Saturday, April 2, 2016

Where Is Your Treasure?

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” 1 Timothy 6:10

Money. Men and women have lusted for it, killed for it, died for it, and gone to hell for it. Money has come between the best of friends, fractured families, and brought down the proud and mighty. And it has torn millions of marriages limb from limb! According to Larry Burkett, founder and CEO of Christian Financial Concepts, 80 percent of couples seeking divorce say the focus of their disagreements is money. During Jesus’ time on earth, He spoke more about money than any other subject. Most of His pronouncements came in the form of warnings: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21); “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26); “You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:24).

If we want to love and serve God—and keep our marriages intact— we need to regularly examine our relationship with money, then ask: “Whom do we serve?”

Just between us…

  • Have you ever had a hurtful disagreement with family or friends over money?
  • How do you feel about the way we handle our finances?
  • Are there ways in which we push God aside to “serve” money?
  • What could we do to make sure our financial decisions are in line with Jesus’ teachings?
Dear God, we confess that we’re so often beguiled by the allure of money and possessions. But we want You to be Lord of our money and all our belongings. Lead us into an enduring obedience to You in this area, we pray. Amen.

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.Larry Burkett excerpt from Love for a Lifetime by Dr. James Dobson (Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah Publishers, Inc. 1998).

NIV Devotions for Couples - April 02, 2016

Holy Habits Under Pressure 

Daniel 6:1–28

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. (Daniel 6:10)

Some years ago a major research firm conducted a survey to determine what people would be willing to do for ten million dollars. The results were astounding:

3 percent would put their children up for adoption

7 percent would kill a stranger

16 percent would divorce their spouses

25 percent would leave their families

We all apparently have our selling price. It might be ten million dollars or only a bottle of wine. Our selling price is linked to our identity; the deeper our character, the higher our selling price.

Daniel was a foreigner in a strange land, and there were many officials who wished to define his identity for him. Yet he tenaciously clung to the rituals that helped define his truest self as a child of God. Daniel would not sell himself short, even when the pressure was on. He continued to get down on his knees three times a day, giving thanks to God, even when he knew the penalty for doing so was being torn apart by hungry lions. He knew that without God he was nothing.

When a ship is built, each part has a voice of its own. As seamen walk through the new ship, they can almost hear the creaking whispers: “I am a rivet!” “I am a sheet of steel!” “I am a propeller!” “I am a beam!” For a while these little voices sing their individual songs, proudly independent and fiercely self-protective.

But then a storm blows in on the high seas. The waves toss, the gales hurl and the rains beat. If the parts of the ship tried to withstand the pummeling independent from one another, each would be lost. On the bridge, however, stands the captain. He issues orders that take all of the little voices and bring them together for a larger purpose. By the time the vessel has weathered the storm, sailors sense a new and deeper song echoing from stem to stern: “I am a ship!”

Our Captain calls each of us, especially in marriage, to a greater purpose than furthering ourselves. Answering that call is a top priority for our lives, as Daniel knew. Those who hear the Captain’s call are able to sail true and straight. And those who have that strong sense of service and self-awareness are able to give out of that fullness to the Lord and to others.

Wayne Brouwer

Let’s Talk

  • What kind of home life might have created in Daniel the strength of character he displayed for a lifetime, even in adverse conditions?
  • What habits of faith and its expressions are routine and meaningless in our lives? Which ritual practices do we do mainly for others?
  • What habits might be good to develop to grow our relationship?


Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24

When our children were young, we would often sing before dinner the chorus, “Come and dine the master calleth, come and dine...” One day our youngest, Melinda, our adopted Filipina asked, “Daddy, why does Jesus say we have to come and die?” The family laughed at this question concluding that we really needed to work on our singing diction.

But as I study Jesus’ teaching, I’ve come to realize that Melinda was singing correctly all the time. Because Jesus also indicates that discipleship means there is a cross to bear. All too often the cross becomes for us just an historic symbol. One day a North American minister was showing a foreign visitor his newly built church building. Outside, a spotlight illuminated a huge cross on the steeple. The pastor boasted, “That cross alone cost us $10,000.”

The visitor looked at him quizzically and replied, “Where I come from, Christians can get them for free!”

A Canadian Christian aid worker was overwhelmed at the enormous need among the believers of southern Sudan. He recalls some children in a village wearing nothing but hand carved bone crosses fashioned in necklaces around their necks. He pointed to the cross on one emaciated child and questioned her with hand motions. She smiled broadly, took off the necklace and handed it to him.

His thoughtful analysis is this: “That little act symbolizes the state of the suffering church in Sudan. With absolutely nothing in the way of material possessions, they still have the cross of Jesus Christ. They are prepared to share its hope - even though it means death.”

To Jesus the cross meant the willing denial of self for the sake of others. Seeking to save your life, you’ll lose it while losing your life for Jesus will save it.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian who gave up his life taking a stand against Hitler wrote, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” That’s what it means to lose our life in order to save it. Jesus himself was our example being willing to go to the cross on behalf of others—even a lost world.

RESPONSE: Today I will deny myself, take up my cross and follow Jesus.

PRAYER: Lord, I respond to Your call to “come and die to myself” in order to find real life in You.

James Lloyd Breck, Priest

Today the church remembers James Lloyd Breck, Priest, 1876.

James Breck was a pioneer in several ways. He was a pioneer in the revival of monasticism in our church. He was a pioneer missionary to the Northwest and to California. He was a pioneer in theological education, being instrumental in the founding of both Nashotah House and Seabury theological seminaries.

Breck was a native of Philadelphia and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the General Theological Seminary in New York. He joined two classmates in forming an experimental religious community under the direction of Bishop Kemper (see May 24) in the great wilderness of Wisconsin. There he lived in utmost simplicity and spent virtually every waking hour in religious work.

Indefatigable, Breck founded numerous churches, missions, and schools. He prayed, taught, traveled, and worked tirelessly to initiate and keep going the work of the church. Himself an ardent Anglo-Catholic, Breck rejoiced in the renewed emphasis on catholic doctrine and worship in his day. He preached and exemplified the extension of Christian discipline into every aspect of living.

In later years, with the church firmly established in Wisconsin and Minnesota, James Breck sought sunnier climes. He went to California and vanished into legend, a veritable "Johnny Appleseed" of the church.

Strengthen us for your work, O God, that we follow where you lead us. Amen.

Teach your Church, O Lord, we pray, to value and support pioneering and courageous missionaries, whom you call, as you called your servant James Lloyd Breck, to preach, and teach, and plant your Church on new frontiers; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Daily Readings for April 2, 2016 - Saturday in Easter Week

Psalm 118:14-18
14   The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.
15   There is a sound of exultation and victory in the tents of the righteous:
16   The right hand of the LORD has triumphed! the right hand of the LORD is exalted! the right hand of the LORD has triumphed!
17   I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.
18   The LORD has punished me sorely, but he did not hand me over to death.

Acts 4:13-21
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus. When they saw the man who had been cured standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. So they ordered them to leave the council while they discussed the matter with one another. They said, "What will we do with them? For it is obvious to all who live in Jerusalem that a notable sign has been done through them; we cannot deny it. But to keep it from spreading further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name." So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in God's sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard." After threatening them again, they let them go, finding no way to punish them because of the people, for all of them praised God for what had happened.

Mark 16:9-15, 20
Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.

Daily Meditation for April 2, 2016 - Saturday in Easter Week

From Forward Day by Day

Mark 16:15 Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.

The summer I really learned how to pray I was working for an industrial forestry company in the piney woods of East Texas. It was a challenging summer in a lot of ways, and I was living back under my (gracious) parents’ roof for the first time since I graduated from high school.

I walked through fields of seedlings and counted how many pine trees were among the weeds. I walked through forests to count and measure the mature trees. I walked along streambeds to mark trees that should be left to protect the waterways. I grumbled a lot about being there.

Then, something clicked. “I’m out in God’s good creation! I’ll turn my work into a prayer.” As I walked and counted, I began to proclaim good news: “This is God’s, this is God’s, this is God’s….” By the end of the summer, I found a kinship to those forests similar to what I’ve read in Saint Francis’s writing. And, the creation seemed to be proclaiming the good news right back to me. “Welcome. It’s about time you arrived.”

Verse of the Day - April 02, 2016

Matthew 20: 17-19 (NIV) [ Jesus Predicts His Death a Third Time ] Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”