Monday, July 31, 2017

The Daily Readings for MONDAY, July 31, 2017

Beheading of St John the Baptist
Opening Sentence
I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord." Psalm 122:1

Morning Prayer
I  give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have protected me through the night from all danger and harm. I ask you to preserve and keep me, this day also, from all sin and evil, that in all my thoughts, words, and deeds I may serve and please you. Into your hands I commend my body and soul and all that is mine. Let your holy angels have charge of me, that the wicked one have no power over me. Amen.

Confession and Forgiveness
Dear Heavenly Father, we lower our heads before you and we confess that we have too often forgotten that we are yours. Sometimes we carry on our lives as if there was no God and we fall short of being a credible witness to You. For these things we ask your forgiveness and we also ask for your strength. Give us clear minds and open hearts so we may witness to You in our world. Remind us to be who You would have us to be regardless of what we are doing or who we are with. Hold us to You and build our relationship with You and with those You have given us on earth. Amen.

Today's Readings

The First Reading is taken from 2 Samuel 2:1-11
After this David inquired of the LORD, "Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?" The LORD said to him, "Go up." David said, "To which shall I go up?" He said, "To Hebron." So David went up there, along with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David brought up the men who were with him, every one with his household; and they settled in the towns of Hebron. Then the people of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. When they told David, "It was the people of Jabesh-gilead who buried Saul," David sent messengers to the people of Jabesh-gilead, and said to them, "May you be blessed by the LORD, because you showed this loyalty to Saul your lord, and buried him! Now may the LORD show steadfast love and faithfulness to you! And I too will reward you because you have done this thing. Therefore let your hands be strong, and be valiant; for Saul your lord is dead, and the house of Judah has anointed me king over them." But Abner son of Ner, commander of Saul's army, had taken Ishbaal son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim. He made him king over Gilead, the Ashurites, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, and over all Israel. Ishbaal, Saul's son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David. The time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months.

The Second Reading is taken from Acts 15:36-16:5
After some days Paul said to Barnabas, "Come, let us return and visit the believers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul decided not to take with them one who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not accompanied them in the work. The disagreement became so sharp that they parted company; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and set out, the believers commending him to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. Paul went on also to Derbe and to Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him; and he took him and had him circumcised because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they went from town to town, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in numbers daily.

The Holy Gospel is written in Mark 6:14-29
[The Death of John the Baptist] King Herod heard of it, for Jesus' name had become known. Some were saying, "John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him." But others said, "It is Elijah." And others said, "It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old." But when Herod heard of it, he said, "John, whom I beheaded, has been raised." For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it." And he solemnly swore to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom." She went out and said to her mother, "What should I ask for?" She replied, "The head of John the baptizer." Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter." The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

Morning Psalms
Psalm 56 Miserere mei, Deus
1   Have mercy on me, O God, for my enemies are hounding me; all day long they assault and oppress me.
2   They hound me all the day long; truly there are many who fight against me, O Most High.
3   Whenever I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.
4   In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust and will not be afraid, for what can flesh do to me?
5   All day long they damage my cause; their only thought is to do me evil.
6   They band together; they lie in wait; they spy upon my footsteps; because they seek my life.
7   Shall they escape despite their wickedness? O God, in your anger, cast down the peoples.
8   You have noted my lamentation; put my tears into your bottle; are they not recorded in your book?
9   Whenever I call upon you, my enemies will be put to flight; this I know, for God is on my side.
10   In God the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I trust and will not be afraid, for what can mortals do to me?
11   I am bound by the vow I made to you, O God; I will present to you thank-offerings;
12   For you have rescued my soul from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living.

Psalm 57 Miserere mei, Deus
1   Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful, for I have taken refuge in you; in the shadow of your wings will I take refuge until this time of trouble has gone by.
2   I will call upon the Most High God, the God who maintains my cause.
3   He will send from heaven and save me; he will confound those who trample upon me; God will send forth his love and his faithfulness.
4   I lie in the midst of lions that devour the people; their teeth are spears and arrows, their tongue a sharp sword.
5   They have laid a net for my feet, and I am bowed low; they have dug a pit before me, but have fallen into it themselves.
6   Exalt yourself above the heavens, O God, and your glory over all the earth.
7   My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and make melody.
8   Wake up, my spirit; awake, lute and harp; I myself will waken the dawn.
9   I will confess you among the peoples, O LORD; I will sing praise to you among the nations.
10   For your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens, and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
11   Exalt yourself above the heavens, O God, and your glory over all the earth.

Psalm 58 Si vere utique
1   Do you indeed decree righteousness, you rulers? do you judge the peoples with equity?
2   No; you devise evil in your hearts, and your hands deal out violence in the land.
3   The wicked are perverse from the womb; liars go astray from their birth.
4   They are as venomous as a serpent, they are like the deaf adder which stops its ears,
5   Which does not heed the voice of the charmer, no matter how skillful his charming.
6   O God, break their teeth in their mouths; pull the fangs of the young lions, O LORD.
7   Let them vanish like water that runs off; let them wither like trodden grass.
8   Let them be like the snail that melts away, like a stillborn child that never sees the sun.
9   Before they bear fruit, let them be cut down like a brier; like thorns and thistles let them be swept away.
10   The righteous will be glad when they see the vengeance; they will bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.
11   And they will say, "Surely, there is a reward for the righteous; surely, there is a God who rules in the earth."

Evening Psalms
Psalm 64 Exaudi, Deus
1   Hear my voice, O God, when I complain; protect my life from fear of the enemy.
2   Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from the mob of evildoers.
3   They sharpen their tongue like a sword, and aim their bitter words like arrows,
4   That they may shoot down the blameless from ambush; they shoot without warning and are not afraid.
5   They hold fast to their evil course; they plan how they may hide their snares.
6   They say, "Who will see us? who will find out our crimes? we have thought out a perfect plot."
7   The human mind and heart are a mystery; but God will loose an arrow at them, and suddenly they will be wounded.
8   He will make them trip over their tongues, and all who see them will shake their heads.
9   Everyone will stand in awe and declare God's deeds; they will recognize his works.
10   The righteous will rejoice in the LORD and put their trust in him, and all who are true of heart will glory.

Psalm 65 Te decet hymnus
1   You are to be praised, O God, in Zion; to you shall vows be performed in Jerusalem.
2   To you that hear prayer shall all flesh come, because of their transgressions.
3   Our sins are stronger than we are, but you will blot them out.
4   Happy are they whom you choose and draw to your courts to dwell there! they will be satisfied by the beauty of your house, by the holiness of your temple.
5   Awesome things will you show us in your righteousness, O God of our salvation, O Hope of all the ends of the earth and of the seas that are far away.
6   You make fast the mountains by your power; they are girded about with might.
7   You still the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the clamor of the peoples.
8   Those who dwell at the ends of the earth will tremble at your marvelous signs; you make the dawn and the dusk to sing for joy.
9   You visit the earth and water it abundantly; you make it very plenteous; the river of God is full of water.
10   You prepare the grain, for so you provide for the earth.
11   You drench the furrows and smooth out the ridges; with heavy rain you soften the ground and bless its increase.
12   You crown the year with your goodness, and your paths overflow with plenty.
13   May the fields of the wilderness be rich for grazing, and the hills be clothed with joy.
14   May the meadows cover themselves with flocks, and the valleys cloak themselves with grain; let them shout for joy and sing.

The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Prayer of the Day
Lord, teach me to number my days aright, that I may gain wisdom of heart. Help me do today the things that matter, not to waste the time I have.

The moments I have are precious, Lord, see that I count them dear. Teach me to number my days aright. Fill me this day with your kindness, that I may be glad and rejoice all the days of my life. Through Christ I pray, Amen.

A Prayer for the Renewal of Life
O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done your will with cheerfulness while it was day, we may, when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Prayer for Mission
O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Power of Your Love

Alleluia! Christ has risen.
Christ has risen indeed. Alleluia!

Closing Prayer
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

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.

Prayer of the Day for MONDAY, July 31, 2017

Lord, teach me to number my days aright, that I may gain wisdom of heart. Help me do today the things that matter, not to waste the time I have.

The moments I have are precious, Lord, see that I count them dear. Teach me to number my days aright. Fill me this day with your kindness, that I may be glad and rejoice all the days of my life. Through Christ I pray, Amen.

Verse of the Day for MONDAY, July 31, 2017

John 1:12-13 (NIV) Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Read all of John 1

Listen to John 1

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Morning Devotions with Cap'n Kenny - Turn the Other Cheek

I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. . . . [L]ove your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
~ Matthew 5:39, 44 (NASB)

It is not so difficult for us to accept the teaching of “love one another.” We can picture a world where we are nice and forgiving to other people, and they treat us decently for the most part. It becomes quite more difficult when the other person is not nice and forgiving to us. It turns into a one-way street, where we suffer and they other guy goes apparently scot-free.

But what do we think when the other person is evil? Unrepentant? Intends to repeat whatever awful thing he did?

Here is a message, spoken without doubt by Jesus Christ Himself, that tells us to pray for such a person, to turn the other cheek, and to LOVE HIM! There is no doubt and no contradiction to what Christ taught in this quote. There is no place in the Bible where we find him counseling revenge in certain circumstances. When Peter pulls a sword out in the Garden of Gethsemane, to physically protect Jesus from the soldiers and Jews come to drag Him to an illegal execution, what does Jesus do? He tells him to put the sword back in the sheath. (John 18:11)

If there is a universally disobeyed commandment of the Bible, this is it. If you want to be hated, as Christ promised you would be if we followed him, bring this quote up when an African-American youth is shot by the police, or an American journalist is beheaded by some Islamic radical or other, or a vicious rapist is loose in your own town. People will treat you like the person who committed the heinous act. You will get emotional questions: “So you think we should just let him keep doing it?”

The answer is: “I don't know. I didn't say this; Jesus did. Ask Him.”
Lord, Let me never flinch from understanding your Word; and where we think I cannot follow it, let me be sad for my sin, and resolve at least to try, remembering that I am perfect only by Your Grace. Amen.
In Jesus,
Cap'n Kenny

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Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Un Dia a la Vez - Fortalécete en Dios

Convertiré su duelo en gozo, y los consolaré; transformaré su dolor en alegría.

Siempre que pasamos una crisis, la verdad es que casi nunca sabemos cómo vamos a salir de esa situación, ni cómo vamos a quedar. Me imagino que muchos de ustedes han pasado pruebas de toda clase y tan fuertes que creyeron que era el final.

Cuando sufrimos un divorcio, una enfermedad, una pérdida, una dificultad financiera o una desilusión amorosa, salimos extenuados, ya que la situación que vivíamos nos drenó de manera física, moral y espiritual. Quedamos cansados y con ganas de unas verdaderas vacaciones. Sin duda, la prueba te devuelve golpeado, pero no derrotado.

¿Por qué es importante saber que nos podemos sentir de esta manera después de pasar situaciones tan duras? Porque somos conscientes de nuestra humanidad y que aunque luchemos con nuestras fuerzas, la sanidad verdadera solo la obtendremos en Dios. Al igual que el cuerpo necesita fortalecerse para una total recuperación después de una enfermedad, también nosotros debemos fortalecernos en el Señor para tener la verdadera recuperación.

La fortaleza en Dios la encontramos en el gozo, en la fe, en la esperanza y en la búsqueda incansable de su Palabra y su presencia.

No dejes de orar, no dejes de leer el Manual de Instrucciones y no dejes de congregarte.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - THE FREEING BEAUTY OF FORGIVENESS

"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."
~ Matthew 18:35 (NIV)

In Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, a street-witnessing team became involved in an extraordinary situation. A young Mexican called Samuel would walk for two hours each day to join them and act as an interpreter. They discovered that Samuel's mother and sister had been murdered and that he witnessed the killings but, despite trying to intervene, was unable to stop them. He said he knew the man who did it.

He had a desire to go and avenge the killings, but then became a Christian and his whole attitude changed. He began a Bible study group now attended by twenty people. On the final night of the meetings, he saw the man he believed had murdered his mother and sister go forward to receive Jesus Christ as his Savior. Samuel made his way through the throng of people and shook his hand and welcomed him “into the Kingdom.” Samuel was able to forgive him.

In Jesus’ teaching, there is little doubt that, as a Christian, I MUST forgive those who have wronged me. Then our human, time-bound minds cry out with the loud fleshly inquiry—“WHY?”

Again Philip Yancey points out that through the process of forgiveness we realize we are not as different from the wrongdoer as we would like to think. And we end up linked on the same side.

In essence, God linked Himself with us humans in the incarnation. Somehow God had to come to terms with these creatures He desperately wanted to love. On earth, living among us, he learned what it was like to be human—yet without sin. But He put Himself on our side. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us.

Forgiveness is a key component of the victorious, overcomer. This is the way of the cross to becoming “more than conquerors.”

As a young Christian in Cambodia, Cham witnessed a Khmer Rouge soldier—a youth he knew from school—bludgeon his mother to death by hitting her repeatedly over the head with a wooden board.

Cham suffered from severe depression over memories of that incident for many months. But eventually the Lord helped him gain victory over it.

Ten years later, Cham was walking down the main street of Phnom Penh and saw that young man who had killed his mother. The young man was very fearful of revenge when he recognized Cham approaching him. With moist eyes Cham looked at him and said, “In the name of Jesus, I forgive you!” Cham was free.

RESPONSE: I accept today that forgiveness is a must for me as a follower of Jesus.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for so many rich examples of the freeing beauty of forgiveness.

Women of the Bible - Esther

Her name means: "Ishtar," the Babylonian Goddess of Love, or from the Persian Word for "Star." Her Hebrew Name, "Hadassah," Means "Myrtle"

Her character: An orphan in a foreign land, she was willing to conceal her Jewish identity in a bid for a pagan king's affection. Esther seemed willing to made moral compromises by sleeping with the king and then taking part in a wedding that would necessarily have required her to pay homage to foreign gods. Even so, she displayed great courage in the midst of a crisis. Prior to risking her life for her people, she humbled herself by fasting and then put her considerable beauty, social grace, and wisdom in the service of God's plan.
Her sorrow: To learn that her husband, the king, had unwittingly placed her life and the life of her people in jeopardy.
Her joy: To watch mourning turn to celebration once the Jews enjoyed relief from their enemies.
Key Scriptures: Esther 1-10

Her Story

Vashti, queen of Persia, was the most powerful woman in the Middle East, yet her power was as fragile as a candle in a storm. Her husband, Xerxes, had just summoned her to appear before a festive gathering of his nobles. Vashti, however, having no intention of parading herself like a prized cow in front of a herd of drunken men, refused.

What should be done to punish her insolence? One of the king's counselors spoke for all: "Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes. For the queen's conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, 'King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.' There will be no end of disrespect and discord."

So poor Vashti bore the brunt of every man's fears. She who had refused the royal summons was forever banished from the royal presence, and a great domestic uprising was squelched before it even began.

After a while, a search was conducted for a new queen to replace Vashti. It so happened that many Jews were living in Persia at the time. Exiled from Judah a hundred years earlier (after Jerusalem's fall in 587 bc), they had been deported to Babylon, which in turn was conquered by Persia. Mordecai and his orphaned cousin Esther were among those living in exile, 650 miles northeast of Jerusalem.

Like many other young virgins, the beautiful Esther was gathered into the king's harem. To refuse the privilege may well have meant her death. Counseled by Mordecai to keep her Jewish origins a secret, because being a Jew would probably have disqualified her from becoming queen, she spent the next twelve months awaiting her tryst with the king. When the moment came, Esther so pleased Xerxes that she became queen in Vashti's place.

Some time later, an Amalekite named Haman rose to power in Persia. Haman was so highly placed that other officials knelt before him as a sign of respect. One man, however, the Jew Mordecai, refused to kneel. Haman became so angry that he decided to eliminate every Jew in the kingdom.

To ascertain the most favorable moment for destroying them, Haman piously consulted his gods by casting lots (or pur). A date eleven months into the future was revealed—March 7 by our reckoning. Haman immediately persuaded Xerxes to issue a decree that all the Jews in his realm were to be slaughtered on that day. By way of incentive, the decree proclaimed that anyone who killed a Jew could plunder his possessions.

Mordecai reacted immediately by contacting his cousin Esther and asking her to beg Xerxes for mercy. But Esther was afraid and replied, "For any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spare their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king."

Mordecai replied, "Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"

So Esther instructed Mordecai, "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish."

On the third day, Esther approached the king. As soon as Xerxes saw her, he held out the golden scepter. "What is it, Queen Esther?" he asked. "What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given to you."

But Esther merely invited the king and Haman to join her that evening for a banquet she had prepared especially for them. That evening the king again pressed her to ask for whatever she desired, but Esther simply invited the king and Haman to another banquet, to be held the following night.

That evening, on his way home, Haman caught sight of Mordecai, sitting smugly rather than kneeling as he passed by. Haman was outraged, but his wife consoled him by proposing an evil scheme—he need merely build a gallows and then ask the king to hang Mordecai on it the next morning.

While Haman was happily constructing a gallows for his enemy, the king was pacing the royal bedroom. Unable to sleep, he ordered one of his servants to read from the annals of the kingdom. That evening's reading just happened to be about how Mordecai had once saved the king's life by warning of a plot against him. It struck the king that Mordecai had never been properly rewarded for his loyalty.

So the next morning the king asked Haman: "What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?"

Assuming the king intended to reward him in some new and marvelous way, the foolish Haman replied with a grandiose suggestion: "For the man the king delights to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden. Then let one of the king's most noble princes robe the man and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, 'This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!' "

"Go at once," the king commanded him. "Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew."

Haman was dumbstruck. The man who had planned to bury his enemy was suddenly forced to exalt him that very day!

That night, as the king and Haman were once again drinking wine at the queen's banquet, the king implored Esther to ask for whatever her heart desired. This time she spoke her mind: "If I have found favor with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. For I and my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation."

"Where is the man who has dared to do such a thing?" the king demanded.

"The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman."

And so Haman's star, which had risen to so great a height, fell suddenly, like a bolt of lightning crashing from the sky. He was hanged on the very same gallows he had built for the Jew Mordecai, and all his property was given to Esther. Furthermore, the king, because he could not revoke one of his own edicts, issued another to counteract the first one. It gave Jews throughout the empire the right to protect themselves, to destroy and plunder every enemy who might raise a hand against them on the seventh of March.

As news of the king's edict spread, many people from various nationalities became so terrified that they claimed to be Jews themselves. The very day Haman's gods had revealed as a day of reckoning for the Jews became a day of reckoning for their enemies. Ever after, the Jews commemorated these events with the Feast of Purim. As the book of Esther says, these days were celebrated "as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration."

Subject to foreign powers after the exile, God's people must have felt among the weakest elements of society. But weaker even than a Jewish man exiled to a foreign land was a Jewish woman. And weakest of all would have been a young orphan of Jewish descent. God had once again employed one of his favorite methods for accomplishing his purposes: He had raised an imperfect woman, the weakest of the weak, placing her in a position of immense strategic importance.

But it had been up to Esther to decide whether she would play the part God offered. Like Moses, she chose to identify with God's people even if it meant risking her life to do so. And even though exile was a punishment for Israel's long unfaithfulness, God showed that he was still with his people, delivering and protecting them in surprising ways, turning the table on their enemies through a series of stunning reversals. Earthly powers were at work to kill and destroy, but a heavenly power, far greater in scope, was at work to save and preserve.

Her Promise

God often uses the most unlikely characters to fulfill his purposes. He elevates a Jewish orphan to become queen of a great empire. Esther begins as a nobody and becomes a somebody, a woman who somewhat reluctantly risks her life to make a stand.

Again, God reveals his penchant for using the most unlikely, ordinary people to accomplish his divine purposes. But, you may wonder, could God ever use you to accomplish his purposes, with all your foibles and imperfections, your lack of talent or influence? Yes, he can! He isn't looking for people who are perfect or talented or influential. He is only looking for people who are willing.

Today's reading is a brief excerpt from Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda (Zondervan). © 2010 by Ann Spangler. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Enjoy the complete book by purchasing your own copy at the Bible Gateway Store. The book's title must be included when sharing the above content on social media.

Girlfriends in God - July 31, 2017


Today’s Truth

And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.
~ Psalm 106:15 (KJV)

Friend to Friend
Recently my teenage daughter asked me for something new. I told her we wouldn’t be purchasing it, and she needed to be content with what she had. Her response was, “I am content… but I just want more.” I laughed with her and told her she needed to revisit the definition of contentment. The Hebrew word male’ in the Old Testament is sometimes translated “satisfied, fulfilled, or complete.” It means “to fill, be full.” In essence it means enough!

When we are satisfied, we aren’t longing for more. Instead we are content with what we have. Take a moment and consider how you would fill in this blank today:

“I wish I had just a little more ____________________.”

While we may not be whining for it, we often find ourselves wishing for just a little more money, time, friends, encouragement, or something else. Marketing targets us and our families attempting to create felt needs. As consumers, the messages we receive can foster dissatisfaction with our homes, bodies, or relationships. Someone wants to sell us something that will give us more.

In Numbers 11, the Israelites whined to the Lord for more meat. They stood in the doorways of their homes complaining. This made the Lord angry. God said He would give them meat for a month and that eventually they would be so sick of it, they would gag on it. Can you think of a time when you really wanted something, but when you got it, didn’t live up to your expectations?

God did exactly what He said He would do. "Now the Lord sent a wind that brought quail from the sea and let them fall all around the camp. For miles in every direction there were quail flying about three feet above the ground" (Numbers 11:31). A few verses later the Scripture says that while the people gorged themselves on the meat, God struck them with a plague. The Psalmist referred to it as leanness in their souls (Psalm 106:15).

The Lord wanted the people to realize that His provision was best. He was more than enough for them, and He is more than enough for us as well. We can also desire to be fulfilled by things that will ultimately destroy our body or soul. Perhaps we want a relationship so badly that we whine for it until God gives us over to it. We have freedom, but not everything is beneficial for our spiritual walk. Other times our cravings for more food than our bodies need causes the plague of health problems. The desire for bigger and better can lead us to spend more money than our budget allows, leaving us with debt that feels like a weight hanging over our head.

Others of us may gorge in different areas – binge television watching, social media addictions, over-shopping, or even things like obsessive cleaning. We must be careful what we wish for because if we whine and complain about it, we just might get it. And it may turn out to be more of a curse than a blessing.

God knows that we won’t find ultimate fulfillment in comfort, food, entertainment, shopping, or over-working. He allowed the Israelites to experience that truth first hand. Let’s remember these things were written to warn us so that we would not experience the same plagues that can accompany any kind of gluttony. We need God to realign us to what really satisfies, and that is a relationship with Him.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, help me not to beg you for nonessentials. Instead, teach me to be content with Your provision in my life. I want to embrace the word enough. You are more than enough for me Jesus. Help me to see that clearly while living in a culture obsessed with more time, more stuff, and more likes on social media. I want more of you instead!
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

How did you fill in the blank above regarding your current longings for more? Take some time today to make a list of all God’s blessings in your life and express your deep satisfaction with God’s gifts and His character. Take stock of how God is enough in your life today. Join Melissa this September for a 7-day contentment project. Sign up and get the details at”

More from the Girlfriends

Melissa Spoelstra is a women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher, and writer who is madly in love with Jesus and passionate about helping women of all ages know Christ more intimately through serious Bible study. She is the author of Mom's Choice Award-winning Total Family Makeover as well as three women’s Bible studies including First Corinthians, Joseph, and Jeremiah. She lives in Dublin, Ohio, with her pastor husband and four kids. Find her online at

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P.O. Box 725, Matthews, NC 28106

Daily Devotion July 31, 2017 "Confidence to Face Whatever Comes Our Way"

Confidence. They say it can make all the difference in one's life.

Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

By Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour

"Confidence to Face Whatever Comes Our Way"

July 31, 2017

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.
~ Romans 8:28 (ESV)

Confidence. They say it can make all the difference in one's life. Oftentimes athletes with similar skills and abilities perform vastly different under pressure. Why? Confidence -- it's the abundance or its absence that matters. Confidence in your abilities, in your strength, in your talents -- it can make a big difference in how well you deal with the issues you are facing today. But this text speaks of an infinitely greater confidence -- one that you can have when you are overwhelmed, beaten down, without hope. How can you be so confident then? Well, if you are a Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul says that even there, you have a God who is "for you" in Christ, who promises you that all things do indeed work together for good to those who love Him.

I call that "Christ confidence." It's a confidence in the Resurrected One, the Lamb who was slain, but who has now begun His reign; all things are indeed under His feet. It's a confidence in the One who says that nothing in this world will separate you from His love. It's a confidence in His Word no matter the dangers and distresses that seem to be all around us.

During World War II, a passenger ship set sail from Great Britain, heading to the port in New York City. The captain of the ship was, shall we say, not very confident in his ability to navigate the dangerous waters of the ocean for the safety of his passengers on board. He was rightly afraid of enemy vessels, dangerous ships, and submarines. So he sought the advice and guidance of the British admiral. The admiral calmly assured the captain that no matter what happened, he should be sure to sail his ship straight ahead. He gave the anxious captain these words: "Don't take any detours. Sail the ship straight ahead. Continue onward, heading straight towards the intended mark."

But after several days of sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, waters filled with submarines and enemy vessels of all kinds, the captain spotted an enemy destroyer off his forward bow. Nervously, he grasped the handset and called for assistance. Again, he heard a calm voice saying, "Keep on straight. Do not detour. Just sail the ship straight ahead. Everything will be just fine. Just keep on going straight to mark."

After a couple more uneasy days, the ship pulled safely into the great harbor of New York City. Shortly after the ship's docking, the great British battleship man-of-war pulled into port behind the passenger vessel. The captain realized that while he did not see the British battleship, she was there, standing by, ready to come to his defense at any time.

There are times when we feel we are sailing on the oceans of our life all alone. But Romans 8 reminds us that it's not man-of-war on our starboard bow that protects us, it's the resurrected Savior Jesus who is with us always. Faith in Christ breeds Christ confidence for life. As Martin Luther says, "Faith is a living, daring confidence in God's grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times. Indeed, He did, and we can too in those Reformation proclamations of grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone!

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, give us the confidence that comes through faith in You and not mere faith in ourselves. Give us Christ confidence to face the challenges of life each day until we see You face to face. Amen.

Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin!  Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).

CPTLN Devocional de 31 de Julio de 2017

Alimento Diario

Cerca de Dios

31 de Julio 2017

Porque el Señor disciplina al que ama, y azota a todo el que recibe como hijo.
~ Hebreos 12:6 (RVC)

Cuando era niño, era común que a veces los padres corrigieran a sus hijos con un castigo físico. A veces usaban la cuchara de madera de la cocina, otras veces simplemente la mano.

Aún cuando yo no recibí muchos de esos castigos, siempre me parecieron crueles e inhumanos.

Ahora que soy adulto me doy cuenta que cada vez que eso pasaba, yo hacía justamente lo que no debía haber hecho. Mi reacción normal era alejarme lo más posible de la cuchara de madera, pero en realidad me tendría que haber acercado lo más posible, porque cuanto más cerca, el golpe hubiera llegado con menos fuerza.

Este ejemplo lo uso para que usted entienda que Dios, al igual que un padre, nos disciplina. Y cuando lo hace nosotros, como buenos seres humanos que somos, reaccionamos enojándonos y tomándole miedo y tratamos de apartarnos de él lo más posible.

¿Qué pasaría si en vez de alejarnos nos acercáramos a él? Cuando nos acercamos a nuestro Padre celestial, el castigo ya no duele tanto. Después de todo, ¿qué padre no quiere que sus hijos estén cerca de él? Vale la pena pensarlo.

ORACIÓN: Padre celestial, en los momentos de dolor y en los momentos de alegría, haz que siempre esté cerca de ti. En el nombre de Jesús. Amén.

De una devoción escrita originalmente para "By the Way"

© Copyright 2017 Cristo Para Todas Las Naciones. ¡Utilice estas devociones en sus boletines! Usado con permiso. Todos los derechos reservados por la Int'l LLL.

Our Daily Bread - A “New Man”
Bible in a Year: Psalms 54–56; Romans 3

Continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. Colossians 1:23

As a group of teenagers visited a home for the elderly in Montego Bay, Jamaica, one young woman noticed a lonely looking man at the end of the room. He appeared to have little left in this world but a bed to sleep on—a bed from which he could not move because of his disability.

The teen began right away to share the story of God’s love for us and read some Bible passages to him. “As I shared with him,” she would say later, “I started to feel his eagerness to hear more.” Responding to his interest, she explained the wonder of Jesus’s sacrificial death for us. “It was hard for this man, who had no hope and no family,” she recalled, “to understand that Someone he’s never met would love him enough to die on the cross for his sins.”

She told him more about Jesus—and then about the promise of heaven (including a new body) for all who believe. He asked her, “Will you dance with me up there?” She saw him begin to imagine himself free of his worn-out body and crippling limitations.

When he said he wanted to trust Jesus as his Savior, she helped him pray a prayer of forgiveness and faith. When she asked him if she could get a picture with him, he replied, “If you help me sit up. I’m a new man.”

Praise God for the life-changing, hope-giving, available-to-all gospel of Jesus Christ! It offers new life for all who trust Him (Col. 1:5, 23).

Lord, thank You for the new life we have in Jesus Christ. Help us to share the hope of that new life with others so they can be made new as well.

Jesus offers new life.

Ministérios Pão Diário - Levante-se!
Leia: Salmo 54
A Bíblia em um ano: Salmos 54–56, Romanos 3

Fazia 15 anos que eu não praticava esqui aquático, mas quando nossos amigos convidaram meu genro e eu para esquiarmos num lago, como eu poderia dizer não? Parecia ser uma boa ideia, até observar as dificuldades que meu genro tinha em se levantar sobre os esquis. Embora ele houvesse praticado muito desse esporte, quando tentava levantar-se sobre um único esqui, sempre caía. Por isso, quando chegou a minha vez, não me senti muito confiante.

Felizmente, a minha amiga é esquiadora profissional e me deu as devidas instruções: “Deixe que o barco puxe você para cima. Seja forte!” Essas afirmações, aparentemente contraditórias, fizeram toda a diferença. Eu fiz ambas as coisas — confiei que o barco faria seu trabalho e me segurei com todas as minhas forças. Na primeira vez que o barco saiu, levantei-me e desfrutei de um grande passeio pelo lago.

Quando a vida o decepcionar pela tristeza que parece difícil demais para carregar ou por circunstâncias que tornam cada dia um enorme peso — o conselho de minha amiga pode lhe ajudar. Primeiro, deixe que Deus o levante com o Seu poder (Salmo 54:1-4). Em seguida, segure firme na mão dele. Apegue-se a Deus e fortaleça-se “…no Senhor e na força do seu poder” (Efésios 6:10).

Confie no poder de Deus e aguente firme. Ele lhe dará as forças para não cair (Isaías 40:31).

…mas os que esperam no Senhor renovam as suas forças… —Isaías 40:31

Lời Sống Hằng Ngày - Một “Người Mới”
Đọc Kinh Thánh suốt năm: Thi thiên 54-56; Rô-ma 3

Tiếp tục đứng vững trong đức tin, không nao núng, không chuyển dời khỏi niềm hi vọng của Tin Lành. Cô-lô-se 1:23

Có một nhóm thiếu niên nọ đến thăm một viện dưỡng lão tại Vịnh Montego ở Jamaica. Một thiếu niên trong nhóm chợt chú ý đến một ông cụ có vẻ cô đơn đang ở cuối phòng. Ông dường như chẳng còn gì trên thế giới này ngoài một một chiếc giường để ngủ — ông chỉ có thể nằm yên ở đó vì bị tàn tật.

Thiếu niên đó liền kể câu chuyện về tình yêu của Chúa dành cho mọi người và đọc một vài câu Kinh Thánh cho ông cụ nghe. Sau này cô bé kể lại rằng: “Khi cháu chia sẻ với ông, cháu bắt đầu cảm thấy ông háo hức muốn nghe thêm.” Đáp lại sự thích thú của ông, cô bé giải thích điều kỳ diệu về sự chết hy sinh của Chúa Jêsus vì chúng ta. Cô bé nhớ lại: “Ông không còn chút hy vọng nào và cũng không có gia đình nên rất khó để ông hiểu rằng Đấng mà ông chưa từng gặp có thể yêu thương ông đủ để chết trên thập tự giá vì tội lỗi của ông.”

Cô bé kể cho ông cụ nghe nhiều hơn về Chúa Jêsus—rồi nói đến lời hứa về thiên đàng (bao gồm một thân thể mới) cho mọi người tin. Ông cụ hỏi cô bé: “Cháu sẽ nhảy múa với ông ở đó chứ?” Cô bé thấy ông bắt đầu mường tượng khung cảnh ông được thoát khỏi thân thể suy kiệt và tàn tật của mình.

Khi ông ngỏ ý muốn tin nhận Chúa Jêsus làm Cứu Chúa của mình, cô bé đã giúp ông cầu nguyện xin Chúa tha thứ tội lỗi và bày tỏ đức tin. Khi cô bé gợi ý muốn chụp một bức ảnh chung với ông, ông đáp: “Nếu cháu giúp ông ngồi dậy thì ông là một con người mới.”

Ngợi khen Đức Chúa Trời vì Phúc Âm về Chúa Jêsus Christ đã làm thay đổi đời sống, ban hy vọng, và dành sẵn cho mọi người! Phúc Âm đó ban đời sống mới cho tất cả những ai tin cậy Ngài (Côl. 1:5, 23).

Lạy Chúa, cảm ơn Ngài về đời sống mới mà chúng con có trong Chúa Jêsus Christ. Xin giúp chúng con chia sẻ niềm hy vọng về đời sống mới đó cho người khác để họ cũng được dựng nên mới.

Chúa Jêsus ban đời sống mới.

Nuestro Pan Diario - Un «hombre nuevo»
La Biblia en un año: Salmos 54–56; Romanos 3

[Permaneced] fundados y firmes en la fe, y sin moveros de la esperanza del evangelio que habéis oído… (v. 23).

Mientras un grupo de adolescentes visitaba un hogar de ancianos, una joven observó a un hombre solitario en un rincón. No le quedaba mucho en este mundo más que una cama, de la cual no podía levantarse debido a su incapacidad física.

La joven empezó a hablarle del amor de Dios y a leerle algunos pasajes bíblicos. «Mientras le hablaba —contó—, empecé a sentir su ansia de escuchar más». En respuesta a su interés, ella le explicó la maravilla de la muerte de Jesús por nosotros. «A este hombre, que no tenía esperanza ni familia —recordó la joven—, le costaba entender que Alguien a quien nunca había conocido lo amara tanto como para morir por sus pecados».

Ella le habló más de Jesús y la promesa del cielo (que incluye un cuerpo nuevo) para todo el que cree. El hombre le preguntó: «¿Bailarás conmigo allá?». La joven pudo ver cómo empezaba a imaginarse libre de su cuerpo agotado y sus limitaciones paralizantes.

Cuando dijo que quería confiar en Jesús como Salvador, ella lo ayudó a orar. Luego, le preguntó si podía tomarse una foto con él, y él respondió: «Si me ayudas a sentarme. Soy un hombre nuevo».
¡Alabado sea Dios por el evangelio transformador y esperanzador de Jesucristo, que está al alcance de todos! (Colosenses 1:5, 23).

Señor, gracias por la nueva vida que tenemos en Jesús.

Jesús ofrece una vida nueva.

© 2017 Ministerios Nuestro Pan Diario

Unser Täglich Brot - Ein „neuer Mensch“
Bible in a Year: Psalm 54–56; Römer 3

Bleibt im Glauben, gegründet und fest, und [weicht] nicht von der Hoffnung des Evangeliums. Kolosser 1,23

Eine Gruppe von Teenagern besuchte ein Altenheim auf Jamaika. Dabei fiel ihnen ein einsamer Mann am Ende des Zimmers auf. Er schien kaum mehr zu haben als das Bett, auf dem er lag—und das er nicht mehr verlassen konnte.

Ein junges Mädchen ging sofort zu ihm und begann, ihm aus der Bibel vorzulesen und von Gottes Liebe zu erzählen. „Ich habe richtig gespürt, wie er mehr wissen wollte“, erzählte sie später. Sie ging auf ihn ein und erklärte ihm, was Jesu Opfertod für uns bedeutet. „Es war für den Mann, der keine Familie und keine Hoffnung mehr hatte, schwer zu begreifen, dass Einer, dem er nie begegnet ist, ihn so sehr liebt, dass er am Kreuz für ihn starb“, meinte sie.

Sie erzählte ihm mehr von Jesus—und seiner Verheißung auf einen neuen Himmel (und einen neuen Leib) für alle, die an ihn glauben. Er fragte: „Wirst du dort mit mir tanzen?“ Er sah sich schon befreit von seinem alten Körper und allen Behinderungen.

Als er sagte, er wolle Jesus als seinen Erlöser annehmen, sprach sie mit ihm ein Übergabegebet. Und als sie fragte, ob sie ein Foto mit ihm machen dürfte, erwiderte er: „Wenn du mir hilfst, mich aufzusetzen. Ich bin ein neuer Mensch.“

Gott sei Dank für das Evangelium von Jesus Christus, das Leben verändert, Hoffnung schenkt und für alle da ist! In ihm haben alle, die ihm vertrauen, neues Leben (Kol. 1,5.23).

Herr, hab Dank für das neue Leben, das wir in Jesus Christus haben. Hilf uns, die Hoffnung darauf mit anderen zu teilen, damit auch sie neu werden.

Jesus schenkt neues Leben.

Notre Pain Quotidien - Un « homme nouveau »
Lisez : Colossiens 1.5‑14
La Bible en un an : PSAUMES 54 – 56 et ROMAINS 3

[Demeurez] fondés et inébranlables dans la foi, sans vous détourner de l’espérance de l’Évangile. V. 23

En visite avec un groupe d’adolescents dans une maison de retraite de Montego Bay, en Jamaïque, une jeune femme a remarqué un homme qui semblait esseulé au fond de la pièce. On aurait dit qu’il ne lui restait plus dans la vie que le lit auquel son handicap l’avait cloué.

L’adolescente s’est mise aussitôt à lui parler de l’amour de Dieu pour nous et à lui lire des passages bibliques. Plus tard, elle nous a dit : « En lui parlant, j’ai commencé à sentir qu’il voulait en savoir plus. » Voyant son intérêt, elle lui avait expliqué tout le merveilleux de la mort sacrificielle de Jésus envers nous. Puis elle a ajouté : « C’était difficile pour cet homme sans espoir ni famille de comprendre qu’une Personne qu’il n’avait jamais rencontrée l’aimait au point de mourir sur la croix afin d’expier ses péchés. »

Elle lui en a dit plus sur Jésus, et ensuite sur la promesse des cieux (y compris d’un nouveau corps) pour tous ceux qui croiraient en Christ. L’homme lui a demandé : « Danserez‑vous avec moi là‑haut ? » Elle l’a alors vu commencer à s’imaginer libéré de son corps usé et infirme.

Lorsqu’il lui a indiqué qu’il désirait mettre sa foi en Jésus comme son Sauveur, elle l’a aidé à faire une prière de pardon et de foi. Quand elle lui a demandé la permission de se faire prendre en photo avec lui, il lui a répondu : « Si vous m’aidez à m’asseoir. Je suis un homme nouveau. »

Gloire à Dieu pour son Évangile transformateur, porteur d’espoir et universel ! Il offre une vie nouvelle à quiconque croit en lui.

Jésus offre à tous une vie nouvelle.

© 2017 Ministères NPQ

Хліб Наш Насущній - “Нова людина”
Читати: Колосян 1:5-14
Біблія за рік: Псалом 54-56 ; Римлян 3

Якщо тільки пробуваєте в вірі тверді та сталі, і не відпадаєте від надії Євангелії. — Колосян 1:23

Якось група віруючих підлітків відвідала будинок для людей похилого віку на Ямайці. Одна дівчина побачила у кутку кімнати чоловіка, що мав дуже сумний вигляд. Він не міг пересуватись.

Ця дівчина відразу ж почала свідчити йому про Божу любов і зачитувати деякі біблійні уривки. “Коли я свідчила йому, – розказувала вона пізніше, – то відчула, що він хоче почути більше”. Такий інтерес з боку самотнього чоловіка спонукав дівчину пояснити йому значення жертви Ісуса Христа. Потім вона згадувала: “Цій людині, яка не мала ані родини, ані надії, було важко зрозуміти, що Хтось – Кого він ніколи не бачив, – міг так сильно полюбити, що навіть вмер на хресті за його гріхи”.

Дівчина продовжувала розповідати нещасному про обітницю вічного життя на небі та про нові тіла для всіх віруючих. “А ти потанцюєш зі мною там?” – раптово запитав він. Дівчина зрозуміла, що він вже почав уявляти себе вільним від свого поношеного тіла.

Потім старенький чоловік сказав, що хотів би увірувати в Ісуса як свого Спасителя, і дівчинка допомогла йому помолитись молитвою покаяння. Коли вона спитала його, чи може сфотографуватися з ним, він відповів: “Якщо допоможеш мені сісти… Тепер я нова людина”.

Слава Богу за те, що Він дає нове життя кожному, хто вірує в Ісуса Христа! (Кол. 1:5, 23).

Господи, дякуємо Тобі за нове життя, яке маємо в Ісусі Христі. Допоможи нести цю надію іншим, щоб вони теж могли стати новими людьми.

Ісус пропонує кожному нове життя.