Sunday, July 3, 2016

Prayers for the victiims in Bagdad

We join with people around the world in praying for victims of a horrific attack in Baghdad. Let us pray for the dead, the dying, the wounded, their loved ones, and those who carry out violence against the innocent. Above all, pray for peace. 

Almighty God, kindle, we pray, in every heart the true love of peace, and guide with your wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth, that in tranquillity your dominion may increase until the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

(Book of Common Prayer, page 258)

Night Light for Couples - Love at First Sight

“Love is of God.” 1 John 4:7

Some people believe that true love can occur the moment a man and woman lay eyes on each other. But “love at first sight” is a physical and emotional impossibility because you cannot love someone you don’t even know. You have simply been drawn to the package in which they live.

A lifelong emotional attachment is much more than a romantic feeling. It is more than a sexual attraction or the thrill of the chase or a desire to get married. Such feelings usually indicate infatuation and tend to be temporary and rather selfish in nature. A person may say, “I can’t believe what is happening to me. This is the most fantastic thing I’ve ever experienced! I must be in love.” Notice that those who make these statements are not talking about the other person—they’re excited about their own gratification. Such individuals haven’t fallen in love with someone else; they’ve fallen in love with love.

Genuine love is not something one “falls” into, as though he or she was tumbling into a ditch. One cannot love an unknown object, regardless of how beautiful or handsome it is. Only when a person begins to develop a deep appreciation and admiration for another—an intense awareness of his or her needs, strength, and character—has one begun to experience true love. From there, it should grow for a lifetime.

Just between us…
  • Do you remember thinking that you were in love as a teenager, only to have that feeling fade over time?
  • What did you think and feel when we first met?
  • How did God show you that I should be your marriage partner?
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the wonderful gift of love. Grant us your blessings, Father—more than we can even imagine right now! Amen. 

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

Standing Strong Through the Storm - PRAY THAT GOD WILL BE GLORIFIED

Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Acts 4:29

In Acts chapter four, Peter and John have been released from prison after many threats from the authorities. They return to the church and report. The church goes to prayer. But the remarkable thing is that they do not pray for protection but for boldness. We know God was pleased with their request because after their prayer the place in which they were meeting was shaken. Filled with God’s Spirit they spoke the word of God boldly.

Four hundred Christian young people attended a three-day prayer conference in the mountains of northern Iraq in the summer of 2011. Six buses full of Christians came from violence-ravaged Baghdad. For the Christians from the south of Iraq, where persecution, kidnapping and bombs are a daily reality, the conference was like refreshing water. For three days they didn’t have to worry and enjoyed being together with hundreds of other young believers in freedom. Christians from Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk, Basra and other cities came to the Open Doors sponsored meetings.

Behind the podium hung a huge banner with the theme of the conference. As waters cover the sea, the glory of God will cover the earth.

“That is the dream of God for Iraq and this world,” said one the worship leaders, “and that should be our dream.” Referring to the difficulties in the country he continued, “Tell in the middle of trouble about your hope, about God’s dream. Know that in the middle of the heat, fruit ripens. God is preparing us for the harvest.”

Many times during the conference, speakers referred to the persecution in the country and in other parts of the Middle East. Some of the churches lost many members during the last few years in Iraq. Due to the violence, Christians fled from the south of Iraq to the north, the Kurdish region or even to other countries. “Know that the church in Jerusalem was small too, but it changed the world,” the speaker encourages the young believers.

One of the pastors said, “With this Arab Spring we’re living in a very special time. We believe this is an historic conference. In the coming months big things are going to happen in this region. Focus on God; focus on His kingdom and God will do the rest.”

Another speaker shared an experience from Egypt. “December 2010 and the beginning of January 2011 we had 40 days of fasting and prayer for Egypt in our church in Cairo. God said to us that what He was going to do would be awesome.” Everyone knows what happened after that in Egypt.

“That was God’s interference in history!” He expressed the way many Egyptian Christians saw the events of January 2011. “Ask for the impossible and it will happen,” he said. “Pray for His desire. Look what happened in Acts when the church had a hard time. They did not ask for their own protection, they asked to glorify God’s name.”

RESPONSE: Today I will pray that my circumstances and challenges will ultimately glorify God’s name.

PRAYER: Thank You Lord for boldness You give Your church in the midst of threats and violence.

The Daily Readings for July 3, 2016 - 7th Sunday of Pentecost

Isaiah 66:10-14
Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her-- that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious bosom. For thus says the LORD: I will extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse and be carried on her arm, and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bodies shall flourish like the grass; and it shall be known that the hand of the LORD is with his servants, and his indignation is against his enemies.

Psalm 66:1-8
1   Be joyful in God, all you lands; sing the glory of his Name; sing the glory of his praise.
2   Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds! because of your great strength your enemies cringe before you.
3   All the earth bows down before you, sings to you, sings out your Name."
4   Come now and see the works of God, how wonderful he is in his doing toward all people.
5   He turned the sea into dry land, so that they went through the water on foot, and there we rejoiced in him.
6   In his might he rules for ever; his eyes keep watch over the nations; let no rebel rise up against him.
7   Bless our God, you peoples; make the voice of his praise to be heard;
8   Who holds our souls in life, and will not allow our feet to slip.

Galatians 6:1-16
My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves. All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor's work, will become a cause for pride. For all must carry their own loads. Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher. Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand! It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised-- only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. Even the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! As for those who will follow this rule-- peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

Luke 10:1-11, 10:16-20
After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house!' And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.' "Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me." The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

The Forward Day by Day Meditation for July 3, 2016 - 7th Sunday of Pentecost

Galatians 6:10 (NRSV) So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.

If you have ever been cut off in traffic, you know what a game-changer that can be for the day. Your brain goes into fight-or-flight mode, only there’s nowhere to flee, and no one to fight, so your whole nervous system lights up in a neon blast of confusion. By the time you remember you have a horn, your new nemesis is two cars ahead of you and well on his or her way to the office. You are shaking like an angry Chihuahua and running even later than before. You have probably forgotten that Galatians exists.

Likewise, have you ever felt that relief when some wonderful stranger yields to let you correct the mistake you made by getting into the left lane when your exit was coming up? Or when someone lets you make an easy merge in construction?

Be a wonderful stranger! Slow down and make Paul proud. Let that terrible driver, or that confused teenager, or that eighty-year-old precious child of God pull out in front of you and say a little prayer for them.
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Verse of the Day - July 03, 2016

Proverbs 14:34 (NIV) Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.

Read all of Proverbs 14