Friday, July 15, 2016

Let us pray for France

"France, once again, has been hit in its soul ... on our national day," Manuel Valls said Friday. The days of mourning will begin Saturday. At least 84 were killed when a truck drove into a crowd.

Let us pray for the dead, the wounded, their loved ones, and those who seek to harm others. May God's peace come in our time.

Almighty God, Father of mercies and giver of comfort: Deal graciously, we pray, with all who mourn; that, casting all their care on you, they may know the consolation of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, page 505)

The Daily Readings for July 15, 2016

Joshua 4:19-5:1, 5:10-15
The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. Those twelve stones, which they had taken out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal, saying to the Israelites, "When your children ask their parents in time to come, 'What do these stones mean?' then you shall let your children know, 'Israel crossed over the Jordan here on dry ground.' For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you crossed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we crossed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, and so that you may fear the LORD your God forever." When all the kings of the Amorites beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan for the Israelites until they had crossed over, their hearts melted, and there was no longer any spirit in them, because of the Israelites. While the Israelites were camped in Gilgal they kept the passover in the evening on the fourteenth day of the month in the plains of Jericho. On the day after the passover, on that very day, they ate the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelites no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of Canaan that year. Once when Joshua was by Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went to him and said to him, "Are you one of us, or one of our adversaries?" He replied, "Neither; but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and he said to him, "What do you command your servant, my lord?" The commander of the army of the LORD said to Joshua, "Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy." And Joshua did so.

Romans 12:9-21
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." No, "if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Matthew 26:17-25
On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?" He said, "Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, 'The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'" So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, "Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me." And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, "Surely not I, Lord?" He answered, "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born." Judas, who betrayed him, said, "Surely not I, Rabbi?" He replied, "You have said so."

Morning Psalms

Psalm 31 In te, Domine, speravi
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.
5 Into your hands I commend my spirit, for you have redeemed me, O LORD, O God of truth.
6 I hate those who cling to worthless idols, and I put my trust in the LORD.
7 I will rejoice and be glad because of your mercy; for you have seen my affliction; you know my distress.
8 You have not shut me up in the power of the enemy; you have set my feet in an open place.
9 Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am in trouble; my eye is consumed with sorrow, and also my throat and my belly.
10 For my life is wasted with grief, and my years with sighing; my strength fails me because of affliction, and my bones are consumed.
11 I have become a reproach to all my enemies and even to my neighbors, a dismay to those of my acquaintance; when they see me in the street they avoid me.
12 I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind; I am as useless as a broken pot.
13 For I have heard the whispering of the crowd; fear is all around; they put their heads together against me; they plot to take my life.
14 But as for me, I have trusted in you, O LORD. I have said, "You are my God.
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."
17 LORD, let me not be ashamed for having called upon you; rather, let the wicked be put to shame; let them be silent in the grave.
18 Let the lying lips be silenced which speak against the righteous, haughtily, disdainfully, and with contempt.
19 How great is your goodness, O LORD! which you have laid up for those who fear you; which you have done in the sight of all for those who put their trust in you.
20 You hide them in the covert of your presence from those who slander them; you keep them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.
21 Blessed be the LORD! for he has shown me the wonders of his love in a besieged city.
22 Yet I said in my alarm, "I have been cut off from the sight of your eyes." Nevertheless, you heard the sound of my entreaty when I cried out to you.
23 Love the LORD, all you who worship him; the LORD protects the faithful, but repays to the full those who act haughtily.
24 Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 35 Judica, Domine
1 Fight those who fight me, O LORD; attack those who are attacking me.
2 Take up shield and armor and rise up to help me.
3 Draw the sword and bar the way against those who pursue me; say to my soul, "I am your salvation."
4 Let those who seek after my life be shamed and humbled; let those who plot my ruin fall back and be dismayed.
5 Let them be like chaff before the wind, and let the angel of the LORD drive them away.
6 Let their way be dark and slippery, and let the angel of the LORD pursue them.
7 For they have secretly spread a net for me without a cause; without a cause they have dug a pit to take me alive.
8 Let ruin come upon them unawares; let them be caught in the net they hid; let them fall into the pit they dug. 9 Then I will be joyful in the LORD; I will glory in his victory.
10 My very bones will say, "LORD, who is like you? You deliver the poor from those who are too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them."
11 Malicious witnesses rise up against me; they charge me with matters I know nothing about.
12 They pay me evil in exchange for good; my soul is full of despair.
13 But when they were sick I dressed in sack-cloth and humbled myself by fasting.
14 I prayed with my whole heart, as one would for a friend or a brother; I behaved like one who mourns for his mother, bowed down and grieving.
15 But when I stumbled, they were glad and gathered together; they gathered against me; strangers whom I did not know tore me to pieces and would not stop.
16 They put me to the test and mocked me; they gnashed at me with their teeth.
17 O Lord, how long will you look on? rescue me from the roaring beasts, and my life from the young lions.
18 I will give you thanks in the great congregation; I will praise you in the mighty throng.
19 Do not let my treacherous foes rejoice over me, nor let those who hate me without a cause wink at each other.
20 For they do not plan for peace, but invent deceitful schemes against the quiet in the land.
21 They opened their mouths at me and said, "Aha! we saw it with our own eyes."
22 You saw it, O LORD; do not be silent; O Lord, be not far from me.
23 Awake, arise, to my cause! to my defense, my God and my Lord!
24 Give me justice, O LORD my God, according to your righteousness; do not let them triumph over me.
25 Do not let them say in their hearts, "Aha! just what we want!" Do not let them say, "We have swallowed him up."
26 Let all who rejoice at my ruin be ashamed and disgraced; let those who boast against me be clothed with dismay and shame.
27 Let those who favor my cause sing out with joy and be glad; let them say always, "Great is the LORD, who desires the prosperity of his servant."
28 And my tongue shall be talking of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long.

Men of the Bible - Josiah

His name means: "Yahweh Supports Him"

His work: Josiah was the last good king of Judah, reigning from about 640-609 BC. Like his great-grandfather Hezekiah, he instituted sweeping religious reforms in Judah. Because of his faithfulness, the prophetess Huldah assured him he would not see the destruction that would one day overtake Jerusalem and Judah.
His character: Though Josiah became king when he was only a boy, he became one of Judah's strongest spiritual leaders, a man whose devotion, obedience, humility, and repentance on behalf of the people helped for a time to restore Judah's fractured relationship with the Lord.
His sorrow: That his reforms, which were not supported by those who succeeded him, occurred too late to avert judgment on Judah.
His triumph: So strong was Josiah's influence that it extended beyond Judah to embrace the northern tribes as well.
Key Scriptures: 1 Kings 12:25-33; 13:2-3; 2 Kings 22-23; 2 Chronicles 34-35

A Look at the Man

Josiah was one of twenty kings who ruled Judah during the period of the divided kingdom. Many of the kings who preceded him had little regard for preserving the spiritual vitality of Judah, absorbed as they were in the struggle to secure their own power. And even though his reign was one of the best and brightest, Josiah was incapable of reversing Judah's steady slide toward paganism. Sadly, his reforms perished with him, and a few years later Judah suffered the punishment long prophesied.

Like few leaders in the history of the world, Josiah knew the outcome of his story in advance. God had told him, through the prophetess Huldah, that Judah would eventually suffer disaster because of its sins. Such knowledge could have prompted him to give up, to conclude that he was wasting precious time and energy on a lost cause. But instead of abandoning his reforms, Josiah stepped up his efforts. Refusing to be deflected from his life's purpose, he continued clearing away the detritus of paganism in hopes of bringing Judah back to God.

The young king must have understood a principle we often lose sight of, namely, that faithfulness is more important than success. That doing what's right, regardless of the odds, is crucial. Josiah must have known that spiritual greatness is measured not by victory but by our determination to use the power God gives us, however great or small, to further his purposes. Because of his faithfulness, the Lord spared him the pain and grief of witnessing the disaster that eventually overtook the land he loved.

Like Josiah, we sometimes face situations that seem impossible: a difficult marriage, a challenging job, a divided church, or life in a world that sometimes despises the things we cherish most. We wonder how anything good can result from the current course of affairs. Unlike Josiah, we don't know the outcome in advance. None of us can preclude the possibility that our circumstances will radically change for the better. But like him, we can remember that God never requires us to be successful, only faithful.

Reflect On: 2 Kings 22:3–20
Praise God: For hearing the prayers of the humble.
Offer Thanks: For the freedom we have to worship him.
Confess: Any self-righteousness that keeps you from identifying with the sins and failures of God’s people.
Ask God: To renew the church, so that all of his people may worship him in spirit and truth.

Today's reading is a brief excerpt from Men of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Men in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Robert Wolgemuth (Zondervan). © 2010 by Ann Spangler. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Enjoy the complete book by purchasing your own copy at the Bible Gateway Store. The book's title must be included when sharing the above content on social media.

His Princess Every Day - His Holy Spirit

Devotionals for Women - Inspirational author and speaker Sheri Rose Shepherd imagines what a letter written from God to you would look like.

My Daughter,

Your inward battles don’t mean you are weak. Do you not know by now that My Holy Spirit is stronger than any struggle you have? I will give you victory because He lives in you. I don’t want you to beat yourself up any longer for your inward battles. Instead, learn to surrender to My voice of conviction and correction. Then free yourself by confessing any sin to Me. When you’re weak, call to Me and let Me be your strength. I am the only one who can carry you when you feel like you cannot carry on. I am here to help you become the woman that you long to be and that I created you to be. We will work through this together, and I will never give up on you, no matter how long it takes you to get right with Me.

Your faithful Father

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak! - Matthew 26:41

Treasure of Truth

Inward battles don’t mean that you are weak... but that you are a warrior fighting to do what is right.

This devotional is written by Sheri Rose Shepherd. All content copyright Sheri Rose Shepherd 2015. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Visit for devotionals, books, videos, and more from Sheri Rose Shepherd.

Standing Strong Through the Storm - HUNGER AND THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6

This attitude portrays a maturity of belief that shows a servant is ready for service. When completeness or wholeness is achieved, the servant receives the satisfaction of being used of God for that which they have been called, trained and equipped.

In ancient times, wages were very low and men often could not earn enough for the family to eat well. Water was also a precious commodity. The emphasis in this Beatitude is the passionate desire for the whole, for complete righteousness as a matter of life and death. Blessed indeed is the one whose most passionate desire is to love God and to love others as they ought. Thus:

Blessed are those who long for total righteousness as a starving person longs for food and as a person perishing of thirst longs for water, for they will be truly satisfied.

People of other faiths are impressed with those who take their faith seriously. They do not respect people whose religion is merely outward form, who are just “weekend Christians.” Much of what they see is materialistic, that is, “carnal” or “worldly” (see 1 Corinthians 3). Christianity turns them off—the low regard for moral purity, the hedonism, the wishy-washiness, the unwillingness to suffer or make sacrifices, the fear of making a stand.

As Brother Andrew says, “How can Muslims respect a church that is in hiding?” Christians need to acknowledge their beliefs and be willing to suffer for their faith and convictions. A more complete righteousness will definitely have great impact. It will earn respect for our preaching the Gospel.

During a visit to Indonesia, a coworker had the wonderful opportunity of participating in an Open Doors SSTS seminar held in an area of intense conflict. The constant presence of armed soldiers outside the building confirmed that this seminar was far more than theology – this was reality! More than 700 churches were already burnt to the ground and the church in the region was facing a severe onslaught.

On the second day of teaching, he remembers one pastor suddenly jumping up and with all his heart cried out, “My brother, please don’t teach us to survive, teach us to be faithful.”

RESPONSE: Today I am so grateful for God’s presence in my life that I yearn for more of Him.

PRAYER: Lord I long for total righteousness so that the world will see more of Your faithfulness in me.

Girlfriends in God - A Time of Refreshing

We hope you are enjoying the Girlfriends in God daily devotions. We (Mary, Sharon, and Gwen) would like to introduce you to some of our special friends. From time-to-time, the Friday devotions will be written by one of our friends in ministry. We call them our Friday Friends. So grab your Bible and a fresh cup of coffee and drink in the words from our Friday Friend, Lisa Morrone.

Today’s Truth

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25, NIV)

Friend to Friend

Sometimes in life you walk alongside someone who teaches you how to live more fully. Other times, if you are so blessed, you will find someone who teaches you how to grow old with grace. For me, this woman is 93 and her name is Helen.

Each week I look forward to visiting with this dear friend in the nursing home where she now lives. Many days when I arrive I find her sitting out in the courtyard soaking in the warm sunshine, or if the weather isn’t cooperating, I’ll find Helen in her room gazing out the window, past the flowering plants on her windowsill, into the world I know she still longs to be a part of.

I often show up for my visits toting a fresh bouquet of flowers in a mason jar tied with a checkered ribbon—which always puts a big smile on her face, and mine, too! Then Helen and I spend the next hour or so chatting about our lives while I give her a manicure, or we just sit together in the sun sharing a picnic lunch I’ve prepared. On occasion we’ve even been known to tackle a craft project together. Each time my visit with Helen comes to end, I leave her nursing home with a deep sense of satisfied joy. Now I’ve discovered the scientific “why for this emotion that predictably washes over me—and it’s deeper than sentiment; in fact, it’s chemical!

I once attended a continuing education seminar on the subject of depression. During that course of study I was pleasantly surprised to learn that two extremely important brain-and mood-enhancing neurotransmitters, found to be at insufficient levels in people suffering with depression, are produced during particular types of social interactions.

The quoted research study showed that when one person demonstrates an act of kindness towards another, the bodies of both the helper and the one who is being helped were measured to have significantly increased levels of the two mood-elevating neurotransmitters, serotonin and endorphins. Even more surprising was that if a third person—an uninvolved bystander—witnessed this act of kindness, her levels of serotonin and endorphins were measured to have increased as well!

While this information was news to those researchers, the Lord, who created our brains and the chemicals that flow around inside of them, knew this to be true all along. He even had King Solomon give testimony to it in today’s verse: “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

Let’s Pray

Father in Heaven, you’ve knit us together as individuals to function best when we are knit together with one another. Draw us out of our own, oftentimes, inward-focused worlds and spur us on to love and GOOD DEEDS, that we may be refreshed as we refresh others.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It's Your Turn

Make room in your schedule for a time of refreshment this week by deciding on one tangible act of kindness that you can “administer” to someone—friend, foe, or stranger…and then follow through with it! The benefits of your good deed will positively impact you, the one you directly blessed— and anyone else who happens to be present!

More from the Girlfriends

Lisa Morrone is a physical therapist, professor, author of six books, radio guest and event speaker who encourages people to Get Healthy for Heaven’s Sake (one of Lisa’s six books inher Restoring Your temple health resource collection. Visit Lisa’s website for more information and to sign up to receive her informative Monday Morning Health Tips.

Seeking God? Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

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Verse of the Day - July 15, 2016

James 1:21 (NIV) Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Read all of James 1