Saturday, May 7, 2016

Time and Wisdom

“For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” 2 Corinthians 8:12 

Generosity comes in many forms. One version is material gifts. Another is the sharing of our time and wisdom. I (jcd) recall the example of one man who gave up two hours and influenced my life for years. When I was in college, my aunt heard a speech by a well‐known Christian psychologist, Dr. Clyde Narramore. “We need Christian young men and women in the field of mental health,” Dr. Narramore said to the audience. “If you know of promising students who are interested, I’ll be glad to meet with them.” My aunt told me of this invitation, and I called Dr. Narramore for an appointment. He graciously agreed to see me, even though he was busy and didn’t know me from Adam.

As we talked in his living room, he laid out a plan for how I could become a psychologist. It’s been over forty years since that conversation took place, yet I still remember the advice he gave me that day. It shaped the next five years of my life and helped channel me into a profession I love.

You may not have the financial means to help people in need, but you can offer them your time and insights. It may be just what they need to point them in the right direction.

Just between us…
  • Who has influenced us through their gifts of time and wisdom?
  • In what areas do we have expertise, insights, or available time that might help someone else?
  • Who do we know who might benefit from our generosity? 
Heavenly Father, tonight we reach for a truly generous life together. Guide and strengthen our willingness to share. Thank You for putting us on earth for something bigger and more meaningful than our own comfort or happiness. Amen. 

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

The Daily Readings for May 7, 2016

Numbers 11:16-29
So the LORD said to Moses, "Gather for me seventy of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tent of meeting, and have them take their place there with you. I will come down and talk with you there; and I will take some of the spirit that is on you and put it on them; and they shall bear the burden of the people along with you so that you will not bear it all by yourself. And say to the people: Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wailed in the hearing of the LORD, saying, 'If only we had meat to eat! Surely it was better for us in Egypt.' Therefore the LORD will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall eat not only one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but for a whole month-- until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you-- because you have rejected the LORD who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, 'Why did we ever leave Egypt?'" But Moses said, "The people I am with number six hundred thousand on foot; and you say, 'I will give them meat, that they may eat for a whole month'! Are there enough flocks and herds to slaughter for them? Are there enough fish in the sea to catch for them?" The LORD said to Moses, "Is the LORD's power limited? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not." So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent. Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again. Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. And a young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp." And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, "My lord Moses, stop them!" But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD's people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit on them!"

Ephesians 2:11-22
So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called "the uncircumcision" by those who are called "the circumcision"-- a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands-- remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

Matthew 7:28-8:4
Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean." He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, "I do choose. Be made clean!" Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Then Jesus said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."

Morning Psalms

Psalm 87
1 On the holy mountain stands the city he has founded; the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
2 Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of our God.
3 I count Egypt and Babylon among those who know me; behold Philistia, Tyre, and Ethiopia: in Zion were they born.
4 Of Zion it shall be said, "Everyone was born in her, and the Most High himself shall sustain her."
5 The LORD will record as he enrolls the peoples, "These also were born there."
6 The singers and the dancers will say, "All my fresh springs are in you."

Psalm 90

1 Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to another.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or the land and the earth were born, from age to age you are God.
3 You turn us back to the dust and say, "Go back, O child of earth."
4 For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past and like a watch in the night.
5 You sweep us away like a dream; we fade away suddenly like the grass.
6 In the morning it is green and flourishes; in the evening it is dried up and withered.
7 For we consume away in your displeasure; we are afraid because of your wrathful indignation.
8 Our iniquities you have set before you, and our secret sins in the light of your countenance.
9 When you are angry, all our days are gone; we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
10 The span of our life is seventy years, perhaps in strength even eighty; yet the sum of them is but labor and sorrow, for they pass away quickly and we are gone.
11 Who regards the power of your wrath? who rightly fears your indignation?
12 So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
13 Return, O LORD; how long will you tarry? be gracious to your servants.
14 Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning; so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.
15 Make us glad by the measure of the days that you afflicted us and the years in which we suffered adversity.
16 Show your servants your works and your splendor to their children.
17 May the graciousness of the LORD our God be upon us; prosper the work of our hands; prosper our handiwork.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 136
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures for ever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods, for his mercy endures for ever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his mercy endures for ever.
4 Who only does great wonders, for his mercy endures for ever;
5 Who by wisdom made the heavens, for his mercy endures for ever;
6 Who spread out the earth upon the waters, for his mercy endures for ever;
7 Who created great lights, for his mercy endures for ever;
8 The sun to rule the day, for his mercy endures for ever;
9 The moon and the stars to govern the night, for his mercy endures for ever.
10 Who struck down the firstborn of Egypt, for his mercy endures for ever;
11 And brought out Israel from among them, for his mercy endures for ever;
12 With a mighty hand and a stretched-out arm, for his mercy endures for ever;
13 Who divided the Red Sea in two, for his mercy endures for ever;
14 And made Israel to pass through the midst of it, for his mercy endures for ever;
15 But swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea, for his mercy endures for ever;
16 Who led his people through the wilderness, for his mercy endures for ever.
17 Who struck down great kings, for his mercy endures for ever;
18 And slew mighty kings, for his mercy endures for ever;
19 Sihon, king of the Amorites, for his mercy endures for ever;
20 And Og, the king of Bashan, for his mercy endures for ever;
21 And gave away their lands for an inheritance, for his mercy endures for ever;
22 An inheritance for Israel his servant, for his mercy endures for ever.
23 Who remembered us in our low estate, for his mercy endures for ever;
24 And delivered us from our enemies, for his mercy endures for ever;
25 Who gives food to all creatures, for his mercy endures for ever.
26 Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his mercy endures for ever.

The Daily Meditation for May 7, 2016

From Forward Day by Day

Numbers 11:17 I will come down and talk with you there; and I will take some of the spirit that is on you and put it on them; and they shall bear the burden of the people along with you so that you will not bear it all by yourself.

A scene from the movie Lars and the Real Girl portrays the title character Lars mourning a death. People from the community come to his home, bringing casseroles and themselves. Lars asks, “So what do I do now?” One woman responds that we just sit…together.

When we find ourselves grieving and wounded, we may be tempted to withdraw and hide. Hurting souls seem to have an initial instinct to crawl into holes.

Yet we are a people of community. God’s love present with us calls us to share our lives, celebrations, and burdens. We are proficient in celebrating together, but inviting companions in times of trial seems to be harder.

And when we are invited to share one another’s burdens, are we able to resist the temptation of offering advice or trying to fix things? Can we trust the value of sharing each other’s burdens by being present with one another and the spirit of God?
Join more than a half million readers worldwide who use Forward Day by Day as a resource for daily prayer and Bible study.

What Jesus Says About Divorce

Matthew 19:1–12 

Some Pharisees came to [Jesus] to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” Matthew 19:3 

When married people face dark times in their marriage, they may quietly sort through the ramifications of divorce. Knowing what the Bible says is critical in that process. But couples also need to figure out how to respond to friends and family who divorce. Do we need to know all the details in order to know who to support? Do we have to choose sides? What do we do when a friend divorces and then remarries? Should we go to the wedding?

As a pastor, I don’t think there is any life situation harder to sort out than divorce. Every story is different. Every situation is painful. It isn’t always easy to determine if there is a “guilty party.” How to weave compassion, grace and righteousness together often confounds me. Christians who take the Bible seriously and who earnestly want to please the Lord don’t always come to the same conclusions. But one thing is certain: We need to consider what Jesus has to say about divorce and remarriage, particularly in Matthew 19.

Divorces in Jesus’ day make our “quickie” divorces of today look positively glacial. A man could divorce his wife, as verse 3 says, “for any and every reason,” at least according to one school of Jewish thought. (Others took a stricter view.) As we are all wont to do, these Pharisees who questioned Jesus wanted to know exactly what reasons justified getting a divorce. But the question was loaded; these Pharisees apparently were among those who used the Law of Moses (specifically Deuteronomy 24:1–4) as proof that divorce for any reason was lawful.

Jesus’ response was that Moses allowed divorce, not to give permission for divorce, but to solve the problem of marital infidelity. Something has to be done when sin utterly poisons the covenant relationship of marriage. Jesus said that sexual immorality (sure evidence of a hard heart) can so poison the covenant of marriage that the innocent party can be released from the marriage commitment.

While Matthew 19 can stir up as many questions as it answers, there are some inescapable conclusions: First, divorce is rarely a solution for followers of Jesus to consider. Rather, we are to cultivate marriages with the grace and truth of God so that they may shine forth the love of Jesus to the world around us. We are not to be like the Pharisees, who tried to push the limits of the law as far as it would go.

Second, we are to become marriage builders among our friends and family. We know how hard and even hopeless marriage can seem sometimes, but we are to be agents of grace and truth to these struggling friends, helping them find hope and help, praying with them and providing a haven away from the tension.

Third, we should affirm those who choose to remain single for the sake of the kingdom, as Jesus did in this passage. Singles don’t need our sympathy; they deserve our respect! Those who remain single and single-mindedly serve Christ are models to us all.

Lee Eclov

Let’s Talk
  • Whom do we know who has divorced or is going through a divorce right now? What makes divorce so complicated for Christians to respond to?
  • What does repeated sexual immorality do to a marriage? When does the damage become irreparable? How do some couples recover from such sin?
  • How could we honor a single person we know who serves God with undivided attention?


Make every effort to live in peace with all men… Hebrews 12:14a 

Other religious groups are one of the most threatening tactics Satan uses against the church of Jesus Christ. In the book of Acts we see over and over that the primary opposition to the spread of the gospel in the early church was from religious groups. Again we must never view these groups as the enemy. We know who our real enemy is. In some parts of the world, the small percentage of extremists among Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims have encouraged mob violence and other forms of persecution against Christians. Our attitude toward them should be as Brother Andrew’s acronym for ISLAM suggests: I Sincerely Love All Muslims.

The tactic that our enemy uses in these major religions of the world is the same. It comes from his character of deceiving and lying. Some people are able to perceive elements of truth within the major religions of the world, but their essential teachings are deceivingly false.

Wherever possible, missionaries of cults and other religions do whatever possible to encourage Christians—usually those who are Christian in name only—to convert to their religion. Unfortunately, in countries such as Egypt, a significant number do convert to a cult or to some other religion. The lure to convert can be marriage, money, employment, social acceptance, and any other similar attraction.

Hardini was born to a devout Muslim family in Indonesia where everyone must go to the mosque every day to pray. Her father had strict rules for everyone in the family. One rule was that Hardini should never associate with Christians. Despite Hardini’s devotion to Islam, her heart was heavy and she longed for inner peace. A Christian with a great sense of joy and peace befriended Hardini.

Hardini had the courage to tell her new friend about her spiritual hunger, and the friend offered to pray for her in the name of Jesus. After the Christian girl prayed, peace filled Hardini’s heart and her life radically changed.

When Hardini’s family discovered she had become a Christian, they spent hours and hours trying to entice her with force to recant her new faith. Hardini remained steadfast. Finally her parents made a painful decision—they totally disowned their daughter. That left Hardini with the choices of either recanting her faith or fleeing from her home and family. She chose to flee. 

RESPONSE: Today I will pray for believers like Hardini who experience religious intolerance.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to sincerely love all Muslims and people of other faith systems.

Verse of the Day - May 07, 2016

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Read all of 1 Thessalonians 5