Monday, August 7, 2017

The Daily Readings for MONDAY, August 7, 2017

The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, asking him for a sign from heaven.
Opening Sentence
I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord." Psalm 122:1

Morning Prayer
Rise up, oh children of light, and let us give glory to the Lord, who alone can save our souls. O Lord, as you withdraw sleep from the eyes of my body, grant me wakefulness of mind so that I may stand before you in awe and sing your praises worthily, all of this day. Amen.

Confession and Forgiveness

Almighty God, since thou delayst with so much forbearance the punishments which we have deserved and daily draw on ourselves, grant that we may not indulge ourselves but carefully consider how often and in how many different ways we have provoked thy wrath against us. May we learn humbly to present ourselves to thee for pardon, and with true repentance implore thy mercy. With all our heart we desire to submit ourselves to thee, whether thou chastisest us, or according to thine infinite goodness, forgivest us. Let our condition be ever blessed, not by flattering ourselves in our apathy, but by finding thee to be our kind and bountiful Father, reconciled to us in thine only-begotten Son. Amen.
~ By Calvin, taken from Prayers of the Reformers compiled by Clyde Manschreck

Today's Readings

The First Reading is taken from 2 Samuel 7:1-17
Now when the king was settled in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, "See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent." Nathan said to the king, "Go, do all that you have in mind; for the LORD is with you." But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the LORD: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, "Why have you not built me a house of cedar?" Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the LORD of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings. But I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever. In accordance with all these words and with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.

The Second Reading is taken from Acts 18:1-11
After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together-- by trade they were tentmakers. Every sabbath he would argue in the synagogue and would try to convince Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with proclaiming the word, testifying to the Jews that the Messiah was Jesus. When they opposed and reviled him, in protest he shook the dust from his clothes and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles." Then he left the synagogue and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God; his house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the official of the synagogue, became a believer in the Lord, together with all his household; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul became believers and were baptized. One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, "Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to harm you, for there are many in this city who are my people." He stayed there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

The Holy Gospel is written in Mark 8:11-21
[The Demand for a Sign] The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, "Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation." And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side.

[The Yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod] Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, "Watch out-- beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod." They said to one another, "It is because we have no bread." And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?" They said to him, "Twelve." "And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?" And they said to him, "Seven." Then he said to them, "Do you not yet understand?"

Morning Psalms
Psalm 80 Qui regis Israel
1   Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, leading Joseph like a flock; shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim.
2   In the presence of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh, stir up your strength and come to help us.
3   Restore us, O God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.
4   O LORD God of hosts, how long will you be angered despite the prayers of your people?
5   You have fed them with the bread of tears; you have given them bowls of tears to drink.
6   You have made us the derision of our neighbors, and our enemies laugh us to scorn.
7   Restore us, O God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.
8   You have brought a vine out of Egypt; you cast out the nations and planted it.
9   You prepared the ground for it; it took root and filled the land.
10   The mountains were covered by its shadow and the towering cedar trees by its boughs.
11   You stretched out its tendrils to the Sea and its branches to the River.
12   Why have you broken down its wall, so that all who pass by pluck off its grapes?
13   The wild boar of the forest has ravaged it, and the beasts of the field have grazed upon it.
14   Turn now, O God of hosts, look down from heaven; behold and tend this vine; preserve what your right hand has planted.
15   They burn it with fire like rubbish; at the rebuke of your countenance let them perish.
16   Let your hand be upon the man of your right hand, and son of man you have made so strong for yourself.
17   And so will we never turn away from you; give us life, that we may call upon your Name.
18   Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

Evening Psalms
Psalm 77 Voce mea ad Dominum
1   I will cry aloud to God; I will cry aloud, and he will hear me.
2   In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; my hands were stretched out by night and did not tire; I refused to be comforted.
3   I think of God, I am restless, I ponder, and my spirit faints.
4   You will not let my eyelids close; I am troubled and I cannot speak.
5   I consider the days of old; I remember the years long past;
6   I commune with my heart in the night; I ponder and search my mind.
7   Will the Lord cast me off for ever? will he no more show his favor?
8   Has his loving-kindness come to an end for ever? has his promise failed for evermore?
9   Has God forgotten to be gracious? has he, in his anger, withheld his compassion?
10   And I said, "My grief is this: the right hand of the Most High has lost its power."
11   I will remember the works of the LORD, and call to mind your wonders of old time.
12   I will meditate on all your acts and ponder your mighty deeds.
13   Your way, O God, is holy; who is so great a god as our God?
14   You are the God who works wonders and have declared your power among the peoples.
15   By your strength you have redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph.
16   The waters saw you, O God; the waters saw you and trembled; the very depths were shaken.
17   The clouds poured out water; the skies thundered; your arrows flashed to and fro;
18   The sound of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lit up the world; the earth trembled and shook.
19   Your way was in the sea, and your paths in the great waters, yet your footsteps were not seen.
20   You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Psalm 79 Deus, venerunt
1   O God, the heathen have come into your inheritance; they have profaned your holy temple; they have made Jerusalem a heap of rubble.
2   They have given the bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the air, and the flesh of your faithful ones to the beasts of the field.
3   They have shed their blood like water on every side of Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them.
4   We have become a reproach to our neighbors, an object of scorn and derision to those around us.
5   How long will you be angry, O LORD? will your fury blaze like fire for ever?
6   Pour out your wrath upon the heathen who have not known you and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon your Name.
7   For they have devoured Jacob and made his dwelling a ruin.
8   Remember not our past sins; let your compassion be swift to meet us; for we have been brought very low.
9   Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your Name; deliver us and forgive us our sins, for your Name's sake.
10   Why should the heathen say, "Where is their God?" Let it be known among the heathen and in our sight that you avenge the shedding of your servants' blood.
11   Let the sorrowful sighing of the prisoners come before you, and by your great might spare those who are condemned to die.
12   May the revilings with which they reviled you, O Lord, return seven-fold into their bosoms.
13   For we are your people and the sheep of your pasture; we will give you thanks for ever and show forth your praise from age to age.

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
Most blessed Christ, I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. No matter how weak or lowly I may feel, I will always remember your words: that those whom the earth despises — the stones that the builders rejected — have become the cornerstone of your church. Let me be strong in faith and strong in your Spirit; for only by You, Lord Christ, may the gates of righteousness be opened to a sinner. I pray that I may be part of the foundation of your church on earth, and that by your grace, the gates of righteousness may be opened to me and to all who confess your holy name. Amen.

Prayer when Facing a Difficult Decision
Oh Holy Spirit, Christ sent you to us for comfort and guidance when He ascended to heaven, and I ask that you be with me now. I have to make a decision and I turn to you, for even though I have made mistakes in the past, I have faith in you and truly desire that "thy will be done." Help me to empty my mind of all sinful motivation and speak to me, in the quietness of spirit, I pray. Give me grace to lead me in the path of the right decision, one that will help me to live in peace and happiness, but above all, one that will serve you, and one that I will look back upon, when my life is drawing to a close, with gratitude and thanks that I did the right thing. Amen.
(Sit quietly and listen. If your thoughts intrude, simply repeat "thy will be done" quietly.)

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.
Lead Me To The Cross
By Hillsong

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

Closing Prayer
The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant; Make me perfect in every good work to do your will, working in me that which is well pleasing in your sight; through Jesus Christ, to whom be 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, August 7, 2017

Most blessed Christ, I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. No matter how weak or lowly I may feel, I will always remember your words: that those whom the earth despises — the stones that the builders rejected — have become the cornerstone of your church. Let me be strong in faith and strong in your Spirit; for only by You, Lord Christ, may the gates of righteousness be opened to a sinner. I pray that I may be part of the foundation of your church on earth, and that by your grace, the gates of righteousness may be opened to me and to all who confess your holy name. Amen.

Verse of the Day for MONDAY, August 7, 2017

Isaiah 33:22 (NIV) For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; it is he who will save us.

Read all of Isaiah 33

Listen to Isaiah 33

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 - The Great Commission

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations . . . .
~ Matthew 28:19 (NIV)

Christ commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations. “Nations,” in this context, means “peoples”; really, what He meant was, “make disciples all over the earth.” What are you doing to fulfill this commandment?

Personally, I don't always get out of bed, clap my hands together in excitement and say, “I'm going to go forth today and make disciples of all nations.” If we are living in the flesh and our concerns are worldly — our default state of existence — this really seems like a heavy chore. Sometimes, we can't even admit it exists; we can't face the possibility of doing anything, along the lines of spreading knowledge and love of Christ in the world. We might send a check, if our other bills are paid.

But if we feel like this, there is a better way to live. Life in the spirit is, without any doubt whatsoever, less painful and more filled with joy than life in the flesh. This is a good gauge: Do I look forward to sharing Christ with the world, or does it seem like a painful or tedious chore? We can use this as a barometer, like the engine temperature gauge in a car, because if we are dreading or shirking our duty of bringing others to Christ, we ourselves are not getting our full share. To be filled with the Spirit is to have the Spirit overflowing, exploding. There is no such thing as the “right amount of Spirit.” If we have enough, we have too much and it erupts from us; if it is not overflowing, we do not have enough.

And most of us living in the West today are woefully short of this precious commodity that costs . . . nothing! God sent us the Holy Spirit free of charge, to hold us over until Christ returns. All we need to do is ask, in faith, that the Spirit fill our lives, and our troubles will fade into the background, their painful wailing drowned out by the joy of God!

So here is the secret of Christian living: Pray, study, meditate on God's Word, until the Spirit has filled you to the brim and you cannot wait to tell someone else about it, to share the wonderful thing you have discovered. The Great Commission will then seem natural and desirable, for we will be filled with love. And if we love someone, how could we possibly not share the greatest thing in life with them?
Lord God, fill me with your Spirit until it grows so huge that I must share it. Amen.
In Jesus,
Cap'n Kenny

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

Un Dia a la Vez - Hijos abusivos

Hijo mío, escucha las correcciones de tu padre y no abandones las enseñanzas de tu madre. Adornarán tu cabeza como una diadema.

Hace unos días me contaron de un hecho que uno pensaría que es increíble.

Hijos que maltratan a sus padres e hijas que le pegan a su mamá. Un abuso que puede ser más común de lo que creemos. En este caso, madre e hija se congregan en la iglesia y aparentan tener una vida normal. Sin embargo, la gran realidad es que la hija, que es una mujer hecha y derecha, le pega a su mamá.

Lo más triste de esta situación es que la mamá le tiene miedo a su hija y nunca se ha atrevido a denunciarla ni a hablar del problema en la iglesia. ¿Cómo es posible que suceda algo así?

Lo que estas personas están sembrando es destrucción, fracaso y un juicio de Dios sobre sus vidas.

Sé que a veces los papás somos exigentes, pero nada les da el derecho a los hijos de maltratarlos. Dios diseñó a los padres con suficiente carácter para disciplinar y con mucho amor. Es más, hagan lo que hagan los hijos, el corazón de padre no va a cambiar. Esto no quiere decir que tú los maltrates con palabras groseras, mucho menos que les pongas una mano encima.

Padres, si están viviendo una situación así con sus hijos, deben buscar ayuda de inmediato.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón

Standing Strong Through the Storm - THE PROCESS OF PERSECUTION-1: OPPOSITION

Consider [Jesus] who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
~ Hebrews 12:3 (NIV)

Whenever we ask audiences in free societies to word-associate “persecution,” most responses are what we refer to as the “big three”: torture, imprisonment and martyrdom. Many would agree that persecution is much more than the “big three” which are often only experienced in the final stage of the process of persecution.

Jesus repeatedly warned his followers that if the world hated Him, it would hate them also (John 15:18). In Luke 6:22, Jesus reminds his disciples that this opposition is a blessing. Not a blessing I ever hear many Christians praying for.

So the very basic and first step in this process is awareness that as a follower of Jesus, you can expect opposition, just as Jesus Himself experienced (Hebrews 12:3). He indicated that it will come from the world and possibly even from your own family and friends.

So do we walk around with a persecution complex, chip on our shoulder attitude, because of this? Absolutely not. The good news is that Jesus says we can live a life of joy in the midst of these troubles because He has overcome the world and so can we (John 16:33).

And this opposition is in every country and culture, not just those where severe persecution is being experienced. A few years ago Jim Cunningham and I wrote a little booklet about experiencing mild persecution right here in North America entitled Red Skies @ Dawn available at Open Doors offices. It is a dialogue between two young couples. Here’s a relevant excerpt:

Sam responded. “Ultimately Satan, our real enemy, wants to destroy the Church of Jesus Christ, wherever it’s located. And Jesus Himself is the stumbling block to those who don’t believe. When we say He is the only way, we are labeled as exclusivists and on this basis we are then considered intolerant.”

Yvonne added, “I heard a program host on the radio the other day and he was obviously upset by this. When someone told him that Jesus is the only way to God, he shouted that we evangelicals are the scum of the earth!”

“Whoa,” Sanjit reacted. “That’s a little heavy, isn’t it?”

Yvonne continued, “Well, he went on to say that it wasn’t the belief to which he objected so much but he objected to the arrogance of any person claiming ‘my way or the highway’ and writing off the rest of the human race to eternal damnation.”

All of this discussion clearly points out, “Sam concluded, “we are facing—and will face even more—attacks because of Jesus in us. Persecution may not be just for those brothers and sisters across the seas in places like East Africa and China, but perhaps even for us.”

RESPONSE: Today I will rejoice that in the face of general opposition to Jesus in me, I can be an overcomer like Jesus.

PRAYER: Help me, Lord, to be aware of any opposition without it negatively affecting my witness.

Women of the Bible - The Woman of Proverbs 31

Her character: She represents the fulfillment of a life lived in wisdom.
Her joy: To be praised by her husband and children as a woman who surpasses all others.
Key Scriptures: Proverbs 31:10-31

Her Story

Proverbs brims with less-than-glowing descriptions of women. There are wayward wives, prostitutes, women with smoother-than-oil lips, strange women, loud women, defiant women, wives who are like a continual drip on a rainy day or decay in their husbands' bones, women whose feet never stay home, brazen-faced women, and even a woman so repulsive she is likened to a gold ring in a pig's snout!

Any woman reading Proverbs may be tempted to conclude that its authors tended to blame women for weaknesses actually rooted in the male psyche, especially when it comes to sexual sin. But to balance things out there are also some odious descriptions of men, including scoundrels, villains, chattering fools, and sluggards. And Proverbs actually opens and closes with positive portrayals of women: first as wisdom personified and then as a woman who can do no wrong.

Just who was this woman on a pedestal described in Proverbs 31? Was she, as many think, the ideal wife and mother? In traditional Jewish homes, husbands and children recited the poem in Proverbs 31 at the Sabbath table. Written as an acrostic, each line begins with a Hebrew letter in alphabetical sequence, making it easy to memorize. The poem describes a wealthy, aristocratic woman with a large household to direct. She was hardworking, enterprising, capable, strong, wise, skilled, generous, thoughtful of others, dignified, God-fearing, serene—a tremendous credit to her husband. She arose while it was still dark to feed her family. She looked at a field, considered its merits, and purchased it. She wove cloth and made linen garments, which she then sold. "Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 'Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all' " (verses 28-29).

The description of the woman in Proverbs 31 offers a refreshing contrast to other ancient depictions of women, which tend to portray them in more frivolous and decorative terms, emphasizing only their charm or beauty. Still, the perfect woman of Proverbs 31 hasn't always been a friend to ordinary women. In fact, she has sometimes been rubbed into the faces of lesser women by critical husbands and preachers unable to resist the temptation. What woman could ever measure up to her? And is a woman's worth to be measured only by what she can accomplish in the domestic sphere? Or is the woman in Proverbs 31 a symbol of all the contributions a woman could make within the culture of her day? Regardless of how you answer these questions, there is more to her story than simply being the ideal wife and mother.

Before we can discover more about her true identity, it is worth posing a broader question: Are there really all that many women running around in the pages of Proverbs? Perhaps, in fact, there are only two main women in Proverbs: the wise woman and the woman of folly (as some have called her). The latter encompasses the adulteress and her many wicked counterparts; the former encompasses wisdom in the abstract and wisdom made concrete in the woman of Proverbs 31.

In Proverbs 3:13-16 a young man is instructed: "Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor." Here is wisdom in the abstract, personified as a woman.

Proverbs 31 echoes this praise: "A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies…. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard" (verses 10, 12-16). Here is a concrete example of what wisdom looks like in a person's life.

By contrast, the man who welcomes the brazen-faced woman, the prostitute, the adulteress is nothing but a fool. He has fallen prey to the woman of folly, who offers deceitful pleasures that will lead to his death.

From beginning to end, Proverbs is a practical handbook for leading a life based on wisdom. In the end, there are only two choices for both men and women: to embrace wisdom or to love folly. The woman of Proverbs 31 may well be meant to inspire both men and women with a picture of what a virtuous life, male or female, is capable of producing: shelter for others, serenity, honor, prosperity, generosity, confidence about the future—true blessedness. Who wouldn't want to be like such a woman? Who wouldn't sing her praises?

Her Promise

Many women find Proverbs 31 discouraging. Don't let that happen to you. Remember, this very capable woman is ultimately praised not so much for all she accomplishes as for one thing: She fears the Lord. The woman who is worthy of praise is not necessarily the one who does all her own sewing or is a great cook or is a natural beauty—the woman who gets the praise is the woman who fears the Lord. That's the target to aim for. Not outward beauty. Not a perfectly decorated home. Not even more intellectual knowledge or business acumen. Instead, aim for a bold, all-consuming love for God. Then you too will be worthy of praise.

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 - August 07, 2017

Passion for His Fame

Today’s Truth

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Friend to Friend

There was a time I took a spiritual gifts test through my church. I wasn’t caught off guard by my strengths, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a few previously low-scoring areas move up a little bit. Honestly speaking though, there were still some areas that were just plain low … pretty deficient actually.

I literally came up with the lowest possible number on “worship”. And really, it’s because I don’t have a lick of natural inclination, talent, or skill when it comes to musical expression. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still be a “worshipper.”

We all have a tendency to let our natural bent define us, but does that mean we can’t excel in the areas where we naturally fall short? I know the Lord delights in my gifts, but is He bummed out that I’m not dominating certain areas with spiritual awesomeness?

One day, I went to a sandwich shop to pick up lunch with my kids. The guy behind the counter making our lunch had a black eye patch covering one of his eyes. It looked just like a pirate patch. I noticed it and was inwardly cringing as my 2 year old would not take his eyes off of this man. I was terrified by the possibility of what my son might say.

And then he pointed. With a chubby innocent finger, he pointed straight at the man and said, “Cool hair. Cool hair Mommy.”

The knot in my throat loosened as I sighed relief and noted that indeed, this man had a head full of really awesome looking dreadlocks.

In that moment, I heard the Lord clearly say, “You may think I’m taking note of your shortcomings when I look at you….but really I’m admiring the things I love about you. I am delighting in you, and so often you think I’m staring and picking you apart. I don’t misjudge you, my love, it is you who are misjudging me.”

Why do we worry that the Lord would focus on our deficiencies? Or even more, that those areas of shortcoming would disqualify us from any service of Him?! That I’m not “gifted” in an area, or that I fall short isn’t a hall-pass to be sedentary. It’s like we think that we have to be fit to even join the gym…that our skills and life have to be in order to serve.

Yet…YET, I hear the Great Qualifier say to me…to us, “My sweet ones, I delight in you. I don’t notice that you can’t sing…I see the worshipper inside of your heart. So come, and worship…I delight in all of YOU.”

Let us allow our passion for Him to bring fame to his name. Let us rely on the wonder of Him to fan the flame of Christ’s work in our lives…not any ability of our own. “Every good and perfect gift is from above” anyhow.

Let’s allow our lives to receive these gifts, only to point upwards to Him. And let us NOT allow that upward gaze to stray back to what we do or don’t do well. All to His glory…. ALL to His glory.

Our natural ability cannot define our response to Him. I don’t have to lead worship to be a worshipper. He sees the beauty in each of us, and even in our weaknesses, HE makes us strong. He doesn’t notice our eye patch, my friends, He’s admiring our cool hair.

Let’s Pray

Lord, thank you that you are gracious in our shortcomings. We confess that we forget that there is no condemnation for those that are in You--help us remember this and walk in freedom! Thank you for genuinely delighting in us. Let us rest in that. We are secure in You.
In Jesus’ Name,

Now It’s Your Turn

What parts of you do you feel are “not enough?” Take those things to the Lord, and ask Him to show you the truth about how He sees you. What parts of you are worth celebrating? Speak them out loud and, by all means, celebrate them!

More from the Girlfriends

Logan Wolfram would give you full access to her pantry if you lived next door. She is a plate-juggling mom and interior decorator turned author, speaker, and host of the Allume Conference. She is a passionate leader who desires to see women live fully in Christ. Logan and her husband, Jeremy, divide their time between wrangling two inquisitive boys and a 175-pound dog named Titan. They reside in Greenville, South Carolina. She blogs at

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Daily Devotion August 7, 2017 "Rest for the Weary!"

You know, one of my favorite verses in the Bible is Isaiah 40:30-31...

Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

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

"Rest for the Weary!"

August 7, 2017

The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall not do any work -- you or your son or your daughter, your male or female servant, or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.
~ Exodus 20:10 (ESV)

You know, one of my favorite verses in the Bible is Isaiah 40:30-31 where it says this: “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Weariness is a malady that’s common to humanity, but its cause is not so much being overworked and underpaid; it’s not having the weight of the world on your shoulders. The root cause of our weariness is that we’re disconnected from God, the God who loves us. We’re disconnected because of our sin and our guilt. That dislocation from the One who loves us, who strengthens us, empowers us, who cares for us, who guides us -- dislocation from Him -- leaves us to our own sinful devices. And like Isaiah reminds us, even the strongest get overwhelmed, eventually.

But the God of heaven who created us, created us to be at rest with Him -- not at odds with Him. He created us to be in harmony with Him -- not out of tune, totally on our own. And weariness itself when it hits us in life -- it’s a sign that something must be done to fix things, and we don’t have the power to do it.

The Sabbath rest in Genesis is a reminder that rest and harmony were the way God wanted things to be for us: rest, harmony, not weariness. Oh, and by the way, such rest doesn’t mean idleness. A non-wearied life was meant to be lived -- that kind of life in God who created you and redeemed you to be His own. It means a sense of balance, strength, in the middle of work, as well.

You know, a few years ago, we did this event called “Run with the Rev.” Yeah, the Rev was me. We ran a half-marathon together -- several people who had trained with me online for 12 weeks. On race day we gathered, put on our running shoes and our T-shirts on, as well. And guess what verse we chose to have on the back of those shirts? You guessed it, Isaiah 40. That verse propelled each runner with a Sabbath-rest confidence in the middle of a grueling half-marathon.

And here’s something else we found at that day: there were other runners out there, many of them not Christian, either. And they saw that verse on the back of our shirts as they were running. And many of them came up to our group at the finish line and said, “Thanks for the verse. It was so encouraging to see the words, and to see you running with that mindset. It helped me get to the finish line. Thanks again.”

You see, in the middle of the race then, rest for the weary when they’re overwhelmed and rest power in the middle of living your life in Christ for others. That’s what it’s all about. When you are in harmony with God because of Jesus Christ’s work on your behalf you can face the issues of the day. You can whip worry in His Name.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, give us a sense of Your rest, a harmony that comes through faith in Jesus, and a knowledge of Your life-giving Word. Let that rest compels us to live life boldly as Your people for others. Amen.

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

CPTLN Devocional de 07 de Agosto de 2017

Alimento Diario

Todo lo hace bien

07 de Agosto 2017

Te alabo porque tus obras son formidables, porque todo lo que haces es maravilloso. ¡De esto estoy plenamente convencido!
~ Salmo 139:14 (RVC)

Cuando éramos niños, a la mayoría de nosotros nos gustaban los dibujos animados. Incluso ahora, aunque no nos guste confesarlo, algunos no resistimos la tentación de abrir, antes que nada, la página de la tira cómica del periódico.

Si recuerda algunos personajes favoritos de los dibujos animados, notará que tienen algo en común: casi todos estos están dibujados con tan solo tres dedos y un pulgar en cada mano.

Recientemente conversé con un viejo dibujante, quien dice haber trabajado para Disney, y me comentó que esos personajes fueron dibujados así por dos razones: una, porque le ahorra tiempo al dibujante, y otra, porque la omisión pocas veces es notada por la audiencia.

Es una muy simple, honesta y obvia respuesta, pues la humanidad siempre trata de encontrar la forma más simple y fácil de hacer las cosas.

Al escribir esta devoción me doy cuenta que estoy muy agradecido a Dios porque no siguió el ejemplo de la humanidad. La mayoría de nosotros hemos sido bendecidos con cuatro dedos y un pulgar en ambas manos, tanto en la derecha como en la izquierda.

Dios no escatimó esfuerzos al hacernos, aunque bien podría haberlo hecho. Después de todo, él es Dios, pero él no obra de esa forma. Cuando Dios hizo el universo, lo llenó con un inmenso espacio sin poblar y una multitud de galaxias en rotación.

Y porque Dios no escatima esfuerzos, podemos decir que todo lo que hace lo hace muy bien. Cuando nos creó nos hizo perfectos, y cuando envió a su Hijo al mundo para que se sacrificara por nosotros, su sacrificio también fue perfecto. Tan perfecto, que derrotó el pecado, la muerte y el diablo.

La próxima vez que vea dibujos animados con personajes con tres dedos, recuerde que Dios, a diferencia de nosotros, todo lo hace bien.

ORACIÓN: Padre celestial, gracias por habernos creado. Continúa sosteniéndonos en tus manos hasta que, gracias a la salvación obtenida por Jesús, nos sostengas en el cielo. En tu nombre. 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.