Saturday, June 25, 2016

Night Light for Couples - Numbering of Our Days

“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14

I (jcd) had invited fellow‐believer Pete Maravich to join me and a few others for a pick‐up basketball game the day before he was to appear on a Focus on the Family broadcast. It was an audacious thing to do.
Though retired for nearly eight years, “Pistol Pete” had been one of the NBA’s all‐time best players. Nevertheless, he joined us, and we scrimmaged for about forty‐five minutes.

During our break, I asked Pete how he felt. He answered, “I feel just great.” Those were his last words. As I turned away, he fell hard on the court. He died seconds later in my arms, the victim of a congenital malformation of the heart that had never been diagnosed.

Moses wrote this prayer: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). That is a strange verse at first glance. What does knowing that life is short have to do with wisdom? Everything, in fact. If we retained an eternal perspective, we would surely order our choices by eternal values. Would a husband pursue an adulterous affair? Would a wife belittle her mate for his failings? Would both devote their lives to the pursuit of power and wealth? I think not.

Time is an embezzler, juggling the books at night when no one is looking. So remember to use each day for the Lord as though it could be your last. All too quickly, it will be.

Just between us…
  • Do we live each day as if it might be our last? Why or why not?
  • What does it mean to “live in light of eternity”?
  • How can I encourage you to live for things that really matter?

Father, each day of life is a gift, and we do not know when we will draw our last breath. May we live circumspectly, with eternity always in view. Amen.

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

NIV Devotions for Couples - Ministering as a Team

Acts 18:1–28

When Priscilla and Aquila heard [Apollos], they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. Acts 18:26

A couple in our church provides invaluable training for people who are planning to go into the ministry. Marshall and Chris show young couples how to love one another and how to raise their children wisely and well. They host a small group in their home in which they study and apply Scripture together. They talk through what it means to shape their homes around Christ, and how to do so while working in the church. Marshall and Chris share special meals with these couples and fuss over the kids.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? But the work is draining. There are times when this mature couple would like a break from the emotional demands of such mentoring—even just a quiet night at home. Plus, it’s hard to constantly be saying goodbye to families they’ve grown to love who are moving on in ministry. But Marshall and Chris mentor others because they believe in building the church.

The apostle Paul knew a couple like that, a couple who always worked together as a team. Their names were Aquila and Priscilla. And they understood the price of following Christ. Paul wrote about them in Romans 16:3, saying, “They risked their lives for me.” Their initiative to live for others came from praying together and talking over ministry opportunities; it also came from a selfless love of other believers and, of course, their devotion to Jesus.

In more than 30 years of marriage, my wife and I have frequently invited people to stay in our home. Sometimes we offer a place to a student who is taking a two- or three-week class at Trinity Evangelical Seminary, which is near our home. Other times, we provide a place for someone who has nowhere else to go. Once we opened our home for 15 months to a young woman and her preschooler. Sometimes such commitments proved to be far more complicated than we had imagined; yet the rewards often exceeded our expectations.

Every ministry has its price and its privileges, and every ministry undertaken by a couple can be a challenge to their marriage. Learning to share the work, to complement one another’s gifts, and to pray together through difficulties are not always easy.

Think about some of the issues Aquila and Priscilla must have talked about and prayed through together. They must have recognized and valued one another’s natural and spiritual gifts and determined to work as a team. They were so good at working together that Scripture always mentions them as a team. They were such students of Scripture that they were able to make a significant contribution to the training of one of the church’s most promising leaders: Apollos. And they had the gift of hospitality, for a church met regularly in their home (see 1 Corinthians 16:19). What a model for marriage!

Lee Eclov

Let’s Talk
  • What about Priscilla and Aquila’s relationship appeals most to us?
  • What couples do we know who have effective ministries together (whether in their home or beyond it)? What are some ministries that most appeal to us as a couple? Why?
  • What steps might we take to expand or deepen our household ministry as a couple? Are we sensing that God wants us to open our home to others to perhaps lead a youth group, parent foster children, mentor engaged couples or host a neighborhood Bible study?

Standing Strong Through the Storm - EFFECTIVE PRAYER

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16b

For fifteen years from 1981 to 1995, in one Chinese city there were many cases of murder, armed robbery, rape, gangs of thieves, local village local tyrants were rampant and small children were being kidnapped, taxis were being robbed and taxi drivers being killed. People’s hearts were nervous. Traffic related disputes were increasing and society was not in a peaceful state. There were less than 3000 believers in the city.

At this time, the Holy Spirit moved Sister Zhou to the city. This Christian sister helped the church there for over one month. She received a burden while praying that the church should set up a prayer watch. So, the first prayer watch group was established. When it started, there were only 6 people. On Sundays these six people would all watch and pray simultaneously.

After almost six months of this kind of prayer, the national police cleaned up and eliminated the triad gangs and local village tyrants and brought about a change for a better environment in the city.

At the time when children were being kidnapped, old Sister Chang began to fast and pray. Every day she would pray saying, “O Father God, save and rescue these children. Send an old granny to look after them!” After a year’s time, the problem of children being kidnapped was transformed.

One problem would be solved and then another problem would come up for prayer. The rate of deaths in that city due to traffic accidents was an average of one to two people per day. Many more than that were injured daily. They then decided to make the city’s traffic safety to be a special prayer topic. They prayed and relied on God to solve the traffic problems.

From 1995 until now, small groups of prayer watches have expanded from one to three core groups. Each person prays at a designated time and the time for prayer rotates to another person in the group. It has now expanded into a large prayer network. Now the city is peaceful and safe. The work of the gospel is stable and steadily expanding. There are more than 30,000 Christians in the city attending meetings.

The people’s attitudes and appearance all seem like they are renewed. Although there are many laid-off workers, they seem to be able to find enough work to still be able to feed their families. This truly is the effect of prayer. It is the work done by our Father for the city.

RESPONSE: Today I will recommit myself to believe in the power of prayer and practice that belief.

PRAYER: Pray for the problems in your city or community. Ask God for like-minded partners.

Verse of the Day - June 25, 2016

Jeremiah 23:24 (NIV) Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord.

Read all of Jeremiah 23