourselves with their idols. I am the LORD your God; follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 20:18–19)

Most children follow the example of their parents. Even as we move into adulthood and marriage, it is natural to mirror our parents’ attitudes and actions. Following their examples can be positive and productive. But what some parents teach can also be difficult and destructive, or somewhere in between.

Jim and Jolene wrestled with the lessons each had learned in their dysfunctional families. When they gave their lives and their marriage to Jesus Christ, they found themselves on a healthier path. But the lessons each had learned from parents and other family members required a lot of sifting. As the couple grew in Christ, they learned three important lessons that the people of Israel also had to learn. The prophet Ezekiel provided specific directions:

First, do not follow the rules (written and unwritten) of sinful parents. Their destructive behavior, broken relationships and spiritual emptiness can lead to death. That was Jim’s experience. He had witnessed drunkenness, abuse and betrayal in his parents’ relationship, and as a teen Jim followed their example as he got into drugs, alcohol and trouble with the law.

Even religious parents can provide poor examples to follow. Jolene often went to church with her family and took part in a youth group. But her mother was judgmental, and her father was preoccupied with his own life. Neither one modeled for Jolene how to behave in a long-term relationship.

Second, do everything you can to pattern your lives and relationship after Christ and his followers. Before meeting each other, Jim and Jolene had become believers. Yet they had to learn how to live as authentic Christians in marriage. They learned as much as they could from Christ’s teachings and example as well as from godly couples in church.

Third, keep the Sabbath. It’s easy to organize life around each other, your jobs, recreational activities, house and yard upkeep, or caring for the kids. But as God says in Ezekiel 20:20, we must keep the Sabbaths holy, “that they may be a sign between us.” When our lives conform to the pattern suggested to us by Scripture, setting aside a day to worship God with other believers and letting everything else line up after that, then, as Ezekiel said, we will know God is our Lord. John R. Throop

Let’s Talk
  • What were some of the lessons our parents taught us about being a husband or wife? How did they model good behavior? Not-so-good behavior?
  • What are some practical and productive ways we can follow the commands of Christ to build a spiritual life as a couple and together glorify him?
  • In a time-challenged world, what are some ways we can keep the Sabbath together? How can we worship and obey God together?


And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). (Mark 15:34)

Today’s devotional again comes from a Chinese house church pastor who was arrested and held for three weeks just prior to this talk. He says his experience was going with Christ to the Garden and to the Cross. Today he continues and explains another aspect of The Cross:

But it is not all triumph. I know some pastors who said they just smiled all the time from the moment they were arrested, and felt unutterable joy the whole time. I suppose that is possible. After all, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego seemed to be very calm throughout their ordeal. But we must not make that the test of true spirituality. The Psalmists are full of despair and questioning as they go through hard times. So were Jeremiah and Job and Habakkuk. And most sobering of all, our Lord Himself was heard to cry from the Cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)

This is the dark side of the experience. What makes suffering hardest to bear are the questions, the voices that well up within each of us, that are full of doubts, despair and depression. And I believe this is OK. As humans we were not meant to suffer. We were made to be part of a perfect world, with no sorrow or sighing, an Eden where everyone was righteous and fulfilled. So when we suffer, there is a sense in which our bodies and spirits witness saying, “This is unnatural, this is not why we were created.”

In my own case, I wondered whether God had turned His back on me, or was punishing me for past sins. Yes, I know that sounds odd after all I have just said about feeling the power of God within to forgive my persecutor, and having the angel strengthen me. But you forget these things in the dark watches of the night, sleeping sandwiched between two prisoners and being cursed by everyone because you need to rise and go to the toilet; and so everyone must wake up and shift their position. It was the nights that were worst.

But most of these doubts were not weaknesses as such; they were attempts to comprehend the incomprehensible. Where is God here? What’s He up to? How can this possibly extend His kingdom? How is His glory served by one of my sisters being raped by an interrogator? The fact is, when we suffer, there is so much that we cannot understand. I read somewhere that “because we are human, we yearn to understand, but because we are human, we cannot understand.”

Suffering puts us in our place. It humbles us to realize that we are not really in charge of our lives. This is a hard realization. God is in charge, and His purposes can be hard to discern at times. He takes even the sin of the world, and turns it to good account. We often do not see how He does this, but we believe it. Accepting it in faith is never easy when you are suffering.

RESPONSE: Today I will not try to understand the incomprehensible. I will accept God’s goodness in everything by faith.

PRAYER: Pray for Christian prisoners going through great pain today that they may know His touch.

Verse of the Day - March 26, 2016

Philippians 1:29 (NIV) For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him,