Sunday, July 24, 2016

Night Light for Couples - For Better and Worse?

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24

Did you hear the one about the wedding ceremony of a young contract lawyer and his bride? When the minister got to the vows, he intoned, “Do you take this woman for better? For worse? For richer? For poorer? In sickness? And in health?” He was startled to hear the groom cautiously reply, “Yes. No. Yes. No. No. And yes.”

Of course, we’d all like to sign up for the better, richer, and healthier parts when we get married and forget all that other stuff. But that’s not the way marriage works because that’s not the way life works.

In another wedding ceremony, this one real, the bride and groom pledged to stay married as long as they continued to love each other. Let’s hope they both know good divorce attorneys, because they’re going to need them. Relationships based on feelings are necessarily ephemeral and transitory. The only real stability in marriage is produced by firm commitments that hold two people steady when emotions are fluctuating wildly. Without such determination, even the best relationship is destined to disintegrate.

Just between us…
  • Are you still as committed to me as you were when we married?
  • Are we prepared to “hang tough” when the going gets difficult?
  • Why do you think so many couples don’t stay together?
  • What kind of commitment does the Lord expect of us?What can we do to make sure our commitment to marriage stays strong?
Dear God, in Your presence we renew our whole-hearted choice to love. Bless this holy commitment with courage, strength, tenacity—and most of all joy! 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 - THE OVERFLOW OF THE SPIRIT

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Yesterday we looked at the martyrdom of Severino (Junie) Bagtasos in the southern Philippines and we are listening to his mother, after ten years’ time, explain what she has learned about the good that God’s Spirit has brought from the painful loss of her dear son. Purificacion Bagtasos exudes the warmth of a mother and the spirituality of a woman of God. One would not think she’d experienced every mother’s nightmare. She overflows with peace, courage and hope.

She says, “Through this tragedy, God paved the way for the distribution of the Kitab Injil [New Testament] in Jolo. A year after Junie’s death, I heard over the radio an Imam [Muslim religious leader] preaching using the Kitab Injil! What’s more amazing is that it is the Muslims themselves asking and distributing copies of the Kitab Injil, not the Christians!”

In 1986, thousands of Gideon Bibles were burned to ashes in Jolo. Ten years later and after Severino’s death, a revived interest in the Bible grew among the Muslims in the whole island.

She adds, “I remember during the wake of our son, the church was filled with Muslims for the first time. We even had to put in additional benches to accommodate those who were still coming. We took that opportunity to preach and declare Christ to them. One way or another the seed of the Gospel was planted in the hearts of all the Muslims gathered there. It will not return to the Lord void.”

And so it was that Severino accomplished in death what he may not have accomplished in life—to preach Jesus Christ to as many Muslims in Jolo as possible.

Secondly, Purificacion talks about vengeance. “We never filed a case because we know God will avenge us and that is where we stand. It also spared us from the long process and uncertainty of obtaining justice. God has seen what had happened and He knows my son’s murderer. I believe He will give us proper justice in His time.

“I feel compassion for them,” Purificacion adds as she turns her thoughts to the Muslims they are reaching. Muslims believe that if you kill an enemy of Allah on the first day of Ramadan, the act will ensure your passage to paradise. Perhaps blinded by this belief, Junie’s killer chose to commit the crime on the very day Ramadan started that year.

Purificacion never thought she’d outlive any of her children. She experienced dark and painful days. But she says, “The prayers and the letters of comfort sent by Christians around the world helped me and my family as we battled loneliness and depression over the loss of my son…We felt all the more encouraged to continue in the ministry God has entrusted to us.”

Purificacion and her husband expanded their ministry after their son’s death. They took over the Bible studies Severino used to teach. They felt empowered. She concludes, “I don’t remember feeling fear. Instead of fear, we were filled with courage.”

RESPONSE: Today I want my life to be so filled with God’s joy and peace that it will overflow to others.

PRAYER: Remember to pray for ongoing strength and courage for Purificacion and her family.

The Daily Readings for July 24, 2016 - 10th Sunday of Pentecost

Genesis 18:20-32
Then the LORD said, "How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin! I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know." So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the LORD. Then Abraham came near and said, "Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?" And the LORD said, "If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake." Abraham answered, "Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?" And he said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there." Again he spoke to him, "Suppose forty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of forty I will not do it." Then he said, "Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak. Suppose thirty are found there." He answered, "I will not do it, if I find thirty there." He said, "Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it." Then he said, "Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak just once more. Suppose ten are found there." He answered, "For the sake of ten I will not destroy it."

Psalm 138 Confitebor tibi
1   I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I will sing your praise.
2   I will bow down toward your holy temple and praise your Name, because of your love and faithfulness;
3   For you have glorified your Name and your word above all things.
4   When I called, you answered me; you increased my strength within me.
5   All the kings of the earth will praise you, O LORD, when they have heard the words of your mouth.
6   They will sing of the ways of the LORD, that great is the glory of the LORD.
7   Though the LORD be high, he cares for the lowly; he perceives the haughty from afar.
8   Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe; you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies; your right hand shall save me.
9   The LORD will make good his purpose for me; O LORD, your love endures for ever; do not abandon the works of your hands.

Colossians 2:6-19
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it. Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.

Luke 11:1-13
He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial." And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.' And he answers from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs. "So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Continuous Reading Track

Hosea 1:2-10
When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, "Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD." So he went and took Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. And the LORD said to him, "Name him Jezreel; for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel." She conceived again and bore a daughter. Then the LORD said to him, "Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have pity on the house of Israel or forgive them. But I will have pity on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the LORD their God; I will not save them by bow, or by sword, or by war, or by horses, or by horsemen." When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. Then the LORD said, "Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not my people and I am not your God." Yet the number of the people of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which can be neither measured nor numbered; and in the place where it was said to them, "You are not my people," it shall be said to them, "Children of the living God."

Psalm 85 Benedixisti, Domine
1   You have been gracious to your land, O LORD, you have restored the good fortune of Jacob.
2   You have forgiven the iniquity of your people and blotted out all their sins.
3   You have withdrawn all your fury and turned yourself from your wrathful indignation.
4   Restore us then, O God our Savior; let your anger depart from us.
5   Will you be displeased with us for ever? will you prolong your anger from age to age?
6   Will you not give us life again, that your people may rejoice in you?
7   Show us your mercy, O LORD, and grant us your salvation.
8   I will listen to what the LORD God is saying, for he is speaking peace to his faithful people and to those who turn their hearts to him.
9   Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.
10   Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
11   Truth shall spring up from the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
12   The LORD will indeed grant prosperity, and our land will yield its increase.
13   Righteousness shall go before him, and peace shall be a pathway for his fee.

The Forward Day by Day Meditation for July 24, 2016 - 10th Sunday of Pentecost

From Forward Day By Day

Luke 11:11 (NRSV) Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish?

When he was tiny and just learning to speak, my son would ask, “Bite somethin’?” when he was hungry. “Bite somethin’?” was always delivered wistfully, with the most plaintive of looks. It was not always delivered clearly, so I had to work a little to understand just exactly what he wanted, but again, as imperfect as my parenting was, and as imperfect as his speech, I fed my son good things. I did not punish him for asking, or for presuming, or for being hungry. I adored him; even his halting attempts at communicating his needs delighted me.

It always bothers me when God is blamed for disease, war, and natural disaster. We have been redeemed from the curse of the law, and we operate under the covenant of redemption. We aren’t separated from God by a veil. God is our provider, and when we ask for our daily bread—no matter how halting our attempts are at communicating with our Creator—God will not repay us with hurt.

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Verse of the Day - July 24, 2016

Psalm 112:5 (NIV) Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.

Read all of Psalm 112