Saturday, August 27, 2016

Night Light for Couples - Romance

by Bill and Lynne Hybels

Romance was never my strong suit. I proposed to Lynne in her parents’ garage; I took my Harley‐Davidson on our honeymoon; I thought our best anniversary was the one we spent watching a video of Rocky III. I had to learn the gentle art of romance. For starters, I figured it meant flowers. Beyond that, I didn’t have a clue, but I knew I could get the flower job done. As confirmation from God that I was moving in the right direction, who do you think set up shop right out of the trunk of his ’58 DeSoto at the corner opposite our church? The flower man! So, quite regularly, on my way home from work or meetings, I would pull over to the side of the road, buy a bunch of roses or carnations from the flower man, and take them home to Lynne. What a husband! I thought as I handed over my three bucks.

Yet when I proudly presented the flowers to Lynne, fully expecting her to hire the Marine Corps Band to play “Hail to the Chief,” her response was lukewarm.

“Gee, thanks,” she said. “Where’d you get these?”

“Where else? My buddy, the flower man—you know, the guy with the ’58 DeSoto at Barrington and Algonquin. I’m a volume buyer now. I stop there so often that he gives me a buck off, and if they’re a little wilted, he gives me two bucks off. I figure they’ll perk up when you put them in water.”

“Of course,” she said.

I kept it up consistently for quite a while—until Lynne’s lack of enthusiasm for the gift drained my enthusiasm.

Some time later, on our regularly scheduled date night, Lynne and I decided to clear the air of anything that might be bothering either of us. We do that now and then. We sat down in a cheap restaurant (not only am I unromantic, I’m also Dutch) and asked, “What’s going on? Is there anything we need to talk about? Is there anything amiss in our relationship?”

On that particular evening, Lynne took out her list and started checking off the items.

“Ooooh, you’re right on that one. Eeeh, that one, too. Yep. Guilty as charged. Guilty. Guilty. You’re right again.”

She ended her list, and I was in a pile. “I really am sorry,” I said, “but trust me. I’m going to do better.” “Now, what about you?” she asked. I really didn’t have any complaints, but after hearing her list, I thought I should say something. I scrambled. “Well, I do have one little problem. Have you noticed the absence of the flowers lately?” “No,” she said. “I haven’t really paid attention.” How could she say that? “We have a problem,” I said. “I can’t figure it out. Hundreds of thousands of husbands pass by that corner. Do they stop for flowers? No. Do I stop? Yes! What gives? What is your problem?”

Her answer made my head spin. She looked me straight in the eyes and said quietly, “The truth is, Bill, I’m not impressed when you give me half‐dead flowers that come out of the trunk of a ’58 DeSoto that you were lucky enough to run across on your way home from work. The flowers are cheap, and the effort is minimal. The way I see it, you’re not investing enough time or energy to warrant a wholehearted response from me. You’re not thinking about what would make me happy; you’re just doing what’s convenient for you.”

“Okay, let’s get this straight,” I said. “You would be happier if I got up from my desk in the middle of my busy day, threw my study schedule to the wind, walked all the way across the parking lot, got in my car, and made a special trip to Barrington, where I’d have to pay quadruple the price just because it said Barrington on the bag? And you wouldn’t mind if the extra time it took crimped my workout schedule at the Y…. And you wouldn’t mind if I came home late because of all the extra running around I would have to do to get you expensive flowers? Is that what you’re telling me? That would make you happy?”

Without batting an eyelash, Lynne said, “Yes, that would make me happy.” I couldn’t believe it! “What are you talking about? What you’re asking for is impractical, uneconomical, and an inefficient use of time.” “That’s a great definition of romance, Bill. You’re learning!”

Looking ahead…

Whether we’ve been with our partner for one year or forty, we’re all still trying to master the definition—and execution—of romance in our marriages. As Bill Hybels learned, there’s far more to romantic love than meets the eye. What his wife needed was a heart‐to‐heart and soul‐to‐soul relationship. This kind of relationship seems natural to women, but sometimes men have a hard time figuring it out.

So just what is romance? We’ll talk about that in the week ahead. For tonight, spend a few minutes telling each other what romance means to you. You might hear something important that you’ve missed before.

- James C Dobson

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
“Romance” by Bill and Lynne Hybels. Taken from Fit to Be Tied by Bill and Lynne Hybels. © 1991 by Bill and Lynne Hybels. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

NIV Devotions for Couples - Finding Strength in Submission

Philemon 1–25 

Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. Philemon 8–9

During the Reformation, when Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli were exchanging strong words about Biblical interpretations and ecclesiastical practices, Zwingli spent a troubled morning walking the mountain trails of his beloved Switzerland. From a distance he observed two goats making their way toward each other on a path barely stitched to the side of a cliff. It was obvious that these nimble creatures could not pass one another.

As the goats approached each other, each feinted a power move at the other in what looked like the beginning of a battle. In a surprise twist, however, one goat suddenly collapsed onto the narrow ledge so the other goat could walk over its back. Then each moved on.

Zwingli was impressed. Here was strength defined by submission. It allowed two opponents to survive a crisis so both could get on with more important things. Zwingli applied the lesson to his next encounter with Luther.

The same principle is evident in Paul’s words to Philemon. Philemon’s slave Onesimus had run away, met Paul in Rome and become a Christian. Now Paul was sending the slave back to his master, urging Philemon to receive Onesimus, not as mere property, but as a brother. Instead of butting heads with Philemon, Paul extended a hand of love. Was this a sign of weakness? Psychological manipulation?

Both possibilities and a variety of others enter a marital relationship. Sometimes we badger one another. Sometimes, like goats poised for battle on a mountain trail, we come close to butting heads. Sometimes we spit and snarl and lash out. Sometimes we sit together and lovingly hash things out.

What is helpful and healthy in good relationships is honesty. Not just truthfulness that blurts out every last thought, but self-awareness that is not deceptive. It is as important that I learn to be honest with myself as it is to be truthful with my partner. If Paul was in touch with his own thoughts and feelings when he wrote to Philemon, he could state his case without deploying manipulative or subversive tactics. He could focus on Philemon’s well-being and circumstances while maintaining his own perspective.

Too often we allow our emotions to derail relationships because we are blinded by excessive self-importance. The strength of our emotions, especially when we are at odds with each other, inflates our tendency for self-preservation and diminishes our sense of the other’s importance in our lives. We need to keep relationships personal and issues impersonal as we build faithfulness with one another.

Disagreements are inevitable in any relationship. But the ways in which we work through them can bind us more tightly together in love. Paul’s kindness to Philemon offers a very good example to follow.

Wayne Brouwer

Let’s Talk
  • What do we tend to disagree about? What happens in our relationship whenever that topic comes up? How do our feelings get involved?
  • When we disagree, does one of us generally dominate the other? What is dangerous about that? How could we change that pattern?
  • How do we show our respect for one another when we disagree about something? If we videotaped one of our arguments and showed it to a friend or a marriage counselor, what would they say?

The Daily Readings for August 27, 2016

Job 9:1-1, 10:1-22
Then Job answered: "I loathe my life; I will give free utterance to my complaint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. I will say to God, Do not condemn me; let me know why you contend against me. Does it seem good to you to oppress, to despise the work of your hands and favor the schemes of the wicked? Do you have eyes of flesh? Do you see as humans see? Are your days like the days of mortals, or your years like human years, that you seek out my iniquity and search for my sin, although you know that I am not guilty, and there is no one to deliver out of your hand? Your hands fashioned and made me; and now you turn and destroy me. Remember that you fashioned me like clay; and will you turn me to dust again? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese? You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit. Yet these things you hid in your heart; I know that this was your purpose. If I sin, you watch me, and do not acquit me of my iniquity. If I am wicked, woe to me! If I am righteous, I cannot lift up my head, for I am filled with disgrace and look upon my affliction. Bold as a lion you hunt me; you repeat your exploits against me. You renew your witnesses against me, and increase your vexation toward me; you bring fresh troops against me. "Why did you bring me forth from the womb? Would that I had died before any eye had seen me, and were as though I had not been, carried from the womb to the grave. Are not the days of my life few? Let me alone, that I may find a little comfort before I go, never to return, to the land of gloom and deep darkness, the land of gloom and chaos, where light is like darkness."

Acts 11:1-18
Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, "Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?" Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, "I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, 'Get up, Peter; kill and eat.' But I replied, 'By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.' But a second time the voice answered from heaven, 'What God has made clean, you must not call profane.' This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man's house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, 'Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.' And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?" When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, "Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life."

John 8:12-20
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." Then the Pharisees said to him, "You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid." Jesus answered, "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf." Then they said to him, "Where is your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also." He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple, but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.

Morning Psalms

Psalm 20 Exaudiat te Dominus
1   May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble, the Name of the God of Jacob defend you;
2   Send you help from his holy place and strengthen you out of Zion;
3   Remember all your offerings and accept your burnt sacrifice;
4   Grant you your heart's desire and prosper all your plans.
5   We will shout for joy at your victory and triumph in the Name of our God; may the LORD grant all your requests.
6   Now I know that the LORD gives victory to his anointed; he will answer him out of his holy heaven, with the victorious strength of his right hand.
7   Some put their trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will call upon the Name of the LORD our God.
8   They collapse and fall down, but we will arise and stand upright.
9   O LORD, give victory to the king and answer us when we call.

Psalm 21 Domine, in virtute tua
1   The king rejoices in your strength, O LORD; how greatly he exults in your victory!
2   You have given him his heart's desire; you have not denied him the request of his lips.
3   For you meet him with blessings of prosperity, and set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
4   He asked you for life, and you gave it to him: length of days, for ever and ever.
5   His honor is great, because of your victory; splendor and majesty have you bestowed upon him.
6   For you will give him everlasting felicity and will make him glad with the joy of your presence.
7   For the king puts his trust in the LORD; because of the loving-kindness of the Most High, he will not fall.
8   Your hand will lay hold upon all your enemies; your right hand will seize all those who hate you.
9   You will make them like a fiery furnace at the time of your appearing, O LORD;
10   You will swallow them up in your wrath, and fire shall consume them.
11   You will destroy their offspring from the land and their descendants from among the peoples of the earth.
12   Though they intend evil against you and devise wicked schemes, yet they shall not prevail.
13   For you will put them to flight and aim your arrows at them.
14   Be exalted, O LORD, in your might; we will sing and praise your power.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 110 Dixit Dominus
1   The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool."
2   The LORD will send the scepter of your power out of Zion, saying, "Rule over your enemies round about you.
3   Princely state has been yours from the day of your birth; in the beauty of holiness have I begotten you, like dew from the womb of the morning."
4   The LORD has sworn and he will not recant: "You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek."
5   The Lord who is at your right hand will smite kings in the day of his wrath; he will rule over the nations.
6   He will heap high the corpses; he will smash heads over the wide earth.
7   He will drink from the brook beside the road; therefore he will lift high his head.

Psalm 116 Dilexi, quoniam
1   I love the LORD, because he has heard the voice of my supplication, because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him.
2   The cords of death entangled me; the grip of the grave took hold of me; I came to grief and sorrow.
3   Then I called upon the Name of the LORD: "O LORD, I pray you, save my life."
4   Gracious is the LORD and righteous; our God is full of compassion.
5   The LORD watches over the innocent; I was brought very low, and he helped me.
6   Turn again to your rest, O my soul. for the LORD has treated you well.
7   For you have rescued my life from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling.
8   I will walk in the presence of the LORD in the land of the living.
9   I believed, even when I said, "I have been brought very low." In my distress I said, "No one can be trusted."
10   How shall I repay the LORD for all the good things he has done for me?
11   I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the Name of the LORD.
12   I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.
13   Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his servants.
14   O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant and the child of your handmaid; you have freed me from my bonds.
15   I will offer you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call upon the Name of the LORD.
16   I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,
17   In the courts of the LORD'S house, in the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Hallelujah!

Psalm 117 Laudate Dominum
1   Praise the LORD, all you nations; laud him, all you peoples.
2   For his loving-kindness toward us is great, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures for ever. Hallelujah!

The Forward Day by Day Meditation for August 27, 2016

From Forward Day By Day

Psalm 117:1-2 (NRSV) Praise the LORD, all you nations; laud him all you peoples. For his loving-kindness toward us is great, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures for ever. Hallelujah!

One of the great blessings in my life is the opportunity to lead an adult study group at my church. We are currently discussing Ann Voskamp’s jewel of a book, One Thousand Gifts. Ann and her family went through a tragedy early in her life. She was living her life joylessly, at times in despair, when a friend dared her to come up with one thousand things she was grateful for—one thousand blessings, one thousand graces.

She took the dare, and it changed her life. She is now well past one thousand and continues counting. Members of our study group are keeping a gratitude journal with the goal of coming up with one thousand things for which to be grateful—gifts God has given each one of us. Once you get into this attitude of gratitude, all matter of blessings come to mind. This very moment I feel blessed by the leaves I can see outside my office window! Try it. It is a wonderful way to live and to praise the Lord.

Join more than a half million readers worldwide who use Forward Day by Day as a resource for daily prayer and Bible study.

Un Dia a la Vez - La pobreza del alma

Cumple los mandatos del Señor tu Dios [...] Así prosperarás en todo lo que hagas y por dondequiera que vayas. 1 Reyes 2:3

Sin duda, todos sabemos que hay ricos y pobres. Las clases sociales han existido toda la vida.

En el mundo se acepta muy bien esta frase que hasta forma parte de una canción: «Cuanto tienes cuanto vales». No obstante, cuando tú y yo conocemos el camino, la verdad y la vida, nos damos cuenta de que estábamos muy equivocados.

El Señor en su Palabra nos dice que cuando lo aceptamos a Él y lo reconocemos como nuestro Salvador, nos convertimos en hijos de Dios y, a su vez, coherederos con Cristo. Además, nos dice que será nuestro Proveedor y nuestro Guardador, prometiéndonos prosperarnos y bendecirnos.

En ninguna parte de la Palabra se habla que debemos permanecer en pobreza o que debemos llegar a un estado de conformismo. Sin embargo, en mi viaje misionero pude ver de cerca, y sé que pasa en todo el mundo, que hay personas que aunque son libres porque conocieron a Jesús, viven con una mentalidad de pobreza absoluta. Creen que al estar así en medio del abandono van a agradar más a Dios o le van a conmover su corazón.

¡Qué equivocados están! A Dios lo mueve la fe y nuestros pasos confiados en Él. Lo mueve, como ya dije, la obediencia.

Por eso hoy te invito a que te sacudas de la tierra de la pobreza, pues Dios quiere bendecir tu vida. Te invito a que renuncies a estructuras que te hacen pensar que no se puedes ser tan próspero como Jesús. Abandónate en sus brazos y déjate consentir por tu Padre celestial.

Daily Devotional by John Piper - Jesus Will Trample All Our Enemies

Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. (1 Corinthians 15:24)
How far does the reign of Christ extend?

Verse 25 says, “He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” The word ALL tells us the extent.

So does the word EVERY in verse 24: “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.”

There is no disease, no addiction, no demon, no bad habit, no fault, no vice, no weakness, no temper, no moodiness, no pride, no self-pity, no strife, no jealousy, no perversion, no greed, no laziness that Christ does not aim to overcome as the enemy of his honor.

And the encouragement in that promise is that when you set yourself to do battle with the enemies of your faith and your holiness, you will not fight alone.

Jesus Christ is now, in this age, putting all his enemies under his feet. Every rule and every authority and every power will be conquered.

So, remember that the extent of Christ’s reign reaches to the smallest and biggest enemy of his glory. It will be defeated.

Standing Strong Through the Storm - GOD’S ETERNAL LOVE

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

Yesterday we learned the first prison lesson from Pastor Okuk Ojula who was incarcerated on false charges for three and a half years in a federal prison in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

When Jim Cunningham was able to visit him in the prison, he told Jim that before the prison experience, he had centered his life on serving the Lord, pursuing his education to the highest level (he has an MA in economics from the University of Reading-UK), doing research work and other good things to help people. But he had never thought of imprisonment as having any spiritual or practical value. He commented, “Time was very precious to me and I never thought of wasting it in prison sitting for nothing under a hostile situation.”

But God taught Pastor Okuk several lessons. The second one is that the depth of God’s love for us is eternal. He says, “I was in prison for my protection. God put me in prison beforehand to escape the massacre of the elites and the educated people of my tribe in the Gambella region—the incident of December 2003 that shook the media world.”

Genocide Watch reported that at least 416 Anuak people were massacred in December 2003 in Gambella led by Ethiopian government troops in uniform, but they were joined by other local tribal people from highland areas. Between 3000 and 5000 additional Anuak refugees fled into Sudan as refugees.

The pretext for these massacres was the ambush of a van on December 13th by an unidentified gang who murdered its eight occupants, who were U.N. and Ethiopian government refugee camp officials. There is no evidence that the killers were Anuak. The Ethiopian troops responded by murdering hundreds of Anuak civilians in Gambella and surrounding areas. They also burned their homes and raped the women.

Sources indicated that those targeted particularly were educated Anuak men; a tactic often intended to render a group leaderless and defenseless. To this day hundreds of Anuak Christians are still listed as “missing.”

Pastor Okok is convinced that his imprisonment in Addis was God’s love and protection because if he had been at home, he would have been a prime target because of his education.

RESPONSE: Today I will walk in the assurance of God’s love and His positive actions on my behalf even when they do not seem to be favourable.

PRAYER: Pray for those brothers and sisters experiencing injustice without the understanding of God’s purposes.

Verse of the Day - August 27, 2016

Isaiah 26:3 (NIV) You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Read all of Isaiah 26