Sunday, July 17, 2016

Night Light for Couples - No Appointment Needed

“Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.” Psalm 55:17

Would you ever visit your doctor unannounced and expect him to be available to see you? Can you imagine taking a spur‐of‐the‐moment trip to the White House and immediately being ushered into the Oval Office to meet the president?

Of course you can’t. You would need an appointment first—and a very good reason for being there! Yet, amazingly, you can “drop in” on someone far more important than the president of the United States. And you can expect that He will push aside all other business to talk with you.

Our heavenly Father yearns to have a personal, loving relationship with you. What an incredible concept that is! The King of the universe—the Creator of all heaven and earth, who has no needs and no shortcomings—cares about what we think and feel. That is almost incomprehensible. He wants to spend time with you, hear about your struggles and successes, encourage you, and share His glorious plans for you. Prayer is a wonderful privilege—a chance for direct communication with our Creator. No matter how busy He may be, He always has time in His schedule for you.

Just between us…
  • What keeps us from praying more?
  • Do you sometimes feel that the Lord is not listening when you pray?
  • What specific prayer has the Lord answered for us over the years?
  • How can we work toward a more vibrant prayer life together?
Heavenly Father, how grateful we are that we can talk to You! And how blessed we are that You listen and care! Thank You, loving Lord. Graciously receive even the longings in our hearts that find no words today. Amen.

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

The Forward Day by Day Meditation for July 17, 2016 - 9th Sunday of Pentecost

Luke 10:41-42 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken from her.” 

Martha invites Jesus into her home. Why? Presumably to talk with him, to share a meal, to simply be in his presence. So what happens that she suddenly finds herself so distracted with serving that she can’t even enjoy his company?

My guess is that the throng of people always following Jesus invite themselves into Martha’s house, right along with him. Being hospitable, she makes sure everyone is reasonably accommodated, and she expects her sister to jump in and help.

Notice that Jesus all but tells Martha to stop what she is doing and sit down with Mary. One thing is needful—his word. After all, this is a man who had fed a multitude and could turn water into wine. Martha doesn’t need to serve at all.

When you sit to meditate, how many thoughts try to invite themselves into your head, right along with Jesus? Choose the better part.

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The Daily Readings for July 17, 2016 - 9th Sunday of Pentecost

Genesis 18:1-10
The LORD appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, "My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on-- since you have come to your servant." So they said, "Do as you have said." And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, "Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes." Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate. They said to him, "Where is your wife Sarah?" And he said, "There, in the tent." Then one said, "I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son." And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him.

Psalm 15 Domine, quis habitabit?
1 LORD, who may dwell in your tabernacle? who may abide upon your holy hill?
2 Whoever leads a blameless life and does what is right, who speaks the truth from his heart.
3 There is no guile upon his tongue; he does no evil to his friend; he does not heap contempt upon his neighbor.
4 In his sight the wicked is rejected, but he honors those who fear the LORD.
5 He has sworn to do no wrong and does not take back his word.
6 He does not give his money in hope of gain, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
7 Whoever does these things shall never be overthrown.

Colossians 1:15-28
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers-- all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him-- provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel. I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. I became its servant according to God's commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

Luke 10:38-42
Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her."

Continuous Reading Track

Amos 8:1-12
This is what the Lord GOD showed me-- a basket of summer fruit. He said, "Amos, what do you see?" And I said, "A basket of summer fruit." Then the LORD said to me, "The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again pass them by. The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day," says the Lord GOD; "the dead bodies shall be many, cast out in every place. Be silent!" Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, saying, "When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat." The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who lives in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt? On that day, says the Lord GOD, I will make the sun go down at noon, and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on all loins, and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son, and the end of it like a bitter day. The time is surely coming, says the Lord GOD, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it.

Psalm 52 Quid gloriaris?
1 You tyrant, why do you boast of wickedness against the godly all day long?
2 You plot ruin; your tongue is like a sharpened razor, O worker of deception.
3 You love evil more than good and lying more than speaking the truth.
4 You love all words that hurt, O you deceitful tongue.
5 Oh, that God would demolish you utterly, topple you, and snatch you from your dwelling, and root you out of the land of the living!
6 The righteous shall see and tremble, and they shall laugh at him, saying,
7 This is the one who did not take God for a refuge, but trusted in great wealth and relied upon wickedness.
8 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.
9 I will give you thanks for what you have done and declare the goodness of your Name in the presence of the godly.

Standing Strong Through the Storm - THE PURE IN HEART

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8

As our mourning to God begins the transforming process of our new life in Christ, so our lifestyle of purity amid the impure can become the beginning of reconciliation.

This Beatitude necessitates the strictest and most honest self-examination. We are to do everything with pure, unmixed motives. This demands the death of self and the springing to life of Christ within the heart.

So, blessed are those whose motives are unmixed and who operate in purity. They shall be given a vision of God Himself. As we draw closer to Him through purity, we shall see Him more clearly, love Him more dearly and follow Him more nearly. Thus:

Blessed are those whose motives are absolutely pure and whose life is characterized by purity, for they will be able to see God.

The area of moral purity is one major concern of Muslims. Great stress is laid on modesty in dressing and purity of relationships between the sexes. But Christians seem so nonchalant about such issues. Is it because we do not care about purity? No. The difference is in our starting points. In the Muslim view, purity is from the “outside in.” For the follower of Jesus it must be from the “inside out.” Thus, Muslims seek to cleanse themselves knowing they are in need of cleansing, whereas we know Christ has already cleansed us.

But we tend to disregard the danger that dirt can pose to us and we become careless. What is important to realize is that a careless disregard for even the “appearance of evil” will lead people to wrong conclusions and cause them to stumble. It is not enough to say we are pure. We must be seen to be pure.

A co-worker in China was teaching a class of believers in which two antagonistic-looking groups of students sat across from each other, looking as if they were facing enemies. As he was sharing, some students started crying and others were repenting. He told them that if they needed to apologize to others, they should sincerely ask the Holy Spirit to work, and to move them, and to give them the courage to admit their wrongs to others. He said that God delights in pure hearted children, and He wants to use submissive, humble people. Everyone was hugging and crying. Everyone was confessing his or her sins to each other. The cleansing brought purity to their relationships.

RESPONSE: Today I will seek to live my life in true purity before God with good motives.

PRAYER: Lord, I can only live this way if I listen and respond positively to the reproving of Your Holy Spirit. Help me to be sensitive to purity issues.

Verse of the Day - July 17, 2016

Romans 1:16 (NIV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

Read all of Romans 1