Sunday, August 21, 2016

Night Light for Couples - The Wheelbarrow of Trust

“I will trust and not be afraid.” Isaiah 12:2

Most of us struggle to “be anxious for nothing,” but we can learn to rely on God if we know the difference between faith and trust.

Let’s imagine you’re near the beautiful but dangerous Niagara Falls. A circus performer has strung a rope across the falls with the intention of pushing a wheelbarrow from one side to the other. Just before stepping on the rope, he asks you, “Do you think I can accomplish this feat?”

His reputation has preceded him, so you reply that you believe he can walk the tightrope. In other words, you have faith that he will succeed. Then he says, “If you really believe I can do it, how about getting in the wheelbarrow and crossing with me?” Accepting his invitation would be an example of remarkable trust.

It isn’t difficult for some people to believe that God is capable of performing mighty deeds. After all, He created the entire universe. Trust, however, requires that we depend on Him to keep His promises to us even when there is no proof that He will. It’s not so easy to get into that wheelbarrow and put our lives in His care. Yet it’s a step we must take if we are to “be anxious for nothing” in all of life’s circumstances.

Just between us…
  • Do you find it easy or difficult to trust God?
  • Have you ever felt that the Lord has abandoned you, or that He hasn’t heard your prayer? How did you deal with that feeling?
  • How could putting our trust in God help our marriage?
Dear Lord, You alone are worthy of our complete trust. But responding to You in trust is often difficult. Teach us to trust You—to lean on Your strength, to count on Your goodness, and to expect Your faithfulness always. Amen.

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

The Daily Readings and Sermon for August 21, 2016 - 14th Sunday After Pentecost

Isaiah 58:9-14
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in. If you refrain from trampling the sabbath, from pursuing your own interests on my holy day; if you call the sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs; then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Psalm 103:1-8
1   Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy Name.
2   Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.
3   He forgives all your sins and heals all your infirmities;
4   He redeems your life from the grave and crowns you with mercy and loving-kindness;
5   He satisfies you with good things, and your youth is renewed like an eagle's.
6   The LORD executes righteousness and judgment for all who are oppressed.
7   He made his ways known to Moses and his works to the children of Israel.
8   The LORD is full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger and of great kindness.

Hebrews 12:18-29
You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them. (For they could not endure the order that was given, "If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death." Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I tremble with fear.") But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See that you do not refuse the one who is speaking; for if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject the one who warns from heaven! At that time his voice shook the earth; but now he has promised, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven." This phrase, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of what is shaken-- that is, created things-- so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; for indeed our God is a consuming fire.

Luke 13:10-17
Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, "Woman, you are set free from your ailment." When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, "There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day." But the Lord answered him and said, "You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?" When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

 14th Sunday After Pentecost
 Luke 13:10-17

"My Grace is Sufficient for you"

"Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And there was a woman who had had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years; she was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her and said to her, "Woman, you are freed from your infirmity." And he laid his hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight, and she praised God. But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the sabbath, said to the people, "There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be healed, and not on the sabbath day." Then the Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger, and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?" As he said this, all his adversaries were put to shame; and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him." Luke 13:10-17, RSV.

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen

In a recent issue of his Tuesday Mornings newsletter, Tom Barnard recalls hearing a minister-and-wife team talk about the pain they suffered when their beautiful daughter died of cancer nearly a year earlier. "During the months of failed treatments they had been constant in their confidence that God would heal their daughter. Hundreds of their friends joined them in faith, believing God for healing. Healing did not happen.

Putting their lives together again was not easy. They kept busy in their ministry. They traveled to places around the world, preaching and teaching to thousands. But they struggled to be positive in the wake of such a disappointing loss.

Then God led them to the following passage of Scripture:

"And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ’My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Cor. 12:7-9 NKJV)

The New Living Translation renders that key verse this way: "My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness." The Greek word for sufficient means "to be content . . . to raise a barrier . . . to ward off that which pushes us to one side." Basically, "sufficient" means grace that is enough, but not super abundant, fantastic, huge, or incredible.

Sufficient does not say to us, "Grow up." It doesn’t say, "Get over it." It doesn’t say, "You’ll understand it better by and by." It just says, "My grace is sufficient for you." It says, "I am standing with you in this situation." That’s really all we need to know."

Jesus showed the woman in the temple in our gospel lesson this morning that he was standing with her in her situation. Jesus could see beyond the law to the power of grace, kindness, caring and compassionate for those people suffering around him.

A little background. The synagogue was a place for men to worship. There was a place off to the side for the women and the two did not mix.

So this lady should not of even been in the same room with Jesus and the other men, but she was.

My her thought process went something like this.

"I have been ill for many years. This new rabbi is not like the others. He seems to care. The other people accuse me of having a sin or something that caused this condition, but I have heard that Jesus does not accuse, but heals. Blind men, another women who was bleeding all were healed, so maybe if I very quietly walk over the the other side, he might see me and heal me. I am going to give it a try."

She very quietly walks over to the other side. Stays in the shadows. But Jesus sees her and says: "Woman, you are freed from your infirmity." And he laid his hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight, and she praised God.

Can you imagine her delight, her excitement at this event.

Her thoughts might of been these:

"He did it, he made me free! He healed me! He did not yell at me or accuse me of having a sin or my family of having sinned, no He just healed me. Period. I am free, praise God."

And I would imagine that she walked over to the other side, showed the other women what happened, and then worshiped God praising Him for this freedom.

I received an e-mail for a lady this week who uses a wheelchair for mobility. She preached a lay sermon at a church in Washington DC awhile back and she shared it with me.

As usual if you want to keep something you loose it. I lost the original e-mail so I don’t even remember the lady’s name, but I do remember her thoughts.

"She wondered why Jesus only healed a few people in the Bible, why not everyone? This turned her off to religion as she wondered why after much prayer she herself was not healed. But then she learned that healing comes in many ways.

Maybe her healing was letting go of the hurt, the shame, the not accepting her situation of the wheelchair and allowing the healing peace of Christ to enter her live. After she did that, she came to realize that the stories of Jesus were more than a few miracle for a few people, but a way of life, a relationship with Christ that daily allows her to accept and to be free and comfortable in her own skin."

Healing come in many ways. It could be like the lady at the temple, or it can be like the lady in the e-mail, accepting her situation in life. I believe that Jesus is present in both kinds of healing.

"We pray for healing. The answer is often, "We’ll see." Sometimes our prayers may result in healing, perhaps miraculously or through the human knowledge and skills of the doctor, nurses, and medicines. Sometimes the best efforts of the medical team and our prayers aren’t enough and the "we’ll see" becomes a "no".

"I believe it was Ernest Hemingway who coined the phrase "growing strong in the broken places." When a bone is broken, for example, the calcium buildup that "welds" the bone together makes that the strongest part of the bone.

When our life is committed to God and we bring our broken parts to him for healing, we, too, become strong in the broken places.

Another aspect on being broken is in the words of Vance Havner who said, "God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume . . . it is Peter, weeping bitterly [after his failure of denying Jesus], who returns to greater power than ever."

God can use our brokenness to heal us either by a miracle, or the art of medicine. He can also use our brokenness to heal our spirit if not our bodies so that we can be given the strength to live life to the fullest in our own skins.

When I was young maybe in 5th grade our teacher asked us to write a short easy about if I had a wish what would I ask for.

I wrote:

I wish that when I wake up in the morning that the first thing I could do was to get dressed in no certain order. For with wearing a long left brace, I always had to put my socks on first, then my leg brace with the shoe attached to it, then lace up all the straps on the brace, pull my pants over the leg brace, etc. A very tedious affair.

But in my dream, my wish, I would run out of the room with one shoe on one shoe off down the stairs without hanging onto the rail, outside, skipping and hoping trying to get the other shoe on. I would run as fast as I could and let the breeze flow through my hair.

I would jump as I high as I could just to feel what it was like to be off the ground.

I think from looking back on the situation, I surprised the teacher with my wish because most kids asked for things or the ability to go places, I wished for what others had taken for granted.

All of us at one point or another wish to be free from something. We pray, we beg, we try any thing, but then reality sinks in and we know our wish will not be answered. So we pray for the strength to live each day to the fullest with the peace, comfort and strength of Jesus Christ to lead the way!

Healing comes in many forms, and it just might be the ability to live with the reality of life and then to be comfortable in our own skins.

My grace is sufficient for you.

Then the leaders of that synagogue turned their attention to Jesus. They accused him of working on the Sabbath.

But Jesus counters that with a statement about untying an animal on the Sabbath to lead it to water and then saying or implying that if you can water an animal on the Sabbath, can’t I, Jesus, do about the same thing. Let a lady be freed her bonds of this infliction.

Jesus had a passion for people not rules and regulations. Yes some rules are needed, but Jesus saw through all those artificial rules to the most basic rule that being kind to people and helping them is the most important rule.

Jesus gave only two commandments in the New Testament. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind and soul and to love our neighbor as our selves.

That is it.

Loving God means for one thing to come to worship to praise Him and listen to his word in the Bible and relive God’s actions on earth through the live of His Son, Jesus.

Loving our neighbor means we are to reach out with the compassion of Christ that is in us to those around us who are hurting.

My grace is sufficient for you!


Written by Pastor Tim Zingale August 20, 2007

The Forward Day by Day Meditation for August 21, 2016 - 14th Sunday After Pentecost

From Forward Day By Day

Isaiah 58:9b-10 (NRSV) If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.

Some of you may remember those cartoons where we were tasked with finding ten things wrong with a picture, for example, a coat on backwards, a table with only three legs, etc. No problem. I could find fifteen things wrong.

I heard a preacher proclaim from the pulpit that when you point a finger at someone, you are actually pointing three fingers back at yourself. It is easy to find fault—and I am good at it.

In today’s scripture, we are told that if we stop finding fault, blaming others, and saying hateful things and instead help each other out, darkness will be dispelled, and we will be lights to those around us. Isaiah reminds us that if we share what we have with those in need and help those afflicted, the gloom will dissipate and it will be like we are standing in the noonday sun, basking in the glory of God.

Sounds like a plan.

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Standing Strong Through the Storm - LIVE EACH DAY AS YOUR LAST

[God] comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:4

On that fateful Sunday morning in January 1996, Joy Dimerin’s beloved fiancé, Severino Bagtasos, was killed when a lone gunman stormed into the church that he pastored and shot him twice. Severino was killed on the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, in the predominantly Muslim town of Alat on Jolo Island, in southern Philippines. He had a zeal in reaching Muslims for Christ. Joy and Severino were supposed to get married in May 1997.

“By the grace of God, I am doing well and still enjoying the ministry,” testifies Joy. She admits that feelings of loneliness and emptiness were the most difficult things she faced after her beloved Severino died. “I was afraid that I wouldn’t find a godly man like him again,” confides Joy. “I learned to see God’s purpose in my life,” Joy added. “I learned to accept whatever circumstances come my way and look at them as God’s instruments in molding me and in making me a better person. Through [Severino’s] life I learned commitment to the ministry and to prayer. Through his death, I learned to always be prepared to face the Author and Finisher of my faith. Through this tragedy, I learned to live each day as though it were my last.”

Severino’s killer was a Tausug. “God had intended it to be so,” she says. As a Tausug she feels compassion for her people because they are blinded by their beliefs. She now serves the Lord by reaching out to them and the Sama Muslims of southern Philippines. “I have forgiven the one who killed Junie. It’s hard to live with the hurt, the pain, and an unforgiving spirit, especially as I work with Muslims. I have learned to look at them the way God does. It’s only through the Gospel that they will change,” said Joy with no trace of bitterness in her voice. The people who wanted Severino dead had the opportunity to hear the Gospel during Severino’s funeral service, perhaps the only time they would hear the love of Christ preached openly.

Joy received thousands of letters from all over the world through Open Doors, giving her words of comfort and assuring her of prayers being said for her. In a letter to her encouragers, she wrote, “Two years of being broken-hearted led me to spiritual wholeness.” This was one of the paradoxes in her life. “I learned to be independent but dependent upon God, especially with regards to my daily walk with Him. I learned to be courageous and tough, but soft-hearted to the needy and suffering Christians.” Perhaps, only those who have suffered can truly understand those who are suffering. And those who have experienced healing can truly empathize with those who are hurting.

Four years later, God brought Joy on staff with Open Doors. “I never thought that God would call me to minister to the suffering church through Open Doors. God had allowed the great pain in my life for me to understand those who are in pain. He allowed me to suffer that I may best minister to the suffering.” 

RESPONSE: I will live today as though it were my last: loving, forgiving, serving!

PRAYER: Pray for Joy in her important ministry in the Muslim areas of the southern Philippines.

Un Dia a la Vez - Oración por el dominio de las palabras

Si alguien se cree religioso pero no le pone freno a su lengua, se engaña a sí mismo, y su religión no sirve para nada. Santiago 1:26

Señor, en este día te damos gracias por tu presencia en nuestras vidas. También te damos gracias por tu Palabra que nos examina y nos permite mejorar y cambiar comportamientos que no te son agradables.

Queremos, mi Dios, entregarte toda nuestra vida. En especial, queremos pedirte que nos ayudes a meditar sobre la importancia de controlar cada palabra que salga de nuestra boca.

Si le hemos hecho daño a alguien, danos la oportunidad de restituir y restablecer relaciones y contactos que se lastimaron por nuestra culpa.

Y, por favor, mi Señor, refrena nuestra lengua.

Te lo pedimos en el nombre de Jesús, amén y amén.

Daily Devotional by John Piper - An Unshakably Happy God

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11)
God is absolutely sovereign.

“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3).

Therefore he is not frustrated. He rejoices in all his works when he contemplates them as colors of the magnificent mosaic of redemptive history. He is an unshakably happy God.

His happiness is the delight he has in himself. Before creation, he rejoiced in the image of his glory in the person of his Son. Then the joy of God “went public” in the works of creation and redemption.

These works delight the heart of God because they reflect his glory. He does everything he does to preserve and display that glory, for in this his soul rejoices.

All the works of God culminate in the praises of his redeemed people. The climax of his happiness is the delight he takes in the echoes of his excellence in the praises of the saints. This praise is the consummation of our own joy in God.

Therefore, God’s pursuit of praise from us and our pursuit of pleasure in him are the same pursuit. This is the great gospel!

Verse of the Day - August 21, 2016

Psalm 42:8 (NIV) By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.

Read all of Psalm 42