Sunday, August 28, 2016

Night Light for Couples - Out with the Garbage and Flannel Pajamas

“My lover is mine and I am his.” Song of Songs 2:16

Were you surprised by the definition of romance your spouse offered last night? Romance can mean vastly different things to women and men, but for most of us the word describes that wonderful feeling of being noticed, wanted, and pursued— of being at the very center of our lover’s attention. Women are inclined to define romance as the things a husband does to make them feel loved, protected, and respected. Flowers (if they aren’t too cheap), compliments, nonsexual touching, and love notes are all steps in the right direction. So is helping with the chores. As author Kevin Leman once said, “The greatest of all aphrodisiacs is for a man to take out the garbage for his wife.”

Men, on the other hand, rely more on their senses. They appreciate a wife who makes herself as attractive to her husband as possible. A man wants to be respected—and even better, admired—by his wife. He likes to hear his wife express genuine interest in his opinions, hobbies, and work.

Obviously, these are generalizations, so take your spouse’s definition to heart. Knowing how he or she perceives romance can help you avoid many misunderstandings and disappointments. With a little care and forethought, you can keep the flame of romance burning brightly.

Just between us…
  • What’s the most romantic thing I’ve ever done for you?
  • How do you feel about our personal definitions of romance?
  • How can our differing views of romance strengthen our marriage?
Dear God, thank You for making us unique as a man and woman. Please help us understand and celebrate our carefully crafted differences. We want to become experts at pursuing and cherishing each other. Amen.

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

The Daily Readings for August 28, 2016 - 15th Sunday after Pentecost

First Reading
Ecclesiasticus 10:12-18
The beginning of human pride is to forsake the Lord; the heart has withdrawn from its Maker. For the beginning of pride is sin, and the one who clings to it pours out abominations. Therefore the Lord brings upon them unheard-of calamities, and destroys them completely. The Lord overthrows the thrones of rulers, and enthrones the lowly in their place. The Lord plucks up the roots of the nations, and plants the humble in their place. The Lord lays waste the lands of the nations, and destroys them to the foundations of the earth. He removes some of them and destroys them, and erases the memory of them from the earth. Pride was not created for human beings, or violent anger for those born of women.

Psalm 112 Beatus vir
1   Hallelujah! Happy are they who fear the Lord and have great delight in his commandments!
2   Their descendants will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.
3   Wealth and riches will be in their house, and their righteousness will last for ever.
4   Light shines in the darkness for the upright; the righteous are merciful and full of compassion.
5   It is good for them to be generous in lending and to manage their affairs with justice.
6   For they will never be shaken; the righteous will be kept in everlasting remembrance.
7   They will not be afraid of any evil rumors; their heart is right; they put their trust in the Lord.
8   Their heart is established and will not shrink, until they see their desire upon their enemies.
9   They have given freely to the poor, and their righteousness stands fast for ever; they will hold up their head with honor.
10   The wicked will see it and be angry; they will gnash their teeth and pine away; the desires of the wicked will perish.

Second Reading
Hebrews 13:1-8, 13:15-16
Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, "I will never leave you or forsake you." So we can say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?" Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Holy Gospel
Luke 14:1, 7-14
On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. "When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, 'Give this person your place,' and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, 'Friend, move up higher' then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." He said also to the one who had invited him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Luke 14:1, 7-14 - 15th Sunday after Pentecost - “True Humility”

Luke 14:1, 7-14

1 On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. 7 When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. 8 "When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9 and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, 'Give this person your place,' and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, 'Friend, move up higher' then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." 12 He said also to the one who had invited him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Jesus, at dinner in the house of a leading Pharisee, counsels both the host and his guests about humility and generosity.

It was customary to invite the “visiting preacher,” in this case, Jesus, and other guests to dinner after the synagogue service. However, the details given indicate that this occasion was staged. That “the people there were observing him carefully,” indicates that he was a curiosity piece, to say the least. That there were “scholars,” there indicates that they were more interested in evaluating Jesus than eating dinner. Finally, that a man suffering from dropsy just happened to be there, so that the scholars and people could evaluate Jesus, seems more than coincidence. This scene is a typical setup by the Pharisees to build, or at least add to, their case against Jesus. But Jesus went anyway. The Pharisees had their purpose and Jesus had his. He used the occasion to teach about humility and generosity, using accepted practices surrounding “formal dinners,” as examples of how not to behave.

In verse seven, he told a parable, the term “parable,” is not used here in its usual sense of comparison or similitude, but has the meaning of “rule of thumb,” or “rule of prudence.”

The places of honor at table; at banquets the basic item of furniture was, the triclinium, a couch for three. A number of such couches were arranged in a U-shape around a low table. Guests reclined on their left elbows. The place of highest honor was the central position on the couch at the base of the U. The second and third places were those to the left of “center,” that is, reclining behind him and to the right, that is, reclining with the head on the bosom of the “center”. At this particular feast there was a rather noticeable undignified scramble for the places of honor. Jesus used the situation to comment and teach.

In verses eight to ten, at this time precedence depended on the rank and distinction of the guest. After 300AD it depended on age. The most important guests arrived fashionably, late for banquets, no doubt to be noticed and, perhaps, take pleasure in unseating an earlier but less important arrival. When Jesus criticizes the guests for staking out positions of prestige he is doing no more than echoing sound advice given by many other sages, Prov 25:6-7. Worldly wisdom, even common sense, would dictate that one should avoid the possible public shame of being demoted by being unwilling to promote oneself prematurely. However, for Jesus there is more to it than that. He is less interested in “worldly” advice and much more interested in “other-worldly,” advice. His point will apply to all of life’s situations, not merely banquets for the rich and foolish.

In verse eleven, humbled…exalted, this saying appears in several contexts. It has broad applicability.  It also appears in the form of “first vs. last.” In this context the saying teaches that a person’s real position depends on God’s opinion of him or her, not on one’s own self-seeking. The verse shows that Jesus is teaching much more than social etiquette. From good manners at table he draws conclusions about the Kingdom. In this sense the passage can be called a “parable” since it compares a “known,” good manners at table, with an “unknown,” behavior appropriate to Kingdom members or guests. Attendance at God’s banquet depends upon God’s invitation, not upon a person’s qualities, achievements or social standing.

In verse twelve, to the host who invited him, while the ensuing lesson is addressed to the host, it clearly is meant for everyone. The host is advised not to invite his friends lest they invite him back and he be repaid. Do not invite your friends, to avoid misunderstanding this verse, one must keep in mind the Semitic way of expression. The meaning is not that one should never have a party for one’s friends. Jesus is not forbidding normal social life. That would run counter to his own way of life.

In verse thirteen, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, four unfortunate types, poor, crippled, lame, and blind are contrasted with four affluent types, friends, brothers, relatives, and wealthy neighbors. The first group cannot reciprocate. Helping those, feeding those means that one will not be repaid. They are unable to do so. This is true generosity. Spending money on people who will invite one back, pay one back, is not generosity. It might be worldly wisdom or “business sense,” but it is not really generous.

In verse fourteen, blessed will you be, the word in Greek, makarios, means “heavenly bliss,” the bliss of the gods, a bliss unaffected by human circumstances. Jesus uses this term here and elsewhere, notably in the Beatitudes, for the end result of living in a right relationship with God. To behave in the way described, Jesus says, will result in eternal bliss. At the resurrection those who have a feast for the poor will enjoy a feast forever. There is such a thing as “pay back” after all, but it is also after death.


The Pharisees were what we would call “church-going people.” They went to synagogue weekly and so did Jesus. They were not for the most part what we would call “upper class,” but “middle class.” They did not inherit their wealth but earned it through hard work and they were proud of that fact. They were also, for the most part, proud of their moral status in society. They were looked up to, if not by those of the lower class, by themselves. They really did strive for and, in many cases, achieve just about the highest level of moral uprightness in the entire ancient world. They observed the Jewish Law meticulously, even scrupulously. One would think that Jesus would have admired their version of Holiness of life, but he did not. He was not impressed by their external piety or their moral uprightness.

He considered it to be self-righteousness rather than Godly righteousness. The Pharisees had the most trouble in accepting Jesus and his “brand” of religion. They were too smug for Jesus’ tastes. Yet, he did not shun them. When invited to their homes for a meal, a formal affair with many rules of etiquette, he went anyway. Knowing that he was being set up to be scrutinized and criticized, even trapped into being labeled a “heretic,” he went anyway. Jesus was so genuinely righteous that he excluded no one offhand simply because of their self-righteousness. He considered everyone reform-able. No one was finished changing and growing until he or she physically died.

At the same time Jesus did not play their games. Their negatively judgmental attitude towards people whom they considered beneath them really annoyed Jesus. When they tried to lure and trap him into some error, error as they defined it, Jesus would turn the situation around and expose their evil intentions, attitudes and practices for what they really were- hypocrisy. This gospel story was just such an occasion.

After synagogue “one of the leading Pharisees” invited Jesus back to the house for a meal. Jesus accepted, knowing full well that the Pharisees intentions were to trap him in some heresy or, at least, to entertain his friends with this rather unconventional religious teacher. As it turned out it was Jesus who was entertained by, if also disapproving of, the antics of these self-styled “important,” and supposedly serious people. They were jockeying for position and scrambling for the seats of honor. Who among us has not had a quiet laugh as we observed people at banquets or weddings or even funerals either trying to sit next to people they consider their social equals or complaining that they were put down too low on the seating order of importance? First it is funny. Then its sort of sad that such folks are so insecure within themselves that a chair’s place or a place in line is so important to their self-worth. We laugh, of course, until we realize that we are just as insecure, only we have enough sense to try to hide it.

Jesus is certainly not recommending that we pretend to be humble, all the while remaining proud undercover. He is recommending, requiring really, that we be truly humble. That means that we see everyone’s self worth in the light of God’s estimation. It matters not to God what our social or economic status might be. All his children are worthwhile to him and that is so because of him, not because of us. We cannot earn our worth before God. It is given. We can reject it, neglect it, tarnish it, try to trash it, but we cannot really lose it. The Pharisees overestimated there worth, thinking it had something to do with themselves and their self-righteousness. They also, thereby, underestimated the worth of the poor, the disabled, the outcast and even the sinner. They would never think of having such folks for dinner or associate with them in any way whatsoever. After all, they were not their “kind,” of people. The irony was that this Pharisee had invited Jesus for dinner, who, at this point in his life, had no home to invite him back.! Jesus was, in effect, saying, “Now that was not so bad, was it? Why not invite more folks like me into your home and into your charity and generosity?”

Real generosity, non-reciprocal generosity, will actually be repaid but not directly, if not here and now then in eternity. Doing kindnesses for people who will repay us or can repay us is not real charity. It is okay as far as it goes, but if that is the level and quality of our generosity, it is no better than a business deal - “ I do for you and then you owe me one and I’ll collect later,” or “you scratch my back and I will scratch yours.” Real generosity says, “I do for you because I owe God everything, God who really owns everything I have, and want to show him my appreciation.”

Our place in the world is not determined by where we sit or what our title is, but where we stand before God and what he calls us, namely, his children.

People who overestimate their own worth underestimate the worth of all others.

Real generosity is giving to those who cannot give back.

In eternity everything we have given away will be returned to us in a different form.

Self-deprecation: We can fake humility. We can pretend to have a lower opinion of ourselves that we really have in our hearts and tell others how humble we are. How would anyone know otherwise? It is really the way we treat others that shows whether or not we are truly humble. Humility is simply having the same opinion of ourselves as God has of us. God has his “rank,” his order of preference. Jesus has told us that true greatness consists in service to others. However, if we serve the poor but still look down on them as less worthy, less important, less human than ourselves, we are not truly humble. “Poor” is an economic term, not a religious one, unless, of course, we mean “poor in spirit.” Many people help the “poor” but also look down on them. Indeed, helping the “poor” gives them an even greater sense of pride in themselves. Associating with the poor does not produce the attitude- there but for the grace of God go I- but rather a feeling of superiority. This feeling sneaks out and leaks out at the most unexpected times and places, such as when a “poor” person is honored,. Then comes the slips- “Well, I have been doing that for years now and no one has recognized it or me” or “I really deserve than honor more than the one who got it” or “If it were not for me that person would still be in the gutter” or “I made him or her what he or she is today.” So much for the conceit and deceit of self-deprecation!

Public Generosity: During holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, oddly, never at Easter, we frequently see on TV and read in the news churches sponsoring a big meal for the “poor.” Why is that news? Because that is the only time these churches do so. Are not the “poor,” hungry every day? Who cares for them and feeds them the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas and all the days after that? This display of public generosity, supposedly a sign of caring for the poor, is really an indictment against many Christian communities who dedicate too small an amount of time and money to serve the “poor.” It indicates just how truly poor many Christian communities are, poor not economically but “poor” in what matters to God, Luke 12: 21. Jesus does not forbid throwing parties for one’s friends. He commands that we also do the same for those who really need a meal and need one every day. If it is an every day occurrence it will not make the news because it is the good news in action, not a rare event but a real one. Each one of us needs to see to it that we are supporting those who cannot return the favor. They could also be relatives and friends, but need not be. We do so not only to help meet their needs but to meet our own needs as well. When Christ is alive in us we simply need to share with others. It is part and parcel of the wonderful experience of being two lives- Christ’s and our own- in one body.

Dealing With Hypocrisy: The hypocrisy of others serves a good purpose if it points out the same hypocrisy in ourselves. Jesus did not merely condemn the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. He used their examples to help others, including us, to see the same attitudes, tendencies and actions in our own lives and do something about it. No doubt, Jesus also wanted to give the Pharisees as many chances to reform their lives as he gives the rest of us. Jesus dealt with hypocrisy by calling it by its right name and, at the same time, not rejecting the hypocrite. Jesus judged behavior, but not people, at least not yet, not until death. He wants us to do the same. If we snub our noses at hypocrites, then we have to snub our noses at ourselves as well. It is not easy in a social setting to express our inner objections to displays of hypocrisy, but we must. Throwing cold water on people who are blind to hypocrisy will not kill them, only wake them up. It does have the effect, though, of putting the cold-water thrower into hot water with the gaggle of hypocrites who are playing the game.


Sermon shared by Dr. Jerry Morrisse

The Forward Day by Day Meditation for August 28, 2016

From Forward Day By Day

Ecclesiasticus 10:12 (NRSV) The beginning of human pride is to forsake the Lord; the heart has withdrawn from its Maker.

On those occasions when I have experienced some success, I have found it more meaningful to thank God than to pat myself on the back. When I give God the glory, it feels right—and more accurate. There is no reason to make a big scene, just a grateful whisper of acknowledgement to the Lord.

I have also engaged in being proud of my humility, walking around with an attitude of, “I am more humble than you and pleased with myself because of it.” This misses the point. What I have learned is that the real blessing is when I can thank God for my failures.

We learn more from our failures than from our successes. Who defines success anyway? Who defines success for me? For you? Too often I have sought to please others so they will think I am a good person rather than strive to please God. That is not success. In the final analysis, I want God to determine how successful I have been. I want my heart to belong to its Maker.

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Standing Strong Through the Storm - THE WORK OF MINISTRY TO OTHERS

Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ Acts 27:23-24

We’ve been learning personal lessons from prison from Pastor Okuk Ojulu in Ethiopia as he shared them with Jim Cunningham.

He says, “The third lesson I learned is that imprisonment is for ministry to people in need. The thirty-six people who were imprisoned with me from Gambella in the Addis Ababa prison–777 kilometers (483 miles) away from our families–had no strong faith in the Lord.

“I began to realize that the Lord put me there to minister to these people, to feed them with the Word of God in the prison. I ended up baptizing some of them in the prison although I was not an officially recognized pastor, for no pastor was allowed to do this work in the prison.”

I am always amazed at the positive lessons from reading prison memoirs of followers of Jesus. And so many times they come to this similar conclusion. They were there to serve others.

Mama Kwang of Project Pearl in China is a wonderful example. Carl Lawrence tells her story in his award-winning book, The Church in China:

As she sat quietly in prison singing a hymn, the Lord gave her a message: “This is to be your ministry.”

“But,” she objected, “I am all alone. Whom can I minister to?” She continued to pray that her ministry would be fulfilled. Suddenly an idea came to her. She stood up and called for the guard.

“Sir, can I do some hard labor for you?” The guard looked at her with contempt, mingled with surprise. No one had ever made that kind of request before. “Look!” she exclaimed, “this prison is so dirty, there is human waste everywhere. Let me go into the cells and clean up this filthy place. All you have to do is give me some water and a brush.”

Not to her surprise, she soon found herself on her hands and knees cleaning and preaching. She was looking into the faces of people no longer recognizable as human beings. Through continuous torture, they had lost all hope of ever seeing another human being who did not come to beat them.

Oh, when they realized that they could have eternal life, they would get so excited. They would fall down on the dirty floor and repent of their sins, and do you know that very soon all the prisoners believed in Jesus Christ.”

RESPONSE: Today I acknowledge that God can enable me to minister anywhere for Him—even prison.

PRAYER: Thank You Lord that even in a filthy prison dungeon you give ministry opportunities.

Daily Devotional by John Piper - Forgiven for Jesus’ Sake

For your name's sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great. (Psalm 25:11)
The righteousness of God is the infinite zeal and joy and pleasure that he has in what is supremely valuable, namely, his own perfection and worth. And if he were ever to act contrary to this eternal passion for his own perfections he would be unrighteous, he would be an idolater.

How shall such a righteous God ever set his affection on sinners like us who have scorned his perfections? But the wonder of the gospel is that in this divine righteousness lies also the very foundation of our salvation.

The infinite regard that the Father has for the Son makes it possible for me, a wicked sinner, to be loved and accepted in the Son, because in his death he vindicated the worth and glory of his Father.

Now I may pray with new understanding the prayer of the psalmist, “For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great” (Psalm 25:11). The new understanding is that Jesus has now atoned for sin and vindicated the Father’s honor so that our sins are forgiven “on account of his name” (1 John 2:12).

The Father’s infinite pleasure in his own perfections is the fountain of our everlasting joy. The fact that the pleasure of God in his Son is pleasure in himself is not vanity. It is the gospel.

Un Dia a la Vez - El corazón del hogar

[Ella] está atenta a la marcha de su hogar, y el pan que come no es fruto del ocio. Sus hijos se levantan y la felicitan; también su esposo la alaba. Proverbios 31:27-28

La mujer es el corazón del hogar. Sin duda, Dios le ha dado a la mujer esta gran responsabilidad.

¿Te has puesto a pensar que cuando tenemos nuestros esposos, o aun si somos madres solteras, Dios nos ha dado la capacidad de ser ese corazón del hogar? Tú y yo influimos de una manera positiva o negativa en nuestros esposos y en nuestros hijos. Cuando estamos desanimadas, eso es lo que transmitimos en casa… ¡y cómo sufren todos ese desaliento!

Sin embargo, esto lo vemos también en las cosas positivas. Si eres emprendedora, de seguro animas a tu esposo en los momentos en que necesita de ti. Asimismo, cuando alientas a tus hijos y los aconsejas en medio de las dificultades, su respuesta será positiva.

Por eso la mujer es ese motor que debe estar siempre conectado con Dios, ya que nuestra función en el hogar es determinante. Así que, recapacita, pues si tu esposo y tus hijos se quejan de ti, que eres insoportable, que no se te puede hablar o que te pasas la vida con regañinas, estas son señales de advertencia.

Pidámosle a Dios que nos ayude a cambiar y a estar centradas, de manera que logremos seguir siendo ese motor impulsor en la familia.

Verse of the Day - August 28, 2016

John 6:29 (NIV) Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

Read all of John 6