Saturday, November 19, 2016

NIV Devotions for Couples - What We See in Each Other

1 Samuel 16:1–13

“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Samuel was sent to the house of Jesse to find a new king. When he got there, Samuel saw Eliab, one of Jesse’s sons. “Surely, he is the one God has chosen to be the next king,” Samuel thought. Evidently, like the previous king, Saul, Eliab was tall and striking. But Eliab was not the one God had in mind.

God warned Samuel not to assess people by their physical appearance. God reminded the old prophet that he doesn’t look at the outside; he looks at the inside. So each of Jesse’s sons passed before Samuel, but God did not indicate that any of them was the man God had sent him to find. Finally, David, the youngest son, came in from the fields. Then the Lord spoke to Samuel, telling him this was the right one.

When we look at someone’s outward appearance, we often fail to see what God sees. This message was clearly illustrated to writer John Fisher when he was speaking at a seminar. “A couple came in late, and I could see that they were in love,” Fisher said. “I couldn’t help but notice the woman was very attractive, while the guy was a real nerd.

“What could she see in him?” Fisher wondered. From the outside, this couple didn’t look like a match. “Then I realized she was blind,” Fisher said.

“What did she see in him? She saw everything that was important in a person. She saw love. While another woman might not have gotten past this man’s unimpressive exterior, she was blind to that. She only saw his heart. Blessed are the blind, for they can see people as they really are.”

Like Samuel, we often make judgments based on what people look like. But God doesn’t use looks as his criteria. He evaluates people by what’s in their hearts. He sees their character, their faithfulness and their commitment to him.

During courtship, we can be charmed by someone’s good looks, attentiveness or flattery. All of that can be fleeting. Over the course of a marriage, the real person breaks through. Perhaps as your marriage ages, your spouse’s outward appearance starts to change. Your spouse grays, loses hair or gains a little weight. Perhaps the two of you fall into a rut, and the special treatment that marked your dating period begins to wane. That’s when we need to remember what the Lord said to Samuel about focusing on what’s in the heart rather than what’s physically noticeable.

The success of a marriage comes, not in finding who we think initially is the “perfect” person for us, but in our willingness to adjust to the real person we married.

Jennifer Schuchmann

Let’s Talk
  • What characteristics initially attracted us to each other? What qualities do we treasure most today?
  • The blind woman never saw her partner’s appearance. Like God, she only saw his heart. Would we rather have people look at our appearance or at our heart? Why?
  • What steps are we taking to improve our faith, our character and our commitment to God?

Un Dia a la Vez - El gozo del Señor

No estén tristes, pues el gozo del Señor es nuestra fortaleza. Nehemías 8:10

Sin duda, recuerdas que hemos hablado que el gozo del Señor es nuestra fortaleza. Eso significa que si permanezco alegre, eso será lo que les transmitiré a los demás.

Sin embargo, quizá este no sea tu caso. Es posible que las deudas te estén ahogando, que tu hogar esté destruido o que tu hijo esté involucrado en las drogas. Entonces, quizá me digas: «Bueno, ¿cómo voy a tener gozo cuando tengo tantos problemas?».

La respuesta no la tengo yo, sino que la tiene el Dios de los imposibles. Aunque las cosas para ti no sean para nada fáciles, Él desea verte con gozo.

Si nos dejamos llevar por la tristeza o por el dolor, ¿cómo serían nuestros días y cómo testificaríamos de un Dios que nos ama? Es una bendición poder aprender y poner en práctica la vida con gozo a pesar de los pesares.

Si lo analizamos, podemos decir que el gozo es una decisión. Eso lo determiné hace ya varios años. Después de mi crisis de salud, aprendí a valorar más las cosas, a vivir feliz y a no dejar que me despojaran de las bendiciones de mi Padre. Por eso, mi oración diaria es por fortaleza para seguir mi vida con entusiasmo.

¿Y tú? No permitas que nada ni nadie te roben el gozo del Señor.

Standing Strong Through the Storm - POURED OUT LIKE A DRINK OFFERING

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 2 Timothy 4:6

On the last day of an Open Doors seminar in South Africa, students shared how they thought the church should prepare for persecution. One man shared his son’s story and its impact:

It was at the time when the pupils rioted, burning schools, churches, shopping centers, town councillors’ houses and mercilessly attacking anyone whom they regarded as a ‘sell-out.’

Each morning his sturdy, neatly dressed, thirteen-year-old Christian son wound his way through the mounds of rubble towards school, amidst the mocking of other youths wandering the smoke-filled streets. Later he would walk home, while the teachers, frightened by the threatening mobs, locked themselves in their homes.

One particular morning, after the family devotions, his parents watched as he walked off to school. At the school grounds, a mob blocked the gate. He walked undeterred through the gate and greeted them with a nod and a friendly smile.

He was in the center of the mob when they closed in around him blocking any further progress. One older gang leader, tall and powerfully built, grabbed the strap of his school bag and pulled him to a standstill. He glared at him and growled, “As a Christian you have always been on time for school, never late, never missing a day. You have always been praised by those ‘sell-out’ teachers for knowing and doing your school work in spite of our revolutionary slogan, ‘liberation now, education later.’ Today, you will have to decide for our revolution or else.”

“I have decided to have nothing to do with your revolution,” the boy replied unwaveringly. He remembered what his father taught on compromise in times of persecution.

With a curse the bully pushed him backwards into the mob. Blows rained on him and he tried in vain to ward it off, then a knife flashed in the sun, a second, and a third. Hours later, a policeman knocked on the door of his parent’s home.

The father still lives in that house and preaches the love of Christ to the same community. Peace has returned to the township, but hardly a day passes without a passer-by, or a message scribbled on the garden wall, reminding him of that day.

The father says, “I greet them and smile at them in the hope that the testimony of my life and my willingness to forgive will eventually carry the light of Christ into their hearts, replacing the spirit of bitterness darkening their lives. I know by going back there to train the church leaders I am at risk of my life being ‘poured out like a drink offering’ just like the apostle Paul.”

RESPONSE: Today I will not live in fear nor compromise my faith no matter what Satan throws at me.

PRAYER: Pray for courage for those whose lives today may be poured out like a drink offering.

Verse of the Day - November 19, 2016

Psalm 1:1-2 (NIV) [ BOOK I ] [ Psalms 1–41 ] [ Psalm 1 ] Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.

Read all of Psalm 1

The Daily Readings for SATURDAY, November 19, 2016

Malachi 3:13-4:6
You have spoken harsh words against me, says the LORD. Yet you say, "How have we spoken against you?" You have said, "It is vain to serve God. What do we profit by keeping his command or by going about as mourners before the LORD of hosts? Now we count the arrogant happy; evildoers not only prosper, but when they put God to the test they escape." Then those who revered the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD took note and listened, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who revered the LORD and thought on his name. They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, my special possession on the day when I act, and I will spare them as parents spare their children who serve them. Then once more you shall see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him. See, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts. Remember the teaching of my servant Moses, the statutes and ordinances that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse.

James 5:13-20
Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest. My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner's soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Luke 18:9-14
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted."

Morning Psalms

Psalm 107: Part II Posuit flumina
33   The LORD changed rivers into deserts, and water-springs into thirsty ground,
34   A fruitful land into salt flats, because of the wickedness of those who dwell there.
35   He changed deserts into pools of water and dry land into water-springs.
36   He settled the hungry there, and they founded a city to dwell in.
37   They sowed fields, and planted vineyards, and brought in a fruitful harvest.
38   He blessed them, so that they increased greatly; he did not let their herds decrease.
39   Yet when they were diminished and brought low, through stress of adversity and sorrow,
40   (He pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes)
41   He lifted up the poor out of misery and multiplied their families like flocks of sheep.
42   The upright will see this and rejoice, but all wickedness will shut its mouth.
43   Whoever is wise will ponder these things, and consider well the mercies of the LORD.

Psalm 108 Paratum cor meum
1   My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and make melody.
2   Wake up, my spirit; awake, lute and harp; I myself will waken the dawn.
3   I will confess you among the peoples, O LORD; I will sing praises to you among the nations.
4   For your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens, and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
5   Exalt yourself above the heavens, O God, and your glory over all the earth.
6   So that those who are dear to you may be delivered, save with your right hand and answer me.
7   God spoke from his holy place and said, "I will exult and parcel out Shechem; I will divide the valley of Succoth.
8   Gilead is mine and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet and Judah my scepter.
9   Moab is my washbasin, on Edom I throw down my sandal to claim it, and over Philistia will I shout in triumph."
10   Who will lead me into the strong city? who will bring me into Edom?
11   Have you not cast us off, O God? you no longer go out, O God, with our armies.
12   Grant us your help against the enemy, for vain is the help of man.
13   With God we will do valiant deeds, and he shall tread our enemies under foot.

Evening Psalms

Psalm 33 Exultate, justi
1   Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous; it is good for the just to sing praises.
2   Praise the LORD with the harp; play to him upon the psaltery and lyre.
3   Sing for him a new song; sound a fanfare with all your skill upon the trumpet.
4   For the word of the LORD is right, and all his works are sure.
5   He loves righteousness and justice; the loving-kindness of the LORD fills the whole earth.
6   By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, by the breath of his mouth all the heavenly hosts.
7   He gathers up the waters of the ocean as in a water-skin and stores up the depths of the sea.
8   Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all who dwell in the world stand in awe of him.
9   For he spoke, and it came to pass; he commanded, and it stood fast.
10   The LORD brings the will of the nations to naught; he thwarts the designs of the peoples.
11   But the LORD'S will stands fast for ever, and the designs of his heart from age to age.
12   Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD! happy the people he has chosen to be his own!
13   The LORD looks down from heaven, and beholds all the people in the world.
14   From where he sits enthroned he turns his gaze on all who dwell on the earth.
15   He fashions all the hearts of them and understands all their works.
16   There is no king that can be saved by a mighty army; a strong man is not delivered by his great strength.
17   The horse is a vain hope for deliverance; for all its strength it cannot save.
18   Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon those who fear him, on those who wait upon his love,
19   To pluck their lives from death, and to feed them in time of famine.
20   Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
21   Indeed, our heart rejoices in him, for in his holy Name we put our trust.
22   Let your loving-kindness, O LORD, be upon us, as we have put our trust in you.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The New Revised Standard Version Bible may be quoted and/or reprinted up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses without express written permission of the publisher, provided the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible or account for fifty percent (50%) of the total work in which they are quoted.

The Daily Meditation for SATURDAY, November 19, 2016

From Forward Day By Day
Written by Richelle Thompson

Luke 18:11 (NRSV) The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.”

Lord knows we like to justify our behavior by casting ourselves in a favorable light. We might be bad. But thank God we’re not as bad as a friend or a coworker. We might be mean and selfish, but that guy down the street is way worse. Most of us are just like the Pharisee, propping ourselves up on the backs—and at the expense—of others.

Jesus bids us instead to be like the tax collector: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (18:13b). The ancient Greek maxim to know thyself does not ask us to know the motivations of others. The philosophy of the examined life requires that we look at our own actions, our deepest selves, and determine whether we are living into the beliefs we espouse, the faith we proclaim.

When we compare ourselves not to others but to the vision that Jesus has for each of us, we need be less like the Pharisee, preening and crowing, and more like the tax collector, on our knees and praying for mercy.

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Our Daily Bread - Skywatcher

Read: Isaiah 40:21–31 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 11–13; James 1

He . . . brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Isaiah 40:26

Unsettled by issues at work and at home, Matt decided to take a walk. The evening spring air beckoned. As the infinite sky deepened from blue to black, a thickening fog spilled slowly over the marsh. Stars began to glimmer, heralding the full moon rising in the east. The moment, for Matt, was deeply spiritual. He’s there, he thought. God is there, and He’s got this. 

Some people look at the night sky and see nothing but nature. Others see a god as distant and cold as Jupiter. But the same God who “sits enthroned above the circle of the earth” also “brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name” (Isa. 40:22, 26). He knows His creation intimately.

It is this personal God who asked His people, “Why do you say, Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God’?” Aching for them, God reminded them of the wisdom in seeking Him. “Do you not know? Have you not heard? . . . He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (vv. 27–29).

We are easily tempted to forget God. Our problems won’t disappear with an evening stroll, but we can find rest and certainty that God is always working toward His good purposes. “I’m here,” He says. “I’ve got you.”

Thank You, Lord, for a night sky that helps us glimpse eternity. We can’t begin to understand it fully, but we know it is there, and we know You are there. Help us trust You for what we don’t know.

We should give God the same place in our hearts that He holds in the universe.

© 2016 Our Daily Bread Ministries

Nuestro Pan Diario - Telescopio

Leer: Isaías 40:21-31 | La Biblia en un año: Santiago 1

… Él saca y cuenta su ejército de estrellas; a todas las llama por su nombre… (Isaías 40:26, RVC).

Preocupado por asuntos del trabajo y del hogar, Mateo decidió salir a caminar. La brisa primaveral era encantadora, mientras el inmenso cielo azul se oscurecía y una espesa niebla descendía lentamente sobre el pantano. Las estrellas comenzaban a brillar, anunciando la salida de la luna llena. La ocasión le resultó sumamente espiritual, y pensó: Dios está allí; Él lo hizo.

Algunos miran el cielo nocturno y solo ven la naturaleza. Otros, un dios tan distante y frío como Júpiter. Pero el mismo Dios que «tiene su trono sobre el arco de la tierra», también «saca y cuenta su ejército de estrellas; a todas las llama por su nombre» (Isaías 40:22, 26). Conoce íntimamente su creación.

Este mismo Dios personal le preguntó a su pueblo: «¿por qué dices que tu camino está oculto para el Señor […], alegas que Dios pasa por alto tu derecho?». Dolido, les recordó cuán sabio es buscarlo: «¿Acaso no sabes, ni nunca oíste decir […]? El Señor […] da fuerzas al cansado, y aumenta el vigor del que desfallece» (vv. 27-29).

Tendemos a olvidar fácilmente a Dios. Nuestros problemas no desaparecerán con una caminata, pero sí podemos descansar y estar seguros de que el Señor obra siempre para cumplir sus buenos propósitos. Dice: «Aquí estoy; yo te hice».

Señor, ayúdame a confiar en ti para lo que no conozco.

Debemos dar a Dios el mismo lugar en nuestro corazón que tiene en el universo.

© 2016 Ministerios Nuestro Pan Diario

Unser Täglich Brot - Himmelsblick

Lesen: Jesaja 40,21-31 | Die Bibel In Einem Jahr: Hesekiel 11–13; Jakobus 1

Er ruft [die Sterne], und sie kommen hervor; jeden nennt er mit seinem Namen. Jesaja 40,26 HFA

Probleme an der Arbeit und zu Hause machten Matt zu schaffen. Deshalb beschloss er, rauszugehen und ein wenig zu laufen. Der Frühlingsabend lud förmlich dazu ein. Als der unendliche Himmel sich von Blau zu Schwarz färbte, legte sich dichter Nebel über das Land. Sterne begannen zu funkeln und den aufgehenden Mond anzukündigen. Für Matt war es ein tief spiritueller Moment. Er ist da, dachte er. Gott ist da und kann so etwas machen.

Manche Menschen sehen nichts als die Natur, wenn sie in den Abendhimmel schauen. Andere sehen einen Gott, der so kalt und fern ist wie Jupiter. Aber derselbe Gott, der „über dem Kreis der Erde“ thront, ruft auch die Sterne „alle mit Namen“ (Jes. 40,22.26). Er kennt seine Schöpfung ganz genau.

Und dieser persönliche Gott fragt sein Volk: „Warum sprichst du denn: Mein Weg ist dem Herrn verborgen, und mein Recht geht an meinem Gott vorüber?“ Weil er den Kontakt sucht, fordert er sie auf: „Weißt du nicht? Hast du nicht gehört? . . . Er gibt dem Müden Kraft und Stärke genug dem Unvermögenden“ (V.27-29).

Wir neigen schnell dazu, Gott zu vergessen. Unsere Probleme lösen sich bei einem Abendspaziergang nicht auf. Aber wir können Ruhe finden und die Gewissheit, dass Gott alles zu unserem Besten dienen lässt. „Ich bin hier“, sagt er. „Ich kenne dich mit Namen.“

Danke, Herr, für den Abendhimmel, der uns einen Blick in die Ewigkeit schenkt. Wir können es nicht begreifen, aber wir wissen, sie ist da und du bist da. Hilf uns, dir in allen Dingen zu vertrauen.

Wir sollten Gott denselben Platz in unseren Herzen einräumen, den er im Universum hat.

© 2016 Unser Täglich Brot

Хлеб наш насущный - Владыка небес

Читать сейчас: Исаия 40:21-31 | Библия за год: Иезекииль 11-13; 2 Тимофею 3

Поднимите глаза ваши на высоту небес... Кто выводит воинство их счетом? Он всех их называет по имени. — Исаия 40:26

Расстроенный неурядицами на работе и дома, Мэт решил прогуляться. Вечерний воздух приятно освежал. Бесконечное небо из синего постепенно становилось черным, над лужайкой сгущался туман. Звезды своим блеском возвестили появление на востоке полной луны. «Он здесь, – подумал Мэт, затаив дыхание, – Бог здесь и держит все это».

Некоторые люди смотрят на небо и видят только природу. Другие воспринимают Бога таким же далеким и холодным, как, скажем, Юпитер. Но тот же Бог, «Который восседает над кругом земли», также управляет звездами и «выводит воинство их счетом. Он всех их называет по имени» (Ис. 40:22, 26). Он в совершенстве знает Свое творение.

Обращаясь к Своему народу, этот Бог сказал: «Как же говоришь ты, Иаков, и высказываешь, Израиль: “Путь мой сокрыт от Господа, и дело мое забыто у Бога моего»?” Глубоко сочувствуя израильтянам, Бог напоминает им: «Разве ты не знаешь? Разве ты не слышал, что вечный Господь Бог... дает утомленному силу и изнемогшему дарует крепость» (Ис. 40:27-29).

Мы склонны забывать Бога. Проблемы порой действительно бывают серьезными. Однако мы можем найти мир и уверенность в сознании, что Бог всегда действует в нашей жизни, преследуя благие цели. «Я здесь, – говорит Он, – Я держу тебя».

Благодарим Тебя, Господь, за ночное небо – отблеск вечности. Мы не можем объять Твоего величия, но мы знаем, что Ты близок к нам. Помоги нам доверить Тебе все, чего мы не понимаем.

Нужно предоставить Богу такое место в сердце, какое Он занимает во вселенной.

© 2016 Хлеб Наш Насущный

Notre Pain Quotidien - Observateur du ciel

Lisez : Ésaïe 40.21‑31 | La Bible en un an : Ézéchiel 11 – 13 et Jacques 1

Qui fait marcher en ordre leur armée ? Il les appelle toutes par leur nom. (Ésaïe 40.26)

Bouleversé par des problèmes au bureau et à la maison, Matt a décidé d’aller faire une promenade à pied. L’air printanier parfumait la soirée. Tandis que le ciel infini passait du bleu sombre au noir, un épais brouillard s’est lentement installé. Les étoiles ont commencé à scintiller, annonçant la levée de la pleine lune à l’Est. Pour Matt, cet instant était profondément spirituel en ce sens qu’il se disait : Il est là. Dieu est là, et il veille sur tout ça. 

Certaines personnes regardent le ciel de nuit et n’y voient que la nature. D’autres y voient un dieu aussi lointain et froid que Jupiter. Reste que c’est le même Dieu qui « est assis au‑dessus du cercle de la terre », qui « a créé ces choses » et qui « les appelle toutes par leur nom » (ÉS 40.22,26). Dieu connaît intimement sa création.

C’est d’ailleurs ce Dieu personnel qui a demandé à son peuple : « Pourquoi dis‑tu, Jacob, pourquoi dis‑tu, Israël : Ma destinée est cachée devant l’Éternel, mon droit passe inaperçu devant mon Dieu ? Ne le sais‑tu pas ? ne l’as‑tu pas appris ? […] Il donne de la force à celui qui est fatigué, et il augmente la vigueur de celui qui tombe en défaillance » (V. 27‑29).

Il nous est facile d’oublier Dieu. Nos problèmes ne disparaissent pas au fil d’une promenade à pied en soirée, mais il nous est possible de trouver le repos et la certitude que Dieu oeuvre constamment pour notre bien. « Je suis là, nous dit‑il. Je veille sur toi. »

Accordons à Dieu la place qu’il occupe déjà dans l’univers.

© 2016 Ministères NPQ